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Hightower writes: "JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and the handful of other behemoths of Wall Street that dominate American banking - who needs them?"

Texas' progressive political curmudgeon Jim Hightower. (photo: JimHightower.com)
Texas' progressive political curmudgeon Jim Hightower. (photo: JimHightower.com)



Bust 'Em Up: Who Needs Wall Street Giants?

By Jim Hightower, Common Dreams

30 May 12

 

PMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and the handful of other behemoths of Wall Street that dominate American banking - who needs them?

After enduring years of insatiable greed by the slick-fingered hucksters who run these gambling houses; after watching in dismay as their ineptness and avarice drained more than $19 trillion from America's household wealth since 2007 and plunged our real economy into the worst financial crisis since the 1930s Depression; after witnessing their shameful demands for trillions of dollars in taxpayer bailouts to save their banks and their jobs; and now after seeing them return immediately to business as usual, including paying multimillion-dollar bonuses to themselves - we have to ask: Huh!?!

Oh, no-no, cry the banking titans, don't even think of looking behind the curtain! Trust us, say these Wall Street alchemists, for we are essential to juicing the economy with our complex abracadabra investment schemes.

In fact, however, those schemes just move money around, spiraling real investment capital from the grassroots up to superrich global profiteers who create nothing but more wealth for themselves. Shell games at carnival sideshows are more honest than big-bank trading houses, for the hustles of such hucksters as JPMorgan, Goldman, B of A, etc. are based on financial illusions, off-the-books accounting, illegally leveraged borrowing, ridiculous tax subsidies and hide-the-pea secrecy.

The obvious truth is that these high-flying, high-tech, high-speed emporiums of high finance serve themselves, not us - so we have no obligation or need to keep serving them. Of course we need banks - to lend to us consumers and our productive businesses, to handle our commercial transactions, to manage our savings and provide financial advice, etc. But that's not what the leviathans of Wall Street do. Rather than keep protecting them, let's decentralize America's capital, reinvesting our public trust in community banks and credit unions that actually deserve it and serve it.

Rather than keep protecting them, let's decentralize America's capital, reinvesting our public trust in community banks and credit unions that actually deserve it and serve it.

This month has brought us yet another screaming example of a big-shot Wall Street banker who got too big for his britches - a story revealing the inevitable excess that comes from banks that are simply too big.

In April, Jamie Dimon - the swaggering chief of Wall Street's largest financial conglomerate, JPMorgan Chase - had scoffed at critics who warned that his banks high-flying investment division was dangerously overextended and risking collapse. "A complete tempest in a teapot," scoffed Dimon. On May 10, however, Jamie's teapot exploded, blowing a $3 billion hole in the nation's largest bank ... and in Dimon's reputation.

Poor Jamie - why didn't someone tell him?

Some tried. As early as 2009, JPMorgan's own internal risk managers raised concerns that this opaque division was pouring billions of dollars into speculative trades that were too large and too complex even to understand, much less manage. But their caution was dismissed, and Dimon himself pushed for more of these wondrous schemes, hailing them as perpetual profit-machines.

OK, the bank's execs were bedazzled by visions of sugary bonuses, but where were the federal regulators, who're supposed to dog banker excess? Shoved aside by Dimon. While the Federal Reserve and Comptroller of Currency had more than 100 inspectors imbedded in JPMorgan, none were in the reckless investment division. The bank's big-shot boss, who is politically wired to the top leaders of both the Republican and Democratic parties in Washington, had aggressively pushed against having regulators hovering around his hot investment profit center, assuring them that nothing was happening in there worth watching.

Dimon had extra clout, for not only was he a Wall Street star sitting atop the biggest bank, but - get this - he also has a seat on the board of the New York branch of the Federal Reserve, which has regulatory authority over Wall Street and will now conduct the inquiry into JPMorgan's disastrous risk-taking. Yes, Jamie the Fed official will investigate Jamie the banker.

This is proof again that these banks are simply too big - too big for managers, regulators and the public interest. We don't need yet another regulatory Band-Aid, we need Teddy Roosevelt to bust 'em up.

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+10 # Peacedragon 2012-05-30 14:56
But how can we make thos happen?
 
 
0 # Michael_K 2012-05-30 16:35
Jamie "Baby Face" Dimon, is Obama's favourite thug.. uh, I mean banker.

Never forget this.
 
 
+8 # RMDC 2012-05-31 04:14
Michael K -- you are right. all of our elected government officials need the big banks. That's how they stay in power. Governments of the world need the big banks. Only people don't need the banks, but people don't count for shit.
 
 
+3 # John Locke 2012-05-31 08:39
The thums down you received are from the fools here who still believe in the tooth fairy. It has been obvious since Obama took office that he and "Demon" are close so much so that Obama had him to dinner at the white house when congress was about to vote on the bank bill that ended being so watered down it may have well been rejected.
 
 
+17 # CandH 2012-05-30 18:39
Bust 'em up? Don't look to the SEC to even try to do that. Taibbi/RollingS tone has an EXCELLENT piece out today about the Agency and their Six Critical In-Your-Face Failures to Regulate these TBTFs, but instead, will go after the "little people" for [easy] enforcement actions, and still claim the title, Regulator. (Oligarch Hitman is more like it!) http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/sec-taking-on-big-firms-is-tempting-but-we-prefer-whaling-on-little-guys-20120530
 
 
+3 # jlohman 2012-05-30 23:47
Why protect these thugs? Because THEY fund the campaigns. The public doesn't.
 
 
+8 # John Locke 2012-05-31 08:44
They do more then just fund the campaigns they even give their favorite congress people high paying jobs after they leave congress. The banks take care of their loyal servants
 
 
+1 # RLF 2012-05-31 05:27
I think we need to invest social security with the insurance of these bs products which will insure us of a big profit no matter which way our investment goes...up or down. We get richer whatever! Sounds crazy when I suggest it for SS but that is exactly what the banks want...but wait...that profit has to come from somewhere...oh! its the tax payer pockets! Let's get rid of these junk shysters.
 
 
+5 # lark3650 2012-05-31 06:19
The Financier's Cheating System: 1. PRIVATE control of money with its interest SLAVERY. 2. MIND Control-Ownersh ip of all media - bury Truth - flood with falsity to keep the people ignorant and submissive. 3. GOLD - the bait with which to hook the human fish. 4. INHERITANCE - the means to perpetuate the MASTER'S control. 5. LAWYERS - the tools of the financiers who do the dirty work for them. 6. TAXES - the twin thief of INTEREST. 7. INSURANCE - The twin thief of INHERITANCE.

In Alfred Lawson's Benefactor "Finance is the BUNK", he wrote: "It will make no difference which side loses, the financiers will win. It will make no difference which side wins, the people will lose.
 
 
+1 # soularddave 2012-05-31 08:52
Community banks and Credit Unions are fine, but State Banks would work just as well. I try to get my 6% mortgage away from BofA, but they won't even adjust the rate or let me go. I need a bank that will steal my account like the cable.tv companies and phone companies are so willing to do.

These banks are like gambling boats that move from town to town and when they run out of capital they turn into pirate ships. How can we, the good citizens, be left so helpless to this situation?
 
 
+2 # lin96 2012-05-31 08:53
@lark3650 - We have to think "out of the box" for a solution to our economy and money system. They say, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results". I believe Alfred Lawson made a huge impact with his forward thinking books and newspapers back in the 30's after the Great Depression. Things got better so people got complacent. Some of his writing read as though they could have been written today. Direct Credits for Everybody advocated "Justice For Everybody That Harms Nobody". That's what we need right now!
 
 
+3 # Listner 2012-05-31 10:31
Soulardave,
If you're current on your payments and have decent credit, I don't understand how they can "keep" you there. B of A is on life support, one of the worst offenders.Six percent is WAY too much these days.
We will have to support legislators that advocate downsizing the banks and trying to corral this oozing slime blob they call banking. It's legalizes theft and it's getting worse.
 
 
0 # James Marcus 2012-06-03 12:22
Who needs 'Those Bankers', Indeed?....
....Every politician who feeds from their Troph, which is Most ALL of them...
Which is how they are ALL so Entrenched. Corrupt Politicians protect their 'Financial Donors'; Donors give enough money to re-elect Their Representatives . Very Cozy.
AND the ENFORCERS, Police et al, are paid by both.
A fine Fix!
Who will bite the Hand that Feeds Them? Only an Honest person, of which... we have None, in our Public Offices!!
The Banks, and Office Holders ('Bankers' Representatives '), must All Go, simultaneously, lest it only come to 'revolving doors'.
 

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