Judge Jed Rakoff is a hero. He's taking on the Wall Street banksters and holding them accountable for their misdeeds. The LA Times has his profile:
When Bank of America Corp. was trying to settle civil charges over its conduct in its purchase of Merrill Lynch, U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff wrote that the bank's executives had led what "could have been a bank-destroying disaster if the U.S. taxpayers had not saved the day."
Addressing how the firm pays its top people, the judge spoke in February of "the incredibly bloated compensation of too many executives in too many American companies."
In another case, Rakoff called JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s handling of a major client improper at the very least, "if not a downright sham."
He condemned not only big banks but also their regulators, saying the Securities and Exchange Commission's enforcement in the Bank of America case did "not comport with the most elementary notions of justice and morality."
Read the full profile and meet the financial hero. Today, more than ever, we need more Judge Rakoffs holding the big banks and the financial industry accountable.We could use some on the FCIC. Instead, the FCIC is being undermined by right wing obstructionists. Any commissioner obstructing the work should be publicly exposed for siding with the big banks. The big banks are back to business as usual.
The big banks are still using the same kind of deceptive tricks and shenanigans that led to the financial crisis. The Wall Street Journal:
Major banks have masked their risk levels in the past five quarters by temporarily lowering their debt just before reporting it to the public, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
A group of 18 banks—which includes Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Bank of America Corp. and Citigroup Inc.—understated the debt levels used to fund securities trades by lowering them an average of 42% at the end of each of the past five quarterly periods, the data show. The banks, which publicly release debt data each quarter, then boosted the debt levels in the middle of successive quarters.
Excessive borrowing by banks was one of the major causes of the financial crisis, leading to catastrophic bank runs in 2008 at firms including Bear Stearns Cos. and Lehman Brothers. Since then, banks have become more sensitive about showing high levels of debt and risk, worried that their stocks and credit ratings could be punished.
That practice, while legal, can give investors a skewed impression of the level of risk that financial firms are taking the vast majority of the time.
We need real regulatory reform to stop the banks from deceiving the public. It gets worse:
The practice of reducing quarter-end repo borrowings has occurred periodically for years, according to the data, which go back to 2001, but never as consistently as in 2009.
The repo market played a role in recent accusations leveled by an examiner in Lehman's bankruptcy case. But rather than reducing quarter-end debt, Lehman took steps to hide it.
Anxious to maintain favorable credit ratings, Lehman engaged in an accounting device known within the firm as "Repo 105" to essentially park about $50 billion of assets away from Lehman's balance sheet, according to the examiner. The move helped Lehman look like it had less debt on its books, the examiner said.
Other Wall Street firms, including Goldman and Morgan Stanley, have denied characterizing their short-term borrowings as sales, the way Lehman did in employing Repo 105. Both of those firms also make standard disclaimers about debt...
Some banks make big trades that don't show up in quarter-end balance sheets. That is what happened recently at Bank of America involving a trade designed to mature before the end of 2009's first quarter, people familiar with the matter say.
Two Bank of America traders bought $40 billion of mortgage-backed securities from clients for one month, while at the same time agreeing to sell the securities back before quarter's end, according to people familiar with the matter. This "roll" trade provided the clients with cash and the bank with fees.
Nothing has changed. The banksters are still playing the same old games that brought our economy to it's knees. We need reform.
When a child spills his drink all over the table, that's worthy of a "sorry." When you contribute to the collapse of the global economy, you think we'd deserve a bit more. But, that's not what we got:
Charles O. Prince III, Citigroup’s former chairman and chief executive, apologized for the billions of dollars of losses that caused the company he helped build to nearly collapse. Instead, the bank required three government rescues and some $45 billion in taxpayer aid.
“I’m sorry the financial crisis has had such a devastating impact for our country,” Mr. Prince told the commission. “I’m sorry about the millions of people, average Americans, who lost their homes. And I’m sorry that our management team, starting with me, like so many others could not see the unprecedented market collapse that lay before us.”
Sorry, Charles. That's not good enough. We need more than just apologies from the banksters whose greedy and reckless behavior cost millions of Americans their jobs.
We demand accountability. And, we demand reform to protect consumers from the greed of the banksters. Their contrition is not enough. We need financial reform to protect consumers and hold accountable the people who preyed on the public lest the big banks will act recklessly again.
When the farmer throws out the corn, the pigs run to the trough. That's what's happening in American politics today. Wall Street is throwing out the coin and the politicians are scurrying to grab it up.
John Boehner and Mitch McConnell have sensed an opportunity. By staking out pro-Wall Street and anti-Main Street positions against financial regulatory reform, they know they have positioned themselves in the right place to maximize their ability to grab up that Wall Street coin. The WSJ observes:
Republicans are stepping up their campaign to win donations from Wall Street, trying to capitalize on an increasing sense of regret among executives at big financial institutions for backing Democrats in 2008.
In discussions with Wall Street executives, Republicans are striving to make the case that they are banks' best hope of preventing President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats from cracking down on Wall Street.
GOP strategists hope to benefit from the reaction to the White House's populist rhetoric and proposals, which range from sharp critiques of bonuses to a tax on big Wall Street banks, caps on executive pay and curbs on business practices deemed too risky.
Wall Street knows where their bread is buttered. Many of them are against real reform because they know their profits are at stake. So, they're investing in the Republican Party to stop real reform. Read the story and find out where Wall Street is investing to scuttle reform.