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The Central Question Posed by the Great Crash

11:53 am in Economy, Financial Crisis by masaccio

The Great Crash posed one question for this country: who would bear the losses? Would it be the banks that caused the problems? The officers, directors and shareholders of those banks? Their careless counterparties? The investors who bought the fraudulent real estate mortgage-backed securities and the complex spin-offs? The owners of capital who threw money into hedge funds and other exotic investments expecting a geyser of money in return?

No. That group doesn’t lose money. They used their control over the government and the Fed to make sure that the losses would be passed on to the rest of us, pushing millions into or near poverty. The savers were trashed by the Fed’s zero interest rate policies. The national debt run up by tax cuts and wars gave the rich an opportunity to end the safety net and focus all of the efforts of government on protecting them and their interests. The rich are safe. The rest of us are in deep trouble.

The government threw money at banks with abandon, leaving incompetent failed executives in place. When it turned out that banks lied about the quality of the notes and mortgages transferred to the RMBS Trusts, the SEC and the Department of Justice refused to investigate, let alone prosecute.

Banks didn’t complete the transfer of those worthless notes and mortgages into the Trusts, so the IRS announced it wouldn’t enforce the requirements for pass-through non-taxable status. The servicing arms of those banks cheated and lied to courts around the nation about ownership, and when they got caught, they talked the government into a sleazy settlement that gives nothing to the people damaged by the frauds and allows the banks to continue to lie and cheat, if at lower levels.

This list could be expanded indefinitely, with the same outcome: the Fed, Congress and the White House have only done those things that protected the money of the rich, whether or not the settlement was consistent with the law or not.

It didn’t have to be this way. From the outset, there were things that could have been done that would have placed the losses where they belonged: on Wall Street and its criminal denizens and its careless clients. The bailouts could have come with constraints and requirements, firings, lawsuits, and indictments. The entire rotten structure could have been pushed into a form that would not threaten the lives and incomes of the middle class, a group whose responsibility for the problems was minimal in contrast to that of crooked lenders and swindlers.

No. Not in this country. Not in a nation ruled by oligarchs and a government in thrall to economic theories years after those theories revealed themselves as nonsense, or to the rich who endow those irrational theories with sanctity of revealed truth, or both. There was never a day when the primary or even subsidiary consideration was the middle class, or the rule of law, or even the pretend values of the free market. The only consideration from the outset was the protection of the rich.

Even two years later, the government showed no interest in raising taxes on the richest Americans. Both parties explained that they couldn’t raise taxes even on the rich in a recession, and that the only solution was cutting out unemployment benefits, lowering the minimum wage, slashing Social Security and Medicare, and removing people from Medicare and the shredded remnants of help for the worst off.

The current lousy economy is a result of deliberately chosen policies. The government could have chosen policies that would have protected the middle class at the expense of rich criminals and their clients and their hedge funds and their off-shore trusts and their tax-avoidance schemes, the people and entities that wrecked the economy. It didn’t.

It’s not that we don’t know what to do to make the economy work for the middle class. We do. The government and the elites and the rich won’t allow it. They go house to house, from Bangor to Bakersfield, saying to the inhabitants, What part of this sentence don’t you understand? You think we’re going to eat our losses? You think we don’t care about our money? Well. Suck. On. This.

Obama Fails to Meet Emotional Needs Of Bankers

7:08 pm in Financial Crisis by masaccio

Bankster Scrooge McDuck wonders where his White House invitation may be, while insisting on anonymity. (photo: dreamagicjp via Flickr)

Once again President Obama has failed to meet the needs of his constituents. This time, it’s the bankers he has failed.

On the mental list of slights and outrages that just about every major figure on Wall Street is believed to keep on President Barack Obama, add this one: When he met recently with a group of CEO’s at Blair House there was no representative from any of the six biggest banks in America.

Not one!

“If they don’t hate us anymore, why weren’t any of us there?” a senior executive at one of the Big Six banks said recently in trying to explain his hostility toward the president.

Maybe because he knew the only thing you want to talk about is you and your needs? Maybe because you have produced nothing for the rest of the country except loss and misery? Maybe because the President is embarrassed that he can’t afford that special shower that throws money directly onto your bare skin?

It’s all personal with these weepy people:

“You have to understand, it is very personal. He raised money from us,” one executive at a top six bank said. “Then he started calling us bad people. So forgive us for not wanting to buy him a drink after getting punched in the eye.”

We outsiders think it doesn’t count as a punch in the eye when Obama signs off on that tax gift in direct violation of his pledge to the rest of us, refuses to consider prosecutions for your crimes, rejects controls on your outrageous bonuses paid out of direct taxpayer transfers, agrees to wimpy regulation of your thieving industry, and appoints your drinking buddies to be his personal economic advisers. We like action. Your feelings are hurt by some words.

You Wall Streeters think Obama and the lackeys you sent to run the economy are ignorant putzes:

“You go down to the White House now and sit down to talk with members of the inner circle and the issue is no longer so much hostility as it is sheer incomprehension,” said one senior private equity executive. “You wind up talking about things they are not at all interested in and are generally outside their area of competence.”

So you admit that Geithner and Summers and the rest of that crowd are incompetent. That’s exactly what we all think, maybe for different reasons. I hope it means Obama has figured out that you are a bunch of crooks. That hope gets a tiny boost from this:

A senior Wall Street lobbyist explained his feelings this way: “This president came into office in the midst of an economic crisis and started off by demonizing insurance companies and then going after Wall Street banks. Never did he try to bring together CEOs and say, ‘We are in this together, we are Team America and we are going to go out and get things done.’ That’s the power you have as president. Instead this White House pushed people away and they did it consciously and they are still doing it.”

This is a perfect example of narcissism. I bet it never dawned on this arrogant jerk that from the far right of the political spectrum to the far left, and from the least to the most politically alert citizen, there is one area of absolute agreement: Team America was held hostage by Team Banker, Team Banker paid a corrupt congress and a compliant administration to salvage it from its gambling losses and theft, and Team America’s underwater homeowners, savers, retirees and workers were sold into serfdom to protect the wealth of Team Banker.

This time the President got it right: nobody can stomach you or your pestilential business. You got the money. You won’t get the love.