EVEN CORRECTING FOR INFLATION, BAILOUT BIGGER THAN MARSHALL PLAN, LOUISIANA PURCHASE, RACE TO THE MOON, S&L CRISIS, KOREAN WAR, NEW DEAL, INVASION OF IRAQ, VIETNAM WAR & NASA COMBINED
Inside Job: Dissecting the 2008 fiscal disaster
Plunder: The Crime of Our Times - Investigative film by Danny Schechter explores how the financial crisis was built on a foundation of criminal activity. Schechter speaks with bankers involved in these activities, respected economists, insider experts, top journalists including Paul Krugman, and onvicted white-collar criminal, Sam Antar, who blows the whistle on intentionally dishonest practices.
Excellent 60 Minutes show on why Wall Streeters don't get prosecuted
Aftershock: The Next Economy and America's Future. Robert Reich explains what's really happened to the American economy
Zombie Economics: How Dead Ideas Still Walk Among Us by John Quiggin. "In Zombie Economics, Professor Quiggin takes aim at a number of dead ideas the Great Moderation; Efficient Markets Hypotheses; Dynamic Stochastic General Equilibrium; Trickle Down Economics; Privatisation. The central thesis underlying Zombie Economics is that the global financial crisis exposed the weaknesses of these ideas, which underpin free market or neo-liberal economics.
Winner Take All Politics: How the super rich got so much richer
Mugging Main Street by Robert Scheer
intercept - Illinois, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island all recently elected governors who were previously executives and directors at firms which managed investments on behalf of state pension funds. These firms are now, consequently, in position to obtain even more of these public funds. This alone represents a huge payoff on that $300M investment made by the financial industry, and is likely to result in more pension money going into investments which offer great benefits for Wall Street but do little for the broader economy.
But Wall Streets agenda goes beyond any one election cycle. It has been fighting to turn public pensions into private profits for quite some time, steering retirement nest eggs into investments that are complex, charge hefty fees, and that generate big profits for management firms. And it has been succeeding. Of the $3 trillion in public assets currently in pension funds throughout the country, almost a quarter of that has already found its way into so-called alternative investments like hedge funds, private equity and real estate. That translates to roughly $660 billion of public money now under private management, invested in assets that are often arcane and opaque but that offer high management and placement fees to Wall Street financiers.
Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone - She tried to stay quiet, she really did. But after eight years of keeping a heavy secret, the day came when Alayne Fleischmann couldn't take it anymore.
"It was like watching an old lady get mugged on the street," she says. "I thought, 'I can't sit by any longer.'"
... 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.
Back 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" in the bank's mortgage operations.
Thanks to a confidentiality agreement, she's kept her mouth shut since then. "My closest family and friends don't know what I've been living with," she says. "Even my brother will only find out for the first time when he sees this interview."
Six years after the crisis that cratered the global economy, it's not exactly news that the country's biggest banks stole on a grand scale. That's why the more important part of Fleischmann's story is in the pains Chase and the Justice Department took to silence her.
She was blocked at every turn: by asleep-on-the-job regulators like the Securities and Exchange Commission, by a court system that allowed Chase to use its billions to bury her evidence, and, finally, by officials like outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder, the chief architect of the crazily elaborate government policy of surrender, secrecy and cover-up. "Every time I had a chance to talk, something always got in the way," Fleischmann says.
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 banks paid big fines, without trials or even judges only secret negotiations that typically ended with the public shown nothing but vague, quasi-official papers called "statements of facts," which were conveniently devoid of anything like actual facts.
And now, with Holder about to leave office and his Justice Department reportedly wrapping up its final settlements, the state is effectively putting the finishing touches on what will amount to a sweeping, industrywide effort to bury the facts of a whole generation of Wall Street corruption. "I could be sued into bankruptcy," she says. "I could lose my license to practice law. I could lose everything. But if we don't start speaking up, then this really is all we're going to get: the biggest financial cover-up in history."
Citigroup is the too-big-to-fail bank that was allowed to form only when Bill Clinton signed legislation reversing the sensible restraints on Wall Street instituted by President Franklin Roosevelt to avoid another Great Depression.
Robert Scheer, Truth Out - Citigroup is the too-big-to-fail bank that was allowed to form only when Bill Clinton signed legislation reversing the sensible restraints on Wall Street instituted by President Franklin Roosevelt to avoid another Great Depression. Those filled with Clinton nostalgia these days might want to reflect back on how truly destructive was his legacy for hardworking people throughout the world who lost so much due to the financial shenanigans that he made legal.
Today what we are doing is modernizing the financial services industry, tearing down those antiquated laws and granting banks significant new authority, a beaming Clinton boasted after signing the Financial Services Modernization Act into law in 1999.
Called the Citigroup authorization act by some wags at the time, those antiquated laws, the Glass-Steagall Act primarily, had put a safety barrier between the high rollers in Wall Street investment firms and the staid commercial banks charged with preserving the savings of ordinary folk. The new law permitted them to merge.
Clinton handed the pen that he used in signing the new law to Citigroup Chairman Sanford Weill, whose Citicorp had already merged with Travelers Group before the law was even officially changed. On an earlier occasion, Weill had informed Clinton about his merger plans in a telephone conversation. After hanging up, Weill then bragged to his fellow banking executive John S. Reed, who was on the call, that we just made the president of the United States an insider, according to Wall Street Journal reporter Monica Langley in her book on the Citigroup merger.
In 2000, just before leaving office, Clinton went much further in radical deregulation of the financial industry when he signed the Commodity Futures Modernization Act. In one swoop this eliminated from the purview of any existing regulation or regulatory agency the new financial products, including the mortgage-backed securities at the heart of the financial meltdown and the subject of the $7 billion fine levied in what has to be viewed as a copout deal.
The system in brief
Wall Street on Parade - Wall Street On Parade has been reporting for some time now that much of Wall Streets past and current history has up and disappeared either at the hands of high speed shredders on orders from the SEC, or through Courts sealing documents, or Wall Streets private justice system preventing access to hearings, non-disparagement contracts when you change your job on Wall Street, or critical pieces of Wall Street history just go missing and no one can find out exactly why. Now we learn that a vital book on Wall Streets history had vanished until an NYU Professor made it his mission to return it to the publics hands.
In 2011, Darcy Flynn, an SEC lawyer, told Congressional investigators and the SEC Inspector General that for at least 18 years, the SEC had been shredding documents and emails related to its investigations documents that it was required under law to keep. Flynn explained to investigators that by purging these files, it impaired the SECs ability to see the connections between related frauds on Wall Street.
In 2010, we reported at Counterpunch that not only was it next to impossible to find on line the original text of the historic Glass-Steagall Act which had protected the U.S. economy from the ravages of Wall Streets recklessness for seven decades until its repeal in 1999, but the National Archives wanted to charge me $1505 to obtain a copy of this public legislation. After much sleuthing, we obtained a copy from the St. Louis Fed and made it available to the Internet Archive which has kindly kept it alive on its web site.
In March of this year we reported that former Fed Chairman, Ben Bernanke, will not turn over the details of who he met with and why on 84 occasions during the height of the financial crisis in 2007 and 2008. The information is sealed.
Now, in his quest to return disappeared books to inquiring minds, NYU Media Studies Professor, Mark Crispin Miller, has stumbled upon a potential landmine for Wall Street. In conjunction with Open Road Media, Miller has unearthed and is bringing back to life important vanished books under the imprint Forbidden Bookshelf. One of those books is The Lords of Creation: The History of Americas 1 Percent by Frederick Lewis Allen.
The only thing to change about the book is a new forward by Miller and an introduction by business writer, Gretchen Morgenson, of the New York Times. And, of course, that second half of the title has been added. In 1935 when the book was originally published, Wall Streeters were still called banksters. We can thank Occupy Wall Street for successfully marketing the 1 percent brand.
We asked Miller to explain why this book was selected. His response:
The Lords of Creation is a brilliant early history of the plutocratic fix were in today; and so, rather than slip out of print, it should have been a steady seller all these years required reading in our schools, and maybe even dramatized on PBS.
That that book disappeared, while Allens other, lighter histories are still in print, relates to what we might call the financial takeover of American culture since the Sixties.
Allen is not exactly Edward Snowden or Glenn Greenwald. Allen worked on the editorial staffs of the Atlantic Monthly and Century magazines and was Editor in Chief of Harpers magazine from 1941 until his death in 1954.
Allens book is dangerous because he had a front row seat and thus could personally document the calamitous crashes that Wall Street bestowed on the country before the passage of the Glass-Steagall Act in 1933, which barred banks holding insured deposits from owning or affiliating with firms that underwrote or traded securities, removing the possibility of bank runs and the looting of small savers money.
Elizabeth Warren tries to make CNBC less dumb
POGO- : 99% of Booz Allen's revenue comes from government contract
Word: A banker is a fellow who lends you his umbrella when the sun is shining and wants it back the minute it begins to rain. - Mark Twain
@OccupyWallStNYC: Peaceful protestors arrested: 8,000 . . .Bankers arrested: 0.
67% of New York City voters support Occupy Wall Street's views. . . .87% say it's okay if they protest. . . 72% say (unlike the media) that they understand what the protest is about
As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality:/ that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.
Those on the streets around Wall Street are the physical embodiment of hope. They know that hope has a cost, that it is not easy or comfortable, that it requires self-sacrifice and discomfort and finally faith. They sleep on concrete every night. Their clothes are soiled. They have eaten more bagels and peanut butter than they ever thought possible. They have tasted fear, been beaten, gone to jail, been blinded by pepper spray, cried, hugged each other, laughed, sung, talked too long in general assemblies, seen their chants drift upward to the office towers above them, wondered if it is worth it, if anyone cares, if they will win. But as long as they remain steadfast they point the way out of the corporate labyrinth. This is what it means to be alive. They are the best among us. -Chris Hedges