Aljazeera asks, “why has Wall Street not been held accountable for crimes connected to the deepest recession since the Great Depression?” Well, every one knows that Romney is a crude capitalist, but did you know that Goldman Sachs was Obama’s largest corporate contributer in 2008? Wall Street Firms support both parties equally.
The Residential Mortgage Backed Securities (RMBS) Working Group members today announced their first legal action since the working group formation earlier this year. In his role as a co-chair of the RMBS Working Group, New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman has filed a Martin Act lawsuit against J.P. Morgan Securities LLC (formerly known as Bear Stearns & Co. Inc.), JP Morgan Chase Bank N.A., and EMC Mortgage LLC (formerly known as EMC Mortgage Corporation) for making fraudulent misrepresentations and omissions to promote the sale of residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) to investors.
“This lawsuit is the first legal action from the RMBS Working Group, a state-federal task force created by President Obama earlier this year to investigate those responsible for misconduct contributing to the financial crisis through the pooling and sale of residential mortgage-backed securities.” – http://www.stopfraud.gov/iso/opa/stopfraud/2012/12-opa-1196.html
Greg Smith, a Goldman Sachs vice president, resigned his post Wednesday with a stinging public rebuke of the firm on the oped page of the New York Times — accusing it of no longer putting its clients before its own pecuniary goals.
But if Mr. Smith believes his experience at Goldman is something new, he doesn’t know history. In 1928, Goldman Sachs and Company created the Goldman Sachs Trading Corporation, which promptly went on a speculative binge, luring innocent investors along the way. In the Great Crash of 1929, Goldman’s investors lost their shirts but Goldman kept its hefty fees.
If Mr. Smith believes such disregard of investors is unique to Goldman, he doesn’t know the rest of Wall Street. In the late 1920s, National City Bank, which eventually would become Citigroup, repackaged bad Latin American debt as new securities which it then sold to investors no less gullible than Goldman Sachs’s. After the Great Crash of 1929, National City’s top executives helped themselves to the bank’s remaining assets as interest-free loans while their investors and depositors were left with pieces of paper worth a tiny fraction of what they paid for them.
The problem isn’t excessive greed. If you took the greed out of Wall Street all you’d have left is pavement. The problem is endemic abuse of power and trust. When bubbles are forming, all but the most sophisticated investors can be easily duped into thinking they’ll get rich by putting their money into the hands of brand-named investment bankers.
Moreover, finance has become so complex that investors don’t even know when they’re being taken for a ride, and so can’t possibly hold a brand-name bank responsible for their losses – or for gains that are a fraction of what they might otherwise have been.
That’s why we have regulations. After millions of investors lost everything in 1929, the federal government stepped into the breach with the Securities Acts of 1933 and 1934 and the Banking Act of 1933, sponsored by Senator Carter Glass and Congressman Henry Steagall.
But starting in the 1970s and 1980s, Wall Street made sure these and the regulations issued under them were steadily watered down – which contributed to the junk-bond and insider trading scandals of the 1980s, the dot-com scams of the late 1990s and early 2000s, the Wall-Street enablers of Enron and other corporate looters, and the wild excesses that led to the crash of 2008.
Wall Street’s shenanigans have convinced a large portion of America that the economic game is rigged. Yet capitalism depends on trust. Without trust, people avoid even sensible economic risks. And when they think the game is rigged, they’re easy prey for political demagogues with fast tongues and dumb ideas.
The Street has only itself to blame. It should have welcomed new financial regulation as a means of restoring public trust. Instead, it lobbied intensely against the new Dodd-Frank Act and refused to resurrect Glass-Steagall.
The cost of such cynicism has leached deep into America, finding expression in Tea Partiers and Occupiers and millions of others who think the Street has sold us out.
Whistleblowing Wednesday: Goldman Sachs Mobilizes Rapid Smear Campaign Against Whistleblower
Today, Goldman Sachs employee Greg Smith excoriated the investment bank in a New York Times op-ed, resigning due to the banks “toxic and destructive” culture, one in which the bank’s trading profits took precedence over its customers’ financial well-being. Goldman managers allegedly called customers “muppets,”and traders routinely asked how much was being made ripping off one customer or another.
Goldman has been quick to push back on Smith’s claims, portraying him as just a disgruntled employee. Some employees told Fox Business’ Charlie Gasparino that Smith doesn’t know what he’s talking about because he “never made more than $750,000 a year.”
And of course, the financial press has begun reporting anonymous attacks on Smith, quoting “people familiar with the matter” saying that Smith was angry with the size of his bonus and his lack of promotion:
– The Wall Street Journal reported that “people familiar with the matter” said that Smith is just miffed that his bonus was small: “The circumstances of Mr. Smith’s departure aren’t entirely clear. When Goldman doled out annual bonuses earlier this year, Mr. Smith’s small payment became a point of friction, according to people familiar with the matter.”
– Forbes’ Nathan Vardi wrote that Smith is just “having a midlife crisis“: “Smith is not the first person who wants to tell his former bosses to shove it. He is also not a whistleblower.”
The financial prognosticators at CNBC decided to mock Smith, saying that he would go form a media firm with Rolling Stone writer and staunch Goldman critic Matt Taibbi and the characters from Sesame Street. CNBC also compared Smith to Tom Cruise’s character in Jerry Maguire, airing the clip of that film when Cruise asks “who’s coming with me?” repeatedly, with no one actually going with him. Fox Business, meanwhile, insinuated that Smith just left because he didn’t get a promotion and was paid a small bonus.
Bloomberg’s William Cohan, author of “Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule the World,” said today that Smith is “now in the Witness Protection Program” due to his sure ostracism from Wall Street.