If you are a billionaire former Goldman Sachs CEO, ex-governor, and one of Obama’s biggest donors and steal $1.2 billion directly from the accounts of your customers and cover-up that theft, then you are not a criminal. If you reveal the un-Constitutional spying on all American citizens by the government, you are a traitor and face life imprisonment. This is your American Republic in a nutshell. Anyone that doesn’t believe we are a corporate fascist oligarchy run by the ultra-wealthy for the benefit of the ultra-wealthy, just isn’t thinking. And the beat goes on.
Jon Corzine will not face criminal charges over MF Global: report
There will be no criminal charges for former New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine over the use of customer funds leading up to collapse of MF Global.
The criminal probe into whether there was wrongdoing on the part of Corzine by the Department of Justice will now be dropped due to lack of evidence, said a report in The New York Post, citing a person with knowledge of the matter.
But the former CEO of Goldman Sachs is not out of the woods.
Corzine is facing civil charges by the Commodities Futures Trading Commission for illegally using customer funds in the last few days of MF Global to help keep the company afloat. The firm’s former assistant treasurer Edith O’Brien is also caught up in the scandal and charged by the CFTC for making the transfers.
Ultimately Corzine was charged by the regulator for failure to segregate and misuse of customer funds and failure to supervise diligently. O’Brien was charged with one count failure to segregate and misuse of customer funds.
To support the allegations, the CFTC used a recorded telephone conversations to support their charges that Corzine was fully aware of the transfers.
Both Corzine and O’Brien have denied any wrongdoing.
If I recall, corporate executives who signed off on knowingly false financial statements were personally liable under the Sarbanes Oxley law. Jamie Dimon signed off on knowingly false financial statements. I always thought that lying under oath before Congress was a crime. Jamie Dimon lied under oath before Congress. There are hundreds of thousands of Americans behind bars for minor drug offenses. Why is a man who committed crimes that resulted in billions of losses still leading one of the biggest banks in the world? Why is he still living in a multi-million dollar luxury home in NYC? Why is he being paid $10 million per year?
Do you think your vote counts? Do you think our legal system is designed to protect you? Do you think the politicians you elected give a fuck about you and your best interests? Did you spend $8 million last year lobbying politicians in Washington DC?
The Complete History Of JPMorgan’s “Monstrous” Derivative Risks And Abuses – The Full Senate Report
Submitted by Tyler Durden on 03/14/2013 17:50 -0400
Curious what according to Jamie Dimon is just a “tempest in a teapot“, or, alternatively, why Mr. Dimon is richer than pretty much all of you, here is the full 307 page report that explains everything, including all the events that transpired at the JPM CIO office, all the trades that led up to the “monstrous” Whale portfolio, leading to an epic prop trade failure, coupled with countless lies and misrepresentations to regulators, to investors, to the public, and to politicians, many of which under oath. Oh yes, free Jamie Dimon!
Finally, we are happy that our small contribution to exposing the catastrophic JPM TBTF prop trading behavior made its way into the report, and specifically footnote 1442.
Those poor Goldman Sachs employees had to get by last year on just a $343,000 bonus. How exactly does Goldman Sachs benefit the world economy in any way whatsoever? They use their connections with the Federal government to bilk the American taxpayer out of billions. They cheat their clients out of billions. They commit financial fraud on a grand scale (Greece). They control the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Dept. Then they reward themselves with billions in bonuses for a job well done. So it goes.
This prick will be at the top of the list when justice is doled out by the victims of his crimes.
An Open Letter to Jamie Dimon
“People fall not from their weaknesses, but from their strengths gone to excess.”- Aeschylus
Dear Mr. Dimon,
I used to be one of your biggest fans. Back when I was 17 years old working at a Salomon Smith Barney branch in Ft. Lauderdale, you were fired from Citigroup when everyone had you pegged as the heir to Sandy Weill’s burgeoning empire. Everyone at the branch was shocked, as we all knew you by reputation as a brilliant CEO-in-the-making, and frankly, most of us were disappointed as we genuinely were all looking forward to working under your leadership one day.
While your ousting was unexpected, you recovered quickly, and perhaps it helped motivate you to accomplish great things in the financial industry. You came to the CEO post at Bank One, then engineered its acquisition by JPMorgan Chase and took the CEO prize for yourself. All the while, Citi floundered, and you led JPMorgan Chase to become the premier American bank. Under your stewardship, Chase eschewed most of the sub-prime crisis and snapped up some of the choicest prizes in the ensuing crisis, namely Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual. Well done, sir.
Personally, I was proud to be a JPMorgan customer and proudly listed in our offering documents that our firm’s operational capital was safely held with your institution. I enjoyed great relationships with both your hedge fund/commercial banking division and your newly resurgent futures prime brokerage group. We were even on good terms with your private bank.
Then, the MF Global bankruptcy happened. And, I became aware of your bank’s involvement with the firm’s collapse. How the New York Times reports that JPMorgan received 325M in segregated customer funds despite the fact that JPMorgan Chase was a primary custodian for them. Then, JPMorgan Chase reportedly failed to return the funds when MF Global reported that they erroneously transferred customer assets and went a step further into “CYA” mode by requesting a comfort letter indicating that JPMorgan Chase had not received customer funds. JPMorgan Chase reportedly did not receive this letter, yet still, it kept customers’ property.
Through my role as the co-founder of the Commodity Customer Coalition and pro bono counsel for some 8,000+ customers whose property it looks like your institution may be holding without their consent, I have loudly advocated for JPMorgan Chase to return this property. In response to this, rather than doing the right thing, you closed all of my personal and corporate bank accounts and my personal credit card. I have been told by multiple members of the media that JPMorgan Chase has called them and stated that if their media outlet has me on television again, that JPMorgan Chase will pull their advertising from the offending network.
These bully tactics have only strengthened my resolve to protect my clients whom you have knowingly wronged and continue to wrong by improperly holding their property. It has made me delve deeper into what I have found is a pattern of such malicious conduct across JPMorgan Chase’s business groups. JPMorgan Chase bribed officials in Jefferson County, Alabama, one of the poorest counties in the United States, to enter into a disastrous derivative transaction that bankrupted the county and caused an increase of 400% in sewage prices, forcing these poor people to have to choose between food and clean water. JPMorgan Chase designed an overdraft processing system that intentionally prioritized higher dollar transactions so that as many transactions as possible would overdraft, again generating usurious-like fees on the bank of those who can ill afford it. Let’s not forget about robo-signing, forging foreclosure documents, or, getting back to the futures world, failing to properly segregate customer funds.
Mr. Dimon, why do you impugn your character and reputation by allowing your firm to engage in these immoral activities? Sure, the regulators have failed to assess you any meaningful punishments that would deter you from this conduct on a strict, short-term dollars and cents analysis. Every penny of earnings counts, I get it. But, sir, you do not strike me as someone who is trying to pump your company’s stock price for a quarter or two. You are the face of JPMorgan Chase and, I would assume, you plan on being there for a while. Why intentionally destroy any and all goodwill your firm has to make additional revenue that is mostly insignificant in the short-term and, quite possibly, deleterious in the long-term? The only reason I can think of is: because you can. And, that, sir is where hubris starts.
Lately, it seems you’ve come to relish the role of antagonist, bully, and even, villain. You’ve gone on rants about tax rates, how gosh darn profitable you are going to make JPMorgan Chase, and even gone so far as to call out journalists for their share of salaries versus the revenue of news organizations. Put plainly, the confidence that enabled you to build JPMorgan Chase has now become arrogance. Mr. Dimon, I happen to have been a classics scholar and have read this story many times before. It never ends well.
While you have led your firm to a dominant position in the banking industry and record profits of late, you haven’t done it alone. You’ve had the benefit of taxpayer funds, whether you needed them or not (as you claim). You’ve had extremely favorable regulation and public policy that for years has prioritized re-capitalizing banks over the rights of Main Street Americans to be able to bear the fruit of their labor. Yet, you have begun to act like a megalomaniac, drunk on his own power ala Caligula, and attribute 100% of your success to your personal superlatives. People are starting to notice. While Occupy Wall Street has failed to articulate any clear message or goals, they have tapped into a rage in this country that is real and palpable. You have alienated many of your peers on Wall Street and in the hedge fund industry (yes, you have peers). And, now, you have alienated many members of the media that have the voices to spread the word of the ill conduct which your firm has repeatedly engaged in.
In the Niccomedean Ethics, Aristotle described the worst kind of man as the “Incontinent Man,” namely he who knows what he does is wrong and does it anyway. I believe somewhere deep down, you realize that a lot of what you and the bank that you lead do has become increasingly wrong. Why continue to go on like that? You’re at the pinnacle of wealth and power, and continuing to do wrong will not make you meaningfully richer or more powerful. It can only serve to hurt you. “For what will it profit a main if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?”
Based on all of your accomplishments, you may think you’re beyond reproach, that you will never have your comeuppance. But, there’s a reason that during Triumphs in Ancient Rome, a slave stood behind the Emperor whispering “all glory is fleeting” in his ear. Because, it is. And, one day, something bad will happen to JPMorgan Chase. I don’t know if it will be a blow-up of the bank’s some $500 Billion in re-hypothecation exposure or a squeeze on its rumored massive short silver position. Or, if the United States will again see a regulator that believes in, and enforces, stiff punishment for misconduct by banks. But, we will all find out should you continue down the path you are on.
So, rather than continuing to corrupt your soul to harm others for negligible gain to yourself, choose a different path. Use your intelligence and your leadership abilities and your charisma to do the right thing, and set an example for the rest of the financial industry by showing that it is better for all society, JPMorgan Chase and Jamie Dimon included, to not crush those weaker or poorer than you by exacting every last cent from them just because you can. Rein in your malicious activities and focus on the legitimate ones. Be just a little humble — and remove the target you’ve placed on your own back.
Perhaps, you can start by voluntarily returning the returning all the excess overdraft fees JPMorgan Chase overcharged average Americans through mal intent. While you’re at it, give back the hard-earned property of the farmers, ranchers, retirees, and others who were MF Global clients before I come take it back in court. JPMorgan Chase can borrow at 0% interest from the Fed. Do you really need an illicit free loan borne on the backs of farmers?
Whether you realize it or not, you’re at a crossroads. And, I promise you, one Greek to another, I will ardently help you to come to the end of whichever path you choose.
James L. Koutoulas, Esq. President, Commodity Customer Coalition CEO, Typhon Capital Management
John Hussman relentlessly tells the truth, week after week. He details why we are in the current situation. He also proves that Ben Bernanke and the Federal Reserve have broken the law. Criminals need to be incarcerated, whether they have robbed a liquor store at gunpoint in West Philly or whether they have robbed the American citizens with a computer in Washington DC. By the time this Fourth Turning is finished I hope to see Bernanke in cuffs or better yet being led to the gallows.
Hussman is supportive of the Occupy Wall Street movement and provides them with real talking points and real solutions. There is no one more sober and analytical than John Hussman. He’s not a socialist hippie, as the MSM likes to portray the protestors. He knows that Wall Street has screwed the American middle class. He has proved that Wall Street has screwed the middle class. His solutions are reasonable and implementable. They are just unacceptable to the super rich ruling elite and their puppets in Washington DC.
The result will be class war.
Talking Points for the “Occupy Wall Street” Protesters
John P. Hussman, Ph.D.
Just a note – by the end of last week, Greek 1-year yields had surged to 144%. European leaders have shifted from promising to prevent a Greek default to promising instead to ensure that European banks are well capitalized. Here, I would repeat that it is essential for policy makers to make a distinction between liquidity and solvency. Banks that are solvent, and countries that are solvent, should be within the ring-fence, in the sense that it is sensible for policy makers to follow Bagehot’s Rule – freely provide liquidity, but only at high rates of interest, and only to the solvent and well-collateralized. Those institutions and countries that are not solvent should not be “saved” by using public funds to make private bondholders whole. The proper policy is to restructure, not bail out, the debt of banks and countries that have no reasonable prospect of paying off those obligations.
It remains in the best interest of Greece to default, and to leave the euro so it can depreciate its currency, but if it is going to default, it would be well-advised to default big. The only way to get new international capital after a default is for Greece to clear out enough of its legacy obligations that investors reasonably expect it to make good on any new funding they might (eventually) provide.
Talking Points for the “Occupy Wall Street” Protesters
We’re all for a good peaceful protest. As long-time readers know, I’ve been an adamant critic of the bailouts of mismanaged financial institutions, as well as various illegal policy actions that have been pursued by the Fed since the financial crisis began in 2008. Undoubtedly, there is good and bad on Wall Street, and we know a lot of smart, well-meaning financial advisors who go to work every day with the goal of improving the financial security of their clients, who do careful research, avoid speculation, and provide a service to others through their profession. A functioning economy needs to allocate capital effectively, and there Wall Street can be essential.
Unfortunately, over the past 15 years or so, the basic function of the financial markets has been corrupted into what I’ve grown to view as a self-serving carnival of speculation, where many participants are interested in nothing except getting the next rally going at public expense, regardless of how badly market signals are distorted, how recklessly capital is misallocated, or even whether what they do has any positive effect on the economy or the country (some of the sleazier ones even have their own shows on basic cable).
There is no single source of this transformation. Part of it is a remnant of the dot-com and technology bubbles, when market valuations moved to nearly triple the historical norm, and investors began to view perpetual market advances and high returns as a birthright. The subsequent decade of zero overall returns for the stock market largely reflects a reversion to more normal (but still cyclically elevated) valuations.
Another part of this transformation is due to the activist policies of Federal Reserve, which has continually attempted to short-circuit every instance of short-term economic discomfort by distorting the menu of investment returns (e.g. zero interest rate policies) in an effort to provoke investors to accept fresh speculative risk. Ironically, the long-term effect of distorting market signals has been to drive good, potentially productive capital into wholly unproductive uses – the housing bubble being a prime example. As a result, real U.S. gross domestic investment has not grown at all since 1998, and the portion financed by domestic U.S. savings has collapsed, so much of the new capital we’ve accumulated is owned by foreigners.
Undoubtedly, one of the greatest rhetorical victories of Wall Street has been to successfully plant in the minds of the public the idea that some financial institutions are simply “too big to fail,” and that the “failure” of “systemically important” institutions will result in global financial meltdown and Depression. The reality is much different.
So, with the hope of providing the Occupy Wall Street protesters with some talking points, what follows are some perspectives that might be useful in framing the issues that we are facing as an economy.
1) “Failure” only means that corporate bondholders don’t get every penny
Background: When Wall Street talks about the “failure” of a bank or other financial institution it means the failure of the company to pay off its own bondholders. It does not mean that depositors, counterparties or other bank customers lose money (See Recession, Recovery, and the Ring-Fence ). A bank is essentially a big portfolio of assets, about 70% which are typically financed by depositors, customers and other liabilities, about 20% by the bank’s own bondholders, and about 10% with the capital of the bank’s stockholders. In a typical bank “failure,” the bank is taken into receivership by regulators, the liabilities to stockholders and bondholders are cut away, the remaining package of assets and liabilities is sold as a single entity to some other firm (or can be reissued to investors as a new company), the old bondholders get the proceeds of that sale, and the stockholders are wiped out. When investors willingly take a risk, and buy the stocks and bonds issued by an institution that goes on to mismanage its business, this is the appropriate outcome. Depositors and customers typically don’t lose a penny (See the section on “How to Restructure A Major Bank” in Not Over By A Longshot ).
If public funds are provided during a financial crisis, and it cannot be clearly demonstrated that the institution is solvent, the funds should be provided post-failure, as senior loans to a restructured institution where shareholders and existing bondholders have already been subject to losses. The interest rate should be relatively high, to encourage replacement of public funds with private ones. With few exceptions, when public funds are used to avoid major restructuring and shield private investors from losses, the result is almost inevitably a larger, less transparent, and more recklessly managed institution.
The same is true for government or “sovereign” debt. When Wall Street talks about “failure” of Greece, for example, it means failure of Greece to pay off its own bondholders. In trying to avoid this failure, Greece is instead forced to impose extreme austerity and depression on its citizens. From the standpoint of those citizens, Greece has already failed them painfully. Those are the choices – let bad debt “fail” or force depression on innocent citizens.
Of course, there is a cost to any financial crisis, which is “contagion” where the failure of one institution or government calls others into question. The main way to contain this is to follow the century-old “Bagehot’s Rule” – lend freely, at high rates of interest, but only to institutions that are solvent and able to provide collateral for the loans. When policy makers behave as if every institution, solvent or not, is within the ring-fence, or that some institutions are simply “too big to fail,” saving these institutions comes at enormous costs, because true economic losses that should properly be taken by private investors are instead forced upon the public.
Keep in mind that money is fungible – not all losses are taken directly by the institution that created them. Many of the losses that should have been borne by banks were instead assumed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. This allowed TARP to seem largely successful even while hundreds of billions of public funds are still being spent to bail out Fannie and Freddie. Recent efforts by government overseers of Fannie Mae to claw back these losses from the banking system are appropriate, but they also demonstrate how easy it is for private institutions to transfer their mistakes onto the public balance sheet.
2) The Federal Reserve’s purchases of Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s debt obligations were illegal
Background: Beginning in 2009, the Federal Reserve began buying nearly $1.5 trillion in obligations of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, both which were insolvent and in government receivership. The Fed justified these purchases by appealing to Section 14.2 of the Federal Reserve Act, which allows the Fed to purchase securities which are a “direct obligation of, or fully guaranteed as to principal and interest by, any agency of the United States.” Now, Ginnie Mae, the financing arm of the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) is a bona-fide government agency. So there would have been no legal problem if the Fed had purchased Ginnie Maes. In contrast, however, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were not, and are not, U.S. government agencies. Nor are the obligations held by the Fed “fully guaranteed as to principal and interest” by the U.S. government. At best, the obligations of these GSEs have implicit and informal backing, as any member of Congres will tell you, and simply taking a failing institution into conservatorship doesn’t confer government backing to its debt. In fact, the stop-gap measure enacted by Congress during the crisis only provides temporary backing for the obligations of Fannie and Freddie maturing by the end of 2012. Very simply, the Fed broke the law by buying Fannie and Freddie’s debt.
3) Creating shell companies to buy Wall Street’s bad assets is not “discounting,” and was therefore also illegal
Background: In 2008, the Federal Reserve created a set of off-balance sheet shell companies called “Maiden Lane” to buy undesirable long-term assets of Bear Stearns and other financial companies, justifying the purchases by appealing to Section 13.3 of the Federal Reserve Act. But if you actually read Section 13, it is clear that under the law, “discounting” means (as it has always meant) providing short-term liquidity by essentially providing a check-cashing service for obligations that are short-dated, well-collateralized, and promptly collectible (See also Outside the Oval / The Case Against the Fed ). The Fed’s creation of the Maiden Lane companies to purchase bad assets was, and remains, illegal under the language and intent of the Federal Reserve Act.
Keep in mind that we have only three branches of government: the executive, the legislative, and the judicial. The Federal Reserve is not an independent fourth branch of government, but operates under the legislation of Congress and therefore cannot be “independent” of Congressional control. While nobody wants monetary policy to be “politicized” in the sense of Congress telling the Fed what policy actions should be taken and before which election, it is quite a different matter to require the Fed to operate within the law. Here, Congress could use some encouragement.
4) The skewed distribution of wealth in the U.S. is worsened by policies that misallocate capital and divert public funds to bail out investments that have already gone bad.
Background: If you think about the “standard of living” in a country, you can roughly define it as the amount of goods and services that individuals are able to consume in return for their work. If you think about the “productivity” of a country, you can roughly define it as the amount of goods and services that individuals are able to produce for their work. Clearly, over the long-term, the productivity and the standard-of-living of a country go hand in hand. The best way to create both, over the long-term, is for an economy to build a stock of productive capital (inventions, new technologies, plants, equipment, public infrastructure, etc), and human capital (labor skills, education).
Still, even a generally productive economy can produce a skewed distribution in the standard of living enjoyed by its citizens. In a competitive and undistorted economy, the distribution of wealth is determined by the ability of each individual to a) provide a useful service, b) distribute the services they provide over a large number of “units”, and c) maintain the scarcity of what they provide.
So for example, professional football players earn more than teachers not because playing football has more virtue, but because professional football players are among a very small group, and distribute their “services” over millions and millions of spectators, each which implicitly pays a few cents to each player per game. Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook is able to distribute his services across hundreds of millions of users, each which implicitly pays him a tiny amount by viewing advertising. Bill Gates distributed his services over every computer that ran Windows, while the factory workers who built those computers were each able to distribute their skills over a smaller number of units. Teachers represent a large professional group, but are typically able to distribute their services over a limited number of students, each which implicitly pays a portion of their family’s income to the teacher. One-on-one aides tend to earn less, despite often being extremely skilled, because in order for them to earn a high income, their earnings would have to capture much of the income of their single student’s family.
The distribution of wealth has become increasingly skewed as trade has become more globalized and technology has allowed the innovations of a single person to be spread across millions of consuming “units.” At the same time, the economic emergence of China and India has brought forth literally billions of new workers who dilute the scarcity of the existing labor force. An economy where capital is scarce, protectable, and can easily be distributed over numerous units, while labor is plentiful, homogeneous and can only be applied to a smaller number of units, is an economy that is prone to an enormously skewed distrbution of wealth.
This process takes on a grotesque character when it becomes possible for a company to distribute its impact over a very large number of units, and government policy protects that ability even when the impact of the company reflects not skill but ineptitude. This is essentially what has happened with the “too big to fail” institutions. Despite inflicting massive damage on the economy, they are afforded a protected status that allows them to extract “rents” that don’t reflect the cost they have imposed. From that standpoint, the Occupy Wall Street protests are a welcome reflection of public frustration over Washington’s slavish coddling of reckless financial institutions.
The proper way to address the present economic imbalances is pursue policies that encourage the restructuring of bad debt, the allocation of public funds and private savings to productive investment and new research, the accumulation of education and labor skills (“human capital”) to allow workers to capture a greater share of their own productivity, and the continuation of social safety nets to ease the economic adjustments that are necessary in a deleveraging economy. In my view (which not everyone will like), this requires:
Again, long-term improvements in living standards require improvements in productivity, through the accumulation of capital, inventions, education and labor skills. The reason that wages are lower in developing countries is primarily because Americans are blessed to have an economy that has a legacy of accumulating productive investment and educating its workers. If we allow those advantages to slide, by misallocating investments, and diverting public funds from research, development, education and infrastructure in order to bail out reckless speculations gone bad, there is no inherent reason why other countries cannot rise to economic dominance. It’s our choice. We have far too great a need for productive investment than to use our scarce resources to bail out poor stewards of capital who gambled the nation’s savings and look to the government to make them whole.
As of last week, the Market Climate in stocks remained negative, with our economic measures still solidly anticipating an oncoming recession. Strategic Growth and Strategic International remain tightly hedged. Strategic Total Return continues to hold about 18% of assets in precious metals shares, accounting for the majority of day-to-day fluctuations in the Fund, with an average duration of about 1.5 years in Treasury securities, and less than 5% of assets in utility shares and foreign currencies.
As a final note, the chart below updates one of our composite measures of U.S. economic activity, reflecting a broad set of ISM and regional Fed surveys. While the slight uptick in a few of these survey measures has been the basis of a strikingly premature “all clear” attitude taken on by Wall Street analysts, the fluctuation has been entirely negligible, and represents a tiny fraction of typical random month-to-month noise. It is equally important to recognize that the ISM indices tend to lag our Recession Warning Composite and our broader ensemble models (and also lag ECRI’s measures) by nearly 13 weeks, while payroll employment demonstrates a slightly greater lag. Given that the earliest signal – the Recession Warning Composite – deteriorated at the beginning of August, the October ISM, and even more likely the November reading, is really the window of concern. Suffice it to say that the recent evidence is generally more confirming than contradictory of recession concerns.
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