Category Archives: Banking

The global banking game is rigged and the FDIC is suing

Taxpayers are paying billions of dollars for a swindle pulled off by the world’s biggest banks, using a form of derivative called interest-rate swaps; and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation has now joined a chorus of litigants suing over it. Continue reading

Banking union time bomb: Eurocrats authorize bailouts and bail-ins

On March 20, 2014, European Union officials reached an historic agreement to create a single agency to handle failing banks. Media attention has focused on the agreement involving the single resolution mechanism (SRM), a uniform system for closing failed banks. But the real story for taxpayers and depositors is the heightened threat to their pocketbooks of a deal that now authorizes both bailouts and “bail-ins”—the confiscation of depositor funds. The deal involves multiple concessions to different countries and may be illegal under the rules of the EU Parliament; but it is being rushed through to lock taxpayer and depositor liability into place before the dire state of Eurozone banks is exposed. Continue reading

Warren’s post office proposal: Palast aims at the wrong target

Investigative reporter Greg Palast is usually pretty good at peering behind the rhetoric and seeing what is really going on. But in tearing into Senator Elizabeth Warren’s support of postal financial services, he has done a serious disservice to the underdogs—both the underbanked and the US Postal Service itself. Continue reading

The stone that brings down Goliath?

Richmond, Calif., and eminent domain

In a nearly $13 billion settlement with the US Justice Department in November 2013, JPMorgan Chase admitted that it, along with every other large US bank, had engaged in mortgage fraud as a routine business practice, sowing the seeds of the mortgage meltdown. JPMorgan and other megabanks have now been caught in over a dozen major frauds, including LIBOR-rigging and bid-rigging; yet no prominent banker has gone to jail. Meanwhile, nearly a quarter of all mortgages nationally remain underwater (meaning the balance owed exceeds the current value of the home), sapping homeowners’ budgets, the housing market and the economy. Since the banks, the courts and the federal government have failed to give adequate relief to homeowners, some cities are taking matters into their own hands. Continue reading

Enough is enough: Fraud-ridden banks are not L.A.’s only option

“Epic in scale, unprecedented in world history.” That is how William K. Black, professor of law and economics and former bank fraud investigator, describes the frauds in which JPMorgan Chase (JPM) has now been implicated. They involve more than a dozen felonies, including bid-rigging on municipal bond debt; colluding to rig interest rates on hundreds of trillions of dollars in mortgages, derivatives and other contracts; exposing investors to excessive risk; failing to disclose known risks, including those in the Bernie Madoff scandal; and engaging in multiple forms of mortgage fraud. Continue reading

100 years is enough: Time to make the Fed a public utility

December 23, 2013, marked the 100th anniversary of the Federal Reserve, warranting a review of its performance. Has it achieved the purposes for which it was designed? Continue reading

Occupying the NEED Act

More than 5 years into the economic crisis created by Wall Street, recovery is a nothing but a meaningless word, mouthed by politicians. Yet just two years ago a bill was placed before the last Congress: the National Emergency Employment Defense Act (the NEED Act) Continue reading

Amend the Fed: We need a central bank that serves Main Street

December 23 marks the 100th anniversary of the Federal Reserve. Dissatisfaction with its track record has prompted calls to audit the Fed and end the Fed. At the least, Congress needs to amend the Fed, modifying the Federal Reserve Act to give the central bank the tools necessary to carry out its mandates. Continue reading

The money changers serenade: A new plot hatches

Former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, a protégé of Treasury Secretaries Rubin and Summers, has received his reward for continuing the Rubin-Summers-Paulson policy of supporting the “banks too big to fail” at the expense of the economy and American people. For his service to the handful of gigantic banks, whose existence attests to the fact that the Anti-Trust Act is a dead-letter law, Geithner has been appointed president and managing director of the private equity firm, Warburg Pincus, and is on his way to his fortune. Continue reading

Public banking in Costa Rica: A remarkable little known model

In Costa Rica, publicly-owned banks have been available for so long and work so well that people take for granted that any country that knows how to run an economy has a public banking option. Costa Ricans are amazed to hear there is only one public depository bank in the United States (the Bank of North Dakota), and few people have private access to it. Continue reading

Ireland: Ground zero for the austerity-driven asset grab

The Irish have a long history of being tyrannized, exploited, and oppressed—from the forced conversion to Christianity in the Dark Ages, to slave trading of the natives in the 15th and 16th centuries, to the mid-nineteenth century “potato famine” that was really a holocaust. The British got Ireland’s food exports, while at least one million Irish died from starvation and related diseases, and another million or more emigrated. Continue reading

The lies that will kill America

Here in Manhattan the other day, you couldn’t miss it—the big bold headline across the front page of the tabloid New York Post, screaming one of those sick, slick lies that are a trademark of Rupert Murdoch’s right wing media empire. There was Uncle Sam, brandishing a revolver and wearing a burglar’s mask. “UNCLE SCAM,” the headline shouted. “U.S. robs bank of $13 billion.” Continue reading

JP Morgan Chase’s $13 billion settlement and a possible whale-sized tax deduction

At JPMorgan Chase, you want record earnings and deals, not record settlement payments. But the nation’s biggest bank with $2.4 trillion in assets could be days away from the biggest and most painful settlement ever. As big as the $13 billion number is, it may not preclude criminal prosecution. What’s more, it could involve an express admission of wrongdoing, something that could curtail tax deductions and fuel shareholder suits. Continue reading

How much of JPMorgan’s $13 billion fine will taxpayers pay?

Experts speculate settlement will allow bank to write off chunk of penalty as business expense

JPMorgan—whose fraudulent mortgage claims helped take down the economy in 2008—will likely be able to write off its much-touted $13 billion fine as a business expense, experts speculate, meaning U.S. taxpayers would help foot the bill. Continue reading

Is Homeland Security preparing for the next Wall Street collapse?

Reports are that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is engaged in a massive, covert military buildup. An article in the Associated Press in February confirmed an open purchase order by DHS for 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition. According to an op-ed in Forbes, that’s enough to sustain an Iraq-sized war for over twenty years. DHS has also acquired heavily armored tanks, which have been seen roaming the streets. Evidently somebody in government is expecting some serious civil unrest. The question is, why? Continue reading

America needs the NEED Act

Today, our politicians squabble over healthcare legislation passed years ago and in a few more days their fight will be over the federal debt ceiling. Continue reading

What we could do with a postal savings bank: Infrastructure that doesn’t cost taxpayers a dime

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is the nation’s second largest civilian employer after Walmart. Although successfully self-funded throughout its long history, it is currently struggling to stay afloat. This is not, as sometimes asserted, because it has been made obsolete by the Internet. In fact the post office has gotten more business from Internet orders than it has lost to electronic email. What has pushed the USPS into insolvency is an oppressive 2006 congressional mandate that it prefund healthcare for its workers 75 years into the future. No other entity, public or private, has the burden of funding multiple generations of employees who have not yet even been born. Continue reading

The Armageddon looting machine: The looming mass destruction from derivatives

Increased regulation and low interest rates are driving lending from the regulated commercial banking system into the unregulated shadow banking system. The shadow banks, although free of government regulation, are propped up by a hidden government guarantee in the form of safe harbor status under the 2005 Bankruptcy Reform Act pushed through by Wall Street. The result is to create perverse incentives for the financial system to self-destruct. Continue reading

Making the world safe for banksters: Syria in the crosshairs

Iraq and Libya have been taken out, and Iran has been heavily boycotted. Syria is now in the cross-hairs. Why? Here is one overlooked scenario . . . Continue reading

The leveraged buyout of America: Big banks are using your deposits as collateral for borrowing in the repo markets

Another reason why we need public banks

Giant bank holding companies now own airports, toll roads, and ports; control power plants; and store and hoard vast quantities of commodities of all sorts. They are systematically buying up or gaining control of the essential lifelines of the economy. How have they pulled this off, and where have they gotten the money? Continue reading

Not too big to jail: Why Eliot Spitzer is Wall Street’s worst nightmare

Before Eliot Spitzer’s infamous resignation as governor of New York in March 2008, he was one of our fiercest champions against Wall Street corruption, in a state that had some of the toughest legislation for controlling the banks. It may not be a coincidence that the revelation of his indiscretions with a high-priced call girl came less than a month after he published a bold editorial in the Washington Post titled “Predatory Lenders’ Partner in Crime: How the Bush Administration Stopped the States from Stepping in to Help Consumers.” Continue reading

Wells Fargo, it ain’t your great-grandpa’s stagecoach anymore

Wells Fargo is your neighborhood mega-money laundering, drug war profiteering, prison-industry enlarging bank, one big elite networking operation that’s not afraid to get its hands covered in blood money. Yes siree, they’re a whole new coach of pain on wheels, coming right at you. Continue reading

Green light for city-owned San Francisco bank

When the Occupiers took an interest in moving San Francisco’s money into a city-owned bank in 2011, it was chiefly on principle, in sympathy with the nationwide Move Your Money campaign. But recent scandals have transformed the move from a political statement into a matter of protecting the city’s deposits and reducing its debt burden. The chief roadblock to forming a municipal bank has been the concern that it was not allowed under state law, but a legal opinion issued by Deputy City Attorney Thomas J. Owen has now overcome that obstacle. Continue reading

Collateral damage: QE3 and the shadow banking system

Ben Bernanke’s May 29 speech signaling the beginning of the end of QE3 provoked a “taper tantrum” that wiped about $3 trillion from global equity markets—this from the mere suggestion that the Fed would moderate its pace of asset purchases, and that if the economy continues to improve, it might stop QE3 altogether by mid-2014. The Fed is currently buying $85 billion in US Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities per month. Continue reading

Eight reasons not to hire Larry Summers for Fed chief

Last Wednesday, I heard Perianne Boring, a new reporter on RT.com, report that Ben Bernanke was planning to resign as head of the Federal Reserve and that Larry Summers name had been mentioned as a replacement. I flashed back to four years ago and an article I wrote called “Bankrupting the world,” which said that Tim Geithner was just the face, the voice, behind the PPPIP (Public Private Partnership Investment Program) giveaway to America’s top commercial banks to restore what amounts to $200 trillion in their cumulative derivative debt. Continue reading

Gangster state America

There are many signs of gangster state America. One is the collusion between federal authorities and banksters in a criminal conspiracy to rig the markets for gold and silver. Continue reading

Bail-out is out, bail-in is in: Time for some publicly-owned banks

The crossing of the Rubicon into the confiscation of depositor funds was not a one-off emergency measure limited to Cyprus. Similar “bail-in” policies are now appearing in multiple countries. (See my earlier articles here.) What triggered the new rules may have been a series of game-changing events including the refusal of Iceland to bail out its banks and their depositors; Bank of America’s commingling of its ominously risky derivatives arm with its depository arm over the objections of the FDIC; and the fact that most EU banks are now insolvent. A crisis in a major nation such as Spain or Italy could lead to a chain of defaults beyond anyone’s control, and beyond the ability of federal deposit insurance schemes to reimburse depositors. Continue reading

Winner takes all: The super-priority status of derivatives

Shock waves went around the world when the IMF, the EU, and the ECB not only approved but mandated the confiscation of depositor funds to “bail in” two bankrupt banks in Cyprus. A “bail in” is a quantum leap beyond a “bail out.” When governments are no longer willing to use taxpayer money to bail out banks that have gambled away their capital, the banks are now being instructed to “recapitalize” themselves by confiscating the funds of their creditors, turning debt into equity, or stock; and the “creditors” include the depositors who put their money in the bank thinking it was a secure place to store their savings. Continue reading

It can happen here: The confiscation scheme planned for US and UK depositors

Confiscating the customer deposits in Cyprus banks, it seems, was not a one-off, desperate idea of a few Eurozone “troika” officials scrambling to salvage their balance sheets. A joint paper by the US Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Bank of England dated December 10, 2012, shows that these plans have been long in the making; that they originated with the G20 Financial Stability Board in Basel, Switzerland (discussed earlier here); and that the result will be to deliver clear title to the banks of depositor funds. Continue reading

A safe and a shotgun or publicly-owned banks? The battle of Cyprus

The deposit confiscation scheme has long been in the making. US depositors could be next

On Tuesday, March 19, the national legislature of Cyprus overwhelmingly rejected a proposed levy on bank deposits as a condition for a European bailout. Reuters called it “a stunning setback for the 17-nation currency bloc,” but it was a stunning victory for democracy. As Reuters quoted one 65-year-old pensioner, “The voice of the people was heard.” Continue reading

The Gramm-Leach-Biley Act, the most disastrous economic act of the 20th century

The Crash of 2008 was not caused by irrational exuberance, as Alan Greenspan euphemistically put it, but by greed, cunning and ambition, held in check since 1935 by the Glass-Steagall Act, which was unleashed when President Bill Clinton signed the Gramm-Leach-Biley Act of 1999. Continue reading

Low interest rates impoverish savers

Even the most ardent optimist has to confront the consequences of low interest rates. The macro analysis of ivory tower academics seldom reflects the struggle of ordinary consumers or retirees. One such pinhead is Ben Bernanke. Continue reading