Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Latest Sucker

I am simply perplexed by Wall Street and the large multi-national banks ability to continue to operate with impunity. Yes, there is an occasional fine, a regulatory slap on the wrists, and every so often a minion gets a brief jail sentence. These things are a minor expense, along the lines of sundries and incidentals, noted in a column in a spreadsheet marked "cost of business". The guys that run the operation are untouchable, retaining vast wealth and never, ever going to jail.

But every few months we find out that the system they inhabit (regulated in the most part by retainers and ex-employees) has been gamed in a new way, their clients wallets pilfered, the tax payer pummeled. There follows a few headlines on page two of the business section, and the people responsible go back to business as usual, generating vast wealth for themselves and their firms, living lives that would have shamed Rockefeller.

The latest scandal has revealed that they manipulated a key element of global interests rates for their own benefit - and to their clients detriment.

An ongoing trial has further exposed how Wall Street operates. They identify a situation, often involving tax payer funding, where huge amounts of money is changing hands, and insert themselves into the transaction in such a way as to lighten the taxpayers load. But that is never enough. They subvert the system to make a little more, crossing over into criminal behavior. 

I can only figure that key elements of our economic structure are rigged so that institutions are forced to go to Wall Street to engage in vital financial exercises. Given Wall Street's record, I can't imagine why any institution would go to them otherwise.

"When it comes to Wall Street scandals these days you can pretty much bet who the biggest loser will be: Your hometown.
The recent Libor fiasco is no different. The banks' alleged manipulation of the key benchmark interest rate may have cost municipalities, hospitals and other large non-profits as much as $600 million a year, according to one expert."

"this is what Wall Street learned from the Mafia: how to reach into the penny jars of dying hospitals and schools and transform their desperation and civic panic into fat year-end bonuses and the occasional "big lunch." Unlike the Mafia, though, they were smart enough to do their dirt without anyone noticing for a very long time, which is what defense counsel in this case were talking about when they argued that towns and cities "were not harmed" by the rigged bids. No harm, to them, means no visible harm, i.e., that what taxpayers didn't know couldn't hurt them. This is logical thinking, to the sociopath – like saying it's not infidelity if your wife never finds out. But we did find out, and the scale of betrayal unveiled in Carollo was epic. It was like finding out your husband didn't just cheat, but had a frequent-flier account with every brothel in North America for the past 10 years. At least now we know how bad it was. The trick is to find a way to make the cheaters pay."

Read more:      Wall Street's Latest Sucker: Your Hometown

Read more:      The Scam Wall Street Learned from the Mafia