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The untouchables
January 23, 2013 5:46 AM   Subscribe

Wall Street's leaders have utterly escaped jail. "There have been no arrests of senior Wall Street executives." Frontline examines why the United States federal government didn't go after the financial titans. (via)
posted by doctornemo (159 comments total) 64 users marked this as a favorite

 
Via Rolling Stone in relation to Occupy Wall Street...

Nobody hates them for being successful. And not that this needs repeating, but nobody even minds that they are rich.

What makes people furious is that they have stopped being citizens.

Most of us 99-percenters couldn't even let our dogs leave a dump on the sidewalk without feeling ashamed before our neighbors. It's called having a conscience: even though there are plenty of things most of us could get away with doing, we just don't do them, because, well, we live here. Most of us wouldn't take a million dollars to swindle the local school system, or put our next door neighbors out on the street with a robosigned foreclosure, or steal the life's savings of some old pensioner down the block by selling him a bunch of worthless securities.

But our Too-Big-To-Fail banks unhesitatingly take billions in bailout money and then turn right around and finance the export of jobs to new locations in China and India. They defraud the pension funds of state workers into buying billions of their crap mortgage assets. They take zero-interest loans from the state and then lend that same money back to us at interest. Or, like Chase, they bribe the politicians serving countries and states and cities and even school boards to take on crippling debt deals.

Nobody with real skin in the game, who had any kind of stake in our collective future, would do any of those things.

posted by fairmettle at 5:55 AM on January 23, 2013 [138 favorites]


$
posted by Huck500 at 6:03 AM on January 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


capitalists gonna capitalize

This is as good a place as any to mention the book I'm currently listening to that is about 100x better than I expected. Debt: The First 5000 Years. He's like an economic anthropologist, examining theories of economics vs actual economics throughout history and around the world and explaining such diverse phenomena as slavery, patriarchy, Cortes and the IMF.
posted by DU at 6:07 AM on January 23, 2013 [28 favorites]


I hope this is good, I think I'll watch Frontline's previous coverage of the financial crisis before as well. That said, I was hoping this recent piece was going to be a bit more relevant to clear cases of banking fraud (I had this story in mind from December) since I have often heard that nothing technically illegal occurred with respect to risky practices (as the video details in the first minute or so). Though, it's a bit premature to be pessimistic. I look forward to seeing how it goes.
posted by SollosQ at 6:11 AM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the recommendation, DU, but I find it amusing that googling the title led me to it on Amazon under the "Personal Finance › Credit Ratings & Repair" category.
posted by Etrigan at 6:13 AM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is the kind of thing you should post in the evening, because it's not even 7 in the morning here and this post is about to make me really upset. I just had dinner with a friend that works at a "large investment firm" whose name you know, who told me with a straight face that Greece should sell some of their islands in order to stave off bankruptcy. Free market economics, bitch.

If you think these amoral people who make a living brokering such deals give two shits if your kids end up undereducated and impoverished here in the United States, think again. In fact, what the fuck are our politicians doing talking about stimulating economic growth in this country when the last two decades have been dedicated to the export of service and industrial jobs to countries that pay their works pennies to the dollar and have comparatively little to no social infrastructure, in effect lining the pockets of the wealthy with untold riches both here and there and disenfranchising the American middle class? Free market economics paving our way for a brighter collective future, right? Fuck taxes, right? Our social impact in the Middle East is even more atrocious.

And I'm also reading Debt and just on the verge of shitting myself with anger.
posted by phaedon at 6:22 AM on January 23, 2013 [22 favorites]


Just a quick aside: Debt: The First 5000 Years and its author David Graeber have been featured a few times on the blue.
posted by tykky at 6:22 AM on January 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


"Don't you think it was theater?"
"Well, yes, but it was fair theater."
posted by doctornemo at 6:24 AM on January 23, 2013


If people think the government should prosecute Wall Street, then the people should pool their resources and buy their own government to do so.
posted by Legomancer at 6:27 AM on January 23, 2013 [23 favorites]


Remember this kind of reporting when PBS gets defunded.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 6:28 AM on January 23, 2013 [27 favorites]


This is the kind of thing you should post in the evening, because it's not even 7 in the morning here and this post is about to make me really upset. I just had dinner with a friend that works at a "large investment firm" whose name you know, who told me with a straight face that Greece should sell some of their islands in order to stave off bankruptcy.

Given that some are uninhabited it doesn't actually seem like such a bad idea. Not as good an idea as enthusiastic auditing of and asset forfeiture/tax fraud fines for Greece's rich, or indeed even as good an idea as a functioning land registry so that property taxes could work more reliably (opposed by the Greek Orthodox Church, who non-coincidentally own a lot of land in complex ways). But not terrible.
posted by jaduncan at 6:29 AM on January 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Always the bankers fault, never our own limitless thirst for stuff be it overpriced houses, TVs, Phd's in Medieval Poetry or nice chunky Greek pensions. To use a cumbersome drug analogy while growers, smugglers,dealers and barons are terrible people you have to admit the consumer does play a part and if you crash your car when you're high it more than likely your fault.
posted by Damienmce at 6:29 AM on January 23, 2013 [10 favorites]


They could also just sell the fishing rights in the surrounding waters, since those are the things that make the uninhabited islands important.
posted by jaduncan at 6:30 AM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Come on baby, eat the rich,
Put the bite on the son of a bitch,
Don't mess around, don't give me no switch,
C'mon baby eat the rich
C'mon baby eat the rich
posted by SpannerX at 6:32 AM on January 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


Or start collecting tax.
posted by Damienmce at 6:32 AM on January 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Always the bankers fault, never our own limitless thirst for stuff be it overpriced houses, TVs, Phd's in Medieval Poetry or nice chunky Greek pensions.

I have none of those four things, and yet the economy affects me, my parents, and my children greatly. If the bankers existed in a vacuum, I'd let them suck.
posted by Etrigan at 6:33 AM on January 23, 2013 [54 favorites]


Frontline has its own particular schtick, what with the evil synth pads and all, but I was left wondering why the piece didn't go as far as to actually draw a conclusion of some kind.

There are all these interesting pieces of a puzzle -- the DOJ repeatedly whining in Elmer Fudd-like tones that prosecution of these crimes beyond a reasonable doubt is weally hard, and also losing sleep worrying about the effects their prosecution would have on the criminals they were investigating. An underwriter saying that well, if he were on the jury he'd probably convict. The fact that the only Senator who was chasing these cases had no political masters, since he was simply filling in a vacant seat and wasn't going to serve past the term.

There's a bigger story here, and I wish they would step up to it.
posted by swift at 6:33 AM on January 23, 2013 [30 favorites]


Always the bankers fault, never our own limitless thirst for stuff be it overpriced houses, TVs, Phd's in Medieval Poetry or nice chunky Greek pensions. To use a cumbersome drug analogy while growers, smugglers,dealers and barons are terrible people you have to admit the consumer does play a part and if you crash your car when you're high it more than likely your fault.
The problem with your logic is that the people at the top knowingly and willfully defrauded both their investors AND their customers. We aren't talking about the consumers lying about their income to get a better loan. The "bankers" (for lack of a better term) LAUGHED while processing documents that they knew didn't meet even their own internal standards. And not ONE of the bastards has paid for it.
posted by mfu at 6:35 AM on January 23, 2013 [36 favorites]


If you're gonna start saying "what about all the greedy plebes who want to buy shit they can't afford!"

An excellent talk by Richard Wolff on the history of the past 60 years of US economics and the continued fall of the (real) Middle and Working class in America (I say real, because, 150-200k a year is not "middle" class).

The bankers have a fiduciary duty to not loan money out for houses to those who weren't able to pay, they failed (that's a polite way of saying "engaged in a lot of unethical behavior") in that, it caused a giant crash. That's only the most recent crisis. Wolff lays out the systemic issues on why we are taking on so much debt in the first place (yes, from a Marxist perspective).

And clearly, schooling is only important if it's good for work training, why should someone actually study humanities, good lord, what a waste of money! They'll NEVER be able to pay it back, so why even bother!
posted by symbioid at 6:37 AM on January 23, 2013 [28 favorites]


We'll catch them red handed when they crash the economy again in a couple years!
posted by jeffburdges at 6:38 AM on January 23, 2013 [13 favorites]


I wonder if the zeal for prosecution neglects the possibility that it really was legal but systematically destabilizing actions that led to the crisis. We want to find people to blame and "villains" to put in jail but in fact it was a system -- incorrect incentives, poor regulation -- that was at fault.
posted by shivohum at 6:40 AM on January 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


Saw this on the teevee last night. And indeed, it was infuriating.

I totally understand that there's a professional obligation on the part of the Justice Department not to proceed to trial unless there's a reasonable prospect of conviction.

However, just as important as that justice must be done is that justice must be seen to be done. And here, it is not. We have anonymous guys in the Justice Department deciding that there's no prospect of conviction, for any of them. And they may be entirely right -- but we have no idea.

If they were to take one of the stronger cases, and proceed with it anyway, despite it lacking a prospect of conviction, the matter would go to trial, be tested, and the proper result found, whatever that may be. And the public gets to see justice being done -- arrests were made, pics were taken of the perp walk, and even if buddy got off, he's tainted for the rest of his life. A chill factor would go through the industry. Someone had to face some consequences.

Instead, there's nothing. In the absence of any criminal prosecutions, it's hard to escape the conclusion that the Justice Department is as loathe to proceed with these matters as is Wall Street itself. Business as usual, in every sense.

U.S. Crim law is certainly not my area, but I'm not getting why only criminal fraud was seemingly on the table. If you can't prove the deliberate acts needed for fraud, can you not try another approach, that those same acts were reckless enough to constitute criminal negligence? Is the definition of criminal negligence wide enough to cover something like that? Dunno, just thinking out loud.

Also -- why did Spitzer have to self-implode? Jeebus. Such a smart man. But also so stupid.

posted by Capt. Renault at 6:42 AM on January 23, 2013 [15 favorites]


Always the bankers fault, never our own limitless thirst for stuff be it overpriced houses, TVs, Phd's in Medieval Poetry or nice chunky Greek pensions. To use a cumbersome drug analogy while growers, smugglers,dealers and barons are terrible people you have to admit the consumer does play a part and if you crash your car when you're high it more than likely your fault.

Please do a bit of reading and get back to us.
posted by odinsdream at 6:46 AM on January 23, 2013 [24 favorites]


And clearly, schooling is only important if it's good for work training, why should someone actually study humanities, good lord, what a waste of money!

The problem is not really what people choose to study, obviously, it's that higher education costs too fucking much. This leads to situations where it is not unreasonable to think that if someone is going to go into a literal lifetime of enormous debt, they might want to consider studying something that will actually allow them to pay off that debt before retirement age. (which, tbh, is pretty much nothing anymore so who even cares)
posted by elizardbits at 6:46 AM on January 23, 2013 [12 favorites]


I wonder if the zeal for prosecution neglects the possibility that it really was legal but systematically destabilizing actions that led to the crisis. We want to find people to blame and "villains" to put in jail but in fact it was a system -- incorrect incentives, poor regulation -- that was at fault.

Poor security resulting in a murder does not make the poor security responsible for the murder. Although I agree with you that the impact of the actions was greatly magnified by a failure of the system, those responsible for unethical and illegal activities are still responsible for their actions, and should be held accountable for them. We should both charge them and make the system more resistant to such people. These things are not exclusive of each other.
posted by Bovine Love at 6:47 AM on January 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


Is there fine print in the second amendment that protects crooks in ties...because these idiots have helped assassinate our economy but are protected like our precious guns.
posted by incandissonance at 6:47 AM on January 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


never our own limitless thirst for stuff be it overpriced houses

An important thing to consider is the degree to which those who sold mortgage products deceived some people by selling them sub-prime rates when they qualified for prime rates. There was also many cases of those sellers actively looking for people who could not afford the houses. It is in this way that you get illegal immigrants buying million dollar homes.

Is it really "our" limitless thirst for stuff? What changed so dramatically in the whole of American society in the span of 15 years to make us this thirsty? Or could it be that de-regulation allowed a very few, a population self-selected for pernicious and malignant greed, took advantage of the moment to harm us all.
posted by Hypnotic Chick at 6:47 AM on January 23, 2013 [9 favorites]


Also -- why did Spitzer have to self-implode? Jeebus. Such a smart man. But also so stupid.

And why did the Bush FBI bend the law to hunt him down?
posted by Hypnotic Chick at 6:49 AM on January 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


Poor security resulting in a murder does not make the poor security responsible for the murder.

I don't think it was like that at all, though. There were a lot of arguably unethical actions that were probably not clearly illegal.

Poor security resulting in a murder would be something like Bernie Madoff. And he did get the book thrown at him.
posted by shivohum at 6:52 AM on January 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


HSBC's drug money laundering was open and shut, and was paid off with a fine when named and traceable account staff knew or should have known that laundering was going on even under KYC. Ramp that liability up for the account managers responsible for upselling the clients on more services who viewed the whole account.

Given that nothing happened there beyond a fine, I'm not entirely sure that the likelihood of conviction is what is holding DOJ back. I would more say that the rule is that if you commit personal crime, you go to jail; if you commit crimes within the ambit of a large company job, your company pays a fine.
posted by jaduncan at 6:53 AM on January 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


Always the bankers fault, never our own limitless thirst for stuff be it overpriced houses, TVs, Phd's in Medieval Poetry or nice chunky Greek pensions.

Wow, you really had to go there. My parents own property in Greece, do you have any experience paying through the nose for anything? I'd love to hear about it. Don't worry, if you're occidental, your time will come. I really love the looking-the-other-way-while-you're-tits-high-in-debt-yourself thing though. Our property taxes and utility bills have skyrocketed to something like 1000% of what they used to be, maybe even more. Meanwhile our tenants are literally begging to stay in the apartments gratis. That means, for fucking free! Should we kick them out because they have PhD's in poetry - somebody at the top want to explain what we should do? We should eat our children, right? We don't own 10 fancy cars and we haven't kicked out anybody. Pretty charitable, huh?

You let me know why we're footing the bill. We're not working hard enough, right? You don't even have the moral disposition to distinguish between loaning a country - that at best makes feta cheese and olive oil for a living - 5 million dollars and loaning them 500 billion. You crush them with loans not because you are nice or because we really needed you to, but because there is tons of money to be made, and HEY! *grin* Who doesn't like free money? For the free-market apologists, it's like 1997 never happened, you've never even heard of it. You set up the deals to loan them the money and are more than happy to have them sell of a few islands for their mistakes. I mean, what's a kidney anyway? You've got two of them. You're more than happy to fly the flag of democracy so long as the people that owe you money appreciate the logic of debt and live in servitude to you. How would you like to be the one in servitude? Meanwhile the American politicians keep pumping you up with this dream of what a great country is supposed to be, gosh those taxes are horrible, we need less government, more deregulation, meanwhile the streets of every Arab country are on fire.

Like I said, I better go do something with my day. Intellectually, I can't even find a life preserver. When some dead guy 40 years ago is making more sense than any person you've ever heard currently talk about the current financial and social climate, you know you have to take a deep breath and prepare to think independently and be ridiculed for caring about stuff like "other people".
posted by phaedon at 6:59 AM on January 23, 2013 [51 favorites]


We want to find people to blame and "villains" to put in jail but in fact it was a system -- incorrect incentives, poor regulation -- that was at fault.

Incorrect incentives and poor regulation that they had a strong hand in making. Financial regulation shouldn't be a game of nomic, with so much money and influence going towards changing the rules to keep the money train coming in.
posted by mrgoat at 7:00 AM on January 23, 2013 [8 favorites]


But the fines are almost never more than a few percentage points of the profits found from breaking the laws when the laws even exist at all. What's a fiduciary responsibility honouring board member to do but just keep on doing the same shit when it makes money. That's what they must do. Anything less could actually net them personal repercussions.

Gosh, do people really expect corporations to act with honour?
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:01 AM on January 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


Whenever anyone is arguing that what they've done is perfectly legal, it's a safe bet it's unethical, immoral, or inhumane.
posted by Legomancer at 7:04 AM on January 23, 2013 [20 favorites]


But the fines are almost never more than a few percentage points of the profits found from breaking the laws when the laws even exist at all. What's a fiduciary responsibility honouring board member to do but just keep on doing the same shit when it makes money. That's what they must do. Anything less could actually net them personal repercussions.

Not only that, but it's a competitive market to get the big director bucks and bigger jobs require a record of success. To steal from a recent situation, when Lance dopes everyone else has to dope.
posted by jaduncan at 7:15 AM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


And you know, if you can't tell me how many degrees in medieval poetry are granted every year, just don't even bring it up.
posted by adamdschneider at 7:17 AM on January 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


Pushing for prosecutions is useless at this point; at best, some low-level paper pushers would be hung out to dry while those above them get to feign ignorance and walk away scotfree.
posted by dr_dank at 7:18 AM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


What we need is a good old-fashioned witch hunt!

If you want to know why nothing changes, this guy explains it pretty logically.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:24 AM on January 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


So I've tried writing up the evidence of crimes in the financial crisis a few times, but each time I realize that people who insist that it was immoral but not illegal will believe what they want to believe.

However, I did find this two-year-old CBS news story that's quite similar to Frontline's, except it mentions specific cases of fraud that are going unpunished. This was around the time the NY and CA attorneys general still had hopes of prosecuting the banks (against the wishes of the Obama administration). I also recall the unprosecuted cases of fraud where Citigroup and Goldman Sachs were selling investments that they knew would blow up.

On preview, witch hunts don't sound so bad. People must resort to pitchforks when the people in charge refuse to enforce basic laws.
posted by daveliepmann at 7:27 AM on January 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


We've incentivized those guys at the top to engage in unethical, immoral, or inhumane behavior by our demands for continual unchecked growth preferably in the 10%+ per annum range.

Getting a nice steady 2%-3% return on investment was no longer seen as adequate so the money started chasing bigger and bigger returns by looking at all sorts of investment opportunities including foreign investment (big money in exploiting third world labor and undercutting high priced first world laborers) and increasingly arcane financial instruments that promised "risk-free" yet high returns.

Part of the reason for this has been the continual issue with underfunding pension systems and the shift towards retirement strategies like 401ks that often get undefunded for the majority of a worker's career and then they take really risky investment strategies realizing that they don't have enough to retire on.

It's also tied in our desire to purchase virtually everything on credit even though doing so has dramatically increased the prices for most of the big ticket items (housing in particular) faster than our wages have increased.

Our desire to feel rich and more importantly live rich has fueled debt based consumer spending for ages and while that's driven a ton of growth (and hence profits) that's not always sustainable. Eventually the music stops and someone is left holding the bag.

The 1% used their influence among the political classes to make sure that when the music stopped they weren't the one holding the bag and more importantly that they managed to get off the starting blocks first once the music started again.

Honestly it's not really surprising considering that for the most part our political class comes from the 1% and their political careers are intimately tied to their ability to get money from the 1%. Of course there is a tendency to protect you and yours.

Want the 1% to be called to account? Then make efforts to reduce the impact of wealth on our political system and there will be less incentive to insulate the 1% from the consequences of their actions.
posted by vuron at 7:31 AM on January 23, 2013 [16 favorites]


So how did PhDs with a medieval poetry specialty, who most likely had funded assistantships with tuition waivers, have anything to do with this? Where does this idea come from? (And medieval lit is still taught in colleges, and community colleges, high schools too.) People weren't going into debt en masse to fund doctoral degrees.
posted by raysmj at 7:36 AM on January 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


And you know, if you can't tell me how many degrees in medieval poetry are granted every year, just don't even bring it up.

Knowledge is only for rich people. Then the rest of us won't know how badly they're bending us over. /MA medieval history, left school with no student debt due to programs that have since been abolished or significantly defunded.
posted by immlass at 7:37 AM on January 23, 2013 [8 favorites]


The comments here explaining how it's really the regular people's fault that the bankers did what they did really help me understand how there are no prosecutions.
posted by jeather at 7:38 AM on January 23, 2013 [31 favorites]


This puts it in a nutshell for me:

Some people have been prosecuted. Bernie Madoff, for instance. But only because he was ripping off the one-percenters. The "fuck you, citizen" attitude surrounding this whole affair couldn't be more blatant.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 7:40 AM on January 23, 2013 [28 favorites]


Wow, you really had to go there.

The class of people who've been called vampire squids don't have any kind of moral ground to stand on, so making the claims made is an attempt to have an out VS being moral human beings.

When the 'banker class' profits from disadvantage - A %age of the take from the poor who get benefits from the food programs - how is that moral?

As Carbon control moves forward - the 'banker class' makes the same money as the actual spending on displacing Carbon energy production. Its no wonder places like GoldmanSachs has a carbon trading' division. More human suffering and how the vampire squids will profit.
http://quidsapio.wordpress.com/2012/06/06/how-goldman-sachs-invented-cap-and-trade/
posted by rough ashlar at 7:44 AM on January 23, 2013


swift, for more on that check out the Greenwald "via" link I posted.

vuron, phaedon, I agree. That's why I feel politically stymied, here in the US.
posted by doctornemo at 7:45 AM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Pushing for prosecutions is useless at this point; at best, some low-level paper pushers would be hung out to dry while those above them get to feign ignorance and walk away scotfree.

The people at the top can't function of the lower level people don't work.

After a few rounds of low and middle level people getting jail terms - how quick will the next batch of low/mid levelers will agree to such?
posted by rough ashlar at 7:46 AM on January 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Folks, it's really very simple: it's what happens when you have an unholy alliance between big money and government. Nothing more complicated than that. Of course Congress doesn't want anyone digging into the dirt because once journalists and concerned citizens do they will find that our government was 100% complicit in what led up to the financial collapse.

The appointment of Geithner and Summers by Obama right after the '08 election confirmed that absolutely nothing had, nor would, change. What people need to realize is that Wall Street represents the ultra-alpha-male in our society. I believe it was Taibbi (and I'm paraphrasing here) who wrote that these are the guys who will find any means necessary to break through the 10-foot thick concrete wall to get at the reward on the other side. They operate without rules, without boundaries, morals or ethics - only by goals. It is government's responsibility to restrain that behavior and firewall it so that it does not damage the rest of society.

Government completely and utterly failed in that responsibility. This has been happening for a good thirty years now and both political parties have been complicit.

The (lack of) fallout from the financial crisis is, IMO, the greatest fraud perpetrated upon this republic in its history.
posted by tgrundke at 7:46 AM on January 23, 2013 [16 favorites]


Capt. Renault: Also -- why did Spitzer have to self-implode? Jeebus. Such a smart man. But also so stupid.

Man takes on Wall Street, and shortly thereafter, finds his phones tapped by the government.

Gee, I can't imagine how that happened.
posted by Malor at 7:47 AM on January 23, 2013 [17 favorites]


The myth that shareholders "own" the company and that it is the Board's fiduciary duty to do whatever possible to increase profits NO MATTER THE EXTERNAL COSTS is based on obsolete case law.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 7:47 AM on January 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Of course Congress doesn't want anyone digging into the dirt because once journalists and concerned citizens do they will find that our government was 100% complicit in what led up to the financial collapse.

Not just that. If they dig hard enough, they'll expose the entire financial system as the Ponzi scheme that it is.

This is what really scares them. It's not (just) that the bankers are buddies with Congress. Rather, it's because their entire industry is so full of corruption, and the balance sheets so full of toxic garbage, that a true investigation would sink them completely. And Congress thinks it's better to perpetuate the lies.
posted by Malor at 7:49 AM on January 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


There's a cut bit in _Inside Job_ where Spitzer's fall is mentioned. So the film checks with NYC madams to see how easy it would be to find client lists for Wall Street bankers. How easy? Pretty easy... if you want to get the info.
posted by doctornemo at 7:49 AM on January 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm with Malor on that one: Spitzer was playing with serious fire. Granted, he was cheating on his wife, but he should have known that when one pokes the bear, one gets eaten.
posted by tgrundke at 7:49 AM on January 23, 2013


Also -- why did Spitzer have to self-implode? Jeebus. Such a smart man. But also so stupid.

Man takes on Wall Street, and shortly thereafter, finds his phones tapped by the government.

Gee, I can't imagine how that happened.


Well, the part where he made several suspicious money transfers (for what turned out to in fact be for illegal activities) and then panicked and tried to have his name taken off them, leading directly to the wiretaps, might have had something to do with it.
posted by Etrigan at 7:51 AM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]




Is there fine print in the second amendment that protects crooks in ties...because these idiots have helped assassinate our economy but are protected like our precious guns.
Bankers don't bankrupt people, Greek PhDs do or something.
posted by fullerine at 7:55 AM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


But go ahead - use 1 word to describe the below.

Customerservice
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:02 AM on January 23, 2013 [11 favorites]


I wonder if the zeal for prosecution neglects the possibility that it really was legal but systematically destabilizing actions that led to the crisis.

I think that's exactly what it was. In part because the "banksters" (or whatever we want to call them) found ways of destabilizing the system for a profit that we hadn't thought of and therefore hadn't made illegal, but also because they achieved regulatory / political capture and were able to make destabilizing stuff that should have been illegal, legal.

My gut feeling is that the reason we haven't seen any Wall Street CEOs arrested isn't because there's a lack of desire on the part of various attorneys general or prosecutors to see them hang -- a person could really get a career boost with a few high-profile wins like that -- but because there's not really a ton of evidence that they actually broke the law. Which isn't to say that what they did was right -- we can see from the results that it obviously wasn't -- but it's a failure of the legal and regulatory processes that produce the law, rather than its enforcement.

You can't enforce what's not on the books.

Unless you're Batman. Which, let's face it, is really what Wall Street needs. Or maybe just The Punisher; at this point I'm okay with rough justice.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:05 AM on January 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


Can we all just agree that Damienmce's comment is too abhorrently stupid and simplistic to be worth engaging and then move on? Someone with critical thinking skills that blinkered doesn't stop being wrong when a bunch of people on the internet write angry retorts, even when they're well-argued.

Anyway, as far as blame goes, it's productive insofar as it identifies the group of people that need to be leaned on so we can fix things. It's by no means straightforward to argue that your average citizen bears a significant burden of the blame for how things are, given how credit is advertised and the disparity of knowledge in the citizen-banker relationship, but even if they were, as a group they can be no more to blame than the bankers, of which there are many fewer with much more direct control over the situation, since they created the instruments in the first place. So logically and pragmatically they are the people to pursue with pitchforks.
posted by invitapriore at 8:06 AM on January 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Unless you're Batman. Which, let's face it, is really what Wall Street needs. Or maybe just The Punisher; at this point I'm okay with rough justice.

Yeah, Batman is too nice.
posted by invitapriore at 8:07 AM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thanos, then.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:09 AM on January 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


Always the bankers fault, never our own limitless thirst for stuff be it overpriced houses, TVs, Phd's in Medieval Poetry or nice chunky Greek pensions.

I am fine with this so long as we also launch a massive investigation and preferably regulatory regime into the advertising practices that led to the situation because I strongly suspect the all-encompassing and pervasive advertising we all swim around in may in fact have something to do with rampant consumerism moreso than kids that really like medieval poetry.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 8:09 AM on January 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


The myth that shareholders "own" the company and that it is the Board's fiduciary duty to do whatever possible to increase profits NO MATTER THE EXTERNAL COSTS is based on obsolete case law.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 10:47 AM on January 23 [+] [!]


This is right and its wrong. Yes a boards fiduciary duty is not to maximize profits and yes the old canard that this is their duty is based on superseded case law, however shareholders very much own a company and it is a boards duty to follow the wishes of its shareholders. That's why they are elected by the shareholders.
posted by JPD at 8:14 AM on January 23, 2013


You can't enforce what's not on the books.

Yes, that is why HSBC doesn't have staffers on trial or even a trial over money laundering of drug funds.

Or removal of Glass-Stegle.
posted by rough ashlar at 8:14 AM on January 23, 2013


"Always the bankers fault, never our own limitless thirst for stuff be it overpriced houses, TVs, Phd's in Medieval Poetry or nice chunky Greek pensions."

Hey, all I have is my personal ball washer. I'm a hygienic man and it's critical my amidships should be flawlessly pristine. At least I employ someone.
posted by Smedleyman at 8:16 AM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am not a greedy shit who buys things he can not afford. But nonetheless the mess created by those in the banking/scam racket has affected me: my house is worth much less currently, my savings not what the3y had been etc etc. So do not ask for whom the bells tolls, it tolls for the greedy and also the non-greedy.
posted by Postroad at 8:16 AM on January 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


Always the bankers fault, never our own limitless thirst for stuff be it overpriced houses, TVs, Phd's in Medieval Poetry or nice chunky Greek pensions.

The finance industry is paying off the government to ensure that those who do have "limitless thirst for stuff" get punished - while no such penalty is in place for a corporations' "limitless thirst for stuff".

I'd be happy to do that kind of self-reflection if bankers will also do the same.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:17 AM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am not a greedy shit who buys things he can not afford. But nonetheless the mess created by those in the banking/scam racket has affected me: my house is worth much less currently, my savings not what the3y had been etc etc. So do not ask for whom the bells tolls, it tolls for the greedy and also the non-greedy.

Don't your realize that the fraud you are complaining about also artificially inflated the value of your home and of your savings? Those numbers you are anchored on were not reflective of the real value of those assets.

You can't on the one hand complain about the fraud and complain about the decline in asset prices post GFC.
posted by JPD at 8:19 AM on January 23, 2013 [8 favorites]


To me the things to be angry about is the lack of contrition on the part of the entities bailed out and the complete and total failure to use the crisis as an opportunity to reregulate the financial sector.
posted by JPD at 8:23 AM on January 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


Don't your realize that the fraud you are complaining about also artificially inflated the value of your home and of your savings? Those numbers you are anchored on were not reflective of the real value of those assets.

But how does the average person KNOW that? As a person who bought a house at the height of the housing boom, I AM the victim here! I watched this last night and became angrier and angrier as I watched all of these CEO's act like they had NO idea that their mortgage portfolios were full of fraud. DUH!

I'm not privy to what the banks are doing with regards to giving the non-credit-worthy mortgages. The whole system was predicated on artificially driving up housing prices. It was a classic Pump and Dump.

If mortgages weren't handed out like Halloween candy to all and sundry, then there wouldn't have been so many defaults and foreclosures, causing my house value to drop 30%. I'm still paying my mortgage, and my house is slowly gaining value again. In a decade we might break even.

But dammit, I want someone to go to jail! This didn't happen in a vacuum. There was collusion, there was fraud, and frankly, I'd be a LOT happier if, when I make my mortgage payment to B of A every month, I know that Angelo Mozilo and Brian Moynihan were in the cell next to Bernie Ebbers.

Excuse me, I now have to go take a shit on Ken Lay's grave.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:36 AM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


"There is something wrong in this country; the judicial nets are so adjusted to catch the minnows, and let the whales slip through." - Eugene V. Debs
posted by scody at 8:38 AM on January 23, 2013 [45 favorites]


Yes, that is why HSBC doesn't have staffers on trial or even a trial over money laundering of drug funds.

?? Not sure of your point; those are laws that are on the books and so the banks (and in some cases, individuals within the banks personally) are getting prosecuted pretty aggressively. Unfortunately the most offensive, systemically risky stuff that they did doesn't appear to be actually illegal.

Or pretty much what Mr Debs noted (props to scody) more succinctly than I ever could.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:42 AM on January 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


The summation from Greenwald's Guardian piece:
The real mystery from all of this is that it has not led to greater social unrest. To some extent, both the early version of the Tea Party and the Occupy movements were spurred by the government's protection of Wall Street at the expense of everyone else. Still, Americans continue to be plagued by massive unemployment, foreclosures, the threat of austerity and economic insecurity while those who caused those problems have more power and profit than ever. And they watch millions of their fellow citizens be put in cages for relatively minor offenses while the most powerful are free to commit far more serious crimes with complete impunity. Far less injustice than this has spurred serious unrest in other societies.
And the thing is, while we don't act, the instruments for suppressing action grow more powerful.
posted by Trochanter at 8:52 AM on January 23, 2013 [9 favorites]


Is there fine print in the second amendment that protects crooks in ties...

Back in the days when the bulk of my social life consisted of Apple ][ users' group meetings, a couple of my friends set themselves up as a consultancy and started charging serious dollars for exercising no more skill than any of us had. No, they weren't crooks, just entrepreneurial, but their internal partnership slogan was "We play dress-ups for money" and goddamn if it didn't work.

The power of the Suit to awe the clueless must not be underestimated.
posted by flabdablet at 8:57 AM on January 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Acting would cut into our reality TV and Farmville time.

Seriously, most people feel too isolated in their problems to take collective action.
posted by happyroach at 8:59 AM on January 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


To some extent, both the early version of the Tea Party and the Occupy movements were spurred by the government's protection of Wall Street at the expense of everyone else.

Hah! No, Glenn, that's wrong. Occupy was mad at Wall Street and at the government for protecting Wall Street. The Tea Partiers were mad at the government for helping people other than Wall Street (help which turned out to be as minor and perfunctory as could be arranged).
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:05 AM on January 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


There remains a gigantic populist swell of support for doing something about the financial environment that gave us the crisis, it's not gone away, it's one of the few issues that both ends of the political spectrum can grasp, and the Republicans lack the moral standing to do anything about it. The Democrats should be raising hell about the fact they can't pass any laws to remedy the situation because of Republican-sponsored institutional deadlock.
posted by JHarris at 9:08 AM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Aw, there's no surprise there either. We're programmed for shame by the entirety of our society when we as mere individuals cannot manage to prevail against a system designed to well and thoroughly rook us from cradle to grave.

"It's your fault, you're not good enough, just look at that guy, he managed to succeed despite having far more handicaps than you, and you have the nerve to complain?"

Just think about the guilt trip applied to people who consider defaulting on their mortgage when it makes perfect financial sense, is 100% legal, and is indeed part and parcel of the contracts they signed -- you have a choice to pay, or not to pay, but g-o-d forbid you decide to not pay because then you're a failure, a bad person! Of course the bank doesn't have any such compunctions about "bad person" at all. They read the contracts and when they make more money doing B than doing A, then they do B! No worries.

This programming is everywhere in the US. All this individualistic "you can do it, unless you can't!" shit is deployed like buttercream frosting on a birthday cake. Failure is your fault, just like all of your successes are completely your own triumph no matter how many people helped.
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:10 AM on January 23, 2013 [10 favorites]


The Tea Partiers were mad at the government for helping people other than Wall Street (help which turned out to be as minor and perfunctory as could be arranged).

Greenwald said the early Tea Party. Those protests were over TARP, which was explicitly a bank bailout that was also supposed to help people who were underwater on their mortgages. The fact that the second part didn't materialize doesn't invalidate Greenwald's point.
posted by Etrigan at 9:11 AM on January 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Kadin2048: those are laws that are on the books and so the banks (and in some cases, individuals within the banks personally) are getting prosecuted pretty aggressively.

this case is the one people are talking about. Do you have more information on people being prosecuted?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:29 AM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I would not mind so much news of Wall Street leaders escaping jail if they did it the old fashioned way by breaking out of one.
posted by mazola at 9:40 AM on January 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


To me the things to be angry about is the lack of contrition on the part of the entities bailed out

The rationalisation from their end is usually on display in these Metafilter threads with 'you took the money' 'you were greedy and living beyond your means' 'it was legal' et al.

For them to be contrite they'd have to admit they were wrong.

< snark >
And how is having millions in your own personal wallet ever wrong?
< /snark >
posted by rough ashlar at 9:46 AM on January 23, 2013


If anyone reading this thread is uninitiated in economics and wants a primer, I strongly suggest watching Money as Debt, which despite astoundingly shitty animation, is quite informative, especially if you have questions like, "How does debt create wealth?" and "How the fuck can we all be in debt at the same time?" If you really want a kick in the pants and have a little more time on your hands, go ahead and torrent Adam Curtis's videos, I give you permission. Especially The Trap. Or Pandora's Box, which "examines the consequences of technocratic rationalism."

Years ago I laughed when a relative told me that Greece's joining the EU was going to cause the local economy to fail by design, not through the moral failings of a particular group of people. I mean, what did you expect, when you remove protectionist tariffs on cheaper foreign goods and prevent a country from devaluing its own currency? That it's all of a sudden going to start being competitive? No. The big fish eat the small fish at a previously unheralded rate. Some people find this a reason to chuckle. To some, the exploitation is literally amusing. It is natural selection. Can't argue with that. Eugenics in its purest form.

I mean, on some level you have to look at the 20th century and ask yourself, what were the political motivations of the intellectuals that argued in favor of free-market rationality. It was to liberate the individual, correct? To prevent war? To modernize industry? To make everyone prosperous? To raise the standard of living not just for the few, but for all? To offer equality to all men, regardless of race, creed or color? To overcome the bondage of government and economic serfdom?

What in fuck's name happened to these ideas? Now people laugh whenever someone talks about this shit, like you must live on Mars. Talk about the road to hell being paved with good intentions. It is really sick shit how fucked up politics have become.
posted by phaedon at 9:48 AM on January 23, 2013 [19 favorites]




The Tea Partiers were mad at the government for helping people other than Wall Street

I'd swear it started as part of 9/11 truth

(I went looking for the RonPaul wanted to use a hall already rented and was allowed by the party who rented it for his event also but after 5 mins I couldn't find the exact link with the story I remember - but the above link has me pondering - "helping people other than wall street" how that translate to 9/11 truth? Wall Street and 9/11 would only have ties by the location AFAIK)
posted by rough ashlar at 9:58 AM on January 23, 2013


Greenwald said the early Tea Party. Those protests were over TARP

What branding should the TARP bailout protests been under? "tea party" elements didn't like it, "I'm not a RINO"s didn't find it the purpose of government, da libertarian elements were opposed, and more than a few 'progressives' disliked it.

Is there an anti banker platform in the tradition of an anti masonic party? Oh, how about a "Jacksonian" party?
(go ahead - look up "Jacksonian" then start making quips about how the created party name fit the bailing out the banks and would have Jackson weeping on the $20)
posted by rough ashlar at 10:05 AM on January 23, 2013


In the US, equality isn't about results. It's about opportunity. Everyone has the same opportunities to succeed (or so we are told and continue to pretend). And if you don't succeed, given that you had the same opportunities as everyone else, it is because you didn't want it enough.

This is the "American" disease.

The ingrained-since-birth presumption that you don't have to give a fuck about anyone else because if they really wanted to be X that they'd try hard enough to get X. And when they don't get X, it's their own fault alone.

True equality is about results, not opportunity.
posted by seanmpuckett at 10:06 AM on January 23, 2013 [11 favorites]


I don't know. I'd say it IS about opportunity, and the you TEST the equality of opportunity via the results.
posted by Trochanter at 10:14 AM on January 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


And if you don't succeed, given that you had the same opportunities as everyone else, it is because you didn't want it enough.


...and the pursuit of happyness. To give a particularly egregarious example of the meme.

[although, to Godwin things slightly, my main thought after watching that movie was: I know the story of another guy who went from being down and out--living on the street--, and, against all odds, became the chancellor of all Germany. Rags to riches !== good person (necessarily).]
posted by titus-g at 10:30 AM on January 23, 2013


"Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires."

-John Steinbeck
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 10:36 AM on January 23, 2013 [17 favorites]


In regards to the feature's end, and the interviewee saying he had to take in the consequences that litigation would cause to the economic market. I say this:

"Let justice be done, though the heavens may fall."
posted by SollosQ at 10:41 AM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


The ingrained-since-birth presumption that you don't have to give a fuck about anyone else because if they really wanted to be X that they'd try hard enough to get X. And when they don't get X, it's their own fault alone.

I don't think Americans believe that. If they did, then it would be the bankers that would be losing their shirts and houses, too.

If it was some sort of hard rule that you lost fairly and equally as much as you put in or was at fault for, then the decision would as a society simply be, how much should this person lose until it becomes excessive. And at that point would be where the social safety net would come in.
posted by FJT at 10:42 AM on January 23, 2013


I don't think Americans believe that. If they did, then it would be the bankers that would be losing their shirts and houses, too.

The thing is, they also believe the converse - if you ARE X, that means you did try hard enough and have REAL AMERICAN SPIRIT and whatnot. So anything bad that happens to you must not be your fault, and you deserve protection from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:46 AM on January 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


True equality is about results, not opportunity.

I'm actually completely okay with equality being about opportunity, with a few caveats: (1), we try to guarantee a reasonable floor on how crappy any given person's results can be, with the crappiest possible result still offering the opportunity for contentment, health and dignity; (2), and this is a trivial consequence of (1), nobody's opportunities are hampered by the circumstances of their birth.

That's all very vague, of course, but it's sort of the emotional core of how I think about policy in the real world.
posted by invitapriore at 11:18 AM on January 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


Too big to jail.
posted by acb at 11:31 AM on January 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


As scarey as it is to live in a country where no one on Wall Street gets indicted for this, it would be even scarier if it turns out that what they did was actually legal.
posted by Obscure Reference at 11:34 AM on January 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


In regards to the feature's end, and the interviewee saying he had to take in the consequences that litigation would cause to the economic market. I say this:

"Let justice be done, though the heavens may fall."


I'm not saying that there shouldn't be at least some prosecution on Wall Street, but that's a hell of a line to draw. What's "just" about my paycheck going to support old people who didn't save their paychecks better? Not the ones who lost it to bad investments or fraud, but the ones who just never bothered saving?

Well, nothing. Yet I don't mind supporting Social Security, because a social safety net is a good idea regardless of how "just" it is.
posted by Etrigan at 11:59 AM on January 23, 2013


And while its not untouchable bankers - it is another class of untouchables.

Wealthy addicts are 'almost untouchable', claims Sigrid Rausing
posted by rough ashlar at 12:01 PM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd swear it started as part of 9/11 truth

no, the truthers are their own brand of idiots. It started with some shitstain on CNBC saying it was crap that all the people who couldn't pay their mortgage shouldn't face foreclosure and be bailed out at the public trough. He said this to a group of traders on the Chicago trade floor and got a very warm response. Of course, at that point he was the shitstainiest of a large group of shitstains. It was said in response to the original TARP legislation and started when BUSH was still in office. And the huge irony of the situation is that the homeowner bailout was not a huge part of it and it got removed anyway-but of course the banks got bailed out.

I think Planet Money did a great take on it and another great take on how bankers don't feel responsible AT ALL for what is going on, don't understand the general anger and feel we should somehow be grateful for the services these shitstains provide.

And on the second amendment note: I am amazed, amazed that some whackjob with nothing left to lose except his rifle has walked into some bank or a boardroom or found out where some executive lives and well, used a second amendment solution. I am not advocating this, I am just amazed it hasn't happened.
posted by bartonlong at 12:05 PM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


And on the second amendment note: I am amazed, amazed that some whackjob with nothing left to lose except his rifle has walked into some bank or a boardroom or found out where some executive lives and well, used a second amendment solution. I am not advocating this, I am just amazed it hasn't happened.

From time to time, I think of a screenplay with just this premise. The action takes place over two or three weeks. A lone gunman, or else some kind of terrorist group, kills bank executives in some spectacular way. The killings occur daily or nearly daily, which probably means it has to be a terrorist group. Only some unimportant members of the group are caught. The police pursue the killers, as do some hitmen hired by the unscrupulous partner of the first victim.

In high seventies style, the terrorists are killed before the police can arrest them, and the hitmen disappear unpunished.

This of course relies on a lot of conventional elements, so I don't like it much.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 12:19 PM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Some of these corporations should be viewed as organized crime (especially HSBC), because that is what they are.

If an organized crime group escapes prosecution on a technicality or by other means, you don't simply walk away. You put a bullseye on them and prosecute every little thing you can find anywhere in the organization in hopes of moving up the pyramid and you keep doing this and don't stop until you take them down regardless of the cost.

If they are too big to fail, they are too big to leave in the control of greedy, incompetenet leaders. But if they are too big to fail, well then maybe there isn't anything you can do. When organized crime sinks it's fangs in that much, they functionally are the government.

Of course the government isn't going to prosecute itself.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:19 PM on January 23, 2013


From time to time, I think of a screenplay with just this premise. The action takes place over two or three weeks. A lone gunman, or else some kind of terrorist group, kills bank executives in some spectacular way. The killings occur daily or nearly daily, which probably means it has to be a terrorist group. Only some unimportant members of the group are caught. The police pursue the killers, as do some hitmen hired by the unscrupulous partner of the first victim.

So, sort of a Brooker ships Tarantino ships Stone revenge-IS-justice movie?

I would fundable that, especially if you add some Morris (and Adeel Akbar, aka Wilson Wilson) to the mix.
posted by titus-g at 12:34 PM on January 23, 2013


I was under the impression that there are a number, quite a number, of underemployed attorneys out there. so why aren't we seeing them group together and do some sort of class action civil litigation against this if it can't be prosecuted criminally?...it's about money, so the lawyers will eventually be due a decent cut.
posted by OHenryPacey at 12:35 PM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is anyone else really put off by the mis-used metaphor in the title of the article?
posted by Slackermagee at 12:57 PM on January 23, 2013


Slackermagee, "The Untouchables"? I think it's meant to refer to these guys, not these ones.
posted by cdward at 1:09 PM on January 23, 2013


The comments here explaining how it's really the regular people's fault that the bankers did what they did really help me understand how there are no prosecutions.

You know, I don't think anyone's actually saying that. And I don't think Damienmce's comment was particularly far-fetched.

I mean, yes, the big banks and institutions did take advantage of us suckers. Does that make what they did any less wrong? No! But does that mean we should keep on being suckers? No!

It's all to easy to see things in terms of black/white, good/evil, but the reality is far more complex. Casting the American people as hapless victims shortchanges those of us who actually made responsible decisions and avoided financial ruin.

As citizens (and people), we should be smarter! We should make more-sensible financial decisions! We should elect leaders who understand the financial system and are committed to change! But I think a necessary part of that is admitting, "Yes, some of us did some stupid shit."
posted by Afroblanco at 1:13 PM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Rustic Etruscan, I like your idea but I am thinking more like the movie "Heat" where the various Bad Guys turn on each other, and then the survivors get caught one at a time by the police.
posted by wenestvedt at 1:20 PM on January 23, 2013


Damienmce: Always the bankers fault, never our own limitless thirst for stuff be it overpriced houses, TVs, Phd's in Medieval Poetry or nice chunky Greek pensions. To use a cumbersome drug analogy while growers, smugglers,dealers and barons are terrible people you have to admit the consumer does play a part and if you crash your car when you're high it more than likely your fault.
Heroin addicts are responsible for their own particular addiction, but it would be foolish to write off an entire country's drug problem with, "Oh, those darned heroin-smuggling druglords wouldn't even have a market if not for the limitless demand from users!"

One problem is systemic malfeasance operating under incompetent regulatory bodies. The other problem is human nature. Which one do you think we should we try to fix first?
posted by IAmBroom at 1:21 PM on January 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


Casting the American people as hapless victims shortchanges those of us who actually made responsible decisions and avoided financial ruin.

But that also makes those of us who live within our means -- and who did so for years, muttering, "This just can not go on!" as we watched the real estate market head skyward -- even more angry.
posted by wenestvedt at 1:22 PM on January 23, 2013


unethical and illegal activities are still responsible for their actions, and should be held accountable for them. We should both charge them and make the system more resistant to such people.

Big difference between those two.

And honestly, one of the most upsetting things about all of this is that I'm not convinced that there actually was all that much illegal activity going on in the first place. I hate that this is the case, but we really can't put reasonable safeguards, regulations, and laws in place ex post facto.
posted by graphnerd at 1:23 PM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I strongly suggest watching Money as Debt, which despite astoundingly shitty animation, is quite informative

Other than being based on a completely flawed premise, you mean.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 1:26 PM on January 23, 2013


Jim Kunstler, not my favorite pundit, did manage to say rather succinctly "I guess America is Wall Street's bitch".
posted by telstar at 1:31 PM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Slackermagee, "The Untouchables"? I think it's meant to refer to these guys, not these ones.

Yeah, that's my confusion here. Elliot Ness and the gang were The Untouchables, right? Because they couldn't be bought by the mob?

Or have I been doing that wrong...
posted by Slackermagee at 1:35 PM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Big difference between those two. (concerning unethical and illegal)

Yes there is, but both have remedies. A wide range of unethical actions have civil recourse as well as things like fines, etc. At absolute minimum, losing jobs, but even that has often failed to happen.

Fraud laws cover a very wide range of mislead-and-sell schemes, and I am very sure that a whole bunch of that stuff was illegal. The problem is that "mislead" typically requires intent, and intent is damn hard to prove. Does the government have sufficient motivation to undertake proving intent?

One wonders if Goldman Sachs (for example) was just seized and then we just searched all their servers and correspondence, if the evidence could be had. It seems copyright infringement is serious enough for such action, doesn't it?
posted by Bovine Love at 1:41 PM on January 23, 2013




If you are making statements like

I wonder if the zeal for prosecution neglects the possibility that it really was legal but systematically destabilizing actions that led to the crisis.

and

There were a lot of arguably unethical actions that were probably not clearly illegal.


then you not only didn't watch the linked video, but you've been living in a hole for the last five years.

Numerous investment banks admitted to committing massive felonies but walked away with only slaps on the wrist. Need I remind you that recently HSBC admitted to money-laundering billions of dollars over dozens of countries and many years, laundering it for the world's worst drug criminals and for literal terrorists, and yet not one actual person was criminally charged?

Trillions of dollars of assets were deliberately, systematically and dramatically overvalued and then sold at wildly inflated prices before the Global Financial Crisis. Deliberately overvaluing assets isn't just an oopsie, it's felonious in a number of ways and in the past, people have done long, hard time for this crime.

We know that many firms including US ones conspired together to fix LIBOR rates. This is a clear crime and it is being criminally prosecuted in the UK - why is it not being prosecuted in the United States? (And don't tell me because LIBOR is a UK index - it's used everywhere in the United States to set rates going to customers, US banks directly took profit from their customers from it, if a bank manipulate rates anywhere in the world in order to rip off Americans it's a crime in America.)

And we've read about numerous cases where the big investment banks predated on their own customers, where clients, often unsophisticated - townships, state and county funds, pension funds, our money - were sold into these wildly inflated deals that the investment banks knew full well were trash.

The argument is often advanced that even though the banks are collecting huge fees from their clients for providing their services, they nevertheless don't have any fiduciary duty not to fuck them over, because it's "buyer beware" and the clients are "sophisticated investors".

That's garbage. By acting as an underwriter on these deals, you are legally required to be acting in your client's best interest. No, you can't be held responsible if the market happens to turn against them - but from my reading of the law, and from what I was trained, you have to be making best effort, and you have to be able to prove that you have done so (thus the reams of paperwork).

And no, you often do not have to prove any sort of intent. You can go to jail for accounting irregularities under Sarbannes-Oxley without any proof of intent - similarly in money laundering cases, where you don't have to prove that higher-ups knew that any specific money laundering was happening, but simply that they failed to set up and enforce a system to prevent it.

This is the point where I wonder why prosecutors don't use RICO on these financial firms as has been done in the past. RICO also doesn't require proof of intent in many cases, and the potential triple damages and triple jail sentences are an atom bomb for an aggressive prosecutor and plea bargaining (for actual jail time, I mean...)

Heck, most pure securities-related crimes - front running, insider trading, pump-and-dump - don't require you to prove "intent". You did something you shouldn't have, well, you should have known - and you made more money or avoided loss, there's your intent right there. It is not the SEC's responsibility to educate you about securities laws - you make the big bucks, pay for the big lawyers and make sure you're following the law.

Let us be brutally frank here. Prosecutors will continue come down like a ton of bricks on someone like Aaron Swartz for a trifling crime of no actual consequence, while they systematically ignore financial criminals and even publicly admit that their institutions are simply too big to fail and thus can forever harbor those criminals beyond the law's reach, because they consider unbridled capitalism intrinsically good, and Swartz's anti-capitalism intrinsically evil - they see on the one side rich and respected businessmen who made inadvertent technical slipups, and on the other side a brilliant criminal who deliberately turned his talents against capitalism to illegally socialize privately-owned information.

And I frankly believe that if you explained it as such that a pretty large segment of Americans would agree - even though the majority of them would be directly suffering from the results of the financial crimes and yet never use JSTOR in their lives. Yes, lots of people who voted for Romney in the last election would agree, but I think a surprising number of Obama voters would also agree.

It's sad and frightening how much a few generations of propaganda have cemented the idea that capitalism is pure Good and socialism is pure Evil, to the point that so many tens of millions enthusiastically participate in the destruction of the best parts of their own society.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 3:22 PM on January 23, 2013 [31 favorites]


As citizens (and people), we should be smarter! We should make more-sensible financial decisions! We should elect leaders who understand the financial system and are committed to change! But I think a necessary part of that is admitting, "Yes, some of us did some stupid shit." - Afroblanco

I am reminded of the US/Indian Wars of the 1700 and 1800s. Some tribes, like the Cherokee, embraced white man's culture and were peaceful with the whites. This didn't matter. They were driven out, anyways. Other tribes actively helped the US to defeat tribes were were actively fighting against the US Government. The result? They were turned on and driven into reservations and poverty, regardless of their past deeds.

I'm not seeing how we can be 'smarter' if we are not given a choice in how to exercise that. If the system isn't addressed and fixed, the middle class and the poor of this nation will find their way of lives a memory.
posted by Nadie_AZ at 3:38 PM on January 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


...but the ones who just never bothered saving?

The problem, you see, is identifying those rapscallions among the vast majority who simply did not make enough to squeeze a decent retirement out of their paychecks, what with feeding, clothing, and educating children and paying mortgages, transportation, and utilities. Would the price of doing so be worth bearing, given that you would make mistakes of both kinds and not ameliorate the absolutist "justice" problem while creating additional injustices?
posted by Mental Wimp at 4:07 PM on January 23, 2013


I hate that this is the case, but we really can't put reasonable safeguards, regulations, and laws in place ex post facto.

Reasonable safeguards, regulations, and laws were already in place at one point. Then these men paid off Congress to repeal those very safeguards, regulations, and laws. So just like we can't put regulations in place ex post facto, they also can't remove the laws off the books that prevent them from cheating in the specific way they want to cheat either.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:19 PM on January 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


Reasonable safeguards, regulations, and laws were already in place at one point.

E.g., Glass-Steagall.
posted by Mental Wimp at 4:27 PM on January 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's a sad and sorry mess.

The most miserable comment in this whole thread concerns the 'uselessness' of a PhD in medieval poetry. What the hell happened to respect for education? Studying poetry, painting, philosophy--ETHICS for god's sake--is a waste of time.

I have the same high regard for MBAs as I do for used car salesmen.
posted by BlueHorse at 4:30 PM on January 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


The most miserable comment in this whole thread concerns the 'uselessness' of a PhD in medieval poetry. What the hell happened to respect for education? Studying poetry, painting, philosophy--ETHICS for god's sake--is a waste of time.

I have the same high regard for MBAs as I do for used car salesmen.


"So now he is ready to write it. He is fully equipped. His fountain pen is comfortably full, the house is quiet, the tobacco and the matches are together, the night is young ... and we shall leave him in this pleasurable situation and gently steal out, and close the door, and firmly push out of the house, as we go, the monster of grim commonsense that is lumbering up the steps to whine that the book is not for the general public, that the book will never never - - - And right then, just before it blurts out the word s, e, double-l, false commonsense must be shot dead."

- Vladimir Nabokov, "The Art of Literature and Commensense," Lectures on Literature.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 4:53 PM on January 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


Would the price of doing so be worth bearing, given that you would make mistakes of both kinds and not ameliorate the absolutist "justice" problem while creating additional injustices?

Well, yes. That was my point. "Let justice be done, though the heavens may fall," is a great motto for a coat of arms. It's not a way to run a society.
posted by Etrigan at 4:59 PM on January 23, 2013


Those of us who have stocks of these financial institutions in our IRAs and mutual funds are indirectly complicit in that the stockholders of these firms prop up those firms. If no one held stocks in GS, BoA, JPM, etc. then there would be no market for those firms.
posted by gen at 5:14 PM on January 23, 2013


Most of them got by fine for centuries pulling this kind of shit while structured as partnerships. Going public was just icing on the cake for the partners at the time of IPO.
posted by indubitable at 5:19 PM on January 23, 2013


Most of them got by fine for centuries pulling this kind of shit while structured as partnerships. Going public was just icing on the cake for the partners at the time of IPO.

The law firms doing the grunt work still are.
posted by jaduncan at 5:30 PM on January 23, 2013


Work with me on this for a second - In Star Trek: DS9 there was an episode where the good guys are losing the war and the eggheads say,"Frankly, we should just surrender and hope that in 10-15 years the bad guys slip up and we can revolt and fix things then, cause right now we're losing pretty badly..."
Guess what? The good guys lost around 1998 and the war is over, it's just that most people don't recognize it yet. Wall Street (and the defense industry) won, everyone else lost. Why do I think this? Primarily because every last right-of-center person I know is back carping about abortion or gun control or the deficit. The last 5 years are a forgotten memory to them, they're happy they have a job, and they're not going to rock the boat at this point.

So enjoy the next few years of low interest rates if you can. The republicans are doing everything they can to ensure that they destroy the economy simply to prove some bizarre theory about inflation. Wall Street is just waiting for a little clarity on the US Gov't budget (more proof of a demand-side problem), then it'll be back to solid gold garbage cans for the 0.1%ers
posted by Farce_First at 5:58 PM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


solid gold garbage cans for the 0.1%ers

Will totally purchase/commission life-size gold statue of Oscar in Garbage Can once I become a billionaire.
posted by Shit Parade at 6:07 PM on January 23, 2013


Breuer to leave DOJ
posted by Shit Parade at 7:42 PM on January 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Social Cost Of Finanace
Much of what financial firms do is aimed at obtaining an information advantage from which profit can be extracted, just as athletes devote resources to gaining a competitive advantage. The resources devoted to gaining informational advantage are mostly wasted, being used to transfer, not create, wealth. This seems to be true as a matter of theory; what is less clear is whether enough resources have been wasted to cause a non-negligible deterioration in economic performance.
How Much Value Does The Finance Industry Create?
For instance, in Liar's Poker, Michael Lewis describes his job as basically being the ripping off of fools. As a bond salesman for Salomon Brothers in the 80s, he basically had a rolodex full of fools, many of them in Europe. When a client wanted to rip off a fool, he would call up Salomon, and Michael Lewis would find a fool to take the bad end of the trade, earning middleman fees in the process. Or sometimes, Salomon traders themselves, doing "proprietary trades" with the firm's own portfolio, would do the ripping off. In any case, eventually the fools wised up, and Salomon collapsed and was bought out. That wasn't the end of "face-ripping," though, as the broker-dealer industry came to call the practice. If you believe Greg Smith, it was alive and well at Goldman Sachs in the 2000s. Note that it's perfectly legal to take a fool's money. Broker-dealers have no fiduciary duty to their clients when acting as middlemen. But it still seems like a value-destroying activity, and over time, a firm or industry that does it will lose its reputation and lose its clients. That is evolution in action.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:21 AM on January 24, 2013 [5 favorites]




It started with some shitstain on CNBC

Such a claim demonstrates how "tea party" means whatever it is you want it to mean.

If you want it to mean "shit stain" - so mote it be.

If you want it to mean some kind of common cause as expressed in the occupy movement like Naomi Wolfe - thus it is.

But the last time the topic was a FPP, a fellow Blueian pointed out how the motif of 'tea party' has existed for years, with some 1970's political party claiming its mantle. And while the CNBC "shit stain" may have made the idea visible to "morons" who watch CNBC - no one has yet explained how a "shit stain" was able to generate a political position out of whole cloth. Perhaps this time the person making the claim will be able to explain how there was nothing called 'the tea party' and how after the rant of said "shit stain" *poof* there was one.

One can opt to believe a comment about "shit stain" or one can opt to believe a 9/11 position that includes documentation to support the 9/11 truther position. I leave that for Blueians to decide.
posted by rough ashlar at 5:10 PM on January 24, 2013


No, no, enough with the historical revisionism. There was planning leading up to it (it's an astroturf thing, after all), but the kickoff was Rick Santelli pitching a fit on TV. The conservative right likes to use the "tea party" rhetoric from time to time, but the current incarnation of this nonsense was Rick Santelli.

no one has yet explained how a "shit stain" was able to generate a political position out of whole cloth.

He didn't! The Tea Party was an invention of a constellation of right-wing billionaires and organizations, most notably Freedom Works. Santelli was merely the point man.

Because the Tea Party is not some grassroots uprising; it is merely the latest realignment that the Republican Party has undergone, organized by party and movement elites and immaculately packaged and presented as a make-believe grassroots movement. That a lot of people view it as a grassroots uprising- including, I'd wager, most of the Republican rank-and-file who are deeply committed to it- is a huge success on the people who paid massive amounts of money for that to happen.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:56 PM on January 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


The original Tea Party, PG, started with Denninger, over on market-ticker.org. He had his idea and his nascent party stolen by the people you're talking about, but Denninger and a few other principals were the actual seed of the party.

He's completely disavowed them since, which is entirely understandable.
posted by Malor at 6:24 PM on January 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Rick Santelli rant - February 19, 2009

As noted in my link - 2006 after the release of the 9/11 report some people adopted the idea of dumping the report into Boston harbor and adopting a tea party brand.

The Tea Party was an invention of a constellation of right-wing billionaires and organizations, most notably Freedom Works.

If that makes you fell better, believe that. But that sure sounds like a theory about a group conspiring to do something VS a 2006 adoption of a brand called 'tea party', a 2007 link like this:
http://thebostonteaparty2007.blogspot.com/ shows a different narrative. But feel free to show why these right-wing billionares were backing 9/11 truthers. (VS taking a movement like 9/11 truth and doing a rebrand to prevent it from expanding)

Your source? An opinion page from a newpaper. Why should that author be considered authoritative on the matter VS contemporaneous publication 3 years before "the shit stain" event? A recounting of events 3 years later - crying out "enough with the historical revisionism" when the source is in itself is exactly that.

Here's a published book author (and isn't a published book author "more important" than an ex-opinion page author?) who calls someone else "the father of the tea party" http://www.amazon.com/Ron-Paul-Father-Tea-Party/dp/0986832219

it is merely the latest realignment that the Republican Party has undergone

If Ron Paul takes the leadership position from Reince Prebus - you might be right.
posted by rough ashlar at 7:02 PM on January 24, 2013


Now here's a tie to tea party and occupy so now I grok why the claim about 'original tea party' makes sense.


(and here the ron paulers claim they started it http://www.dailypaul.com/138684/now-karl-denninger-claims-he-started-the-tea-party-movement and point out other contemporaneous things like youtube videos one could look up.)
posted by rough ashlar at 7:17 PM on January 24, 2013 [1 favorite]






Some group complaining about the 9/11 report may have used the name tea party but there isn't much connection with what came after which had nothing to do with the 9/11 report. You might as well point to my niece having a tea party with her dolls in 2002. Beyond the name there isn't much to link them.

The current tea party is nothing but a Republican rebranding. They have no policies or beliefs distinct from the Republican party, the only difference is that they are committed to them.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:45 AM on January 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


That's probably true, DD, but they really didn't start that way; the original Tea Party was mostly started as a reaction against the bank bailouts. I was watching it when it happened. It was quickly hijacked by powerful interests to be the anti-Obama party, and, in many respects, the all-caps STUPID party, but the original creation of an actual Tea Party, by that specific name, was an ethical reaction against banking corruption. They chose 'Tea Party' because they knew those massive bailouts were going to have to be paid for, and they thought it was unethical to sock our kids with gigantic debt payments to preserve such destructive business and financial models. They were always right-wing, but they weren't insane, and they weren't evil.

There are lots of genuinely good conservatives out there. Really, there are. I quite liked what I saw of the original Tea Partiers. But then scary people took over. They went corrupt within six months of their founding, and it is a goddamn shame, because we really needed their original ideas and principles in the political mainstream.
posted by Malor at 1:35 PM on January 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


There are lots of genuinely good conservatives out there.

And thanks to the last twenty years of Republican witch hunting and purging, they now run the Democratic Party.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:41 PM on January 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


There are lots of genuinely good conservatives out there.

And thanks to the last twenty years of Republican witch hunting and purging, they now run the Democratic Party.


The Democratic Party is run by people who realized in the 1980s that the U.S. is a right-wing country. Not necessarily hard right, but the median voter in all of America would be pretty close to the median voter in your average European center-right party. And so "New Democrat" Bill Clinton won the White House by co-opting Rockefeller-Republican ideas (seriously, do a YouTube search for Bill Clinton ads in 1992 -- you will swear he's a Republican). At that point, the GOP realized that it had won the ideological fight but was in danger of losing the political fight, so it could either fight for the center (against the greatest politician of his generation) or wake up the farther-right wing of the party. Hence the Contract With America and "compassionate conservatism" and gay-marriage scares.

The purges of the GOP didn't really start until the middle of the last decade, and they have not yet begun to have their real effect on the Democratic Party in terms of membership or leadership.
posted by Etrigan at 5:25 AM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


The purges of the GOP didn't really start until the middle of the last decade, and they have not yet begun to have their real effect on the Democratic Party in terms of membership or leadership.

That's not true at all- the GOP purges really began with Newt Gingrich (see RINO), alongside such fuckery as intimidating lobbyist organizations. It's been going on for right around twenty years.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:28 AM on January 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


the GOP purges really began with Newt Gingrich (see RINO)

Pre-Tea Party, the GOP was okay with RINOs -- that link quotes Rep. Joe Schwarz, who was elected to the House in 2004 as a well-known moderate Republican, then got primaried out in 2006 (thanks to the Club for Growth) and has seriously entertained two runs for his seat as a Democrat in 2008 and 2012. Also see Olympia Snowe, Michael Castle, and a host of others who were good enough while the GOP was sufficiently concerned with maintaining its majorities in Congress.

It wasn't until the mid-'00s, when some were sufficiently convinced of the Republicans' Permanent Majority, that they started breaking Reagan's Eleventh Commandment ("Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican."), because when you just know that any Republican will beat any Democrat, out come the knives. Then, when they got crushed in '06, the proto-Tea Party types convinced enough people that the problem was the RINOs, and the purges began in earnest.

It's easy to lay much of the blame at Gingrich's feet, but he only created the atmosphere that things later happened in.
posted by Etrigan at 4:41 AM on January 29, 2013


I'm not denying that it has seriously intensified over the last couple of years, only that that intensification constitutes the start date.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:53 AM on January 29, 2013


Pinning the start date as "around twenty years" ago is like saying that World War II started when Germany invaded Czechoslovakia -- the one was definitely a consequence of the other, perhaps an inevitable one, but it ignores the decade of uneasy peace within the party that followed Gingrich's ascension. Yes, some Republicans left the party in the 1990s, but no more than usual (remember that John Anderson left the GOP in 1980).

And in the context of "genuinely good conservatives" becoming the people who "now run the Democratic Party", it's completely wrong. Which key Democrats right now, elected or otherwise, do you think were Republicans before the purges?

If your overall point is that the Democratic Party has turned right over the last twenty years, I'd argue that it predates Gingrich's ascension, and that GOP infighting had very little to do with it. As noted above, Clinton pushed the party farther right than Obama has (DADT, DOMA, the repeal of Glass-Steagall, NAFTA, massive expansion of the death penalty, the IIRIRA), and that was all thanks to life-long Democrats.
posted by Etrigan at 6:28 AM on January 29, 2013


Here's a thought from a short Hendrik Hertzberg piece in the New Yorker.
The modern crisis of liberalism began in the nineteen-sixties with the disintegration of New Frontier/Great Society euphoria in the quagmire of Vietnam, continued through the riotous turmoils of the late sixties and seventies, and crested with the Reagan ascendancy of the eighties. Liberal politicians, especially those with Presidential ambitions, assumed a long-lasting defensive crouch. A quadrennial feature of the past half century has been the spectacle of some liberal grandee indignantly denying that he is anything of the kind. In 1988, when George Bush the Elder referred to the “liberalism” of his opponent, Michael Dukakis, the Dukakis campaign accused him of “mudslinging.” In 2004, John Kerry, asked if he was a liberal, remarked, “I think it’s the silliest thing I’ve ever heard.” So comprehensively was “liberalism” anathematized by a combination of liberal timidity and conservative demonizing that it became the political orientation that dared not speak its name. “Pragmatist,” “progressive”—these were acceptable, though even the latter was deployed cautiously. A common liberal dodge was to dismiss “labels” per se. Conservatives, by contrast, have evinced no such reluctance about their appellation. They say it loud and they say it proud.
Emphasis mine, for hilarity.
posted by Trochanter at 7:36 AM on January 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Is anyone expected to do time the Libor rate fraud?
posted by jeffburdges at 12:29 PM on January 30, 2013


That's a joke, right?
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:36 PM on January 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Libor fraud took place in London. Its the UK's legal system that would determine if people go to jail. They did just arrest some people though.
posted by JPD at 6:40 PM on January 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


That's a joke, right?

Actually might happen; there's already extremely incriminating emails.
posted by jaduncan at 9:44 PM on January 30, 2013


jaduncan, in the last 24 hrs my doggy* had a seizure and I had a root canal. Are you just saying that to cheer me up?

If so, thanks.

* We're both better now. :}
posted by IAmBroom at 2:58 PM on January 31, 2013


I'm looking down the barrels of a couple of root canals myself, so I looked up the procedure on Wikipedia. Terrifying stuff.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:27 PM on January 31, 2013


I'd recommend getting sedation or nitrous, Your Guiltiness. I've done it with locals and nitrous, and nitrous was so much better.
posted by Etrigan at 7:22 PM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


I got nitrous when they did my wisdom teeth and deeply regretted it because when they injected the locals, instead of the pain of the injection, I felt only the pressure and the sliding of the needle as it entered, without the pain to cover it. It was a hundred times worse.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:02 PM on January 31, 2013






At her first Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hearing, Warren questioned top regulators from the alphabet soup that is the nation's financial regulatory structure: the FDIC, SEC, OCC, CFPB, CFTC, Fed and Treasury.

The Democratic senator from Massachusetts had a straightforward question for them: When was the last time you took a Wall Street bank to trial? It was a harder question than it seemed.
-
"There are district attorneys and United States attorneys out there every day squeezing ordinary citizens on sometimes very thin grounds and taking them to trial in order to make an example, as they put it. I'm really concerned that 'too big to fail' has become 'too big for trial,'" Warren said.

posted by Drinky Die at 2:46 AM on February 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Senators turn the tables on Caymans investor Jack Lew:
President Obama won reelection in part by beating up on his opponent for receiving big corporate payouts in exchange for dubious work and for socking away money in tax havens such as the Cayman Islands.

So it’s a bit, well, rich that Obama chose as his new Treasury secretary a man who received a big corporate payout for dubious work and who socked away money in the Cayman Islands.
posted by homunculus at 1:19 PM on February 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


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