For Banks the Party Never Stopped

indexHouston        Seven years after the wheels started coming off the bank’s mad money train, it seems clear that settlements for mortgage abuse, which is euphemism for fraud, Dodd-Frank legislation, and what should have been the awesome weight of having collapsed the US and world economy and upended the lives of millions, have essentially been water off a duck’s back for the banking industry and Wall Street.

Let’s just tick off a few recent cases in point.

  • The City of Los Angeles, yes, not the Justice Department, SEC, or Federal Reserve, sued Wells Fargo for pressuring employees in its retail bank with sales quotas to fraudulently enroll people in new customer accounts without their approval.  Plain and simple, shake and bake, no permission needed.
  • Two big banks rather than settling for some hand slaps and big fines, Nomura, a Japanese bank, and the Royal Bank of Scotland, both presumably figuring their home country customers probably didn’t give much of a flip about whether or not they had packaged bad mortgages in the USA, went to trial claiming the dog-ate-their-homework, the economy did it, not them.  The judge found against these miscreants and essentially said their behavior was disgusting.
  • And of course there is the whole cabal of banks that engaged in price fixing and chicanery to fudge the LIBOR rate for interbank and corporate lending including HSBC, JP Morgan Chase, Citi, and a rogues’ gallery of the biggest banks in the world.  Their fines are in the billions, and reportedly they are going to finally have to actually plead guilty as institutions.

Many have argued that part of the problem was the legal double standard that found law enforcement playing paddy cake with the criminal enterprise that banking has become rather than prosecuting them aggressively from the top down.  If anything was administered more than simple detention, it was from the bottom-up.  The bigger the guy at the top of the bank, the bigger and more obscene the paycheck continued to be.

More proof that bad behavior and thuggery is the norm in banking is emerging in a new study as well.   According to the Andrew Ross Sorkin at The New York Times,

“...about a third of the people who said they made more than $500,000 annually contend that they ‘have witnessed or have firsthand knowledge of wrongdoing in the workplace.’  Just as bad:  ‘Nearly one in five respondents feel financial service professionals must sometimes engage in unethical or illegal activity to be successful in the current financial environment.’”

Such statements take your breath away.  Not only has it not gotten better, it may have gotten worse!   And, the President wonders why Senator Elizabeth Warren is willing to go to the wall on a trade bill that had hardly interested her until she noticed the language leading her to believe that it would allow even more transnational banking criminality?

There oughta be a law, but there probably are plenty of them, just no one seems to care, and the party goes on, and we all pay for it.


The Beermats – A Workers Song


Representative Bob Goodlatte Searching for ACORN behind the Woodpile


Judiciary Committee

New Orleans      The House directory may say that Bob Goodlatte is the elected Representative from Virginia and now, thanks to the drift of time and the Republican seizure of control of the Congress, he is also Chair of the Judiciary Committee.  Regardless of what the directory says though, Goodlatte is quickly proving he may have been elected by Virginians, but he’s is really the representative of the Fox News, Tea People, and rightwing wacko caucus in his branch of Congress.

In a faceoff with the Obama Administration, Goodlatte is having a bullyboy tantrum because he and his peeps want to see the records on how the $36.6 billion in bailout money given to JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, and other banks was really spent.  He says he is concerned that the department “may be systematically subverting Congress’s budget authority by using settlements to funnel money to activist groups.”  The Justice Department is telling Goodlatte that they are still reviewing his request.

My, oh, my, what could he be talking about?  Has any other group other than ACORN and its affiliates and even associates been banned by budget amendments to one Congressional appropriation after another over the last five years?  I spoke too soon in 2014 when it seemed that clearer and calmer heads were finally laying off the coup de grace and kicking ACORN’s dead horse.  Now that the Republicans have control of both houses of Congress once again they have added the “ban ACORN funding” amendments to budget bills.

The Fox News screamers and blogging crews have long pushed the fabrication that money was going to ACORN and its allies from the bailout to which, whenever I’ve been asked, I’ve answered plainly, “I wish!”  That is particularly true when they’ve claimed that we’ve gotten billions from the bailout.  Yeeha!

The excitement comes from a provision in the settlements that banks could allocation funds to groups involved in foreclosure relief, abatement, and housing loan counseling that had been approved by HUD.  Certainly it is true that ACORN Housing had been one of the top HUD certified housing counseling agencies before the conservative attacks on ACORN, and it is equally true that as rebranded from ACORN Housing Corporation to Affordable Housing Centers, HUD had certified them as OK and not banned under the initial anti-ACORN family resolutions.  Sadly, AHC could still not survive the storm even hiding behind pillar and post, and threw in the towel years ago, giving the haters another pelt on their wall.  Still it continues as craven, unprincipled politicians unable or unwilling to legislate successfully in the interest of their constituents simply throw more red meat to the lions as they try to manage their modern circus.

Who might these HUD certified groups be?  Well, they are legion which may be what is baffling Goodlatte.  HUD and Secretary Julian Castro make it easy.  Just click, and if you know your state you can find all of the HUD certified counseling agencies in your area.  The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau also lets you find one by zipcode.

Is any of this new for large settlements anyway?   Of course not!  Any lawyer could tell Goodlatte and the Foxes that cy pres provisions are common in all class actions where left over money is given to groups dedicated to the relief of such injustices when individuals cannot be located to receive the resources.

Wait! What dope am I smoking?  I’m trying to respond to crazy politics with rational truth, and that never works.  So, hey, box office box 3924, zip code 70177, sent the billions care of me, and I’ll deal with the Goodlatte demagogues and Fox News haters all day and night.  No problem!