Today (Thursday, September 19) is International Talk Like A Pirate Day so here is my obligatory “Yaaarrrr.” Or maybe it should be an “Arrrggghhh!”

Pirate Statue

Pirate Statue

Yeah, I think I will go with the “Arrrggghhh!” After all, that is my normal response when I read the daily idiocies in the TradMed like the articles on Sunday that inspired this post. I could probably link to most of the posts I have written these last few years as most of them are in response to some level of stoopid provided by the TradMed.

But the days of pirates sailing the Spanish Main are long in the past. No more sacking of Cartagena. No, today’s “pirates” wear business suits and do their sailing on Wall St. Just today, we have reports that JP Morgan Chase is paying a $920M fine for the “London Whale Fail” trading losses. Amazingly enough, JP Morgan is even admitting “fault”:

WASHINGTON JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) is paying $920 million in penalties and admitting wrongdoing over a $6 billion trading loss last year that tarnished the bank’s reputation.

Regulators said Thursday that the largest U.S. bank failed to properly supervise traders in its London operation, allowing them to assign inflated values to trades and cover up losses as they ballooned. Two of the traders are facing criminal charges of falsifying records to hide the losses.

Of course, JP Morgan had reported profits for their second quarter of the year as $6.5B so a $920M fine is still just a cost of doing business tax and nothing more.

Reuters is reporting that Wells Fargo is cutting 1,800 jobs in their mortgage business:

(Reuters) – Wells Fargo & Co (WFC.N), the largest U.S. mortgage lender, said on Thursday that it will cut 1,800 jobs in its home loan business due to lower demand for refinancing amid higher interest rates.

The fourth-largest U.S. bank provided a 60-day notice on Wednesday to employees whose jobs were to be eliminated, the bank said in a statement.

Chief Financial Officer Tim Sloan told investors at a conference on September 9 that the San Francisco bank had laid off 3,000 employees in its mortgage business so far in the third quarter. Sloan also said Wells Fargo expected to make $80 billion in home loans in the third quarter, nearly 30 percent below its second-quarter figure.

I wonder how this will impact the on-going problems Wells Fargo and other banks have in mortgage servicing. My WAG is it will not be pretty but I would also take a WAG that paying fines and “admitting no wrongdoing” is still cheaper than actually making things operate correctly.

It is not just the banksters that make me say “Arrrggghhh” though. The AP is reporting that a federal judge in New Orleans has accepted a guilty plea for destroying evidence after the BP oil spill in 2010. Of course, the corporate person known as Halliburton really won’t feel much pain from this plea – a $200K fine and a $55M donation to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (the donation is not a condition of the guilty plea.) Halliburton profits for the quarter that ended 30 June were $679M so $55.2M in fines and donations equals a cost of doing business and nothing more.

Today’s pirates don’t have to snarl and say “Arrrggghhh” or “Avast ye Mateys.” They do not need to carry cutlasses and sail the Spanish Main. They (mostly) walk amongst us wearing business suits. They sit in their board rooms, plot the ways to increase their profits, often on the edge of legality (well, they are pirates after all so those legal niceties are mostly a formality anyway), and leave the rest of us to clean up their messes while they sail their yachts away to the Caribbean.

Arrrggghhh! That is so not snark, believe me.

And because I can:

Cross posted from Just A Small Town Country Boy by Richard Taylor

Photo from Kate Haskell licensed under Creative Commons