Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Banksters

Adding compound fraud to compound interest

By Mike Krauss
Bucks County Courier Times

The vastness of the fraud and criminality at the heart of the international private banking cartel can no longer be denied or explained away.

Let’s look at the news of only the past two weeks.

In a courtroom in New York, a long investigation culminated in the prosecution of three wheeler-dealers for their role in rigging the U.S. municipal bond market. The scope of the scam and cost to ordinary Americans are extraordinary. Here is how it was reported by Matt Taibbi, the investigative journalist writing for Rolling Stone.

“The defendants in the case… worked for GE Capital, the finance arm of General Electric. Along with virtually every major bank and finance company on Wall Street – not just GE, but J.P. Morgan Chase, Bank of America, UBS, Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, Wachovia and more – these three Wall Street wiseguys spent the past decade taking part in a breathtakingly broad scheme to skim billions of dollars from the coffers of cities and small towns across America… By conspiring to lower the interest rates that towns earn on these investments, the banks systematically stole from schools, hospitals, libraries and nursing homes – from ‘virtually every state, district and territory in the United States,’ according to one settlement. And they did it so cleverly that the victims never even knew they were being ¬cheated.”

Unbelievable? Hold on to your hat and let’s look in on the news last week from London.

LIBOR is the London Interbank Offered Rate. It is a key interest rate set daily by the biggest banks. It affects the cost of, by some estimates, more than $800 trillion of “financial instruments” worldwide: credit cards, consumer and business loans, mortgages, corporate bonds and more.

Investigators have established that the rate has for years been fixed to enhance the profits of the banks that set the rate. One bank, Barclays, has admitted its culpability. More are under investigation.

The rigging was reported (in the Wall Street Journal, no less) almost five years ago. But it has taken the underfunded and understaffed regulators this long to uncover the evidence.

More tellingly, even with an investigation underway, the banksters felt secure enough to continue running the scam.

And as the veteran Wall Street watchdog Pam Martens explains, the LIBOR fraud is directly connected to the magnitude of the multi million dollar losses suffered by individual municipalities large and small across America, in the interest rates swaps peddled by Wall Street con men.

“The Libor rate was used to manipulate, not just tens of trillions of consumer loans, but hundreds of trillions in interest rate contracts (swaps) with municipalities across America and around the globe.”

The banksters added compound fraud to their compound interest.

How can ordinary mortals who don’t hold an MBA from Harvard or the London School of Economics make sense of this?

Here is how Robert Scheer summed it up. “Modern international bankers form a class of thieves the likes of which the world has never before seen. Or, indeed, imagined. The scandal over Libor… reveals that behind the world’s financial edifice lies a reeking cesspool of unprecedented corruption. The modern-day robber barons pillage with a destructive abandon totally unfettered by law or conscience and on a scale that is almost impossible to comprehend.”

And they get away with it on both sides of the Atlantic in exactly the same way: a bought and paid for political and governing elite.

President Obama should be vowing to put the likes of JP Morgan CEO Jamie Diamon in jail. Mitt Romney should be all over the administration for its failure to go after the banksters. Legislation to break up the big banks, and a constitutional amendment to end corporate campaign contributions should be flying through Congress.

Instead, much of the political elite in Washington are sucking up to the barons for campaign cash and post Washington payoffs, while they gear up for another Obamacare sideshow. Another diversion.

There is an obvious alternative to allowing our money, credit and public finances to be controlled by a corrupt and rapacious private banking cartel: public control. And it will fall to the American people to make it a reality.

States, municipalities, unions, school districts, foundations, churches and charities control perhaps trillions of dollars, much on deposit with Wall Street. That money needs to be moved to Main Street, into local banks, and a significant portion set aside to capitalize the public banks which can guarantee the sustainable and affordable credit required to rebuild American prosperity, and re-establish the accountability and transparency necessary to the finances of a democracy.

But more is needed. While the scale of the fraud is international, the impacts are local - touching your family, your neighbors and your community. It is time for state and municipal officers to take action to begin to recover the stolen wealth of their citizens.

And such actions have begun - from Milan, Italy to Baltimore, MD, New Britain, CT and Oakland, CA.

For too long, the people of the United States and Europe have been the servants of finance. Now, finance must serve the people. We can begin with a simple action at the local level: take the money back.

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