Clinton Pimps Some More for His Bank and Corporate Benefactors

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Of the many low points of the Clinton presidency, one was its questionable money dealings. Remember how Hillary managed to turn $1000 into $100,000 via successful commodities trading? 70% of retail commodities traders lose money. Boy, for a newbie trader, the First Lady was clearly a natural!

A former contact of mine, low profile but with a serious reputation among professional traders, was asked to review Hillary’s trading records by some Congressmen (they apparently asked two other market professionals). Of course, it was clearly bogus, impossible even for an expert. Among other telltale signs: her trades were almost always executed at the best price of the day.

And there was the cheapening of the Presidency. Remember the monetization of the Lincoln bedroom? The rush to give big ticket speeches and ink book deals? (note Hillary’s was signed while Clinton was still President). While some recent Presidents have also used their former role as “leader of the free world” to ring the cash register (Saint Ronnie reportedly gave a speech in Japan for a cool $2.5 million), they tried to keep it below the radar. The Clintons, by contrast, have been remarkably brazen about their efforts to cash in.

So it should be no surprise given that the Clinton Global Institute has a roster of big name corporate patrons that Slick Willy is perfectly happy to carry their water. Of course, he offers some gestures to the left, as if that will camouflage what he is up to. Today’s sightings include:

Delaying the implementation of Dodd Frank. From The Hill:

Former President Clinton suggested Thursday that the implementation of the Dodd-Frank financial reform be slowed.

As the one-year anniversary of the financial overhaul draws near, Clinton was generally positive on the law as a whole, but suggested regulators should parcel out the new rules bit by bit for the benefit of businesses.

“One way to clear that up may be to stagger [the regulations] in over a more pronounced time table,” he said on CNBC. “I think there’s only so much change that institutions can handle at one time.”

If you haven’t been following what happened during the fights over financial reform, one of the ways Dodd Frank was already hampered is a great number of its supposed changes were not hammered out, but instead were delayed by requiring studies or being fobbed off on more detailed rulemaking (beyond the degree that is typical). That gave the industry the opportunity to water it down further. And at this juncture, delay could be a monstrous boon for the banks, since if Obama loses in 2012, even more bank friendly regulators will be put in place.

It’s not as if Dodd Frank related rules are being put in place at such a quick pace that the banks can legitimately claim it is causing them headaches (as in it’s that they don’t want to be asked to do anything different at all, there is no evidence that the pace of change is compounding their work. Bitching and moaning is not tantamount to evidence). But this feeds the spurious notion that the convenience of management should take precedent over the public good.

Supporting a tax repatriation holiday. Trust me, no one who is knowledgeable and not in the pocket of banks favors this idea; see Jared Bernstein (hat tip Marcy Wheeler) for details as to why (for starters, it will cost $80 billion in tax revenues and since big multinationals don’t invest in America, will be used for really productive activities like stock buyback or dividends). But you’d never know that if you listened to Clinton via Bloomberg:

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton endorsed a tax holiday on repatriating offshore profits with conditions, taking a position contrary to the Obama administration.

“I favor it under certain circumstances,” Clinton said in an interview with Bloomberg Television’s Al Hunt yesterday in Chicago. He suggested an approach that would give companies a 20 percent tax rate on repatriated profits, which could be reduced to 10 percent if they “reinvest it in increasing employment in America.”

Oh, please. How exactly will we determine that they “increased employment” over what they would have done regardless? And how pray tell would a program like this be monitored? Plus, as Bernstein notes, all you do is incentivize companies to play this game all over again, since they can expect another holiday in the future. And giving them a break for hard-to-be-sure-anything-happened initiatives is a less good idea that higher tax receipts and programs that provide employment more directly (like investments in areas that are national priorities).

But this is just another example of the fish rotting from the head, or in this case a former head. And the really sad thing is that this sort of thing has become so routine that hardly anyone sits up and takes notice.

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  1. Crocodile Chuck

    George C. Marshall was called the ‘organizer of victory’ in WWII by Winson Churchill. After that, he coordinated and drove the rebuilding of Europe for which he won a Nobel Peace Prize. When he stepped down from Sec’y of State, he refused to write a book of his life; he didn’t want to be seen ‘cashing in’ on his rank and gov’t role.

    Clinton: how far we have fallen

    1. Phichibe

      You’ve just named one of my favorite human beings of all time, and one of the many great episodes in which his character was demonstrated. I’d argue Marshall was the second greatest American of the 20th century, right after FDR.

      On the note of ex-presidents cashing in, don’t forget Gerald Ford. He gets a pass from a lot of people because he wasn’t as odious as Nixon or as pernicious as Reagan, but he was the first ex-prez who hit the money train big time – corporate boards, etc. Harry Truman was the last person who left the Oval Office and returned to the life of a private citizen, with integrity and dignity.

      Clinton is an absolute disgrace, as evidenced by the fact that GW Bush quipped back in 2007 to Bill that he couldn’t wait to follow him, cashing in and ‘replenishing the coffers.’ From a man who got a $15 million windfall when his buddy who’d bought the Texas Rangers sold the team (after Arlington had bought them a new stadium). The Decline and Fall continues apace.



    2. jake chase

      As Marshall was leaving office he was asked what he would be taking with him

      “My hat,” he replied.

      Today’s Democratic Party leaders all talk a good game of sympathy with “the people” while simultaneously milking their positions for everything they may be worth and walking off with everything not nailed down. Clinton and spouse were among the worst in this respect, yet a nation of idiots still rhapsodizes each of them and cannot be persuaded from the idea that everything today would be hunky dory if only the oval office had not been stolen from Al Gore, or if Hillary had triumphed over BHO.

      Emma Goldman told us that if elections changed anything they would stop holding them. Nothing will ever change for the better until the Democratic Party is held accountable for its promises. As for Republicans, I suspect their credibility among the middle classes has now been shredded for at least a generation. But of course I am usually wrong about how gullible people are.

      1. lambert strether

        I don’t know what “hunky dory” might mean. Marginal differences are not necessarily insignificant, as I assume most econblog readers know. However, 2011 is not 2000, nor even 2008. Whatever the left (in Versailles terms) version of neo-liberalism had to offer then isn’t nearly adequate to the tasks before us now. We can differ on when the rot became complete… But complete, it is.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Oh, Obama is still Satan. It’s just that a putative Republican nominee would be Cthulhu in comparison.

    3. Paul Tioxon

      How far has he fallen? This dimwit destroyed welfare, passed NAFTA, carried out every major initiative of Reagan/Bush years that they could not get done and cared so little for the economy he let the then US Sen from Texas, Phil Graham and his wife, Wendy, the head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission until 1993, destroy the load bearing walls of financial stability, with the destruction of the Glass Steagall and the blind animus toward any government regulations for anything. It is a wonder that Clinton did not start a war just to show he was a new democrat, not weepy eyed, shows how he cares by putting money where it is needed kind of democrat.

      Oh, and did I detect a softening in the heart of stone that Yves has for Obama? Yves said in the above post: “And at this juncture, delay could be a monstrous boon for the banks, since if Obama loses in 2012, even more bank friendly regulators will be put in place. ”

      So, there ARE worse economic policies, and even worse advisers, and even worse people that could populate the mechanism of the Federal Bureaucracy. Mirabile Dictu!! Obama is not Satan after all, who KNEW?

    4. pat b

      I remember after President ford left office, he took a gig as Director of the Amway corporation, and my dad was very critical. He said to sell the granduer fo the presidency was demeaning to the office.

      that it was one thing for a former president to write memoirs and serve as a civic leader or run a non-profit, it was demeaning for them to sell their connections to industry.

      Nixon never did, LBJ didn’t.

      Carter Didn’t. Reagan and Bush did. Ford did.

    5. Jack Parsons

      Ford: oh man. He played golf. You paid to play with him. $10,000. In advance, or cash on the course. No credit.

  2. SteveLaudig

    Squalid Hil and Squalid Bill went up the Hill to fetch a pail of water..
    your turn.

      1. dearieme

        Squalid Hil and Squalid Bill went up the Hill to fetch a pail of water..

        Both came down to chase for mills and then to chase your daughter.

        1. lambert strether

          I’ve never understand the people who hate Bill Clinton because he had sex. That particular permathread in the discourse seems particularly, er, squalid and uninspiring.

          1. Attitude_Check

            Many (Most?) are disgusted with him because he lied under oath about it — and was DEFENDED by many folks who claim to believe in equality under the law. Thoroughly disgusting.

  3. Cedric Regula

    Egads! Another banking-multinational corporation shill! Where do we find them all? Do they grow on trees – like our money?

    Delaying Frankendodd also lengthens the time profits can be maximized and siphoned off as bonuses. Call me suspicious.

    The corporate tax holiday will come every 4 years, like leap year. Corporations will bank on it – first there, then here. The Bush Holiday, with employment generating reinvestment verbiage too, didn’t do any such thing.

    Even Krugman started thinking out of the box lately, put aside his Smoot-Hawley nightmares, and said let’s stop pussy footing to nowhere and try import duties.

  4. lambert strether

    Having shrugged myself out of the jersey with the big “D” on it, I can highly recommend the pleasure of it to others.

    * * *

    That said, let it never be forgotten that for all the Clinton-ian-ness of the Clinton administration, working people experienced concrete material benefits in that period not seen since. Never mind causality, never mind if it was all blood and oil squeezed from the empire, never mind the blow job, none of that matters. What matters is what people remember: Having a job, who knows, maybe even getting a raise, having health insurance so they could maybe get their teeth fixed, and all that stuff that used to be.

    If there are any political entities out there that seek to destroy the legacy party system, either from without or within, focus on that one idea: Concrete material benefits. Because — gasp — politics is part of the mix, and say what you will, both Clintons were masterful politicians.

    1. Valissa

      I remember telling my friends back in 1992 not to get overly excited about Clinton making their own political dreams come true. Clinton ran as a pro-business Democrat and blatant member of the Democratic Leadership COuncil (DLC). He has always admitted to being a business friendly Democrat. That statement, at least, is truthful.

      I often disagree with Bill and Hillary, but I like them. The reason I like them is that they are both whip smart policy wonks and that care about governance. Of course they make shady deals,etc, that’s what politicians do… it’s part of their initiation into higher circles of power (how well one wheels and deals). Politicians make mistakes all the time, but some learn from them better than others. I understand that people are complex characters and the politicans are an archetype all of their own (they are NOT the priests of their party).

      Whether I agree with their policy decisions or not, I think it’s important to have leaders who care about policy, and not merely accomodation. I think it’s important for politicians to care about governance. That is their real job after all, to govern whether we like them or not. I do not think with Bush Jr. or Obama are interested in governance and it shows.

  5. DF Sayers

    I’m tired of leftists giving the dems a free pass. While the Kochs are certainly scum, surely people can’t think that the corruption of capitalism is unique to them. People should admit that money corrupts state institutions across the board. Thanks for this much needed balance to what others would frame as a nakedly partisan attack on republicans.

    1. blunt

      “I’m tired of leftists giving the dems a free pass. While the Kochs are certainly scum, surely people can’t think that the corruption of capitalism is unique to them. People should admit that money corrupts state institutions across the board. Thanks for this much needed balance to what others would frame as a nakedly partisan attack on republicans.”

      DF Sayers, I reckon you didn’t read the Ames article featured earlier. Or if ya did ya just didn’t understand it. I seldom see anyone here taking a pseudo-partisan side (Repugnican or Bimbocratic.) The argument you make is visible proof that many in this country have lost most ability to think and any ability to distinguish between hard-right, far-right and the nothingness to the left of those two political positions (consider the insane notion of Chuck Schumer as a “liberal!” ROTFLMAO)

      I have to admit to a fondness for Reader of Tea Leaves’ comments. Back in the day it was wonderful having a dental plan, three weeks of vacation time per year plus sick leave of two weeks and medical benefits that afforded me a chance to recover and obtain medical treatment when I was ill. The memory of the Clinton years somehow makes the present seem infinitely harsher and the compassionate conservatism of BushII and Obama seem like a garish nightmare in comparison. Unobtainium indeed.

      1. blunt

        Oops, false attribution. The walk down Memory Lane was from lambert strether, not Reader of Tea Leaves.

        1. readerOfTeaLeaves

          Just a note: I am always and everywhere quite happy to accept kudos for anyone’s writing, provided you like it ;-)

          As for the corruption of money and politics, it was always crummy but seems to have gotten completely out of hand as wealth became increasingly concentrated since the early 1980s. I think the ‘political corruption’ is one side of the coin, whereas ‘wealth concentration’ is the other. Clinton was not able to turn that dynamic around.

          1. lambert strether

            My talking point on “corruption” is a return to “honest graft”. Boss Tweed in NY was fabulously corrupt (“I seen my opportunities, and I took ’em”) but NY also got built. Contrast the locusts and weasels from Golden Sacks, who are also fabulously corrupt, but destroy rather than build.

      2. Bobby Rueben

        ” The argument you make is visible proof that many in this country have lost most ability to think”
        I think that’s because people are in hunter/gather mode – limbic-system-driven flight or fight. So, this combination of fear , exhaustion and drugs to get through the 9-5 means survival mode is on the debtors mind; slow, ugly destruction.

      3. DF Sayers

        I read ExiledOnline daily. But when Ames appears on the Dylan Ratigan show, he’s far tamer – and he does show the same prejudice I mentioned before. It’s not unique to him – more mainstream leftists are profoundly worse with this tendency.

        But in terms of Clinton’s presidency – it always seemed better, sure. But the fact is that he oversaw a massive deregulation of capital, as well. Glass-Steagall was largely overturned in his era. I see no reason to provide substantial defense of the liberal presidents – even where individuals like LBJ and Clinton had some better programs, their foreign policy tended to be abhorrent enough (often worse than their republican predecessors, which is typical of all presidents) to make me embarrassed to defend them on more that a purely relative basis.

        It seems lost on our contemporary political paradigm, for instance, that Obama’s stance on Israel (specifically Jerusalem) was far more right-wing than McCain’s. His negotiated (90 day?) settlement freeze came with this caveat: he promised Netanyahu that the US would never again ask for a settlement freeze. More USAid was promised as well if I’m not mistaken. It was a handout to the Israeli militants, and was portrayed as an anti-Israeli posturing.

        The Democrats have indeed thrown the left under the bus, and the media has hardly taken notice – they’ve stepped in line with an increasingly pro-capitalist, stratified, authoritarian social order. It’s not clear to me why I should have any sympathy for those who play into those games.

        1. blunt

          “It’s not clear to me why I should have any sympathy for those who play into those games.”

          Précisément! You needn’t. For any who play those games: repugnician, bimbocratic or austerian (read “libertarian.”)

          The similarities are simply that they all pursue their dominion to the detriment of about 98% of the rest of the world’s humanity (to include Mr. Bill.)

          I think the thinker will of necessity have to become the doer as well as we have to learn to grasp the opportunities and possibilities that ironically arise from the destruction of the ecosystems and humano-systems by the finance-cons and their water-carriers (including Mr. Bill.)

          I’m under the impression that having an ideology other than being willing to laud what we formerly snubbed (truly “hardwork” as in physical labor that yields some sort of material products rather than a string of $$$1,234,567,890s and the compassion and connection that will be required to survive in the wasteland unbridled crimino-capitalism is leaving us) is the surest way to embrace first slavery and then extinction.

          Surely we on all agree that at least a fourth or fifth or sixth or many multiple ways are more acceptable to pursue rather than the bankrupt and kleptocratic three ways we currently seem to wish to think we are constitutionally bound to pursue.

          1. DF Sayers

            Earlier, you said: “DF Sayers, I reckon you didn’t read the Ames article featured earlier. Or if ya did ya just didn’t understand it.”

            Now you say: “Précisément! You needn’t. For any who play those games: repugnician, bimbocratic or austerian (read “libertarian.”)”

            You seem to blast me for saying that many ‘leftists’ are shills for a system that you admit many lefts shill for. I’m just not sure where the disagreement is here.

            And “truly “hardwork” as in physical labor that yields some sort of material products”

            Indeed, I’ve supported the labor theory of value for some time now.

  6. Valissa

    Of course Clinton pimps for his buddies. This is completely normal and expected. It is Sociology 101. He is part of the superclass and they all help each other out.

    In case anyone has not heard of this book yet, if you want to understand a bit about today’s elites this is a great place to start.

    Superclass: The Global Power Elite and the World They Are Making, by Davod Rothkopf

    This is not really an expose, because Rothkopf works for these people. Some may be familiar with him because he often writes articles for Foregn Affairs (mouthpiece of the CFR), and Rothkopf worked in Clinton Administration.

    Politicians do not exist because of something noble, like “principles”… they exist in a world of money and power games and influentional social networks. This does not mean they lack principles, just that those are relative to other factors. This is perhaps my biggest criticism of so called progressives and liberals, an overfocus on “principles” and all the self-righteous griping about how unprincipled politicians are.

    IMO, if you really want to change the way things are, you have to start by acknowledging the reality of the influence of power and money on human nature (biggest lesson I learned from 2008 election). From that basis perhaps you can begin to devise some outside-the-box strategies to achieve political goals one at a time.

    1. Ransome

      The first few politicians were visionaries and they were able to compromise, but shortly afterward the spoils system was implemented. The Civil War was fought over competing systems of spoils. The Guilded Age was the spoils system perfected, when the Superclass was established. It is the reason for the current Great Undoing. Every time there is a bust, lessons are learned. In the 1900’s the Superclass was restricted (old money vs. new money). Today, the Superclass is unrestricted yet fluid, once you earn your place at the table, you must work to keep it. It is not all carrot, Spitzer got the stick.

      Of potential political candidates, is Palin Superclass material? This is how to pick winning political candidates. Was McCain Superclass? Obama was groomed and vetted by Rubin. Clearly Obama had some visions that required re-education. Old school Superclass Republicans want to turn back the clock to 1890. Superclass Democrats don’t want to go back so far because safety-nets mean social stability, they can go back to relaxed accumulation, like the Kennedy’s. There is still a divide at the top, those that do not want to leave change on the table, they want to be billionaires by the age of 35 and others that are not so driven. Geithner has paid his dues and it is time for him to join the Superclass. Stiglitz and Krugman have been banned for life as have the Progressives because they have a bad attitude when it comes to wealth and everything associated with wealth. They don’t enjoy wealth. Bill Gates is simply eccentric but not a threat. Most CEO’s are junior members paying their dues. Fuld did something wrong, he must have double-crossed someone. These people are not especially bright, they are team players and can be black-balled at any moment.

      As far as wealth strategies, they have not changed, they have been updated. Find a revenue stream and sink your fangs into it. Lend and control. Pander to the little people desperately seeking returns on meager savings. Consolidate and collude. Buy, bleed, pump, and dump. The latest, manipulate opaque mis-priced risk. All of these strategies society can tolerate up to a point and then the tax is too great, The idea is not to kill us off. What good is wealth without a vibrant society or as in the 1890’s, high society where one can mingle with one’s peers on high speed toll lanes owned by your trust.

    2. readerOfTeaLeaves

      This is perhaps my biggest criticism of so called progressives and liberals, an overfocus on “principles” and all the self-righteous griping about how unprincipled politicians are.

      I think that you make a legitimate point. However, it’s been my observation that people with principles tend to end up producing more results than those who are only along for the ride, whether in politics or any other endeavor. But I myself tend to veer a bit to the ‘self-righteous griping’ from time to time, and have to admit that overall it is seriously counter-productive. Whining is often more about vanity than about being productive.
      So it goes.

      1. Valissa

        Yes, I do have some ideas on that. While they are still in the germination form and not ready for public release at this time I will share a few preliminary thoughts and considerations.

        For many years now I have been attempting to discern how change happens in the world around us. How does social or cultural or political or historical change come about? Technological change seems more straightforward but has implications for all the others. What are the key factors? I think it’s less important to agree on how and why than to keep asking oneself the question and staying open to multiple good answers.

        Some years ago I read a set of tedious political science papers from some conference and one of them was about political change. Unfortunately I was not as good at documenting my research back then so I have no source to share. But the takeway for me was this… in politics if you try and make change via ‘frontal attack’ with one group pitted against another, change is unlikely. Basically the authors said (in cafeful academese) that if you want to make change, you need to essentially be devious and sneak into the culture some idea and nurture it quietly until it becomes a cultural norm or something close to it… then the politicos will adopt is as their own. Sounds like propaganda to me, which is endemic in our current political world. What type of subtle, indirect propaganda might undermine some of the elite’s power in various areas? How would one go about this?

        One last thought. The standard list of liberal wants is useless and a waste of time (same is true for conservatives). Merely repeating those in a louder and more annoyed tone is not going to bring about a liberal utopia (or cosnervative one or libertarian one or whatever). There’s a shop in Cooperstown, NY, whose theme is Yankees vs. Red Sox. You can make money selling rivlary, fandom, and even hatred, but that doesn’t change anything… its just more of the same.

        1. Ransome

          You need to study the philosophical anarchist Prince Peter Kropotkin. He determined that violence by the minority does not bring about the change of the majority. It is only when the majority are of the same mind that change can occur. Even Hayek understood that change occurred through education of the majority, not politicians enforcing the top down decree. The Road to Serfdom was a special case of the minority imposing their worldview on the majority. It has little to do with labeled worldviews such as socialism, etc.

          Currently I have been mining the Machines of Loving Grace. We have three worldviews, everyone operating in their own self-interest that floats all boats. Everyone operating in the community interest that floats all boats and finally, the gene pool sociopaths, J.D. Rockefeller was noted to be devoid of all human emotion, a trait not unusual of very successful people.

          My guess is that Rand was frigid, until she wasn’t. She was Objective, until she wasn’t

          When you program your computer for self-interest, it encourages abusive gold-seeking and wealth transfer, ending in social distortion and economic collapse. When you program your computer for community benefit, it encourages and punishes behavior (Clockwork Orange), a compromise of freedom. The entire issue was explored a 100 years ago. The Chinese today are attempting to reconcile the conundrum.

          We have a nostalgia for the post war years when the majority had opportunity and savings. The gold seekers were far more satisfied with being respected pillars of the community instead of being members of a transient Superclass.

  7. Bam_Man

    Sad to say it, but we “are getting the politicans we deserve”.

    In fact things have progressed to the point where the “system” is now selecting for sociopathy.

    Clinton was/is a low-life, but probably not a sociopath.

  8. Art Eclectic

    Clinton signed off on the repeal of Glass-Steagall. That’s really all you need to know about where the man’s priorities are.

  9. imdisappointed

    I’m no fan of clinton, he’s as narcisstic as any of the elite.

    However much of the junk in this post is CT-level right wing talking points which are known to be false.

    Clinton takes care of his fellow elites, always has, always will. no need to pad it with the RW CT about the clintons.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      What’s “known to be false”? The fact that Hillary can’t have made her $99,000 profit legitimately? You forget I have a lot of financial markets experience, and I have not come across a single independent person who thinks there is ANY way anyone, much the less a trader with absolutely no prior experience, could have done that legitimately in the time frame it took place.

      Ditto the unseemliness of signing an $8 million book advance while still in office. That is a matter of record.

      There is nothing in the post which is not factual. You just don’t like hearing the Clintons accused of corruption. Sorry, but the shoe fits, big time.

      1. chunga

        It was a “block” trade if I recall. That was followed by a fuss about whether or not taxes were paid.

        Gosh, who else remembers Madison Guaranty Building and Loan, Whitewater Development Corp., Web Hubbell, Jim Guy Tucker, Jim McDougal, and the rest of the “Arkansas Gang”?

        Ooops. Almost forgot Vince Foster. Apparently, so goes the story, he killed himself and rolled himself up in a carpet in Fort Marcy Park.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          No, it was a series of trades. I followed the story pretty closely at the time, and as I indicated, someone I knew was asked to review her records. Two other pros were asked to have a look independently and they came to the same conclusion.

          Getting allocated the best trade of the day repeatedly by the broker is a major tell.

          1. chunga

            Both Matt Drudge and Jim Robinson (Free Republic) started “blogging” about Clinton corruption on Prodigy’s Whitewater Bulletin Board back when we used to screech in with 2400 baud modems.

            The Whitewater BB “sleuths” were featured more than once on the WSJ editorial page – top left column.

            From the L.A Times April 5, 1994:


            Like First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, Hayden McIlroy made spectacular profits in the commodities markets by doing business with Robert L. (Red) Bone, a broker in the Springdale, Ark., office of a Chicago-based trading firm.

            It was not until McIlroy visited the trading floor in Chicago in early 1979 that he met a young trader named Ira Brill and discovered what may have been one factor in making such success possible.

            As McIlroy recalled in subsequent court testimony, Brill revealed that he regularly bought cattle futures in blocks of 600 contracts at a time on behalf of a large pool of Springdale clients of the trading firm. Then, after the market closed and the outcome of the day’s ventures was clear, the contracts–many purchased without the permission of the individual customers–were divvied up and assigned to specific accounts by the trading firm, Ray E. Friedman & Co., commonly called REFCO.

            “His (Brill’s) job was to hold the orders and not turn them in until Springdale had called him after the market closed and (had) given him customer account numbers and how they wanted those orders divided between all customers in the Springdale office,” McIlroy said. In other words, brokers in the Springdale office were buying and selling contracts in large blocks, then allocating gains and losses after the fact to their roster of clients.

            Such so-called day-trades were subject to less stringent margin, or credit, requirements and the pooling of resources also made it possible for REFCO to make larger commodity purchases. Thus, investors with relatively modest amounts of capital could take part in deals that offered far larger potential profits than they otherwise would have been able to obtain.

            One of REFCO’s clients in 1978 and 1979, a notably successful one with a modest grubstake, was Mrs. Clinton, wife of the governor of Arkansas and future First Lady of the United States.

            Block trading is a practice that violated the rules of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange at the time and has since been made illegal because it gives unscrupulous brokers the power to allocate profits and losses to their clients on the basis of favoritism.

            “It opens the window of opportunity for fraud,” explained Elliot Bercovitz, vice president for strategic planning at Lind-Weldock, Inc., of Chicago, one of the nation’s leading commodities trading firms.

            According to White House officials, Mrs. Clinton had no knowledge of any block trade allocations, was not aware at the time she began dealing with Bone that he previously had been censured for making improper commodity trades and did not authorize him to make trades in her name.


      2. imwrong

        ouch. First of all I should have been more specific, I was referring to the commodity deal. I am clearly mistaken. I thought I had read a debunking of the commodity trade issue, but after some further research, which I should have done before posting, I am clearly mistaken.

        Serves me right for doubting you :-)

        as to not liking to hear Clinton corruption – not true. I’m perfectly happy to hear about it, I think slick willy was exactly that. I just thought you were mixing truth witha bit of mythology.

      3. jcb


        I agree with almost 90% of the substance of this post, but with almost none of the inferences about motivation, including yours.

        I don’t think the Clintons cared very much about money. Ultimately, yes, they did very well financially. (Signing a lucrative book contract as first lady is small beer, in moral terms.) Policy-making not money-making has been the driving force in both their lives. A lot of doing well comes from meeting the right people, because the Clintons were/are smart, talented, and politically successful. Yes, that is corrupting, in the sense that as most people rise they tend to view the world through the eyes of their new well-to-do friends. On the other hand, friends seek to ingratiate themselves with people in power. They tell them, I can help you because I have connections in worlds you know nothing about.

        The post of Chunga above regarding commodity trading explains why I have been bothered by inferences of dishonesty on HC’s part. I know very little about the stock market, but I once saw shares in my brokered account rise in value shortly after trades executed on my behalf. That was during boom times. I hadn’t a clue how or why those choices had been made. If my broker had executed the trades as a favor, and if I’d become president…?

        At a time when stock or commodity prices are rising it is easier to invest if you know already successful people with ideas — but it’s also easy to lose money (Whitewater!) by trusting people who think they know things they don’t. Quotations from HC at the time suggest that this was the case. They suggest that she was so uneasy about how much she made so quickly that she stopped. This is entirely consistent with the notion that her broker knew something about how the profits were being made that she didn’t. If your motive is greed, you don’t stop at $100,000 — because you don’t think ahead to becoming First Lady and Secretary of State.

        I don’t like Bill Clinton weighing in on corporate issues, but it isn’t because I think he’s dishonest or a sellout. Lots of people thought the repeal of Glass-Steagall was right at the time. Lots of people were wrong. More to the point, they didn’t think it would make much of a difference. It did. Now Clinton gives well-paid speeches, but also free ones for causes he believes in.

        I actually respect the Clintons for their talents and, yeah, for their fundamental ideals. But I don’t romanticize them. And I strongly believe that any critique of them by the left ought not to borrow right-wing conspiratorial talking points which attempt to show dishonesty, hypocrisy — if not criminal behavior. I think that arguably, we’d be better off if we had Hillary in the White House. Not because she is a pure idealist. Simply because I think she’d give more pushback to the Republicans, and demonstrate more old-fashioned backbone than Obama has.

  10. George Washington

    Yves- Say it isn’t so. Bill and Hillary have ALWAYS had the best interests of the American people in mind as has the Dems. Don’t get me wrong, the Repubs are their own brand of scoundrels but at least they don’t pretend they’re not feeding at the corporate trough. When are the sheeple going to wake up and realize they are being played for the fools they are???

  11. Susan

    So what is the implication beneath the language? What exactly is the mandate of the Clinton Global Institute? Lets see, it could be alleviating the world of its problems, but instead of following this thread Clinton proceeds to alleviate the banksters and global corporations of their problems. Huh? Oh, of course, its trickle down alleviation. There is blackmail in his approach: If we do not give the banks what they want, they cannot help the world. But someone should take a long look at that logic. What if we just dismantled the banks and the big corporations? In what way would this hurt the world? Would it possibly help the world. Couldn’t we then do big projects to clean up the planet and employ people. Why do we have to wait for the banksters to siphon off more illicit profits and bonuses before we can all be helped. Screw em.

  12. wunsacon

    – Eliminated taxes on the first $500k of house price appreciation (for married couples),
    – De-regulated derivatives,
    – Hammered the last nail into the Glass-Steagall coffin, and
    – Perjured himself in a civil trial and then, by refusing to honourably step down, cost Al Gore (a guy with real vision) and his own political party the 2000 election.

    Bill Clinton is bad news.

  13. Schofield

    What’s really interesting is how much we “project” that our true nature is not really self and other interested. Got to be really wary of wasting our days blowing “reputation” bubbles on the internet!

  14. Hugh

    Clinton was the last of the Democratic Presidents who thought the rubes needed to be placated while they were being fleeced. But while a lot of jobs (23 million) were created during his Presidency, he also passed free trade deals like NAFTA which would be the blueprint for taking them away.

    It is interesting how narratives take hold. Clinton is portrayed as the consumate politician. Yet this is the same guy whose political ineptitude lost both Houses of Congress two years into his Presidency. The Clinton Presidency is remembered for its economic “good times”, but the dot com bubble built and blew up during it. He’s the President who balanced the budget. So fiscally responsible, right? But he is also the President who was neoliberal to the core, had Rubin and Summers as his Treasury Secretaries, repealed Glass-Steagall, deregulated derivatives, and created the Enron loophole. And of course if you are an MMTer, you may not think his balanced budgets were such a good idea either.

    If you look at Clinton from the kleptocratic perspective, he’s just another executive criminal. He had a different style from Bush and Obama. He was the likeable con man but he was still a con man, and his object was still to rob us. In retrospect, if the Lewinsky affair or Whitewater had never happened, they would have invented them. They created the narratives of Slick Willy (for those who disliked him) and the foxy politician able to run rings around the Republicans (for those who liked them). It made for great gossip and political theater, and was incredibly effective distraction from the corporate agenda both the Democrats and Republicans were pursuing. Indeed how is this whole narrative of a Democratic President being pushed to the right by hyper-partisan Republicans any different under Clinton then than under Obama now?

    The construction of kleptocracy has been occurring over the last 35 years. Clinton was very much a part of this process. We really need to go back and review the history, not just the Clinton years but the whole 35 year timeframe. We think we know it. Many of us lived through it. But we don’t really. We were fed a series of narratives by media, academics, and politicians in which any reference to increasing kleptocratic trends was excised.

    This is not to say that partisan competition between Democrats and Republicans isn’t real. It is to point out that their collusion in the furtherance of the kleptocratic enterprise is much greater.

    Which brings us back to Clinton. He’s still the nice guy trying to convince you that being robbed is good for you.

  15. Andrew P

    Further evidence of the Non-profit industrial complex at work. Back in the gilded age I think they called it the “empire of benevolence” or something, but the impact is the same. The rich steal from everyone else, then they “magnanimously” give a portion back of what they stole. In the process THEY get to decide where the money goes, and it usually goes to causes in line with their interests like “school reform’ (Marketization) and “Micro finance”(intensification of capital accumulation)etc.

    All of this is intimately tied to conspicuous consumption too. Charity events are as much arbiters of social prestige (how many people you can get, how much they’ll donate, how much to spend on a dress etc.) as they are about charity. It’s just that the rich realized a long time ago that doing it without a charitable purpose in mind would lead to a pre-dawn throat slitting.

  16. Herman Sniffles

    The really big question is why scientists had such a hard time identifying the stain on Monica’s blue dress. Turns out everybody in Arkansas has the same DNA.

  17. Gore Stole Nader's Votes

    Clinton is known for hegemony, deregulation, and pro-globalization. Warm, loving memories of the telecom act, fraud and covert missle attacks that might have triggered 9/11. Same game with Obummer. Clandestine illegal wars, financial institutions running the country, and the creep of facism from radical politicians in the USSC.

  18. psychohistorian

    The concept in the posting and the comments about the fish rotting from the head is one level off, IMO

    The Clinton’s nor Obama’s will ever be part of the super rich that hire and groom them. To me the rot is with the super rich worldwide that now have international control over most governments and economies including the nukes of our beloved USA. These are the sociopaths that need to be permanently removed from any influence on social or economic policy.

    Bill Clinton is a tool of the rotting head of society’s fish.

  19. neildsmith

    At some point liberals are going to have to admit that Clinton was part of the problem that created the mess we are in today. The Clinton .com bubble was just a warm up for the Bush/GOP enabled housing bubble.

    1. Because

      The “bubble” was a offshoot of the IT innovation boom(started in the 70’s) which blew off during Clinton’s watch. That is the main difference between the Clinton and Bush era economies. The Clinton one had real permanent gains with above average output while the Bush one was a glorified flight to saftey that led to misallocation of wealth with no permanent gains after a period of average output. Clinton’s policies to a extent were to fault, but they were championed by the Republican caucus the most. Bush also shutdown Clinton’s transfer programs in favor of tax cuts for the wealthy that blew up badly long term.

      Clinton also knew the Commodity act was fedged up but his veto would have been overridden. He only had a month left and was like, fedge it, you can have it punks.

      Clinton can never be beaten because he is stuck in time. The Clinton era was a time of economic Camelot. New, world changing technologies and a heightened sense of permanent boom were sensed. Optimism soared. Money spent on energy was unabstainably low helped further fuel the boom. It wasn’t just one thing, but many things. Some more important than others. Unlike the Kennedy “Camelot” which was more about achievement, the Clinton one was about stuffing your face. Especially among the wealthy. If Clinton was President now, he would be Obama, just like Obama would be Clinton if he was President in the 90’s.

      Then Clinton left office with storm clouds already rumbling thunder and blowing wind while we watched the clear, blue skies depart from the east.

      1. b.j.

        For starters, I am curious:

        1. What’s so wrong about signing a book deal while in the White House? It’s not as if he becomes any less of a president when out of the White House. His official power might be gone, but given all that went on while he was president, he was bound to be sought after. The same goes for his wife, but then, she never had any official power to begin with.

        2. As far as I understand it, it’s entirely possible (although not assured, as there’s never been any definitive verdict one way or another) that Blair was basically doing the work for her. The link below (yes, it’s Wikipedia, but it seems to provide a good overview) doesn’t indicate she was trying to do something really shady or outrageous. You know more than me, so please, tell me where I am wrong.

        3. I’m with you on the repatriation idea, unless money could be moved to build an infrastructure bank, but I’m not sure about his point regarding the rule writing process. Do you think he might be indicating that this would benefit the regulators, as opposed to the banks?

        4. What corporate boards does Bill Clinton sit on? Any at all?

        I have a hard time getting worked up about him being paid to give a speech or writing a book or anything like that, unless there’s some sort of clear problem with people trying to buy access, which is a charge that needs to be proved. Tom Friedman charges a whopping $75,000 to give speeches, and he’s nothing more than a reasonably smart if large misguided newspaper columnist. I can’t imagine he has access to anyone, anywhere, for anything significant, so perhaps there’s just some sort of weird market misallocation happening.

  20. farang

    “But this is just another example of the fish rotting from the head, or in this case a former head. And the really sad thing is that this sort of thing has become so routine that hardly anyone sits up and takes notice.”

    “This legislation (NAFTA) will level the playing field for Mexican, Canadian and US workers.” Bill Clinton

    Boy, was that ever true…..

    I noticed…and I remember.

  21. mc

    The Clintons – Bill “tinymeat” and Hillary “lesbodieseltruck” – were set up back in the 1970s by the Rockefellers in Arkansas. They have been since then 100% owned by the global banking cartel (think JP Morgan Chase). The goal of this cartel is to keep national governments in ever-increasing levels of debt…debt that can never be repaid. Every action of the clinton global initiative is directed toward this goal.

    So this article is supposed to be some sort of surprise?

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