Schneiderman tweets on his #SOTU fraud task force
[Perhaps the headline is unclear; I don't mean that the #sotu is a fraud. Well, I do mean that, but that's not the subject of the post.]
A cynic would say that if Schneiderman were a threat to the banksters, they would have commissioned the oppo, found Schneiderman's version of Spitzer's Emperor's Club, and Schneiderman would be toast on Lloyd or Jamie's Louis Quinze breakfast table.
Somebody slightly less cynical might say that the task force is clearly Obama's Plan B, where Plan A, to give the banksters a Get-Out-Of-Jail-Almost-Free card on accounting control fraud in exchange for a paltry $25 billion in other people's money, took a cruise on the #FAIL boat, thank you, Yves. But Obama gave the same marching orders for Plan B as Plan A in the SOTU:
"This new unit will hold accountable those who broke the law, speed assistance to homeowners, and help turn the page on an era of recklessness that hurt so many Americans," he said.
I think that's pretty clear. "Look forward , not back." Obama also perpetuates Plan A's idea that the banksters should be able to purchase immunity: That's the only reason I can see to treat "broke the law" and "speed assistance to homeowners" as part of the same task.* It's also unclear how assistance is to be "speeded" to homeowners when MERS screwed up the chain of title for half the mortgages in America.**
And note also the framing of "recklessness." That may rule out fraud, since fraud has to be intentional [lawyers correct me]; but it certainly rules out accounting control fraud, which is not "reckless" at all but "a sure thing," as Akerloff and Romer show. But accounting control fraud is the problem.
Somebody less cynical would look at the record, and ask what the difference is between this task force and the task force that Obama already set up in 2009. Even Izvestia noticed:
It is not clear how [the task force] would differ from the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, a cross-agency group that Mr. Obama established in November 2009. Its mission, as the White House put it then, was to “hold accountable those who helped bring about the last financial crisis and to prevent another crisis from happening.”
So far as I can tell, the FFETF hasn't done squat; here are their pathetically weak press releases. See the word "trillion"? How about "billions," plural? "BoA"? "JPMorgan"? "Goldman Sachs?" No? Thought not. And you don't bat zero for the season by accident.
And for the even less cynical, there's always business as usual. Politico:
The New York attorney general is a rising progressive star — and the leading opponent of the Obama administration's plan to settle with banks on mortgage fraud. Bringing him into the fold is a major coup for an administration looking to reconnect with anti-Wall Street liberal activists.
Oh please. Only in the Bizarro World of America's leading political shopper would Occupy be called "liberal"; and anybody who's paying attention knows that Obama's about as likely to "re"- [sic] "connect" with anything anti-Wall Street as he is to fluster the health insurance companies by endorsing Medicare for All; in each case, he'd have to go against what his owners want. Na ga happen.
Anyhow, there's one very simple litmus test for this Task Force: Is William Black on it? If he's not -- or if he doesn't bless its charter and its work -- it's bogus.
NOTE * Note how Schneiderman's "justice for victims" wording reinforce this frame. Would "justice" for the victims go so far as principal writedowns? Unlikely, since Obama proposed $3000 worth of assistance, a drop in the bloodbath. Would "justice" for victims involve banksters in orange jumpsuits doing the perp walk? Even more unlikely. After all, they're "savvy businessmen."
NOTE ** Obama did say that assistance should only go to "responsible" homeowners, like the ones he suckered into HAMP and then screwed over. Maybe the operational definition of "responsible" is "having a clear chain of title"? Or possibly "never missed a payment"?
UPDATE The Politico story also notes that Schneiderman sat in Michelle Obama's box (along with Richard Cordray). That doesn't say to me that this task force will have any independence at all. In fact, I'd call it unseemly, and puts the Task Force firmly in campaign 2012 mode, quelle surprise. Ferdinand Pecora, where are you?!