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What A Destructive Wall Street Owes Young Americans

By Ralph Nader | March 14, 2014

Wall Street’s big banks and their financial networks that collapsed the U.S. economy in 2008-2009, were saved with huge bailouts by the taxpayers, but these Wall Street Gamblers are still paid huge money and are again creeping toward reckless misbehavior. Their corporate crime wave strip-mined the economy for young workers, threw them on the unemployment rolls and helped make possible a low-wage economy that is draining away their ability to afford basic housing, goods, and services.

Meanwhile, Wall Street is declaring huge bonuses for their executive plutocrats, none of whom have been prosecuted and sent to jail for these systemic devastations of other peoples’ money, the looting of pensions and destruction of jobs.

Just what did they do? Peter Eavis of the New York Times provided a partial summary – “money laundering, market rigging, tax dodging, selling faulty financial products, trampling homeowner rights and rampant risk-taking – these are some of the sins that big banks have committed in recent years.” Mr. Eavis then reported that “regulators are starting to ask: Is there something rotten in bank culture?”

The “rot” had extended long ago to the regulators whose weak laws were worsened by weak enforcement. Veteran observer of corporate criminality, former Texas Secretary of Agriculture and editor of the Hightower Lowdown newsletter, Jim Hightower writes:

“Assume that you ran a business that was found guilty of bribery, forgery, perjury, defrauding homeowners, fleecing investors, swindling consumers, cheating credit card holders, violating U.S. trade laws, and bilking American soldiers. Can you even imagine the punishment you’d get?

How about zero? Nada. Nothing. Zilch. No jail time. Not even a fine. Plus, you get to stay on as boss, you get to keep all the loot you gained from the crime spree, and you even get an $8.5 million pay raise!”

Hightower was referring to Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase, “the slick CEO who has fostered a culture of thievery during his years as a top executive at JPMorgan, leading to that shameful litany of crime.”

Shame? Dimon doesn’t know how to spell it. “I am so damn proud of this company. That’s what I think about when I wake up every day” he said in October, 2013.

Millions of young Americans (called Millennials, between ages 18 and 33) should start agitating through demonstrations, demand petitions and put pressure on the bankers and members of Congress. First the plutocrats and their indentured members of Congress should drop their opposition to a transaction tax on Wall Street trading. A fraction of a one percent sales tax on speculation in derivatives and trading in stocks (Businessweek called this “casino capitalism”) could bring in $300 billion a year. That money should go to paying off the student debt which presently exceeds one trillion dollars. Heavy student debt is crushing recent graduates and alarming the housing industry. For example, people currently between the ages of 30 to 34 have a lower percentage of housing ownership than this age group has had in the past half century.

A Wall Street transaction tax was imposed in 1914 and was more than doubled in 1932 to aid recovery from the Great Depression before it was repealed in 1966. But the trading volume then was minuscule compared to now with computer-driven trading velocity. A tiny tax – far less than state sales taxes on necessities – coupled with the current huge volume of trading can free students from this life-misshaping yoke of debt.

Some countries in Europe have a securities transaction tax and they also offer their students tuition-free university education to boot. They don’t tolerate the same level of greed, power and callous indifference to the next generation expressed by the monetized minds of the curled-lipped Wall Street elders that we do.

What about young people who are not students? The Wall Street tax can help them with job-training and placement opportunities, as well as pay for tuition for technical schools to help them grow their skills.

A good many of the thirty million Americans stuck in a wage range lower than the minimum wage in 1968, adjusted for inflation, (between $7.25 and $10.50) are college educated, in their twenties and thirties, and have no health insurance, no paid sick leave and often no full-time jobs.

A youth movement with a laser-beam focus, using traditional forms of demonstration and connecting in person, plus social media must come down on Wall Street with this specific demand. Unfortunately, while Occupy Wall Street started an important discussion about inequality, they did not advance the transaction tax (backed vigorously by the California Nurses Association), when they were encamped near Wall Street and in the eye of the mass media in 2011. A missed opportunity, but not a lost opportunity. Fighting injustice has many chances to recover and roar back.

It is time for, young Americans to act! Push Congress to enact a Wall Street speculation tax to help roll back your student debt and give you additional opportunities that are currently denied to you by the inside bank robbers who never had to face the sheriffs. They owe you.

As William C. Dudley, the eminent president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York recently said of Wall Street – “I think that they really do have a serious issue with the public.” Yes, penance and future trustworthiness enforced by the rule of law.

Young America, you have nothing to lose but your incessant text messages that go nowhere.

Start empowering yourselves, one by one, and then connect by visiting Robin Hood Tax.

March 16, 2014 Posted by | Corruption, Economics, Solidarity and Activism | , | Comments Off on What A Destructive Wall Street Owes Young Americans

Obama’s ‘Raise’ for Federal Workers is a Bad Joke

By Dave Lindorff | This Can’t Be Happening | January 30, 2014

President Obama, five years late, in his fifth State of the Union speech, decried the terrible income gap in the US, a gap which has worsened during his years in the White House. Saying he was tired of the obstruction of his policies by Republicans in Congress, he said he would take action on his own, and as evidence offered up the puny “fix” of raising the minimum wage paid to employees working on federal projects from its current $7.25 to $10.10 per hour. This executive order, which could have been done when he took office in the depths of the Great Recession back in 2009, would be not immediate but would be phased in over the next three years.

What a pathetic joke!

As the New York Times pointed out the next day in its report on the president’s speech, the “raise” he was offering would only apply to “a few hundred thousand” workers. If we assume that “few” to be 300,000 people, and that each of those people works a 40-hour week 50 weeks per year, that would mean that in the first year, when the incremental increase will be 95 cents/hour, each worker currently earning $7.25 per hour will earn an extra $1900, for a total gain by all the impacted workers of $570 million.

Just to give a sense of how little that $570 million is, it works out to just over one-third of the unit cost of one F-35 Joint Strike Fighter [1]. That’s the Pentagon’s latest new fighter jet, designed and built by Lockheed-Martin, the one that has no enemy to fight and that is probably too flawed and too costly to ever risk in battle anyhow.

What is really obscene about the president’s token wage-increase gesture is that the $10.10 wage that he is saying the federal government will ultimately pay to its contract workers in three years would, in constant dollars, still be less than what the federal minimum wage was back in 1968, almost half a century ago! Heck, if the president had really wanted to show the obstructive Republicans and the American people that he meant business about going it alone, he could have used that same executive authority to grant those impoverished workers an immediate raise to $15 per hour — the rate that voters approved as a minimum wage last November in Seattle, Washington, and that labor activists say would actually go a ways towards alleviating rampant US poverty.

Even worse is the reality that we wouldn’t even be talking about this pathetic offer, or about a current federal hourly wage of $7.25, if Obama, back in 2009, fresh off a huge election win and with Democratic Party control of both houses of Congress, had honored his campaign pledge to re-establish fairness in the National Labor Relations Act by passing “card check” legislation, making it possible for workers to unionize their workplaces by simply having a majority of workers sign cards saying they wanted a union. As things stand, and as the Obama the candidate denounced on the stump, employers are able to use the NLRA to delay union elections for years, during which time they typically engage in a campaign of lawless intimidation, illegally fire union organizers and end up defeating union drives, suffering no penalty afterwards (labor law limits employers found guilty of violations to having to pay back lost wages. There is no provision in the law to hit violators with penalties.)

Had Obama not reneged on his promise to the workers who voted him into office, dropping, right after his oath of office was taken, all efforts to reform the labor laws relating to union organizing, and had he instead, back when he had a Congress that, as a (then) popular new president he could have pressed for passage of the needed legislation, we would not today have only 11.3 percent of Americans in unions (and only 6.7% of workers in private-sector businesses!).

The reality is that even as the percentage of unionized American workers has continued to decline from over 30 percent in the 1950s to 11.8 percent in 2011 and 11.3 percent today, Bloomberg News reports [2] that the percentage of those workers who tell pollsters they would prefer to be in a union has continued to grow, with a majority of workers saying they would prefer to be working in a unionized workplace. In fact, the percentage of workers saying they would prefer to be unionized is higher than it has been since 1980. (As for those right-wing claims that unionized workers don’t like their unions, the same polling shows that 90 percent of union members would vote for their union if given the chance.)

Obama screwed his worker supporters from day one, when he decided to “delay” reforming the labor laws to make the unionization process fairer and illegal anti-union tactics by employers more difficult. Now he’s down to insulting them with his latest pathetic offer of a puny “raise” for the lowest paid federal contract employees.

Meanwhile, it is in his power to take another action which would, albeit indirectly, profoundly impact the wage and wealth gap currently afflicting this country. He could reverse his 2009 instructions to his lickspittle Attorney General Eric Holder not to criminally prosecute the executives of the giant financial corporations that robbed the American people and trashed the US economy, throwing it into what continues to be the greatest economic collapse since the Great Depression. Prosecuting the financial tycoon/crooks and clawing back their hundreds of billions of dollars in ill-gotten gains would not only dramatically level the wealth divide by hacking away the high incomes; it would also send a message to the whole corrupt capitalist class that ill-gotten gains would no longer be ignored.

Sadly, though, instead of prosecution of the criminal syndicate that is the banking industry, the Obama administration, when it has even bothered to prosecute larger institutions, has only levied fines on these companies — always without even requiring them to admit to guilt — fines that barely even dent the banks’ record profits, and that usually can be deducted from income, thus making them effectively subsidized by the very taxpayers who have been injured by the industries crimes.

The latest such outrage was the non-prosecution settlement reached by the Attorney General’s office with JPMorgan Chase, the nation’s largest bank. Under that settlement, JPMorgan Chase pays $20.5 billion in fines for its conscious and deliberate role in enabling the $65-billion ponzi scheme of Bernie Madoff, all of which was conducted through an account at JPMorgan Chase. There was no effort to prosecute JPMorgan Chase Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon, who headed the bank through years of the entire Madoff scam, and AG Holder didn’t even insist, as he could have, that the bank dump Dimon as Chair and CEO. So Dimon continues in his role as head of the bank despite what has to be seen as either his complicity in an unprecedentedly huge criminal conspiracy, or his incomprehensively inept leadership.

And just to show how little the banking industry fears the Obama administration and its “Justice” Department, within less than two weeks of this outrageous “settlement,” the JPMorgan Chase Board of Directors voted to raise Dimon’s salary and bonus package by 75% to $20 million. No doubt the board members voting for this raise think Dimon earned the extra $8 million for keeping them all out of jail, along with himself.

It used to be that Democratic presidents would coddle and enrich the wealthy and powerful, while tossing crumbs to working people. Obama has taken this favor-the-rich tradition further. He openly serves the rich and powerful and then insults the intelligence of the working people who voted him into office.

January 31, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , | 1 Comment

Harsh Prosecution for the Little People and the Big Guys Skate

By Dave Lindorff | This Can’t Be Happening! | January 9, 2014

The US Department of “Justice” has a distinctly nuanced concept of that term, taking a tough, no-holds-barred stance when it comes to individuals — especially little people without much power or influence — and trying at all costs to avoid prosecution when it comes to the powerful, and to big corporations — especially big financial corporations. That schizoid approach to prosecution is personified in the recent actions–and inaction–of the DOJ’s man in Manhattan, US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara.

You remember Preet. He’s the guy who came down so hard on a deputy consul general of the Indian Consulate in New York who was accused by his office of “human trafficking.” Specifically, 39-year-old Devyani Khobragade stands accused of lying to US visa officials in New Delhi when she applied for a visa to bring an Indian maid to the US to work in her home, allegedly claiming to them that she would be paying the woman some $4500 a month, when the maid, who left the job, claimed she was paid just $573 monthly. The US prosecutor (himself a naturalized citizen and native of India who grew up in the US) had Khobragade arrested as she dropped her two children off at school, brought her to the federal lock-up in Manhattan, where she claims she was strip searched and cavity searched several times, and finally released her on $250,000 bond, to face felony charges that could potentially result in 10 years’ jail time. (Khobragade has denied the charges and claims that the maid in question was extorting her family.)

Explaining his tough approach to the case, Bharara has stated that Khobragade’s treatment under arrest was not harsh, and that she was simply subjected to “routine procedures of the US Marshal’s Service” for persons being placed in detention following arrest. In fact, he claimed she had been extended “special courtesies” such as being allowed to make multiple phone calls to assure that her children would be cared for in her absence, and being offered coffee by her arresting officers. Bharara also defended his department’s tough approach in this case saying that human trafficking is a serious crime and that “Foreign nationals brought to the United States to serve as domestic workers are entitled to the same protections against exploitation as those afforded to United States citizens.” He went on to declare that the alleged lying to visa officials and the alleged “exploitation of an individual” were something that “will not be tolerated.”

Some might immediately point out that exploitation of low-paid American workers is rampant — including in Bharara’s jurisdiction of New York–and that the Justice Department largely ignores it. (US workers routinely are defrauded out of overtime, get paid below minimum wage, are denied unemployment benefits they are owed, are forced to work in dangerous conditions, and are abused on the job and the “Justice” Department does nothing.) But even putting that huge hypocrisy aside, there’s the matter of Jamie Dimon and JPMorgan Chase.

This past week, Preet Bharara also announced that his office had reached an agreement with the nation’s largest “too-big-to-fail” bank on a fine and penalties of $2.5 billion for violating the Bank Secrecy Act. Specifically, JPMorganChase was accused of turning a blind eye to the record-breaking pyramid scheme of Wall Street scammer extraordinaire Bernie Madoff, who bilked clients out of a staggering $65 billion over two decades, largely working through one account he had at JPMorganChase.

Now, you’d think that for a crime that large and egregious, someone — and ideally it would be bank head Jamie Dimon — ought to have been frog-marched in cuffs out of JPMorganChase headquarters, and then brought down to the same lock-up Bharara had Khobragade taken to, there to be similarly given the “routine” treatment of strip searches and cavity searches that she got. (After all, Dimon became the bank’s president and chief operating officer back in July 2004, later becoming chairman and CEO too, and over that period the bank concedes there had been plenty of internal warnings about Madoff, who was essentially using the bank to execute his massive fraud.)

Nope. Didn’t happen.

In fact, while the the US Attorney’s Office claims Bharara and his prosecution team technically “filed” criminal charges against the bank (though not against any bank officials), when they met in a “congenial” setting with Dimon and his attorneys, it was agreed that there would be no criminal prosecution at all. Instead, the bank agrees to a fine of $1.7 million plus a payment of $350 million to the Comptroller of the Currency as well as some $500 million in compensation to victims, and said it would accept a “deferred prosecution agreement,” giving the bank two years to “overhaul its controls against money laundering.” After that time, all is to be forgotten, and the charges will be dropped. Under this sweetheart agreement, the bank did not have to plead guilty to anything as part of this deal, but was allowed instead to “stipulate to the facts of the case.” This is even though JPMorganChase admitted that its own office in the UK, in 2008, sent a detailed warning explaining to senior managers that Madoff’s whole operation appeared to be a scam. (Wouldn’t you get a deal like that after an arrest for pot possession or for DWI!)

Bharara insisted, at a press conference announcing the settlement and the agreement to drop any criminal prosecution against the bank, that it was a good deal. He went to great lengths to insist that the bank’s failure was “institutional,” implying that it would not be appropriate to prosecute individuals. He refused to comment on the suitability of Dimon to continue running the bank, though his office could easily have insisted on Dimon’s departure as part of any non-prosecution settlement. He also several times repeated that there were “concerns” about possible “collateral consequences” of a criminal prosecution. At one point, when questioned by a reporter, he explained that those “consequences” might include “employees being laid off, the bank failing, or shareholders losing money.” Of course, JPMorganChase failing would merely mean that the institution would be broken up, with the pieces being taken over by other institutions under supervision of the Office of Comptroller. Lost jobs? What about all the jobs lost because of Madoff’s scams? And as for shareholders, aren’t they the owners of the bank, who are supposed to be insisting that it is well run and acting in accordance with the law, not to mention looking out for fraud? If they weren’t doing that, then they deserve to lose money!

What’s really going on, though Bharara struggled mightily to avoid having to admit it, is that if you’re big enough and powerful enough, you don’t get criminally prosecuted by the DOJ.

Remember that phrase “Equal justice under the law”? It’s engraved on the front facade of the US Supreme Court an is supposed to be a fundamental American principle. Apparently it’s just a slogan though. If you’re the nation’s largest bank, or the boss of that bank, it doesn’t apply to you. Just ask US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara.

Maybe we should just change the name of Bharara’s parent agency to US Department of Injustice. At least that would be honest.

January 10, 2014 Posted by | Corruption, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , | Comments Off on Harsh Prosecution for the Little People and the Big Guys Skate

Pity JP Morgan/Chase

By CHRISTOPHER BRAUCHLI | CounterPunch | December 20, 2013

One has to feel sorry for JPMorgan Chase. Several months ago it thought it had not only paid a sufficient amount in fines to make up for its bad behavior but it had also engaged in a form of penance for some of the bad things it had done. Little did it know.

The penance was reformation of its practices with respect to payday loans. Before the reforms, JPMorgan Chase (and  many other institutions dealing with payday lenders) permitted payday lenders to automatically withdraw repayment amounts from the borrowers’ bank accounts and agreed to prevent borrowers from closing their accounts or issuing stop payment orders so long as the payday lender was not fully repaid. As a result a borrower who did not have enough money in the bank to repay the lender the amount due on a given date was charged an insufficient fund fee by the bank each time the lender submitted a request for payment in many cases generating hundreds of dollars in fees imposed on the borrowers. That practice came to an end in May 2013. The fines it paid, in addition to its act of penance were described by Kevin McCoy of USA Today.

Between June 2010 and November 2012 JPMorgan Chase paid more than $3 billion in fines and settlements that related to, among other things, overcharging active-duty service members on their mortgages, misleading investors about a collateralized debt obligation it marketed, rigging at least 93 municipal bond transactions in 31 states,  and countless other misdeeds. In August 2012  alone it paid a fine of $1.2 billion to resolve a lawsuit that alleged it and other institutions conspired to set the price of credit and debit card interchange fees. In January 2013 and February 2012 it paid $1.8 billion to settle claims that it and other financial institutions improperly carried out home foreclosures  after the housing crisis. Not only did it pay large fines. Jamie Dimon, its unfailingly cheerful, beautifully coiffed  CEO, took a pay cut which, including deferred compensation, reduced his daily salary from $63,013 to $31,506. Sadly, those events were not to be the end of its troubles. Indeed, as it turns out they were merely the tip of the iceberg.

In July 2013 it paid $410 million for alleged bidding manipulation of California and Midwest electricity markets. In September 2013 it paid $389 million for unfair billing practices, in September it paid $920 million for actions of the “London Whale” disaster, and in October 2013 another $100 million with respect to the same fiasco. Then came the really big news. On November  19, 2013 it was reported that JPMorgan Chase was going to pay $13 billion to settle what in non-legal terms would be described as a whole bunch of claims that had to do with the mortgage crisis of a few years back. Included in the $13 billion is $4 billion for consumer relief, $6 billion to pay to investors and the remaining $3 billion is a fine. December 13 it was announced that the bank was entering into a $2 billion  deferred prosecution agreement with the government because of its role in the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme. According to the settlement the bank ignored signs that suggested Bernie Madoff was conducting a Ponzi scheme and cheating his investors.

The payment of almost $20 billion in fines would be enough to spoil the holidays for almost anyone. Happily for the bank, there was a silver lining to its financial cloud.  Although $13 billion is a lot of money, Marianne Lake, the Chief Financial Officer of the bank explained that taxpayers will help the bank pay the fine. She explained that of the $13 billion, $7 billion is tax deductible. In addition to that bit of cheery news, no one has to plead guilty to anything bad in connection with the Madoff fine. Although the bank is agreeing to a deferred prosecution no one such as Jamie Dimon,  is going to jail. There will, of course, be some public shame for the bank, kind of like being placed in the stocks in a public square. The court filing in which the settlement is finalized will list in detail all the criminal acts committed by the bank for which it will not be punished.  There is not a criminal anywhere in the world who would not happily accept a public recital of the crimes committed instead of entering a formal plea of guilty with the attendant risk of going to jail. A bit of embarrassment beats a bit of time in jail every time. Just ask Jamie Dimon or other officers at JPMorgan Chase.

CHRISTOPHER BRAUCHLI is a lawyer in Boulder, Colorado. He can be e-mailed at

December 21, 2013 Posted by | Corruption | , , | Comments Off on Pity JP Morgan/Chase

Banking on Influence with JPMorgan Chase

Global Power Project, Part 4

By Andrew Gavin Marshall | | July 3, 2013

In May, JPMorgan Chase was listed as the largest bank in the world with assets at roughly $4 trillion — some $1.53 trillion of it in derivatives. This was reported a month after the announcement that the bank had posted a record first-quarter profit of $6.5 billion.

Jamie Dimon, the bank’s CEO and Chairman, has faced a host of scandals in relation to his management of the megabank, including the loss of roughly $6 billion through the London branch of the bank — losses that Dimon was accused of hiding. A 300-page report by the U.S. Senate, investigating the “creative accounting” of JPMorgan, noted that the bank “hid losses, did not share information with its regulators, and misled the public” in what one banking regulator referred to as “make believe voodoo magic.” Stated bluntly in The New York Times, JPMorgan Chase, the largest derivatives dealer in the world, “is too big to regulate.”

In the midst of the scandal, the bank faced a potential “revolt” of its shareholders in a bid to strip Dimon of his dual role as CEO and Chairman. In confidential government reports which were leaked to The New York Times, the bank was accused of “manipulative schemes” which transformed “money-losing power plants into powerful profit centers” while executives made “false and misleading statements” under oath.

Yet even in the midst of scandal, Jamie Dimon was praised in a storm of support by billionaires, corporate kingpins and media barons. Calling JPMorgan Chase “as good a bank as there is,” New York City mayor and billionaire media baron Michael Bloomberg went on to call Dimon “a very smart, honest, great executive.” News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch praised Dimon as “one of the smartest, toughest guys around,” while Jack Welch, former chairman and CEO of General Electric, referred to him as a “great leader” and said he had earned the “right to hold both Chairman and CEO titles.” To top it off, billionaire investor and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffet, dubbed Dimon “a fabulous banker.”

And the adoration goes all the way to the top rung. In 2009, The New York Times referred to Jamie Dimon as “President Obama’s favorite banker.” In 2010, Obama told Bloomberg BusinessWeek that he didn’t “begrudge” bank CEOs like Jamie Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs for their massive bonuses of $17 and $9 million, respectively. Obama explained: “I, like most of the American people, don’t begrudge people success or wealth. That is part of the free-market system.” The president added, “I know both those guys; they are very savvy businessmen.”

In May of 2012, Obama rushed to Jamie Dimon’s defense in light of the financial scandals, stating that Dimon was “one of the smartest bankers we got.” The Financial Times referred to Dimon as “the last king of Wall Street.” And when finally faced with the decision to strip Dimon of his dual role as chairman and CEO, Obama’s “favorite banker” ended up winning “a decisive victory” by maintaining both his roles.

But this is just the surface of JPMorgan Chase’s financial manipulations. The bank, in fact, was at the forefront of creating Credit Default Swaps (CDS), a key aspect of the derivatives market that led to the inflation and subsequent blowout of the housing bubble. JPMorgan developed these “financial instruments” as a type of insurance policy in 1994, allowing the bank to trade its debt (in the form of loans to corporations and governments) to third parties, thus handing off the risk and removing the debts from its accounts, which allowed it to make further loans. JPMorgan opened up the first CDS desk in New York in 1997, “a division that would eventually earn the name the Morgan Mafia for the number of former members who went on to senior positions at global banks and hedge funds.” Back in 2003, the same Warren Buffet who would later praise Dimon referred to credit default swaps as “financial weapons of mass destruction.”

JPMorgan was also at the forefront in the United States pushing for financial deregulation, particularly the slow-motion dismantling of the Glass-Steagall Act that had been put in place in 1933 in response to the financial speculation which had helped spark the Great Depression. After hearing proposals from banks such as Citicorp, JP Morgan and Bankers Trust, which advocated the loosening of “restrictions” put in place by Glass-Steagall, the Federal Reserve Board in 1987 voted to ease many of the regulations. That same year, Alan Greenspan, who had previously been a director of JP Morgan, became the chairman of the Fed. In 1989, the Fed approved an application submitted by JP Morgan, Chase Manhattan, Citicorp and Bankers Trust to further reduce the regulations imposed by Glass-Steagall. In 1990, JP Morgan became “the first bank to receive permission from the Federal Reserve to underwrite securities.”

Financial deregulation accelerated under President Clinton, much to the delight of Wall Street banks, which were then permitted to merge into megabanks, with JPMorgan merging with Chase Manhattan to form JPMorgan Chase. As early as 2006 and 2007, multiple megabanks were beginning to bet against the housing market through various hedge funds, allowing them to make profits on the housing collapse they created. JPMorgan continued to sell mortgages as it bet against the mortgage market, passing on the risk while it hedged its bets to profit from the failure and losses of others. In 2011, the bank paid a $153 million fine to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to settle allegations of “securities fraud.”

In the midst of the financial crisis in 2008, JPMorgan Chase became not only a major criminal, but also a prime beneficiary. In 2007, the global investment bank Bear Stearns was named by Fortune magazine as the second “most admired” financial securities company in the United States, while Lehman Brothers was put in first place. As the financial crisis erupted, Bear Stearns executives “discovered” that they were “nearly out of cash” in March of 2008. The CEO of Bear Stearns, Alan Schwartz, made a phone call to Jamie Dimon — JPMorgan Chase was the clearing agent for Bear Stearns — asking for an overnight loan. Dimon, who also sat on the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, turned there instead of providing the loan through his own bank. The president of the New York Fed – who was elected by the banks that own the New York Fed – was Timothy Geithner. Geithner began discussions with Bear Stearns, and the following morning he held a meeting with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, the former CEO of Goldman Sachs, where they agreed to an emergency loan for Bear Stearns, providing the funds through JPMorgan Chase.

Over the following day, Geithner and Paulson informed Bear Stearns that it must sell the bank within days, and a deal was negotiated in which JPMorgan Chase would purchase Bear Stearns at $2 per share. Though Dimon had first refused to purchase the failed bank, he now engaged in negotiations with Geithner who won over Dimon by guaranteeing $30 billion for JPMorgan to purchase the sunken bank. Long story short: through the New York Fed, the U.S. government purchased billions of dollars in bad debts made by Bear Stearns, including $16 billion in credit default swaps that were downgraded to “junk” assets, while JPMorgan Chase acquired $360 billion in Bear Stearns assets with little or no risk.

With the purchase of Bear Stearns facilitated by the New York Fed, and for the benefit of JPMorgan, Geithner continued in his role as willing servant to the banks who had elected him as president. Then, in September of 2008 when the insurance conglomerate American International Group (AIG) plunged into crisis and sought support from the government, the Fed and Treasury initially refused. AIG turned to JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs, who went to the government to pressure for state support. The New York Fed, with Geithner at the helm, again organized a secret bailout of the institution, valued at $85 billion. In October, the government added an extra $38 billion to the AIG bailout, and the New York Fed provided a further $40 billion in November. Overall, U.S. taxpayers bailed out the insurance giant with $150 billion.

Because many banks kept junk assets with AIG which didn’t affect its balance sheets, the insurance giant was allowed to continue making risky loans. Meanwhile, the New York Fed, noted Bloomberg journalist David Reilly, acted as “a black-ops outfit for the nation’s central bank,” and as a “quasi-governmental institution [which] isn’t subject to citizen intrusions such as freedom of information requests.” The AIG bailout, wrote Reilly, revealed what could be described as a “secret banking cabal.” Through AIG, bailout funds went to American, French, German, British, Swiss, Dutch and even Canadian banks. Goldman Sachs received over $12 billion, and billions also went to Merrill Lynch, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wachovia, Morgan Stanley, and JPMorgan Chase.

JPMorgan Chase was using bailout money from the government to purchase other banks and companies. As one executive at the bankcommented in regards to a $25 billion bailout from the government, “I think there are going to be some great opportunities for us to grow in this environment.” The banks repaid the bailout loans from other bailout funds they got from government, siphoning off taxpayer moneyback and forth and rewarding them for their risky behavior. One university study noted that banks with political access – whether through lobbying efforts or board membership on the Fed – were more likely to get bailout funds, and in bigger numbers, than other banks. Notably among the most politically connected banks were Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley.

According to a 2012 study by the International Monetary Fund and Bloomberg magazine, JPMorgan Chase continues to receive government support far beyond the bailouts, as it is a major recipient of corporate welfare and state subsidies. In fact, according to the study, the biggest bank in the world gets roughly $14 billion per year in state subsidies and welfare, largely helping “the bank pay big salaries and bonuses.”

The Biggest and Most Connected Bank

Not only is JPMorgan Chase the biggest bank in the world with over $4 trillion in assets, but its power and influence extends far beyond financial matters. It is a major political force in the world, highly integrated within the network of global elites who make up the plutocratic ruling class. As the subject of study for the Global Power Project, I examined 55 people at JPMorgan Chase, including all members of the executive committee, the board of directors and the international advisory council.

Of the 55 individuals examined at the bank, a total of 13 (or roughly 24%) of the individuals were either members or held leadership positions (previously or presently) with the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). The CFR has been at the heart of the foreign-policy elite of the United States since it was created in 1921. Further, a total of eight JPMorgan officials held leadership positions in the World Economic Forum, the second most represented institutional affiliation of the bank. Holding yearly conferences that bring together thousands of participants from elite financial, corporate, political, cultural, media and other institutions, the WEF is one of the principal forums for the global elite, with JPMorgan operating right there at the center.

The next most represented institution is the Trilateral Commission, with 5 individuals at JPMorgan Chase holding membership in the international think tank – or “global policy group” – uniting elites from North America, Western Europe and Japan (and now also including China, India, and other Pacific-rim nations). The Trilateral Commission itself was founded in 1973 by the CEO of Chase Manhattan Bank – which later merged into JPMorgan Chase – David Rockefeller.

In descending order, the other most highly represented institutions having cross membership between leadership positions with JPMorgan Chase are: the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (4), the Business Council (4), Citigroup (4), Bilderberg (4), the Group of Thirty (4), Sara Lee Corporation (3), Harvard (3), American Express (3), American International Group (3), the Business Roundtable (3), Rolls Royce (3), the Center for Strategic and International Studies – CSIS (3), the European Round Table of Industrialists (3), the Peterson Institute for International Economics (2), the U.S.-China Business Council (2), and the National Petroleum Council (2).

Institutions which hold two individual cross leadership positions with JPMorgan Chase include: the Monetary Authority of Singapore, the University of Chicago, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., General Electric, Asia Business Council, the U.S. President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), the Coca-Cola Company, National Bank of Kuwait Advisory Board, INSEAD, China-United States Exchange Foundation, Mitsubishi, the Carlyle Group, and the IMF.

Meet the Elites at JPMorgan Chase

It’s worth taking a look at some specific individuals who serve in a leadership and/or advisory capacity to JPMorgan Chase to get an idea of the composition of some of these global plutocrats.

Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase, sits on the boards of directors of: the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Harvard Business School, and Catalyst. He is a Trustee of the New York University School of Medicine, a member of the Executive Committee of the Business Council, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a member of the International Business Council of the World Economic Forum, a member of the Financial Services Forum, and a member of the International Advisory Panel of the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

Members of the board of JPMorgan Chase include James A. Bell, former President of Boeing and a current member of the board of Dow Chemical; Crandall C. Bowles, a director of Deere & Company and the Sara Lee Corporation, a former director of Wachovia, a Trustee of the Brookings Institution, on the Governing Board of the Wilderness Society, and a member of the Business Council and the Economic Club of New York. Other JPM board members include Stephen B. Burke, CEO of NBC Universal and Executive Vice President of Comcast Corporation; David M. Cote, the Chairman and CEO of Honeywell International who sits on President Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, on the advisory panel to Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR), and is a member of the Trilateral Commission; and Lee Raymond, director of the Business Council for International Understanding, who sits on the advisory panel to KKR, is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and former Chairman of the National Petroleum Council as well as former Chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil, from which he retired in 2006 with a compensation package of $398 million.

JPMorgan Chase has an International Council which provides advice to the bank’s leadership on economic, political and social trends across various regions and around the world. The International Council is chaired by Tony Blair, former Prime Minister of the UK, who also sits as an adviser to Zurich Financial. The Council includes Khalid A. Al-Falih, the President and CEO of Saudi Aramco (Saudi Arabian Oil Company), the world’s largest oil company, who also sits on the International Business Council of the World Economic Forum. Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is also on JPMorgan’s International Council, and sits as Chairman of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), a partnership between the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation. Annan is also on the boards of the United Nations Foundation, the World Economic Forum, and he is a member of the Global Board of Advisors of the Council on Foreign Relations.

The Council includes the third richest man in Mexico, Alberto Bailléres, as well as the Chairman and CEO of Telecom Italia, Franco Bernabé, who was the former CEO of Eni, one of the world’s largest oil companies (and Italy’s largest corporation), as well as the former Vice Chairman of Rothschild Europe. Bernabé sits on the board of PetroChina, China’s largest oil company. Bernabé is also a member of the European Round Table of Industrialists (a group of roughly 50 major European CEOs who directly advocate and work with EU political leaders in designing and implementing policy), he was a former Advisory Board member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a member of the board of FIAT, and is actively a member of the Steering Committee of the Bilderberg Meetings.

Martin Feldstein, a prominent Economics professor at Harvard and the President Emeritus of the National Bureau of Economic Research, is another member of the International Council. Feldstein was the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers to President Ronald Reagan and sat on the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (an “independent” group that advises the president on intelligence matters) under President George W. Bush (from 2007-2009). President Obama appointed Feldstein to the Economic Recovery Advisory Board, and he also sits on the board of the Council on Foreign Relations, is a member of the Trilateral Commission, a participant in Bilderberg Meetings, and is a member of the International Advisory Board of the National Bank of Kuwait.

Gao Xi-Qing is the Vice Chairman, President and Chief Investment Officer of the China Investment Corporation (CIC), China’s sovereign investment fund. He was referred to by the Atlantic as “the man who oversees $200 billion of China’s $2 trillion in dollar holdings.” Another notable Chinese member of the International Council is Tung Chee Hwa, the former Chief Executive and President of the Executive Council of Hong Kong, a core policy-making institution in the government of Hong Kong. Tung Chee Hwa is also the Vice Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), a major political advisory group in the People’s Republic of China, once chaired by Mao Zedong. Tung Chee Hwa as well is the founder and Chairman of the China-United States Exchange Foundation, and a former member of the International Advisory Board of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Carla A. Hills is the only woman on the JPMorgan International Council, and is Chairman and CEO of Hills & Company International, a global consulting firm. She was the former United States Trade Representative in the George H.W. Bush administration, where she was the primary negotiator for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). She is also the Co-Chair of the Council on Foreign Relations, and sits on the International Boards of Rolls Royce and the Coca-Cola Company, as well as sitting on the board of directors of Gilead Sciences. Hills is a Counselor and Trustee of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a major American think tank where she also sits as Co-Chair of the Advisory Board (alongside Zbigniew Brzezinski, co-founder of the Trilateral Commission). In addition, Hills is a member of the Executive Committee of both the Trilateral Commission and the Peterson Institute for International Economics, as well as sitting on the boards of the International Crisis Group and the US-China Business Council, as Chair of the National Committee on US-China Relations, and Chair of the Inter-American Dialogue.

Henry Kissinger – former U.S. Secretary of State, National Security Adviser to President Richard Nixon, and Secretary of State to President Ford – also sits on the International Council of JPMorgan. Kissinger was a former adviser to Nelson Rockefeller, who recruited Kissinger as director of the Special Studies Project of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund in the 1950s. Kissinger was a director of the Council on Foreign Relations from 1977-1981, is a member of the Trilateral Commission, a former member of the Steering Committee and continuous participant in the Bilderberg Meetings, and is founder and chair of Kissinger Associates, an international consulting and advisory firm. Kissinger Chaired the National Bipartisan Commission on Central America during the Reagan administration, which provided justification for Reagan’s wars in Central America, and he was also a member of the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board from 1984-1990, advising both Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Alongside Zbigniew Brzezinski, Kissinger was a member of the Commission on Integrated Long-Term Strategy of the National Security Council and Defense Department, established in the late 1980s to develop a long-term strategy for the United States in the world. Kissinger has also been a member of the Defense Policy Board, providing “independent” advice to the Pentagon leadership on matters of foreign policy, from 2001 to the present, for both the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations. Kissinger is also a Counselor and Trustee of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Honorary Governor of the Foreign Policy Association, an Honorary Member of the International Olympic Committee, an adviser to the board of directors of American Express, and is a Trustee Emeritus of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In addition, Kissinger is a director of the International Rescue Committee, the Atlantic Institute, and is on the advisory board of the RAND Center for Global Risk and Security, as well as Honorary Chairman of the China-United States Exchange Foundation.

Mustafa V. Koc is also a member of the International Council, and is Chairman of Koc Holding AS, Turkey’s largest multinational corporation. He also sits on the International Advisory Board of Rolls Royce, the Global Advisory Board of the Council on Foreign Relations, is a member of the Steering Committee of the Bilderberg Meetings, a former member of the International Advisory Board of the National Bank of Kuwait, and is Honorary Chairman of the Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen’s High Advisory Council.

Gérard Mestrallet is the Chairman and CEO of GDF Suez, one of the largest energy conglomerates in the world, and is on the board of Suez Environment (one of the major water privatization companies in the world), and also sits on the supervisory board of AXA, a major global French financial conglomerate. He is also an advisory board member of Siemens, and is a member of the European Round Table of Industrialists and the International Business Council of the World Economic Forum.

John S. Watson is the Chairman and CEO of Chevron Corporation. He is on the board of the American Petroleum Institute and is a member of the National Petroleum Council, the Business Roundtable, the Business Council, the American Society of Corporate Executives, and the Chancellor’s Board of Advisors of the University of California Davis. He is also a member of the International Business Council of the World Economic Forum.

The Chairman of JPMorgan Chase International, Jacob A. Frenkel, is Chairman and CEO of the Group of Thirty, and a member of the International Council. He is also a former Vice Chairman of American International Group (from 2004 to 2009, when it was rescued with the massive government bailout); the former Chairman of Merrill Lynch International (from 2000 to 2004), and the former Governor of the Bank of Israel (from 1991 to 2000). Frenkel was an Economic Counselor and Director of Research at the International Monetary Fund (from 1987 to 1991) and prior to that he was the David Rockefeller Professor of International Economics at the University of Chicago (from 1973 to 1987). In addition, Frenkel is the former Editor of the Journal of Political Economy, former Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, former Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Inter-American Development Bank, and a former member of the International Advisory Board of the Council on Foreign Relations. Frenkel is currently a member of the board of directors of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), a member of the Trilateral Commission, member of the International Advisory Council of the China Development Bank, member of the board of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, member of the Economic Advisory panel of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, member of the Council for the United States and Italy, member of the Investment Advisory Council of the Prime Minister of Turkey, and sits on the board of Loews Corporation.

To sum: it should be clear, from the evidence, that the leadership of JPMorgan Chase is not an isolated group of individuals involved in finance and exclusively relegated to the banking world, but a highly networked and influential group consisting of central figures in the global plutocracy – referred to as the “Transnational Capitalist Class” – with significant economic, social and political power. To refer to JPMorgan Chase simply as “a bank” is like referring to the United States as just “a country.” A geopolitical force unto itself, and a conglomerate embedded within a transnational network of elite institutions and individuals, JPMorgan Chase goes beyond the financial indicators. Put simply, it is one of the most powerful banks in the world.

Andrew Gavin Marshall is an independent researcher and writer based in Montreal, Canada. He is Project Manager of The People’s Book Project, head of the Geopolitics Division of the Hampton Institute, the research director of’s Global Power Project, and has a weekly podcast with BoilingFrogsPost.

July 5, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Economics, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Comments Off on Banking on Influence with JPMorgan Chase

The insolvent United States banking system: lessons from J.P. Morgan Chase

Why the banks must be nationalized

By Horace Campbell | PAMBAZUKA NEWS | 2012-05-17

Since September 15, 2008 the United States economy has been like a ticking time bomb with the unregulated activities of the banks the fuse that is slowly burning. This fuse has affected the international banking system and while citizens of the United States are focused on an electoral contest, the issues of the future of the U.S banking system, the future of the dollar and the future of the Euro are bringing home the reality of the capitalist depression. Two weeks ago, Paul Krugman released a book entitled, End this Depression Now. This book sought to galvanize action by the US government to stimulate the economy based on the twentieth century Keynesian ideas of stimulating growth. Increasingly, it is becoming clearer that far more drastic political measures will be needed if the international financial system is to be protected from the gambling of the top bankers in the United States. Wealth creation and a new economic system are needed to meet the needs of human beings.

This reality was brought home last Thursday, May 10, when it was revealed that J. P Morgan Chase, the largest bank in the United States had been involved in the most risky type of speculative trading that was not supposed to be undertaken by a federally insured depository institution. The nature of the speculative trading is still covered up by the media but from what has been coming out there were bets placed by a derivative trader who was placing US$100billion bets that the US economy would recover. One report called the operation ‘trades in the synthetic derivatives hedging business.’

Whether this is the real cause of the attention to JP Morgan Chase will only come to light when the media and the representatives of the people call for the removal of Jamie Dimon, the CEO of this bank and takes over the bank. While the information on the $3 billion loss is as opaque as the business world of the financial system, the nature of the risk that was being undertaken is reserved exclusively for the big banks and offers multi- million dollar profits in this ether world that is called financial capitalism.

JPMorgan Chase is currently one of the biggest banks in the world supposedly with $2.1 trillion in assets and more than 239,000 employees. I used the word ‘supposedly’ because JP Morgan Chase was one of the recipients of more than$26 billion of Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds after the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the American International Group (AIG) in September 2008. Troubled Assets was the term coined by the US government to hide from the world the state of the insolvency of the US banking system where the big banks had overextended themselves in the housing bubble issuing what was then called mortgage backed securities. These banks are still mired in the toxic mess from the orgy of speculation of that era and JP Morgan compounded its own risky position by taking over the bad bank, Washington Mutual.

The Bank JP Morgan Chase grew bigger and riskier after absorbing two of the failed banks at the center of the MBS debacle. JPS acquired Bears Stearns and Washington Mutual. Hence on top of its own involvement in the casino economy, JP Morgan Chase had taken on two failed banks in an attempt to save the US financial system.

The Tarp instrument was the means through which the US government had ‘bailed out the banks and investment houses in 2008. JP Morgan Chase was involved in the same credit default swaps (CDS) that was at the core of the gambling that brought down the system in 2008. The speculative activities of the Banks have increased since 2008 and now the press is seeking to lay the blame on one derivatives trader in London. According to the media, speculation by a derivatives trader in London has produced a $2 billion trading loss for JP Morgan Chase. It is still not clear the extent of the loss but we know that it is in the same category as the losses at MF Global last year. These losses add to the scandal after scandal and are supposed to be on par with the other debacles of 2008 when two major Wall Street institutions, Bear Stearns and then Lehman Brothers went bankrupt. This year the progressive forces must renew the call for the nationalization of the big banks which are supposed to be too big to fail.


The rise and impending collapse of J P Morgan Chase is a cautionary tale about the fortunes (or currently misfortunes ) of the US banking system. Older readers will remember the name Chase Manhattan Bank and the era when David Rockefeller and this bank stood at the apex of US capitalism. Today Chase Manhattan no longer exists and has been absorbed through the mergers and acquisitions of the years of neo-liberal capitalism. Then there was the other major US capitalist whose fortunes were made when there were the most brutal forms of exploitation of workers. This was the banker and industrialist, John Pierpont Morgan. The career of JP Morgan was symbolic of the merger of industrial and bank capital to create financial capitalism at the turn of the twentieth century. Today at the start of the 21st century JP Morgan Chase is the result of the combination of several large U.S. banking companies over the last decade including Chase Manhattan Bank, J.P. Morgan & Co., Bank One, Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual. Going back further, the predecessors of the current banking behemoth include major banking firms among which are Chemical Bank, Manufacturers Hanover, First Chicago Bank, National Bank of Detroit, Texas Commerce Bank, Providian Financial and Great Western Bank.

JP Morgan Chase is a textbook case of what happened to US banks during the era of neo-liberalism when the Glass Steagall Act was repealed separating investment banking from federally insured deposit banks. Much attention has been paid to the two poster children of the new casino type operators who claim to be bankers, Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan Chase and Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs. These two are just at the top of the massive political structure that squeezes the mass of the citizens of the world for the top 1 per cent. In the book ‘13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown’, the authors Simon Johnson and James Kwak have detailed the evolution of the neo-liberal world that was spun by these bankers. According to Johnson and Kwak, the bankers created new money machines with new schemes such as securitization, high yield debt, arbitrage trading and derivatives. On top of these serial innovations we now have a new one called value at risk. Later we will be told what is synthetic derivatives hedging business. These “serial innovations created the new money machines that fueled the rapid, massive growth in the size, profitability and wealth of the financial sector over the last three decades.”

It is the accrued power of these bankers that now threatens the global system of capitalism. After the tremors of the financial markets in 2008 these same banks that called for deregulation called for bail outs because they were too big to fail. For a while, there had been word of the depth of the hole in other banks and we are still waiting for the information on Bank of America which is still under wraps with Wikileaks. Only two months ago, the Federal Reserve completed a “stress test” of the 19 largest US banks, which gave all of them a green light in terms of solvency and approved increased dividends or stock buybacks for 15 of the 19 banks. This exposure of JP Morgan exposes the fraud of the so called stress tests.

Although the banking system was propped up and we are informed in the media that these banks recently passed ‘stress tests,’ the news about the risky bets of JP Morgan is a stark reminder that the time bomb is ticking. Since that fateful week in September 2008, far from resolving the crisis of the US financial system, the bailout of Wall Street that had been orchestrated by the Federal government has resulted in a further centralization of financial assets in a handful of giant institutions that dominate American society. The further centralization now means that five of the 13 banks—JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo and Goldman Sachs — held $8.5 trillion in assets at the end of 2011. The big five have increased their viselike grip on the US economy over the past five years: in 2006, their financial holdings amounted to 43 percent of US gross domestic product. By the end of 2011, that figure had risen to 56 percent.


JP Dimon is the CEO of JP Morgan Chase. He has been the most active among the bankers in manipulating the system playing both sides of the political game and arguing against the regulation of the banks. Jamie Dimon was paid over US $23 million last year and now it is coming out that it is the accounting scams that produced the paper profits that enabled the big bonuses for Dimon and the traders who were urged to make riskier bets. Dimon has been the most active in the press and in his visits to the Obama White House. He has argued for the ‘markets’ to take their course when his bank has been in operation in a world that is beyond the reach of markets. While the world of these bankers is beyond the ‘market’ these are the financiers who promote the myth that the development of a generalized market (the least regulated possible) and democracy are complimentary to one another. The same bankers who argue that the economic sphere and the political sphere are separate and that the market does not need the state are the same bankers who are expending billions to lobby so that the limited regulations proposed by the Dodd-Frank legislation of 2010 are not affected. The Dodd-Frank legislation included one particular clause called the Volcker rule that was supposed to ban proprietary trading by the lords of the universe.

Jamie Dimon has been described by Barack Obama as one of the smartest bankers in the United States. Obama was simply exposing the subservience of the federal government to the bankers who are the same group pouring millions into both campaigns. The bankers are ensuring that whichever party wins in November, the US banking system will be protected. Barack Obama timidly called for regulating JP Morgan while actively engaging the soliciting of funds from one of the most notorious ‘private equity’ firms in New York. The close relationship between the private equity firms and the bankers constitute the power of the top one per cent and the US government acts to serve this one per cent. After the big scare of 2008 there was fear internationally that there would be a run on the dollar. It was this fear that induced the members of the US government to pass the Dodd-Frank Legislation to prevent the obscene conflict of interest of the banks and investment houses. The expedient which was supposed to prevent the conflict of interest was the Volcker rule, named after the former Treasury Secretary of an era before financialization. The rule placed trading restrictions on financial institutions. In the 2010 legislation, the Volcker rule separates investment banking, private equity and proprietary trading (hedge fund) sections of financial institutions from their consumer lending arms. Banks are not allowed to simultaneously enter into an advisory and creditor role with clients, such as with private equity firms. The Volcker rule aims to minimize conflicts of interest between banks and their clients through separating the various types of business practices financial institutions engage in.

JP Dimon has been the leader in opposing the Volcker rule because his organization has been at the forefront of the practice where a hedge fund is operating inside a commercial bank. Commercial banks are federally insured and are different from investment banks. Under the rules of the so called market, bankers are not supposed to take deposits from customers and then use the same deposits to make speculative bets. This was not supposed to happen but when the banks became huge money machines, they operated above the law. This is how a bank such as JP Morgan controls assets that are worth 20 per cent of the GDP of the USA.


Jamie Dimon sits on the Board of the Federal Reserve of New York. This is the most important position of the US financial system because this is the reserve system that holds the foreign reserves of 60 per cent of the economies of the world. JP Morgan Chase is a particularly critical financial institution, since in addition to its vast holdings; it serves as one of the two main clearing banks in New York City, along with Bank of New York Mellon, handling financial transactions for all other banks. Any challenge to its solvency immediately puts a question mark over the whole financial system. Central bankers all over the world are following with interest the call for Jamie Dimon to be removed from the Board of the Federal Reserve of New York because of conflicts of interest. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York carries out foreign exchange-related activities on behalf of the Federal Reserve System and the U.S. Treasury. In this capacity, the bank monitors and analyzes global financial market developments, manages the U.S. foreign currency reserves, and from time to time intervenes in the foreign exchange market. The bank also executes foreign exchange transactions on behalf of customers.

Tim Geithner now Treasury Secretary was the former President of the Federal Reserve Board of New York. It was under Geithner when billions were handed over to the bankers after 2008. Then Geithner was trying to save the US financial system so that foreigners will not pull their reserves out of the dollar. As Treasury Secretary, Geithner was reported to have had secret meetings with Jamie Dimon in March this year when news first surfaced of the synthetic trades.

Elizabeth Warren, now running for a Senate seat in Massachusetts, has called for the resignation of Jamie Dimon from the Federal Reserve Board of New York. Every citizen will understand that there is a conflict of interest [involved in] sitting on a board that is supposed to regulate the operations of JP Morgan Chase. But conflict of interest has never been a problem for the US capitalists. They changed the rules to suit themselves. However, this was before the era when other societies had alternatives. From China to Venezuela and from Argentina to Japan, central bankers are seeking ways to exit from the contagion of the speculative trading of US bankers.

Last year the world was exposed to the realities of the insolvency of the US financial system when there was the debate on the debt ceiling. Now it has been revealed that the debt ceiling will have to be raised again. This is sending shudders down the spine of financial institutions around the world.

The political struggles over the future of the US financial system are maturing. In order to pre-empt utter disaster the President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas has called for the big banks to be broken up. The big banks continue to act on the assumption that the US dollar will be the reserve currency of international trade, especially now that the Euro is in disarray. These big banks are of the view that the US government will continue the devaluation of the US dollar without a response from the rest of the world. It is this understanding which has influenced the bankers to believe that the US government will intervene to bail them out when they make speculative bets that the US economy will improve. Many refuse to accept that this is a depression.

Sober elements understand that the banks must be broken up and this was stated explicitly in the annual report of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. The letter from the head of the Dallas Federal Reserve is entitled, Choosing the Road to Prosperity Why We Must End Too Big to Fail—Now. In this letter, Richard Fisher from the Dallas Federal Reserve argues that the situation of the big banks is a disaster in waiting. Fisher would force the big banks to reorganize and get much smaller. And he would require “harsh and non-negotiable consequences” for any bank that ends in trouble and seeks government aid, including removal of its leaders, replacement of its board, voiding all compensation and bonus contracts and clawing back any bonus compensation for the two previous years.

It is now understood by these sober elements in the USA that the Big Banks may be not only too big to fail, but also too big to save.

The politicians in the USA are compromised and refuse to see the reality. It is the task of the progressive forces to keep the discussions on the JP Morgan losses on the table in order to educate the people on the nature of the depression. The major media houses such as the New York Times are attempting to manage this story saying that this $3-4 billion loss is a drop in the bucket. From the financial papers there is the buzz that one’s loss is another person’s gain. This is cold comfort to the poor all over the world who are suffering in the midst of this depression. In 2008 the government socialized the losses while the profits were privatized. The bailout was one of the biggest transfers of wealth from the poor of the world to the rich. These bankers now need another bail out and the US government will have to increase the debt ceiling.

For the moment the Occupy Wall Street Movement has made it impossible for the government to bail out the banks again. However, far from bailing out the bankers, speculators such as Corzine of MF Global and Jamie Dimon should be prosecuted. It is not enough to say that what JP Morgan was doing was inappropriate from a federally insured depository institution. It is time for the people to call for these banks to be taken over and the big bankers removed.

It is now time for audacity and more audacity. Nationalization and political education at the moment is more important than the elections. Bankers like JP Morgan profit from war and these forces want another big war so that the capitalists can recover. The peace and justice forces must be more vigilant. The JP Morgan Chase debacle heightens the desperation of the top one per cent in the USA.

May 20, 2012 Posted by | Book Review, Corruption, Deception, Economics, Militarism | , , , , | Comments Off on The insolvent United States banking system: lessons from J.P. Morgan Chase