Tuesday, December 21, 2010

What Wall Street Hath Wrought

Here is the initial bit from an article by Brett Arends that lays out the horrors that the Wall Street banks have wrought on America...
The great bank heist of 2010

Commentary: Wall Street wins, Main Street pays — again

This was the year America finally took on the power and greed of the Wall Street banks.

And the banks won.

They dodged the bullet of real reform, probably for all time. They bounced back to post huge profits, helped by legal theft from the middle class. They completed their takeover of both political parties — and bought themselves a new Congress even more pliable than the old one.

Middle-class America is flattened, devastated and broke. The bankers that caused it all have escaped punishment. They’re raking in huge profits. Oh, and the tax cuts just got extended for high earners, too!

Game over.

Of all the signs of Wall Street’s gloating and arrogance this year, which one stands out the most?

The image of the president of the republic, traveling to New York to reassure them that they wouldn’t suffer too much from new regulations?

Or maybe billionaire Steve Schwarzman, the private-equity oligarch at Blackstone Group (NYSE:BX) , complaining that any attempt to make him pay actual income tax on his income was akin to “when Hitler invaded Poland.”

Not France. Not Belgium. Poland.

In the aftermath, he grudgingly issued a partial retraction.

In any civilized society he would now be pariah. He’d have to eat alone at unfashionable restaurants, and the waiters would spit in his soup.

Instead, as the year drew to a close, I saw him being interviewed on TV, the hosts hanging on his every word.

In 2010, Wall Street’s year, Schwarzman’s only real sin was getting caught flaunting his contempt for the nation.

Far worse went on behind closed doors.
Read the whole article and be completely filled with contempt for the banks.

And the level of corruption and cynicism by those who take from the poor to give to the rich in their anti-Robin Hood frolics is astounding:
By keeping short-term interest rates near zero, the Fed is basically robbing your grandmother, and other hard-working savers, and giving to Wall Street. The banks borrow from us for free, and then lend us back our own money at interest by purchasing Treasury bonds.

And in a perfect circle of cynicism, the beneficiaries of bailouts are now spending some of their loot lobbying our Congress to overrule us on reform.

The commercial banks and investment firms spent a total of $118 million lobbying just in 2010, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
And the politics is ugly, the politicians are venal, and the system has failed:
Top Democrats were too terrified of alienating their sugar daddies to pass real reform.

But the joke was on them.

First, Wall Street’s campaign contributions aren’t that important — they only account for about 10% of the party’s money. The Democrats could have lost all of it (an unlikely scenario in any event) and still been in business.

Second, the Democrats would have got a lot more credit — and contributions — from the rest of America if they’d stood up to Wall Street.

And third: Sucking up to Wall Street didn’t help them anyway. Wall Street still turned Republican. The American Bankers Association, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) , Citigroup, Bank of America, even Goldman Sachs: This time around, more than half their donations went to the GOP.

Most Americans don’t realize it, but this talk of a “grassroots” and “anti-establishment” election was a bunch of hooey. What really happened was that Wall Street has just bought itself a new, even more compliant Congress.

The new Republicans are already fawning over the bankers. They’re promising to stop the restrictions on (ahem) “financial innovation.” Congressman Spencer Bachus — the next chairman of the House Financial Services Committee — actually said “Washington and the regulators are there to serve the banks.” Let the good times roll!

It was the greatest heist in history. The bankers pulled it off under everyone’s nose.
I can hardly wait for the next financial bubble to burst and everybody is put through this wringer again. But this time it will be truly different. Instead of doing this dance to make millionaires into billionaires, the number of seats and dancers will be reduced and this time the game will turn billionaires into trillionaires!!!

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