23 May 2012

William Black on JP Morgan and the Failure to Regulate Wall Street Fraud

"It is no exaggeration to say that since the 1980s, much of the global financial sector has become criminalised, creating an industry culture that tolerates or even encourages systematic fraud. The behaviour that caused the mortgage bubble and financial crisis of 2008 was a natural outcome and continuation of this pattern, rather than some kind of economic accident...And yet none of this conduct has been punished in any significant way."

Charles Ferguson, Inside Job

"I know that my retirement will make no difference in its [my newspaper's] cardinal principles, that it will always fight for progress and reform, never tolerate injustice or corruption, always fight demagogues of all parties, never belong to any party, always oppose privileged classes and public plunderers, never lack sympathy with the poor, always remain devoted to the public welfare, never be satisfied with merely printing news, always be drastically independent, never be afraid to attack wrong, whether by predatory plutocracy or predatory poverty."

Joseph Pulitzer

"We are not left to conjecture how the moneyed power, thus organized and with such a weapon in its hands, would be likely to use it. The distress and alarm which pervaded and agitated the whole country when the Bank of the United States waged war upon the people in order to compel them to submit to its demands can not yet be forgotten.

The ruthless and unsparing temper with which whole cities and communities were oppressed, individuals impoverished and ruined, and a scene of cheerful prosperity suddenly changed into one of gloom and despondency ought to be indelibly impressed on the memory of the people of the United States. If such was its power in a time of peace, what would it not have been in a season of war, with an enemy at your doors?

No nation but the freemen of the United States could have come out victorious from such a contest; yet, if you had not conquered, the Government would have passed from the hands of the many to the hands of the few, and this organized money power from its secret conclave would have dictated the choice of your highest officers and compelled you to make peace or war, as best suited their own wishes. The forms of your Government might for a time have remained, but its living spirit would have departed from it."

Andrew Jackson

Here are two pieces by William K. Black on JPMorgan and the rampant and ongoing fraud and speculation on Wall Street. It tells the backstory of the subversion of the democratic process and how it is being rationalized by the corporate media.

A colleague and I were remarking the other day at the effectiveness of the Wall Street machine to spin the media, both at MF Global and JPM most recently. William K. Black strikes to the heart of it.

If you can do nothing else, if you do not have the means or the vocation for speaking out, you can at least offer some moral support and encouragement to those who do, and help to pass the message along to others.

JPMorgan's Addiction To Gambling on Derivatives
By William K. Black

JPMorgan’s flacks and apologists have, unintentionally, exposed the fact that their cover story – hedging gone bad – is false. JPMorgan runs the world’s largest gambling operation in financial derivatives. The New York Times reported the key facts, but not the analytics, in an article entitled “Discord at Key JPMorgan Unit is Faulted in Loss.” The analytics suggest that the latest JPMorgan cover story – it was JPMorgan’s “Achilles the heel” (based in the UK) who caused the loss – is misleading.

The thrust of the story is that in the beginning JPMorgan’s Chief Investment Office (CIO) was run by a fair princess (Ina Drew) and all was fabulous. Sadly, Ms. Drew contracted Lyme’s Disease and was unable to ensure peace and prosperity in her land. The evil Achilles Macris, based in the UK, became disloyal and mean. He made massive, bad purchases of financial derivatives that caused major losses. CIO senior officers based in the U.S. (and women to boot) tried to warn Achilles but he screamed at them and refused to listen and learn. The just king, Jamie Dimon, did not act promptly to save his kingdom from loss because of his great confidence in Princess Drew.

The personal story of Achilles acting like a heel makes compelling journalism, but it obscures rather than clarifies the analysis as to why JPMorgan poses a clear and present danger to the global economy.

We need to begin with context. It was toxic financial derivatives (not) backed by fraudulent liar’s loan mortgages (“green slime”) that drove the U.S. crisis. Paul Volcker urged the administration and Congress to bar any entity that received federal deposit insurance from investing in financial derivatives. The Dodd-Frank Act did so in a provision called “the Volcker rule.” Treasury Secretary Geithner and Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke, who exist to serve the interests of CEOs of the largest banks, oppose the Volcker rule. Jamie Dimon leads the banking industry’s opposition to the Volcker rule.

Dimon has a three-part strategy: stall the Volcker rule, gut its effectiveness by creating a massive loophole, and get the rule repealed by a future Congress. The loophole takes advantage of the fact that the Volcker rule was not intended to prevent banks from using derivatives to create (true) hedges. The current draft of the rule, however, renders the rule useless because it allows banks to call non-hedges “hedges” – it adopts a standard I call “hedginess.” A systemically dangerous institution (SDI) like JPMorgan has vast amounts of financial derivatives and it can (and does) call any speculative bet it takes in financial derivatives a “hedge.”

The NYT article demonstrates that JPMorgan is speculating, not hedging, and that the current draft of the Volcker rule would render us defenseless against the next financial crisis. The article misses these analytics and presents a misleading portrayal of the purportedly good years of CIO under Princess Drew. It turns out that CIO’s profits and losses come from the same practice – gambling on massive amounts of financial derivatives – not hedging. The NYT misses this key analytical point...

Read the rest here at The Big Picture.

Additionally below is an interview that William K. Black has done with Lauren Lyster at Russia Today.

As always, one does not find this type of insightful discussion at the mainstream media which tends to present fake arguments and discussion between paid consultants and flacks from the major parties, both of whom are obtaining record amounts of money from corporations. The latest estimates are that Obama and Romney will gather in $1.5 Billion in campaign 'donations' for this November.