Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Banksters

What astounds many is the stunning lack of accountability for the greed and misdeeds that brought the world to its gravest financial crisis since the Great Depression. There has been no legal, moral, or financial reckoning for the most powerful wrong-doers. Nor have there been meaningful reforms that might prevent a repeat catastrophe.  Those who run the central financial institutions have escaped culpability. Those at the top of the chain have long since fled the scene with the proceeds, while the rest of us are left with the bills. Predatory lenders and crooked mortgage lenders walked away with millions in ill-gotten gains. But they aren’t in jail. They aren’t even under criminal prosecution. They got away scot-free. As a general rule, the worse you behaved from 2000 to 2008, the better you’ve been treated. This was fraud perpetrated by the rich on the poor and a government that permits this to happen is complicit in the crime.

We shouldn't really be surprised that the Obama administration has chosen not to prosecute Goldman Sachs for fraudulent practices. After all the financiers were Obama's major campaign contributors in 2008 and provided many of his presidential advisors. After all, bank fraud is often presented as simply as just another if slightly dubious business model. It is viewed as a victimless crime with regulators and police investigators underfunded and under-staffed. CEOs and giant corporations face a completely different legal system than the rest of us, one in which their vast resources are used to ensure that they can safely ignore laws and rules applicable to small fry. One study, Corporate Lobbying And Fraud Detection, by Frank Yu of Barclays Global Investors and Xiaoyun Yu of Indiana University found "...that firms’ lobbying activities make a significant difference in fraud detection: compared to non-lobbying firms, firms that lobby on average have a significantly lower hazard rate of being detected for fraud, evade fraud detection 117 days longer, and are 38% less likely to be detected by regulators. In addition, fraudulent firms on average spend 77% more on lobbying than non-fraudulent firms, and spend 29% more on lobbying during their fraudulent periods than during non-fraudulent periods. The delay in detection leads to a greater distortion in resource allocation during fraudulent periods. It also allows managers to sell more of their shares." Sarah Fulmer and April Knill of Florida Statein their paper, Political Contributions and the Severity of Government Enforcement, examined data on PAC contributions by corporations and CEOs and SEC data on enforcement to show that "…accused executives whose firms have contributed to political campaigns via a PAC are banned as an officer for three fewer years, serve probation for five fewer years, prison for six fewer years and are 75% less likely to be given both prison time and an officer ban (the most severe form of criminal and civil penalties)…"
 Paul Moore – former Head of Risk at HBOS – said: "The financial crisis has resulted in the greatest humanitarian crisis since WWII … We are witnessing a financial holocaust brought on by the banksters with millions of deaths in the offering."

This is not an abstract concept. Children will die from the actions of Wall St. The United Nations estimate that the global financial crisis sweeping through Wall Street and the European banking sector will touch the lives of the world’s most vulnerable, pushing millions into deeper poverty and leading to the deaths of thousands of children. The report highlighted the prospect of an increase of between 200,000 and 400,000 in infant mortality. The global economic crisis is set to trap up to 53 million more people in poverty according to the World Bank.

Capitalism is fraud. Capitalism is criminal. Capitalism is murder.

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