More MSM Criticism of Obama “Nothing Illegal Here, Move Along” Stance on Foreclosure Fraud

While quite a few bloggers, prosecutors, economists, and other experts have taken the Administration to task on mortgage-related abuses, the mainstream media for the most part has not seriously challenged the mind-numbing Obama claim that the banksters did nothing illegal.

Reuters refreshingly opposed that bullshit assertion frontally yesterday. In a piece pointedly titled, “The Watchdogs That Didn’t Bark,” reporter Scot Paltrow shows that the mortgage arena is a target-rich environment:

The federal government, as has been widely noted, has pressed few criminal cases against major lenders or senior executives for the events that led to the meltdown of 2007…

The government also hasn’t brought any prosecutions for dubious foreclosure practices deployed since 2007 by big banks and other mortgage-servicing companies.

But this part of the financial system, a Reuters examination shows, is filled with potential leads.

The article is very much worth reading in full, and sets forth specific examples of abuses, such as:

Document fabrications and forgeries (the article points out how the US attorney’s office has gone after forgeries of high school diploma and sports memorabilia but can’t be bothered with the much bigger stakes housing market)

Illegal foreclosures on active duty servicemen, which are criminal misdemeanors under the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act

Exaggerating the amount owed by charging for services never performed and overstating how much the borrower was in arrears

False claims in court that the bank had offered borrowers mortgage modifications

Persistent and “outrageous” misstatement of material facts by foreclosure mills

As readers of this blog know, this isn’t close to a complete list. You can add foreclosing on homes where there is no mortgage, foreclosing on burned-down homes where the insurer has made payment in full, mortgage baits and switches at closings and telling borrowers they had to default to be eligible for HAMP. The only bit of good news is there is a LPS investigation underway, but it has been ongoing since 2009. Funny how Catherine Masto in the comparatively small Nevada attorney general’s office has made more progress from an at the earliest October 2010 start date.

And we still have the banking industry repeating its mantra: everyone who lost his home was delinquent. Yes, in a kangaroo court, the accused will always lose. But the Washington Post runs this sort of propaganda in a woefully ignorant op-ed arguing in favor of the less than 50 state attorney general settlement, based on the false premises that a deal will lead to meaningful principal mods and that the lack of a deal (as opposed to pervasive abuses that are also keeping investors away from private label paper) is the source of the dreaded “uncertainty” and hence must be eliminated. (Adam Levitin has already admirably dispatched the reasoning, such as it is, that underlies this op ed, which is a rehash of tired arguments).

Notice the Reuters article doesn’t even get to frauds on investors: double dipping (charing both investors and borrowers for the same fee), misrepresentations to investors (false certifications by trustees and servicers that they held the collateral in good order, Section 11 Securities Act by making representations about loan quality when they never reviewed the loans), and other abuses (such as reporting foreclosed properties being sold months after the fact to allow them to collect additional servicing fees).

Yes, it isn’t hard to see that the Obama Administration is choosing to sit on its hands. But the interesting part is that the ranks of supine validators may be thinning a smidge. The more state level prosecutions and headline-grabbing private cases move forward, the more difficult it will be for the Team Obama to persuade the press that really, truly, nothing can be done about those big rich bankers.

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61 comments

  1. fresno dan

    One problem is that neither party seriously wants to discuss the cause of the financial crisis. As if it happens like a tornado or hurricaine or earthquake – basically an act of God. The republicans rhetoric on the subject can only be characterized as insane. The democrats may actually be worse, as they can use words to show that they are not actually insane, but than choose not to do anything – there are two logical explanations:
    just venal corruption
    or
    an academic theory that big banks, big finance, is wonderful for the economy.
    Hmmmm……I might have to reconsider whether the democrats are not insane…
    The electorate has the choice of being dispatched by a gun or being dispatched by a knife

    1. Heron

      I don’t think it’s insanity per se, or even direct corruption, though a long history of “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” probably plays a role in it.

      Regarding most Republicans, I’d say this issue is more one of dogmatic correctness and party loyalty. It has been a truism for some time that when a conservative accuses the left of something, it’s typically a behavior they themselves are neck-deep in and “political correctness” is the first and most prominent example of this. It is simply blasphemous in the Republican party to say “capitalists broke the law” (after all deregulation is just removing corporate law from the books), or “unregulated free markets are the enemy of liberty”, and to go against the Party Line set down by Rush and Ailes -the real leaders of the Republican party- is to commit heresy. The ideological rigidity and revolutionary ardor cultivated in the wake of Goldwater’s defeat, and the insurgent zeal and xenophobia bred in the College Republicans movement, not to mention the injection of christian theocrats under Reagan, have created a political class where Orthodoxy trumps not just constituent interest, but self-interest as well. They don’t have policy planks, they have Commandments.

      As to the Dems, I think the writers here and academic econ writers like DeLong and Krugman get it best; rich bankers are the kinds of people they like hanging out with, and rich banker ideas are the the kind of thinking they are comfortable with. One need only look at all the Rubinites and corporate bosses buzzing around this admin, or realize that Obama studied at Chicago and the Chicago School of Economics is largely responsible for much of this mess, to see the truth of that. These are their friends, the families they marry into, the people they roomed with in college, and the world-view they’ve stewed in for decades. Lots of Dem pols are part of the upper-upper class, and -no surprise- they identify with the interests of that class, and see their policy proscriptions of rich-man lawlessness and “free markets” as genuinely good ideas.

      I’m not saying that corruption doesn’t take place -the fact that 99% of legislators are millionaires goes a long way towards showing there is- but it isn’t like anyone had to bribe Obama into not supporting single-payer healthcare, or actively fighting against including strong oversight measures in the bailouts. The insurance companies and bankers didn’t need to bribe him or anybody else, because the folks making the decisions already thought exactly like them. That’s what the debate over a bigger stimulus is really about, that’s what the debate over looting medicare and Social Security is about, and it’s even what the debate over our currently disastrous foreign and civil rights policies are about; the folks in power genuinely agree with the people directly profiting from these policies. If we’re going to change the path of our Union, we’re going to have to start there.

      1. James

        Which is to say that the good ol’ boys club will have to be broken. And exactly HOW will that happen? The same way it ALWAYS has. By brute force. Economic and/or religious/moral incentives? SURELY you jest!

      2. jake chase

        H, I think you are on the right track, and a major element in the problem is that what is taught about economics in colleges and universities is complete bullshit, so those brainwashed in their youth must be very, very sharp to even begin to understand what is really going on. Meanwhile, understanding it is a dead end careerwise, while parroting big money propaganda opens up cushy sinecures. The sad truth is toadyism pays.

  2. sleeper

    Well perhaps the tide is turning.

    But really is is nothing short of amazing how the MSM, both parties, state and local law enforcement have made sure that this issue stays silent.

    These guys for the most part repeat the same tired old bromides –
    Deadbeats – Federal government driven/forced equal opportunity loans, irresponsible borrowers, and now “I get it”.

    I expect that the present strategy is to put off any real action till after the election or if action must be taken some variant of the less than 50 state solution to paper over the criminal actions of the banks.
    If nothing else the delay of meaningful prosecution can be used to dilute the end result – note that this was a successful tactic for the Krupp corporation at the Nuremberg trials.

    Perhaps the time is past when Americans could expect that our government and our media could successfully address a real problem. As always when we tire of waiting for a knight on a white horse or a Shane we’ll end up havint to do it ourselves.

    1. Frank Speaking

      “watch dogs that didn’t bark…”

      and the fourth estate is culpable on that one as well.

      anyone for putting CNBC, FOX Business, WSJ and all the other booster media shills with blood on their hands in this?

      1. Frank Speaking

        anyone for putting CNBC, FOX Business, WSJ and all the other booster media shills with blood on their hands in this “IN THE DOCK”?

  3. PaulArt

    Brilliant Yves! Thanks for the link to the Reuters article, this is heartwarming that a major outlet like Reuters would shine a light on this shameful nepotism by the Obama administration.

    1. Melody

      Have you contacted OWS or Occupy DC? This is one of the best ideas I’ve heard yet. How much do toy whistles cost? Think we can find any whistles ‘made in America’? I’d certainly contribute to support an action like this!!!

    2. Crazy Horse

      Union Member, as you well know there are no whistles (or much of anything else) still made in the US. However we are quite good at inventing technological toys. So i suggest we build a few hundred Super Whistles to blow at the Department of Injustice. Highly directional 250 decibels should prove useful.

    3. JayB

      Yes. And throw yellow flags.

      Imagine a made-for-TV event where simultaneously a large crowd of people outside the DOJ whistle together then launch a giant arc of yellow flags at the DOJ.

    4. Union Member

      No Melody I haven’t, yet. Personal circumstances- along with the loss of Zuccotti Park- have kept me from participating as much as I’d like, or in the manner which is most useful (i.e. helpful and service oriented) for someone like me, who isn’t a public speaker, a gifted writer, or has one of the coolest websites in the free world, like Yves here.

      If I do ever get to D.C. to blow a whistle out side the DOJ I will carry a sign that reads, ” Eric Holder: Just Do Your Job.” for all those who don’t have a job directly due to fraud on Wall St and corrupt undemocratic policy choices in Washington.

      but thanks, I like your enthusiasm; I suspect that 99% of politicians suspect that the public really dislikes them, and that they are jealous of citizens like you because you can be who you are, uncorrupt.

  4. Jack M.Hoff

    Yves, All of what you say is true, but I would think its just some pot stirring by those in the media, so down the road they can say ‘we told ya so’. After all, the justice department would have to take hold of this mess to get anywhere, and we all know who they’re working for. (that isn’t Obama, its the bankers who are the same bosses Obama has). On a side note, wen you wrote about the “Illegal foreclosures on active duty servicemen, which are criminal misdemeanors under the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act”, I had read somewhere that the banks had bent over backwards to make sure no service members homes were foreclosed upon. In fact many had their loans wrote down or outright forgiven to make amends. If true, just another slap in the face to ordinary working americans. What is it that should place a mercenary above others? With all the bullshit talk about protecting our freedoms, I’ve yet to have anyone explain to me just how that is. I’d say they’re protecting corporate america’s freedom to steal resources around the world, but that’s the only freedom I can think of being protected.

  5. Norman

    Mr.Hoff’s last sentence is right on, seeing that the Military has always been used in this manner, in one way, shape, or form. The rot in all this, transcends all of government/military upper ranks, be it prestige, power, or just plain “Greed”. The calm before the storm.

  6. G man

    This is a letter that a friend has sent to Maryland State Attorney Gansler. She is an eloquent writer and it has taken me a while to get her up to speed, so use it for your templates if needed.

    One thing that is not mentioned here or anywhere is the fact that any settlement would come from the same people that the crime was perpetrated against. The money in banks belongs to the people and the tax bailout that was used to compensate the criminals belongs to the people.

    We do not need money at this stage, we have all the money specially if we claw it back, what we need prosecutions and nothing will correct the problem until that happens. These fines are a joke and will not stop criminals.

    Here is the letter:

    Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler
    200 St. Paul Place
    Baltimore, Maryland 21202

    Dear Mr. Gansler:

    I am writing to ask you to 1) take legal action against the banking industry in Maryland in the cases where they made loans on fraudulent basis., and 2) refuse to be a part of the multistate settlement with major banks that is being pushed by the federal government.

    Attorneys General in the 50 states have been asked to enter into a settlement with the big banks. This is a settlement that would obtain an inadequate amount of money to help the people hurt by the fraud perpetrated on the public. Several Attorney Generals, including Massachusetts’ Martha Coakley, refused to enter into this agreement because they know that this essentially slaps the wrists of these banks and has NO consequences for the executives at the top of these banks. Such a “cost of doing business” slap on the wrist is wrong and immoral.

    It is these very banks, with unscrupulous practices such as robo-signing, that have put our economy in its current position. Real punishment is in order – not just for the institutions, but for the people at the helm who knew this was going on. Because of these practices there are countless people who do not have a clear title to their homes. Those who wish to sell cannot do so because of this mess and others, upon whom foreclosure is being sought, cannot defend themselves because of the fraud.

    I know you have said that Maryland will be part of the multistate settlement. I urge you to pull out of that and take care of Marylanders with your own legal action. In other words, do not settle: sue them instead. Sue the executives personally, not just the institutions.

    NO banking executives – in any state – have paid the price that the average people caught up in this serial fraud have paid in loss of their homes and disruption of their financial situations and of their lives. Their salaries have not been impacted. Their future is now in question.

    Please take action, right here in Maryland, to right these wrongs.

    Thanks for your attention.

  7. Petey B.

    Wow, yeah.

    Most everyone reading here probably does realize Obama is just a pretty face for big business, which as a group is dominated by the financial industry. Chances of him pushing for prosecuting the mortgage industry is nil.

    The question is what to do about it? Republicans will be the same. The next Dem. prez will be the same. I agree with the commenter who said Take it to OWS.

    They won’t succeed in changing anything, but if they try hard, and they have the energy to try hard, then the experience will reveal the Democratic party to be the empty shell that it is. This is their real mission — undermine the common man’s faith in the system.

    I think anyone who has hope for (1) the USA and (2) our economic system will conclude that both the Dem and Repub parties need to die a complete and permanent death. The sooner we all conclude this the better.

    And our electoral system has to be severely reorganized to prevent a similar dynamic from forming. I don’t know if that would be enough, but if we get anything less, we might as well jump on the Dmitri Orlov bandwagon and give up on our current “system” completely. Stop wasting our energy trying to prolong it and start planning for it’s uncontrolled demise. I’m not ready to make that conclusion yet but I think the point of no return is coming quickly- maybe during this 2010’s decade?

    1. G man

      I totally agree and this is one of the reasons socialism begins to sound good to some.

      Here is a list of who is up for re-election:

      • The 2012 United States House of Representatives elections will be held on November 6, 2012. Elections will be held for all 435 seats, representing the 50 U.S. states. Elections will also be held for the delegates from the District of Columbia and five major U.S. territories.

      • 33 of the 100 seats in the Senate being contested in regular elections whose winners will serve six-year terms from January 3, 2013 until January 3, 2019. Additionally, special elections may be held to fill vacancies that occur during the 112th United States Congress. Currently, Democrats are expected to have 23 seats up for election, including 2 independents who caucus with the Democrats, while Republicans are expected to have only 10 seats up for election.

      1. Democrats/Independents retiring (6 seats)

       Joe Lieberman of Connecticut (Independent)

       Daniel Akaka of Hawaii

       4.1.3 Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico

       4.1.4 Kent Conrad of North Dakota

       4.1.5 Jim Webb of Virginia

       4.1.6 Herb Kohl of Wisconsin

      2. Democrats who have not announced intentions

       4.2.1 Dianne Feinstein of California

       4.2.2 Ben Nelson of Nebraska

      3. Democrats/Independents seeking re-election (15 seats)

       4.3.1 Tom Carper of Delaware

       4.3.2 Bill Nelson of Florida

       4.3.3 Ben Cardin of Maryland

       4.3.4 Debbie Stabenow of Michigan

       4.3.5 Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota

       4.3.6 Claire McCaskill of Missouri

       4.3.7 Jon Tester of Montana

       4.3.8 Bob Menendez of New Jersey

       4.3.9 Kirsten Gillibrand of New York

       Sherrod Brown of Ohio

       Bob Casey, Jr. of Pennsylvania

       Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island

       Bernie Sanders of Vermont (Independent)

       Maria Cantwell of Washington

       Joe Manchin of West Virginia

      4. Republicans retiring (2 seats)

       Jon Kyl of Arizona

       Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas

      5. Republicans seeking re-election (8 seats)

       Richard Lugar of Indiana

       Olympia Snowe of Maine

       Scott Brown of Massachusetts

       Roger Wicker of Mississippi

       Dean Heller of Nevada

       Bob Corker of Tennessee

       Orrin Hatch of Utah

       John Barrasso of Wyoming

    2. mac

      As long as the system used by the two parties exists in the House and Senate, whether they be call Democrats and Republicans or Vegans and Meat eaters the results will be the same. Individual members are just a vote used as directed by the party leaders.

  8. knowbuddhau

    Looking more and more like the fraud has been the policy all along. Is this what one of our classic Perkinsian economic hit jobs looks like up close and personal?

    After all, faking data and building debt-based monstrosities isn’t an aberration for EHM, it’s what they do.

    Who are the EHM in the neighborhood? In all our talk about current economic events, where’s the discussion of our covert ops? Did we think they’d never ever dare hit home?

    I know I did, Took me years after reading Confessions of an Economic Hit Man to realize, we very likely have our own home-grown Chicago Boys hard at work right here at home.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    So, this plan was cooked up — it was between the head of USAID’s Chile office and the head of the University of Chicago’s Economics Department — to try to change the debate in Latin America, starting in Chile, because that’s where developmentalism had gained its deepest roots. And the idea was to bring a group of Chilean students to the University of Chicago to study under a group of economists who were considered so extreme that they were on the margins of the discussion in the United States, which, of course, at the time, in the 1950s, was fully in the grips of Keynesianism. But the idea was that there would be — this would be a battle to the — a counterbalance to the emergence of left-wing ideas in Latin America, that they would go home and counterbalance the pink economists.

    And so, the Chicago Boys were born. And it was considered a success, and the Ford Foundation got in on the funding. And hundreds and hundreds of Latin American students, on full scholarships, came to the University of Chicago in the 1950s and ’60s to study here to try to engage in what Juan Gabriel Valdes, Chile’s foreign minister after the dictatorship finally ended, described as a project of deliberate ideological transfer, taking these extreme-right ideas, that were seen as marginal even in the United States, and transplanting them to Latin America. That was his phrase — that is his phrase.

    Naomi Klein: Wall St. Crisis Should Be for Neoliberalism What Fall of Berlin Wall Was for Communism
    http://www.democracynow.org/2008/10/6/naomi_klein
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Hasn’t the same obviously been done right here at home?

    1. nonclassical

      knowbuddhau..

      good reading list-add William Blum’s CIA expose’, 200 pages
      documented footnotes=”Killing Hope”, and Adam Curtis’ Trilogy, available on “half.com”..if people havn’t seen
      “The Century of Self” (on propaganda), “The Trap” (Yves posted it here on website) and “The Power of Nightmares”,
      (all BBC video) they have not understood the depth of the political problem…

  9. Jill

    Here’s an idea, fax Adora the evidence! “Justice Department spokeswoman Adora Andy declined to comment on the absence of prosecutions for foreclosure practices by big banks. She said in a statement: “The Department of Justice has been and will continue to aggressively investigate financial fraud wherever it occurs, including at all levels of the mortgage industry and, when we find evidence of a crime, we will not hesitate to pursue it.”

    Make certain to document the fax was received and what information was sent. Then follow up with a question. So, when do you pursue this?

  10. scraping_by

    The business model of a media company is to deliver an audience to an advertiser. In accounting for the audience numbers count, but so do qualities such as education, income level, age slice, etc. In the arcane bookkeeping of advertising rates, it all counts plus or minus.

    The fact Reuters, the mainest of the main stream, would lower itself to acknowledge awkward truths in an effort to retain audience is telling. No longer the image of the fat and happy middle class drudge whose interests are confined to fast food, TV spectacles, and yard work. The audience profile it’s shopping to its sponsors has a little sparkle of interest. They’re raising their heads.

    Then there’s this: While the sociologists like to paint a broad brush atomized society, it’s evidence ideas are spread through informal networks such as family, workplace, church (outside of sermons), school (outside of class), etc. The big boys in media are never going to lead with the kind of hypersilly business types controlling the media budget. By the way, boycott Lowes. But to retain some relevance they’ll have to follow.

    Reuters is part of the bleeding edge of the trailing lump. While no advertiser is going too far in self-dismissal in this consumer society, a little loosening may be in order.

  11. indio007

    What makes this all particularly more revolting is
    you could EASILY double the size of the list of abuses and frauds.

    I think DoJ and Obama as simply in some sort of state of denial. I seriously think they are suffering from normalcy bias.

    1. Jill

      indio007,

      Obama and the DOJ are not in denial. You may not know this but Obama promised not to prosecute Bush and Cheney before he was even elected. That was for war crimes.

      Once elected who did he appoint to run his economic policy? Timmy and Larry for two, guys that were up to their necks in the criminality leading to the collapse of our economy.

      This isn’t denial. This is being a willing lackey. It isn’t that Obama and Holder have been asleep at the switch. They’ve been very active on behalf of their actual constituency, their donors. I don’t know why this isn’t clear to people but I guess it has something to do with propaganda. It’s time to see through that propaganda and hold these people to account for their actions.

        1. acat

          Obama has always been a go along to get along bottom feeder..

          Why anyone thought he would change when he was clearly “of the system” was beyond my limited comprehension.

      1. Jack M.Hoff

        U go Jill, I too have a hard time understanding people who lay all the fraud at stupidity’s feet, or blame the democrats or republicans. Hell those type of people are as much of a problem as the whores we have in govt.

    2. nonclassical

      More like Orwellian “double-think”=intentional ignorance…

      do people have any idea what is set up by Obama refusal to do “transparency, oversight, accountability”??

      Read about John Rendon, democrat, “Rendon Group”, hired to do propaganda for Panama, Iraq…

      realize somewhere in excess of 50% of “intel gathering” is being farmed out to private contractors, whose military branch stands to profiteer from wars..

  12. aeolius

    Naw
    The US MSM cherry remains intact.
    Reuters like FT is London based

    Lets face it the US media is as contolled as any Banana Republic.

  13. Hugh

    The mortgage disaster with all its interlinked frauds is by far the largest economic crime in the history of the world. Consider that, the biggest financial crime not of the last decade or century but of the last 5,000 years. Obama’s inaction, and more than that, defense of the banking industry are not policy failures. They show the depth of his own criminality. It is a criminality that marks not just him but our elites generally.

    Remember our elites are supposed to know more than we do. They are supposed to be well ahead of the curve from us. The justification for their privileges, positions, and wealth rests on this supposed superior understanding and the quality of their governance. The reason that they did not stop these frauds at the time, bailed out those responsible for them, actively blocked investigation and prosecution of them, and torpedo or dilute into oblivion reforms that would keep them from happening again, is that they work, not for us, but precisely for those who orchestrated these frauds and profited from them.

    And this is only one of their crimes. Add to this their pointless wars and the great wealth they have systemically stolen from the middle class over the last 35 years. Obama bears the full weight of this guilt because he continus to promote the crimes that underlie it. And his guilt is iconic of the guilt of our elites.

    We need to drop the poisonous pretense that Obama and our elites are normal, that they act in good faith but are simply ignorant, incompetent, or wrong. They are as committed to their criminality as Al Capone or al Qaeda were to theirs, but these were just insignificant pikers compared to our elites and the damage they have done.

    1. Cynthia

      Hugh,

      I can’t even begin to express how disgusted I am that the mainstream press is helping to protect Obama from being prosecuted for war crimes and his wealthy campaign contributors from being prosecuted for financial crimes. This blatant kind of corruption is something that we would expect to see and hear about in the former Soviet Union.

      So what was the point in us winning the Cold War only to find ourselves staring down the barrel of a shotgun that’s imported from the former Soviet Union? I thought that I’d stop losing sleep over this once Obama replaced Bush, but sadly that’s far from being the case.:~(

    2. bigsurtree

      The 2nd biggest financial crime in the last 5,000 yrs.
      The granddaddy of them all was the outright grand theft larcency that pumped enough gold and silver into the world economy to kickstart the modern era i.e. The 200 year ruthless, violent, genocidal extraction of Meso and South
      American precious metals and pricelss art.

      1. Hugh

        Actually the amount of gold that was sent to Spain from the Conquests was small by modern standards, probably no more than 40 tons (this is a guesstimate; others are free to correct me). The amount of silver that was sent was probably a couple hundred times this but its value was a lot less relative to gold. You have to understand that economies were much smaller back then and mining techniques much less efficient and much more dangerous.

        1. PL_2

          Well if you’re even a little conservative the amounts you cite could add up to 10 – 20 trillion easy.

          Is that more than this time?

          1. Hugh

            Not to be needlessly picky about this but there are 32,000 ounces in a ton (16 x 2,000). Gold was selling for a little over $1,600/ounce today. A ton of gold would therefore cost (3.2 X 10^4)(1.6 X 10^3) dollars, that is $5.12 X 10^7 or $51.2 million. 40 times that would be $2.048 billion. Even being generous and doubling this amount to take into account the value of silver would change very little. You could increase it by an order of magnitude or even two and it still would not be in the ballpark of today’s economies. Modern economies are just vastly, vastly larger. And you have to understand that this is an amount that was extracted over a period of 50-100 years. It was enough, along with numerous imperial wars and costs of empire, to wrack and wreck the Spanish economy of the time with inflation but not much else.

          2. nonclassical

            Robert Johnson, designated Senate Banking Chairman, brought
            before the combined Congress to explain economic disaster defined the number as “$600 trillion in derivatives, 95% owned by 6 U.S. investment banks”..

  14. Abelenkpe

    Yeah yeah it sucks. Not sure anyone else would be able to do much more. There is too much corruption at every level. What about investigating the build up to Iraq? The retroactive immunity given to telecoms for spying on Americans? Water boarding? Our continuing to pollute the hell out of the planet in pursuit for profit? Voting in a different administration won’t get us anywhere without getting money out of politics, voting in a congress that isn’t owned by corporate interests and who actually represents the needs of the people. A good start overturning the travesty that is citizens united. and while were at it why is Thomas not being investigated and thrown out for lying about his wives income? Cmon any average Joe would already have been punished.

  15. Frank Speaking

    I suspect 99 percent of those posting here with a chorus of whines were content and smug if not fat and happy with the way things were going all through the bubble’s inflation right up until the Fall (no pun intended) of 2008.

    Probably more than one house flipper, definitely several self-diagnosed day traders seduced by whiz bang software and “trading apps” and everyone else pleased their homes’ value had doubled, tripled and more and the 401K was through the roof.

    Good times.

    And how many here voted for Nader in 2000? How many for Bush in 2004?

    As the pocket book has proven the most reliable predictor of voting patterns for decades it is safe to say that is what is driving what passes for “politics” in the US.

    Now that those second and third (fourth?) mortgages are looking like really, really bad ideas and Johnny and Susie’s four years at an institution of “higher learning” that neither of them had any business attending in the first place—two years at a community college and a degree from a nearby state school would have provided maximum utility for securing their futures—have hit the wall and those debts have come due (as they always do) it is time for an explanation.

    If Republicans no longer care about modeling personel responsibility what chance is their for anyone else to take a good look in the mirror and own up to bad choices made by that reflection of your former wealthier and wiser self?

    If you are going to hold the financial sector accountable you will also have to hold the Real Estate Industry accountable, tax assessors, appraisers, title companies and everyone—EVERYONE— working in any of those areas.

    The media was reporting on the goings on and anyone reading the stories of Mark Pittman, the WSJ’s blogs (pre-murdoch) and the business pages of major dailies (not to mention Roubini and both of Nassim Taleb’s books; Fooled by Randomness and the Black Swan)and had not yet fallen under the sway of less than zero borrowing costs could have clearly seen the center would not hold.

    Pittman’s stories are still in Bloomberg’s archive for all to read as are the words of Taleb and Roubini and the dates the words were first published.

    Bubbles, bust and boom capitalism require two ingredients of which their is unlimited supply in the human race—cupidity and delusional thinking.

    1. F. Beard

      So who is to blame? A relatively few bankers or the entire US population sans a few like Frank?

      Let’s see. Do bankers practice counterfeiting? Yes. Is counterfeiting wrong? Yes. Do bankers practice usury? Yes. Is usury almost universally condemned by the world’s major holy books? Yes. Can usury and counterfeiting drive boom-bust cycles? Yes.

      Conclusion: The bankers are the culprits and not the US population per Occam’s Razor.

    2. PL_2

      Ridiculous. Everyone’s to blame so no one is.

      Homeowners who could have sold if the market hadn’t crashed are equally responsible with bankers who crashed the market.

      Ridiculous.

    3. JTFaraday

      So, just because we were sufficiently smart enough :)~~ to end up here, that means we must all be day traders or house flippers?

      Opportunists unite.

      You know, I wish I were an opportunist. Maybe I should make that my New Year’s resolution.

  16. acat

    Exceptional post about an EXCEPTIONAL COUNTRY.

    Ah that shining city seems to have been on fire upon closer inspection.

    The preening goldilocks economic screeching was beyond disgusting back in the “good old days”.

  17. Tim

    I thought the most poignant part of the article was the description of what the watchdogs did decide to prosecute: the “little people”. This is a clear set of facts that supports the assertion that we have a two tier justice/enforcement system.

    The only thing I didn’t like about the article was that the final quote says we don’t know why this is happening instead of leading the audience to the obvious: our justice/enforcement system is bought and paid for by the big boys with big money.

  18. kravitz

    Mediate reports that Barbara Walters got him to admit he’s kinda lazy. Now we know what’s going on. Work is hard.

  19. Fiver

    Ruling in 2011, as opposed to much of the prior century, not only do the oligarchs believe they are forever free from the “masses” or “labour”, but also some in those elite elements (eg.,academics, artists, journalists, some professionals) that had once supported at least a degree of compassion, fairness, a sense of the public good. But over the course of decades, those elements have been largely absorbed, neutralized, splintered, bought, etc.

    It is very, very difficult to see what social base of any sort exists or what effective means might be employed to mount a concerted, successful, peaceful challenge to these thugs given the scope and depth of their penetration. It’s not as if this is about who can make the best argument given they don’t care enough even about their own children to act in the interests of their future. I fear the public will fail to respond in time to avert a more much wrenching collision of interests a little further down the road.

  20. EH

    Obama isn’t going to be told when to prosecute, he has to wait for maximum electoral impact. It’s an instance of what Wikileaks taught him and his minions.

  21. mookie

    Thanks for driving traffic to stories like this Yves. Editors and journalists often say that the stories they assign or write are driven by traffic. e.g., “We would write more about financial fraud, but those stories just don’t get much traffic.” Using your daily links and dedicated stories like this to direct traffic to MSM stories about issues we already know about may help shift the larger discourse. Fellow readers, send links like these around.

  22. RBHoughton

    Today’s choices are to inflate debt away or write-down debt. The former will diminish the middle classes, the latter will preserve them.

    There is a real alternative in returning to exchange of value instead of credit but we will have to rebel before that could become mainstream.

    1. different clue

      Is paying for something in cash-not-credit a form of non-illegal passive-aggressive rebellion? It does withhold a swipe fee from reaching a credit card company. If 50 million people used cash-not-credit-cards for more of their daily purchases, think how much swipe fees would not be reaching the Lords of Card Credit. Think how many income streams would be attrited and dried up.

      Just because it isn’t sexy or TV newsworthy, does that mean it is not rebellion? Or not effective?

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