Archive for financial crisis

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


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

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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?

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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:

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Could a financial crisis happen again? You bet.


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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.


When the Financially Corrupt Were Tortured, Hanged and Beheaded


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

But we are a civilized society for those of the top 1% who defraud customers, the nation, and engage in risk taking for profit that undermines the world economy. Perish the thought of capital punishment, we don't even put those who oversee Wall Street financial malfeasance in jail; heck, we don't even charge them.

Yes, a few underlings, "guppies," are arrested now and then, but that is because their fraud was not large enough and was strictly personal (such as embezzlement). But if it is illegal activity on a massive firm-wide scale, then no one is held accountable. The financial giants just get a fine (if that even happens) that is less than the amount that they profited from their violation of regulations and the law, so they end up with a net revenue gain as a reward for their felonious behavior.

Zweig concludes, "Wall Street offers its risk-takers the potential to earn tens of millions, even hundreds of millions of dollars, when bets pay off, with no real penalties when bets go bad. Until – or unless – that culture changes, nothing fundamental will change." But he remains skeptical that holding individuals responsible for "too big to fail" illegal behavior will work.

That's his opinion.

In our book, it's still worth a try. Enabling the current double standard of putting a person in jail for kiting a few checks, but not even charging anybody for pre-meditated actions that lead to billions of dollars in fraudulent activity, well that's not only unfair; it results in a nation committing financial suicide.

Please read the rest here. I left out a lot.


Flashback VIDEO: GOP defends raising debt ceiling in Bush era


Via ThinkProgress:

H/t: Raw Story

And this, via a CNN email alert:

A final hour of debate on a compromise debt-ceiling bill is under way in the U.S. House, with a final vote expected about 6:45 p.m. ET, a senior GOP leadership aide says.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi will support the compromise deal, a Democratic leadership aide says. It was unclear whether congressional leaders had the votes to ensure the bill's passage, particularly in the House.

Democratic and Republican leaders in the Senate are working on an agreement to hold a vote on Tuesday, according to multiple leadership aides from each party.

The legislation needs to reach President Obama's desk by Tuesday at the latest. If the $14.3 trillion debt limit is not increased by then, Americans could face rapidly rising interest rates, a falling dollar and shakier financial markets.