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Financial News Articles
Excerpts of Key Financial News Articles in Media


Below are highly revealing excerpts of important banking and finance 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 banking and finance 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.


The War On Waste
2002-01-29, CBS News
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/01/29/eveningnews/main325985.shtml

On Sept. 10 [2001], Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld declared war. Not on foreign terrorists, "the adversary's closer to home. It's the Pentagon bureaucracy." He said money wasted by the military poses a serious threat. Rumsfeld promised change but the next day—Sept. 11—the world changed and in the rush to fund the war on terrorism, the war on waste seems to have been forgotten. Just last week President Bush announced, "my 2003 budget calls for more than $48 billion in new defense spending." More money for the Pentagon ... while its own auditors admit the military cannot account for 25 percent of what it spends. "According to some estimates we cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions," Rumsfeld admitted. $2.3 trillion—that's $8,000 for every man, woman and child in America. A former Marine turned whistle-blower is risking his job by speaking out ... about the millions he noticed were missing from one defense agency's balance sheets. Jim Minnery, Defense Finance and Accounting Service ... tried to follow the money trail, even crisscrossing the country looking for records. "The director looked at me and said 'Why do you care about this stuff?' It took me aback. My supervisor asking me why I care about doing a good job," said Minnery. He was reassigned and says officials then covered up the problem. The Pentagon's Inspector General "partially substantiated" several of Minnery's allegations.

Note: To see the CBS video clip of this shocking admission, click here. For another key clip, click here. For other media articles revealing major corruption, click here. Even though originally not reported because of the trauma of 9/11, why wasn't this news broadcast far and wide later? Why isn't it making media headlines now? For other revealing news articles on military corruption, click here.


How can it be that you pay more to the IRS than General Electric?
2010-04-01, Forbes magazine
http://www.forbes.com/2010/04/01/ge-exxon-walmart-business-washington-corpora...

Some of the world's biggest, most profitable corporations enjoy a far lower tax rate than you do--that is, if they pay taxes at all. The most egregious example is General Electric. Last year the conglomerate generated $10.3 billion in pretax income, but ended up owing nothing to Uncle Sam. In fact, it recorded a tax benefit of $1.1 billion. How did this happen? It's complicated. GE in effect consists of two divisions: General Electric Capital and everything else. The everything else--maker of engines, power plants, TV shows and the like--would have paid a 22% tax rate if it was a standalone company. It's GE Capital that keeps the overall tax bill so low. Over the last two years, GE Capital has displayed an uncanny ability to lose lots of money in the U.S. (posting a $6.5 billion loss in 2009), and make lots of money overseas (a $4.3 billion gain). Not only do the U.S. losses balance out the overseas gains, but GE can defer taxes on that overseas income indefinitely. It's the tax benefit of overseas operations that is the biggest reason why multinationals end up with lower tax rates than the rest of us.

Note: Can you believe that GE not only pays no taxes, they actually get credit from the US government? They ship US jobs overseas and then reap huge tax benefits as a result. What's wrong with this picture? For a wealth of media news articles on the hidden manipulations of major financial corporations, click here.


Has Our Government Spent $21 Trillion Of Our Money Without Telling Us?
2017-12-08, Forbes
https://www.forbes.com/sites/kotlikoff/2017/12/08/has-our-government-spent-21...

On July 26, 2016, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) issued a report “Army General Fund Adjustments Not Adequately Documented or Supported”. The report indicates that for fiscal year 2015 the Army failed to provide adequate support for $6.5 trillion. Given that the entire Army budget in fiscal year 2015 was $120 billion, unsupported adjustments were 54 times the level of spending authorized by Congress. An appendix to the July 2016 report shows $2 trillion in changes to the Army General Fund balance sheet due to unsupported adjustments. On the asset side, there is $794 billion increase in the Army's Fund Balance with the U.S. Treasury. There is also an increase of $929 billion in the Army's Accounts Payable. What is the source of the additional $794 billion in the Army's Fund Balance? The July 2016 report is not the only such report of unsubstantiated adjustments. Mark Skidmore and Catherine Austin Fitts, former Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, conducted a search of government websites and found similar reports dating back to 1998. While the documents are incomplete, original government sources indicate $21 trillion in unsupported adjustments have been reported for the Department of Defense and the Department of Housing and Urban Development for the years 1998-2015. [And why] after Mark Skidmore began inquiring about OIG-reported unsubstantiated adjustments, [was] the OIG's webpage, which documented, albeit in a highly incomplete manner, these unsupported "accounting adjustments," ... mysteriously taken down?

Note: Explore this webpage for a brief background to this astounding news. See also a detailed analysis of these missing trillions, which amount to $65,000 per man, woman, and child in the US. And don't miss this highly revealing interview with Prof. Mark Skidmore of Michigan State with even more startling news.


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.


Wells Fargo fined $185M for fake accounts; 5,300 were fired
2016-09-09, USA Today
http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2016/09/08/wells-fargo-fined-185m-over-un...

Wells Fargo Bank, one of the nation's largest banks, has been hit with $185 million in civil penalties for secretly opening millions of unauthorized deposit and credit card accounts that harmed customers, federal and state officials said Thursday. Employees of Wells Fargo (WFC) boosted sales figures by covertly opening the accounts and funding them by transferring money from customers' authorized accounts without permission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and Los Angeles city officials said. An analysis by the San Francisco-headquartered bank found that its employees opened more than two million deposit and credit card accounts that may not have been authorized by consumers. Many of the transfers ran up fees or other charges for the customers, even as they helped employees make incentive goals. The bank agreed to pay full restitution to all victims and a $100 million fine to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's civil penalty fund - the largest in the regulator's five-year operating history. Wells Fargo will pay a separate $35 million penalty to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. Additionally, Wells Fargo said it terminated approximately 5,300 employees and managers over a five-year period for their involvement with the unauthorized accounts.

Note: No Wells Fargo executives have been held responsible for this bank's institutionalized breach of customer trust. Do you think these actions were taken without approval from at least one executive? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing banking corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.


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.


Five big banks agree to pay more than $5 billion to settle regulatory charges
2015-05-20, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/five-big-banks-agree-to-pay-more-than-...

Five of the world’s largest banks have agreed to pay more than $5 billion in fines to settle charges made by regulatory agencies and the Justice Department that the banks had acted in concert to manipulate international interest and foreign currency exchange rates. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch said the banks had engaged in “brazenly illegal behavior on a near-daily basis.” The scale of the price-fixing scandal is hard to grasp. It touched ... almost every company and individual in the financial markets. By tweaking global benchmarks used to set foreign exchange and interest rates for a staggering number of transactions a day, the banks — over several years — bilked billions of dollars of extra profits by altering rates in their favor. Critics complained that the Justice Department had failed to prosecute any additional individuals. Wall Street watchdog group Better Markets called it a “slap on the wrist,” and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said in an e-mail: “That’s not accountability for Wall Street. It’s business as usual, and it stinks.” Barclays, along with JPMorgan Chase, Royal Bank of Scotland Group and Citigroup, will plead guilty to conspiring to manipulate the price of U.S. currency and euros, authorities said. JPMorgan Chase said it had agreed to plead guilty to a single antitrust violation and pay a fine of $550 million. Under the resolution with the Fed, the firm will pay a fine of $342 million. The bank said it had previously set aside reserves for these settlements.

Note: When it comes to international banking, it appears that almost everything is rigged. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about the systemically corrupt financial industry.


Gold price rigging fears put investors on alert
2014-02-23, Financial Times
http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/d5e00172-9b14-11e3-946b-00144feab7de.html

Global gold prices may have been manipulated on 50 per cent of occasions between January 2010 and December 2013, according to analysis by Fideres, a consultancy. The findings come amid a probe by German and UK regulators into alleged manipulation of the gold price, which is set twice a day by Deutsche Bank, HSBC, Barclays, Bank of Nova Scotia and Société Générale in a process known as the “London gold fixing”. Fideres’ research found the gold price frequently climbs (or falls) once a twice-daily conference call between the five banks begins, peaks (or troughs) almost exactly as the call ends and then experiences a sharp reversal, a pattern it alleged may be evidence of “collusive behaviour”. “[This] is indicative of panel banks pushing the gold price upwards on the basis of a strategy that was likely predetermined before the start of the call in order to benefit their existing positions or pending orders,” Fideres concluded. “The behaviour of the gold price is very suspicious in 50 per cent of cases. This is not something you would expect to see if you take into account normal market factors,“ said Alberto Thomas, a partner at Fideres. Alasdair Macleod, head of research at GoldMoney, a dealer in physical gold, added: “When the banks fix the price, the advantage they have is that they know what orders they have in the pocket.” BaFin, the German regulator, has launched an investigation into gold-price manipulation and demanded documents from Deutsche Bank. The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority is also examining how the price of gold and other precious metals is set as part of a wider probe into benchmark manipulation following findings of wrongdoing with respect to Libor and similar allegations with respect to the foreign exchange market.

Important Note: The above article was removed from the Financial Times website just two days after it was posted. How strange. To read the full article on another website, click here. And for a BBC article which shows how the Rothschilds fixed gold prices in the past, click here. For more on financial corruption, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


IMF's epic plan to conjure away debt and dethrone bankers
2012-10-21, The Telegraph (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/comment/9623863/IMFs-epic-plan-to-conjure-...

One could slash private debt by 100pc of GDP, boost growth, stabilize prices, and dethrone bankers all at the same time. It could be done cleanly and painlessly, by legislative command, far more quickly than anybody imagined. The conjuring trick is to replace our system of private bank-created money -- roughly 97pc of the money supply -- with state-created money. Specifically, it means an assault on "fractional reserve banking". If lenders are forced to put up 100pc reserve backing for deposits, they lose the exorbitant privilege of creating money out of thin air. The nation regains sovereign control over the money supply. There are no more bank runs, and fewer boom-bust credit cycles. That at least is the argument [in] the IMF study, by Jaromir Benes and Michael Kumhof, which came out in August and has begun to acquire a cult following around the world. Entitled "The Chicago Plan Revisited", it revives the scheme first put forward by professors Henry Simons and Irving Fisher in 1936 during the ferment of creative thinking in the late Depression. Benes and Kumhof argue that credit-cycle trauma - caused by private money creation - dates deep into history. The original authors of the Chicago Plan were responding to the Great Depression. They believed it was possible to prevent the social havoc caused by wild swings from boom to bust, and to do so without crimping economic dynamism. The benign side-effect of their proposals would be a switch from national debt to national surplus.

Note: This article is an incredible breakthrough in real reporting on the banking sector. It is most highly recommended to read the entire article and then explore our powerful Banking Corruption Information Center.


HSBC 'sorry' for aiding Mexican drugs lords, rogue states and terrorists
2012-07-17, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/business/2012/jul/17/hsbc-executive-resigns-senate

Executives with Europe's biggest bank, HSBC, were subjected to a humiliating onslaught from US senators on Tuesday over revelations that staff at its global subsidiaries laundered billions of dollars for drug cartels, terrorists and pariah states. HSBC's subsidiaries transported billions of dollars of cash in armoured vehicles, cleared suspicious travellers' cheques worth billions, and allowed Mexican drug lords buy to planes with money laundered through Cayman Islands accounts. Other subsidiaries moved money from Iran, Syria and other countries on US sanctions lists, and helped a Saudi bank linked to al-Qaida to shift money to the US. The committee had released a damning report on Monday, which detailed a collapse in HSBC's compliance standards. Executives at the bank [were] consistently warned of problems. HSBC's Mexican operations moved $7bn into the bank's US operations, and according to its own staff, much of that money was tied to drug traffickers. Leigh Winchell, assistant director for investigative programs at US immigration & customs enforcement ... said 47,000 people had lost their lives since 2006 as a result of Mexican drug traffickers. The senators highlighted testimony from Leopoldo Barroso, a former HSBC anti money-laundering director, who told company officials in an exit interview that he was concerned about "allegations of 60% to 70% of laundered proceeds in Mexico" going through HSBC's affiliate.

Note: HSBC may have been founded to service the international drug trade. They eventually settled this case for $1.92 billion. The corrupt bankers were not criminally prosecuted. Settlements like this often amount to "cash for secrecy" deals that are ultimately profitable for banks. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing banking corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.


Bilderberg mystery: Why do people believe in cabals?
2011-06-07, BBC News
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-13682082

The secretive Bilderberg Group ... is bringing together the world's financial and political elite this week. Conspiracy theories abound. It's only recently that the media has picked up on the Bilderbergers. Meetings are closed to the public and the media, and no press releases are issued. In the manner of a James Bond plot, up to 150 leading politicians and business people are to gather in a ski resort in Switzerland for four days of discussion about the future of the world. Meetings often feature future political leaders shortly before they become household names. Under the group's leadership of former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and one-time EU vice president, Viscount Davignon, the aim is purportedly to allow Western elites to share ideas. But conspiracy theorists have accused it of everything from deliberately engineering the credit crunch to planning to kill 80% of the world population. Denis Healey, co-founder of the group, told the journalist Jon Ronson in his book Them that ... "The confidentiality enabled people to speak honestly without fear of repercussions." Secret cabals extend beyond the Bilderberg Group. The Illuminati ... is alleged to be an all powerful secret society. The Freemasons [is another] secret fraternity society. The conspiracy theorists may get overexcited, but they have a point, says Prof Andrew Kakabadse. The group has genuine power that far outranks the World Economic Forum, which meets in Davos, he argues. And with no transparency, it is easy to see why people are worried about its influence. The theme at Bilderberg is to bolster a consensus around free market Western capitalism and its interests around the globe, he says. "There's a very strong move to have a One World government in the mould of free market Western capitalism."

Note: Why is there so little reporting on this influential group in the major media? Thankfully, the alternative media has had some good articles. And a Google search can be highly informative. For many other revealing news articles from major media sources on powerful secret societies, click here. And for reliable information covering the big picture of how and why these secret societies are using government-sponsored mind control programs to achieve their agenda, click here.


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.


IRS: 400 richest averaged $345M in '07 income, 16% tax rate
2010-02-18, USA Today
http://content.usatoday.com/communities/ondeadline/post/2010/02/irs-400-riche...

The [IRS] reports that the nation's 400 highest-earning households reported an average income of $345 million in 2007 — up 31% from 2006 — and that their average tax bill fell to a 15-year low. Bloomberg writes that the elite 400's average income more than doubled that year from $131.1 million in 2001, the year Congress adopted tax cuts urged by then-President George W. Bush. Each household in the top 400 of earners paid an average tax rate of 16.6 percent, the lowest since the agency began tracking the data in 1992. Their average effective tax rate was about half the 29.4 percent in 1993, the first year of President Bill Clinton's administration. The top 400 earners received a total $138 billion in 2007, up from $105.3 billion a year earlier. On an inflation-adjusted basis, their average income grew almost fivefold since 1992. Almost three-quarters of the highest earners' income was in capital gains and dividends taxed at a 15 percent rate set as part of Bush-backed tax cuts in 2003.

Note: For key reports from major media sources on income inequality, click here. And for a powerful summary of 10 top corporations which avoided taxes in most egregious ways, see the excellent list compiled by independent U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders at this link.


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.


Western Europe: New Elan in an Old Clan
1963-12-20, Time Magazine
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,938990,00.html

For seven generations, one European family has dominated an incredible part of all that money can buy. From its London and Paris banks, the family's millions have been sent forth to ... business enterprises on six continents. Some of its stately dwellings are the kind of mansions that mere San Simeons hoped to imitate. This ancient and unusual banking dynasty shields itself from the curious eye of the public, but the map and history of Europe have been changed by its action and etched with its name: the House of Rothschild. Seldom unimaginative in the use of their money, Rothschild gold has powered the ambitions of prime ministers, princes and popes. It has financed wars and reparations treaties, changed the course of politics and bailed out armies and nations. The Rothschilds strung railroads across the Continent, gained control of the Suez Canal [and] carved diamond mines in the African veld. The British Rothschilds [are still] the world's most important bullion dealers. No modern family ... has been so important for so long in European business. Newer dynasties such as the Rockefellers and the Fords have made more millions, but ... ledgers cannot reflect the Rothschild lands, their possessions and influence accumulated over the generations, their priceless collections of art. Today, the legend is very much alive—and being added to. The Rothschilds are striking out in many new directions behind a silver curtain of discretion. Rather than run companies by themselves, the Rothschilds often prefer to start or join syndicates, placing their men on boards to exert maximum influence with minimum investment risk. [They rely on] a far spreading network of agents, who seldom even admit that they are employed by the Rothschilds.

Note: To read the full, fascinating article, click here. The major media have very rarely exposed the power and wealth of the Rothschilds as in this article. Note that the article was written less than a month after the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Could it be because of some anger at the elite who killed Kennedy that this highly revealing article was actually published? For more on secret societies which command huge hidden power, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


MSU Scholars Find $21 Trillion in Unauthorized Government Spending
2017-12-11, MSU Today (Michigan State University's newspaper)
http://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2017/msu-scholars-find-21-trillion-in-unauthoriz...

Earlier this year, a Michigan State University economist, working with graduate students and a former government official, found $21 trillion in unauthorized spending in the departments of Defense and Housing and Urban Development for the years 1998-2015. The work of Mark Skidmore and his team, which included digging into government websites and repeated queries to U.S. agencies that went unanswered, coincided with the Office of Inspector General, at one point, disabling the links to all key documents showing the unsupported spending. Now, the Department of Defense has announced it will conduct the first department-wide, independent financial audit in its history. The Defense Department did not say specifically what led to the audit. But the announcement came four days after Skidmore discussed his team’s findings on USAWatchdog, a news outlet run by former CNN and ABC News correspondent Greg Hunter. Skidmore got involved last spring when he heard Catherine Austin Fitts, former assistant secretary of Housing and Urban Development, refer to a report which indicated the Army had $6.5 trillion in unsupported adjustments, or spending, in fiscal 2015. Given the Army’s $122 billion budget, that meant unsupported adjustments were 54 times spending authorized by Congress. Typically, such adjustments in public budgets are only a small fraction of authorized spending. Skidmore thought Fitts had made a mistake. “Maybe she meant $6.5 billion and not $6.5 trillion,” he said. “So I found the report myself and sure enough it was $6.5 trillion.”

Note: Explore this webpage for additional background on this story. See also a detailed analysis of these missing trillions, which amount to $65,000 per man, woman, and child in the US. And don't miss this highly revealing interview with Prof. Mark Skidmore of Michigan State with even more startling news. Why isn't the major media reporting this huge news?


Why Corrupt Bankers Avoid Jail
2017-07-31, The New Yorker
http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/07/31/why-corrupt-bankers-avoid-jail

In the summer of 2012, a subcommittee of the U.S. Senate released a report. [After] looking into the London-based banking group HSBC, [investigators] discovered that ... the bank had laundered billions of dollars for Mexican drug cartels, and violated sanctions. No criminal charges were filed, and no executives or employees were prosecuted. Instead, HSBC pledged to clean up its institutional culture, and to pay a fine of nearly two billion dollars: the equivalent of four weeks’ profit for the bank. In the years since the mortgage crisis of 2008 ... corporate executives have essentially been granted immunity. As recently as 2006, when Enron imploded, such titans as Jeffrey Skilling and Kenneth Lay were convicted of conspiracy and fraud. Something has changed in the past decade, however, and federal prosecutions of white-collar crime are now at a twenty-year low. As Jesse Eisinger, a reporter for ProPublica, explains in a new book ... a financial crisis has traditionally been followed by a legal crackdown, because a market contraction reveals all the wishful accounting and outright fraud that were hidden when the going was good. After the mortgage crisis, people in Washington and on Wall Street expected prosecutions. Eisinger reels off a list of potential candidates for criminal charges: Countrywide, Washington Mutual, Lehman Brothers, Citigroup, A.I.G., Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley. Although fines were paid ... there were no indictments, no trials, no jail time.

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


The U.S. emerges as a tax haven for tax cheats, alongside Switzerland the Cayman Islands
2016-04-06, U.S. News & World Report/Associated Press
http://www.usnews.com/news/business/articles/2016-04-06/us-is-emerging-as-a-t...

The U.S. lambastes and strong-arms countries that help drug lords and millionaire investors hide their money from tax collectors. Critics say it should look closer to home. America itself is emerging as a top tax haven alongside the likes of Switzerland, the Cayman Islands and Panama. And states such as Delaware, Nevada, South Dakota and Wyoming, in particular, are competing with each other to provide foreigners with the secrecy they crave. "There's a big neon sign saying the U.S. is open to tax cheats," says John Christensen, executive director of the Tax Justice Network. America's openness to foreign tax evaders is coming under new scrutiny after the leak this week of 11.5 million confidential documents from a Panamanian law firm, [which] show how some of the world's richest people hide assets in shell companies to avoid paying taxes. Christensen's group, which campaigns for a global crackdown on tax evaders, says the United States ranks third in the world in financial secrecy, behind Switzerland and Hong Kong but ahead of notorious tax havens such as the Cayman Islands and Luxembourg. Under a 2010 law, passed after it was learned that the Swiss bank UBS helped thousands of Americans evade U.S. taxes, the United States demands that banks and other financial institutions disclose information on Americans abroad to make sure they pay their U.S. taxes. But ... American banks don't even collect the kind of information foreign countries would need to identify tax dodgers.

Note: A 2015 Guardian newspaper article further describes how the US helps the super-rich hide assets. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing financial industry corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.


Arbitration Everywhere, Stacking the Deck of Justice
2015-10-31, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/01/business/dealbook/arbitration-everywhere-st...

On Page 5 of a credit card contract used by American Express ... is a clause that most customers probably miss. If cardholders have a problem with their account, American Express explains, the company “may elect to resolve any claim by individual arbitration.” Those nine words are at the center of a far-reaching power play orchestrated by American corporations. By inserting individual arbitration clauses into a soaring number of consumer and employment contracts, companies like American Express devised a way to circumvent the courts and bar people from joining together in class-action lawsuits, realistically the only tool citizens have to fight illegal or deceitful business practices. It has become increasingly difficult to apply for a credit card, use a cellphone, get cable or Internet service, or shop online without agreeing to private arbitration. The same applies to getting a job, renting a car or placing a relative in a nursing home. By banning class actions, companies have essentially disabled consumer challenges to ... predatory lending, wage theft and discrimination. “This is among the most profound shifts in our legal history,” William G. Young, a federal judge ... said in an interview. “Ominously, business has a good chance of opting out of the legal system altogether and misbehaving without reproach.” Thousands of cases brought by single plaintiffs over fraud, wrongful death and rape are now being decided behind closed doors. And the rules of arbitration largely favor companies.

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


What Ever Happened to Antitrust?
2015-05-25, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/opinion/reich/article/Antitrust-laws-have-lost-all-effe...

The May 20 settlement between the Justice Department and five giant banks reveals the appalling weakness of modern antitrust. The banks had engaged in the biggest price-fixing conspiracy in modern history. It was a "brazen display of collusion" that went on for years, said Attorney General Loretta Lynch. But there will be no trial [and] no executive will go to jail. The fines ... will be treated by the banks as costs of doing business. America used to have antitrust laws that permanently stopped corporations from monopolizing markets. No longer. The result has been higher prices for the many, and higher profits for the few. It's a hidden upward redistribution from the majority of Americans to corporate executives and wealthy shareholders. Similar upward distributions are occurring elsewhere in the economy. The four largest food companies control 82 percent of beef packing, 85 percent of soybean processing, 63 percent of pork packing, and 53 percent of chicken processing. Monsanto alone owns the key genetic traits to more than 90 percent of the soybeans planted by farmers in the United States, and 80 percent of the corn. Big Agribusiness wants to keep it this way. The list goes on, industry after industry, across the economy. Antitrust has been ambushed by the giant companies it was designed to contain. The market is rigged. And unless government unrigs it through bold antitrust action to restore competition, the upward distributions hidden inside the "free market" will become even larger.

Note: The above article was written by former US Secretary of Labor and current professor of public policy at UC Berkeley Robert Reich. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about the systemically corrupt financial industry and the income inequality that this contributes to.


The Coin of the Realm
2014-12-16, Chicago Tribune
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/columnists/sns-201412161030--tms--amvoices...

The Securities and Exchange Act of 1934 banned insider trading but left it up to the Securities and Exchange Commission and the courts to define it. Which they have -- in recent decades so broadly that confidential information [is now Wall Street's] "coin of the realm." If a CEO tells his golf buddy that his company is being taken over, and his buddy makes a killing on that information, no problem. If his buddy leaks the information to a hedge fund manager and doesn't say where it came from, the hedge fund manager can also use the information to make a bundle. CEOs and other top executives ... routinely use their own inside knowledge of when their companies will buy back large numbers of shares from the public -- thereby pumping up share prices -- in order to time their own personal stock transactions. That didn't used to be legal. Until 1981, the Securities and Exchange Commission required companies to publicly disclose the amount and timing of their buybacks. But Ronald Reagan's SEC removed those restrictions. Then, George W. Bush's SEC allowed top executives, even though technically company "insiders" ... to quietly cash in their stock options without public disclosure. Now it's normal practice. Many CEOs are making vast fortunes not because they're good at managing their corporations but because they're good at using insider information.

Note: Is the trend to relax the rules on insider trading related to the revolving door between big banks and government? For more along these lines, see these concise summaries of deeply revealing articles about widespread corruption in government and banking and finance.


The truth is out: money is just an IOU, and the banks are rolling in it
2014-03-18, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/mar/18/truth-money-iou-bank-of-...

In the 1930s, Henry Ford is supposed to have remarked that it was a good thing that most Americans didn't know how banking really works, because if they did, "there'd be a revolution before tomorrow morning". Last week, something remarkable happened. The Bank of England let the cat out of the bag. In a paper called "Money Creation in the Modern Economy", co-authored by three economists from the Bank's Monetary Analysis Directorate, they stated outright that most common assumptions of how banking works are simply wrong, and that the kind of populist, heterodox positions more ordinarily associated with groups such as Occupy Wall Street are correct. It's [an incorrect] understanding that allows us to continue to talk about money as if it were a limited resource like bauxite or petroleum, to say "there's just not enough money" to fund social programmes, to speak of the immorality of government debt or of public spending "crowding out" the private sector. To quote from its own initial summary: "Rather than banks receiving deposits when households save and then lending them out, bank lending creates deposits" When banks make loans, they create money. This is because money is really just an IOU. The role of the central bank is to preside over a legal order that effectively grants banks the exclusive right to create IOUs of a certain kind, ones that the government will recognise as legal tender by its willingness to accept them in payment of taxes. There's really no limit on how much banks could create. The Bank's job is to actually run the system, and of late, the system has not been running especially well.

Note: For more along these lines, see the excellent, reliable resources provided in our Banking Corruption Information Center.


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.


Traders Said to Rig Currency Rates to Profit Off Clients
2013-06-11, Bloomberg News
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-06-11/traders-said-to-rig-currency-rates-t...

Traders at some of the world’s biggest banks manipulated benchmark foreign-exchange rates used to set the value of trillions of dollars of investments, according to five dealers with knowledge of the practice. Employees have been front-running client orders and rigging WM/Reuters rates by pushing through trades before and during the 60-second windows when the benchmarks are set, said the current and former traders, who requested anonymity because the practice is controversial. Dealers colluded with counterparts to boost chances of moving the rates, said two of the people, who worked in the industry for a total of more than 20 years. The behavior occurred daily in the spot foreign-exchange market and has been going on for at least a decade, affecting the value of funds and derivatives, the two traders said. The Financial Conduct Authority, Britain’s markets supervisor, is considering opening a probe into potential manipulation of the rates, according to a person briefed on the matter. The $4.7-trillion-a-day currency market, the biggest in the financial system, is one of the least regulated. The inherent conflict banks face between executing client orders and profiting from their own trades is exacerbated because most currency trading takes place away from exchanges. The WM/Reuters rates are used by fund managers to compute the day-to-day value of their holdings. While the rates aren’t followed by most investors, even small movements can affect the value of [the] $3.6 trillion in funds including pension and savings accounts that track global indexes.

Note: 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.


Bank rate rigging scandal widens; Diamond fights on
2012-06-29, Chicago Tribune/Reuters
http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/sns-rt-us-libor-banksbre85s0p4-2012062...

A scandal over the rigging of key interest rates could plunge the global banking industry into a legal morass for years, analysts said. The head of the Bank of England said there needed to be "real change" in the industry's culture. Referring to what he called the "deceitful manipulation" of rates, Mervyn King told a news conference [that] the London Interbank Offer Rate (LIBOR) should be reformed to reflect actual market transactions. U.S. and British authorities fined Barclays $453 million on Wednesday for manipulating LIBOR, which underpins some $360 trillion of loans and financial contracts around the world - and analysts forecast more banks would soon be named for collusion. Others predicted Barclays and other banks could face billions in costs from litigation, especially in the United States, in much the same way that oil major BP ran into drawn-out legal rows over its oil spill. Barclays was the first bank to settle in an investigation which is looking at other large financial institutions in Europe, Japan and North America.

Note: This article states that LIBOR underpins some $360 trillion of loans and financial contracts around the world. That's $50,000 for every man, woman, and child on this planet. And it is being hugely manipulated. For more vitally important information on this, learn about the huge amounts of derivatives being manipulated at this link and explore the excellent, reliable information in our Banking Corruption Information Center available here.


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.


OCC’s Quarterly Report on Bank Trading and Derivatives Activities: Third Quarter 2011
2011-12-01, OCC (U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Administrator of National Banks)
http://www.occ.gov/topics/capital-markets/financial-markets/trading/derivativ...

The OCC’s quarterly report on trading revenues and bank derivatives activities is based on Call Report information provided by all insured U.S. commercial banks and trust companies, reports filed by U.S. financial holding companies, and other published data. The notional amount of derivatives held by insured U.S. commercial banks decreased $1.4 trillion, or 0.6%, from the second quarter of 2011 to $248 trillion. Notional derivatives are 5.7% higher than at the same time last year. Derivatives activity in the U.S. banking system continues to be dominated by a small group of large financial institutions. The five banks with the most derivatives activity hold 96% of all derivatives. Insured commercial banks have more limited legal authorities than do their holding companies.

Note: Graphs in this OCC report (pg. 25 & 26) show that five U.S. banks, JPMorgan Chase, Citibank, BofA, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley, hold $235 of the $248 trillion above, while their holding companies control an additional $311 of the $326 trillion in derivatives held by holding companies. So these five banks and their holding companies combined hold $546 trillion in derivatives, 95% of the U.S. derivatives market, nearly 80% of the global market, and equivalent to over $75,000 for every person on the planet. If the above link fails, click here. For quarterly derivative reports by the OCC going back to 1995, click here.


Lobbying firm's memo spells out plan to undermine Occupy Wall Street
2011-11-19, MSNBC
http://openchannel.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/11/19/8884405-lobbying-firms-memo...

A well-known Washington lobbying firm with links to the financial industry has proposed an $850,000 plan to take on Occupy Wall Street and politicians who might express sympathy for the protests, according to a memo obtained by [MSNBC]. The proposal was written on the letterhead of the lobbying firm Clark Lytle Geduldig & Cranford and addressed to one of CLGC’s clients, the American Bankers Association. CLGC’s memo proposes that the ABA pay CLGC $850,000 to conduct “opposition research” on Occupy Wall Street in order to construct “negative narratives” about the protests and allied politicians. Two of the memo’s authors, partners Sam Geduldig and Jay Cranford, previously worked for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. The memo outlines a 60-day plan to conduct surveys and research on OWS and its supporters so that Wall Street companies will be prepared to conduct a media campaign in response to OWS. Wall Street companies “likely will not be the best spokespeople for their own cause,” according to the memo. “A big challenge is to demonstrate that these companies still have political strength and that making them a political target will carry a severe political cost.”

Note: For key reports from reliable sources on the reasons why people nationwide are occupying their city centers in protest against the collusion between powerful corporate and government elites, click here.


Congress insiders: Above the law?
2011-11-11, CBS News
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/congress-insiders-above-the-law/

The same insider trading that can land a regular citizen in jail is perfectly legal for members of Congress. Steve Kroft reports on how America's lawmakers can legally make tidy profits on information only they know, simply because they won't pass a law against themselves. Among the revelations in Kroft's report: Members of Congress have bought stock in companies while laws that could affect those companies were being debated in the House or Senate. At least one representative made significant stock purchases the day after he and other members of Congress attended a secret meeting in September 2008, where the Fed chair and the treasury secretary informed them of the imminent global economic meltdown. The meeting was so confidential that cell phones and other digital devices were confiscated before it began. Efforts to make such insider trading off limits to Washington's lawmakers have never been able to get traction. Former Rep. Brian Baird says he spent half of his 12 years in Congress trying to get co-sponsors for a bill that would ban insider trading in Congress and also set some rules up to govern conflicts of interest. In 2004, he and Rep. Louise Slaughter introduced the "Stock Act" to stop the insider trading. How far did they get? "We didn't get anywhere. Just flat died," he tells Kroft.

Note: To better understand how the US Congress protects itself in insider trading, read this NPR article and this one from the Intercept.


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.


Food speculation: 'People die from hunger while banks make a killing on food'
2011-01-23, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/2011/jan/23/food-speculation-ban...

Just under three years ago, people in the village of Gumbi in western Malawi went unexpectedly hungry. Not like Europeans do if they miss a meal or two, but that deep, gnawing hunger that prevents sleep and dulls the senses when there has been no food for weeks. Oddly, there had been no drought, the usual cause of malnutrition and hunger in southern Africa, and there was plenty of food in the markets. For no obvious reason the price of staple foods such as maize and rice nearly doubled in a few months. Unusually, too, there was no evidence that the local merchants were hoarding food. It was the same story in 100 other developing countries. There were food riots in more than 20 countries and governments had to ban food exports and subsidise staples heavily. A new theory is emerging among traders and economists. The same banks, hedge funds and financiers whose speculation on the global money markets caused the sub-prime mortgage crisis are ... taking advantage of the deregulation of global commodity markets [to make] billions from speculating on food and causing misery around the world. As food prices soar again to beyond 2008 levels, it becomes clear that everyone is now being affected. Food prices are now rising by up to 10% a year in Britain and Europe. What is more, says the UN, prices can be expected to rise at least 40% in the next decade.

Note: Remember that speculation is behind almost all of the economic bubbles and busts. The price of oil spiked a couple years ago almost purely because of speculators, while the oil companies raked in record profits. It looks like the speculators are now driving food prices as high as they can. For a treasure trove of reports from reliable sources investigating the many different strategies used by financial corporations to enrich themselves at the expense of common people, click here.


What if growth had been equal?
2010-09-13, Washington Post
http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/2010/09/what_if_growth_had_been_e...

"The Conehead economy" [is] the idea that if the economy were a person, its growth over the past few decades would've turned it from a normal-looking individual into a conehead. Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson get at this idea slightly differently [in their book Winner-Take-All Politics]. They've got a table showing how incomes would look if growth had been equally shared from 1979 to 2006 -- much as it was in the decades before 1979. If growth had been equally shared, the middle quintile would be making $64,395 today. Instead, they're making $52,100. That's a 23 percent raise those folks didn't get -- and that I'm sure they would've noticed. The top 1 percent ... made, on average, $1,200,300 in 2006. If growth had been equally shared in the three decades before that, however, their incomes would've been cut by more than half, down to $506,002. That's real, serious money we're talking about. The top 1 percent now accounts for 23.5 percent of the national income if you include capital gains. In 1979, they only had 9.8 percent of the nation's earnings. During that same period, tax rates on the richest Americans have actually dropped. So as the economy went one way -- toward more money going to the rich -- the tax system went the other.

Note: For lots more on income inequality from reliable sources, 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.


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.


Senate Blocks Bid to Audit Federal Reserve
2009-07-09, Fox News
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,531045,00.html

JUDGE ANDREW NAPOLITANO, HOST: Despite growing pressure from the House and ordinary people, the Senate decided not to increase scrutiny on the Federal Reserve. They actually blocked a bid on procedural grounds to have the Government Accountability Office audit the Federal Reserve and issue a report. Here is Republican Senator Jim DeMint. Senator DeMint, ... Why should the Federal Reserve be audited? DEMINT: Well, the value of our dollar, our whole economic system, rides on [this] unelected, secret agency called the Federal Reserve. We're not sure what they're doing right now. And Ron Paul in the House with over half of the House signing up as cosponsors, and me and Bernie Sanders in the Senate are pushing the idea of a complete audit of the Federal Reserve, because frankly, a lot of us here in this country and around the world, are concerned that we're going to destroy the American dollar and the worldwide reserve currency. NAPOLITANO: How is it that legislation that has more than half the members of the House behind it and is proposed by a staunch conservative Republican like you and then independent socialists like Bernie Sanders is stopped on the floor of the Senate cold before you can even formally introduce it, before you can make a speech in favor of it? DEMINT: Well, if we could get the Federal Reserve under control, it would make it more difficult for the Obama administration, I think, to carry out the continued spending and growing of debt. Because one thing we're concerned about is the Federal Reserve ... will do what we call monetize the debt, basically print money, buy our own debt as a country, and devalue the dollar that way.

Note: For two powerful, short videos revealing efforts to expose the intriguing secrets of the Federal Reserve, click here and here. If you care about the financial health of the U.S. and its implications in our world, these are both must watch videos.


'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.


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.


Davos: Wealth, power and a sprinkling of stardust
2008-01-22, The Independent (One of the U.K.'s leading newspapers)
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/analysis-and-features/davos-wealth...

For a few days an obscene proportion of the world's wealth and clout will be concentrated in one normally obscure Alpine town, [Davos, Switzerland]. Some 27 heads of state or government; 113 cabinet ministers; hundreds of chief executives, bankers, sovereign wealth fund managers, economists and the media: about 2,500 participants in all. So who's coming and what will they be chattering about? The official co-chairs of the Forum are mostly well-known names: Tony Blair, of JP Morgan; James Dimon, chairman and CEO of JP Morgan; KV Kamath, MD and CEO of India's ICICI Bank; Henry Kissinger, chairman of Kissinger Associates; Indra K Noovi, chairman and CEO of PepsiCo; David J O'Reilly, chairman and CEO of Chevron Corporation; and Wang Jianzhou, CEO of China Mobile Communications Corporation. The prominent role allotted to Mr Wang, while not entirely novel, is nonetheless significant. In 2008, for the first time, China will contribute more to the growth of the world economy than the United States. Double-digit growth in China should still just be possible this year, and it alone seems to stand between the world and a full-blown recession. Sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) from China and elsewhere have already been busy re-capitalising the West's stricken banks. The recycling of trillions of dollars of trade surpluses and petro dollars means that such deals will become more prevalent.

Note: Yet these meetings are kept largely secret. Why isn't the media giving lots more coverage to this gathering of some of the most powerful people on the planet? For other reliable, verifiable reports on secret meetings of the power elite of the world, 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.


Class Struggle
2006-11-15, Wall Street Journal
http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110009246

The most important--and unfortunately the least debated--issue in politics today is our society's steady drift toward a class-based system, the likes of which we have not seen since the 19th century. America's top tier has grown infinitely richer and more removed over the past 25 years. Few among them send their children to public schools; fewer still send their loved ones to fight our wars. They own most of our stocks, making the stock market an unreliable indicator of the economic health of working people. The top 1% now takes in an astounding 16% of national income, up from 8% in 1980. The tax codes protect them, just as they protect corporate America, through a vast system of loopholes. Incestuous corporate boards regularly approve compensation packages for chief executives and others that are out of logic's range. As this newspaper has reported, the average CEO of a sizeable corporation makes more than $10 million a year, while the minimum wage for workers amounts to about $10,000 a year, and has not been raised in nearly a decade. When I graduated from college in the 1960s, the average CEO made 20 times what the average worker made. Today, that CEO makes 400 times as much. Trickle-down economics didn't happen. Wages and salaries are at all-time lows as a percentage of the national wealth. This ever-widening divide is too often ignored or downplayed by its beneficiaries. A sense of entitlement has set in among elites, bordering on hubris.

Note: For some reason the Wall Street Journal has removed this article. You can read it on the website of the article's author at this link.


Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room
2005-04-22, PBS
http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/enron/film.html

ENRON: The Smartest Guys in the Room [is] the inside story of one of history’s greatest business scandals, in which top executives of America’s seventh largest company walked away with over one billion dollars while investors and employees lost everything. Based on the best-selling book ... this tale of greed, hubris and betrayal reveals the outrageous personal excesses of the Enron hierarchy and the moral vacuum that led CEO Ken Lay - along with other players including accounting firm Arthur Andersen, Chief Operating Officer Jeffrey Skilling and Chief Financial Officer Andy Fastow - to manipulate securities trading, bluff the balance sheets and deceive investors. By 2000, the company has grown into the largest natural gas merchant in North America, eventually branching out into trading other commodities. Jeff Skilling is named CEO, and the company stock skyrockets. Meanwhile, Skilling’s “black box” accounting results in declared earnings of 53 million dollars for a collapsing deal that doesn’t profit a cent. And Enron’s West Coast power desk has its most profitable month ever as California citizens become casualties of Enron’s scheme to artificially increase demand for electricity, resulting in rolling blackouts and two deaths. When Enron’s sleight of hand accounting and unethical trading eventually meet the realities of balance sheets that don’t balance and products that don’t exist, unwitting employees who have anchored their financial futures to the Enron ship watch in horror as water rushes in overhead.

Note: Watch this revealing documentary on this webpage. Enron was American's seventh-largest public company and controlled 25 percent of the nation's energy before it failed in 2002. Its stock plummeted from $90 a share to 9 cents a share in a matter of months after fraud was uncovered. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing corporate corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.


The Rothschild story: A golden era ends for a secretive dynasty
2004-04-16, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://web.archive.org/web/20070115044040/http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/th...

The news that the bankers Rothschild are to withdraw from the gold market, in which they have been a major player for two centuries, has been hailed as the end of an era. In one sense, of course, it is. But in another way it marks out the continuation of an even older tradition - the ability of the family which has founded one of the world's largest private banking dynasties to sustain their secretive fortune, which industry insiders count not in billions but in trillions, and keep it within the family. Secrecy has been a hallmark of the Rothschilds from the outset. The Rothschilds created the world of banking as we know it today. [They] invented, or at any rate popularised, the government bond, which allowed investors, big and small, to buy bits of the debts of sovereign states by purchasing fixed-interest bearer bonds. It brought investment in railways, the industrial revolution and ventures like the Suez Canal. The Rothschilds got a cut of everything. They made billions in the 1980s from Margaret Thatcher's privatisations of state-owned industries on which they advised. In France after their bank was nationalised by the Socialist president Francois Mitterrand they slowly built a new business which, under Baron David de Rothschild, has risen to the top ranks of the merger and acquisition league tables. They have pulled out of retail fund management - into which they went with much fanfare only three years back - and now they are pulling out of oil and gold in favour of the higher-margin areas of private banking and wealth management

Note: For some reason this article was removed from the website of the Independent, which is why the above link takes you to a cached version of this revealing article. For more on financial corruption, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


Military waste under fire: $1 trillion missing
2003-05-18, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2003/05/18/MN251738.DTL

The Department of Defense, already infamous for spending $640 for a toilet seat...couldn't account for more than a trillion dollars in financial transactions, not to mention dozens of tanks, missiles and planes. The nonpartisan General Accounting Office has raised the volume of its perennial complaints about the financial woes at Defense, which recently failed its seventh audit in as many years. "Overhauling DOD's financial management operations represent a challenge that goes far beyond financial accounting," GAO chief David Walker told lawmakers. Recent government reports suggest the Pentagon's money management woes have reached astronomical proportions. A GAO report found Defense inventory systems so lax that the U.S. Army lost track of 56 airplanes, 32 tanks, and 36 Javelin missile command launch-units. When military leaders were scrambling to find enough chemical and biological warfare suits to protect U.S. troops, the department was caught selling these suits as surplus on the Internet "for pennies on the dollar," a GAO official said. "We are overhauling our financial management system," said Dov Zakheim, the Pentagon's chief financial officer. "The Pentagon has failed to address financial problems that dwarf those of Enron," said Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Los Angeles. Gregory Kutz, director of GAO's financial management division [said] "I've been to Wal-Mart. They were able to tell me how many tubes of toothpaste were in Fairfax, Va. And DOD can't find its chem-bio suits." Opposition to defense spending is portrayed as unpatriotic. Legislators are often more concerned about winning Pentagon pork than controlling defense waste.

Note: You can read the GAO Report (Page 17 on missing planes). Page two states, "To date, no major part of DOD has yet been able to pass the test of an independent audit." For an intriguing Online Journal article exposing the deep role of the Pentagon's former CFO (Chief Financial Officer) Zakheim in this corruption, click here. Why wasn't and isn't this front page headlines? Why are newspaper editors keeping this most vital information from the public?


IMF's four steps to damnation
2001-04-28, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2001/apr/29/business.mbas

Joseph Stiglitz, ex-chief economist of the World Bank, ... was in Washington for the big confab of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. From sources unnamable (not Stiglitz), we obtained a cache of documents marked, 'confidential' and 'restricted'. Stiglitz helped translate one, a 'country assistance strategy'. There's an assistance strategy for every poorer nation, designed, says the World Bank, after careful in-country investigation. But according to insider Stiglitz, the Bank's 'investigation' involves little more than close inspection of five-star hotels. It concludes with a meeting with a begging finance minister, who is handed a 'restructuring agreement' pre-drafted for 'voluntary' signature. The Bank hands every minister the same four-step programme. Step One is privatisation. Stiglitz said that rather than objecting to the sell-offs of state industries, some politicians - using the World Bank's demands to silence local critics - happily flogged their electricity and water companies. After privatisation, Step Two is capital market liberalisation. Stiglitz calls this the 'hot money' cycle. Cash comes in for speculation in real estate and currency, then flees at the first whiff of trouble. A nation's reserves can drain in days. And when that happens, to seduce speculators into returning a nation's own capital funds, the IMF demands these nations raise interest rates to 30%, 50% and 80%. Step Three: market-based pricing - a fancy term for raising prices on food, water and cooking gas. Step Four: free trade. This is free trade by the rules of the World Trade Organisation and the World Bank, which Stiglitz likens to the Opium Wars. 'That too was about "opening markets",' he said.

Note: For an essay by John Perkins, an insider who was directly involved in these severe manipulations, click here. For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on government collusion in financial corruption, click here.


Ford Sees Wealth in Muscle Shoals: Edison Backs Him Up
1921-12-06, New York Times
http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?_r=3&res=9C04E0D7103EEE3ABC4E53...

Henry Ford [is] convinced that if Congress will complete and lease to him the water-power developments [at Muscle Shoals], he can make this whole section of the South more prosperous. Thomas A. Edison indorsed Mr. Ford’s views. He is very earnest in his support of Ford’s [proposal] to finance Muscle Shoals by an issue of currency ... directly by the Government. "If our nation can issue a dollar bond, it can issue a dollar bill," said Mr. Edison. "[When Congress authorizes] an issue of bonds, it must go out to the money brokers. We then must pay interest to the money brokers for the use of our own money. In all our great bond issues, the interest is always greater than the principal. All of the great public works cost more than twice the actual cost on that account. The difference between the bond and the bill is that the bond lets the money brokers collect twice the amount of the bond ... whereas the currency pays nobody but those who directly contribute. Both are promises to pay: but one promise fattens the usurer, and the other helps the people. It is the money broker, the money profiteer, the private banker, that I oppose. It is a terrible situation when the Government ... must go into debt and submit to ruinous interest charges at the hands of men who control the [issuance of currency]. The people must pay any way: why should they be compelled to pay twice as the bond system compels them? [If] Government will adopt this policy of increasing its national wealth without contributing to the interest collector ... you will see an era of progress and prosperity in this country such as could never have come otherwise.” Mr. Edison reiterated his belief [that if] the currency method is tried in raising money for public improvements, the country will never go back to the borrow method.

Note: If the above link fails, you can read the a copy of the full, fascinating article at this link or this one. The entire article contains lots of amazing revelations of how big bankers keep us in debt. How fascinating that Ford and Edison, both ultra-wealthy businessmen, here are arguing strongly against the privately owned Federal Reserve system through which private bankers print US money and charge interest on it, and for the US government printing its own money. This would avoid US citizens having to pay the big bankers all of the interest on much of the national debt. For lots of evidence to support this way of thinking, click here.


Podesta Group on the verge of shuttering amid ties to Mueller probe
2017-11-11, CNN News
http://www.cnn.com/2017/11/11/politics/podesta-group-mueller-investigation/in...

One of Washington's most prominent lobbying firms is on the verge of shuttering after becoming ensnared by special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. Kimberley Fritts, the chief executive of the Podesta Group, told employees during a Thursday staff meeting that the firm would cease to exist at the end of the year. The developments come after the Podesta Group was tied last week to Mueller's indictments of Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, who pleaded not guilty after being charged with failing to file as foreign agents relating to a decade of work they did for ... a pro-Russia political party in the Ukraine. Mueller's special investigation team has also interviewed multiple people from the Podesta Group, which was recruited by Manafort and Gates to work along with another firm. Talk of potentially closing the Podesta Group marks a dramatic downfall of one of K Street's most iconic and well-connected firms. In its heyday, Podesta Group was the largest non-law firm lobbying organization in Washington. Tony Podesta, the firm's founder and chairman, helped fuel the company with work for foreign governments. He and his brother, John, founded the company almost three decades ago. John Podesta chaired Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign. He left the firm in 1993. Mueller is looking into whether the Podesta Group properly identified to federal authorities its foreign advocacy for ... a Brussels-based non-profit group that federal prosecutors have called a mouthpiece for pro-Russian Ukrainian politicians.

Note: The Podesta brothers were deeply implicated in the Pizzagate affair. Though many believe Pizzagate was just a "conspiracy theory," our careful research shows powerful evidence that the Podestas were indeed involved in a child sex abuse ring. Could it be that behind the curtains, some are taking action against the Podestas for their involvement in these child abuse rings? For some intriguing, yet difficult to verify evidence along these lines, see this webpage.


Wells Fargo charged 570,000 customers for auto insurance they didn’t need
2017-07-28, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/business/wp/2017/07/28/wells-fargo-charge...

Wells Fargo acknowledged Friday that for six years about 570,000 of its customers were charged for auto insurance they didn’t need, potentially driving some to default on their loan and have their cars repossessed. The San Francisco bank said it would start refunding about $80 million, or about $140 each, to customers next month. The revelation quickly sparked a backlash from lawmakers still angry after Wells Fargo admitted last year that thousands of its employees had created millions of fake credit card and bank accounts for customers without their knowledge. “No wonder so many hard-working Americans believe the system is rigged against them in Wall Street’s favor,” Sen. Sherrod Brown, the ranking Democrat on the Banking Committee, said in a statement. Sen. Elizabeth Warren ... renewed her call for the Federal Reserve to force Wells Fargo’s board of directors to resign. “There are surely deep ... problems at a bank when it opens millions of fake customer accounts and charges nearly a million customers for a financial product they don’t need,” Warren said in a statement. “The Wells Fargo Board is ultimately responsible for that failure.” Wells Fargo said the most recent scandal is centered on its auto lending business. Customers’ loan contracts require them to maintain auto insurance and allow the bank to buy it for them if there is no evidence that the customers have a policy, the bank said. But ... customers were being charged for auto insurance premiums even though they already had another policy.

Note: Read more about the massive fraud perpetrated by Wells Fargo. Steve Glazer, chairman of the California Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee, recently compared this bank's actions with the behavior of Enron when its culture of corruption initially came to light. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing banking corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.


Public understands Wells Fargo’s bad behavior, that’s the problem
2016-09-28, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/editorials/article/Public-understands-Well...

Following widespread outrage and a blistering Senate Banking Committee hearing last week, Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf has said he’ll forfeit his outstanding stock awards of about $41 million. Wells Fargo’s former retail-banking head, Carrie Tolstedt, has agreed to forfeit outstanding stock awards of about $19 million. The givebacks are being done in response to charges that the bank opened some 2 million fraudulent deposit and credit card accounts in its customers’ names. Wells Fargo had already agreed to pay $185 million to settle those charges with regulators, but, clearly, that wasn’t enough. The public is worn out by Wall Street’s bad behavior - and it’s also tired of watching low-level employees be scapegoated while top executives get off scot-free. Wells had fired more than 5,000 employees connected to the illegal sales practices, but done nothing to punish senior executives. No one is buying the story that a scandal this large was the work of rogue employees at the bottom of the totem pole. Part of the reason for the alleged unauthorized accounts was employees were pressured to meet unachievable sales goals. Wells has also pledged to end the controversial sales goal program for employees in the retail banking division. The financial meltdown of 2008 ... resulted out of extreme complexity - most politicians and citizens can’t parse a credit default swap. Opening a bank account in someone else’s name without their permission, however, is a wrong that everyone can understand.

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


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.


Wells Fargo fired 5,300 workers for improper sales push. The executive in charge is retiring with $125 million.
2016-09-13, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/09/13/wells-fargo-fired-5300...

When Wells Fargo was hit last week with $185 million in fines after thousands of its employees were caught setting up fake accounts customers didn't ask for, regulators heralded the settlement as a breakthrough. But the fines being levied against Wells Fargo pale in comparison to the bank's yearly profit - more than $20 billion in 2015. It is also less than the more than $200 million that the stock in the company held by company's chief executive, John G. Stumpf is worth. The fines also are not that much more than the $125 million one of its top executives, Carrie Tolstedt, will walk away with when she retires this year. "There are two possibilities: Customer abuse was part of business model, in which case lots of high ranking people need to go to prison," said Bart Naylor, a financial policy advocate. "Or the bank is too big to manage, and folks high up don’t even know that laws are being broken a few levels down." The magnitude of the fraud described by regulators should be thoroughly investigated, five Democratic lawmakers said in a letter to the head of the Senate Banking Committee, Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), asking for a hearing on the case. The lawmakers, including Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, said Wells Fargo's CEO, John G. Stumpf, should be called to testify. "It is difficult to believe a large-scale, coordinated [scheme] like this took place without knowledge of some higher ups," Menendez said in an interview.

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


UBS whistleblower exposes 'political prostitution' all the way up to President Obama
2016-08-25, International Business Times
http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/ubs-whistleblower-exposes-political-prostitution-all...

UBS, the world's largest wealth manager, is facing embarrassment over fresh revelations going back to the tax investigation that led to the collapse of Swiss banking secrecy. Two significant events are looming before UBS. The first is the possibility of a public trial in France, featuring UBS whistleblower Bradley Birkenfeld, concerning historic tax evasion allegedly orchestrated by the bank. The other is the publication ... of Birkenfeld's scathing new book, Lucifer's Banker, which covers his time at UBS. The tax evasion controversy, which was first highlighted in 2005, subsequently involved the US Department of Justice, the State Department and Internal Revenue Service. It was prompted by disclosures made by Birkenfeld that UBS had helped wealthy US citizens evade taxes. In 2009, UBS paid $780m (Ł588m, €693m) to US authorities to avoid prosecution. Birkenfeld served 31 months in prison for one count of conspiracy to abet tax evasion by one of his clients. After he was released he was paid a record $104m by the IRS for helping recover unpaid taxes. However, Birkenfeld has since said that he was systematically prevented from giving testimony in open court – but this may be about to change thanks to the French authorities. Birkenfeld claims the UBS cover­up stretches to the highest levels of the US establishment. He promises four big names will be exposed in his book, [and] claims there was a glaring conflict of interest involving then Senator Barack Obama, which essentially placed him on the UBS payroll.

Note: Read a New York Times article on how this courageous whistleblower managed to beat the system. As a result of Birkenfeld's disclosures, Obama's suspicious ties with UBS were reported in 2010. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in government and in the financial industry.


Trump and Clinton share Delaware tax 'loophole' address with 285,000 firms
2016-04-25, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/apr/25/delaware-tax-loophole-1209-no...

There aren’t many things upon which Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump agree. But the candidates for president share an affinity for the same ... office building in Wilmington. Famous for helping tens of thousands of companies avoid hundreds of millions of dollars in tax ... 1209 North Orange is home to Apple, American Airlines, Coca-Cola, Walmart and dozens of other companies. Being registered in Delaware lets companies take advantage of strict corporate secrecy rules, business-friendly courts and the “Delaware loophole”, which ... is said to have cost other states more than $9bn in lost taxes over the past decade. Both ... Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have companies registered at 1209 North Orange, and have refused to explain why. Clinton, who has repeatedly promised that as president she will crack down on “outrageous tax havens and loopholes”, [has] collected more than $16m in public speaking fees and book royalties in 2014 through the doors of 1209. Bill Clinton set up WJC LLC, a vehicle to collect his consultation fees, at the same address in 2008. The Clintons’ companies share the office with several of Trump’s companies. They include Trump International Management Corp and several companies that form part of ... a Trump partnership to develop more than $1bn worth of luxury condos on the west side of Manhattan. Of the 515 companies on Trump’s official Federal Election Commission (FEC) filing, 378 are registered in Delaware.

Note: The above article adds to the evidence that the US, which ranks third in the world in financial secrecy, is a one-party state. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in government and in the financial industry.


Swiss banker whistleblower: CIA behind Panama Papers
2016-04-12, CNBC
http://www.cnbc.com/2016/04/12/swiss-banker-whistleblower-cia-behind-panama-p...

Bradley Birkenfeld is the most significant financial whistleblower of all time, so you might think he'd be cheering on the disclosures in the new Panama Papers leaks. [He] was a banker working at UBS in Switzerland when he approached the U.S. government with information on massive amounts of tax evasion by Americans with secret accounts in Switzerland. By the end of his whistleblowing career, Birkenfeld had served more than two years in a U.S. federal prison, been awarded $104 million by the IRS for his information and shattered the foundations of more than a century of Swiss banking secrecy. In an exclusive interview Tuesday from Munich, Birkenfeld said he doesn't think the source of the 11 million documents stolen from [Panama City-based law firm Mossack Fonseca] should automatically be considered a whistleblower like himself. Instead, he said, the hacking ... could have been done by a U.S. intelligence agency. "The CIA I'm sure is behind this, in my opinion," Birkenfeld said, [pointing] to the fact that the political uproar created by the disclosures have mainly impacted countries with tense relationships with the United States. "If you've got NSA and CIA spying on foreign governments they can certainly get into a law firm like this," Birkenfeld said. "They selectively bring the information to the public domain that doesn't hurt the U.S.. That's wrong. And there's something seriously sinister here behind this."

Note: See this article for more. Read concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in banking and in the intelligence community.


Panama Papers: 1,000 secret Nevada firms, 2 overseas addresses
2016-04-08, USA Today
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2016/04/07/1000-secret-nevada-firms-and-mo...

A USA Today analysis of more than 1,000 American-based companies registered by Mossack Fonseca, the law firm at the heart of the Panama Papers leak, casts the United States openly into an uncomfortable role: an offshore haven of corporate secrecy for wealthy business operations across the globe. Both Nevada and Wyoming have become secretive havens much like Bermuda and Switzerland have long been. And at least 150 companies set up by Mossack Fonseca in those states have ties to major corruption scandals in Brazil and Argentina. The corporate records of 1,000-plus Nevada business entities linked to the Panamanian law firm reveal layers of secretive ownership, with few having humans' names behind them, and most tracing back to a tiny number of overseas addresses. For about 700 of the American shell companies, the corporate officers are business entities rather than people, meaning no individual is linked to the Nevada firm in state records. Matthew Gardner, executive director of the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, [said], “We should be thinking about this as a very American problem, and a problem that arguably is worse here in the states than it is in Panama.” In Wyoming, where Mossack Fonseca has also registered about two dozen companies, corporations are even harder to trace. Mossack Fonseca defended its practices and said incorporating companies in different jurisdictions is “the normal activity of lawyers and agents around the world.”

Note: A 2015 Guardian newspaper article further describes how the US helps the super-rich hide assets. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing financial industry corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.


Why Prosecutors Don’t Target Thieving CEOs
2016-01-29, Time
http://time.com/money/4200133/elizabeth-warren-thieving-ceos-jail/

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren issued a stinging broadside against federal prosecutors on Friday, charging U.S. courts with throwing the book at mixed-up teenagers, while letting wealthy corporate executives who commit much larger and sometimes deadly crimes off with essentially no chance of punishment. In a new report, Sen. Warren’s office makes the case that CEOs and other top executives simply don’t face the same legal consequences as ordinary Americans, releasing a list of what it claims are 20 examples of corporate criminal and civil cases that prosecutors failed to pursue to the full extent of the law last year. Among the cases: scandals ranging from General Motors’ years’ long cover up of ignition switch problems to currency manipulation by large banks (including Citigroup and J.P. Morgan), to a mine explosion that killed 29 people - the only instance of misconduct which led to a conviction of a corporate executive. Such selective application of the law undermines the government’s moral authority: “If justice means a prison sentence for a teenager who steals a car, but it means nothing more than a sideways glance at a CEO who quietly engineers the theft of billions of dollars, then the promise of equal justice under the law has turned into a lie,” Warren charges in the report. It’s not just a problem in the U.S. This week, U.K. prosecutors, after winning an initial conviction in their quest to prosecute bankers accused of fixing LIBOR - a key benchmark central to financial markets - failed to secure any further wins.

Note: Senator Elizabeth Warren was called "the champion of Main Street versus Wall Street" by the Boston Globe in 2014. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in government and in the corporate world.


Vatican Arrests 2 in Connection With Leaked Documents
2015-11-02, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/03/world/europe/vatican-arrests-leaked-documen...

The Vatican announced Monday that two members of a commission set up by Pope Francis to study financial operations at the Holy See had been arrested on suspicion of leaking confidential documents to journalists. The arrests came days before the publication of two books - “Avarizia,” or “Avarice,” by Emiliano Fittipaldi, and “Merchants in the Temple,” by Gianluigi Nuzzi. Both books claim to offer glimpses of the turmoil surrounding Francis as he pursues his reforms of Vatican finances, the operations of the Curia and the Vatican bank. Those institutions had long been plagued by scandal and corruption that contributed to the resignation in 2013 of Francis’ predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, the first pope to step down in nearly 600 years. Divulging confidential documents has been considered a crime in the Vatican since July 2013, after the leak of a cache of Vatican documents ... which Mr. Nuzzi published. Besides reporting on the church’s vast financial holdings, Mr. Fittipaldi said he had also discovered that money given to the church for the poor was used for other purposes. Mr. Nuzzi’s book ... suggests that the Vatican’s finances were in such chaos that Benedict had no choice but to resign. “I am certainly surprised that the Vatican responds to the imminent publication of a book with handcuffs,” Mr. Nuzzi said ... particularly “when handcuffs aren’t used to stop the thieves in the Vatican.”

Note: In 2012, leaked documents revealed that the Vatican Bank was used for money laundering. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in government and in the financial industry.


Goldman pays $50M fine for Fed data leak
2015-10-28, USA Today
http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2015/10/28/goldman-pays-50m-fine...

According to the New York Department of Financial Services, a banking regulator, Goldman hired Rohit Bansal from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in May 2014, "in large part for the regulatory experience and knowledge he had gained while working at the New York Fed." Goldman hired Bansal despite the fact that he had been forced to resign from the Fed for breaking the rules there. Once at Goldman, Bansal was instructed to work on a bank that he had supervised while at the Fed, despite explicit prohibitions against him doing so, NYDFS said. Bansal later used confidential information, some of which he obtained from his prior employment at the NY Fed and some of which he obtained from from a former NY Fed colleague, in his work on the bank. To resolve the matter, Goldman has agreed to pay $50 million and accept a three-year "voluntary abstention" from accepting new consulting engagements of NYDFS regulated entities. Goldman also agreed to admit that a former employee engaged in the criminal theft of confidential information and that Goldman management "failed to effectively supervise its employee to prevent this theft from occurring," NYDFS said. In September 2014, for example, Bansal attended the birthday dinner of a former Fed colleague at Peter Luger's. Immediately after the dinner, Bansal emailed his boss at Goldman "divulging confidential information concerning the regulated entity, specifically, the relevant component of the upcoming examination rating," NYDFS said.

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


Ex-Goldman Banker and Fed Employee Will Plead Guilty in Document Leak
2015-10-26, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/27/business/dealbook/criminal-charges-and-50-m...

A former Goldman Sachs banker suspected of taking confidential documents from a source inside the government has agreed to plead guilty, a rare criminal action on Wall Street, where Goldman itself is facing an array of regulatory penalties over the leak. The banker and his source, who at the time of the leak was an employee at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, one of Goldman’s regulators, will accept a plea deal from federal prosecutors that could send them to prison for up to a year. Under a tentative deal ... Goldman would pay a fine of $50 million. For Goldman and the New York Fed, the case is likely to give new life to an embarrassing episode that illustrated the blurred lines between their institutions. Perhaps more than any other bank, Goldman swaps employees with the government, earning it the nickname “Government Sachs.” While the so-called revolving door is common on Wall Street, the investigation [affirms] the public’s concerns that regulators and bankers, when intermingled, occasionally form unholy alliances. The Goldman banker, Rohit Bansal, previously spent seven years as a regulator at the New York Fed.

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


Misconduct bill tops $235 bln as banks struggle to shake off past sins
2015-05-22, CNBC/Reuters
http://www.cnbc.com/2015/05/22/reuters-america-misconduct-bill-tops-235-bln-a...

Twenty of the world's biggest banks have paid more than $235 billion in fines and compensation in the last seven years for a litany of misdeeds. The scale of the payouts, equivalent to the annual economy of Greece or Portugal, has hampered banks' efforts to rebuild capital, reduced dividends for investors and cut the amount firms are able to lend. The misconduct bill is expected to rise by tens of billions more dollars, and many politicians, regulators and industry observers said more needs to be done. Mark Taylor, dean of the business school at the University of Warwick in central England [says] bonuses are too high, there is little threat of jail for wrongdoers and bosses are not held responsible. "The problem is the incentives for cheating markets is massive. If you can shift a rate fractionally you can make millions and millions of dollars for your bank and then for bonuses. "Once senior executives feel they are personally at risk if the culture doesn't change, and individual traders feel they are at risk of being put in prison, then you'll get a culture change," he said. Despite the scale of fines and compensation paid by banks, relatively few individuals have been punished. Data compiled by Reuters ... showed U.S. banks have paid $140 billion in litigation and compensation for mortgage related issues since 2008. Bank of America has paid out twice as much as any other bank in settlements and compensation, with a bill of almost $80 billion.

Note: Big bank settlements often amount to "cash for secrecy" deals that are ultimately profitable for banks. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in government and in the financial industry.


Bankers are still breaking the rules to get ahead. Here's the proof
2015-05-19, The Telegraph (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/banksandfinance/11615229/Bank...

Illegal and unethical behaviour on Wall Street and in the City of London isn't just the work of a few bad apples - it's commonplace, according to new research. More than one in five financial services employees in America and the UK have seen their co-workers breaking the law or engaging in misconduct, a survey of more than 1,200 workers has found. Many feel under pressure to break the rules, believing it is a necessary part of getting ahead. Those at the top of the food chain are even more likely to have seen misconduct, with over a third of those earning more than $500,000 a year say they "have witnessed or have first hand knowledge of wrongdoing in the workplace". The University of Notre Dame and law firm Labaton Sucharow, which published the report, said it showed that bankers had failed to improve behaviour, despite billions of dollars in fines, and new regulations threatening jail. "Despite the headline-making consequences of corporate misconduct, our survey reveals that attitudes toward corruption within the industry have not changed for the better," the report's authors said. The researchers ... interviewed 1,223 banking and financial services workers. The research comes the day before five banks are expecting fines worth more than $6bn related to foreign exchange manipulation. Those questioned in the survey were also asked about whistleblowing practices, and 16pc said that corporate policies barred them from reporting illegal activity to authorities.

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


U.S. probes banks over metals markets
2015-02-24, USA Today
http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2015/02/24/us-probes-metals-market-manipu...

U.S. authorities are investigating major banks over potential manipulation of the precious metals market, the latest development in a series of probes related to major financial benchmarks. HSBC is among at least 10 major banks being investigated by U.S. authorities for possible rigging of the price-setting process for gold, silver, platinum and palladium, The Wall Street Journal reported late Monday. The report said other banks being scrutinized include: Goldman Sachs; JPMorgan Chase; Britain-based Barclays; Swiss banking giants UBS and Credit Suisse; Bank of Nova Scotia; Germany-based Deutsche Bank; France-based Société Générale; and South Africa-based Standard Bank Group. U.S. authorities declined to comment. Goldman Sachs, HSBC, Deutsche Bank and Barclays, HSBC, UBS and Bank of Nova Scotia have been named as defendants in various putative class-action lawsuits in U.S. federal courts over suspected manipulation of precious metals pricing. The complaints contend that bank traders conspired to manipulate the price of metal derivatives in a bid to reap profits on proprietary trades. The new U.S. investigations follow separate bank probes launched earlier over suspected manipulation of the $5.3-billion-a-day foreign exchange currency trading market, along with rigging of the London Interbank Offered Rate (Libor), which is used to set rates on billions of dollars in loans, credit cards and mortgages.

Note: When it comes to international banking, it appears that almost everything is rigged. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about the systemically corrupt 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.


Wall Street's threat to the American middle class
2015-01-27, Chicago Tribune
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/columnists/sns-201501271130--tms--amvoices...

The middle class can't be saved unless Wall Street is tamed. Yet most presidential aspirants don't want to talk about taming the Street because Wall Street is one of their largest sources of campaign money. Six years ago ... the financial collapse crippled the middle class and poor, consuming the savings of millions of average Americans and causing 23 million to lose their jobs, 9.3 million to lose their health insurance and some 1 million to lose their homes. A repeat performance is not unlikely. Wall Street's biggest banks are much larger now than they were then. Five of them hold about 45 percent of America's banking assets. In 2000, they held 25 percent. Meanwhile, the Street's lobbyists have gotten Congress to repeal a provision of Dodd-Frank curbing excessive speculation by the big banks. The language was drafted by Citigroup and personally pushed by Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase. It's nice that presidential aspirants are talking about rebuilding America's middle class. But to be credible, the candidates have to [propose] to limit the size of the biggest Wall Street banks, to resurrect the Glass-Steagall Act (which used to separate investment banking from commercial banking), to define insider trading the way most other countries do (using information any reasonable person would know is unavailable to most investors), and to close the revolving door between the Street and the U.S. Treasury. It also means not depending on the Street to finance their campaigns.

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


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.


The $9 Billion Witness: Meet JPMorgan Chase's Worst Nightmare
2014-11-06, Rolling Stone
http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-9-billion-witness-20141106

[Alayne] Fleischmann is the central witness in one of the biggest cases of white-collar crime in American history, possessing secrets that JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon late last year paid $9 billion ... to keep the public from hearing. In 2006, as a deal manager at the gigantic bank, Fleischmann first witnessed, then tried to stop, what she describes as "massive criminal securities fraud." This past year she watched as Holder's Justice Department struck a series of historic settlement deals with Chase, Citigroup and Bank of America. The root bargain in these deals was cash for secrecy. The idea that Holder had cracked down on Chase was ... fiction. The settlement, says Kelleher, "was ... crafted to bypass the court system. The DOJ and JP-Morgan were trying to avoid disclosure of their dirty deeds." Chase emerged with barely a scratch. The settlement put you, me and every other American taxpayer on the hook. Chase was allowed to treat some $7 billion of the settlement as a tax write-off. The bank's share price soared six percent on news of the settlement. Chase actually made money from the deal. What's more, to defray the cost of this and other fines, Chase last year laid off 7,500 lower-level employees. But no one made out better than [Chase CEO Jamie] Dimon. The board awarded [him] a 74 percent raise. The people who stole all those billions are still in place. And the bank is more untouchable than ever. Mary Jo White and Andrew Ceresny, who represented Chase for some of this case, have since been named to the two top jobs at the SEC.

Note: Read this entire, fascinating article to understand just how corrupt both the banks and our government are. For more along these lines, see these concise summaries of deeply revealing articles about widespread corruption in government and banking and finance. For additional information, see the excellent, reliable resources provided in our Banking Corruption Information Center.


Citigroup to pay $7 billion for ‘egregious misconduct’ leading up to financial crisis
2014-07-14, PBS
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/citigroup-pay-7-billion-egregious-misconduct-l...

JUDY WOODRUFF: “We should start praying. I wouldn’t be surprised if half of these loans went down” — that’s what a trader at Citigroup wrote in an e-mail in 2007, after reviewing thousands of mortgages bought and sold by the bank. Today, the Justice Department cited those very words as it announced a $7 billion settlement with the bank. The government said Citi committed egregious misconduct in the lead-up to the financial crisis. Of the $7 billion, Citigroup will pay $4 billion to the Justice Department. More than $2.5 billion is set aside for what’s described as consumer relief. Tony West is associate attorney general. And he was the government’s lead negotiator in this case. Lay out for us, what was this egregious conduct and how many people at Citigroup were engaged in it? TONY WEST: Citibank packaged securities, packaged loans, mortgage loans into these securities, which they sold to investors. What they didn’t tell investors was what the actual quality of those loans were. And so you had these mortgage bond deals that had quality that was far less than what Citi was representing to investors that they were. JUDY WOODRUFF: And how many people knew about this, and did the knowledge go all the way to the top? TONY WEST: We know from the evidence that bankers were warned that the quality of the loans that they were packaging into these securities wasn’t what they were telling investors they were, but they ignored those warning signs. They ignored that due diligence. Certainly enough ... bankers knew that we felt that we could demand a very high, in fact, an historically high, penalty from Citibank.

Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing financial corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.


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.


Canadian Brad Katsuyama in spotlight over 'rigged' markets allegation
2014-04-01, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/canadian-brad-katsuyama-in-spotlight-over-rig...

A Canadian who works on Wall Street is emerging in some quarters as a hero for revealing the inner workings of high frequency traders who critics have accused of rigging the stock market and taking investors for billions. Brad Katsuyama now runs IEX – the Investors Exchange – a new Wall Street trading platform he founded. But it was in his former capacity as the head trader in New York for RBC Capital Markets that he caught the attention of popular financial writer Michael Lewis. Katsuyama gets star billing in Lewis’s new book, Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt. Katsuyama told Lewis that he had uncovered the methods high frequency traders use to get what he considers to be an unfair advantage over other investors. Katsuyama noticed that when he would send a large stock order to the market, it would only be partially filled, and then he would have to pay a higher price for the rest of the order. When he investigated, he found that his orders travelled along fibre-optic lines and hit the closest exchange first, where high frequency traders would use their speed advantage to buy the shares he wanted and then sell them to him at a slightly higher price – all in milliseconds. "They are able to identify your desire to buy shares in Microsoft and buy them in front of you and sell them back to you at a higher price," Lewis told 60 Minutes. “The United States stock market, the most iconic market in global capitalism, is rigged.” The main thrust of Lewis’s new book is that high-frequency traders use their speed advantage in predatory ways that end up cheating market participants small and large.

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


Is the U.S. stock market rigged?
2014-03-30, CBS News
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/is-the-us-stock-market-rigged/

In the last two weeks, the New York attorney general and the Commodities Futures Trading Commission in Washington have both launched investigations into high-frequency computerized stock trading that now controls more than half the market. The probes were announced just ahead of a much anticipated book on the subject by best-selling author Michael Lewis called Flash Boys. In it, Lewis argues that the stock market is now rigged to benefit a group of insiders that have made tens of billions of dollars exploiting computerized trading. The story is told through an unlikely cast of characters who figured out what was going on and have devised a plan to correct it. It could have a huge impact on Wall Street. Tonight, Michael Lewis talks about it for the first time. Steve Kroft: What's the headline here? Michael Lewis: Stock market's rigged. The United States stock market, the most iconic market in global capitalism is rigged. Steve Kroft: By whom? Michael Lewis: By a combination of these stock exchanges, the big Wall Street banks and high-frequency traders. Steve Kroft: Who are the victims? Michael Lewis: Everybody who has an investment in the stock market. If it wasn't complicated, it wouldn't be allowed to happen. The complexity disguises what is happening. If it's so complicated you can't understand it, then you can't question it. Steve Kroft: And this is all being done by computers? Michael Lewis: All being done by computers. It's too fast to be done by humans. Humans have been completely removed from the marketplace. The insiders are able to move faster than you.

Note: For an amazing story of greed and manipulation exposed on Wall Street, see the New York Times article on Flash Boys at this link.


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.


Pope Francis 'is mafia target after campaigning against corruption'
2013-11-13, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/13/pope-francis-mafia-target-corrup...

Pope Francis's crusade against corruption has made him a target for Italy's all-powerful mafia clans, a leading anti-mob prosecutor has warned. Nicola Gratteri, who has battled Calabria's shadowy 'Ndrangheta mafia, said [that] Francis's attempt to bring transparency to the Vatican was making the white collar mobsters who do business with corrupt prelates "nervous and agitated". He told the Italian daily Il Fatto Quotidiano: "Pope Francis is dismantling centres of economic power in the Vatican. If the bosses could trip him up they wouldn't hesitate. I don't know if organised criminals are in a position to do something, but they are certainly thinking about it. They could be dangerous." Francis, who has called for "a poor church", has backed reform at the Vatican's bank, which has been suspected for years of being a channel for the laundering of mob profits. This week police impounded a luxury hotel on Rome's Janiculum hill – formerly a monastery – which the 'Ndrangheta allegedly purchased from a religious order. "The mafia that invests, that launders money, that therefore has the real power, is the mafia which has got rich for years from its connivance with the church," said Gratteri. "Priests continuously visit the houses of bosses for coffee, which gives the bosses strength and popular legitimacy," he said. A bishop in Locri in Calabria had excommunicated mobsters after they damaged fruit trees owned by the church, he said. "But before that episode, the bosses had killed thousands of people" without being sanctioned, he added.

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


Rigging currency markets
2013-10-12, The Economist
http://www.economist.com/news/finance-and-economics/21587824-are-foreign-exch...

[Banks] have rigged LIBOR, an interest rate used to peg contracts worth trillions. Its equivalent in the world of derivatives, ISDAfix, has also come under question. Commodities prices from crude oil to platinum have been the subject of allegations and inquiries. Now prices in global currency markets, where turnover is $5 trillion a day, are being scrutinised by authorities, who suspect bankers have tampered with those too. Switzerland’s financial watchdog announced on October 4th that it was investigating a slew of banks it thinks have manipulated currencies. Britain and the European Union also have probes under way. Concerns reportedly centre around abnormal movements ahead of a widely-used daily snapshot of exchange rates, known as the 4pm “London fix”. It represents the average of prices agreed during 60 seconds’ trading, and is used as a reference rate to execute a much larger set of currency deals. Bankers, who are big participants in the market, have huge incentives to nudge the price of a given currency pairing ahead of the fix. With billions of dollars changing hands, a difference of a fraction of a cent can add a tidy sum to the bonus pool. If proven, the charge would amount to banks fleecing their clients. Banks know the big trades they are about to execute on others’ behalf, and are often themselves the counterparty. By moving the markets ahead of the fix, they could alter the rate to their profit and their clients’ loss. One suspected method is “banging the close”: submitting a quick succession of orders just as the benchmark is set, to distort its value.

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


Former Bank of America workers allege lies to homeowners
2013-06-14, Chicago Tribune/Reuters
http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/breaking/sns-bank-of-america-workers-a...

Six former Bank of America Corp. employees have alleged that the bank deliberately denied eligible home owners loan modifications and lied to them about the status of their mortgage payments and documents. The bank allegedly used these tactics to shepherd homeowners into foreclosure, as well as in-house loan modifications. Both yielded the bank more profits than the government-sponsored Home Affordable Modification Program, according to documents recently filed as part of a lawsuit in Massachusetts federal court. The former employees, who worked at Bank of America centers throughout the United States, said the bank rewarded customer service representatives who foreclosed on homes with cash bonuses and gift cards to retail stores such as Target Corp and Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. At the same time, the bank punished those who did not make the numbers or objected to its tactics with discipline, including firing. About twice a month, the bank cleaned out its HAMP backlog in an operation called "blitz," where it declined thousands of loan modification requests just because the documents were more than 60 months old, the court documents say. The testimony from the former employees also alleges the bank falsified information it gave the government, saying it had given out HAMP loan modifications when it had not. Borrowers filed the civil case against Bank of America in 2010 and are now seeking class certification.

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


What Goldman Sachs should admit: it drives up the cost of food
2013-05-23, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/may/23/goldman-sachs-agm-drive-f...

[In 2012,] financial speculator Goldman Sachs, the archetypal villain of the global economic meltdown, bailed out by US taxpayers to the tune of $5.5bn ... made an estimated $400m from speculating on food. The World Bank estimated in 2010 that 44 million people were pushed into poverty because of high food prices, and that speculation is one of the main causes. Since Goldman led the drive to deregulate commodity markets in the 1990s ... they've been at the vanguard of creating and promoting complex commodity instruments, from which they've raked in huge profits. Wallace Turbeville, a former vice president and the inventor of commodity index funds, has been outing the company's methods. He says that in his time at Goldman, investment increased from $3bn in 2003 to $260bn in 2008, and commodity prices rose dramatically during the same period, increasing from 2006 to 2008 by an average of 71%. In 1996, speculators held 12% of the positions on the Chicago wheat market, with most of the market being made up of the legitimate users of food – from farmers to producers. But the legitimate hedging element of commodity markets has virtually disappeared in the intervening years. By 2011, pure speculators made up a staggering 61% of the market. Of course, Goldman Sachs isn't the only player, but it is certainly the largest. For several years, it was hotly debated whether speculation in food commodities drives up prices. But the evidence now firmly says it does, and that there's little correlation between rising prices and actual supply and demand. There are now well over 100 studies which agree.

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


German man locked up over HVB bank allegations may have been telling truth
2012-11-28, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/nov/28/gustl-mollath-hsv-claims-fraud

A German man committed to a high-security psychiatric hospital after being accused of fabricating a story of money-laundering activities at a major bank is to have his case reviewed after evidence has emerged proving the validity of his claims. Gustl Mollath, 56, was submitted to the secure unit of a psychiatric hospital seven years ago after court experts diagnosed him with paranoid personality disorder following his claims that staff at the Hypo Vereinsbank (HVB) – including his wife, then an assets consultant at HVB – had been illegally smuggling large sums of money into Switzerland. Mollath was tried in 2006 after his ex-wife accused him of causing her physical harm. He denied the charges, claiming she was trying to sully his name in the light of the evidence he allegedly had against her. He was admitted to the clinic, where he has remained against his will ever since. But recent evidence brought to the attention of state prosecutors shows that money-laundering activities were indeed practiced over several years by members of staff at the Munich-based bank, the sixth-largest private financial institute in Germany. A number of employees, including Mollath's wife, were subsequently sacked following the bank's investigation. The "Mollath affair", as it has been dubbed by the German media, has taken on such political dimensions that it now threatens to bring down the government of Bavaria.

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


HSBC Investigation: clients of Britain's biggest bank exposed
2012-11-15, The Telegraph (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/banksandfinance/9665741/HSBC-...

Britain’s biggest bank is at the centre of a major ... investigation after it opened offshore accounts in Jersey for serious criminals living in this country. Tax authorities have obtained details of every British client of HSBC in Jersey after a whistleblower secretly provided a detailed list of names, addresses and account balances earlier this week. Among those identified on the list are Daniel Bayes, a drug dealer who is now in Venezuela; Michael Lee, who was convicted of possessing more than 300 weapons at his house in Devon; three bankers facing major fraud allegations and a man once dubbed London’s “number two computer crook”. The disclosures raise serious questions about HSBC’s procedures in Jersey, with the bank already preparing to pay fines of around $1.5 billion in America for breaking money laundering rules. The bank is legally obliged to report to the authorities any suspicions about the source of money deposited in its accounts. The list identifies 4,388 people holding Ł699 million in offshore current accounts and they are also likely to have billions of pounds more in investment schemes. Several celebrities and other well-known figures are understood to be identified in the client data. The HSBC Jersey client list is understood to be heavily dominated by senior figures in the City. Dozens of bankers are understood to have deposited six-figure sums offshore with some institutions said to have “clusters” of employees taking advantage of the accounts. Doctors, mining and oil executives and oil workers are also heavily represented in the list.

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


Does the Federal Reserve Have Too Much Power?
2012-03-26, PBS
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/businessdesk/2012/03/does-the-federal-reserve-hav...

Question: A group proposing a change in monetary policy based on the writings of Stephen Zarlenga (monetary.org) [argues] that the government should print the money, not the Fed or any other private body. H.R. 2990 proposed by Dennis Kucinich is based on these ideas. Are they reasonable to you? Paul Solman: As the Treasury borrows more and more money by issuing bonds and selling them to all comers, it commits itself, "with the full faith and credit" of the United States, to pay back its creditors in full. That means it will either raise taxes in the future or -- and this is the relevant point -- get the Fed to create more money by purchasing bonds on the open market. This is called "monetizing the debt." There's a legitimate case that the Fed has too much power, is insufficiently beholden to the people in what's supposed to be a democracy, since no one on the Fed is chosen by popular election and private bankers are heavily represented on its board. This has long been the argument of financial journalist William Greider, author of a major book on the Fed, "The Secrets of the Temple." Greider: "The idea of giving the Federal Reserve still greater power [is] dangerous. First of all it rewards failure. But secondly, it puts them in the position as arbiter of who shall fail and who shall succeed. It asks to be able to choose what are the 30 or 40 or 50 banks and industrial firms that it regards as systemic risks for the society and ... it will protect those from failure. The government stands behind them and the rest of us are on our own."

Note: If you look at the top of any U.S. currency bill, you will see the words "Federal Reserve Note." Thus, though U.S. dollars are printed by the Treasury, they are issued and controlled by the Federal Reserve, which is privately owned, though subject to minimal federal oversight. To see just how much control the Federal Reserve has over the issuance of U.S. currency, see their webpage at this link. For lots more on hidden manipulations of the Federal Reserve, 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.


The extra dollars you're paying at the pump are going to Wall Street speculators
2012-02-28, Chicago Tribune
http://www.chicagotribune.com/sns-201202280930--tms--amvoicesctnav-a20120228f...

The current surge in gas prices has almost nothing to do with energy policy. It doesn't even have much to do with global supply and demand. It has most to do with America's continuing failure to adequately regulate Wall Street. Oil supplies aren't being squeezed. Over 80 percent of America's energy needs are now being satisfied by domestic supplies. In fact, we're starting to become an energy exporter. Demand for oil isn't rising. Oil demand in the U.S. is down compared to last year at this time. The American economy is showing only the faintest signs of recovery. Meanwhile, global demand is still moderate. Europe's debt crisis hasn't gone away. China's growth continues to slow. But Wall Street is betting on higher oil prices. Hedge-fund managers and traders assume that mounting tensions in the Middle East will hobble supplies later this year. Wall Street speculators also assume global demand for oil will rise in the coming year. These are just expectations, not today's realities. But they're pushing up oil prices just the same, because Wall Street firms and other big financial players now dominate oil trading. Where there's money to be made, Wall Street will find a way of making it. And when it comes to oil, so much money is at stake that gigantic sums can be made if the bets pay off. Speculators figure they can hedge against bad bets. Financial speculators historically accounted for about 30 percent of oil contracts, producers and end users for about 70 percent. But today speculators account for 64 percent of all contracts.

Note: This article was written by Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor, professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley and the author of Aftershock: The Next Economy and America's Future. He blogs at www.robertreich.org. For lots more reliable information from the major media on energy manipulations, click here.


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.


G.E.’s Strategies Let It Avoid Taxes Altogether
2011-03-25, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/25/business/economy/25tax.html

General Electric, the nation’s largest corporation, had a very good year in 2010. The company reported worldwide profits of $14.2 billion, and said $5.1 billion of the total came from its operations in the United States. Its American tax bill? None. In fact, G.E. claimed a tax benefit of $3.2 billion. That may be hard to fathom for the millions of American business owners and households now preparing their own returns, but low taxes are nothing new for G.E. The company has been cutting the percentage of its American profits paid to the Internal Revenue Service for years, resulting in a far lower rate than at most multinational companies. Its extraordinary success is based on an aggressive strategy that mixes fierce lobbying for tax breaks and innovative accounting that enables it to concentrate its profits offshore. G.E.’s giant tax department, led by a bow-tied former Treasury official named John Samuels, is often referred to as the world’s best tax law firm. Indeed, the company’s slogan “Imagination at Work” fits this department well. The team includes former officials not just from the Treasury, but also from the I.R.S. and virtually all the tax-writing committees in Congress. While General Electric is one of the most skilled at reducing its tax burden, many other companies have become better at this as well.

Note: For key reports from major media sources on corporate and government corruption, click here and here.


A Conspiracy With a Silver Lining
2011-03-02, New York Times blog
http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/02/a-conspiracy-with-a-silver-li...

In the past six months, the value of [silver] has increased nearly 80 percent, to more than $34 an ounce. [This] is reminiscent of ... the Hunt Brothers. When the Hunts started buying silver in 1973, the price of the metal was $1.95 an ounce. By early 1980, the brothers had driven the price up to $54 an ounce before the Federal Reserve intervened, changed the rules on speculative silver investments and the price plunged. When JPMorgan Chase bought Bear Stearns in March 2008, it inherited Bear Stearns’ large bet that the price of silver would fall. The international bank HSBC got into the market heavily on the bear side as well. These actions “artificially depressed the price of silver dramatically downward,” according to a class-action lawsuit ... filed against both banks in November. “The conspiracy and scheme was enormously successful, netting the defendants substantial illegal profits” in the billions of dollars between June 2008 and March 2010, according to the suit. In November 2009, [Andrew Maguire] ... a former employee of Goldman Sachs and a 40-year industry veteran, [related] tales of how the silver traders at JPMorgan were bragging about all the money they were making “as a result of the manipulation,” which entailed “flooding the market” with “short positions” every time the price of silver started to creep upward. In March 2010, Maguire released his e-mails publicly. Then came the cloak and dagger element: [On March 26th] Maguire was involved in a bizarre car accident in London. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s investigation is still unresolved, and at least one commissioner — Bart Chilton — after interviewing more than 32 people and reviewing more than 40,000 documents, [says] there has been enough investigating and not enough prosecuting. Chilton said ... that “one participant” in the silver market still controlled 35 percent of the silver market.

Note: Gold and silver have been intensely manipulated for many years. The price of gold has risen 500% in the last 10 years, while silver prices have rocketed 700% in the last eight years. Yet the media consistently underreports this amazing news. Few media gave more than a passing mention to gold passing the $1,000 mark in 2008, which was a historic event. Read the full article to understand this important topic. For lots more quality information on this from a former US assistant secretary for HUD, 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.


Learning From Lehman
2010-03-14, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/14/opinion/14sun3.html

On top of everything Lehman Brothers did before it collapsed in 2008, nearly toppling the financial system, it now seems that it was aggressively massaging its books. A new report on the Lehman collapse, released last week ... would leave anyone dumbstruck by the firm’s audacity — and reminded of the crying need for adult supervision of Wall Street. The 2,200-page report [finds that] Lehman engaged in transactions that let it temporarily shift troubled assets off its books and in so doing, hide its reliance on borrowed money. The maneuvers ... made the firm appear healthier than it was. [The author, Anton R. Valukas, a former federal prosecutor,] wrote that Richard S. Fuld Jr., Lehman’s former chief executive, was “at least grossly negligent,” and that Lehman executives engaged in “actionable balance sheet manipulation.” According to the report, rating agencies, government regulators and Lehman’s board of directors had no clue about the gimmicks. The result is that we were all blindsided. And we could be blindsided again. Congress is not even close to passing meaningful regulatory reform. The surviving banks have only gotten bigger and more politically powerful. If the Valukas report is not a wake-up call, what would be?

Note: The Lehman report is described in detail here. For revealing information showing how the US Treasury Department continues to fight against a much-needed audit of the Federal Reserve, click here. For a great collection of revealing reports from reliable sources on the hidden realities behind the financial crisis and government bailouts of the biggest financial corporations, click here.


Greece to Make All Large Cash Transactions Illegal
2010-02-16, Christian Science Monitor
http://www.csmonitor.com/Money/The-Daily-Reckoning/2010/0216/Greece-to-Make-A...

Embroiled in its debt crisis and looking for any avenue to bolster tax receipts [Greece] has done the unthinkable – it has made [cash, in euros] illegal for transactions over 1,500 euros. Of course, larger credit- or debit-based electronic transactions over 1,500 will still be denominated in euros. However, electronic transactions clearly require infrastructure and limit personal freedom. From Reuters: “From 1. Jan. 2011, every transaction above 1,500 euros between natural persons and businesses, or between businesses, will not be considered legal if it is done in cash. Transactions will have to be done through debit or credit cards.” It seems wrong for the Greek state to dictate how cash euros can be used. In fact, it’s surprising that the EU-endorsed plan would allow Greece to control euro usage at that level. Despite the fact that the reform bill is a piece of an approved EU plan to help improve Greek tax revenue and reduce deficit, it seems to go too far in curtailing personal liberty. How much is a government willing to punish its own citizens for using “too much” of their own legal tender in an otherwise legal transaction?

Note: What gives any government the right to limit cash transactions? And why is the EU approving this unusual measure? Could this be part of a hidden agenda to push the public towards a cashless society?


Fed Struggles with Perceptions of Transparency
2009-07-30, PBS
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/business/july-dec09/federalreserve_07-30.html

PAUL SOLMAN, NewsHour economics correspondent: As the Federal Reserve moved rapidly and radically last year to prevent what it feared was an economic meltdown, it bailed out some institutions, but not others, forced mergers, [and] created hundreds of billions of dollars. The net result: increased suspicion of the Fed itself. That's nothing new. The 1913 act of Congress that established America's central bank was ... a compromise between government ... and private banking interests, which owned the 12 regional Fed branches. [All along,] some Americans have been suspicious of the Fed for operating above politics, too close to bankers, and behind closed doors. Simply Google "Federal Reserve." You encounter everything from skepticism to fear of conspiracy. NARRATOR: With the power to regulate the money supply is also the power to bring entire economies and societies to its knees. DONALD KOHN, Federal Reserve vice chairman: We bring information to bear from the private sector, from foreign governments and foreign central banks that they tell us in confidence about what's going on in their businesses. WILLIAM GREIDER, author, "Secrets of the Temple": You could say, "We have to have our meetings in secret because things will be said that are national security secrets, but we'll vet the transcript and release it four weeks later." Why not do that? SOLMAN: A House bill ... would give the Government Accountability Office the right to audit the Fed's interest rate decisions. Chairman Bernanke opposes it as compromising the Fed's independence.

Note: If you look at the top of any U.S. currency, you will see the words "Federal Reserve Note." U.S. dollars are issued and controlled by the Federal Reserve, which is privately owned, though subject to minimal federal oversight. To see just how much control the Federal Reserve has over the issuance of U.S. currency, see their webpage at this link. For lots more on hidden manipulations of the Federal Reserve, click here.


New Fed powers not matched with accountability
2009-06-25, Reuters News
http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSTRE55O6EZ20090625

President Barack Obama's proposal for a regulatory overhaul of the financial industry vastly expands the reach of the Federal Reserve, yet fails to make policy-makers more accountable for their actions. Critics argue that the new legislation fundamentally misses the problems that led to the financial crisis. It was a lack of enforcement by supervisors, they say, not insufficient rules, that fostered a cowboy culture of rampant risk-taking on Wall Street. "Obama is letting the Fed and everyone else off the hook by saying that the problem was with the regulations and not the regulators," said Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic Policy Research in Washington. "If regulators know that even if they totally fail on the job, they will face no career consequences, then at some future point, when there is a choice between confronting the financial industry or just going along, the regulators will just go along," said Baker. Some feel uncomfortable with a broader role for the Fed primarily because of the Fed's closeness to the banking sector. The Fed is not technically a public entity. Each of the Fed's 12 branches are overseen by a nine-member board of directors, two-thirds of whom are elected by the bankers in the district. "The Federal Reserve has massive conflicts of interest that make it ill-suited for its present regulatory functions and certainly for an expanded regulatory reach," said Robert Auerbach, a professor of public affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. "The officials leading the Fed today preside over an organization that is run in substantial part by the bankers they regulate."

Note: For empowering insight into the historic roots of the Federal Reserve's unaccountability, click here.


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.


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.


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.


A Few Speculators Dominate Vast Market for Oil Trading
2008-08-21, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/08/20/AR20080820038...

Regulators had long classified a private Swiss energy conglomerate called Vitol as a trader that primarily helped industrial firms that needed oil to run their businesses. But when the Commodity Futures Trading Commission examined Vitol's books last month, it found that the firm was in fact more of a speculator, holding oil contracts as a profit-making investment rather than a means of lining up the actual delivery of fuel. Even more surprising to the commodities markets was the massive size of Vitol's portfolio -- at one point in July, the firm held 11 percent of all the oil contracts on the regulated New York Mercantile Exchange. The discovery revealed how an individual financial player had gained enormous sway over the oil market without the knowledge of regulators. Other CFTC data showed that a significant amount of trading activity was concentrated in the hands of just a few speculators. The CFTC ... now reports that financial firms speculating for their clients or for themselves account for about 81 percent of the oil contracts on NYMEX, a far bigger share than had previously been stated by the agency. That figure may rise in coming weeks as the CFTC checks the status of other big traders. Some lawmakers have blamed these firms for the volatility of oil prices, including the tremendous run-up that peaked earlier in the summer. "It is now evident that speculators in the energy futures markets play a much larger role than previously thought, and it is now even harder to accept the agency's laughable assertion that excessive speculation has not contributed to rising energy prices," said Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.).


Investors' Growing Appetite for Oil Evades Market Limits
2008-06-06, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/06/05/AR20080605043...

Hedge funds and big Wall Street banks are taking advantage of loopholes in federal trading limits to buy massive amounts of oil contracts, ... helping to push oil prices to record highs. The federal agency that oversees oil trading, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, has exempted these firms from rules that limit speculative buying. The CFTC has also waived regulations over the past decade on U.S. investors who trade commodities on some overseas markets, freeing those investors to accumulate large quantities of the future oil supply by making purchases on lightly regulated foreign exchanges. Over the past five years, investors have become such a force on commodity markets that their appetite for oil contracts has been equal to China's increase in demand over the same period, said Michael Masters, a hedge fund manager who testified before Congress on the subject last month. The commodity markets, he added, were never intended for such large financial players. Commodities have become especially enticing to investors as the credit crisis has roiled other investment opportunities such as stocks and debt-related securities. The recent flood of investment money has transformed the markets for oil, as well as uranium, wheat, cotton and other goods, into a volatile realm that some insiders call the Wild West of Wall Street. Michael Greenberger, a professor at the University of Maryland and former CFTC commissioner, said there were loopholes the agency could close without much effort. "There's smoke here, and the CFTC hasn't wanted to look if there's a fire," he said. "But these are dark markets. They don't even know who's doing the trading."

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


The Global Ruling Class: Billion-dollar Babies
2008-04-24, The Economist magazine
http://www.economist.com/books/displaystory.cfm?story_id=11081878

Who rules the world? The rise of nation states produced national ruling classes. It would be odd if the current integration of the world economy did not produce new global elites — business people and financiers who run global companies and global politicians who steer supra-national organisations such as the European Union (EU) and the International Monetary Fund. David Rothkopf, a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, argues that these elites constitute nothing less than a new global “superclass”. They have all the clubby characteristics of the old national ruling classes, but with the vital difference that they operate on the global stage, far from mere national electorates. They attend the same universities. They are groomed in a handful of world-spanning institutions such as Goldman Sachs. They belong to the same clubs — the Council on Foreign Relations in New York is a particular favourite — and sit on each other's boards of directors. Many of them shuttle between the public and private sectors. They meet at global events such as the World Economic Forum at Davos and the Trilateral Commission or — for the crčme de la crčme — the Bilderberg meetings or the Bohemian Grove seminars that take place every July in California. Mr Rothkopf is anything but a crank, and he is right when he says that, these days, the most influential people around the world are also the most global people. He is also admirably ambivalent about his subject. He worries about surging inequality — the richest 1% of humans own 40% of the planet's wealth — and about the rumbling backlash against so much unaccountable power.

Note: For reliable, verifiable information the secret societies of which the global elite are a part, click here. Superclass: The Global Power Elite and the World They Are Making by David Rothkopf is available here.


What Power Looks Like
2008-04-14, Newsweek magazine
http://www.newsweek.com/id/130637

[In] speaking [with New York Federal Reserve Bank president Timothy] Geithner while I was doing the research for my recently published book Superclass, he sketched in fascinating detail how the world's power elite rallies when the markets quake. Recalling an earlier crisis in global securities markets that he helped to manage, Geithner said the Fed brought together the leaders of the world's 14 major financial firms, from five countries, representing 95 percent of all the activity in global markets. The Swiss were there, the Germans were there, the British were there. Goldman Sachs chairman and CEO Lloyd Blankfein "jokingly called them 'the 14 families,' like in 'The Godfather'," says Geithner. "And we said to them, 'You guys have got to fix this problem. Tell us how you are going to fix it and we will work out some basic regime.' You ... need a critical mass of the right players. It is a much more concentrated world." Geithner's description of the financial elite in crisis mode came many months before the recent meltdown of Bear Stearns, yet foreshadowed [it] in an uncanny way. The people ... described by Geithner, plus a few thousand more like them, not only in business and finance, but also politics, the arts, the nonprofit world and other realms, are part of a new global elite that has emerged over the past several decades. I call it the "superclass." They have vastly more power than any other group on the planet. Each of the members is set apart by his ability to regularly influence the lives of millions of people in multiple countries worldwide. Each actively exercises this power, and often amplifies it through the development of relationships with other superclass members.

Note: For many revealing stories from reliable sources on secret societies of the world's most powerful people, click here.


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.


1934: The Plot Against America
2007-07-28, Harper's magazine
http://www.harpers.org/archive/2007/07/hbc-90000651

In November 1934, federal investigators uncovered an amazing plot involving some two dozen senior businessmen, a good many of them Wall Street financiers, to topple the government of the United States and install a fascist dictatorship. An alert FDR shut it down but stopped short of retaliatory measures against the plotters. A key element of the plot involved [Smedley Butler], a retired prominent general who was to have raised a private army of 500,000 men from unemployed veterans and who blew the whistle when he learned more of what the plot entailed. The plot was heavily funded and well developed and had strong links with fascist forces abroad. A story in the New York Times and several other newspapers reported on it, and a special Congressional committee was created to conduct an investigation. The records of this committee were scrubbed and sealed away in the National Archives, where they have only recently been made available. The Congressional committee kept the names of many of the participants under wraps and no criminal action was ever brought against them. But a few names have leaked out. And one is Prescott Bush, the grandfather of the incumbent president. Prescott Bush was ... deep into the business of the Hamburg-America Lines, and had tight relations throughout this period with the new Government that had come to power in Germany a year earlier under Chancellor Adolph Hitler. It appears that Bush was to have formed a key liaison for the group with the new German government. The role of the most powerful political dynastic family in the nation’s history in this whole affair is shocking.

Note: You can listen to the highly revealing BBC Radio broadcast on Bush/Nazi ties by clicking here. And to watch an eye-opening History Channel documentary on the coup plot, click here. U.S. Marine Corps General Smedley Butler was the author of the landmark book "War is a Racket," summarized here.


Government Accountability Office Report
2006-12-15, Comptroller General of the United States
http://fms.treas.gov/fr/06frusg/06gao2.pdf

The Secretary of the Treasury ... is required annually to submit financial statements for the U.S. government to the President and the Congress. GAO is required to audit these statements. Certain material weaknesses in financial reporting and other limitations on the scope of our work resulted in conditions that continued to prevent us from expressing an opinion on the accompanying consolidated financial statements for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2006 and 2005. The federal government did not maintain effective internal control over financial reporting. While we are unable to express an opinion ... the following key items deserve emphasis. The U.S. government’s total reported liabilities, net social insurance commitments, and other fiscal exposures continue to grow and now total approximately $50 trillion, representing approximately four times the Nation’s total output (GDP) in fiscal year 2006, up from about $20 trillion, or two times GDP in fiscal year 2000. The retirement of the“baby boom” generation is [also] closer to becoming a reality with the first wave of boomers eligible for early retirement under Social Security in 2008. It seems clear that the nation’s current fiscal path is unsustainable and that tough choices by the President and the Congress are necessary in order to address the nation’s large and growing long-term fiscal imbalance. Other material weaknesses were the federal government’s inability to: determine the full extent to which improper payments exist; identify and resolve information security control weaknesses; and effectively manage its tax collection activities.

Note: The full 172-page report is available here. Why didn't any of the media cover this eye-opening report? Is the fact that the national debt has risen 150% since 2000 not news? For a possible answer, click here. To learn of the trillions of unaccounted for dollars in the military, click here.


Insiders' stock sale-purchase ratio widens
2006-12-07, Chicago Tribune/Bloomberg
http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/chi-0612070153dec07,0,3801935.story

Stock sales by America's corporate leaders exceeded purchases last month by the widest ratio in nearly 20 years. Executives sold $63.18 of shares for every $1 they bought in November, the largest ratio since at least January 1987. U.S. securities laws require company executives and directors to disclose stock purchases or sales within two business days. Insiders sold $8.4 billion in shares last month, according to data compiled from SEC filings. Buying was ... $133 million. The overall insider-selling amount was the fifth-highest since 1987. Selling peaked at $13.9 billion in March 2000. The data have "value for investors," said Wayne Reisner at Carret Asset Management in New York. "It's people who are very familiar with their company and their stock." Insiders executed 6.34 sales transactions for each purchase transaction in the eight weeks ended Dec. 1. That's up from 2.45 in the period ended Aug. 4 and above the ratio of 2.25 he considers neutral for the market. Microsoft ranked first among U.S. companies, with $594.2 million in sales by insiders in November. Seagate Technology and DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. ranked second and third, at $311.8 million and $224.2 million, respectively. Google Inc. was fourth, at $182.1 million.

Note: Isn't it interesting that the NASDAQ stock index reached it's all-time high in March 2000, the exact month executive stock selling hit its record, and just prior to the huge NASDAQ crash. Is it possible that corporate executives knew something the rest of us didn't?


World's wealth gap grows; poorest half has 1% of assets
2006-12-05, Denver Post (Denver's leading newspaper)
http://www.denverpost.com/headlines/ci_4785148

The richest 2 percent of adults still own more than half of the world's household wealth, perpetuating a yawning global gap between rich and poor, according to research published Tuesday. The report from the Helsinki-based World Institute for Development Economics Research shows that in 2000 the richest 1 percent of adults - most of whom live in Europe or the United States - owned 40 percent of global assets. The richest 10 percent of adults accounted for 85 percent of assets. By contrast, the bottom 50 percent of the world's adult population owned barely 1 percent of the world's wealth. "Income inequality has been rising for the past 20 to 25 years, and we think that is true for inequality in the distribution of wealth," said James Davies, a professor of economics at the University of Western Ontario, one of the report's authors. But ... there are some hopeful signs: China and India, which are developing rapidly, are gaining wealth, and in countries such as Bangladesh, the spread of microcredit institutions is helping people increase their personal wealth.

Note: If you are interested in a secure vehicle in which to place your investments which helps to directly pull families out of poverty in a big way through microcredit and microloans, click here.


Getting closer to Uncle Sam
2006-09-20, Toronto Star (One of Canada's top newspapers)
http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Articl...

Public kept in dark as business leads talks about North American integration. Away from the spotlight, from Sept. 12 to 14, in Banff Springs, Minister of Public Safety Stockwell Day and Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor met with U.S. and Mexican government officials and business leaders to discuss North American integration at the second North American Forum. The guest list included such prominent figures as U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Mexican Secretary of Public Security Eduardo Medina Mora and Canadian Forces chief General Rick Hillier. The event was chaired by former U.S. secretary of state George Schultz, former Alberta premier, Peter Lougheed and former Mexican finance minister Pedro Aspe. Organizers did not alert the media about the event. Our government ... refuses to release any information about the content of the discussions or the actors involved. The event was organized by the Canadian Council of Chief Executives. The media have paid little attention to this far-reaching agreement, so Canadians are unaware that a dozen working groups are currently "harmonizing" Canadian and U.S. regulations on everything from food to drugs to the environment and even more contentious issues like foreign policy. This process ... is about priming North America for better business by weakening the impacts of such perceived obstacles as environmental standards and labour rights. This is why the public has been kept in the dark while the business elite has played a leading role in designing the blueprint for this more integrated North America.

Note: If the above link fails, click here. Why has the U.S. media not covered this key topic? For a second article discussing this secret meeting on a top Canadian TV website, click here. To learn about other secret meetings of the power elite, click here


Sustained Improvement in Federal Financial Management Is Crucial to Addressing Our Nation's Financial Condition and Long-term Fiscal Imbalance
2006-03-01, Government Accountability Office (GAO) Website
http://www.gao.gov/docsearch/abstract.php?rptno=GAO-06-406T

GAO is required by law to annually audit the consolidated financial statements of the U.S. government. Until the problems discussed in GAO's audit report on the U.S. government's consolidated financial statements are adequately addressed, they will continue to...hinder the federal government from having reliable financial information to operate in an economical, efficient, and effective manner. For the ninth consecutive year, certain material weaknesses in internal control and in selected accounting and financial reporting practices resulted in conditions that continued to prevent GAO from being able to provide the Congress and American people an opinion as to whether the consolidated financial statements of the U.S. government are fairly stated in conformity with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles. Major impediments to an opinion on the consolidated financial statements continued to be (1) serious financial management problems at the Department of Defense. The federal government's fiscal exposures now total more than $46 trillion, representing close to four times gross domestic product (GDP) in fiscal year 2005 and up from about $20 trillion or two times GDP in 2000.

Note:For the official .pdf version on the GAO website click here. Why didn't this become headline news? Why isn't anyone being assigned to seriously investigate these continually unresolved core issues and report to the public that the largest, most powerful country in the world is a long way from being able to track its own finances. For lots more major media articles on major government corruption, click here. You can help to build a better world by sharing this vital information with your friends and colleagues and contacting members of the media and your government representatives asking them to address this pervasive problem. Thanks for caring.


Defense Department drops $100M on unused airline tickets
2004-06-09, USA Today/New York Times/Associated Press
http://www.usatoday.com/travel/news/2004-06-09-pentagon-flights_x.htm

The Defense Department spent an estimated $100 million for airline tickets that were not used over a six-year period and failed to seek refunds even though the tickets were reimbursable, congressional investigators say. The GAO estimated that between 1997 and 2003, the Defense Department bought at least $100 million in tickets that were not used or used only partially by a passenger who did not complete all legs of a flight. The waste went undetected because the department relied on individuals to report the unused tickets. They did not do so. "The millions of dollars wasted on unused airline tickets provides another example of why DOD financial management is one of our high-risk areas, with DOD highly vulnerable to fraud, waste and abuse," the GAO said. Two of the three lawmakers who asked for the study were Republicans, and both were highly critical of the Pentagon's lack of financial control. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said, "It's outrageous that the Defense Department would be sending additional federal tax dollars to the airlines by way of unused passenger tickets." While one GAO report focused on the unused tickets, the second investigation found potential fraud. It said the department paid travelers for tickets the department already bought and reimbursed employees for tickets that had not been authorized. It is a crime for a government employee knowingly to request reimbursement for goods and services he or she did not buy. To demonstrate how easy it was to have the Pentagon pay for airline travel, the investigators posed as Defense employees, had the department generate a ticket and showed up at the ticket counter to pick up a boarding pass.

Note:To read this astonishing article on the New York Times website, click here.


The BCCI whitewash
1991-11-06, Baltimore Sun
http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1991-11-06/news/1991310167_1_bcci-sununu-whi...

Relax, everybody -- the White House counsel has "investigated" the case of the departing Sununu aide with no legal experience who was hired for $600,000 by a BCCI figure, and rendered this verdict: Nobody did anything wrong. Influence peddling? An attempt by intermediaries to obstruct justice? Forget it. Sununu's man agrees to give back the money; case closed. Much relieved, the Republican Justice Department hastily announces it accepts the predetermined result of the White House "inquiry" and will not investigate. To date, nobody has been asked a single question under oath. Let's see what Sheik Kamal Adham, the ex-Saudi spymaster at the center of the BCCI conspiracy, thought he would get by hiring the person closest to Bush's chief of staff. Since late spring, Plato Cacheris, Kamal's legitimate criminal defense lawyer, has been trying to get various prosecutors to ... come to a place of the sheik's choosing, where he cannot be arrested and extradited, to listen to an unsworn proffer of evidence that will deflect prosecution from him. Nothing doing, said Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, the only lawman getting real results in the BCCI swindle; bring him in -- we'll get his story in front of a grand jury. Then Sununu's right-hand man departs the White House and is immediately retained, reportedly paid $136,000 in advance. Justice suddenly has a change of heart; though Ed Rogers' hand doesn't show, David Eisenberg, an assistant U.S. attorney, is dispatched from Washington to Cairo to meet Kamal on the sheik's terms.

Note: For more on the huge scandals of the powerful BCCI, click here. For lots more from reliable sources on government corruption, click here.


Moore Asks Inquiry Into Charges on Preparedness Campaign
1917-02-14, New York Times
http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9504E7DA1538EE32A25757C1A9649C...

A demand for an investigation of charges printed in the Congressional Record by Representative Oscar Callaway of Texas, a pacifist Democrat, that “the J.P. Morgan interests, the steel shipbuilding, and powder interests” had purchased control of twenty-five great newspapers to further the preparedness campaign, was made in the House today by Representative J. Hampton Moore, a Pennsylvania Republican. Mr. Callaway’s speech, as inserted in The Record charged: “In March, 1915, the J.P. Morgan interests, the steel, shipbuilding and powder interests, and their subsidiary organizations got together twelve men high up in the newspaper world and employed them to select from the most influential papers in the United States in sufficient numbers of them to control generally the policy of the daily press of the United States. They found it was only necessary to purchase the control of twenty-five of the greatest newspapers. [An] editor was furnished for each paper to properly supervise and edit information regarding the questions of preparedness, militarism, financial policies and other things of national and international nature considered vital to the interests of the purchasers. The policy also included the suppression of everything in opposition to the wishes of the interests served."

Note: For more showing how the media is controlled by carefully selected people placed by big money and the power elite, click here and here. For a short video of Congressional testimony from the 1970s proving CIA media manipulation, click here. The full text of this revealing article is available free at this link.


Wells Fargo Still Hasn’t Gotten Ahead of Its Problems
2018-05-17,

On Thursday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Wells Fargo recently discovered that employees were improperly altering the documents of business borrowers, adding information to the accounts without the consent or notifying the clients. The latest issue comes only a week after news came out that Wells Fargo admitted it had improperly collected fees on a Tennessee public pension fund. Improper fees could be a widespread problem in its pension fund business. The bank’s wealth management unit is also under investigation for pressuring clients into rolling over their low-cost 401(k) accounts into more expensive alternatives. Wells Fargo has regularly said its problems are in the past, without spending the money it should to actually put those problems in the past. Wells Fargo, like other banks, doesn’t break out what it spends on compliance, and says it’s generally spending more, but in its most recent quarter it’s hard to see where. In February, the Federal Reserve sanctioned Wells Fargo for not having proper risk controls in place. The bank has since told shareholders it plans to cut costs, not raise them in order to improve compliance. The most recent problem ... appears to have come as Wells Fargo raced to comply with an order from regulators that it collect information on more than 100,000 accounts that it was supposed to have. It appears employees improperly altered the files, potentially adding false information, as part this regulatory review, once again showing a lack of oversight.

Note: Last year, it was reported that a Wells Fargo insurance scam defrauded 570,000 customers. The year before, this bank was caught opening millions of fake accounts using stolen customer identities. Wells Fargo fires employees and pays fines whenever these crimes are uncovered. But no bank executives are criminally prosecuted. And new problems continue coming to light. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing financial industry corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.


Trump Administration Waives Punishment For Convicted Banks, Including Deutsche — Which Trump Owes Millions
2018-01-09, International Business Times
http://www.ibtimes.com/political-capital/trump-administration-waives-punishme...

The Trump administration has waived part of the punishment for five megabanks whose affiliates were convicted and fined for manipulating global interest rates. One of the Trump administration waivers was granted to Deutsche Bank - which is owed at least $130 million by President Donald Trump ... and has also been fined for its role in a Russian money laundering scheme. The waivers were issued in a little-noticed announcement published in the Federal Register. Under laws designed to protect retirement savings, financial firms whose affiliates have been convicted of violating securities statutes are effectively barred from ... managing those savings. However, that punishment can be avoided if the firms manage to secure a special exemption from the U.S. Department of Labor. In late 2016, the Obama administration extended ... one-year waivers to five banks - Citigroup, JPMorgan, Barclays, UBS and Deutsche Bank. Late last month, the Trump administration issued new, longer waivers for those same banks. Leading up to the new waiver for Deustche Bank, Trump’s financial relationship with the firm has prompted allegations of a conflict of interest. In 2016, the Wall Street Journal reported Trump and his companies have received at least $2.5 billion in loans from Deutsche Bank and co-lenders. In 2015, Deutsche Bank pled guilty in the U.S. to wire fraud for its role in the [LIBOR] scandal. Less than two years later ... Deutsche Bank agreed to a $7.2 billion settlement with the Justice Department for misleading investors.

Note: The megabanks again get away with huge manipulations resulting in financial losses for many millions, yet hardly any media focuses on how these banks hardly get a slap on the wrist for their huge criminal offenses. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in government and in the financial industry.


When Unpaid Student Loan Bills Mean You Can No Longer Work
2017-11-18, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/18/business/student-loans-licenses.html

Few people realize that the loans they take out to pay for their education could eventually derail their careers. But in 19 states, government agencies can seize state-issued professional licenses from residents who default on their educational debts. Another state, South Dakota, suspends driver’s licenses, making it nearly impossible for people to get to work. Firefighters, nurses, teachers, lawyers, massage therapists, barbers, psychologists and real estate brokers have all had their credentials suspended or revoked. Determining the number of people who have lost their licenses is impossible because many state agencies and licensing boards don’t track the information. Public records requests by The New York Times identified at least 8,700 cases in which licenses were taken away or put at risk of suspension in recent years, although that tally almost certainly understates the true number. With student debt levels soaring — the loans are now the largest source of household debt outside of mortgages — so are defaults. Lenders have always pursued delinquent borrowers: by filing lawsuits, garnishing their wages, putting liens on their property and seizing tax refunds. Blocking licenses is a more aggressive weapon, and states are using it on behalf of themselves and the federal government. Tennessee is one of the most aggressive states at revoking licenses. From 2012 to 2017, officials reported more than 5,400 people to professional licensing agencies. Many - nobody knows how many - lost their licenses. Some ... lost their careers.

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


Paradise Papers Shine Light on Where the Elite Hide Their Money
2017-11-05, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/05/world/paradise-papers.html

It’s called the Paradise Papers: the latest in a series of leaks made public by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists shedding light on the trillions of dollars that move through offshore tax havens. The core of the leak, totaling more than 13.4 million documents, focuses on the Bermudan law firm Appleby, a 119-year old company that caters to blue chip corporations and very wealthy people. As with the Panama Papers, the Paradise Papers leak came through ... the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and was then shared with I.C.I.J., a Washington-based group that won the Pulitzer Prize for reporting on the millions of records of a Panamanian law firm. The release of that trove of documents led to the resignation of one prime minister last year. This week, The New York Times is publishing articles on the Paradise Papers that were reported in cooperation with our I.C.I.J. partners. The predominantly elite clients of Appleby contrast with those of Mossack Fonseca - the company whose leaked records became the Panama Papers - which appeared to be less discriminating in the business it took on. Americans - companies and people - dominate the list of clients. Past disclosures, such as the 2013 “Offshore Leaks” from two offshore incorporators in Singapore and the British Virgin Islands, the 2015 “Swiss Leaks” from a private Swiss bank owned by the British bank HSBC and another leak in 2016 from the Bahamas were dominated by clients not from the United States.

Note: A directory of several New York Times articles detailing specific revelations from the Paradise Papers is available at the link above. In the US, many large companies pay little or no federal taxes, and former tax lobbyists now write the rules on tax dodging. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in government and in the financial industry.


Suit: Wells Fargo targeted ‘undocumented immigrants’ for accounts
2017-04-26, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/Suit-Wells-Fargo-targeted-undocum...

Wells Fargo branches across the country deliberately targeted “undocumented immigrants” to open savings and checking accounts in order to meet aggressive sales goals, according to court documents. In sworn declarations obtained by ... attorney Joseph Cotchett, former employees describe a scheme in which Spanish-speaking colleagues would visit places they knew were frequented by immigrants (including construction sites and a 7-Eleven), drive them to a branch and persuade them to open an account. Some employees would give the immigrants $10 apiece to start an account. The alleged scheme ... raises fresh questions about whether bank employees merely deceived customers by opening accounts in their names - or further crossed a line. Under federal law, banks must verify the identities of customers. Given Wells Fargo’s well-documented rush to hit sales goals, experts say it’s quite possible that employees did not follow procedures. In any case, targeting immigrants to hit sales goals should have raised red flags. The documents were filed Wednesday as part of a shareholder lawsuit filed ... in San Francisco Superior Court against Wells Fargo’s top executives. Last year, the San Francisco banking giant admitted that thousands of employees created up to 2 million fraudulent accounts in the names of real consumers without their consent. Wells Fargo ultimately fired CEO John Stumpf and paid $185 million in fines.

Note: Read more about the massive fraud perpetrated by Wells Fargo. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing banking corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.


Wells Fargo is conducting itself like Enron did
2016-12-15, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/openforum/article/Wells-Fargo-is-conductin...

San Francisco’s Wells Fargo set up an incentivized system of rewards and punishments for its staff at every level that led to the creation of phony accounts and illicit fees being charged to millions of customers. Yet Wells Fargo ... refused to appear before my state Senate committee last month and has sidestepped federal regulators and inquiries. The last company to conduct itself in such a way before a California legislative committee was Enron. These criminal activities affected up to 2 million accounts - nearly 900,000 in California alone. The financial cost to consumers was in the millions of dollars, and the loss in trust is untold. Wells Fargo knew it had a problem - firing more than 1,000 employees a year for five years is testament to that. Yet, it took no effective steps to stop the fraud. These weren’t just low-level employees. After my staff pressed them, Wells now says that of the 5,300 staff fired for unethical sales practices, 480 were bank branch managers or higher. An untold number of managers continue to work at the bank despite the fact that they engaged in fraudulent behavior. Wells Fargo has begun to make amends by entering into a settlement agreement with local and federal regulators, paying $185 million in fines. It also has retained an outside accounting firm to audit accounts to identify and fully reimburse every customer for any fees associated with an unauthorized account. Wells Fargo must come clean on how pervasive this scheme was.

Note: The above was written by Steve Glazer, chairman of the California Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee. Read more about the massive fraud perpetrated by Wells Fargo. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing banking corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.


Wells Fargo CEO should face reckoning
2016-09-09, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfchronicle.com/business/networth/article/Wells-Fargo-CEO-should-f...

Wells Fargo fired about 5,300 employees over the past several years for opening more than 2 million checking, savings, credit or debit card accounts without customers’ knowledge or consent. The big question: Why wasn’t Wells Fargo chief executive John Stumpf one of them? “It’s hard to believe that thousands of employees could have created over a million fake accounts without anyone in senior management knowing about it,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., wrote in an emailed response. “It’s one or the other: Either individuals in senior management knew about this fraud and should be held personally accountable, or they didn’t know about it and a bank as big as Wells Fargo is simply too big to manage.” On Thursday, Wells settled a lawsuit and potential lawsuits by agreeing to clean up the mess, refund fees paid by customers on accounts they did not authorize and pay fines and penalties. Those included $100 million to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, $35 million to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and $50 million to the city and county of Los Angeles. FBR analyst Paul Miller called those fines “a rounding error” for Wells, which earns about $5 billion per quarter. Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer opened an investigation into Wells after the Los Angeles Times reported in 2013 that ... “employees have opened unneeded accounts for customers, ordered credit cards without customers’ permission and forged client signatures on paperwork." His office filed a lawsuit against Wells Fargo in 2015.

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


The untold story behind Saudi Arabia's 41-year U.S. debt secret
2016-06-02, Chicago Tribune
http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-untold-story-saudi-arabia-us-debt-s...

It was July 1974. William Simon, newly appointed U.S. Treasury secretary, and his deputy, Gerry Parsky, stepped onto an 8 a.m. flight. [Simon's] mission, kept in strict confidence within President Richard Nixon's inner circle, would take place during a four-day layover in the coastal city of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The goal: persuade a hostile kingdom to finance America's widening deficit with its newfound petrodollar wealth. The United States would buy oil from Saudi Arabia and provide the kingdom military aid and equipment. In return, the Saudis would plow billions of their petrodollar revenue back into Treasuries and finance America's spending. At the end of months of negotiations, there remained one small, yet crucial, catch: King Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud demanded the country's Treasury purchases stay "strictly secret." With a handful of Treasury and Federal Reserve officials, the secret was kept for more than four decades. In response to a Freedom-of-Information-Act request submitted by Bloomberg News, the Treasury broke out Saudi Arabia's holdings for the first time this month. The $117 billion trove makes the kingdom one of America's largest foreign creditors. A former Treasury official ... says the official figure vastly understates Saudi Arabia's investments in U.S. government debt, which may be double or more. In April, Saudi Arabia warned it would start selling as much as $750 billion in Treasuries and other assets if Congress passes a bill allowing the kingdom to be held liable in U.S. courts for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Note: In May, the Senate approved a bill that allows victims of 9/11 and their families to pursue lawsuits against Saudi Arabia for its role in the Sept. 11 attacks. Several prominent figures are currently pushing for the declassification of hidden 9/11 report pages which reportedly shed further light on Saudi support for terrorism. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing government secrecy news articles from reliable major media sources.


Oxfam: Top U.S. Corporations Have Stashed $1.4 Trillion Offshore
2016-04-14, Time Magazine
http://time.com/4293728/us-companies-tax-evasion-oxfam/

The top 50 U.S. companies have stored $1.4 trillion in tax havens, Oxfam America reported Thursday. Oxfam released its new report, “Broken at the Top,” ahead of Tax Day in the U.S. and shortly after of the Panama Papers leak to show the extent to which major corporations such as Pfizer, Walmart, Goldman Sachs, Alphabet, Disney and Coca-Cola keep money in offshore funds. The use of over 1,600 subsidiaries lowered their global tax rate on $4 trillion of profit to an average of 26.5%, compared to the statutory minimum of 35%, according to Oxfam. Additionally, for every dollar of taxes these companies paid, they collectively received $27 in federal loans, loan guarantees and bailouts - footed by American taxpayers. “The vast sums large companies stash in tax havens should be fighting poverty and rebuilding America’s infrastructure, not hidden offshore in Panama, Bahamas, or the Cayman Islands,” Oxfam America president Raymond Offenheiser said in a statement.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and income inequality from reliable major media sources.


Panama Papers: Mossack Fonseca leak reveals elite's tax havens
2016-04-04, BBC
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-35918844

Eleven million documents were leaked from one of the world's most secretive companies, Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca. They show how Mossack Fonseca has helped clients launder money, dodge sanctions and avoid tax. 12 current or former heads of state and at least 60 people linked to current or former world leaders [are included] in the data. They include the Icelandic Prime Minister, Sigmundur David Gunnlaugson, [as well as] reveal a suspected billion-dollar money laundering ring involving close associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin. 107 media organisations - including UK newspaper the Guardian - in 76 countries ... have been analysing the documents, [which] shed light on how Mossack Fonseca offered financial services designed to help business clients hide their wealth. One wealthy client, US millionaire ... Marianna Olszewski, was offered fake ownership records to hide money. This is in direct breach of international regulations designed to stop money-laundering and tax evasion. An email from a Mossack executive to Ms Olszewski in January 2009 explains how she could deceive the bank: "We may use a natural person who will act as the beneficial owner ... and therefore his name will be disclosed to the bank. Since this is a very sensitive matter, fees are quite high." The data also contain secret offshore companies linked to the families and associates of Egypt's former President, Hosni Mubarak, former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and Syria's President Bashar al-Assad.

Note: There are conflicting reports on this release. Some like this NBC News article state there is a dearth of US names, while others like this USA Today article give US names. Explore evidence in this article that the Panama Papers may have been deliberately released with political objectives in mind. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing financial industry corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.


For the Wealthiest, a Private Tax System That Saves Them Billions
2015-12-29, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/30/business/economy/for-the-wealthiest-private...

The very richest Americans have financed a sophisticated and astonishingly effective apparatus for shielding their fortunes. Some call it the “income defense industry,” consisting of a high-priced phalanx of lawyers, estate planners, lobbyists and anti-tax activists. All are among a small group providing much of the early cash for the 2016 presidential campaign. Operating largely out of public view - in tax court, through arcane legislative provisions and in private negotiations with the Internal Revenue Service - the wealthy have used their influence to steadily whittle away at the government’s ability to tax them. The effect has been to create a kind of private tax system, catering to only several thousand Americans. Two decades ago ... the 400 highest-earning taxpayers in America paid nearly 27 percent of their income in federal taxes, according to I.R.S. data. By 2012 ... that figure had fallen to less than 17 percent, which is just slightly more than the typical family making $100,000 annually. Some of the biggest current tax battles are being waged by some of the most generous supporters of 2016 candidates. Whatever tax rates Congress sets, the actual rates paid by the ultra-wealthy tend to fall over time as they exploit their numerous advantages.

Note: The IRS now conducts only half as many audits of the super-rich as it did five years ago. Over half of the money contributed so far to 2016 US presidential candidates has come from just 158 families. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and income inequality from reliable major media sources.


‘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.


Disgraced CEO Shkreli embodies problem with U.S. pharma industry
2015-12-18, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/Disgraced-CEO-Shkreli-embodies-pr...

Martin Shkreli ... gained notoriety in August when, as CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, he acquired a drug to treat parasitic infections, especially in pregnant women and AIDS patients, and proceeded to hike the price to from $13.50 to $750 per pill. He resigned from Turing Friday after being arrested on unrelated charges of securities fraud at a hedge fund. Shkreli was no doubt a first-class tool. But to focus exclusively on shaming Shkreli risks missing the larger problem, that the American health care system allows opportunists like him to [exploit] the lack of transparency on how drugs are priced in the United States. His price gouging was perfectly legal and even justified under the market-based system that underpins the health care industry. “There’s no law that he has to be ethical,” said [Dr. Jeffrey] Lobosky, author of It's Enough To Make You Sick. “His job is not to make drugs available and save patients. His responsibility is to make a profit for his shareholders.” On paper, Turing is a drug company, but it more closely resembles a private-equity firm: it buys undervalued assets - older drugs already approved by federal regulators - and makes money by charging more than what it paid. Many firms make drugs that are mere copies of others and offer no real therapeutic value, Lobosky said.

Note: The unrepentant profiteering of big pharma and financial industry corruption go hand-in-hand.


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.


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.


Upset by Warren, US banks debate halting some campaign donations
2015-03-27, CNBC/Reuters
http://www.cnbc.com/id/102540490

Big Wall Street banks are so upset with U.S. Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren's call for them to be broken up that some have discussed withholding campaign donations to Senate Democrats in symbolic protest. Representatives from Citigroup, JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America, have met to discuss ways to urge Democrats, including Warren and Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, to soften their party's tone toward Wall Street. Citigroup has decided to withhold donations for now to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee over concerns that Senate Democrats could give Warren and lawmakers who share her views more power, sources inside the bank told Reuters. The Massachusetts senator's economic populism and take-no-prisoners approach has won her a strong following. Warren, a former Harvard Law professor who joined the Senate Banking Committee after taking office in 2013, has accused big banks and other financial firms of unfair dealings that harm the middle class and help the rich grow richer. In a Dec. 12 speech, she mentioned Citi several times as an example of a bank that had grown too large, saying it should have been broken apart by the Dodd-Frank financial reform law. In January, Warren angered Wall Street when she successfully blocked the nomination of a banker Antonio Weiss to a top post at the Treasury Department. She argued that as a regulator he would likely be too deferential to his former Wall Street colleagues.

Note: Read Sen. Warren's response in this Boston Globe article. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about the systemically corrupt banking industry.


Stock market rigging is no longer a ‘conspiracy theory’
2015-03-25, New York Post
http://nypost.com/2015/03/25/us-stock-market-is-just-way-too-riggin-easy/

The stock market is rigged. With stock prices rushing far ahead of economic reality over the last six or so years, more experts in the financial markets are coming to the same conclusion. Ed Yardeni, a longtime Wall Street guru ... said flat out last week that the market was being propped up. “These markets are all rigged, and I don’t say that critically. I just say that factually,” he asserted on CNBC. Yardeni’s claim is the most basic one: that the Federal Reserve won’t do anything that will upset Wall Street and, in fact, is doing all it can to help the stock market. The Bank of Japan [has been] “aggressively purchasing stock funds.” The benefits, Japan’s central bank believes, will then trickle down to the rest of the economy. One American exchange has made intervention in — rigging — foreign governments easier and cheaper to accomplish. CME Group, the Chicago exchange that trades options and commodities, had an incentive program under which foreign central banks could buy stock market derivatives like the Standard & Poor’s futures contracts at a discount. S&P futures contracts are the vehicle of choice for rigging the market. There’s another kind of market rigging ... being done by companies themselves. Since corporate profits and revenues aren’t growing enough to justify current high stock prices, companies have been aggressively buying back massive quantities of their own shares. By doing this, companies reduce the number of their shares owned by the public [to boost] the calculation of profit-per-shares. Today’s markets aren’t fair [and] stock prices are artificially inflated.

Note: Don't forget that Bernie Madoff was once the head of the NASDAQ exchange. When it comes to international banking, it appears that almost everything is rigged. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about the systemically corrupt financial industry.


'God's Bankers,' by Gerald Posner
2015-03-20, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/22/books/review/gods-bankers-by-gerald-posner....

"God's Bankers" provides an exhaustive history of financial machinations at the center of the church in Rome. The final unification of Italy in 1870 ... deprived the church of its lands and feudal income, leading to several decades of acute financial insecurity. Popes of this period ... publicly denounced lending money at interest (usury) while at the same time accepting massive loans from the Rothschilds and making their own interest-bearing loans to Italian Catholics. Beginning with Bernardino Nogara, appointed by Pius XI in 1929, the church also empowered a series of often shady financial advisers to engage in financial wheeling and dealing around the globe. "So long as the balance sheets showed surpluses," [author of God's Bankers Gerald] Posner writes, "Pius and his chief advisers were pleased." That pattern would continue through the rest of the 20th century. The American archbishop Paul Marcinkus, [who] ran the Vatican Bank from 1971 to 1989 ... ended up implicated in several sensational scandals. The biggest by far was the collapse of Italy's largest private bank, Banco Ambrosiano, in 1982 - an event preceded by mob hits on a string of investigators looking into corruption in the Italian banking industry. Marcinkus ... also served as a spy for the State Department, providing the American government with "personal details" about John Paul II, and even encouraging the pope "at the behest of embassy officials" to publicly endorse American positions on a broad range of political issues.

Note: The Vatican Bank was implicated in a scheme to smuggle tens of millions of euros out of Switzerland in 2013, and was used to launder money for the mafia as recently as 2012. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing financial industry corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.


Senior London Telegraph Writer Peter Oborne Quits Over HSBC Allegations
2015-02-20, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/media/press/peter-oborne-resignation-senior...

A senior writer at the Daily Telegraph has dramatically quit the newspaper after accusing its owners, the Barclay Brothers, of suppressing reports about the HSBC scandal out of fear of losing advertising revenue. Peter Oborne, the paper’s chief political commentator and an award-winning author, announced his resignation [and] accused the Telegraph of committing a “fraud” on readers. Mr Oborne detailed a series of investigations about HSBC, and other financial scandals, which he said executives at the newspaper had closed down. Mr Oborne wrote: “From the start of 2013 onwards stories critical of HSBC were discouraged [because] HSBC [had] suspended its advertising with the Telegraph. “Its account ... was extremely valuable. HSBC, as one former Telegraph executive told me, is ‘the advertiser you literally cannot afford to offend’. “Winning back the HSBC advertising account became an urgent priority. It was eventually restored after approximately 12 months. Executives say that Murdoch MacLennan [chief executive of Telegraph Media Group] was determined not to allow any criticism of the international bank.” As a result of a 2012 investigation into accounts held by HSBC in Jersey, he claimed: “Reporters were ordered to destroy all emails, reports and documents related to the HSBC investigation. I [resigned] as a matter of conscience. The past few years have seen the rise of shadowy executives who determine what truths can and what truths can’t be conveyed across the mainstream media."

Note: Oborne's online resignation provides a unique window into some of the ways that big money is used to manipulate the media. Read lots more on HSBC's empire of corruption in a Rolling Stone article by Matt Taibbi. HSBC was founded to service the international drug trade in the 19th century, and launders money for mobsters and terrorists on a massive scale.


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.


HSBC files show how Swiss bank helped clients dodge taxes and hide millions
2015-02-08, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/feb/08/hsbc-files-expose-swiss-bank-...

HSBC’s Swiss banking arm helped wealthy customers dodge taxes and conceal millions of dollars of assets, doling out bundles of untraceable cash and advising clients on how to circumvent domestic tax authorities, according to a huge cache of leaked secret bank account files. HSBC was headed during the period covered in the files by Stephen Green – now Lord Green – who served as the global bank’s chief executive, then group chairman until 2010 when he left to become a trade minister in the House of Lords for David Cameron’s new government. The files show how HSBC in Switzerland keenly marketed tax avoidance strategies to its wealthy clients. The bank proactively contacted clients in 2005 to suggest ways to avoid a new tax levied on the Swiss savings accounts of EU citizens, a measure brought in through a treaty between Switzerland and the EU to tackle secret offshore accounts. The documents also show HSBC’s Swiss subsidiary providing banking services to relatives of dictators, people implicated in African corruption scandals, arms industry figures and others. HSBC is already facing criminal investigations and charges in France, Belgium, the US and Argentina as a result of the leak of the files, but no legal action has been taken against it in Britain.

Note: Read lots more excellent information in a Rolling Stone article by Matt Taibbi. US Senator Elizabeth Warren is working hard to bring justice in this case. HSBC was founded to service the international drug trade following the 19th century opium war, and continues to launder money for drug cartels and terrorists on a massive scale. Now we learn that HSBC also provides financial services related to conflict diamonds, weapons trafficking, political corruption, and other organized criminal activities. Perhaps these criminal bankers are tolerated because the global economy might collapse without their cash.


Too Big to Tax: Settlements Are Tax Write-Offs for Banks
2014-10-27, Newsweek
http://www.newsweek.com/2014/11/07/giant-penalties-are-giant-tax-write-offs-w...

At the Justice Department, senior officials like to congratulate themselves on the headline-making, big bucks settlements they have imposed upon banks and lenders. Those settlement figures are not quite what they seem, because settlements can be deducted from tax liabilities. For nearly every dollar a bank or lender has pledged to pay ... up to 35 cents will find its way back into bank coffers. Under Attorney General Eric Holder, whose agency has not prosecuted a single major bank or executive in the aftermath of the 2008 meltdown, the Justice Department has [allowed] windfall tax deductions [to be] set against the civil settlements imposed. [These may] total more than $44 billion. Astonishingly, for an economic crisis estimated to have cost the U.S. economy anywhere from $6 trillion to $14 trillion in lost output and value —if not twice that, according to a September 2013 study by the Dallas Federal Reserve bank— tracking the settlements and the deductions against taxes via government websites is almost impossible. There’s [a] self-serving reason for the Justice Department to hike civil settlement payments while allowing for most of the sum to be tax-deductible. The agency receives a cut of up to 3 percent of its share of the total settlements for its Working Capital Fund, a slush fund common across major government agencies. The Justice Department’s slush fund ... signals an institutional interest in getting big numbers.

Note: For more along these lines, see these concise summaries of deeply revealing articles about widespread corruption in government and banking and finance.


A Look At JPMorgan Chase's 20 Years of Watching Madoff Commit Crimes
2014-09-26, Forbes
http://www.forbes.com/sites/kotlikoff/2014/09/26/jpmorgan-chases-20-years-of-...

Helen Davis Chaitman, the lead attorney for Madoff’s victims and the author of The Law of Lender Liability, and Lance Gotthoffer, one of our nation’s premier litigators, are blowing the whistle on JPMorgan Chase big time. Their explosive ... book [is titled], “JPMadoff: The Unholy Alliance Between America’s Biggest Bank and America’s Biggest Crook.” This book is ... about the incestuous relationship between so-called U.S. federal prosecutors, politicians for whom they worked, and the flow of Wall Street money to those politicians. JPMC knew, for 20 years, that Madoff was conducting illegal transactions in his account at the Bank. JPMC had a unique window into Madoff’s crimes. And they said nothing to federal authorities ... in clear violation of our banking laws. In 1994 a JPMC officer wrote a memo analyzing the check kiting and calling it “outrageous.” But what he thought was outrageous was not that Madoff [was] violating the law, but that [he was] being paid interest by the Bank on uncleared funds. As a result, JPMC allowed the transactions to continue but required Levy and Madoff to pay back the interest the Bank had paid them on uncleared funds. In January 2014, JPMC paid over $3 billion to settle civil and criminal charges that it violated the law in its dealings with Madoff. They [had] waited until after Madoff confessed and was arrested to report to United States law enforcement that Madoff might have been operating illegally.

Note: JP Morgan Chase's role in the Madoff scandal is outrageous, but it is relatively minor in comparison to the massive securities fraud and cover-up perpetrated by this and other big banks in cooperation with corrupt government officials. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing financial industry corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.


Study asserts startling numbers of insider trading rogues
2014-06-17, CNBC
http://www.cnbc.com/id/101764568

There is often a tip. Before many big mergers and acquisitions, word leaks out to select investors who seek to covertly trade on the information. Stocks and options move in unusual ways that aren't immediately clear. Then news of the deals crosses the ticker, surprising everyone except for those already in the know. Sometimes the investor is found out and is prosecuted, sometimes not. That's what everyone suspects, though until now the evidence has been largely anecdotal. Now, a groundbreaking new study finally puts what we've instinctively thought into hard numbers — and the truth is worse than we imagined. A quarter of all public company deals may involve some kind of insider trading, according to the study by two professors at the Stern School of Business at New York University and one professor from McGill University. The study, perhaps the most detailed and exhaustive of its kind, examined hundreds of transactions from 1996 through the end of 2012. The professors examined stock option movements — when an investor buys an option to acquire a stock in the future at a set price — as a way of determining whether unusual activity took place in the 30 days before a deal's announcement. The professors are so confident in their findings of pervasive insider trading that they determined statistically that the odds of the trading "arising out of chance" were "about three in a trillion." But, the professors conclude, the Securities and Exchange Commission litigated only "about 4.7 percent of the 1,859 ... deals included in our sample."

Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing financial 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.


Europe's Secret Success
2014-05-26, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/26/opinion/krugman-europes-secret-success.html

European economies, France in particular, get very bad press in America. Our political discourse is dominated by reverse Robin-Hoodism — the belief that economic success depends on being nice to the rich, who won’t create jobs if they are heavily taxed, and nasty to ordinary workers, who won’t accept jobs unless they have no alternative. And according to this ideology, Europe — with its high taxes and generous welfare states — does everything wrong. So Europe’s economic system must be collapsing, and a lot of reporting simply states the postulated collapse as a fact. The reality, however, is very different. Yes, Southern Europe is experiencing an economic crisis thanks to [a money muddle caused by Europe's premature adoption of a single currency]. But Northern European nations, France included, have done far better [than America]. French adults in their prime working years (25 to 54) are substantially more likely to have jobs than their U.S. counterparts. France’s prime-age employment rate overtook America’s early in the Bush administration. Other European nations with big welfare states, like Sweden and the Netherlands, do even better. On the core issue of providing jobs for people who really should be working, at this point old Europe is beating us hands down despite social benefits and regulations that, according to free-market ideologues, should be hugely job-destroying.

Note: For more on the collusion of the US government with financial corporations to maintain their profitability, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


London’s silver price fix dies after nearly 120 years
2014-05-14, Financial Times
http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/db3188b8-db46-11e3-94ad-00144feabdc0.html

It was born in the late 19th century when a handful of London bullion dealers agreed to meet daily under a cloud of cigar smoke to set the price for the “devil’s metal”. But now, after 117 years of operation, the London silver fix – an integral part of the city’s $1.6tn-a-year silver market – is on its deathbed. The three banks that arrange silver’s global benchmark said on [May 14] that prices would be “fixed” for the final time at noon on August 14. The move comes on the heels of increased scrutiny by European and US regulators into precious metals price-setting following the Libor scandal and probe into possible forex market abuse. Deutsche Bank last month resigned its seats on the silver and gold fixes, after failing to find buyers, leaving just HSBC and Bank of Nova Scotia on the silver fix. The three banks said there would be discussions “to explore whether the market wishes to develop an alternative” to the benchmark. The regulatory attention has removed the lustre from the once-prestigious precious metals fixes, while legal action in the US has been an additional deterrent for potential new members. US lawyers have filed at least 20 class lawsuits alleging manipulation by the banks responsible for the gold fix. The demise of the silver fix will raise questions about the future of the other precious metals benchmarks – platinum, palladium and, especially, gold. Following Deutsche Bank’s withdrawal, the gold fix can continue to operate effectively with four member banks, but critics say the process is old-fashioned and opaque, and needs to be overhauled.

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


'Secrets of the Vatican' exposes moral crises facing Catholic Church's new pope
2014-02-25, PBS/Yahoo News
https://www.yahoo.com/news/frontline-inside-the-vatican-234530666.html

The Roman Catholic Church is enjoying some of its best press in decades. But, says a new documentary by PBS’ "Frontline," “Secrets of the Vatican,” the morally wrenching controversies that threatened to destroy the church's credibility, starting about the time Pope John Paul II died in 2005, have not fully subsided. "Secrets of the Vatican" ... takes an unsparing look at the state of the church Pope Francis inherited from his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. “2012 was an annus horribilis for [Benedict],” Antony Thomas, the ... director of the film [said]. A horrible year on many fronts, not just with mounting evidence of financial impropriety at the Vatican bank, but also with incidents of sexual abuse by clergy spreading to more than 20 countries and, further, exposure of church hypocrisy about homosexuality. At the same time, reports emerged from Rome of a “gay mafia” inside the church that included some of its top officials, who were unafraid to wield political power and at the same time live an openly promiscuous gay lifestyle. “There was a lot that came to light, including a man who was, as it were, providing choirboys as rent boys,” Thomas said. "Secrets of the Vatican" also looks at the connection between the church’s requirement that its clergy must remain celibate and the high number of sexual abuse incidents among its ranks. Thomas said the film’s specificity about the nature of sexual abuses was necessary - because it’s still an overwhelming concern.

Note: Watch this incredibly revealing documentary on the PBS website. A primary insight is that Pope Benedict really did not step down from the papacy so much as flee the job.  Then watch an excellent segment by Australia's "60-Minutes" team "Spies, Lords and Predators" on a pedophile ring in the UK which leads directly to the highest levels of government. A suppressed documentary, "Conspiracy of Silence," goes even deeper into this topic in the US. For more, see concise summaries of sexual abuse scandal news articles.


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.


Bank of England 'knew about' forex markets price fixing
2014-02-07, The Guardian (One of the U.K.'s leading newspapers)
http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/feb/07/bank-england-forex-price-fixing

The Bank of England has been dragged into the mounting controversy over allegations of price fixing in the Ł3tn-a-day foreign exchange markets after it emerged that a group of traders had told the Bank they were exchanging information about their clients' position. The latest twist in the unfolding saga ... puts the focus on a meeting between key officials at the central bank and leading foreign exchange dealers in April 2012, when they discussed the way they handled trades ahead of the crucial setting of a benchmark in the prices of major currencies. This benchmark is used to price a wide variety of financial products and is the subject of regulators' attention amid allegations that traders at rival banks were sharing information about their orders from clients to manipulate the price. The Bank of England has previously released brief details of the April 2012 meeting, but Bloomberg reported that a senior trader who attended the meeting had made notes showing that officials did not believe it was improper to share customer orders. There had been a 15-minute conversation on currency benchmarks during which traders said they used chatrooms ... to trade ahead of the volatile period when the benchmarks were set. The Bank would not provide any additional information. Martin Wheatley, chief executive of the FCA, told MPs on the Treasury select committee ... that the allegations were "every bit as bad" as those surrounding Libor. The chairman of that committee ... said the allegations were "extremely serious". The scrutiny of the foreign exchange markets has put a fresh focus on dealers leaving banks. More than 20 traders at banks around the world are said to have been suspended or left roles in connection with the forex investigations.

Note: For more on huge financial manipulations and corruption, 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.


The lies behind this transatlantic trade deal
2013-12-02, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/dec/02/transatlantic-free-trade...

[The European Commission's] plans to create a single market incorporating Europe and the United States, progressing so nicely when hardly anyone knew, have been blown wide open. All over Europe people are asking why this is happening; why we were not consulted; for whom it is being done. The Commission insists that its Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership should include a toxic mechanism called investor-state dispute settlement. Where this has been forced into other trade agreements, it has allowed big corporations to sue governments before secretive arbitration panels composed of corporate lawyers, which bypass domestic courts and override the will of parliaments. This mechanism could threaten almost any means by which governments might seek to defend their citizens or protect the natural world. Already it is being used by mining companies to sue governments trying to keep them out of protected areas; by banks fighting financial regulation; by a nuclear company contesting Germany's decision to switch off atomic power. No longer able to keep this process quiet, the European commission has instead devised a strategy for lying to us. The message is that the trade deal is about "delivering growth and jobs" and will not "undermine regulation and existing levels of protection in areas like health, safety and the environment". Just one problem: it's not true. From the outset, the transatlantic partnership has been driven by corporations and their lobby groups, who boast of being able to "co-write" it.

Note: For more on government 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.


Tax the rich? IMF sparks a mini revolution
2013-10-11, Yahoo!/Agence France Presse
http://news.yahoo.com/tax-rich-imf-sparks-mini-revolution-020128173.html;_ylt...

Tax the rich and better target the multinationals: The IMF has set off shockwaves this week in Washington by suggesting countries fight budget deficits by raising taxes. Guardian of financial orthodoxy, the International Monetary Fund, which is holding its annual meetings with the World Bank this week in the US capital, typically calls for nations in difficulty to slash public spending to reduce their deficits. But in its Fiscal Monitor report, subtitled "Taxing Times", the Fund advanced the idea of taxing the highest-income people and their assets to reinforce the legitimacy of spending cuts and fight against growing income inequalities. "Scope seems to exist in many advanced economies to raise more revenue from the top of the income distribution," the IMF wrote, noting "steep cuts" in top rates since the early 1980s. According to IMF estimates, taxing the rich even at the same rates during the 1980s would reap fiscal revenues equal to 0.25 percent of economic output in the developed countries. "The gain could in some cases, such as that of the United States, be more significant," around 1.5 percent of gross domestic product, said the IMF report, which also singled out deficient taxation of multinational companies. In the US alone, legal loopholes deprive the Treasury of roughly $60 billion in receipts, the global lender said. The IMF managing director, Christine Lagarde, kept up the sales pitch for a more just fiscal policy. "It's clearly something finance ministers are interested in, it's something that is necessary for the right balance of public finances," said Lagarde, a former French finance minister.

Note: Yahoo! was the only major media in the US to pick up this eye-opening news, with the possible exception of a Forbes article which shows how afraid they are of this development. For more on financial corruption, 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.


California duped on energy buys again
2013-08-01, San Francisco Chronicle (SF's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/editorials/article/California-duped-on-ene...

JPMorgan Chase & Co. has agreed to pay federal regulators $410 million to settle allegations that the giant bank manipulated energy markets in California and Michigan. About $285 million of the settlement will go to the U.S. Treasury for civil penalties, and about $124 million will be refunded to California ratepayers. The remainder will be refunded to Michigan ratepayers. If this story sounds familiar, that's because it is. Californians who remember the Enron energy debacle of 2000-01 won't be surprised to learn that JPMorgan's traders have been accused of fraudulent behavior. Once again, the fraud was performed by manipulating the auction system that was developed by a quasi-state agency, the California Independent System Operator, to handle California's electricity needs. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission found that JPMorgan engaged in 12 manipulative bidding strategies, which wound up forcing ratepayers to pay higher amounts than they should have - all because the bank wanted to find a cheap way to profit off of aging power plants in Southern California. JPMorgan used a variety of bait-and-switch strategies - duping Cal-ISO into paying exorbitant fees for running the plants at a low level, for instance, or manipulating the bidding system so that Cal-ISO was forced to pay rates that were many times higher than market rate. The fact that this kind of manipulation is still happening is upsetting. And while $410 million is a record settlement for the FERC, it's a drop in the bucket to JPMorgan, which reported $6.5 billion in quarterly profits this month.

Note: Remember Enron, which scammed millions and then went bankrupt, wiping out pensions of its many employees? To read CBS reports on how Enron purposely shut down power plants so they could cause and then cash in on the energy crisis, 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.


HSBC Judge Approves $1.9B Drug-Money Laundering Accord
2013-07-03, Bloomberg
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2013-07-02/hsbc-judge-approves-1-9b-dr...

HSBC Holdings Plc’s $1.9 billion agreement with the U.S. to resolve charges it enabled Latin American drug cartels to launder billions of dollars was approved by a federal judge. U.S. District Judge John Gleeson in Brooklyn, New York, signed off yesterday on a deferred-prosecution agreement. HSBC was accused of failing to monitor more than $670 billion in wire transfers and more than $9.4 billion in purchases of U.S. currency from HSBC Mexico, allowing for money laundering, prosecutors said. The bank also violated U.S. economic sanctions against Iran, Libya, Sudan, Burma and Cuba, according to a criminal information filed in the case. The bank, Europe’s largest, agreed to pay a $1.25 billion forfeiture and $665 million in civil penalties under the settlement, prosecutors announced in December. At a hearing the same month, Gleeson told prosecutors there had been “publicized criticism” of the agreement, which lets the bank and management avoid further criminal proceedings over the charges. Lack of proper controls allowed the Sinaloa drug cartel in Mexico and the Norte del Valle cartel in Colombia to move more than $881 million through HSBC’s U.S. unit from 2006 to 2010, the government alleged in the case. The bank also cut resources for its anti-money-laundering programs to “cut costs and increase profits,” the government said in court filings. Under a deferred prosecution agreement, the U.S. allows a target to avoid charges.

Note: HSBC was founded to service the international drug trade, and is considered too big to criminally prosecute. Big bank settlements often amount to "cash for secrecy" deals that are ultimately profitable for banks. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about financial industry corruption.


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.


Billionaires Flee Havens as Trillions Pursued Offshore
2013-04-29, Businessweek
http://www.businessweek.com/news/2013-04-29/billionaires-flee-as-tax-district...

Billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, Russia’s 14th-richest person, and his wife, Elena Rybolovleva, have been brawling for almost five years in at least seven countries over his $9.5 billion fortune. In a divorce complaint originated in Geneva in 2008, Rybolovleva accused her husband of using a “multitude of third parties” to create a network of offshore holding companies and trusts to place assets -- including about $500 million in art, $36 million in jewelry and an $80 million yacht -- beyond her reach. She has brought legal action against the 48-year-old Rybolovlev in the British Virgin Islands, England, Wales, the U.S., Cyprus, Singapore and Switzerland, and is seeking $6 billion. The suits provide a window into the offshore structures and secrecy jurisdictions the world’s richest people use to manage, preserve and conceal their assets. According to Tax Justice Network, a U.K.-based organization that campaigns for transparency in the financial system, wealthy individuals were hiding as much as $32 trillion offshore at the end of 2010. Fewer than 100,000 people own $9.8 trillion of offshore assets. More than 30 percent of the world’s 200 richest people, who have a $2.8 trillion collective net worth ...control part of their personal fortune through an offshore holding company or other domestic entity where the assets are held indirectly. These structures often hide assets from tax authorities or provide legal protection from government seizure and lawsuits.

Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on failure of governments to regulate great accumulations of wealth, 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.


Iceland president: Letting banks fail helped recovery
2012-12-13, CNN
http://edition.cnn.com/2012/12/13/business/iceland-recovery

Four years after the country let its debt-ridden banks fail, and as the country's growth looks set to far outpace the eurozone, [Iceland's president Olafur Ragnar Grimsson] said the decision not to save the banks was "the most difficult I ever had to make," but maintained it was the right one. "Allowing the banks to fail is one of the fundamental reasons Iceland is now in a strong recovery with respect to other European countries," he said. Now, according to Grimsson, "Iceland is better placed to benefit by maintaining our present position, rather than to let the EU speak on our behalf." The 69-year-old president pointed to Norway and Greenland -- two other Arctic economies and non-European Union members -- as role models. However, Grimsson said he was not sure whether Iceland's strategy with its banks could have been replicated by other countries with similar problems, such as Ireland. "Being part of the eurozone, they couldn't devalue their currency. But they could have adopted our policy with respect to the banks," he said. The Icelandic krona fell sharply as a result of the financial collapse, helping the country recover by increasing demand for exports. "There are still scars," Grimsson said, "but on the whole, the will of the Icelandic people has enabled us to recover and move confidently towards the future."

Note: Watch a great video interview of Iceland's president discussing this matter. Iceland has gone through tremendous transformation that has greatly supported both the people and the economy of this nation. Why is this getting so little press coverage?


Trans-Pacific Partnership: The biggest trade deal you’ve never heard of
2012-10-23, Salon.com
http://www.salon.com/2012/10/23/everything_you_wanted_to_know_about_the_trans...

A huge but little-known trade agreement could transform America's foreign relations. The Trans-Pacific Partnership [could] be the most significant foreign and domestic policy initiative of the Obama administration. More than any other policy, the trends the TPP represents could restructure American foreign relations, and potentially the economy itself. On the core question of these trade agreements, the parties basically agree. The Trans-Pacific Partnership ... would be the largest one since the 1995 World Trade Organization. It would link Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, Mexico and Canada into a “free trade” zone similar to that of NAFTA. The subject matter being negotiated extends far beyond traditional trade matters. TPP’s 29 chapters would set binding rules on everything from service-sector regulation, investment, patents and copyrights, government procurement, financial regulation, and labor and environmental standards, as well as trade in industrial goods and agriculture. As with other such agreements, Congress must vote to approve it, most likely under a “Fast Track” provision that prohibits any amendments and limits debate. The public has no access to the text [of the agreement]. Congress has extremely limited access. Trade, though constitutionally a congressional prerogative, is now firmly in the hands of the executive branch. And “trade” negotiations have become a venue for rewriting wide swaths of domestic non-trade policy traditionally determined by Congress and state legislatures.

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


French Lawmakers Pass Trading Transaction Tax
2012-08-01, Bloomberg Businessweek
http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-07-31/french-lawmakers-pass-budget-bill...

France’s parliament passed President Francois Hollande’s revised 2012 budget, including a 0.2 percent transaction tax on share purchases that takes effect today. The bill’s passage into law marks “the first step toward fiscal reform and a move toward justice,” Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici said in a statement. With the vote, France becomes the first European country to impose a transaction tax on share purchases. The Hollande government is doubling the levy to 0.2 percent from the 0.1 percent tax initially advocated by former President Nicolas Sarkozy. Many institutional investors may escape the tax using so-called contracts for difference, or CFDs, offered by prime brokers that let them bet on a stock’s gain or loss with owning the shares. The transaction tax, aimed at curbing market speculation, will be paid on the purchase of 109 French stocks with market values of more than 1 billion euros ($1.2 billion), including Pernod Ricard SA and Vivendi SA. The new budget law will be applied to transactions resulting in “a transfer of property” of companies trading in Paris, regardless of where the buyer or seller is based, and may be expanded next year along with some European partners. France estimated that the doubling of the tax will bring in an additional 170 million euros in 2012 and 500 million euros next year. The state will start collecting the tax in November, Budget Minister Jerome Cahuzac’s press office said. The government estimated that the doubling of the tax will cut the volume of stock purchases to 800 billion euros from 1.05 trillion euros with a 0.1 percent levy and 1.3 trillion euros with no transaction tax.

Note: This exciting news is one of the most underreported events of the year. A universal FTT would stop much of the craziness in the derivatives market. The EU is also seriously considering implementing an FTT. Click here for more.


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.


The Fate Of A World Bank Whistle-Blower
2012-06-27, Forbes
http://www.forbes.com/sites/richardbehar/2012/06/27/the-sad-fate-of-a-world-b...

The World Bank is a place where whistle-blowers are shunned, persecuted and booted–not always in that order. Consider John Kim, a top staffer in the bank’s IT department, who in 2007 leaked damaging documents ... after he determined that there were no internal institutional avenues to honestly deal with wrongdoing. “Sometimes you have to betray your country in order to save it,” Kim says. In return bank investigators probed his phone records and e-mails, and allegedly hacked into his personal AOL account. After determining he was behind the leaks the bank put him on administrative leave for two years before firing him on Christmas Eve 2010. With nowhere to turn Kim was guided into the offices of the Washington, D.C.-based Government Accountability Project–the only game in town for public-sector leakers. [They] helped Kim file an internal case for wrongful termination (World Bank staffers have no recourse to U.S. courts) and in a landmark ruling a five-judge tribunal eventually ordered the bank to reinstate him last May. Despite the decision, the bank retired him in September after 29 years of service.

Note: For the video of another major World Bank whistleblower, Karen Hudes, click here. For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on financial corruption, click here.


Jamie Dimon, welfare recipient
2012-06-19, MSN
http://money.msn.com/investing/jamie-dimon-welfare-recipient-bloomberg.aspx

When JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon testified in the U.S. House today, he presented himself as a champion of free-market capitalism in opposition to an overweening government. His position would be more convincing if his bank weren't such a beneficiary of corporate welfare. JPMorgan receives a government subsidy worth about $14 billion a year, according to research published by the International Monetary Fund. The money helps the bank pay big salaries and bonuses. More important, it distorts markets, fueling crises such as the recent subprime-lending disaster and the sovereign-debt debacle that is now threatening to destroy the euro and sink the global economy. In recent decades, governments and central banks around the world have developed a consistent pattern of behavior when trouble strikes banks that are large or interconnected enough to threaten the broader economy: They step in to ensure that all the bank's creditors, not just depositors, are paid in full. With each new banking crisis, the value of the implicit subsidy grows. JPMorgan's share of the subsidy is $14 billion a year, or about 77% of its net income for the past four quarters. In other words, U.S. taxpayers helped foot the bill for the multibillion-dollar trading loss that is the focus of today's hearing. When Dimon pushes back against capital requirements or the Volcker rule, it's worth remembering that he's pushing for a form of corporate welfare that, left unchecked, could lead to a crisis too big for the government to contain.

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


Rothschild and Rockefeller families team up for some extra wealth creation
2012-05-30, The Telegraph (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/banksandfinance/9300784/Roths...

The Rothschild and Rockefeller families have teamed up to buy assets from banks and other distressed sellers in a union between two of the best-known names in financial history. RIT Capital Partners, which is chaired by Lord Rothschild, has taken a 37pc stake in Rockefeller Financial Services, the family’s wealth advisory and asset management wing. It has snapped up the holding from French bank Société Générale for less than Ł100m. The transatlantic alliance cements a five-decade acquaintance between the now ennobled Jacob Rothschild, 76, and David Rockefeller, 96, the grandson of the ruthlessly acquisitive American oilman and philanthropist John D Rockefeller. The two patricians now plan to capitalise on their family names to buy other asset managers or their portfolios, using their networks of top-notch contacts to ensure they get a seat at the table for any deal. The Rockefeller group goes back to 1882, set up to invest the family money made by John D Rockefeller’s Standard Oil, the forerunner for today’s Exxon Corporation, which he built with a Darwinian aggression. “Do you know the only thing that gives me pleasure? It’s to see my dividends coming in,” he once said. The Rothschild banking dynasty has its roots in the 18th century when Mayer Amschel Rothschild set up a business in Frankfurt. That sprang to fame in 1815 when it bought government bonds in anticipation of Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo.

Note: Why is that these two hugely wealthy families get so little press coverage? Could it be that their wealth and influence exerts control over the major media? For more on secret societies which command huge hidden power, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


Tycoon arrests rock Hong Kong
2012-03-30, CNN International
http://edition.cnn.com/2012/03/30/business/hong-kong-tycoon-arrest-explainer

Brothers at the helm of a company that helped build Hong Kong's skyline and the man who once was the city's number two official were arrested in an investigation of a bribery case [that] has shocked the former British colony. Thomas Kwok, 60, and Raymond Kwok, 58, and their families control Sun Hung Kai Properties, which built the city's three tallest skyscrapers. The billionaires were taken into custody by the city's Independent Commission Against Corruption [ICAC]. According to local media, the ICAC also arrested Rafael Hui, 64, who was Hong Kong's Chief Secretary from 2005 to 2007, and a former advisor to Sun Hung Kai. In a city where property is king, the sight of local royalty being taken into the ICAC headquarters riveted Hong Kong media, and comes at a time where the city's reputation for transparency has been tainted by a number of scandals. The Kwok brothers and their family are the 27th richest in the world, with an estimated wealth of $18.3 billion, according to Forbes magazine. The family has controlling interest of Sun Hung Kai Properties, the world's second largest property developer by market capitalization.

Note: This is stunning news! The fact that two of the richest people in world were arrested is unprecedented. Could this be a part of the prediction of David Wilcock and others coming true about major arrests? To see a verifiable list of literally hundreds of high level resignations from financial firms in the last few months, click here. A recent Fiscal Times article at this link also dives further into this question.


Vatican Leaks Raise Questions Over Finances
2012-03-29, NPR
http://www.npr.org/2012/03/29/149614995/vatican-leaks-raise-questions-over-fi...

The Vatican has launched a rare criminal investigation to uncover who is behind leaks of highly sensitive documents that allege corruption and financial mismanagement in Vatican City. The documents also shed light on purported infighting over the Vatican Bank's compliance with international money-laundering regulations. A television show in late January on an independent network first revealed letters addressed last year to Pope Benedict XVI from the then-deputy governor of Vatican City, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano. Vigano complained of corruption within the church and protested orders to remove him from his post and send him to be the papal nuncio, or ambassador, to Washington. Under Vigano's watch, the Holy See balance sheet went from $10 million in the red to almost $45 million in the black in just 12 months. By being kicked upstairs, Vigano wrote, his efforts to clean up the Vatican would be stopped and would also tarnish the pontiff's image by bringing into question his resolve to establish transparency inside the Vatican. Italian authorities are investigating the origin of $33 million in Vatican funds deposited in Italian banks. The Italian media have reported that JP Morgan Chase is closing the Vatican Bank's account with its Milan branch because it felt the Holy See had failed to provide sufficient data on money transfers.

Note: The fact that JP Morgan is closing it's Vatican accounts is a major sign of the intense changes happening behind the scenes.


Vatican bank image hurt as JP Morgan closes account
2012-03-19, CNBC/Reuters
http://www.cnbc.com/id/46784687/Vatican_bank_image_hurt_as_JP_Morgan_closes_a...

JP Morgan Chase is closing the Vatican bank's account with an Italian branch of the U.S. banking giant because of concerns about a lack of transparency at the Holy See's financial institution, Italian newspapers reported. The move is a blow to the Vatican's drive to have its bank included in Europe's "white list" of states that comply with international standards against tax fraud and money-laundering. The bank, formally known as the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), enacted major reforms last year in an attempt to get Europe's seal of approval and put behind it scandals that have included accusations of money laundering and fraud. The IOR, founded in 1942 by Pope Pius XII, handles financial activities for the Vatican, for orders of priests and nuns, and for other Roman Catholic religious institutions. The IOR was entangled in the collapse 30 years ago of Banco Ambrosiano, with its lurid allegations about money-laundering, freemasons, mafiosi and the mysterious death of Ambrosiano chairman Roberto Calvi - "God's banker". The IOR then held a small stake in the Ambrosiano, at the time Italy's largest private bank and investigators alleged that it was partly responsible for the Ambrosiano's fraudulent bankruptcy. Several investigations have failed to determine whether Calvi, who was found hanging under Blackfriars Bridge near London's financial district, killed himself or was murdered. The IOR denied any role in the Ambrosiano collapse but paid $250 million to creditors in what it called a "goodwill gesture".

Note: The fact that JP Morgan is closing it's Vatican accounts is a major sign of the intense changes happening behind the scenes.


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.


Rothschild loses libel case, and reveals secret world of money and politics
2012-02-11, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/rothschild-loses-libel-case-an...

Nathaniel Rothschild, scion of the banking dynasty and friend of seemingly everyone in the spheres of finance, business and politics, ... has lost his libel case against the Daily Mail, which he sued for "substantial damages" over its account of his and [Lord] Mandelson's extraordinary trip to Russia in January 2005. Mr Rothschild claimed he was subjected to "sustained and unjustified" attacks in the May 2010 article, which portrayed him as a "puppet master", dangling his friend Lord Mandelson in front of the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska to ease the passage of colossal business deals. It began on Mr Rothschild's private jet from the World Economic Forum in Davos to Moscow, where they met Mr Deripaska, the aluminium plant manager who became the richest oligarch of them all, and continued on Mr Deripaska's private jet to his chalet in Siberia. The judge rejected the notion that Mr Rothschild and Mr Mandelson had flown out as friends, not business associates, and said Mr Rothschild's behaviour had in part been "inappropriate". "That conduct foreseeably brought Lord Mandelson's public office and personal integrity into disrepute," the judge said. That leading politicians, bankers and businessmen associate with each other in fashions that blur the boundaries between work and pleasure is a secret too great to be maintained with any success, but it doesn't make the details, on the rare occasions they actually emerge, any more palatable.

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


‘Wild Old Women’ Close San Francisco Bank Of America Branch
2012-01-05, KCBS (CBS News San Francisco Affiliate)
http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2012/01/05/wild-old-women-close-san-francisc...

It was a slow-moving Occupy Wall Street protest, but it was an effective one. A dozen senior citizens calling themselves “the wild old women” succeeded in closing a Bank of America branch in Bernal Heights Thursday. The women, aged 69 to 82, who live at the senior home up Mission street from the Bernal Heights Bank of America branch, decided to hold their own protest by doing what they called a “run on the bank.” Tita Caldwell, 80, who led the charge of women with walkers and wheelchairs, said that they’re demanding the bank lower fees, pay higher taxes, and stop foreclosing on, and evicting, homeowners. ”We’re upset about what the banks are doing, particularly in our neighborhood and neighboring areas, in evicting people and foreclosing on their homes,” said Caldwell. “We’re upset because the banks are raising their rates because it really affects seniors who are on a fixed income.” As they arrived, Bank of America closed and locked its doors, to the surprise and delight of the elderly protestors, who said that they had no intention of storming the bank. The women waved signs, but didn’t march or chant, with one woman on supplemental oxygen adding that the group was too old for that.


Congress, legislate thyself on insider trading
2011-11-28, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://articles.sfgate.com/2011-11-28/opinion/30453157_1_insider-trading-laws...

It ought to be illegal for members of Congress to buy and sell based on inside information ... but it is not illegal because Congress has exempted itself from insider-trading laws. In 2006, when Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., introduced the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge - or STOCK - Act to prohibit members of Congress and their staff from trading stocks based on nonpublic information, her bill attracted only 14 co-sponsors. Peter Schweizer, a fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution, believes that some in Congress see the public trust as a "venture opportunity" that allows them to leverage information not available to the general public. Slaughter's STOCK Act would not stop members or staffers from dabbling in the markets. The legislation, however, would make Capitol Hill insiders subject to prosecution if they buy or sell securities based on nonpublic information. It also would cut into K Street's latest boutique business practice - "political intelligence" - that allows lobbyists to gather inside financial information which they can give to hedge-fund clients.

Note: Congress exempts itself from all kinds of laws which apply to the remainder of US citizens. If you don't believe this, read the Time magazine article at this link. It's time for a change.


The shocking truth about the crackdown on Occupy
2011-11-25, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/nov/25/shocking-truth...

The violent police assaults across the US are no coincidence. Occupy has touched the third rail of our political class's venality. US citizens of all political persuasions are still reeling from images of unparallelled police brutality in a coordinated crackdown against peaceful OWS protesters in cities across the nation this past week. But just when Americans thought we had the picture – was this crazy police and mayoral overkill, on a municipal level, in many different cities? – the picture darkened. The New York Times reported that "New York cops have arrested, punched, whacked, shoved to the ground and tossed a barrier at reporters and photographers" covering protests. In New York, a state supreme court justice and a New York City council member were beaten up; in Berkeley, California, one of our greatest national poets, Robert Hass, was beaten with batons. The Mayor of Oakland acknowledged that the Department of Homeland Security had participated in an 18-city mayor conference call advising mayors on "how to suppress" Occupy protests. I noticed that rightwing pundits and politicians on the TV shows on which I was appearing were all on-message against OWS. Journalist Chris Hayes reported on a leaked memo that revealed lobbyists vying for an $850,000 contract to smear Occupy. Message coordination of this kind is impossible without a full-court press at the top. As the puzzle pieces fit together, they began to show coordination against OWS at the highest national levels.

Note: For key reports from reliable sources on the reasons why people nationwide are occupying their city centers in protest against the collusion between powerful corporate and government elites, click here.


News Organizations Complain About Treatment During Protests
2011-11-21, New York Times
http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/21/news-organizations-complain-...

A cross-section of 13 news organizations in New York City lodged complaints ... about the New York Police Department’s treatment of journalists covering the Occupy Wall Street movement. Separately, ten press clubs, unions and other groups that represent journalists called for an investigation and said they had formed a coalition to monitor police behavior going forward. [The] actions were prompted by a rash of incidents on Nov. 15, when police officers impeded and even arrested reporters during and after the evictions of Occupy Wall Street protesters from Zuccotti Park, the birthplace of the two-month-old movement. The news organizations said in a joint letter to the Police Department that officers had clearly violated their own procedures by threatening, arresting and injuring reporters and photographers. The letter said there were “numerous inappropriate, if not unconstitutional, actions and abuses” by the police against both “credentialed and noncredentialed journalists in the last few days.” The letter was written by George Freeman, vice president and assistant general counsel for The New York Times Company, and signed by representatives for The Associated Press, The New York Post, The Daily News, Thomson Reuters, Dow Jones & Company, and three local television stations, WABC, WCBS and WNBC. It was also signed by representatives for the National Press Photographers Association, New York Press Photographers Association, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and the New York Press Club.

Note: For key reports from reliable sources on the reasons why people nationwide are occupying their city centers in protest against the collusion between powerful corporate and government elites, 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.


OTC derivatives market activity in the first half of 2011
2011-11-16, Bank for International Settlements (Intergovernmental organization of central banks)
http://www.bis.org/press/p111116a.htm

After an increase of only 3% in the second half of 2010, total notional amounts outstanding of over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives rose by 18% in the first half of 2011, reaching $708 trillion by the end of June 2011.

Note: The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) is an intergovernmental organization of central banks which "fosters international monetary and financial cooperation and serves as a bank for central banks." It is not accountable to any national government. Their accounting shows a total global derivatives market controlled by the banks of over $700 trillion. That's $100,000 for every man, woman, and child on the planet. As reported in Reuters, the derivatives market is largely unregulated. Do you think there is any manipulation going on here? BIS helps the bankers to work together to keep their hidden power.


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.


How a big US bank laundered billions from Mexico's murderous drug gangs
2011-04-03, The Observer (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/apr/03/us-bank-mexico-drug-gangs

During a 22-month investigation by agents from the US Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service and others [beginning in 2006], it emerged [that drug cartels had laundered huge sums of money] through one of the biggest banks in the United States: Wachovia, now part of the giant Wells Fargo. In March 2010, Wachovia settled the biggest action brought under the US bank secrecy act, through the US district court in Miami. Now that the year's "deferred prosecution" has expired, the bank is in effect in the clear. The bank was sanctioned for failing to apply the proper anti-laundering strictures to the transfer of $378.4bn – a sum equivalent to one-third of Mexico's gross national product – into dollar accounts from ... currency exchange houses with which the bank did business. [The case demonstrates] the role of the "legal" banking sector in swilling hundreds of billions of dollars – the blood money from the murderous drug trade in Mexico and other places in the world – around their global operations, now bailed out by the taxpayer. At the height of the 2008 banking crisis, Antonio Maria Costa, then head of the United Nations office on drugs and crime, said he had evidence to suggest the proceeds from drugs and crime were "the only liquid investment capital" available to banks on the brink of collapse. "Inter-bank loans were funded by money that originated from the drugs trade," he said. "There were signs that some banks were rescued that way."

Note: For lots more from reliable sources on the illegal activities routinely engaged in by the largest banks and financial corporations, 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.


What are the Bilderberg Group really doing in Spain?
2010-06-04, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/what-are-the-bilderberg-group-...

Ordinary citizens can only guess at the goings-on at the annual meeting of the secretive Bilderberg Group, a media-barred pow-wow of the global elite that in the past has reportedly attracted former US President Bill Clinton, Tony Blair and David Cameron, and US treasury secretary Timothy Geithner. The heavyweight weekend retreat kicked off yesterday with hordes of police security and a gag order for employees at the luxury Dolce. None of the illustrious guests posed for photos or spouted prepared statements for the media. Instead, activists, journalists and bloggers attempted to stake out positions in the surrounding hills to catch glimpses of this year's participants, guerrilla-warrior style. The cloak-and-dagger theorists scored a point this week when ... Daniel Estulin addressed the European Parliament on the invitation of an Italian member, Mario Borghezio. Mr Estulin, an investigative journalist who has written two best-selling books on the subject, contends that "the Bilderberg Club" is not a classic conspiracy but a potentially dangerous meeting of minds with a common goal: to centralise global economic power to benefit corporations. He defined it as "a virtual spider web of interlocking financial, political and industrial interests". "It isn't a secret society," he said. "No matter how powerful they are, no group sits around a table holding hands and deciding the world's future. It is an ideology."

Note: Why is there so little reporting on this influential group in the major media? Thankfully, the alternative media has had some good articles. And a Google search can be highly informative. For many other revealing news articles from major media sources on powerful secret societies, click here. And for reliable information covering the big picture of how and why these secret societies are using government-sponsored mind control programs to achieve their agenda, 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.


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.


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.


Wealthy Americans Under Scrutiny in UBS Case
2008-06-06, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/06/business/worldbusiness/06tax.html?partner=r...

One afternoon in April, six dozen wealthy Americans were entertained at a luncheon party in Midtown Manhattan, along with a special guest from Paris: Henri Loyrette, the director of the Louvre. The host of the exclusive gathering was the Swiss bank UBS, whose elite private bankers built a lucrative business in recent years by discreetly tending the fortunes of American millionaires and billionaires. But now, as the federal authorities intensify an investigation into offshore bank accounts, the secrets of this rarefied world are being dragged into the open — and UBS’s privileged clients are running scared. Under pressure from the authorities, UBS is considering whether to divulge the names of up to 20,000 of its well-heeled American clients, according to people close to the inquiry, a step that would have once been unthinkable to Swiss bankers, whose traditions of secrecy date to the Middle Ages. Federal investigators believe some of the clients may have used offshore accounts at UBS to hide as much as $20 billion in assets from the Internal Revenue Service. Doing so may have enabled these people to dodge at least $300 million in federal taxes on income from those assets, according to a government official connected with the investigation. The case could turn into an embarrassment for Marcel Rohner, the chief executive of UBS and the former head of its private bank, as well as for Phil Gramm, the former Republican senator from Texas who is now the vice chairman of UBS Securities, the Swiss bank’s investment banking arm. It also comes at a difficult time for UBS, which is reeling from $37 billion in bad investments, many of them linked to risky American mortgages.

Note: For an illuminating overview of the secret world of banking and finance, click here.


Lou Dobbs Tonight: NAFTA Superhighway
2008-05-28, CNN News
http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0805/28/ldt.01.html

[News anchor LOU DOBBS:] Open borders advocates are refusing to acknowledge rising evidence of plans for a NAFTA superhighway. Many in the mainstream media absolutely refuse to acknowledge the reality. The plans could be a major step toward that North American Union of the United States, Canada and Mexico. BILL TUCKER, CNN Correspondent: There is no NAFTA superhighway. Not officially. In Texas planning a development is under way for what are officially called transportation corridors. The Trans Texas Corridor, I-69, a combination of rail lines, utility lines, car and truck lanes, [is planned] to be as wide as three football fields laid end to end. It will be financed by a private foreign company ... who will then own the lease on the road and the revenue generated by the tolls. Texas may use eminent domain to lay claim to some of the land needed to build it. For an imaginary road there's a lot of money and effort involved [and] some very real opposition. TERRI HALL, TEXASTURF.ORG: There's just no doubt that this is happening. We've been to the public hearings. We've seen the presentations. We've seen the documents. We waded through them and there's a whole lot more groups besides just ours. And we've got Farm Bureau, Sierra Club, a whole host of groups from the left and the right. TUCKER: In Kansas a resolution opposing the superhighway overwhelmingly passed the State House.

Note: To watch a video of this Lou Dobbs Tonight segment, click here.


They Rule the World
2008-05-25, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/05/22/AR20080522033...

David Rothkopf's Superclass [can be viewed] as a map of how the world really works. Rothkopf, a former managing director of Kissinger Associates and an international trade official in the Clinton Administration, has identified roughly 6,000 individuals who have "the ability to regularly influence the lives of millions of people in multiple countries worldwide" ... with a growing allegiance ... to each other rather than to any particular nation. Rothkopf [cites] the Pareto principle of distribution, or the "80/20 rule," whereby 20 percent of the causes of anything are responsible for 80 percent of the consequences. That means 20 percent of the money-makers make 80 percent of the money and 20 percent of the politicians make 80 percent of the important decisions. That 20 percent belongs to the superclass. Superclass ... is as much about who is not part of the superclass as who is. As I read Rothkopf's chronicles of elite gatherings -- Davos, Bilderberg, the Bohemian Grove (all male), Fathers and Sons (all male) -- I was repeatedly struck by the near absence of women. When Rothkopf summarizes "how to become a member of the superclass," his first rule is "be born a man." Only 6 percent of the superclass is female. Superclass is written in part as a consciousness-raising exercise for members of the superclass themselves. Rothkopf worries that "the world they are making" is deeply unequal and ultimately unstable. But it's likely to take more than exhortation. In the words of former Navy Secretary John Lehman, "Power corrupts. Absolute power is kind of neat." Why would the superclass want to give it up?

Note: The website www.theyrule.net allows visitors to trace the connections between individuals who serve on the boards of top corporations, universities, think thanks, foundations and other elite institutions. For lots more on secret societies, click here.


The three trillion dollar war
2008-02-23, The Telegraph (One of the U.K.'s leading newspapers)
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/guest_contributors/articl...

The Bush Administration was wrong about the benefits of the war and it was wrong about the costs of the war. The president and his advisers [forecast] a quick, inexpensive conflict. Instead, we have a war that is costing more than anyone could have imagined. The cost of direct US military operations - not even including long-term costs such as taking care of wounded veterans - already exceeds the cost of the 12-year war in Vietnam and is more than double the cost of the Korean War. And, even in the best case scenario, these costs are projected to be almost ten times the cost of the first Gulf War, almost a third more than the cost of the Vietnam War, and twice that of the First World War. The only war in our history which cost more was the Second World War, when 16.3 million U.S. troops fought in a campaign lasting four years, at a total cost (in 2007 dollars, after adjusting for inflation) of about $5 trillion. Most Americans have yet to feel these costs. The price in blood has been paid by our voluntary military and by hired contractors. The price in treasure has, in a sense, been financed entirely by borrowing. Taxes have not been raised to pay for it - in fact, taxes on the rich have actually fallen. Deficit spending gives the illusion that the laws of economics can be repealed, that we can have both guns and butter. But of course the laws are not repealed. The costs of the war are real even if they have been deferred, possibly to another generation. From the unhealthy brew of emergency funding, multiple sets of books, and chronic underestimates of the resources required to prosecute the war, we have attempted to identify how much we have been spending - and how much we will, in the end, likely have to spend. The figure we arrive at is more than $3 trillion. Our calculations are based on conservative assumptions.

Note: For many reports from major media sources which reveal massive war profiteering, click here.


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.


It's all Friedman's doing
2007-09-09, Toronto Star (Toronto's leading newspaper)
http://www.thestar.com/entertainment/article/254550

[Naomi Klein in her new book The Shock Doctrine] argues persuasively that over the last 40 years, no single thinker has shaped the economic and political policies of corporate CEOs, military dictators, presidents, prime ministers and bankers more than [Milton] Friedman. His thesis was simple: The job of governments is to facilitate the free flow of capital across national borders by removing any impediments to trade [and establishing] a drastic regimen of market deregulation, free trade treaties, spending cuts to social programs, the breaking of labour unions and mass privatization of publicly owned resources and industries ... chiefly through the careful manipulation of collective crises such as wars, military coups, natural disasters and economic recessions and depressions. For Friedman's ideas to be implemented, a nation's existing economy and civic society must first be reduced to a state of tabula rasa before being rebuilt according to the [Chicago School] model. [Klein contends] that this capitalist doctrine also has its roots in a series of mind-control experiments performed on often unwilling patients by psychiatrist Ewan Cameron, working out of McGill University in the late 1950s. He imposed a sustained regimen of sensory deprivation, isolation, enforced sleep and a cocktail of LSD, PCP, insulin and barbiturates [and] a barrage of electroshock therapy. The CIA, which paid for Cameron's experiments, modified these techniques for use in prisoner-interrogation sessions. The results were so good that the CIA taught the methods to the Latin American security forces in charge of reprogramming anyone who dared resist the devastating free market "reforms" that swept through South and Central America after Augusto Pinochet's successful, Chicago-School inspired (and CIA-sponsored) coup of populist leader Salvador Allende in 1973.

Special Note: For an incredibly revealing interview on the role of the Milton Friedman and the Chicago school of economists in promoting radical change against democracy by using states of public shock to push through unwanted changes, don't miss the powerful talk with Naomi Klein available here.


Indebted
2007-03-18, Washington Times
http://www.washingtontimes.com/op-ed/20070317-113251-1533r.htm

The U.S. current-account deficit is the broadest measure of America's activity in international trade and global finance. It totaled $857 billion last year, the Commerce Department reported last week. For the fifth year in a row, the nation's current-account deficit set a record. As Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke testified last year before Congress: "The immediate implication [of the nation's soaring current-account deficit] is that the U.S. economy is consuming more than it's producing, and the difference is being made up by imports from abroad, which in turn is being financed by borrowing from abroad." Last year's current-account deficit meant that Americans effectively borrowed $3.3 billion every single working day to fund the gap between their spending and their income. The accumulation of ever larger current-account deficits over the past quarter century has played an indispensable role in transforming the United States from the world's largest creditor nation into the planet's biggest debtor nation. Specifically, in 1982, America's net international investment position was a positive $236 billion. That meant that foreigners owed us nearly a quarter of a trillion dollars more than we owed them. At the end of 2005 (the latest year for which data are available), the net international investment position of the United States was a negative $2.55 trillion. In other words, we owed foreigners more than $2.5 trillion than they owed us. Since 1994 alone, America's net international investment position has deteriorated by more than $2.4 trillion.

Note: The Washington Times was the only media source to report on this highly important story. Why? For a possible answer, click here. For more underreported, yet massive government corruption, click here.


Bank Data Is Sifted by U.S. in Secret to Block Terror
2006-06-23, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/23/washington/23intel.html

Under a secret Bush administration program initiated weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, counterterrorism officials have gained access to financial records from a vast international database and examined banking transactions involving thousands of Americans and others in the United States. The program, run out of the Central Intelligence Agency and overseen by the Treasury Department ... is a significant departure from typical practice in how the government acquires Americans' financial records. Treasury officials did not seek individual court-approved warrants or subpoenas to examine specific transactions, instead relying on broad administrative subpoenas for millions of records. That access to large amounts of confidential data was highly unusual, several officials said, and stirred concerns inside the administration about legal and privacy issues. "The capability here is awesome or, depending on where you're sitting, troubling," said one former senior counterterrorism official who considers the program valuable. While tight controls are in place, the official added, "the potential for abuse is enormous." The program is separate from the National Security Agency's efforts to eavesdrop without warrants and collect domestic phone records, operations that have provoked fierce public debate and spurred lawsuits against the government and telecommunications companies.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


To Fill His Shoes, Mr. Bernanke, Learn to Dance
2005-10-30, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/10/28/AR20051028024...

In his 18 years as chairman of the Federal Reserve, Greenspan has occasionally drawn criticism, but no one disputes his technical prowess or sniffs at his track record of low inflation and steady, almost uninterrupted growth. Enter Ben S. Bernanke, President Bush's nominee to take Greenspan's place. The former Princeton economics professor is currently the chairman of the president's Council of Economic Advisers. The following are excerpts from [a speech] by Ben S. Bernanke. "On Milton Friedman's Ninetieth Birthday," Nov. 8, 2002: "I first read 'A Monetary History of the United States' early in my graduate school years at M.I.T. I was hooked, and I have been a student of monetary economics and economic history ever since. Friedman and [his co-author Anna J.] Schwartz made the case that the economic collapse of 1929-33 was the product of the nation's monetary mechanism gone wrong. What I take from their work is the idea that monetary forces, particularly if unleashed in a destabilizing direction, can be extremely powerful. "I would like to say to Milton and Anna: Regarding the Great Depression. You're right, we did it. We're very sorry. But thanks to you, we won't do it again."

Note: The chairman of the Federal Reserve Board admits here that the Federal Reserve caused the Great Depression. The Federal Reserve is owned by powerful private banks. It was created in 1913 largely in secrecy and fought by many who understood the dangers involved. For more reliable information on this, click here.


How Bush's grandfather helped Hitler's rise to power
2004-09-25, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,12271,1312540,00.html

George Bush's grandfather, the late US senator Prescott Bush, was a director and shareholder of companies that profited from their involvement with the financial backers of Nazi Germany. Newly discovered files in the US National Archives [confirm] that a firm of which Prescott Bush was a director was involved with the financial architects of Nazism. His business dealings...continued until his company's assets were seized in 1942 under the Trading with the Enemy Act. There has been a steady internet chatter about the "Bush/Nazi" connection, much of it inaccurate and unfair. But the new documents, many of which were only declassified last year, show that even after America had entered the war...he worked for and profited from companies closely involved with the very German businesses that financed Hitler's rise to power. Remarkably, little of Bush's dealings with Germany has received public scrutiny, partly because of the secret status of the documentation involving him. But now [a] multibillion dollar legal action for damages by two Holocaust survivors against the Bush family, and the imminent publication of three books on the subject are threatening to make Prescott Bush's business history an uncomfortable issue for his grandson. Three sets of archives spell out Prescott Bush's involvement. All three are readily available, thanks to the efficient US archive system. Like his son, George, and grandson, George W, he went to Yale where he was, again like his descendants, a member of the secretive and influential Skull and Bones student society.


Rothschild to leave gold market
2004-04-15, BBC News
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/3628971.stm

NM Rothschild, one of the City's oldest merchant banks, has decided that profit takes precedence over history and is to withdraw from London's gold market. The move is part of Rothschild's plans to halt all commodities trading out of London as it becomes less profitable. Last year, the business generated just 2.2% of the bank's income, down from more than 8% five years earlier. Rothschild's departure will leave a big gap, not least because it hosts the twice-daily gold price fixing. Started in 1919, it is a prized and bizarre tradition. Every day at 1030 and 1500 local time, five representatives of investment banks meet in a small room at Rothschild's London headquarters on St Swithin's Lane. They are charged by the London Gold Market to agree a price for the bullion on offer. Each sits behind a desk and gets a phone and small Union Jack. In the centre is the chairperson, who for the past 85 years has come from Rothschild. A price is given and relayed via phone lines to customers. Then the haggling begins. When the price is right and buyers are matched with sellers, the flags are lowered and the price is fixed. While the whole process harks to a bygone age, the economics of the modern gold market are far less quaint. Many producers are no longer hedging their exposure to both currency and commodity price movements and that has taken a large chunk of business off the table. According to bank chairman David de Rothschild, "our income from commodities trading in London has fallen as a percentage of our total income in each of the past five years".

Note: For more on commodity price rigging, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


Economist tallies swelling cost of Israel to US
2002-12-09, Christian Science Monitor
http://www.csmonitor.com/2002/1209/p16s01-wmgn.html

Since 1973, Israel has cost the United States about $1.6 trillion. If divided by today's population, that is more than $5,700 per person. This is an estimate by Thomas Stauffer, a consulting economist in Washington. Mr. Stauffer has tallied the total cost to the US of its backing of Israel in its drawn-out, violent dispute with the Palestinians. The bill adds up to more than twice the cost of the Vietnam War. Israel is the largest recipient of US foreign aid. It has been getting $3 billion a year for years. Israel has been given $240 billion since 1973, Stauffer reckons. In addition, the US has given Egypt $117 billion and Jordan $22 billion in foreign aid in return for signing peace treaties with Israel. Stauffer wonders if Americans are aware of the full bill for supporting Israel since some costs, if not hidden, are little known. Other US help includes: • Israel buys discounted, serviceable "excess" US military equipment. Stauffer says these discounts amount to "several billion dollars" over recent years. • Israel uses roughly 40 percent of its $1.8 billion per year in military aid, ostensibly earmarked for purchase of US weapons, to buy Israeli-made hardware. It also has won the right to require the Defense Department or US defense contractors to buy Israeli-made equipment or subsystems, paying 50 to 60 cents on every defense dollar the US gives to Israel. US help ... has enabled Israel to become a major weapons supplier. Weapons make up almost half of Israel's manufactured exports. US defense contractors often resent the buy-Israel requirements and the extra competition subsidized by US taxpayers. Stauffer [has] been assisted in this research by a number of mostly retired military or diplomatic officials who do not go public for fear of being labeled anti-Semitic.

Note: Israel has a population of 6.5 million. Yearly foreign aid to Israel has generally varied between $2.5 to 3.0 billion for many years (it's difficult to locate these figures on U.S. government websites). If you do the math, U.S. taxpayers are giving every man, woman, and child, in Israel about $400/year -- over ten times the per capita rate paid to any other country. That's quite a tax break, especially considering they are not Americans.


Coruscating criticism of the free market ideology of the IMF
2001-04-27, BBC News
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/events/newsnight/1312942.stm

GREG PALAST: Protesters say that what we have here is a conspiracy - the World Bank, IMF and World Trade Organisation don't help the poor of the world, they crush them. Well, the bosses are here today, let's ask them. Joseph Stiglitz was chief economist of the World Bank - he should know. He was in the meetings when the World Bank and IMF met to decide the fate of nations. JOSEPH STIGLITZ: They were making the countries worse off. They'll take a strong position on petty larceny and petty theft, but on grand larceny, they'll look the other way. PALAST: The insider says there's a "one-size-fits-all" plan. Every nation gets the same exact four-step programme to the free market paradise. Step one - freedom for hot money. Step two - freedom to increase prices. Step three - free trade for all. Step four, where it all begins, freedom to privatise everything. Insiders saw how it worked in Russia. JOSEPH STIGLITZ: That was the extreme case. You turned over these assets to these oligarchs at a time when the government didn't have enough money to pay pensions to old people. It turned over billions of dollars to a few oligarchs for a fraction of the value of those assets. When it comes to corruption in Russia, they were willing to turn the other way. The IMF and the US Treasury actually almost encouraged it.

Note: To watch the eight-minute video of this BBC clip, click here. For a powerful summary of John Perkins book describing this process in detail, click here. Perkins say he was hired to use the big international banks' money to corrupt dictators and enrich the coffers of the biggest multinational corporations.


Dodd-Frank rollback is money in the banks
2018-05-23, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
https://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/editorials/article/Editorial-Dodd-Frank-r...

The House’s bipartisan vote Tuesday to weaken Dodd-Frank, the banking and consumer reform legislation passed in the wake of the 2008 financial collapse and recession ... dramatically shrinks the number of institutions deemed important to the financial system and therefore subject to strict oversight. It raises the threshold automatically triggering such measures from $50 billion to $250 billion in assets. Small banks, defined as under $10 billion in assets, would also be exempt from the Volcker Rule, which prohibits certain risky investments of customers’ money. And an estimated 85 percent of banks would also be excused from reporting requirements meant to detect discrimination in home mortgage lending. Supporters of the regulatory retreat would have the public believe that Dodd-Frank constitutes a crushing burden on a struggling financial industry. Meanwhile, on the very day that the House approved the rollback, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. reported that the commercial banks and savings institutions it covers made $56 billion in the first quarter of the year, a 27.5 percent increase from a year earlier. Congress’ ... likely motivation is another figure: the $1.1 billion in contributions to federal campaigns attributed to financial institutions in the last two-year election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, more than any other sector spent. That haul favored Republicans only modestly, with 46 percent going to Democrats. Judging by this week’s vote, it was money well spent.

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


One thing Democrats and Republicans apparently agree on: Destabilizing the banking sector again
2018-03-09, Los Angeles Times
http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-dayen-deregulation-bank-bill-20180...

Next week marks the 10th anniversary of the run on Bear Stearns, the investment bank that collapsed under the weight of toxic subprime mortgages ... leading to the biggest economic crisis in nearly a century. That seems like a terrible political backdrop for the Senate to pass a bill that deregulates the banking sector. But that's exactly what's about to happen. The Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act, which pro-regulation groups have called the "Bank Lobbyist Act," advanced in the Senate this week. The ... Congressional Budget Office stated [that the] legislation would increase the risk of another [financial crisis] happening. The bill ... rolls back key pieces of the Dodd-Frank Act and includes giveaways to large institutions of the same size and scope as the ones that crashed the economy in 2008. The most important measure in the legislation raises the threshold for enhanced regulatory supervision by the Federal Reserve from $50 billion to $250 billion. The beneficiaries, 25 of the top 38 banks in America, could be called "stadium banks:" not big enough to count as Wall Street mega-banks, but big enough to have a sports stadium named after them. Nearly all giant foreign banks with operations in the U.S. could enjoy the same weaker rules. Why would more than one-third of the Senate Democratic caucus provide the margin of victory on [this] bill. The answer is simple: money. The top three recipients of campaign donations from commercial banks since 2017 are Democrats. This whole process reveals that bipartisanship usually arrives in Washington at the barrel of a money cannon.

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


Paradise Papers: US puts sanctions on billionaire over dealings in DRC
2017-12-22, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/dec/22/paradise-papers-us-sanctions-bil...

The US government has imposed sanctions on the Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler, whose African business dealings were exposed in the Paradise Papers, over “hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of opaque and corrupt mining and oil deals” in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In a strongly worded statement, the US president ... placed sanctions on 13 people and companies associated with them, declaring a state of “national emergency with respect to serious human rights abuse and corruption around the world”. In November, the Paradise Papers investigation unveiled new details of Gertler’s mining deals in strife-torn but resource-rich DRC, in particular over a $45m loan in shares to one of his companies from the world’s biggest miner, Glencore. In imposing sanctions on Gertler, the US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) said the Israeli billionaire’s corrupt dealings had deprived the state coffers of DRC of ... more than $1.36bn in revenues from the underpricing of mining assets that were sold to offshore companies linked to Gertler. Gertler’s involvement in the DRC spans nearly two decades. He was cited by a 2001 UN investigation that said he had given the DRC’s then-president $20m to buy weapons to equip his army against rebel groups in exchange for a monopoly on the country’s diamonds, and a 2013 Africa Progress Panel report said a string of mining deals struck by companies linked to him had deprived the country of more than $1.3bn in potential revenue.

Note: Gertler had close ties with Mark Rich, who was once on the FBI's 10 most wanted list only to later be pardoned by Bill Clinton. This revealing article on Gertler in the UK's Guardian shows corruption and abuse leading to very high places. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in government and in the corporate world.


U.S. Imposes Sanctions on 52 People and Entities for Abuse and Corruption
2017-12-21, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/21/world/global-magnitsky-act-sanctions.html

The United States imposed sanctions on 52 people and entities Thursday for alleged human rights violations and corruption, a list that included Maung Maung Soe, a top Burmese general cited for an ongoing deadly crackdown on the Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic group. Maj. Gen. Maung Maung Soe was the chief of the Burmese Army’s Western Command during a crackdown that survivors say involved government soldiers stabbing babies, cutting off the heads of boys, gang-raping girls and burning entire families to death. Maj. Gen. Maung Maung Soe is the first high-level Burmese military official to be named in sanctions. “Today, the United States is taking a strong stand against human rights abuse and corruption globally by shutting these bad actors out of the U.S. financial system,” said Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary. Among others penalized on Thursday was Yahya Jammeh, former president of Gambia. Mr. Jammeh created a terror and assassination squad ... that he used to intimidate, interrogate and kill people who threatened him. Benjamin Bol Mel of South Sudan, Dan Gertler, who did business in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Mukhtar Hamid Shah of Pakistan were also on the list. The sanctions freeze any assets the individuals or entities hold in the United States and also prevent them from using any American financial institution.

Note: Importantly, billionaire Israeli mine kingpin Dan Gertler is on this list. This revealing article on Gertler in the UK's Guardian shows corruption and abuse leading to very high places. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in government and in the corporate world.


Malta car bomb kills Panama Papers journalist
2017-10-16, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/16/malta-car-bomb-kills-panama-pap...

The journalist who led the Panama Papers investigation into corruption in Malta was killed. Daphne Caruana Galizia died on Monday afternoon when her car ... was destroyed by a powerful explosive device. A blogger whose posts often attracted more readers than the combined circulation of the country’s newspapers, Caruana Galizia was recently described by the Politico website as a “one-woman WikiLeaks”. Her most recent revelations pointed the finger at Malta’s prime minister, Joseph Muscat, and two of his closest aides, connecting offshore companies linked to the three men with the sale of Maltese passports and payments from the government of Azerbaijan. Caruana Galizia filed a police report 15 days ago to say that she had been receiving death threats. The journalist posted her final blog on her Running Commentary website at 2.35pm on Monday, and the explosion ... was reported to police just after 3pm. Caruana Galizia ... set her sights on a wide range of targets, from banks facilitating money laundering to links between Malta’s online gaming industry and the Mafia. Over the last two years, her reporting had largely focused on revelations from the Panama Papers, a cache of 11.5m documents leaked from the internal database of the world’s fourth largest offshore law firm, Mossack Fonseca. Her family have filed a court application demanding a change of inquiring magistrate. Investigations into the case are being led by Consuelo Scerri Herrera. But Herrera had come under criticism by Galizia in her blog.

Note: The release of the Panama Papers exposed tax-dodging elites in many countries. There is speculative evidence that the CIA had a hand in releasing these documents. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing financial industry corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.


After the Crash, Big Banks Got Bailouts. Abacus Faced Charges.
2017-09-12, PBS
https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/article/after-the-crash-big-banks-got-bail...

In 2009, shortly after the housing market crashed and the markets melted down, the owners of a small community bank in New York City’s Chinatown discovered fraud within their loan department. The bank’s owners, the Chinese-American Sung family ... reported the fraud to their regulators. But two-and-a-half years later, the bank was accused of mortgage fraud by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office — making Abacus Federal Savings the only U.S. bank to be prosecuted in relation to the financial collapse and the first bank indicted in New York since 1991. Why did Abacus face charges, while the biggest banks on Wall Street all avoided prosecution for fraud? That’s the question at the heart of [the new documentary film] Abacus: Small Enough to Jail. Abacus chronicles the Sung family’s quest to clear their names, the district attorney’s case against the bank — and how 19 of the bank’s ex-employees, largely immigrants, were treated by the justice system. When 12 ex-employees of the bank who refused to plead guilty were arraigned, [they were] handcuffed to each other, and in the words of one of their attorneys, “herded like cattle” down courthouse hallways. “Reporters ... were treated to this extraordinary photo opportunity, this almost Stalinist looking chain gang” of Asian Americans, says journalist Matt Taibbi. “I had never seen that in my entire time at the DA’s office,” says Chanterelle Sung, whose father, Thomas, is the bank’s founder. She had worked at the office as a prosecutor for seven years.

Note: You can watch the PBS special on this strange story on this webpage. A transcript of this documentary is available here. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in government and in the financial industry.


College Was Once Free and For the Public Good—What Happened?
2017-07-20, Yes! Magazine
http://www.yesmagazine.org/new-economy/college-was-once-free-and-for-the-publ...

Among politicians, college administrators, educators, parents and students, college affordability seems to be seen as a purely financial issue. The roots of the current student debt crisis are neither economic nor financial in origin, but predominantly social. In 2012, more than 44 million Americans were still paying off student loans. And the average graduate in 2016 left college with more than $37,000 in student loan debt. Student loan debt has become the second-largest type of personal debt among Americans. From 1995 to 2015, tuition and fees at 310 national universities ... rose considerably, increasing by nearly 180 percent at private schools and more than 225 percent at public schools. During the 19th century, college education in the United States was offered largely for free. College education was considered a public good. Students who received such an education would put it to use in the betterment of society. The perception of higher education changed dramatically [as] private colleges began to attract more students from upper-class families. In 1927, John D. Rockefeller began campaigning for charging students the full cost it took to educate them. Further, he suggested that students could shoulder such costs through student loans. Tuition - and student loans - thus became commonly accepted aspects of the economics of higher education. If the United States is looking for alternatives to what some would call a failing funding model for college affordability, the solution may lie in looking further back than the current system.

Note: According to former US Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, the sharply increasing cost of a college education serves to redistribute wealth from the poor to the rich. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing income inequality news articles from reliable major media sources.


Special Report: How the Federal Reserve serves U.S. foreign intelligence
2017-06-26, Reuters
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-fed-accounts-intelligence-specialrepo/spec...

The Federal Reserve’s little-known role housing the assets of other central banks comes with a unique benefit to the United States: It serves as a source of foreign intelligence for Washington. Senior officials from the U.S. Treasury and other government departments have turned to these otherwise confidential accounts several times a year to analyze the asset holdings of the central banks of Russia, China, Iraq, Turkey, Yemen, Libya and others, according to more than a dozen current and former senior Fed and Treasury officials. The U.S. central bank keeps a tight lid on information contained in these accounts. But according to the officials interviewed by Reuters, U.S. authorities regularly use a “need to know” confidentiality exception in the Fed’s service contracts with foreign central banks. Some 250 foreign central banks and governments keep $3.3 trillion of their assets at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, about half of the world’s official dollar reserves, using a service advertised in a 2015 slide presentation as “safe and confidential.” Other major central banks and some commercial banks offer similar services. But only the Fed offers direct access to U.S. debt markets and to the world’s reserve currency, the dollar. In all, the people interviewed by Reuters identified seven instances in the last 15 years in which the accounts gave U.S. authorities insights into the actions of foreign counterparts or market movements, at times leading to a specific U.S. response.

Note: It's quite telling that no other major media picked up this important piece. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on financial industry corruption and the disappearance of privacy.


Tax evaders exposed: why the super-rich are even richer than we thought
2017-06-14, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/inequality/2017/jun/14/tax-evaders-exposed-why-su...

Tax records are invaluable for the study of economic inequality. Graphs published on the World Wealth and Income Database, for example, show just how ... this information can inform the public debate. The top 1% income share is now closely scrutinised by journalists and policymakers. But if the rich dodge taxes more than others, tax records will underestimate inequality. The key data source used in rich countries to study tax evasion is random tax audits – but these audits do not capture tax evasion by the very wealthy. In our recent study, however, we exploited a massive trove of data leaked from HSBC Switzerland, the so-called HSBC files, to fill this gap. We also made use of the Panama Papers, which last year revealed the identity of the shareholders of shell companies created by the Panamanian firm Mossack Fonseca. Just as with HSBC, this leak is valuable as it can be seen as a random event and involves a prominent provider of offshore financial services. We combined random audits with these new sources of information to shed light on who really evades taxes. The higher one moves up the wealth distribution, the higher the probability of hiding assets. So what are the consequences for inequality? At the very top of the pyramid, it is much greater than previously estimated. In Norway, where the available wealth data is particularly detailed, the super-wealthy appear to be 30% wealthier than previously though. The share of wealth owned by the top 0.1% increases from 8% to 10%.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on income inequality and financial industry corruption.


‘Lions Hunting Zebras’: Ex-Wells Fargo Bankers Describe Abuses
2016-10-20, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/21/business/dealbook/lions-hunting-zebras-ex-w...

Mexican immigrants who speak little English. Older adults with memory problems. College students opening their first bank accounts. Small-business owners with several lines of credit. These were some of the customers whom bankers at Wells Fargo, trying to meet steep sales goals and avoid being fired, targeted for unauthorized or unnecessary accounts, according to legal filings and statements from former bank employees. “The analogy I use was that it was like lions hunting zebras,” said Kevin Pham, a former Wells Fargo employee in San Jose, Calif., who saw it happening at the branch where he worked. “They would look for the weakest, the ones that would put up the least resistance.” Wells Fargo would like to close the chapter on the sham account scandal. But lawmakers and regulators say they will not let it go that quickly, and emerging evidence that some victims were among the bank’s most vulnerable customers has given them fresh ammunition. This week, three members of the Board of Supervisors in San Francisco, Wells Fargo’s hometown, introduced a resolution calling on the city to cut all financial ties with the bank. They cited both the recent scandal and past cases — particularly the $175 million that Wells Fargo paid in 2012 to settle accusations that its mortgage brokers had discriminated against black and Hispanic borrowers. Current and former Wells Fargo employees say the problems continued well into this year.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing banking corruption news articles.


Leaked emails show what Clinton told executives in private
2016-10-08, PBS News/Associated Press
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/emails-clinton-wall-street-private/

Hillary Clinton took nearly every precaution to ensure voters would never know what she told investment bankers, lobbyists and corporate executives in dozens of closed-door paid speeches before running for president. Turns out, the Democratic presidential nominee had good reason to do so. She is ... happy to cut backroom deals with corporate interests and curry favor with Wall Street for campaign dollars. The WikiLeaks organization on Friday posted ... emails obtained in a hack of the Clinton campaign chairman’s personal email account. Among the documents posted online was an internal review of the speeches conducted by campaign aides to survey the political damage her remarks could cause if they ever became public. In what aides calculated were the most damaging passages, she reflects on the necessity of “unsavory” political dealing. To investment bankers from Goldman Sachs and BlackRock, Clinton admits that she’s “kind of far removed” from the middle-class upbringing that she frequently touts on the campaign trail. And in speeches to some of the country’s biggest banks, she highlighted her long ties to Wall Street ... saying that she views the financial industry as a partner in government regulation. In an effort to keep those speeches private, strongly worded contracts prohibited unauthorized recordings, reporters were banned and, in some cases, blog posts about her remarks pulled off websites.

Note: BBC has an article listing 11 intriguing revelations from the recent Wikileaks release. The emails also showed discussion of the Clinton campaign's interest in "elevating" Trump and other 'extreme' Republican candidates to make the party's eventual nominee 'unpalatable'. In 2013 alone, Clinton received $2.3 million for delivering these speeches. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in government and in the financial industry.


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.


Former Tax Lobbyists Are Writing the Rules on Tax Dodging
2016-04-27, The Intercept
https://theintercept.com/2016/04/27/congress-tax-lobbyists/

The secret tax-dodging strategies of the global elite in China, Russia, Brazil, the U.K., and beyond were exposed in speculator fashion by the recent Panama Papers investigation, fueling a worldwide demand for a crackdown on tax avoidance. But there is little appetite in Congress for taking on powerful tax dodgers in the U.S., where the practice has become commonplace ... especially given that some of the largest companies paying little to no federal taxes are among the biggest campaign contributors in the country. But there’s another reason to remain skeptical that Congress will move aggressively on tax avoidance: Former tax lobbyists now run the tax-writing committees. Many have stints in and out of government and the lobbying profession, a phenomenon known as the “reverse revolving door.” In other words, the lobbyists that help special interest groups and wealthy individuals minimize their tax bills are not only everywhere on K Street, they’re literally managing the bodies that create tax law. Barbara Angus, the chief tax counsel of the House Ways and Means Committee ... previously helped lobby lawmakers on tax policy on behalf of clients such as General Electric, HSBC, and Microsoft. Mike Evans became chief counsel for the Senate Finance Committee in 2014 after leaving his job as a lobbyist for ... JP Morgan, Peabody Energy, Brown-Forman, BNSF Railway, and other corporate clients. Verizon, Boeing, and General Electric, to name a few, paid no federal income taxes in recent years.

Note: The US ranks third in the world in financial secrecy. A 2015 Guardian newspaper article further describes how the US helps the super-rich hide assets. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in government and in the financial industry.


This is corporate tax desertion taken to a whole new level
2016-02-04, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/this-is-corporate-tax-deserti...

If you want an example of how bizarre U.S. tax laws can be - and how companies can game the system - look no further than the recently announced deal for Johnson Controls Inc. of Milwaukee to desert our country by combining with a previous corporate deserter, Tyco International PLC. Tyco is run out of Princeton, N.J., but for tax purposes it is based in Ireland, where the combined Johnson Controls PLC will be based. This [is] an especially aggressive transaction that, among other things, will let Johnson game the tax system by handing its shareholders about $3.9 billion in cash in order to get tax-free access to $8.1 billion in cash currently held overseas. Under our tax laws, if a U.S. company combines with a foreign company (or a nominally foreign company such as Tyco), it can play a variety of tax games, provided that the shareholders of the U.S. company own more than 60 percent but less than 80 percent of the stock in the new, combined company. However, the company can play far more games ... if the shareholders of the U.S. company own more than 50 percent of the combined company but less than 60 percent. By being in [this] sweet spot, Johnson PLC can get its hands on its offshore cash directly, instead of having to leap through various hoops. [Who knows] why it’s legal for Johnson to buy in a chunk of its shares to make the numbers work - but apparently, it is. So there you have it. Johnson, a vendor to the taxpayer-rescued U.S. auto industry, repays us by doing ... a mega-desertion.

Note: Under current US laws, in what the Washington Post calls a "corporate predator state", profitable multinationals often pay no US taxes at all. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing corporate corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.


Elizabeth Warren: One Way to Rebuild Our Institutions
2016-01-29, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/29/opinion/elizabeth-warren-one-way-to-rebuild...

I just released a report examining 20 of the worst federal enforcement failures in 2015. Its conclusion: “Corporate criminals routinely escape meaningful prosecution for their misconduct.” In a single year, in case after case, across many sectors of the economy, federal agencies caught big companies breaking the law - defrauding taxpayers, covering up deadly safety problems, even precipitating the financial collapse in 2008 - and let them off the hook with barely a slap on the wrist. Often, companies paid meager fines, which some will try to write off as a tax deduction. Justice cannot mean a prison sentence for a teenager who steals a car, but nothing more than a sideways glance at a C.E.O. who quietly engineers the theft of billions of dollars. Last year, five of the world’s biggest banks, including JPMorgan Chase, pleaded guilty to criminal charges that they rigged the price of billions of dollars worth of foreign currencies. No corporation can break the law unless people in that corporation also broke the law, but no one from any of those banks has been charged. The Securities and Exchange Commission ... is far behind on issuing congressionally mandated rules to avoid the next financial crisis. It has repeatedly granted waivers so that lawbreaking companies can continue to enjoy special privileges, while the Justice Department has dodged one opportunity after another to impose meaningful accountability on big corporations and their executives.

Note: Senator Elizabeth Warren was called "the champion of Main Street versus Wall Street" by the Boston Globe in 2014. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in government and in the corporate world.


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.


US overtakes Caymans and Singapore as haven for assets of super-rich
2015-11-02, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/nov/02/united-states-overtakes-cayma...

The US has overtaken Singapore, Luxembourg and the Cayman Islands as an attractive haven for super-rich individuals and businesses looking to shelter assets behind a veil of secrecy, according to a study by the Tax Justice Network (TJN). The US is ranked third, behind Switzerland and Hong Kong, in the financial secrecy index, produced every two years by TJN. But the study noted that if Britain and its affiliated tax havens such as Jersey were treated as one unit it would top the list. “Though the US has been a pioneer in defending itself from foreign secrecy jurisdictions it provides little information in return to other countries, making it a formidable, harmful and irresponsible secrecy jurisdiction,” the TJN report said. The scale of hidden offshore wealth around the world is difficult to assess. The economist Gabriel Zucman has put it at $7.6tn, while the TJN’s James Henry, a former chief economist at consultancy McKinsey, estimated three years ago it could be more than $21tn. The US states of Delaware, Wyoming and Nevada have for decades been operating as onshore secrecy havens, specialising in setting up shell companies catering to overseas individuals and companies seeking to hide assets. “The US has not seriously addressed its own role in attracting illicit financial flows and supporting tax evasion,” the TJN report found. Like the US, Britain too remains a central player in the vast financial secrecy industry despite championing corporate transparency on the international stage.

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


Is Money Corrupting Research?
2015-10-09, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/10/opinion/is-money-corrupting-research.html?_r=0

The integrity of research and expert opinions in Washington came into question last week, prompting the resignation of Robert Litan, an economist, from his position as a nonresident fellow at the Brookings Institution. Senator Elizabeth Warren raised the issue of a conflict of interest in Mr. Litan’s testimony before a Senate committee. The testimony was based on a paper Mr. Litan had prepared for the Capital Group, a mutual fund company. Mr. Litan disclosed that the Capital Group, which has a stake in the debate, had funded his paper, but he did not disclose that it had also commissioned it. At stake is the integrity of the research process and the trust the nation puts in experts, who advise governments and testify in Congress. Had [Litan's] conclusions not pleased the Capital Group, it would probably have found a more compliant expert. And the reputation of not being “cooperative” would have haunted Mr. Litan’s career as a consultant. The practice of bending an opinion for money is so widespread as to be the norm. By shedding light on how funding of research can affect its content, Senator Warren increased the reputational penalty for experts who bend to special interests. But we need two more changes. Congressional testimony and policy papers should be posted online at least two weeks in advance of a hearing and open for comments. And all expert witnesses should be disclosed to the public, with a time delay if needed for confidentiality.

Note: Read more about how big money buys off institutions democracy depends on. Then see these concise summaries of deeply revealing corporate corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.


How Peer-to-Peer Lending Is Changing the Way We Borrow Money
2015-07-16, Time Magazine
http://time.com/3960525/how-peer-to-peer-lending-is-changing-the-way-we-borro...

Tired of sharing a single bathroom with his teenage son, Sean Rosas hatched a plan. But ... renovating their broken-down bathroom ... would cost more than what Rosas, the director of volunteer services at a nonprofit, had on hand. That’s when Rosas, 43, stumbled on Lending Club, a website that matches borrowers directly with individual lenders. If you need a loan, the site pulls up your credit score, vets your application within minutes and assigns an interest rate. If enough people sign up to lend, you can get the money in days. More than 250 people chose to back Rosas, giving him a three-year, $16,000 loan at 8.9% annual interest. Rosas, who has made every monthly payment so far, is thrilled with his deal. “It was a much more human experience than if I had gone to a faceless bank,” he says. Peer-to-peer has grown partly as a response to the recession; when credit was tight, traditional banks pulled back on lending, and consumers needed alternatives. Compared with a traditional loan application, Lending Club is blissfully easy. To qualify, borrowers need only an active bank account, a minimum FICO credit score of 660 ... and at least three years of credit history. What lenders are really doing is investing: they’re putting their money in notes backed by the prospective repayment of loans. The sizes of the loans range from $1,000 to $35,000. Investors can buy notes in increments as small as $25. Since its founding in 2006, Lending Club has delivered investors an average annual return of 7.79%–appealing at a time when three-year Treasury bonds average 1%.

Note: Curious about emerging alternatives to traditional banking? Learn more about the inspiring microcredit movement.


Libor rates could be changed for a Mars bar, court hears
2015-07-08, BBC
http://www.bbc.com/news/business-33448210

A court has heard that manipulating Libor rates was so commonplace an offer of a Mars bar could get it changed. Tom Hayes, who worked for UBS and Citigroup ... is the first person to face a jury trial for manipulating the key interest rate, used to set trillions of pounds of investments. The court was shown ... transcripts of exchanges between traders using UBS's internal messaging system. The conversations all related to moving Libor rates, said Mr Hayes, to assist the traders' and banks' commercial interests, something he said he found it hard to see as wrong. In one chat, Mr Hayes suggests the market is rife with dealers attempting to influence rates: "Very, very hard to price stuff with the fixes so manipulated and inconsistent." His correspondent replies: "The fixes are manipulated?" "Yes, of course they are," says Mr Hayes. "Just give the cash desk a Mars bar and they'll set wherever you want." He has alleged throughout his trial that ... senior managers, even the chief executive of the bank, knew all about it. He said he was "shocked" when his manager phoned him asking him not to mention Libor rate-setting in any emails. The court was also shown an email exchange between senior management appearing to show they had reservations about Mr Hayes. "Personally I find it embarrassing when he calls up his mates to ask for favours on high/low fixings. What's the legal risk to UBS asking others to manipulate rates?" The Libor scandal has seen a number of the world's leading banks fined for manipulating rates.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about the systemically corrupt financial industry.


Eric Holder, Wall Street Double Agent, Comes in From the Cold
2015-07-08, Rolling Stone
http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/eric-holder-wall-street-double-agen...

Eric Holder has gone back to work for his old firm, the white-collar defense heavyweight Covington & Burling. Holder will reassume his lucrative partnership (he made $2.5 million the last year he worked there) and take his seat in an office that reportedly was kept empty for him in his absence. At issue is the extraordinary run Holder just completed as one of history's great double agents. For six years, while brilliantly disguised as the attorney general of the United States, he was actually working deep undercover ... as the best defense lawyer Wall Street ever had. After six years of letting one banker after another skate on monstrous cases of fraud, tax evasion, market manipulation, money laundering, bribery and other offenses [by] handing out soft-touch settlements to practically every Too Big to Fail bank in the world, [Holder] returns to a firm that represents many of those same companies: Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo, Chase, Bank of America and Citigroup, to name a few. Going by the massive rises in share price observed after he handed out these deals, his service was certainly worth many billions of dollars to Wall Street. Now he will presumably collect assloads of money from those very same bankers. It's one of the biggest quid pro quo deals in the history of government service. Holder ... institutionalized a radical dualistic approach to criminal justice, essentially creating a system of indulgences wherein the world's richest companies paid cash for their sins and escaped the sterner punishments the law dictated.

Note: The revolving door between Wall Street and government officials is well known. But in Holder's case, the corporate door remained wide open throughout his time as a public servant. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in government and in the corporate world.


JPMorgan to pay over $125 million to settle US credit card debt probes
2015-07-08, CNBC/Reuters
http://www.cnbc.com/2015/07/08/jpmorgan-to-pay-over-125-million-to-settle-us-...

JPMorgan Chase has agreed to pay at least $125 million to settle probes by U.S. state and federal authorities that the bank sought to improperly collect and sell consumer credit card debt. The settlement also includes about $50 million in restitution. The nation's largest bank has been accused of ... going after consumers for debts they may not have owed and for providing inaccurate information to debt buyers. The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), 47 states and the District of Columbia are expected to announce the settlements as soon as Wednesday. Mississippi and California are not expected to settle at the same time. Both have lawsuits pending against JPMorgan over debt collection practices. California Attorney General Kamala Harris sued in 2013, claiming the bank engaged in fraudulent and unlawful debt collection practices against 100,000 California credit card borrowers over some three years. The state claims the bank flooded state courts with questionable lawsuits, filing thousands every month, including 469 such lawsuits in one day alone. Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood's lawsuit filed a similar lawsuit against JPMorgan in 2013. In September 2013, the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ordered JPMorgan to refund $309 million to about 2 million customers for illegal credit card practices, including charging consumers for credit card monitoring services they did not receive.

Note: Read how JPMorgan Chase uses settlements like the ones described above to hide criminal wrongdoing while actually making money in "The $9 Billion Witness". For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about the systemically corrupt financial industry.


HSBC is 'cast-iron certain' to breach banking rules again, executive admits
2015-04-02, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/apr/02/hsbc-cast-iron-certain-breach...

A senior HSBC executive has privately admitted that the bank is “cast-iron certain” to have another major regulatory breach in the future. Global head of sanctions Lee Hale ... was meeting with independent lawyers monitoring HSBC as part of a controversial 2012 deal with the US Department of Justice, in which the bank avoided prosecution over sanctions-busting and money-laundering in its Mexican branch in exchange for paying a $1.9bn fine and receiving additional regulatory scrutiny for a period of five years. The deferred prosecution agreement was signed by the then US attorney for the eastern district of New York, Loretta Lynch. During a long exchange about HSBC’s new policy on sanctions and internal breaches of company rules, Hale told the regulator that “given the size and scale of HSBC”, in his view “it is a cast-iron certain[ty] this will happen, at some point in the future we’re going to have some big breach, some regulatory breach”. He added: “I hope it doesn’t happen, but it is likely.” The recorded monitor discussions also touched on problems in the bank’s US compliance team. Hale said: “The internal audit team have done a US review and it’s not great in terms of what they’ve found.” The findings, according to Hale, prompted the bank to terminate the employment of one of the bank’s senior compliance executives in New York, a former sanctions official at the US Treasury. In 2012, a US Senate report noted that a high turnover of compliance staff at the bank’s US subsidiary had made reforms difficult to implement.

Note: Read lots more on HSBC's sweetheart deal with U.S. officials in a Rolling Stone article by Matt Taibbi. Is it even possible to root out corruption in a bank founded to service the international drug trade? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about systemic corruption in government and the financial industry.


Swiss prosecutors are shocked by HSBC's tax scandal
2015-02-18, Fortune
http://fortune.com/2015/02/18/swiss-prosecutors-are-shocked-shocked-by-hsbcs-...

A scandal implicating HSBC in alleged tax evasion widened further Wednesday, as Swiss prosecutors raided the Geneva headquarters of its private bank in Switzerland. The raid, in connection with an investigation into ‘aggravated money-laundering’, marks the latest twist in a saga that dates back 10 years. Materials leaked to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists ... indicated that HSBC aggressively marketed schemes suitable for tax evasion to rich clients across the world. The materials come from a stash of files stolen from HSBC by Hervé Falciani, a former employee and whistleblower. Falciani was indicted in Switzerland in December for industrial espionage and for breaking the law on banking secrecy. Falciani’s files have already led to criminal investigations in France, Belgium and Argentina. The Swiss authorities’ action Wednesday, however, is the first to suggest that they regard tax evasion itself as a bigger crime than exposing it. [HSBC has also recently] been found guilty of manipulating benchmark interest and foreign exchange rates, [and] desperately needs to be able to prove that it has not aided or abetted tax evasion or money-laundering since December 2012. That was when it signed a deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. after admitting to helping Iran get round sanctions and laundering the profits of Mexican drug trafficking gangs. Any evidence that it has broken that DPA could lead to it losing its all-important license to bank in the U.S., destroying its status as a global bank overnight.

Note: Read lots more on HSBC's sweetheart deal with U.S. officials in a Rolling Stone article by Matt Taibbi. US Senator Elizabeth Warren is working hard to bring justice in this case. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about systemic corruption in government and the financial industry.


Betting on Default
2015-01-02, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/03/opinion/betting-on-default.html?_r=0

Imagine a lender demanding that you miss a payment. That is the situation described in a recent article in The Wall Street Journal. In 2013, GSO Capital Partners ... refused to renew a $122.3 million loan to the Spanish gambling company Codere unless it delayed paying interest on other existing debt. Why? It turns out that GSO had placed a bet that Codere’s existing debt would not be paid on time. When, lo and behold, the payment was late, GSO collected on its bet. The bet in this scenario was a credit default swap. Credit default swaps, a type of derivative, can be used to hedge against losses on bonds that investors own, or to speculate on how the underlying companies will perform. The Dodd-Frank financial reform law was supposed to curb speculation in swaps. But ... hedge funds are increasingly using swaps to wager on whether weak firms will live or die. RadioShack ... is one of several prominent examples. In December, RadioShack’s total debt came to about $1.4 billion, but swaps outstanding on the performance of the debt totaled $23.5 billion. Similarly, J.C. Penney ... had total debt of some $8.7 billion, but swaps outstanding on the debt totaled $19.3 billion. Last month, Congress repealed an anti-speculation provision of Dodd-Frank that would have prevented federally insured banks from conducting several types of swap transactions. In addition, the Federal Reserve recently gave the banks two extra years to meet [another important] Dodd-Frank provision. Sooner or later, poorly regulated credit derivatives will again play a role in damaging the economy.

Note: Derivatives trading in the shadow banking system has produced a speculative bubble, valued at nearly a quadrillion dollars, that has been described as a financial time bomb.


Fueled by Recession, U.S. Wealth Gap Is Widest in Decades, Study Finds
2014-12-17, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/18/business/economy/us-wealth-gap-widest-in-at...

A report released on Wednesday by the Pew Research Center found that the wealth gap between the country’s top 20 percent of earners and the rest of America had stretched to its widest point in at least three decades. Last year, the median net worth of upper-income families reached $639,400, nearly seven times as much of those in the middle, and nearly 70 times the level of those at the bottom. There has been growing attention to the issue of income inequality. But while income and wealth are related ... the wealth gap zeros in on a different aspect of financial well-being: how much money and other assets you have accumulated over time. “The Great Recession destroyed a significant amount of middle-income and lower-income families’ wealth, and the economic ‘recovery’ has yet to be felt for them,” the report concluded. The median household net worth last year for those in the middle was $96,500, only slightly above the $94,300 mark it hit in 1983 (after being adjusted for inflation). A poor household actually had a higher median net worth 30 years ago ($11,400 in 1983) than it counted last year ($9,300). Compare those results with the top fifth of income earners. In 1983, when the Fed began collecting the data, that group had a median wealth of $318,000; in 2013 it owned more than twice that.

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


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.


The Fed Needs Governors Who Aren’t Wall Street Insiders
2014-11-19, Wall Street Journal
http://online.wsj.com/articles/elizabeth-warren-and-joe-manchin-the-fed-needs...

The Federal Reserve's Board of Governors and the New York Fed have been responsible for supervising Wall Street banks. After the 2008 crisis and the regulatory lapses it revealed, Congress gave the Fed even more oversight authority. Two recent reports highlight that the Fed isn’t very good at supervising certain banks. In September, Carmen Segarra, a former bank examiner at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, released secret recordings she had made of meetings at the New York Fed in 2012. The recordings revealed that New York Fed employees had identified concerns with a proposed Goldman Sachs deal. The New York Fed didn’t attempt to make Goldman address these concerns. The recordings also showed Ms. Segarra’s superiors pressuring her to soften her finding that Goldman did not comply with federal regulations on conflicts of interest. An October report from the Fed’s Office of Inspector General provided additional confirmation that the Fed is failing to oversee the big banks. The report found that the New York Fed had failed to examine J.P. Morgan Chase’s Chief Investment Office despite a recommendation to do so in 2009. The report concluded that the New York Fed needed to improve its supervision of the biggest, most complex banks. We’re all counting on the Fed to monitor the big banks and stop them from taking on too much risk, but evidence is mounting that this faith in the Fed is misplaced.

Note: If the above link fails, click here. For more along these lines, see these concise summaries of deeply revealing articles about widespread corruption in government and banking and finance. For additional information, see the excellent, reliable resources provided in our Banking Corruption Information Center.


Law Lets I.R.S. Seize Accounts on Suspicion, No Crime Required
2014-10-25, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/26/us/law-lets-irs-seize-accounts-on-suspicion...

For almost 40 years, Carole Hinders has dished out Mexican specialties at her modest cash-only restaurant. She deposited the earnings at a small bank branch a block away — until last year, when two tax agents knocked on her door and informed her that they had seized her checking account. She has not been charged with any crime. The money was seized solely because she had deposited less than $10,000 at a time. Using a law designed to catch drug traffickers ... the government has gone after run-of-the-mill business owners and wage earners without so much as an allegation that they have committed serious crimes. The government can take the money without ever filing a criminal complaint. Richard Weber, the chief of Criminal Investigation at the I.R.S., said in a written statement ... that making deposits under $10,000 to evade reporting requirements, called structuring, is ... a crime. The Institute for Justice, a Washington-based public interest law firm ... analyzed structuring data from the I.R.S., which made 639 seizures in 2012, up from 114 in 2005. Only one in five was prosecuted as a criminal structuring case. Law enforcement agencies get to keep a share of whatever is forfeited. This incentive has led to the creation of a law enforcement dragnet, with more than 100 multiagency task forces combing through bank reports, looking for accounts to seize. There are often legitimate business reasons for keeping deposits below $10,000, said Larry Salzman, a lawyer with the Institute for Justice. For example, he said, a grocery store owner in Fraser, Mich., had an insurance policy that covered only up to $10,000 cash.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing civil liberties news articles.


Nigeria Launches Electronic ID Cards
2014-08-28, BBC News
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-28970411

Nigeria's president has formally launched a national electronic identity card, which all Nigerians will have to have by 2019 if they want to vote ... the first biometric card which can also be used to make electronic payments. MasterCard is providing the prepaid payment element and it hopes millions of Nigerians without bank accounts will now gain access to financial services. An attempt to introduce national ID cards in Nigeria 10 years ago failed. Analysts blame corruption for its failure. MasterCard said combining an identity card with a payment card for those aged 16 and over was a significant move. "It breaks down one of the most significant barriers to financial inclusion - proof of identity," MasterCard's Daniel Monehin said in a statement. The new cards show a person's photograph, name, age and unique ID number - and 10 fingerprints and an iris are scanned during enrolment. These details are intended to ensure that there are no duplicates on the system. During the pilot phase, which began registering names last October, 13 million MasterCard-branded ID cards will be issued. There are enrolment centres in all 36 states and there is no fee to get the card, though people will be charged in the event that it needs to be replaced. The Nigerian Identity Management Commission (NIMC), which is behind the rollout, is trying to integrate several government databases including those for driving licences, voter registration, health insurance, taxes and pensions.

Note: This identification scheme is underwritten by a major financial services company, and directly connects a citizen's political identity, financial identity, and biological identity to a centralized electronic database. To understand some of the dangers of this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing microchip implant news articles from reliable major media sources.


WikiLeaks publishes 'secret draft' of world trade agreement
2014-06-19, CBC News (Canada's Public Broadcasting Network)
http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/wikileaks-publishes-secret-draft-of-world-trade-...

WikiLeaks has published what it calls "the secret draft text for the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) Financial Services Annex," apparently covering 50 countries and most of the world's trade in services. "The draft Financial Services Annex sets rules which would assist the expansion of financial multinationals — mainly headquartered in New York, London, Paris and Frankfurt — into other nations by preventing regulatory barriers," the website says in a statement. The draft deal is seen as a way to prevent more regulation of financial services, despite calls for tighter regulatory measures that followed the 2007-08 world financial crisis. That market meltdown set the world's biggest banks up against critics who said governments needed to rein them in. The last round of TISA talks took place April 28 to May 2 in Geneva. WikiLeaks also [stated] that the U.S. is "particularly keen on boosting cross-border data flow" and that this would include personal and financial data. During his teleconference, [Assange] urged U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to end a four-year-long grand jury investigation of Assange and WikiLeaks. "National security reporters are required by their profession to have intimate interactions in order to assess and verify and investigate the nature of the material that they are dealing with," he said. "So I call on Eric Holder today to immediately drop the ongoing national security investigation against WikiLeaks or resign."

Note: Why is this important release getting so little news coverage? For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing government corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.


Why both sides of the political aisle are turning against Wall Street
2014-05-07, Christian Science Monitor
http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/Robert-Reich/2014/0507/Why-both-sides-of-th...

More Americans than ever believe the economy is rigged in favor of Wall Street and big business and their enablers in Washington. We’re five years into a so-called recovery that’s been a bonanza for the rich but a bust for the middle class. “The game is rigged and the American people know that. They get it right down to their toes,” says Senator Elizabeth Warren. Which is fueling a new populism on both the left and the right. While still far apart, neo-populists on both sides are bending toward one another and against the establishment. And it’s not only the rhetoric that’s converging. Populists on the right and left are also coming together around six principles: 1. Cut the biggest Wall Street banks down to a size where they’re no longer too big to fail. 2. Resurrect the Glass-Steagall Act, separating investment from commercial banking and thereby preventing companies from gambling with their depositors’ money. 3. End corporate welfare – including subsidies to big oil, big agribusiness, big pharma, Wall Street, and the Ex-Im Bank. 5. Scale back American interventions overseas. 6. Oppose trade agreements crafted by big corporations. Two decades ago Democrats and Republicans enacted the North American Free Trade Agreement. Since then populists in both parties have mounted increasing opposition to such agreements. Left and right-wing populists remain deeply divided over the role of government. Even so, the major fault line in American politics seems to be shifting, from Democrat versus Republican, to populist versus establishment — those who think the game is rigged versus those who do the rigging.

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


Study: US is an oligarchy, not a democracy
2014-04-17, BBC News
http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-echochambers-27074746

The US is dominated by a rich and powerful elite. So concludes a recent study by Princeton University Prof Martin Gilens and Northwestern University Prof Benjamin I Page. Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organised groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence. In English: the wealthy few move policy, while the average American has little power. The two professors came to this conclusion after reviewing answers to 1,779 survey questions asked between 1981 and 2002 on public policy issues. They broke the responses down by income level, and then determined how often certain income levels and organised interest groups saw their policy preferences enacted. "A proposed policy change with low support among economically elite Americans (one-out-of-five in favour) is adopted only about 18% of the time," they write, "while a proposed change with high support (four-out-of-five in favour) is adopted about 45% of the time." When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organised interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the US political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favour policy change, they generally do not get it. They conclude: "We believe that if policymaking is dominated by powerful business organisations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America's claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened."

Note: For more on the antidemocratic impacts of income inequality, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


One-Percent Jokes and Plutocrats in Drag: What I Saw When I Crashed a Wall Street Secret Society
2014-02-17, New York Magazine
http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2014/02/i-crashed-a-wall-street-secret-s...

Recently, our nation’s financial chieftains have been feeling a little unloved. Venture capitalists are comparing the persecution of the rich to the plight of Jews at Kristallnacht, Wall Street titans are saying that they’re sick of being beaten up, and this week, a billionaire investor, Wilbur Ross, proclaimed that “the 1 percent is being picked on for political reasons.” Ross's statement seemed particularly odd, because two years ago, I met Ross at an event that might single-handedly explain why the rest of the country still hates financial tycoons – the annual black-tie induction ceremony of a secret Wall Street fraternity called Kappa Beta Phi. It was January 2012, and Ross, ... the leader (or “Grand Swipe”) of the fraternity, was preparing to invite 21 new members — “neophytes,” as the group called them — to join its exclusive ranks. I’d heard whisperings about the existence of Kappa Beta Phi. It was a secret fraternity, founded at the beginning of the Great Depression, that functioned as a sort of one-percenter’s Friars Club. Each year, the group’s dinner features comedy skits, musical acts in drag, and off-color jokes, and its group’s privacy mantra is “What happens at the St. Regis stays at the St. Regis.” For eight decades, it worked. No outsider in living memory had witnessed the entire proceedings firsthand. The first and most obvious conclusion was that the upper ranks of finance are composed of people who have completely divorced themselves from reality. No self-aware and socially conscious Wall Street executive would have agreed to be part of a group whose tacit mission is to make light of the financial sector’s foibles. Not when those foibles had resulted in real harm to millions of people in the form of foreclosures, wrecked 401(k)s, and a devastating unemployment crisis.

Note: This article is adapted from Kevin Roose’s new book Young Money. For more on secret societies, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


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.


Vatican Monsignor Arrested for Money Laundering
2014-01-21, ABC News/Associated Press
http://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/italy-police-arrest-vatican-monsignor-...

A Vatican monsignor already on trial for allegedly plotting to smuggle 20 million euros ($26 million) from Switzerland to Italy was arrested ... for allegedly using his Vatican bank accounts to launder money. Financial police in the southern Italian city of Salerno said Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, dubbed "Monsignor 500" for his purported favored banknotes, had transferred millions of euros in fictitious donations from offshore companies through his accounts at the Vatican's Institute for Religious Works. Acting on evidence provided by the Vatican bank, police said they seized 6.5 million euros in real estate and assets in Italian bank accounts Tuesday, including Scarano's luxurious Salerno apartment, filled with gilt-framed oil paintings, ceramic vases and other fancy antiques. Police said in all, 52 people were under investigation. The money involved in both the Swiss smuggling case and the Salerno money-laundering case originated with one of Italy's most important shipping families, the d'Amicos. Financial police said more than 5 million euros had been made available to Scarano by the D'Amicos via offshore companies. Scarano allegedly withdrew 555,248 euros from his Vatican account in cash in 2009 and brought it into Italy. Since he couldn't deposit it in an Italian bank without drawing suspicion, he selected 50 friends to accept 10,000 euros apiece in cash in exchange for a check or wire transfer in that same amount.

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.


Trans-Pacific Partnership: a guide to the most contentious issues
2013-12-10, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/10/trans-pacific-partnership-a-guid...

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement is being negotiated in Singapore this week between Australia, New Zealand, the US, Peru, Chile, Mexico, Canada, Singapore, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Japan. The countries have a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of US$28,136bn on 2012 figures, which represents almost 40% of the world’s GDP. There have been many contentious issues around the TPP: critics are particularly concerned about the secrecy around the agreement given it has the capacity to change many local laws and regulations. The majority of public criticism has centred on arguments relating to intellectual property and the cost of medicines, though many have concerns about environmental issues including climate change, investment, e-commerce and labour laws. The US has been rigid in its demands for stronger intellectual property protection to champion the rights of its global giants such as IT companies and its film and music industries. The US position on [the] investor-state dispute settlement provision ... grants foreign companies the right to sue [a] government under international law. All countries accepted there needed to be agreement on privacy obligations with regard to information-sharing, apart from the US, which reserved its position on privacy. The US position has left people wondering whether the TPP will undermine privacy, particularly in the wake of the NSA revelations from the Snowden documents. There appear to be deep divisions on environment and climate change, with the US and Australia opposing any extension of the text on climate matters.

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


Occupy Wall Street activists buy $15m of Americans' personal debt
2013-11-12, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/12/occupy-wall-street-activists-15m...

A group of Occupy Wall Street activists has bought almost $15m of Americans' personal debt over the last year as part of the Rolling Jubilee project to help people pay off their outstanding credit. Rolling Jubilee, set up by Occupy's Strike Debt group following the street protests that swept the world in 2011, launched on 15 November 2012. The group purchases personal debt cheaply from banks before "abolishing" it, freeing individuals from their bills. By purchasing the debt at knockdown prices the group has managed to free $14,734,569.87 of personal debt, mainly medical debt, spending only $400,000. "We thought that the ratio would be about 20 to 1," said Andrew Ross, a member of Strike Debt and professor of social and cultural analysis at New York University. "In fact we've been able to buy debt a lot more cheaply than that." The Rolling Jubilee project was mostly conceived as a "public education project", Ross said. "Our purpose in doing this, aside from helping some people along the way – there's certainly many, many people who are very thankful that their debts are abolished – our primary purpose was to spread information about the workings of this secondary debt market." The group has ... acquired the $14.7m in three separate purchases, most recently purchasing the value of $13.5m on medical debt owed by 2,693 people across 45 states and Puerto Rico, Rolling Jubilee said in a press release. “No one should have to go into debt or bankruptcy because they get sick,” said Laura Hanna, an organiser with the group. Hanna said 62% of all personal bankruptcies have medical debt as a contributing factor.

Note: For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click 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.


Rabobank Fined $1.1 Billion Over Libor, Euribor Manipulation
2013-10-29, Bloomberg Businessweek
http://www.businessweek.com/news/2013-10-29/rabobank-fined-1-dot-1-billion-ov...

Rabobank Groep, the co-operative formed in 1898 to lend to Dutch farmers, was fined 774 million euros ($1.1 billion) and the chairman resigned as the scandal over the rigging of benchmark interest rates ensnared a fifth firm. The Utrecht, Netherlands-based lender entered into an agreement with the Justice Department to accept responsibility for manipulation of Libor and Euribor to avoid prosecution. The fines are the largest-ever against the bank and second-largest over manipulation of the London interbank offered rate. Global investigations into banks’ attempts to manipulate the benchmarks for profit have led to fines and settlements for Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland, UBS and ICAP. Rabobank derivatives and money-market traders influenced the lender’s submissions to benefit their positions linked to Libor and conspired with employees of other banks to rig rates from May 2005 to January 2011. More than 500 attempts were made by Rabobank to manipulate Libor, according to the regulator. Thirty current and former employees of the Dutch lender were involved, Rabobank executive board member Sipko Schat said today. Five of them were fired, he said, while 14 are still working for the bank. The lender is also clawing back 4.2 million euros in bonuses, Rabobank said in a statement. The manipulation “directly affected the rates referenced by financial products held by and on behalf of companies and investors around the world,” Valerie Parlave, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington field office, said in a statement.

Note: For more on financial 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.


Public Banks Are Key
2013-10-01, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2013/10/01/should-states-operate-public-...

Banking is heavily subsidized and is monopolized by Wall Street, which has effectively “bought” Congress. Banks have been bailed out by the government, when [they] would have gone bankrupt. The Federal Reserve blatantly manipulates interest rates in a way that serves Wall Street, lending trillions at near-zero interest and pushing rates so artificially low that local governments have lost billions in interest-rate swaps. State and municipal governments already have public lending programs. They exist because private banks are not lending in some sectors that need financing. Globally, public banks lend countercyclically, providing credit when and where other banks won’t. Germany and Taiwan, which have strong public banking sectors, are among the most competitive banking markets in the world. In North Dakota, the only state with its own “mini-Fed,” the state-owned Bank of North Dakota routes its public lending programs through community banks. Its deposit base is almost entirely composed of the revenue of the state and state agencies. The North Dakota Bankers’ Association endorses the Bank of North Dakota, which has a mandate to support the local economy. North Dakota has more banks per capita than any other state, because they have not been forced to sell to their Wall Street competitors. Public banking is not a radical idea but has been practiced in the U.S. with excellent results for decades, and around the world for centuries.

Note: For more on financial corruption, 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.


A Money-Smuggling Scandal Threatens to Sink the Vatican Bank
2013-07-02, Bloomberg Businessweek
http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-07-02/a-money-smuggling-scandal-thr...

A Vatican cleric, a spy, and a financier are accused of conspiring to smuggle €20 million ($26 million) out of Switzerland aboard a private jet. In fact, it’s the latest scandal to hit the Vatican bank, prompting Pope Francis to make sweeping management changes. The Holy See removed the bank’s longtime director and deputy director on July 1, three days after Monsignor Nunzio Scarano and two other men were arrested in connection with the alleged smuggling scheme. Perhaps the most colorful twist in the saga was the arrest on June 28 of Monsignor Scarano. The 61-year-old cleric, a former banker for Bank of America (BAC) in Italy, joined the priesthood in 1986 and most recently headed a Vatican financial department called APSA. Italian media outlets have dubbed him “Don 500,” because of a reported fondness for carrying large banknotes. John Thavis, a longtime Vatican correspondent for the Catholic News Service, says that while Scarano didn’t work at the Vatican Bank, he had accounts there. His arrest appeared to confirm suspicions that the bank, which oversees about €7.1 billion in assets, “continues to be used as an offshore haven,” Thavis writes. Scarano is accused of conspiring with a member of Italy’s secret services and a financial broker to move €20 million from Switzerland to Italy. The latest scandal indicates that the bank “may be irreformable,” Vatican journalist Thavis writes.

Note: Could Pope Francis be serious in his efforts to reform the corrupt Vatican Bank? For more on financial scandals, 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.


It’s time to tax financial transactions
2013-03-05, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/katrina-vanden-heuvel-its-time-to-tax-...

On Friday at midnight, the sequester kicked in, triggering $85 billion in deep, dumb budget cuts that sent “nonessential personnel”— such as air traffic controllers — packing. Not to worry, though: Wall Street’s day was pretty much like any other. Billions of dollars in profits were made off of trillions of dollars in financial transactions. And the vast majority of those transactions were conducted tax-free. We don’t need a team of policymakers to tell us this isn’t good policy, or that it needs changing. Policymakers propose exactly that: a change. Sens. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), along with Rep. Pete DeFazio (D-Ore.), unveiled a bill that would place a light tax on all financial transactions — three pennies on every $100 traded. It’s so small, Wall Street could easily afford it and the average E-Trade investor would barely notice it. This insignificant tax raises a significant amount of revenue — $352 billion over the next 10 years, or enough to refund about one-third of what the sequester will slash from the federal budget. The high-frequency traders that now dominate our markets would be hardest-hit by the tax. Analysts fear that such mass trading strategies could lead to disaster if markets behave unexpectedly. The new tax would discourage these kinds of trades, which would be a good thing. Europe, at least, seems to agree. Eleven nations, led by the conservative German government, are on track to start collecting the tax by January 2014. Expected revenues: $50 billion per year.

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


Peer-to-Peer Lending: No Longer Just a Curiosity
2013-01-20, Bloomberg Businessweek
http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-01-20/peer-to-peer-lending-no-longe...

Peer-to-peer lending most immediately brings to mind the largely feel-good act of extending small-time money to small businesses and individuals with quirky projects—a curiosity at best and no threat to the lending hegemony of big banks. What’s less appreciated is how successful peer-to-peer lending platforms such as Prosper and Lending Club have been in connecting wholesale numbers of individual lenders and borrowers. Renaud Laplanche is the founder and chief executive officer of Lending Club, which has been at least doubling its loan originations every year since it started in June 2007 at the onset of the financial crisis. He says he came up with the idea when he realized he was paying 18 percent on his credit-card debt while the issuing bank was paying out 2 percent to depositors. Lending Club mitigates risk—its default rate has remained in the low single digits throughout the financial crisis—by serving prime and superprime borrowers and turning down 90 percent of loan applications. Prosper, perhaps Lending Club’s main rival, has similarly posted nice risk-adjusted returns across its loan portfolio. Its management and board are studded with venture capitalists and Wall Street names. The value proposition to borrowers, obviously, is access not just to capital that the banks aren’t willing to lend them, but capital at a lower cost should they make the grade.


The four business gangs that run the US
2012-12-31, Sydney Morning Herald
http://www.smh.com.au/business/the-four-business-gangs-that-run-the-us-201212...

If you've ever suspected politics is increasingly being run in the interests of big business, ... Jeffrey Sachs, a highly respected economist from Columbia University, agrees with you - at least in respect of the United States. In his book, The Price of Civilization: Reawakening American Virtue and Prosperity, he says the US economy is caught in a feedback loop. ''Corporate wealth translates into political power through campaign financing, corporate lobbying and the revolving door of jobs between government and industry; and political power translates into further wealth through tax cuts, deregulation and sweetheart contracts between government and industry. Wealth begets power, and power begets wealth,'' he says. Sachs says four key sectors of US business exemplify this feedback loop and the takeover of political power in America by the ''corporatocracy''. First is the well-known military-industrial complex. Second is the Wall Street-Washington complex, which has steered the financial system towards control by a few politically powerful Wall Street firms, notably Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and a handful of other financial firms. Third is the Big Oil-transport-military complex, which has put the US on the trajectory of heavy oil-imports dependence and a deepening military trap in the Middle East, he says. Fourth is the healthcare industry, America's largest industry, absorbing no less than 17 per cent of US gross domestic product.

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


The Economics of Being a U.S. Ambassador
2012-12-13, Bloomberg Businessweek
http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-12-13/the-economics-of-being-a-u-do...

To land a high-profile ambassadorship, it helps to have raised a ton of money for a successful presidential candidate and know how to throw a good party. That’s one reason why President Obama is considering Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour as the next U.S. ambassador to the Court of St. James’s in the U.K. Wintour raised more than $500,000 for Obama and inspired the “Runway to Win” fashion line that brought in upwards of $40 million for his campaign. But that’s just the price of admission. The funds embassies receive from the U.S. Department of State don’t begin to cover the high costs of the frequent parties and dinners ambassadors are expected to host. Some wind up paying more than $1 million a year out of their own pockets, according to one of the president’s top donors who requested anonymity. This is why the high-profile postings to places like France and Italy typically go to wealthy donors, rather than career diplomats. The current ambassador to the U.K., Louis Susman, a former Chicago investment banker, holds three to four social events a week, says an embassy spokeswoman, who declined to give a cost estimate for these soirees. In exchange, appointees get perks—beginning with the sought-after title of “ambassador.” In some Western European countries, they live in sprawling estates such as London’s Winfield House. Its 12-and-a-half acres of private gardens are exceeded only by those of Buckingham Palace. The ambassador to Italy can avail himself of a three-story, 5,000-bottle wine cellar at the Villa Taverna in Rome.

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


Report: Probe into Afghan bank scandal plagued by political interference
2012-11-28, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/report-afghan-probe-into-ban...

A scathing new report released [on November 28] details how high-level political interference and institutional failures thwarted efforts to probe the 2010 collapse of Afghanistan’s largest bank, recover hundreds of millions of dollars from fraudulent loans and prosecute the influential Afghans who profited from a massive scheme to use depositors’ money as a private piggy bank. Without naming names, an independent anti-corruption committee of Afghan and international experts painted a damning portrait of foot-dragging, incompetence and blatant political manipulation involving virtually every agency that was supposed to either investigate why the Kabul Bank failed or take legal action against those responsible for looting it of more than $900 million. “Kabul Bank was nothing but a fraud perpetrated against depositors, and ultimately all Afghans,” the report says. Both the flagrant crimes and the repeated failures to pursue them, it said, reflect an array of larger, worrisome problems that permeate Afghan society and institutions, including “incapacity, nepotism, entitlement and political interference.” Over and over, the report says, supposedly independent bodies such as the attorney general’s office deferred to higher political wishes. Earlier this year, about 20 bank associates were indicted on charges including money laundering and using false documents or fictitious account names. The report quotes sources as saying that a “high-level committee,” meaning a group of powerful officials, decided which former bank associates would be charged with a crime and that prosecutors were told to “construct indictments to conform to the decisions.”

Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on 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.


JPMorgan’s black eye nears $6B as bank says traders may have tried to conceal losses
2012-07-12, Washington Post/Associated Press
http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/jpmorgan-ceo-will-try-to-provide-clari...

JPMorgan Chase said Friday that its traders may have tried to conceal the losses from a soured bet that has embarrassed the bank and cost it almost $6 billion — far more than its CEO first suggested. The bank said an internal investigation had uncovered evidence that led executives to “question the integrity” of the values, or marks, that traders assigned to their trades. JPMorgan also said that it planned to revoke two years’ worth of pay from some of the senior managers involved in the bad bet, and that it had closed the division of the bank responsible for the mistake. “This has shaken our company to the core,” CEO Jamie Dimon said. The bank said the loss, which Dimon estimated at $2 billion when he disclosed it in May, had grown to $5.8 billion. The investigation, which covered more than a million emails and tens of thousands of voice messages, suggested traders were trying to make losses look smaller, the bank said. The revelation could expose JPMorgan to civil fraud charges. If regulators decide that employee deceptions caused JPMorgan to report inaccurate financial details, they could pursue charges against the employees, the bank or both. JPMorgan could not necessarily hide behind the actions of its employees. Regulators could decide that its oversight or risk management contributed to the problematic statements.

Note: Yet will anyone go to jail for these shady activities? For key investigative reports on the criminality and corruption in the financial industry and biggest banks, click here.


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.


What is the Trans-Pacific Partnership?
2012-06-20, CBC News (Canada's public broadcasting system)
http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2012/06/20/f-trans-pacific-partnership-exp...

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) may soon be an acronym as recognizable as NAFTA — but this free trade venture could have much more economic strength and impact than its North American predecessor. The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a free trade deal aimed at further expanding the flow of goods, services and capital across borders. Its four founding members — New Zealand, Chile, Singapore and Brunei – soon caught the attention of five other nations: the United States, Australia, Peru, Vietnam and Malaysia, who joined in 2008. The nine partners currently have a combined GDP of more than $17 trillion. Canada and Mexico are now being considered for membership, subject to the approval of the nine countries already involved. Add to this the possibility that Japan could join the TPP, despite mounting protests in that country, and the economic and political traction of the group increases. In fact, the TPP could become the world's largest free-trade zone. "It's really a trade agreement for the one per cent and their corporate interests," said Maude Barlow, the National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians, which opposed and continues to criticize NAFTA. "This is not going to be a good deal for Canadians."

Note: A later Toronto Star article reveals that the agreements of the TPP are secret.


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.


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.


Rothschilds to merge British and French banking operations to secure control
2012-04-05, The Telegraph (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/banksandfinance/9189053/Roths...

The Rothschild dynasty is to merge its British and French banking operations to secure long-term control of the business and to boost the firm's financial strength ahead of the introduction of tougher capital requirements for banks. The 200-year-old banks will be reunited under a single shareholding that will bring together the fortunes of the French and English sides of the renowned family as they attempt to safeguard the business against the effects of new regulation and the fallout from the global financial crisis. Paris Orleans, the Rothschild Group's Paris-based holding company, will convert into a French limited partnership, securing the families' control of the bank against potential takeovers. The new partnership will then buy out minority investors in NM Rothschild & Sons, the UK business, as well as outstanding minority interests in the French operations. Paris Orleans has a market value of more than €500m (Ł415m) and is about 30pc owned by outside investors. The Rothschild Group employs 3,000 people in 42 countries and is one of the world's leading independent investment banks, advising some of the largest international companies on capital raisings and mergers and acquisitions. The bank also remains a player in the private equity industry and operates several merchant banking operations that invest directly in business across Europe and the rest of the world.

Note: Why is that these two hugely wealthy families get so little press coverage? Could it be that their wealth and influence exerts control over the major media? For more on secret societies which command huge hidden power, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.


U.S. adds Vatican to money-laundering ‘concern’ list
2012-03-08, Toronto Sun
http://www.torontosun.com/2012/03/08/us-adds-vatican-to-money-laundering-conc...

The Vatican has for the first time appeared on the U.S. State Department’s list of money-laundering centres. It was added to the list because it was considered vulnerable to money-laundering. “To be considered a jurisdiction of concern merely indicates that there is a vulnerability to a financial system by money launderers. With the large volumes of international currency that goes through the Holy See, it is a system that makes it vulnerable as a potential money-laundering center,” Susan Pittman of the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement, told Reuters. The Vatican Bank, founded in 1942 by Pope Pius XII, has been in the spotlight since September 2010 when Italian investigators froze 23 million euros ($33 million) in funds in Italian banks after opening an investigation into possible money-laundering. The bank said it did nothing wrong and was just transferring funds between its own accounts. The money was released in June 2011 but the investigation is continuing. Two months ago, Italian newspapers published leaked internal letters which appeared to show a conflict among top Vatican officials about just how transparent the bank should be about dealings that took place before it enacted its new laws. The Vatican Bank was formally known as the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR) and was entangled in the collapse 30 years ago of Banco Ambrosiano, with its lurid allegations about money-laundering, freemasons, mafiosi and the mysterious death of Ambrosiano chairman Roberto Calvi - “God’s banker”.

Note: For more on the Vatican money-laundering scandal, click here. For speculation on the role of secret societies in all of this, click here.


Brother, Can You Spare $6 Trillion?
2012-02-18, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/18/world/europe/italy-arrests-8-in-fake-us-tre...

The Italian police ... arrested eight people on charges related to the seizure of $6 trillion in fake United States Treasury bonds, in a mysterious scheme that stretched from Hong Kong to Switzerland to the southern Italian region of Basilicata. The value of the seized bonds is in the neighborhood of half of the United States’ entire public debt of $15.36 trillion, but only the uninitiated would have accepted them as real securities. Rather than counterfeit, they were what officials call fictitious, printed in 6,000 units of $1 billion each, a denomination that does not exist and the equivalent of $3 bills. The United States Embassy in Rome said its experts had examined the bonds, which bore the date 1934, and determined that they were fictitious and apparently part of a scheme intended to defraud Swiss banks. According to the Federal Reserve, such “fictitious instrument fraud” is increasingly common, and unwitting investors have been cheated of nearly $10 billion in recent years. In a common ploy, “criminals present fictitious financial instruments such as Federal Reserve notes, standby letters of credit, prime bank guarantees or prime bank notes in order to fraudulently collateralize loans,” the Federal Reserve says on its Web site. In 2009, Italian police seized phony United States Treasury bonds with a face value of $250 billion.

Note: There is a major problem with the claim that these are fake. If you were a counterfeiter and wanted to fake bonds, you would have to be out of your mind to fake them in denominations of $1 billion. As reported here, no one would ever dream of cashing them. For excellent research by David Wilcock suggesting that the bonds are real, and that this may be part of a huge, hidden manipulation, 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.


EU agrees rules to tame derivatives market
2012-02-09, Reuters
http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/09/eu-derivatives-idUSL5E8D969P20120209

European Union diplomats and the European Parliament agreed ... to overhaul regulation of the roughly $700 trillion derivatives market, a move that will make it easier to control one of the most opaque areas of finance. Under new EU laws, banks, hedge funds and other buyers and sellers of derivatives will be encouraged to move away from the unregulated 'over-the-counter' market, which accounts for almost 95 percent of all trades. In the past, it has been common for multi-million-euro contracts to be recorded by no more than a fax, with only the parties involved aware of the details. This will change under the new law, which would standardise most trading so it happens on open exchanges. Settlement of such deals will be cleared centrally, making them easier to monitor. Those that do not shift to exchanges or a central counterparty such as LCH Clearnet in London, which acts as an intermediary between buyer and seller, will face higher capital charges to reflect the extra risk. Crucially, the new rules mean that all deals must be recorded, whether conducted on or off an exchange. Supervisors hope that will make it easier to monitor the market and intervene, if necessary, to avoid a repeat of the chaos surrounding the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers, where it proved difficult to assess exposure to derivatives. By forcing increased transparency, the rules are likely to challenge the half a dozen or so large banks that dominate the market now.

Note: For key reports on the grave risks posed by the unregulated derivatives market, click here.


George Soros on the Coming U.S. Class War
2012-01-23, Newsweek Magazine
http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2012/01/22/george-soros-on-the-coming-u...

“I am not here to cheer you up. The situation is about as serious and difficult as I’ve experienced in my career,” [George] Soros tells Newsweek. “We are facing an extremely difficult time, comparable in many ways to the 1930s, the Great Depression. We are facing now a general retrenchment in the developed world, which threatens to put us in a decade of more stagnation, or worse. The best-case scenario is a deflationary environment. The worst-case scenario is a collapse of the financial system.” Soros draws on his past to argue that the global economic crisis is as significant, and unpredictable, as the end of Communism. To Soros, the spectacular debunking of the credo of efficient markets — the notion that markets are rational and can regulate themselves to avert disaster — “is comparable to the collapse of Marxism as a political system.” Understanding, he says, is key. “Unrestrained competition can drive people into actions that they would otherwise regret. The tragedy of our current situation is the unintended consequence of imperfect understanding. A lot of the evil in the world is actually not intentional. A lot of people in the financial system did a lot of damage without intending to.” Still, Soros believes the West is struggling to cope with the consequences of evil in the financial world just as former Eastern bloc countries struggled with it politically. Is he really saying that the financial whizzes behind our economic meltdown were not just wrong, but evil? “That’s correct.”

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.


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.


L.A. calls for end to 'corporate personhood'
2011-12-06, Los Angeles Times blog
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2011/12/corporate-personhood-la-constit...

At a packed City Council meeting ... Los Angeles lawmakers Tuesday called for more regulations on how much corporations can spend on political campaigns. The vote in support of state and federal legislation that would end so-called "corporate personhood” is largely symbolic. The council resolution includes support for a constitutional amendment that would assert that corporations are not entitled to constitutional rights, and that spending money is not a form of free speech. City Council President Eric Garcetti, the resolution's sponsor, said such actions are necessary because “big special interest money” is behind much of the gridlock in Washington. He blamed a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Commission, which rolled back legal restrictions on corporate spending on the grounds that political speech by a business entity should receive the same 1st Amendment protections that people do. It allows corporations and other groups to spend unlimited money on behalf of candidates. Councilman Richard Alarcon, who also supported the resolution, said corporations are “trying to take over every aspect of our lives.” “Corporations are at the wheel of America,” Alarcon said. “And they are driving us to destruction.”

Note: Why was this key decision only reported in a blog and hardly covered by the media elsewhere? To understand how the media controls public debate, as reported by top journalists, click 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.


'Anyone can make money from a crash,' says market trader
2011-09-26, BBC News
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-15059135

Ministers from the world's richest nations are reportedly on the way to agreeing [to] a deal for troubled eurozone countries. But one independent market trader - Alessio Rastani - told the BBC the plan "won't work" and that people should be trying to make money from a market crash. Trader Alessio Rastani: I'm fairly confident the Euro is going to crash, and it's going to fall pretty hard because markets are ruled right now by fear. Investors and the big money, the smart money ... don't buy this rescue plan. They know the stock market is finished. They don't really care. They're moving their money away to safer assets like treasury bonds, 30-year bonds, and the U.S. dollar. For most traders, we don’t really care that much how they're going to fix the economy. Our job is to make money from it. And personally, I’ve been dreaming of this moment for three years. I go to bed every night [and] I dream of another recession. When the market crashes … if you have the right plan set up, you can make a lot of money from this. Be prepared, and act now. The biggest risk people can take right now is not acting. This economic crisis is like a cancer. In less than 12 months, my prediction is that the savings of millions people is going to vanish, and this is just the beginning. This is not a time right now for wishful thinking that governments are going to sort things out. The governments don’t rule the world, Goldman Sachs rules the world.

Note: Part of the text above is not listed in the text at the link above, but in the BBC video on that page. The video is a must watch for one expert's important view on an impending future economic collapse. For lots more excellent information showing the incredible power of Goldman Sachs and more on this important topic, click here. For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on financial corruption, click here.


Being Like Soros in Buying Farm Land Reaps Annual Gains of 16%
2011-08-10, Businessweek/Bloomberg
http://news.businessweek.com/article.asp?documentKey=1376-LPOB2G0D9L3501-5DC4...

Investors are pouring into farmland in the U.S. and parts of Europe, Latin America and Africa as global food prices soar. A fund controlled by George Soros, the billionaire hedge-fund manager, owns 23.4 percent of South American farmland venture Adecoagro SA. Hedge funds Ospraie Management LLC and Passport Capital LLC as well as Harvard University's endowment are also betting on farming. TIAA-CREF, the $466 billion financial services giant, has $2 billion invested in some 600,000 acres (240,000 hectares) of farmland in Australia, Brazil and North America and wants to double the size of its investment. The growth in demand for food, spurred by the rising middle classes in China, India and other emerging markets, shows no signs of abating. Food prices in June, as measured by a United Nations index of 55 food commodities, were just slightly below their peak in February. The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization said in a June report that it expects food costs to remain high through 2012. So many investors have rushed to capitalize on food prices in the past three years that they may be creating a farmland bubble. The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, which covers Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska and other agricultural states, said in May that farmland prices had surged 20 percent in the first quarter compared with a year earlier.

Note: This news is further clear evidence that the rapid increases in food prices is another ploy to funnel money from the pockets of the public into the uber wealthy.


NY Fed Won't Say How Much Money Went to Iraq
2011-06-21, CNBC
http://www.cnbc.com/id/43487056

The New York Fed is refusing to tell investigators how many billions of dollars it shipped to Iraq during the early days of the US invasion there, the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction told CNBC [on June 21]. The Fed's lack of disclosure is making it difficult for the inspector general to follow the paper trail of billions of dollars that went missing in the chaotic rush to finance the Iraq occupation, and to determine how much of that money was stolen. The New York Fed will not reveal details, the inspector general said, because the money initially came from an account at the Fed that was held on behalf of the people of Iraq and financed by cash from the Oil-for-Food program. Without authorization from the account holder, the Iraqi government itself, the inspector general's office was told it can't receive information about the account. The problem is that critics of the Iraqi government believe highly placed officials there are among the people who may have made off with the money in the first place. And some think that will make it highly unlikely the Iraqis will sign off on revealing the total dollar amount. It was one of the largest shipments of cash in history. And the inspector general says that if the money was stolen, that would represent the largest heist in history.

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


Swiss, US in Talks on Tax Probe Settlement
2011-06-10, CNBC/Reuters News
http://classic.cnbc.com/id/43350415

The United States and Switzerland are in advanced talks on a multibillion-dollar deal that would let several Swiss and European banks join a common settlement and avoid potential U.S. prosecution for helping wealthy Americans dodge taxes. As part of the agreement under discussion, known as a global resolution, U.S. government agencies would invite the banks to pay a fine, exit their undeclared offshore banking businesses for Americans, and turn over client names to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Justice Department. In exchange, the agencies would drop an ongoing investigation into the banks. It could not immediately be determined which banks could be invited to participate in the global resolution. The fines involved could collectively total several billion dollars, they said. Banks that "opt out" of the deal could face heightened scrutiny from U.S. authorities, including a possible legal summons for client names from the IRS and tougher scrutiny by the Justice Department. A resolution would signal another strong blow to the Swiss tradition of client confidentiality, whose laws date to 1934 but whose tradition goes back centuries.

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


Rep. Paul renews uphill push to abolish Fed
2011-03-17, CNBC
http://www.cnbc.com/id/42135875/Rep_Paul_renews_uphill_push_to_abolish_Fed

Representative Ron Paul, a persistent critic of the Federal Reserve, [has] renewed his uphill fight to abolish the U.S. central bank, warning it is on track to create an inflation that will hit lower-income Americans especially hard. The Texas lawmaker has long championed dismantling the Fed, but at a hearing on [March 17] slammed its $600 billion bond buying program, which he said was creating inflation and undercutting the dollar. This week he introduced legislation abolishing the Fed. Congress considered curbing Fed regulatory powers in legislation passed last year but backed away, ultimately delegating more authority to the central bank to police the financial system. Paul's criticism of the Fed and its bond buying program has struck a chord with Republicans, particularly Tea Party activists. Other GOP lawmakers have introduced a measure that would strip the Fed of its full employment mandate and require it to concentrate exclusively on inflation. Rising energy and commodity prices have stirred inflation worries around the world and criticism that the Fed's vast expansion of bank reserves to buy Treasuries has stoked price rises.

Note: To understand why Rep. Paul is questioning the usefulness of the Fed, see reliable information on Fed manipulations at this link.