Tag Archive: Wall St

Dec 18 2013

Q and A: Priceman

I have Joslyn Stevens's permission to repost this interview.

This week I conducted an interview with a progressive populist I follow on twitter, Priceman, whose annoying habit of using facts and common sense with a dose of in-your-face realness to prove his points tends to piss off democrats over at the “progressive” DailyKos. I feel it’s necessary to showcase often ignored voices representative of the people who speak truth to power and will continue to do so on a weekly basis.

The democratic blog DailyKos claims to be a reform blog open to all views but as we both know opposing views aren’t welcome. Are they doing their readers a disservice by promoting and defending a corporate Democratic Party that doesn’t represent working-class Americans and hasn’t for a long time?

A. Hi, Joslyn. It’s nice to talk to you. I have a lot to say on this topic. Not only are they doing their readers a disservice, they are making a laughing stock of the so called progressive blogosphere as a whole. Wanting “more and better Democrats” does not mean a whole lot when those who administer and run that site, coddle so called Democrats that are openly hostile to the programs that shaped the party’s platform in the first place, from the New Deal and Great Society. That site’s administrators play favorites there and try to hide it; President Obama and his enablers are who take precedence over everything else on Daily Kos.

I base this on the very poor job their site moderators do at that site, and the lack of self awareness that comes from denying it, which happens every time anyone looks into it. There are a number of good diarists that write there, but they do not receive equal treatment; posters whose sole mission is to protect their hero in the White House, are allowed to break the site rules and troll any posts not favorable to the Obama administration. And if anyone retaliates against them, only then does the site’s administration get involved in order to put them in their place while pretending to just enforce site rules, which are arbitrary, selective, and not clearly defined at all except in secret.

Sure, they might ban an obvious sockpuppet whose sole mission is to attack Glenn Greenwald, but that is low hanging fruit and does not hide the obvious bias at that Democratic gatekeeper site. The business model there relies on pretending that every problem in our society must be the fault of the Republicans, instead of both parties colluding together for the continuing grand austerity bargain happening now with the first step: the sequester. The White House wrote the sequester and put out there, but to mention that is blasphemous at Daily Kos like most other critiques of the President when it comes down to it. This is specifically true during election season; posters are banned for harshly criticizing the President.

I witnessed this first hand, and even I was warned in 2012 for doing so; I merely uprated a factual comment that in some ways there is little difference between Mitt Romney and President Obama. The 2012 Obama campaign went after Bain for outsourcing jobs, closing plants, and devastating US communities. Yet, now that the election is over, President Obama has appointed Jeff Zients, a former executive of Gov. Mitt Romney’s Bain & Company investment firm, as head of the National Economic Council.

To add insult to injury, on civil liberties issues, the owner of the Daily Kos, Markos Moulitsas, was asked how he feels about what Snowden revealed with regard to the 4th amendment being trashed by this administration continuing and expanding the Bush administration’s NSA war on terror abuses, and he said he honestly didn’t care. He said that worrying about spying was a very white privileged thing to do. However, anyone who has done even a modicum amount of research, knows that New York — pretty much the whole country, but especially New York — has changed after 9/11; it is now outfitted with a massive surveillance arsenal to more efficiently conduct racist policies like stop and frisk which does affect black people suffering from real white privilege in the real world.

This is similar to the drug war President Obama is continuing, which is also racist, since most incarcerations for drug possession are disproportionately black even though white people use the same amount or much more in many cases. Some on Daily Kos will try to deny this by saying the drug war is mostly a state issue and that you should just go yell at your local mayor and city council, and leave Obama alone. That would be fine if the Obama administration did not deploy for-profit prison lobbyists in their Justice Department like U.S Marshall, Stacia Hylton. The Prison Industrial complex lobbies all states to have access to the prisoners arrested for drug possession in whatever state they set up. This is coddled and supported at the federal level.

Not to mention all the broken promises from Eric Holder and the President about not raiding medical marijuana dispensaries. None of this is mentioned on Daily Kos when it comes to issues about race, and it’s perpetuating real racism which involves institutions like this and always has. So, this is not something Markos — and those that like him who scoff at what Glenn Greenwald and Edward Snowden have revealed — can ignore while claiming to care about real white privilege, real racism, and what’s going on in the real world on the federal level and at the state level aided and abetted by the drug warriors in the Obama administration at the federal level.

No, once Markos wrote a book about “Crashing the Gate” with regard to the political blogosphere he was instrumental in creating, along with Howard Dean’s campaign, in filling the void that the bought oligopoly — the mainstream media that failed and is still failing the public — left. However, now that a Democrat is in the white house, sites like Daily Kos are gatekeepers. They are not interested in crashing any gates. This is how they run the site and ultimately this is their business model.

I wrote there for a time, but I would now warn others that Daily Kos is not the site where intellectual debate is allowed on anything substantial. Only about how bad the other bought political party is. That is, instead of Democrats, with few exceptions, and Republicans working together to subvert representative Democracy. Oh, how mighty the once promising site has fallen and will continue to fall now that we know what the site’s true purpose is; shilling for the status quo as long as it has a (D). This, we all now know and can see.

There’s no reason to read anything on that site. It’s no different than what’s on MSNBC.

Jun 02 2011

Goldman Sachs Gets Subpoenas From NYC DA

Leave it to the District Attorney of Manhattan to do what the Obama DOJ failed to do, investigate properly the fraud that led to the economic crisis.

Goldman Receives Subpoena Over Financial Crisis

By Andrew Ross Sorkin and Susanne Craig

Goldman Sachs has received a subpoena from the office of the Manhattan district attorney, which is investigating the investment bank’s role in the financial crisis, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The inquiry stems from a 650-page Senate report from the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations that indicated Goldman had misled clients and Congress about its practices related to mortgage-linked securities.

Senator Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan, who headed up the Congressional inquiry, had sent his findings to the Justice Department to figure out whether executives broke the law. The agency said it was reviewing the report.

The subpoena come two weeks after lawyers for Goldman Sachs met with the attorney general of New York’s office for an “exploratory” meeting about the Senate report, the people said.

From Talking Points Memo:

Manhattan DA Subpoenas Goldman Sachs Over Financial Crisis

The subpoena is apparently based on information contained in a Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations report on Wall Street’s role in the housing market collapse. The report was critical of Goldman Sachs, and accused the bank of misleading buyers of mortgage-linked investments.

Apr 20 2011

No Reason to Believe

Why would anyone believe ratings or projections by the S&P or Moody’s after their part in crashing the economy?  

Rather than assess risk accurately, two major rating agencies sold their top seals of approval to their investment bank clients, blessing products that the agencies themselves knew to be undeserving, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations concluded in a report released Wednesday. By repeatedly debasing their standards, these agencies helped banks sell shoddy securities to unsuspecting investors, inflating the value of assets that turned out to be worth far less, the report has found.

The senate panel, led by Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), levels a two-part charge against the rating agencies: Not only did these companies help inflate a dangerous bubble, the report says, but they also bear responsibility for popping it, as their abrupt downgrades of mortgage-linked securities in 2007 helped set off the panic that caused markets around the world to collapse.

Wall St. wants more austerity and and their puppets in Congress will help them every step of the way. So why should anyone take this seriously? Susie Madrak at Crooks and Liars reminds that “the banks liked the recession”

You’d think, considering the part played by Standard and Poors, Moody’s and Fitch in covering up these stinking piles of crap inadvertently rating mortgage derivatives as sound and crashing our economy, they would have the good grace to shut up and sit down.

But since nothing happened to hold accountable any of these craven clowns, what possible incentive do they have to tell the truth? And what reason do we have to believe them? After all, they’ve already displayed their willingness to sell their ratings to the highest bidder.

Let me remind you that bankers actually like the recession. They like the falling wages and the weak job market. The only thing that really worries them is inflation, and only because it raises wages and depresses the value of their holdings. Don’t trust anything that comes out of their mouths, or the feckless minions who sell their souls to them.

No reason to believe them now.

Apr 18 2011

DOJ Ignoring Grand Theft Wall Street

Former New York governor and attorney general general, now CNN talk show host Eliot Spitzer appeared on Anderson Cooper’s “360” with “Rolling Stone” editor and blogger, Matt Taibbi discussing the two year investigation of the financial institutions that “plunged the U.S. economy into a painful recession”. The Senate subcommittee’s 650 page report that was released on April 13th is a scathing indictment of cover-ups,  lies, the conflict of interest of regulators and the cozy relationship with ratings agencies. During the discussion, Spitzer challenged Attorney General Eric Holder to either prosecute Goldman Sachs or resign:

SPITZER: Senator, I’m going to take a leap. I’m going to say it out loud. Very directly.

   Goldman Sachs, you lied to the public. You lied to your clients. You’ve got a problem. You come on the show. Sue me. I don’t care. You lied to the public, you should be prosecuted.

   I’m going to say it right now. And I hope they are.

It isn’t surprising that the “powers that be” went after Spitzer because this is the man who should be the US Attorney General.

Apr 14 2011

Goldman Sachs and Criminal Fraud

Oh, wouldn’t this be lovely? Now lets see if Timmy and Bill can convince Eric that there is nothing to see here.

Goldman Sachs Misled Congress After Duping Clients, Levin Says

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) misled clients and Congress about the firm’s bets on securities tied to the housing market, the chairman of the U.S. Senate panel that investigated the causes of the financial crisis said.

Senator Carl Levin, releasing the findings of a two-year inquiry yesterday, said he wants the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission to examine whether Goldman Sachs violated the law by misleading clients who bought the complex securities known as collateralized debt obligations without knowing the firm would benefit if they fell in value.

The Michigan Democrat also said federal prosecutors should review whether to bring perjury charges against Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein and other current and former employees who testified in Congress last year. Levin said they denied under oath that Goldman Sachs took a financial position against the mortgage market solely for its own profit, statements the senator said were untrue.

Goldman criticised in US Senate report

By Tom Braithwaite in Washington and Francesco Guerrera and Justin Baer in New York,

Financial Times

April 14 2011 00:15 | Last updated: April 14 2011 00:15

US Senate investigators probing the financial crisis will refer evidence about Wall Street institutions including Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank to the justice department for possible criminal investigations, officials said on Wednesday.

Carl Levin, Democratic chairman of the powerful Senate permanent subcommittee on investigations, said a two-year probe found that banks mis-sold mortgage-backed securities and misled investors and lawmakers.

“We will be referring this matter to the justice department and to the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission),” he said. “In my judgment, Goldman clearly misled their clients and they misled Congress.”

Last year, Goldman paid $550m to settle SEC allegations that it defrauded investors in Abacus, a complex security linked to subprime mortgages.

Naming Culprits in the Financial Crisis

By Gretchen Morgenson and Louise Story

New York Times

A voluminous report on the financial crisis by the United States Senate – citing internal documents and private communications of bank executives, regulators, credit ratings agencies and investors – describes business practices that were rife with conflicts during the mortgage mania and reckless activities that were ignored inside the banks and among their federal regulators.  

The 650-page report, “Wall Street and the Financial Crisis: Anatomy of a Financial Collapse,” was released Wednesday by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations…

…The result of two years’ work, the report focuses on an array of institutions with central roles in the mortgage crisis: Washington Mutual, an aggressive mortgage lender that collapsed in 2008; the Office of Thrift Supervision, a regulator; the credit ratings agencies Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s Investors Service; and the investment banks Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank.

“The report pulls back the curtain on shoddy, risky, deceptive practices on the part of a lot of major financial institutions,” Mr. Levin said in an interview. “The overwhelming evidence is that those institutions deceived their clients and deceived the public, and they were aided and abetted by deferential regulators and credit ratings agencies who had conflicts of interest.”

Mar 23 2011

Wall St. Reform or Not: Dodd-Frank Bill

One of the regulation under the Dodd-Frank bill that was passed by Congress was regulating the derivatives by publicly trading them in exchanges. One of those derivatives, foreign exchange swaps is now on the verge of being exempted from regulation by none other than Wall St,’s best friend, Secretary of the Treasury, Timothy Geithner. It is a $4 trillion-a-day market that allows businesses to convert one currency to another currency. It also supports speculation, and facilitates the carry trade, in which investors borrow low-yielding currencies and lend high-yielding currencies, and which  may lead to loss of competitiveness in some countries. It is one of the markets that the Federal Reserves spent trillions of tax dollars propping up during the financial crisis in 2008 because of its speculative practices and lack of regulation.

Now, from Robert Kuttner at The American Prospect, Timmy wants to “blow a hole in Dodd-Frank”

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is close to a decision to exempt the $4 trillion-a-day foreign-currency market from key provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act requiring greater transparency in the trading of derivatives. In the horse-trading over the final conference version of that legislation last year, both Geithner and financial-industry executives lobbied extensively to give the Treasury secretary the right to create this loophole. As the practical reach of Dodd-Frank is defined by the executive branch, this will be the first major decision to signal whether regulators will act to strengthen or weaken the reforms….

Geithner has already made his own views clear. In testimony before the Senate Agricultural Committee in December 2009, he declared that the foreign-exchange market needed no special regulation. “The FX [foreign exchange] markets are different,” he said. “They are not really derivative in a sense, and they don’t present the same sort of risk, and there is an elaborate framework in place already to limit settlement risk.”

snip

However, previously confidential information recently made public by the Federal Reserve Board reveals that in the aftermath of the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September 2008, the Fed pumped in $5.4 trillion over a three-month period to keep the foreign-currency market from collapsing. The Fed’s peak injection of dollars on any one day occurred on Oct. 22, 2008, when it reached $823 billion, according to a Wall Street watchdog group’s, Better Markets, analysis of the Fed data release….

Sen. Maria Cantwell, one of the most effective advocates for strong derivatives regulation during the Dodd-Frank debates, says, “I can’t believe the first decision the administration would make to carry out Dodd-Frank would be an anti-transparency decision. The idea that the foreign-exchange markets are not at risk is preposterous — we now know that they required multitrillion-dollar bailouts. Anytime you have a lack of transparency, there is potential for abuse.”

snip

Abuse of derivatives was at the absolute center of the financial meltdown. The collateralized debt obligations that were built on pyramids of sketchy mortgages whose value collapsed were, of course, derivatives. The mortgages themselves had been converted into highly leveraged, artificial securities — the essence of a derivative. So were the credit-default swaps that took down American International Group. With a derivative, a tiny amount of capital can control a much larger financial bet, and until the Dodd-Frank reforms, the derivatives were constructed and traded privately, with no regulator scrutiny. If such bets go wrong, massive losses ensue. And in a generalized loss of confidence, even well-capitalized institutions fail to accept each other’s credits.

(all emphasis mine)

In other words, it is business as usual that got us into the financial mess were are now trying to dig out from under. Nice work, Barack