UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who has covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

April 5, 2009

THE HUGE FRAUD BEHIND THE FISCAL CRISIS

Raw Story - On PBS' Bill Moyers Journal, William K. Black, a professor of economics and law with the University of Missouri, alleged that American banks and credit agencies conspired to create a system in which so-called "liars loans" could receive AAA ratings and zero oversight, amounting to a massive "fraud" at the epicenter of US finance.

But worse still, said Black, Timothy Geithner, President Barack Obama's Secretary of the Treasury, is currently engaged in a cover-up to keep the truth of America's financial insolvency from its citizens. . .

Black's most recent published work, "The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One," released in 2005, was hailed by Nobel-winning economist George A. Akerlof as "extraordinary."

"There is no one else in the whole world who understands so well exactly how these lootings occurred in all their details and how the changes in government regulations and in statutes in the early 1980s caused this spate of looting," he wrote. "This book will be a classic."

But that book only covers the fallout from the 1980s Savings & Loan crisis; Black's later first-hand involvement in that scandal being the ensuing liquidation of bad banks.

"A single bank, IndyMac, lost more money than the entire Savings and Loan Crisis," reported PBS. "The difference between now and then, explains Black, is a drastic reduction in regulation and oversight, 'We now know what happens when you destroy regulation. You get the biggest financial calamity of anybody under the age of 80.'". . .

"The way that you do it is to make really bad loans, because they pay better," he told Moyers. "Then you grow extremely rapidly, in other words, you're a Ponzi-like scheme. And the third thing you do is we call it leverage. That just means borrowing a lot of money, and the combination creates a situation where you have guaranteed record profits in the early years. That makes you rich, through the bonuses that modern executive compensation has produced. It also makes it inevitable that there's going to be a disaster down the road. . .

"This stuff, the exotic stuff that you're talking about was created out of things like liars' loans, that were known to be extraordinarily bad," he continued. "And now it was getting triple-A ratings. Now a triple-A rating is supposed to mean there is zero credit risk. So you take something that not only has significant, it has crushing risk. That's why it's toxic. And you create this fiction that it has zero risk. That itself, of course, is a fraudulent exercise. And again, there was nobody looking during the Bush years. So finally, only a year ago, we started to have a congressional investigation of some of these rating agencies, and it's scandalous what came out. What we know now is that the rating agencies never looked at a single loan file. When they finally did look, after the markets had completely collapsed, they found, and I'm quoting Fitch, the smallest of the rating agencies, "the results were disconcerting, in that there was the appearance of fraud in nearly every file we examined."

He equated the entire US financial system to a giant "ponzi scheme" and charged Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, like Secretary Henry Paulson before him, of "covering up" the truth.

"Are you saying that Timothy Geithner, the Secretary of the Treasury, and others in the administration, with the banks, are engaged in a cover up to keep us from knowing what went wrong?" asked Moyers.

"Absolutely, because they are scared to death," he said. "All right? They're scared to death of a collapse. They're afraid that if they admit the truth, that many of the large banks are insolvent. They think Americans are a bunch of cowards, and that we'll run screaming to the exits. . .

Ultimately, said Black, the financial downfall of the United States in the wake of the Bush years is due to "the most elite institutions in America engaging in or facilitating fraud."

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Geithner's not just guilty of trying to keep the public from hearing bad news. He's facilitating Wall Street's criminal looting of the Treasury.

April 5, 2009 2:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

People are outraged over $160 Million for bonuses to AIG. Where is the outrage for the $1+ Trillion that's going to bail outs? Is Congress capable of investigating this after legislators on both sides of the aisle have accepted exorbitant campaign contributions?

April 6, 2009 12:53 AM  

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