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Bankster of the Day

Arthur Levitt:

"This is an issue of 'we' and 'they,'" Mr. Levitt said. "Compensation is a part of it, but a symbolic part of it. We are a centrist nation ... We're now shifting to the left pretty far in terms of business-bashing and it has reached extremes of incivility that are intolerable."

Got your 401(k), Arthur? How's your house? Got a job? Health care when you need it? Good. I'm happy for you.

Now, you and your golfing buddies lost millions of Americans all of those things when you looted our economy.

Come back and talk to me about being civil when you've joined them.

UPDATE And, Art -- if I may call you Art -- you might want to reflect on these words from Paul Volcker:

Paul Volcker, former Federal Reserve chairman, spoke for many of the attendees when he acknowledged that "we're in a government-dependent financial system; I never thought I'd see the day."

That means that I own you, not the other way round. Try to make nice, wouldja?

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Submitted by danps on

No examples of bashing, or an explanation of why such "bashing" is unfair. And you know how they say it ain't bragging if you done it? Well if someone calls a scumbag a scumbag it ain't bashing.

Submitted by jawbone on

now, per this item from Democracy Now, Obama nominee to head trading regulatory agency. Oh, it's fox, meet hens time again!

Sen. Sanders Attempts to Block Obama Nominee

In news from Capitol Hill, independent Senator Bernie Sanders is attempting to block President Obama’s nominee to head the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Gary Gensler, a former Goldman Sachs employee. Sanders said Gensler had worked with Sen. Phil Gramm and Alan Greenspan to exempt credit default swaps from regulation, which led to the collapse of AIG and has resulted in the largest taxpayer bailout in US history. He also worked to deregulate electronic energy trading, which led to the downfall of Enron. Sanders said, “We need an independent leader who will help create a new culture in the financial marketplace and move us away from the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior which has caused so much harm to our economy.”

ANOTHER Goldman Sachs guy?? And one involved in the truly despicable Gramm stealth legislation on freeing CDS's from any regulation? Plus, Enron???

Dear Mr. President, please check your vetters--fast!

Submitted by jawbone on

Christopher Hayes writes:

Odds are you've never heard of Gary Gensler.... But it's slightly more likely you've heard of Brooksley Born, the woman who held that position [head of Commodity Futures Trading Commission) under Clinton in the late 1990s. .... Born has emerged as one of the rare voices that warned of the perils ahead. In 1997 she began to sound the alarm about the growth in the derivatives market, which, unlike traditional futures, were not traded on a regulated exchange. Born argued that derivatives should be brought under regulatory supervision, or they "could pose potentially serious dangers to our economy."

She proved prescient. These instruments, specifically credit default swaps, increased risk throughout the global financial system, eventually bringing down AIG, the world's largest insurance conglomerate. George Soros, economist Alan Blinder and many others now name the failure to regulate credit default swaps as one of the prime causes of the collapse.

But in 1998 powerful voices close to the Clinton administration--Robert Rubin, Larry Summers and Alan Greenspan--argued that the derivatives market was just fine. They had allies among the Wall Street banks who were making money hand over fist in the unregulated, over-the-counter market.

This next paragraph pains me. I'd just heard on Fresh Air yesterday that Clinton did not know about the stealth legislation Gramm slipped into the huge omnibus bill, but this says otherwise...

Then there was Phil Gramm, the mastermind behind the 2000 Commodity Futures Modernization Act, which definitively kept derivatives unregulated. Attached to a massive omnibus bill during the lame-duck Congress in December 2000, while the nation's attention was captivated by Bush v. Gore, the CFMA passed overwhelmingly in both houses and was signed into law by President Clinton. But Gramm wasn't sneaking anything past the White House, which had hammered out the details in lengthy negotiations with the senator. And one of the men charged with shepherding the bill through Congress was none other than the Treasury's under secretary for domestic finance, Gary Gensler.

In Gensler's defense, he did do regulatory penance. He worked for Senator Paul Sarbanes helping to craft Sarbanes-Oxley, and he wrote a book criticizing the mutual fund industry for the ways it rips off investors. But the fact remains: on the biggest issue of commodity futures regulation in the past decade, he was a star player on the team that got it exactly wrong.

It's not just Gensler, of course: many on the Obama economic team, most notably Summers, director of the National Economic Council, facilitated the creation of the bubble economy and the deregulatory mayhem that brought us to this moment. Indeed, Summers, who has consolidated his power in the White House to the point that the press refers to him as Obama's "chief economic adviser," was a proponent of policies--from the lifting of capital controls in developing economies to the repeal of Glass-Steagall--that proved spectacularly misguided. (My emphasis)

It seems "that membership in the establishment comes with lifetime tenure," Hayes writes, no matter what people actually do. Except for extra-marital sex, mostly for Dems, and homosexual sex, mostly for Repubs. Wearing diapers with a hooker? Eh.

Lying and destroying the Constitution or economy? Meh.

This ought to be an interesting confirmation and hearing!

Good article and looks like Hayes has written some other good stuff.

Submitted by jawbone on

From Democracy Now transcript:

AMY GOODMAN: Why don’t you want Gensler to be confirmed?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Well, I don’t believe that we need more of the same old same old. The philosophy that Gensler espoused when he was working for Bill Clinton in the Treasury Department was strongly deregulation, was the Robin Rubin theory of economics. And in many respects, accentuated by eight years of George Bush, that type of deregulation activity, the repeal of Glass-Steagall, the putting derivatives under the radar screen, deregulating that and allowing these transactions to take place without public notice, these are the actions that took us to where we are right now.

I happen to be a very strong supporter of President Obama. I think he’s doing a great job in many, many respects. But I think, in terms of his financial advisers, he has people who have come from the Wall Street crowd who are looking at the world in a certain way, and I want to see some different points of view involved in this discussion. [Damn right!]

AMY GOODMAN: Well, explain exactly what Gensler did, exactly what your concerns are around the issue of credit default swaps. And explain what these are, because I think why so much of this has happened is that regular people don’t understand what this is all about.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Well, Amy, not only do regular people not understand; very few people understand. And that’s exactly what the problem has been.

We—during the Depression, what the government did is said, “Look, we’re going to have to regulate Wall Street, and we’re going to separate—have walls separating, for example, consumer banks, regular banks from investment banks, from insurance companies, because when you put all of these huge institutions together, when they fall, they cause systemic damage, and they can bring down the entire economy,” which is exactly what we’re seeing right now. And the legislation that was put into practice in the early 1930s was called Glass-Steagall, after two members of the Congress.

What people like Gary Gensler did, with Bob Rubin, with Phil Gramm, with Alan Greenspan, accentuated in the last eight years by George Bush, was to deregulate, deregulate, deregulate. And I used to have great debates with Alan Greenspan, who would come before the House Financial Institutions Committee and say, “Look,” in so many words, “greed is good. If you get government off the backs of Wall Street, if you let these guys do their magic and make all of these investments and don’t regulate them, somehow or another we’re going to have prosperity for all of the people in our country. That’s what we need to do.” I never believed that. So, what happened under Clinton, accentuated under Bush, was a massive effort at deregulation.

Just think for a minute that you had Bernie Madoff running a $60 billion Ponzi scheme, and Bush’s SEC couldn’t discover it. And the reason for that is that anything that Wall Street did, anything that corporate America did, was good, and you don’t want the government investigating or regulating.

And unfortunately, Gary Gensler was in the middle of that. Gensler, as part of the Treasury Department under Robert Rubin, pushed for the repeal of Glass-Steagall, the breakdown of those walls, which have led us precisely to where Citigroup is today, where AIG is today. So, essentially, this is a hard-working guy. He is a decent guy. I don’t have any animus against him personally. But I think President Obama has brought around him a lot of the Rubin mentality, which is not only deregulation, it’s unfettered free trade. And I think we need some more progressive-type thinking to advise the President. (My emphasis)

Worth a read, listen, or viewing--especially the exchange between Maxine Waters and Giethner over whether Goldman Sachs advised about Bear Stearns. Watch Timmie wriggle. Hear Timmie evade. See Maxine skewer him.

Then, Sanders gives a spirited defense of single payer, universal healthcare.

Submitted by jawbone on

The irony, the stupidity, it burns:

...Gensler then performed as Summers' point man in advocating for deregulation legislation that enabled the current debacle.

The explosion of toxic assets is a direct result of the laws pushed through by Rubin and his followers, and in the decade since, we have had a twenty-fold increase, to more than $530 trillion, in the value of those newfangled financial instruments, which Warren Buffett in February 2003 correctly termed "financial weapons of mass destruction."

Yet when one member of the Clinton administration, Brooksley Born, then head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, attempted to sound a warning, she was treated by the rest of Clinton's economic team as the enemy.

In response to Born's warning, they drove her from government and pushed through the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, which summarily exempted from regulation the derivatives that now haunt us. The claim at the time by Summers, now top economic adviser in the Obama White House, was that "[t]his legislation promotes innovation and competition in the U.S. financial markets and may help to reduce systemic risk." Of course now we know, as Born predicted, that it did quite the opposite. What irony that Gensler is being rewarded with Born's old job for getting it wrong.

Reading the rest may best be done in the morning, as it will probably raise your blood pressure. Oh, Scheer is pretty sure Gensler will get the job; Obama wants to make Wall Streeters feel better....