Tags: TBTF

Four “Too Big to Fail/Jail” Banks Threaten to Hold Back Funds to Democrats Over Elizabeth Warren

Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 1.49.14 PM

Having already proven that their institutions are above the law in the aftermath of the financial crisis, executives at the “Too Big to Fail and Jail” banks have decided it’s time to teach Senate Democrats a lesson. Not being content with trillions in taxpayer backed bailouts to protect and further consolidate virtually all wealth within their oligarch fiefdoms, these bankers are irate at the notion that a commoner would dare criticize their unassailable crony privilege.

However, the worst part of this story, is that while Warren is harsher than most of her completely bought and paid for colleagues, she is still pretty meek when it comes to the big bank oligopoly. In her most misguided position, she doesn’t even support an audit of the largest organized crime institution operating within these United States, the Federal Reserve. Oh and for those of you who will claim the Fed is already audited, think again. Read: The Fed Impedes GAO Audits by Destroying Source Documents.

Thus it seems even Warren’s meager push for reform is simply too much for the thin skinned bailout baby banks to handle. From The Hill:

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Mega Banks Are Fined for Foreign Exchange Rigging – Now It’s Back To “Business as Usual”

Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 12.11.39 PMFar from chastening the world’s biggest currency trading firms, the multi-billion dollar fines levied by regulators on Wednesday are more likely to draw a line under the affair and gradually allow a return to business as usual.

A year into a wide-ranging industry probe into charges that banks routinely fleeced clients over currencies, industry observers and politicians were frustrated by a deal they said showed the affair will end just with fines rather than any reform of what they say is the Wild West of financial markets.

– From the Reuters article: Banks pay up and carry on after FX fines

While many readers will have likely already heard about the latest slap on the wrist fine received by the mega banks with regard to FX rigging (which will only encourage more criminality), there are two reasons I want to add my two cents on the topic.

First, it’s an incredible admission of the level of lawlessness that society is willing to put up with, that Reuters so matter-of-factly admits that absolutely nothing will change despite mega banks once again being caught in extraordinarily unethical behavior.

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The Credit Bubble’s “Final Frontier” – Meet Goldman’s Fixed Income Global Structured Covered Obligation

Fixed Income Global Structured Covered Obligation. Say that three times fast.

According to yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, the bailed out financial criminals at Goldman Sachs are set to launch the latest and greatest toxic derivative product directly into the portfolios of willing muppets the world over. It all starts this September, so public pension funds may as well just start taking out stacks of hundreds and torching them at Burning Man while they still have a chance.

Yes, it’s called the “Fixed Income Global Structured Covered Obligation,” and no, you will not have a clue what’s in it. No seriously, you won’t have a clue.

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Former Aide to Bill Clinton Speaks – “My Party Has Lost its Soul”

Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 10.37.26 AMOne reason we know voters will embrace populism is that they already have. It’s what they thought they were getting with Obama. In 2008 Obama said he’d bail out homeowners, not just banks. He vowed to fight for a public option, raise the minimum wage and clean up Washington. He called whistle-blowers heroes and said he’d bar lobbyists from his staff. He was critical of drones and wary of the use of force to advance American interests. He spoke eloquently of the threats posed to individual privacy by a runaway national security state.

He turned out to be something else altogether. To blame Republicans ignores a glaring truth: Obama’s record is worst where they had little or no role to play. It wasn’t Republicans who prosecuted all those whistle-blowers and hired all those lobbyists; who authorized drone strikes or kept the NSA chugging along; who reneged on the public option, the minimum wage and aid to homeowners. It wasn’t even Republicans who turned a blind eye to Wall Street corruption and excessive executive compensation. It was Obama.

A populist revolt among Democrats is unlikely absent their reappraisal of Obama, which itself seems unlikely. Not since Robert Kennedy have Democrats been so personally invested in a public figure. Liberals fell hardest so it’s especially hard for them to admit he’s just not that into them. 

- From Bill Curry’s excellent article in SalonMy party has lost its soul: Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and the victory of Wall Street Democrats.

Bill Curry’s article published this past Sunday by Salon is simply extraordinary. One of the things I’ve felt has been lacking in America for some time is the ability for well-meaning people within the “power structure” to look inward and be honest with themselves about the immoral decay fellow members of their socio-economic class have wrought upon the nation via a singleminded pursuit of wealth and power. A perfect example of an ignorant, destructive oligarch completely devoid of self-awareness was put on full display earlier this year when Sam Zell appeared on Bloomberg TV and essentially said the poor just need to act more like the rich.

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The New York Times Describes Obama – “A Restless President Weary of the Obligations of the White House…”

Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 4.27.46 PMWhat’s so amusing about today’s article from the New York Times titled, At Dinner Tables, Restless President Finds Intellectual Escape, is that the author appears to be quite sympathetic to Obama. She seems to want to portray the President as a real statesman; one who is so far above politics and the pedestrian task of being Commander in Chief that he finds it necessary to flee his responsibilities in order to find intellectual escape while dining extravagantly with “elites” in Europe. In contrast, he merely comes across as the arrogant, disconnected, oligarch coddler he is.

The article also seems to say something important about the New York Times’ own disconnectedness, particularly considering the paper’s Pentagon correspondent recently referred to the American public as children, with the government and mainstream media playing the role of parents.

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The New York Times Covers “Oligarch Welfare” – Tax Breaks for Private Planes, Yachts and More…

I’m pleased to say that the topic of oligarch and corporate welfare finally seems to be getting the much needed attention it deserves. While billionaires like Sam Zell (read my open letter to him) continue to spout nonsense about how the poor just need to be more like the rich, objective folks are catching on to the joke.

Ironically, the biggest welfare queens in America are the oligarchs and multinational corporations themselves, yet many of them constantly like to blame growing inequality on the supposed character deficiencies of the lower classes.

Earlier this week, I wrote a very well received post titled, A First Look at a New Report on Crony Capitalism – Trillions in Corporate Welfare, as well as the post, Walmart Admits in its Annual Report that its Profits Depend Heavily on Corporate Welfare.

The New York Times has now thrown its hat in the arena with an article titled: A Nation of Takers?

Here are some excerpts:

In the debate about poverty, critics argue that government assistance saps initiative and is unaffordable. After exploring the issue, I must concede that the critics have a point. Here are five public welfare programs that are wasteful and turning us into a nation of “takers.”

First, welfare subsidies for private planes. The United States offers three kinds of subsidies to tycoons with private jets: accelerated tax write-offs, avoidance of personal taxes on the benefit by claiming that private aircraft are for security, and use of air traffic control paid for by chumps flying commercial.

I worry about those tycoons sponging off government. Won’t our pampering damage their character? Won’t they become addicted to the entitlement culture, demanding subsidies even for their yachts? Oh, wait …

Second, welfare subsidies for yachts. The mortgage-interest deduction was meant to encourage a home-owning middle class. But it has been extended to provide subsidies for beach homes and even yachts.

In the meantime, money was slashed last year from the public housing program for America’s neediest.

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Eric Holder and the DOJ Have Spent Millions of Taxpayer Dollars on Unreported Personal Travel

As the Attorney General of these United States, Eric Holder is the top legal advisor for the entire nation. As such, he has been in a position to help punish financial criminals and the mega-banks for the crimes they committed in the run-up to the financial crisis, and the egregious looting thereafter.

Despite his unique role, Eric Holder has spent the past five years taking absolutely zero action on any matter of national significance. In fact, his major claim to fame appears to be that he has solidified the creation of a group of untouchable criminals known as the “Too Big to Jail” class.

So what does Eric Holder do in his spare time, you know, when he isn’t coddling financial oligarchs and running firearms into Mexico? Apparently, according to a recent study from the non-partisan Government Accountability Office, he likes to hop on government planes for personal trips at taxpayer expense. Serfs up suckers!

From The Washington Post:

The agency that tracks federal travel did not report hundreds of personal and other “non mission” trips aboard government planes for senior Justice Department officials including Attorney General Eric Holder and former FBI Director Robert Mueller, according to a watchdog report.

Congress’s nonpartisan Government Accountability Office determined that the 395 flights cost taxpayers $7.8 million. But the General Services Administration, which oversees trips aboard federal jets, did not require documentation because of a GSA reporting exemption that covers intelligence agencies, even in cases of unclassified personal travel.

The findings, released Thursday, came out nearly 19 months after Republican lawmakers began questioning Holder’s use of an FBI jet for travel unrelated to Justice Department work. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, asked the GAO to look into the matter.

For security reasons, attorneys general are required to use non-commercial flights when they fly, and they have access to Defense Department jets. However, they must reimburse the government for personal trips.

Oh right, good luck with that. I’m more likely to have dinner with the Easter Bunny tonight.

Full article here.

In the spirit of this article, I suggest watching this classic Eric Holder video clip that I highlighted last year. Enjoy:

In Liberty,
Michael Krieger

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A Vital Message from Venezuela – “They Talk Like Marx, Rule Like Stalin…”

The following quote written on a piece of cardboard from the ongoing protests in Venezuela basically summarizes how the oligarchs, or the 0.01%, and their political henchmen rule in all countries around the world at the moment. Then they cry like little welfare babies when people criticize their behavior.

Powerful stuff:

They speak like Marx
Rule like Stalin
And live like Rockefellers
While the people suffer

TalklikeMarx

Warren Buffet is the absolute master of the above tactic, which is why I once wrote about him being: A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing.

In Liberty,
Michael Kriegr

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Here’s What Happened When a Journalist Crashed a Wall Street Secret Society

Before we get into this post, let’s review the definition of Antisocial Personality Disorder according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine:

Antisocial Personality Disorder:  A mental health condition in which a person has a long-term pattern of manipulating, exploiting, or violating the rights of others. This behavior is often criminal.

Now for the symptoms:

Symptoms:

A person with antisocial personality disorder may:

  • Be able to act witty and charming
  • Be good at flattery and manipulating other people’s emotions
  • Break the law repeatedly
  • Disregard the safety of self and others
  • Have problems with substance abuse
  • Lie, steal, and fight often
  • Not show guilt or remorse
  • Often be angry or arrogant

How about treatment?

Treatment:

Antisocial personality disorder is one of the most difficult personality disorders to treat. People with this condition rarely seek treatment on their own. They may only start therapy when required to by a court.

Behavioral treatments, such as those that reward appropriate behavior and have negative consequences for illegal behavior, may hold the most promise. Certain forms of talk therapy are also being explored.

Exactly as many of us have said. Jail time and accountability are necessary to stop these people. Bailouts will only encourage continued sociopathic behavior, which is exactly what we have seen. Think about the above as you read the post below. Enjoy…

The following article by Kevin Roose was published late last night by New York Magazine, and it recounts what the journalist saw when he crashed Wall Street fraternity Kappa Beta Phi’s private party back in 2012. Some elements of his experience were already published a couple years back in a New York Times piece, but his latest article adds an additional perspective and recounts many outrageous aspects of the event I had never read before. This article is particularly important considering the recent trend of billionaires running around on financial television claiming they are being prosecuted for no reason.

Basically, it will confirm what everyone already thought. That a great many of these oligarch financiers are complete and total sociopaths and a menace to society.

From New York Magazine:

Recently, our nation’s financial chieftains have been feeling a little unloved. Venture capitalists are comparing the persecution of the rich to the plight ofJews 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, wearing a tuxedo and purple velvet moccasins embroidered with the fraternity’s Greek letters, was standing at the dais of the St. Regis Hotel ballroom, welcoming a crowd of two hundred wealthy and famous Wall Street figures to the Kappa Beta Phi dinner. 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.

Yeah Ross, what’s not to love about a guy like you.

Looking up at him from an elegant dinner of rack of lamb and foie gras were many of the most famous investors in the world, including executives from nearly every too-big-to-fail bank, private equity megafirm, and major hedge fund. AIG CEO Bob Benmosche was there, as were Wall Street superlawyer Marty Lipton and Alan “Ace” Greenberg, the former chairman of Bear Stearns. And those were just the returning members. Among the neophytes were hedge fund billionaire and major Obama donor Marc Lasry and Joe Reece, a high-ranking dealmaker at Credit Suisse. All told, enough wealth and power was concentrated in the St. Regis that night that if you had dropped a bomb on the roof, global finance as we know it might have ceased to exist.

If you recall, last year Mr. Benmosche compared anger at Wall Street bonuses to the lynching of black people in the south. 

I’d heard whisperings about the existence of Kappa Beta Phi, whose members included both incredibly successful financiers (New York City’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Goldman Sachs chairman John Whitehead, hedge-fund billionaire Paul Tudor Jones) and incredibly unsuccessful ones (Lehman Brothers CEO Dick Fuld, Bear Stearns CEO Jimmy Cayne, former New Jersey governor and MF Global flameout Jon Corzine). 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.

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The Comcast/Time Warner Merger and the War Between Centralization and Decentralization

Or take the right to vote. In principle, it is a great privilege. In practice, as recent history has repeatedly shown, the right to vote, by itself, is no guarantee of liberty. Therefore, if you wish to avoid dictatorship by referendum, break up modern society’s merely functional collectives into self-governing, voluntarily co-operating groups, capable of functioning outside the bureaucratic systems of Big Business and Big Government.

-Aldous Huxley, in Brave New World Revisited (1958) 

Until recent years, the struggle between the forces of “centralization” and “decentralization” was more of a full on slaughter-fest than an actually battle or war. As Americans sat there blissfully asleep for decades, every facet of our lives has been carefully consolidated into the hands of a smaller and smaller group of corporations, and hence individual executives. This trend is undeniable in everything from food, banking, media and everything in between.

Myself and many others saw the financial crisis of 2008 as a gigantic wakeup call. The disasters caused by powerful financial institutions and the greedy people that ran them should have been used as a rallying cry to break these institutions up. To recognize the dangers of too much power in one particular place. This is especially important in something as crucial as banking. However, as we are all painfully aware, this is not what happened. Rather, the institutions were bailed out, the industry consolidated even more than it was before, and the perpetrators of the crisis emerged from it even more wealthy and powerful.

My personal focus on this website has been to expose the unique dangers presented by centralization in the financial industry and the monetary system. However, many others are dedicated to the equally important and disturbing trends in other industries. Consumer goods is one of these areas, and a very telling diagram went around late last year showing how 10 companies basically control everything you buy. Take a look below:

10corporations

Dangerous consolidation of the media is a trend that has also been discussed by many people on many occasions, and many of us by now have heard the stat that in the U.S. just six media giants control 90% of all TV, news, radio and film. Now that Comcast is set to buy Time Warner, the situation is about to get that much worse. The International Business Times made some poignant points:

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