Archive for corporate America – Page 2

Financing the Destruction of Planet Earth Are the Same Banks That Cratered Our Economy

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climate change if were bank would have been saved

Your Daily Dose of BuzzFlash at Truthout, via my pal Mark Karlin:

[T]he same banks that nearly turned America into an economic dust bowl in 2008 are the ones financing the earth-destroying companies that promote toxic climate change like heroin to junkies. [...]

[Rev. Billy] Talen is hopeful that awareness is spreading that the banks too big to fail are failing our planet:

Everyone in the precinct house wanted an explanation of our action. When we said that Chase was financing climate disruption  --  the cops agreed! The thing is... we believe that employees inside the big banks also know this. Most Americans know that the biosphere is dying by human violence, whether it is chemicals, bulldozer blades, or outright population growth. We are all behind this great structure that we cannot surmount; this corporate wall. But we know that the Earth crisis is a kind of cry. The Earth cries out to us -- or through us....We are The Earth's cry as we shout in the banks that finance all that death.

The good reverend of the "church of stop shopping" has a distinct point: "shouting inside a bank about its climate-killing investments is a good thing."

Please read the entire post here.

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VIDEO: David Gregory changes subject to save guest from Barney Frank's question on wealthy bankers' huge salaries

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tick tick tick bugs bunny

Happy fifth anniversary of the Wall Street Meltdown! Weeee! Could a financial crisis happen again? You bet.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Meet the Press host David Gregory came to the rescue of his own personal NBC damsel in distress, CNBC host Maria Bartiromo, who thinks Americans need to come down with collective amnesia and get past all the silly little antics of Wall Street.

Never mind the pain and suffering, the poverty, the GOP cutting programs that would keep people alive who can barely make ends meet and who were cut off at the wallet by those poor, put-upon Big Banks.

Instead, Gregory's priority was to swoop in and end the awkward silence and nervous giggling that followed Barney Frank's question, "Why are bankers paying themselves so much money?" The panelists who are oh so into Wall Street were suddenly oh so silent:

Maria Bartiromo: We need to get beyond the conversation of, Is Wall Street evil?" Are the bankers evil and causing pain? And toward the conversation of, how do you create sustainable economic growth? That will answer the issue of inequality. Because with growth comes jobs. [...]

Barney Frank: I do want to add one thing, though, to your question about those poor beleaguered bankers who have been forced to do so much to keep from not being able to pay their debts they can’t lend money. If they really are running businesses that are so stressed that they can’t do their basic work, why are they paying themselves so much money? Where did these enormous salaries come from if they were in fact in such serious trouble?

pregnant pause

Maria Bartiromo: (laughing) Thank you for giving me that one. Okay.

David Gregory: But your point is to get beyond — to get beyond some of the resentment of the bankers and get to a place where we actually have more hiring going on, more investment going on and Washington plays a more constructive role beyond whether it was the bailout of the banks which changed our politics.

Think Progress:

(Nevermind that the deregulation of the financial sector is a primary driver of inequality in the U.S.) [...]

It would have been interesting to hear Bartiromo’s response had Gregory not intervened to prevent anyone answering Frank’s question. Wall Street executive pay seems difficult to defend five years on from the crisis. It isn’t just that banker bonuses and bank profits have returned to or even surpassed pre-crisis highs. It’s that a third of the highest-paid executives of the past 20 years have been failures or frauds. It’s that companies routinely manipulate performance-based compensation schemes to effectively guarantee executive payouts. It’s that taxpayers subsidize payments in the form of stock, which also give executives incentive to the sorts of fraud and risk-taking that created the financial crisis.

Here is the entire segment:

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

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Could a financial crisis happen again? You bet.

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banghead gif

Michael Hiltzik has yet another splendid column in today's Los Angeles Times. This one asks the question, "Could a financial crisis happen again?" His answer: "You bet."

Hiltzik, as he is wont to do, goes into some detail to support his case, so it's well worth reading the entire piece, but a few key points stood out. One is his reminder that no high-level executive of any major bank has faced trial, and most of them are still filthy rich. To rub salt into that wound, "no top executive of Bank of America, Bear Stearns, Lehman Bros., Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo or JPMorgan has even been sued personally by the Securities and Exchange Commission."

Depressed yet? Angry yet? Banging your head against that nearby wall yet? Allow me to exacerbate your pain. Hiltzik recaps the Barclays tale of how that British-based bank paid a $450,000,000 price for manipulating interest rates for borrowers and is looking at a similar fine for rigging California's electricity market. However:

[Barclays] seems to have no trouble getting in the door of the Fed. How would you feel if your local D.A. took meetings with convicted felons to get their thoughts on how our tough criminal laws should be eased up? That's not far from what the Fed and Barclays are up to.

Feeling more secure? Me neither. Think things have changed? Me neither. Think Big Banks have watered down what should have been strict rules and are taking advantage of loopholes that benefit their bottom line at our expense? Hey, me too!

The banks today still fight regulation by claiming that tying their hands will hobble economic growth. This is one of those balancing tests where all the weights seem to have been piled on one side. What's left off is the cost of inaction.

[Per economists], the Great Recession cost the U.S. as much as $14 trillion in economic output, or up to $120,000 for every household in the country. That comes to a lot more than the cost of keeping a few bankers from collecting their bonuses through risky, manipulative financial deals.

The targets of regulation always squeal that trampling on their freedom of action will have economic costs. But the reality is that the cost of lax regulation is always higher than the cost of making a system safe. The U.S. understood that reality in the Thirties. What keeps us from understanding it now?

That wall you head is looking for is to your left. Bang away.

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Yeah, like this will ever happen...

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totes adorbs

This totes adorbs Think Progress headline caught my eye: Senators Seek To End Taxpayer Subsidy For Exorbitant CEO Pay:

With executive compensation at record highs, two senators are trying to end a government subsidy of performance-driven executive pay schemes that cost taxpayers $5 billion per year. Sens. Jack Reed (D-RI) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) proposed a bill Friday that would limit the amount of performance-based pay that can be written off as a tax deduction and bring in $50 billion in tax revenue over a decade.

Isn't it presh how Reed and Blumenthal think Republicans would ever pass any bill ever that would pull support from their ritzy CEO BFFs? Especially one called the Stop Subsidizing Multimillion Corporate Bonuses Act.

But hey, at least they're trying. And who knows? Stranger things have happened...

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Mayday! Mayday! for America's middle class

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mayday mayday via Huckkonopackicartoons.com

Via

So struggling Americans, how's that GOP-supported trickle-down economics workin' for ya? Same here. It's not. It never has, but that doesn't stop Paul Ryan or Eric Cantor from sticking up for their rich buddies at the expense of those living in poverty and families barely able to make it on their minimum wage and/or multiple low-paying jobs and/or unemployment checks and/or food stamps and/or no income or assistance whatsoever.

The middle class (what little is left of it) is hurting badly as Republican lawmakers count their millions of corporate dollars from their corporate pals and lobbyists now that Citizens United is the law of the land. That's all that really matters to them, that and privatizing the entire country while pushing hard for more power over those who see their own influence and potency diminishing.

To repeat, “Post-Citizens United, conservatives look at [union decline] & smell blood.” Unions support Dems. ‘Nuff said.

Hedrick Smith, former Washington bureau chief for the New York Times, and author of "Who Stole the American Dream?" wrote an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times that goes a little something like this:

We have become two Americas — literally, the 99% and the 1%. We have what a Citigroup investment brochure called the most eye-popping concentration of wealth in a great power since 16th century Spain. The numbers are staggering. From 1979 to 2011, 84% of the nation's increase in income has gone to the wealthiest 1%, according to Alan Krueger, a Princeton economist who now chairs the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

As the president observed at Knox College in Illinois recently: "The average CEO has gotten a raise of nearly 40% since 2009. The average American earns less than he or she did in 1999." [...]

Based on Labor Department reports, economists tell us the productivity of the U.S. workforce rose 97% from 1945 to 1973, and the income of the average family rose 95%. In short, average workers reaped the benefits of rising U.S. efficiency along with their bosses. But since 1973, the picture has changed: Productivity has risen 80%, economists report, but the average family's income has risen only 10%, and that bump has come primarily because more women have entered the workforce, not because wages have gone up.... Three decades of going nowhere.

"Three decades of going nowhere." Let that sink in for a minute.

He then quotes "unambiguous" evidence from a report by Harvard economist Philippe Aghion: Multiple studies show that "greater inequality [of income] reduces the rate of growth."

Why? Well, think about it. How can we buy stuff if we make no money? And if we don't buy stuff, how will businesses survive? And if those businesses can't survive, how will manufacturers of what those businesses sell survive? And if manufacturers can't survive, they shut down. And we all know how that story ends.

But all that decline in growth and income inequality could be improved if only Big Corporations would stop sitting on their nearly $2 trillion in cash. As Smith points out, "instead of expanding production, they have been buying back company stock, rewarding shareholders while often imposing a wage freeze on workers."

Way to grow jobs, Big Corporations. America first! Create weak demand and you get a weak economy. And as a special bonus, you can blame President Obama! Weee!

It would be helpful if people like John Boehner, Eric Cantor, Paul Ryan, and their tea party colleagues would stop pushing for budget cuts, more tax cuts for the rich, government cuts, program cuts, deregulation, and that failure known as trickle-down economics. But, hey, they're just not into "helpful." Or you.

not into you smaller

Smith:

[S]pending is the engine that drives economic growth by pushing businesses to expand production, build new plants, buy new equipment, hire more workers.

He goes on to say that those in Washington better "shift their mindset" and get past all the gridlock so they can "set a new course." In other words, dump business as usual and start using their noggins, get real, and do what's right and productive instead of obstructing and stuffing their own pockets with donations. Get off your asses and rebuild this country already.

To paraphrase what Albert Einstein reportedly said at the dawn of the Atomic Age in 1945: You cannot solve a problem with the same thinking that created it.

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"JPMorgan's manipulation of energy markets is nothing short of criminal." Yet nobody's going to prison.

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big banks lock them up

I recently posted JPMorgan manipulated CA’s energy market to great profit, lied about it. Penalty? Chump change (1 day’s revenue).  Please link over, because Michael Hiltzik's take is worth a read.

With that, here are today's Los Angeles Times letters to the editor, because our voices matter:

Re "Energy market rigging case is settled," and "Bank's penalty? Chump change," Column, July 31

Why do we so seldom hear about any of these hundreds of guilty market manipulators — all cherished employees of large corporations — going to prison? They never admit any wrongdoing, and seldom do we see their heads bowed to express shame as destroyers of America's social contract.

Michael Hiltzik reminds us that a $421-million fine is pocket change to JPMorgan Chase & Co. against total annual net revenue of $97 billion. No wonder its spokesman is "pleased to put this matter behind us."

Contrary to what federal regulators say, this ridiculous slap on the wrist will never be a strong deterrent to continuing big-money corruption. Nor will it result in any "material impact" on the secretive culture of yet another Wall Street giant that exalts profit over morality — at the expense of the rest of us.

June Maguire

Mission Viejo

***

JPMorgan's manipulation of energy markets is nothing short of criminal.

The fact that no one will go to prison for this crime, and that the manipulators see fines as the cost of doing business, reminds me of my childhood in San Francisco, where the bookies to whom I sold newspapers told me they weren't worried about being arrested for illegal gambling; they just paid the fine and came back the next day, where they cooked the books once more — or paid off the arresting officer.

That area of San Francisco was called the Tenderloin District. It seems we have our own Tenderloin, but on a national level — it's called "investment banking."

Patrick O'Brien

San Juan Capistrano

***

I think of myself as an informed citizen. After 68 years of life, I am starting to think "the fix is in."

Major corporations — contributors to both parties — write the rules for their benefit. Politicians are now professionals, not citizens doing their civic duty like our founders envisioned.

As Will Rogers said, we have the best politicians money can buy.

Ed Sinderman

Porter Ranch

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JPMorgan manipulated CA's energy market to great profit, lied about it. Penalty? Chump change (1 day's revenue)

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inexcusable

Michael Hiltzik nailed it again. His column in today's Los Angeles Times pointed out what TV news shows fail to mention: Once again, Corporate America skates and the little guy can't do a thing about it. Or as I like to call it, injustice.

JPMorgan Chase was fined $410-million for manipulating energy markets in California and the Midwest. Period. That's it. No arrests, not a seriously "historic" penalty, no deterrent to speak of, just a measly few hundred million for ripping us off. Seems like a lot to the rest of us, right? But to them? Pfft.

Hiltzik:

It's chicken feed. A pittance.

It will have no more deterrent effect on white-collar wrongdoing at JPMorgan or anywhere else than telling its traders they've got to take the Ferrari to work instead of the Lamborghini, though they can still take the Lambo to the beach house. Our top regulators actually think they've gotten the better of a huge illegal enterprise, which is a good sign that they're delusional. They didn't even get Morgan to admit that it had done anything wrong.

Look at the numbers. Of the $410 million, $125 million represents the disgorgement of illicit profits from Morgan's scheme — money the bank wouldn't have collected at all if it operated within the law. (The sum is supposed to be returned to ratepayers.) So that doesn't count. The real punishment is the balance of $285 million. How badly will that hurt JPMorgan Chase? Well, the big bank collected $97 billion in net revenue last year, so it represents a little more than a single day of intake... [T]here's no indication that these individuals will suffer any consequences for this rip-off. They're not the ones paying the penalties; Morgan's shareholders are. [...]

As the FERC documents make clear, Morgan was worse than Enron — because despite the lessons of Enron, it engaged in this manipulative behavior anyway.

But just when I thought Hiltzik's analysis couldn't possibly get me any angrier, he added this at the end:

The only remedy is to take the market out of the electricity business, returning to the regulated utility model that served American ratepayers for decades. The markets clearly don't work to consumers' benefit, because the regulators can't handle the task of staying ahead of the gamers.

The question is, do they even want to regulate? FERC Commissioner Clark praised Tuesday's settlement ... [and] pointed out that by settling, the government closes the case "without expending further resources."

Is that what we pay our regulators for — justice on the cheap? JPMorgan's behavior was disgusting, but FERC's decision to let the bank get off for pennies on the dollar is inexcusable.

Please read the entire column, and please share it with FERC. They might learn something.

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