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The Power Players Behind Silencing Wall Street Reformers

Courtesy of Pam Martens

Douglas Schoen

Douglas Schoen, Author of “Why Democrats Need Wall Street” OpEd in the New York Times

America has now been through various iterations of “it’s time to stop bashing Wall Street” by writers who seem to easily get air time or plenty of print space to make their case. An OpEd in the New York Times today is the latest in this endless series. We’ll get to that column shortly, but first some necessary background.

Wall Street did not accidentally run a barge aground and leave a small oil slick on the Hudson River. Wall Street did not accidentally release tainted lettuce that sickened a few dozen people. What Wall Street did was intentional and criminal: it financially engineered a toxic subprime house of cards which it knew from its own internal reviews was going to collapse; it then molded the toxic product into inscrutable bundles; it sold the bundles to unsuspecting investors around the globe while making side bets that it would all come crashing down. Then, after causing the greatest financial collapse in the United States since the Great Depression, Wall Street’s unrepentant scoundrels paid themselves billions of dollars in bonuses with taxpayer bailout funds.

One of the largest wrongdoers of this era, Citigroup, received the largest taxpayer bailout in history (over $2.5 trillion in loans, cash infusions and asset guarantees) and while this was occurring, one of its executives, Michael Froman, was staffing up the administration of the next President of the United States, Barack Obama, including an accepted recommendation for the head of the Justice Department.

The 2007-2009 financial crash was more than the product of greed. There was both knowing and criminal wrongdoing, but none of those responsible have gone to jail. None of the regulatory gaps that allowed this to happen have been rectified. The biggest Wall Street banks have grown even bigger and remain too-big-to-fail; Wall Street is still paying the rating agencies for their Triple-A ratings; highly speculative Wall Street firms are still allowed to hold trillions of dollars in taxpayer-backstopped insured deposits in the commercial banks that they are allowed to own under a Byzantine bank-holding company structure with thousands of far-flung subsidiaries around the globe; and a handful of Wall Street banks continue to house trillions of dollars of derivatives inside their insured depository banks – something the public was assured would end under the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation.

Those who are lecturing the public to just get over it are either tone deaf, compromised or both.

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