Tuesday, December 27, 2011

New Rules for the New Economy

Rule #1: He who writes the rules owns the gold.

Here is a bit from an article by Simon Johnson that rips into the insanity of the US government letting the big banks make big bucks on their housing bubble fraud but then demanding that the little guy, the taxpayer, first fork over billions to "make whole" the fraudulent banks, then stand by and look down at our feet while the big bank's top people get billions in bonuses, then go through a charade of "law enforcement" where the bankers get off the hook with pitifully small fines for bad behaviour and no jail time:
Santa Claus came early this year for four former executives of Washington Mutual (WaMu), a large US bank that failed in fall 2008. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) had brought a lawsuit against the four, actions that included taking huge financial risks while “knowing that the real estate market was in a ‘bubble.’” The FDIC sought to recover $900 million, but the executives have just settled for $64 million, almost all of which will be paid by their insurers; their out-of-pockets costs are estimated at just $400,000.

To be sure, the executives lost their jobs and now must drop claims for additional compensation. But, according to the FDIC, the four still earned more than $95 million from January 2005 through September 2008. So they are walking away with a great deal of cash. This is what happens when financial executives are compensated for “return on equity” unadjusted for risk. The executives get the upside when things go well; when the downside risks materialize, they lose nothing (or close to it).
Here is the problem with the current "system" that is shafting the 99%:
But capitalism without the prospect of failure is not any kind of market economy. We are running a large-scale, nontransparent, and dangerous government subsidy scheme for the benefit primarily of a very few, extremely wealthy people.

Jon Huntsman, a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, is addressing this directly – insisting that we should force the largest banks to break up and to become safer. No other candidate for the presidency is seriously confronting this issue head-on: just saying “we’ll let them fail” is no kind of answer when the failure of megabanks would cause so much damage.

We should learn from both the WaMu and the Occupy movement. In both cases, the lesson is the same: concentrated financial power is a gift that keeps on giving – but not to you.

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