Friday, February 23, 2018

Re-rigging Wall Street Against America


Yesterday, we started the day off looking at how conservative Democrats are joining with the Republicans to gut Dodd-Frank and set Wall Street free to rip off America and Americans again, Elizabeth Warren and progressive House candidates Austin Frerick (IA), Tim Canova (FL), Lillian Salerno (TX), DuWayner Gregory (NY), Ellen Lipton (MI) and Sam Jammal (CA) explained why that's a terrible idea. "Giant regional banks," wrote Canova, "are trying to mischaracterize this bill as an effort to help small banks and rural communities. In reality, this legislation would relax regulatory oversight of dozens of huge banks with more than $50 billion in assets. This may well undermine not just consumer protections, but the safety, soundness, and stability of the financial system. Instead of deregulating big banks, Congress should be creating public banking alternatives, including a national infrastructure bank, to serve the needs of our local communities." And Ellen Lipton added that "If there's any issue to take a stand on, and NOT engage in bipartisan hand-holding, it would be this one. The elimination of this regulation would allow an institution like Countrywide off the hook."

Do you ever read Wall Street on Parade. On Wednesday Pam and Russ Martens wrote that "nothing buttresses Senator Bernie Sanders’ position that fraud on Wall Street is not a bug but a feature better than the news last week that the Citigroup Board was bumping up CEO Michael Corbat’s pay by 48 percent to $23 million for 2017." I'd like to see Elizabeth Warren take on Corbat at a Senate hearing, wouldn't you?

Corbat has sat at the helm of the bank since October 2012 as the bank has paid more than $12 billion in fines and restitution for serial abuses of the public and investors, including its first criminal felony count in more than a century of existence. The felony count came on May 20, 2015 from the U.S. Department of Justice over the bank’s involvement in a bank cartel that was rigging foreign currency markets. Numerous other charges against the bank have focused on money-laundering. Citigroup’s long history of involvement in money-laundering also gives the appearance of being a feature not a bug.

Aside from the feeling that overseeing a business model of fraud on Wall Street is a road to riches for Wall Street’s mega bank CEOs, there is the disquieting question as to whether this strangely uniform obscene pay of the top dogs on Wall Street is being orchestrated by another invisible cartel.

On October 14, 2016 Bloomberg News’ reporters Greg Farrell and Keri Geiger landed the bombshell report that the top lawyers of the biggest Wall Street banks had been meeting secretly for two decades with their counterparts at international banks. At the 2016 secret meeting, held in May at a posh hotel in Versailles, the following were among the big bank lawyers: Gregory Palm, part of the Management Committee at Goldman Sachs; Stephen Cutler of JPMorgan (a former Director of Enforcement at the SEC); Gary Lynch of Bank of America (also a former Director of Enforcement at the SEC); Morgan Stanley’s Eric Grossman; Citigroup’s Rohan Weerasinghe; Markus Diethelm of UBS Group AG; Richard Walker of Deutsche Bank (again, a former Director of Enforcement at the SEC); Robert Hoyt of Barclays; Romeo Cerutti of Credit Suisse Group AG; David Fein of Standard Chartered; Stuart Levey of HSBC Holdings; and Georges Dirani of BNP Paribas SA.

Reuters reported last Friday how Corbat’s $23 million pay compared to his peers on Wall Street. It noted that Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase is now making $29.5 million. (Dimon has presided over three criminal felony counts at the bank within the past four years while keeping his job and watching his pay skyrocket.) Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman is making $27 million. Lloyd Blankfein, whose bank is tiny compared to JPMorgan Chase, is making $22 million. And Bank of America’s CEO Brian Moynihan is being paid the same as Corbat, $23 million after recently getting a 15 percent pay boost.

Every one of the top lawyers of these banks were at that secret confab in 2016.

The most recent proxy filed by JPMorgan Chase goes to inordinate lengths to justify what it is paying its CEO Jamie Dimon. It includes a graph comparing his pay to peer bank CEOs and another graph that shows what percent of profits he and the CEOs of peer banks are receiving. (How that became a relevant metric is anyone’s guess. These are not, after all, family-owned businesses but banks that are subsidized by a taxpayer backstop for their trillions in insured deposits which typically earn less than one percent interest as the banks simultaneously charge 10 to 20 percent interest on their credit cards issued to the struggling middle class of America.)

A better metric would be how much shareholders have lost from fines and settlements under the reigning CEO. In Jamie Dimon’s case, it’s north of $36 billion since the financial crisis in 2008. Additionally, there’s those three criminal felony counts, the first in the bank’s more than century-old existence. Two felony counts were leveled by the U.S. Justice Department in 2014 for the bank’s role in Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. Another felony count came the very next year for the bank’s role in the foreign exchange rigging.

The era of obscene pay on Wall Street has occurred side-by-side with the era of serial charges of crimes. There is only one way to interpret this: the Boards of Directors of these banks have lost their moral compass.
Katie Porter, a professor at UC, Irvine, has worked closely with Elizabeth Warren on bankster problems-- in fact they co-authored a book about Wall Street abuses. Today she told us, regarding the bill to gut Dodd Frank, "This is unacceptable. This bill is a disaster for consumers and shows just how much power Wall Street banks, powerful special interests, and their high priced lobbyists have in Washington. Congressional action to weaken and erode banking rules protecting consumers is what fueled our financial crisis, and, once again, we are seeing history repeat itself. I’ve spent my career fighting for middle-class families, and now I want to take that fight to Washington." Katie is running for the Orange County seat currently held by Wall Street shill Mimi Walters. Please consider helping Katie's campaign here. And... how about Bernie/Elizabeth 2020?

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At 5:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would only remind everyone that Elizabeth steadfastly refused to endorse Bernie's campaign that SAID it was against bank and finance fraud, defining their business model AS FRAUD.
I would remind everyone that Elizabeth then endorsed and campaigned for the candidate that:
1) defrauded Bernie in the primaries in several states (ironic?)
2) has spent more time on her back with finance and taken more in donations and "speaking fees" than anyone, even obamanation, though he is making up ground lately.
3) is married to the asswipe who gave finance GLBA, CFMA, xxFTAs, WTO and other deregs.

And, of course, Elizabeth proudly proclaims her association with the OTHER party of finance, corruption and corporate servility.

So as you sing the praises and fantasize about a Bernie-Elizabeth ticket, please remember the above. Should that ticket materialize and then do less than obamanation did, you'll have a shorter fall for your disappointment.

But the democraps ARE the only other choice... right? When given the choice between cancer and beheading... we always choose cancer. makes... sense??

At 6:32 AM, Blogger Chris Roberts said...

i would rather have bernie-tulsi gabbard,benrie-nina turner or bernie-Merkley ticket.

At 6:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am very disappointed in Liz Warren. During the primary campaign, she had ample opportunity to raise many of these issues. I suspect that she was called off of this effort by Party leaders. They had to be worried that any such attacks on the big banks would reflect negatively on Wall Street's Go-To Girl, who was given at least $64 Million by Wall Street executives according to Politifact via OpenSecrets.

For Liz Warren to speak out now, when the DINO-Whigs have no control or influence over current events, is a clear case of Too Little Too Late. It's an empty pose which only serves to distract from the other crimes being perpetrated against the American People by the Trump Mafiya with the active collusion of DINO-Whigs.

Smart people will be stocking up on canned food while there is still time. Can't waste any of it listening to a Coulda Been.

At 7:48 AM, Anonymous Hone said...

Will you Anonymouses above please recall the warning by Noam Chomsky about why voting for the lesser of two evils is so important? Don't be such rigid idealistic jerks. This is a real world we are living in and no one running for office will be perfect. If you refuse to weigh differences and importances, we will all lose. Elizabeth Warren is one of the best we got.

France voted against Le Pen just to keep her the hell out of office, not because they loved Macron. They saw the danger and settled for a much lesser evil, luckily for France, Europe and the rest of the world. Unfortunately, Americans were too ignorant and too stupid. We did not have WW II on our soil to live and see the damage.

All those people who hated Hillary so freaking much to refuse to vote for her - now look at what we got! And the Hillary hate was clearly amplified big time by the Russians, unbeknownst to many at the time. So now we have a traitorous Orangeman who very likely conspired with a foreign government to ruin the legitimacy of our election and is now ruining our democracy, our government institutions and a zillion more things, while he attempts to enrich himself on our dime (just like his mentor, Putin). Hillary, while I hated much of her, too, of course her financial and hawkish aspects, would not have harmed the Dreamers, harmed the environment, destroyed the state department, made enemies of the FBI, decimated our national monuments, etc., etc. As far her lousy financial aspects, are you glad that Trump is now in office? And as far as her hawkishness, anyone betting on Trump not dropping a nuke when he is totally cornered?

Grow up. Live in the real world. Weigh choices.

At 8:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

RE-rigging??? Rigging against workers has been going on since Jimmy Carter allowed deregulation to break out. Look up what happened to the retirees of Inland Steel in 1978 due to that terrible crime against humanity. It hasn't stopped since, only slowed in some years.

Sorry, Hone, but there is a clear opening for a third choice in our politics. With each corporatist party claiming 30% of voters, that leaves 40% who could win an election. THAT is our second choice, not which face of the corporatist money party sticks out their tongue at us.

So to quote a person who said something wise in the wrong context, "Grow up. Live in the real world. Weigh choices."

At 10:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are the Voters stupid or is it the Democrats who rigged the primaries against a winning candidate? Is it the Dem's who have a super-delegate system? Is it the Dem's who are really just Republican -ite corporate dependent safety bots? Hillary's election would have legitimized the corporate status quo/control of our politics and failed to spark the revolution that is happening. You're not in your political safety zone buffered by the lesser evil. You are now in the real world and it requires more than just choosing.

At 11:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hone, you and Chomsky are well-intended, but moronic.

The difference between Le Pen and Macron are far more vast than the difference between the pussy-grabber and the bankers' whore who spread human misery to millions in Honduras and Ukraine.

In our case, neither gives one flying fuck about 310 million of the 315 million humans in this country, though for somewhat divergent reasons.
Both believe in the primacy of the oligarchy, the money's right to whatever it wants and in war as a tool to achieve their goals.

As I continue to use allegorically, when faced with a choice between Hitler and Himmler... we choose Himmler and heave a sigh of relief. This is insanity. In-fucking-sanity.

If you like the current "real world", then by all means, vote to keep it. I do not.

At 7:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't forget that the wall street fraud didn't just ratfuck americans. They ratfucked billions of people all over the world. Don't forget goldman-sachs role in ratfucking PIIGS nations too, among many others.

it's not just against America.


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