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Reich writes: "Yes, just when you thought the Street had hit bottom, an even deeper level of public-be-damned greed and corruption is revealed. Sit down and hold on to your chair."

Portrait, Robert Reich, 08/16/09. (photo: Perian Flaherty)
Portrait, Robert Reich, 08/16/09. (photo: Perian Flaherty)



The Wall Street Scandal of All Scandals

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog

08 July 12

 

ust when you thought Wall Street couldn't sink any lower - when its myriad abuses of public trust have already spread a miasma of cynicism over the entire economic system, giving birth to Tea Partiers and Occupiers and all manner of conspiracy theories; when its excesses have already wrought havoc with the lives of millions of Americans, causing taxpayers to shell out billions (of which only a portion has been repaid) even as its top executives are back to making more money than ever; when its vast political power (via campaign contributions) has already eviscerated much of the Dodd-Frank law that was supposed to rein it in, including the so-called "Volker" Rule that was sold as a milder version of the old Glass-Steagall Act that used to separate investment from commercial banking - yes, just when you thought the Street had hit bottom, an even deeper level of public-be-damned greed and corruption is revealed.

Sit down and hold on to your chair.

What's the most basic service banks provide? Borrow money and lend it out. You put your savings in a bank to hold in trust, and the bank agrees to pay you interest on it. Or you borrow money from the bank and you agree to pay the bank interest.

How is this interest rate determined? We trust that the banking system is setting today's rate based on its best guess about the future worth of the money. And we assume that guess is based, in turn, on the cumulative market predictions of countless lenders and borrowers all over the world about the future supply and demand for the dough.

But suppose our assumption is wrong. Suppose the bankers are manipulating the interest rate so they can place bets with the money you lend or repay them - bets that will pay off big for them because they have inside information on what the market is really predicting, which they're not sharing with you.

That would be a mammoth violation of public trust. And it would amount to a rip-off of almost cosmic proportion - trillions of dollars that you and I and other average people would otherwise have received or saved on our lending and borrowing that have been going instead to the bankers. It would make the other abuses of trust we've witnessed look like child's play by comparison.

Sad to say, there's reason to believe this has been going on, or something very much like it. This is what the emerging scandal over "Libor" (short for "London interbank offered rate") is all about.

Libor is the benchmark for trillions of dollars of loans worldwide - mortgage loans, small-business loans, personal loans. It's compiled by averaging the rates at which the major banks say they borrow.

So far, the scandal has been limited to Barclay's, a big London-based bank that just paid $453 million to U.S. and British bank regulators, whose top executives have been forced to resign, and whose traders' emails give a chilling picture of how easily they got their colleagues to rig interest rates in order to make big bucks. (Robert Diamond, Jr., the former Barclay CEO who was forced to resign, said the emails made him "physically ill" - perhaps because they so patently reveal the corruption.)

But Wall Street has almost surely been involved in the same practice, including the usual suspects — JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, and Bank of America - because every major bank participates in setting the Libor rate, and Barclay's couldn't have rigged it without their witting involvement.

In fact, Barclay's defense has been that every major bank was fixing Libor in the same way, and for the same reason. And Barclays is "cooperating" (i.e., giving damning evidence about other big banks) with the Justice Department and other regulators in order to avoid steeper penalties or criminal prosecutions, so the fireworks have just begun.

There are really two different Libor scandals. One has to do with a period just before the financial crisis, around 2007, when Barclays and other banks submitted fake Libor rates lower than the banks' actual borrowing costs in order to disguise how much trouble they were in. This was bad enough. Had the world known then, action might have been taken earlier to diminish the impact of the near financial meltdown of 2008.

But the other scandal is even worse. It involves a more general practice, starting around 2005 and continuing until - who knows? it might still be going on — to rig the Libor in whatever way necessary to assure the banks' bets on derivatives would be profitable.

This is insider trading on a gigantic scale. It makes the bankers winners and the rest of us - whose money they've used for to make their bets - losers and chumps.

What to do about it, other than hope the Justice Department and other regulators impose stiff fines and even criminal penalties, and hold executives responsible?

When it comes to Wall Street and the financial sector in general, most of us suffer outrage fatigue combined with an overwhelming cynicism that nothing will ever be done to stop these abuses because the Street is too powerful. But that fatigue and cynicism are self-fulfilling; nothing will be done if we succumb to them.

The alternative is to be unflagging and unflinching in our demand that Glass-Steagall be reinstituted and the biggest banks be broken up. The question is whether the unfolding Libor scandal will provide enough ammunition and energy to finally get the job done.



Robert B. Reich, Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, was Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration. Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century. He has written thirteen books, including the best sellers "Aftershock" and "The Work of Nations." His latest is an e-book, "Beyond Outrage." He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause.

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+190 # phrixus 2012-07-08 09:04
So they're cooperating in order to avoid criminal penalties. How about this instead: Throw the book at them and then negotiate how many years they'll spend in prison based on their level of cooperation. If a small business owner walks into a bank with a gun and steals money he goes to prison. Why shouldn't the banker go to prison if he steals the business owner's money as well? Thanks to money in politics the US has become as corrupt as any country on the planet. We just hide it (somewhat) better with technology.
 
 
+53 # Virginia 2012-07-08 11:12
Think about this on an even more global level. Follow the money. Mortgages were inflated and not assigned to the trusts, the investors sued, banks could not refinance borrowers because the cash flow from investors stopped, the economy collapses, borrowers default - YET the trusts took no losses until more recently when the LIBOR scandal investigation began to heat up.

"This is insider trading on a gigantic scale. It makes the bankers winners and the rest of us - whose money they've used for to make their bets - losers and chumps."

Follow the borrowers' payments during their ARM periods - it's likely some of that money made it to the cartel casino as well...
 
 
+52 # jlohman 2012-07-08 11:46
Virginia, that is why I feel strongly that we *MUST* get the bribes out of the political system. Then this crap would not be allowed! But our trusted congressmen get a piece of the profits, so why would they intervene?
 
 
+29 # Vardoz 2012-07-08 12:38
Yeah and vote out those who are taking the most from special interests. You can look up your reps to see where they get their bribes from.
 
 
+17 # John Locke 2012-07-08 14:17
Obama has been on Wall Streets Payroll all along and so will Romney be, we need to start demanding that Wall Street executives are prosecuted not fined, money fines are a game play, they are prepared to pay fines, but the only way to stop this criminal syndicate is through RICO...Take over the banks and jail all the executives and traders involved, and if we have to build more prisons to hold them, I think we can all contribute money for that cause...

But we know Obama and Romeney will do nothing to their close friends and financial supporters, if this is to be done it will need to be done by another country who isn't afraid of these domestic terrorists...an d it may also include their enablers and aiders who knew and did nothing to stop it, Like The FED, and most members of congress and the White House...

its time for action, that means complaints to the UN and any place that has authority to respond
 
 
+27 # soularddave 2012-07-08 16:44
I think there's a whole lot to fix out there; especially related to the mortgage scandal(s). Robo-signing may be the worst of it, because that surely looks like fraud. The MERS system is another load of collusion that deprived counties of fees for registering titles as they were shuffled from CDO to CDO. Then, how do people get recourse for their homes that were unfairly yanked out from under their feet? Then there's the forclosed homes that were sold by the boatload to inside investors? Then there's "we the people" who's homes lost 30% of their value through no fault of our own?

Is anyone ever going to be brought to justice for ANY of this?? We are bearing the costs of all this and those scoundrels are still raking in bazillions in profits. Somewhere there's a FEMA camp in the sun where those greedy bastards need to go to work on their tans. and while we're at it, I'd love to see a WikiLeaks upload of all their memos and emails.
 
 
+7 # John Locke 2012-07-09 08:35
soularddave: Yes there is a lot to address, the people who have been financially ruined by these criminals must be compensated, and as for the investors who swooped in with their carpet bags to steal these properties, let them eat cake!

We simply take the properties back and give them back to those the banks swindled...I am not concerned about the Wall Street Insiders who have purchased 100's of thousands of these properties to rent and then resel for profit when the market rebounds 10 to 15 years from now! I am more interested in helping those who have been ripped off by the Banks and their own government enabelers!
 
 
+50 # jlohman 2012-07-08 11:18
I don't understand this whole money thing, but we taxpayers have voted in politicians to protect us!!!

Oh, they're on the bankers payroll too?
 
 
+14 # genierae 2012-07-08 11:50
Well said, phrixus!
 
 
+4 # ericlipps 2012-07-09 14:16
Quoting phrixus:
So they're cooperating in order to avoid criminal penalties. How about this instead: Throw the book at them and then negotiate how many years they'll spend in prison based on their level of cooperation. If a small business owner walks into a bank with a gun and steals money he goes to prison. Why shouldn't the banker go to prison if he steals the business owner's money as well? Thanks to money in politics the US has become as corrupt as any country on the planet. We just hide it (somewhat) better with technology.

Sadly, pigs will fly jet aircraft before we "throw the book at" these bankers, no matter how much they deserve it.
 
 
+141 # Barbara K 2012-07-08 09:23
This "Screw the Consumer" mentality has been going on for some time. Maybe we should stop being consumers at these banks. I did. I am now a member of the local bank and the local credit union. I won't contribute a dime to the crooks in the big banks. I changed nearly 2 years ago, and get better service and honesty. You can do the same. All of us don't have to do business with these crooks. Let their banks fail, we don't need them either. They should be broken up anyway. The crooks are so many and rampant that it is hard to figure out where to start, but we can make the start by not doing business with them.
 
 
+37 # Adoregon 2012-07-08 11:41
RTFO, Barbara K.

The best way to deal with fraudulent rip-offs is to simply avoid them. Do not give them your money under any circumstances. Without OPM (other peoples' money) the banker scum are suddenly out of work AND their obscene incomes.

There are good reasons for the story about Jesus Christ throwing the usurers out of the temple.
 
 
+10 # John Locke 2012-07-08 14:19
Adoregon: That also means no mortgages and no car loans and no credit cards!
 
 
+13 # soularddave 2012-07-08 16:49
My credit Union provides all the services that were provided by BofA, and at a 2% lower rate. However, being slightly under water means that I can't appraise high enough to get my 6% mortgage away from BofA.
 
 
+6 # John Locke 2012-07-09 08:37
If we are able to actually take over these banks by prosecuting the criminals we can simply re-adjust all the mortgages to the fair market value!
 
 
+25 # AndreM5 2012-07-08 12:39
This is NOT a SCANDAL! And please stop using that silly term. This is likely the biggest CRIME we have ever heard of and it should be treated exactly as such. To call it a "scandal" as the other huge bankster crimes were is giving another pass to the criminals. The "fines" paid are an embarrassment.
 
 
+11 # Jerry 2012-07-08 13:26
Our governments still use them to float bond issues, which the banks have been fixing rates on, and to invest jurisdictions' money available due to cash flow, which the banks have been fixing rates on. For less expensive financing of public projects, and greater return on, and safety of, public wealth, jurisdictions need an alternative to using the big banks, as well.
 
 
+87 # stonecutter 2012-07-08 09:40
No, it will not provide enough energy. No, the banks will not be broken up, at least not in this lifetime or century. "Unflinching, unflagging in our demand" that Glass-Steagall be reintroduced? Who is "our"? "Mr. Democrat", Bill Clinton, who greased the wheels to repeal Glass-Steagall? President Obama, who's been in Wall Street's pocket all along, and has ignored its crimes and corruption? With respect, Professor Reich is pissing into a hurricane with this impotent plea. It's precisely because Wall Street has become so powerful that change will not come to pass, and with the exception of drop-in-the-buc ket fines and a few high-profile execs being scapegoated, the proverbial "cost of doing business", nothing will change. If the android is elected in November, an increasingly likely probability with his billion-dollar war chest, the economy's stagnation and systematic voter suppression schemes, Wall Street will be more omnipotent than ever, the rest of us be damned. This is reality, and we allowed it to happen while we've been expertly distracted by an Everest of media crap, and brainwashed into a sense of personal political impotence that's gripped us for decades. Welcome to the plutocracy.
 
 
+68 # mitchell donian 2012-07-08 11:33
Remember Churchill: NEVER, NEVER,NEVER,NEV ER GIVE UP! Stonecutter, your statement is clear, however we don't go into battle with defeat in mind. The first practical move was done when "occuppiers" (647,000) moved their money out of Bank of America after that bank's arrogant move to impose charges on certain tranactions. Their stock actively fell the following Monday. CONTINUE THE "MOVE YOUR MONEY" ACTION. It works. Keep moving your money to institutions that don't serve your purpose. Secondly, get a pre-election movement going by demanding that the Geithner-Summer s regime be ousted from the White House and replaced by Stiglitz-Volcke r-Baehr-Bourne- Morganstern-War ren...or somesuch team effort. This action will surely steal the media spotlight.A game changer. It will put steel in the spine of those who are with the people...and send a profound signal to those who think they command by the "gold rules" and put in their face the "vote rules" people's rule. Pound at their Everest of media and their polyglot of fiancial gibberish until it collapses. Remember, no corrupt regime has withstood the onslaught of the people. The Roman-Fascist-B ritish-Communis t Empires all fell. Gangster-Capita lism will fall if the people NEVER,NEVER,NEV ER GIVE UP. Demand Change Now.
 
 
+16 # DPM 2012-07-08 12:11
Quoting stonecutter:
No, it will not provide enough energy. No, the banks will not be broken up, at least not in this lifetime or century. "Unflinching, unflagging in our demand" that Glass-Steagall be reintroduced? Who is "our"? Mr. Democrat, Bill Clinton, who greased the wheels to repeal Glass-Steagall? President Obama, who's been in Wall Street's pocket all along, and ignored their most corrupt practices? With respect, Professor Reich is pissing into a hurricane with this impotent plea. It's precisely because Wall Street has become so powerful that change will not come to pass, and with the exception of drop-in-the-bucket fines and a few high-profile execs being scapegoated, the proverbial "cost of doing business", nothing will change. If the android is elected in November, an increasingly likely probability with his billion-dollar war chest and the economy's stagnation, Wall Street will be more omnipotent than ever, the rest of us be damned. This is reality, and we allowed it to happen while we we've been expertly distracted by an Everest of media crap and the feeling of personal political impotence we've lived with for decades. Welcome to the plutocracy.

You blame the Democrats? Good! Now, place the same blame with the Republicans. Our two party system is "two sides of the same coin". Let's come up with something different if this isn't working.
 
 
+20 # tonywicher 2012-07-08 13:09
Of course, blame the Republicans too. Nothing is being done by either party to stop this massive ripoff, because they are all paid for by the rippers. Romney is even worse than Obama, but that is like saying a heart attack is worse than cancer.
 
 
+12 # John Locke 2012-07-08 14:22
Its time to stop wall street control, but it is too late to stop the results of this election...we need a third party and a real president who is for all of us...Wall Street must be broken up and taken over under RICO...
 
 
+9 # Jerry 2012-07-08 14:04
With 2/3rds of the people supporting OWS, if they would answer polls as supporting third party candidates, we would find out if any of them are viable enough to vote for prior to the election. If not, then people could hold their noses and vote for the lesser of two evils.
 
 
+36 # NanFan 2012-07-08 12:21
Quoting stonecutter:
If the android is elected in November, an increasingly likely probability with his billion-dollar war chest and the economy's stagnation, Wall Street will be more omnipotent than ever, the rest of us be damned. This is reality, and we allowed it to happen...


I can't remember who said it, but it goes like this:

One day we will put a member of the mafia in the White House and we won't even know it.

As I write this, Mitt and the almighty Koch brothers are at a $50,000-a-plate fundraiser in the Hamptons. This after the Mitten has raised $100,000 in June alone and has billions more waiting in the SuperPAC kitty.

Don't go to sleep, America, or you might wake up one day, not just wondering where you next dollar will come from, but you'll wake up staring at the end of a money-pit tunnel filled with money you put in and cannot ever, ever reach. And your wives and daughters will not have proper healthcare, will not have the choice to receive an abortion medically, you will not be able to pay off your student loans, and you will wonder, rubbing the sleep out of your startled eyes, "When did this happen? Why did this happen? I was just doing what I thought was right."

Right-wing rabid propaganda eats its own alive. BE AWARE! You can't say you didn't know.

N.
 
 
+12 # NanFan 2012-07-08 13:23
Quoting NanFan:
the Mitten has raised $100,000 in June alone

N.


Sorry...left off some zeroes there...Mitt raised $100 MILLION in June alone.
 
 
+10 # RHytonen 2012-07-08 15:42
With CLinton and Gramm/Leach/Bli ley, it wasn't all THAT simple. But to stay with oversimplificat ion, he knew very well he had a veto-proof Congress.

BTW, you would know we had true will to separate the banks, if congress voted very simply to repeal Gramm/Leach/Bli ley, in a one-sentence bill- no amendments or elaboration.
 
 
+28 # HerbR 2012-07-08 09:44
"If not now, when ?, if not we, who ? if not what, why not ?" and other such questions !!
 
 
+8 # grouchy 2012-07-08 10:25
The reality of this situation; These guys own us!
 
 
+11 # John Locke 2012-07-08 14:24
grouchy: Only to the extent we allow it...A real tax revolt would be a good beginning.

A real leader would be the finish!
 
 
+6 # soularddave 2012-07-08 17:01
I pay more in interest than I do in taxes.

If my rate was cut in half, to 3%, I'd still make the same payment to make the mortgage go away sooner.
No money left over for campaign contributions, sorry, but I did just send some money to RSN.
 
 
+4 # Alice 2012-07-09 07:01
I remember when interest was all deductible, before President Reagan did away with it. That meant student loans, car loans, credit card interest, everything -- it was all deductible even on the short form (which was not as short). It was especially helpful when interest rates were 18% in the late seventies, but they were still that high for awhile under Reagan when he took away the deduction. This led a lot of people to eternal debt...
 
 
+29 # Virginia 2012-07-08 10:43
Oh dear Robert - you lag behind.

#1. There have already been plenty of LIBOR lawsuits in the U.S. and made a class action. Most were filed in 2011, but the investigation and skimpy news articles started in 2008. There are 17 banks leading the corruption parade. Bank of America is primarily singled out and of course these banks acted in their normal cartel unison. They were sued by companies, individuals and pension funds. Since they own the media - the information is suppressed.*

#2. The banks make their money like car dealers. They sell and trade debt and personal information. It's no longer the traditional lending money and making the interest - it's all a shared seamless automation. They take your private credit information, all your credit card expenditures and now your Google and Internet searching and define you as part of the deal - whether it's a loan or credit card offer. Then it's packed up and still traded, swapped, pledged and collaterialized just as they have been doing unregulated for years.

This LIBOR scandal is just the tip of the anti-trust... These banks are a cartel. They work together. Once you are in their system - you and your social security number are in for life.

*When Congress took broadcast from a public trust to corporate property rights in the 1990s the American public got royally screwed.
 
 
+11 # Michael_K 2012-07-08 11:52
Worse... the Bank of England was behind the scam. I'm betting no one goes to jail!
 
 
+7 # John Locke 2012-07-08 14:38
Michael_K: I doubt anybody is foolish enough to take that bet thats a given!

The only way is to elect a third party candidate with a platform like President Andrew Jackson had NO Central Bank. But his life would need serious protection from an "accidental death"


General Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885), who like Jackson before him was put into power to defeat those forces attempting to create a Central Bank.

President Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), who said:

“The government should create, issue, and circulate all the currency and credit needed to satisfy the spending power of the government and the buying power of consumers. The privilege of creating and issuing money is not only the supreme prerogative of government, but it is the government’s greatest creative opportunity. The financing of all public enterprise, and the conduct of the treasury will become matters of practical administration. Money will cease to be master and will then become servant of humanity.”

Continued below
 
 
+9 # John Locke 2012-07-08 14:40
Upon President Lincoln’s assassination by those forces advocating a Central Bank he was succeeded by President Andrew Johnson (1808-1875) who, like Lincoln before him, opposed those European forces [the Rothschild's banking family alone was reported to have lost nearly $50 million in support of the Confederacy.] attempting to take control of the American economy and in further “outrages” against them forgave the Southern States of their debts, granted unconditional amnesty to all Confederate Soldiers, freed all remaining slaves in the United States, and paid back the Russian Empire for its blocking of a North American invasion by British and French forces by purchasing Alaska for $7.2 million.

JP MOrgan got the FED authorized for his european associates now its time to through the money changers out of the temple again!
 
 
0 # weverdell 2012-07-09 12:56
Upon President Lincoln’s assassination by those forces advocating a Central Bank he was succeeded by President Andrew Johnson (1808-1875) who, like Lincoln before him, opposed those European forces [the Rothschild's banking family alone was reported to have lost nearly $50 million in support of the Confederacy.] attempting to take control of the American economy

JP MOrgan got the FED authorized for his european associates now its time to through the money changers out of the temple again!

I'm sorry, but this is the most egregious and elaborate myth about the birth of the Fed---that is the legislative creation of an American central bank to control the American money supply in the public interest---that I have ever heard. If you don't mind my asking, where are you getting this stuff?

For example, no one was more fundamentally opposed to setting up the Federal Reserve in 1913 than J.P. Morgan because the U.S. central bank up to that time was a private one---J.P. Morgan and Company.

As for Lincoln, who was among other things a corporate lawyer, what his administration devised was the income tax and fiat paper money in order to pay for the Civil War. (The South borrowed, refused to tax, and its fiat money failed.) Corporate lawyers led the fight to get the income tax and paper money (Greenbacks) abolished as soon as the war was over, and it took a constitutional amendment to get the tax back in 1913.
 
 
+3 # John Locke 2012-07-09 15:29
weverdell Stop denying history and look it up for yourself This is fact!!! His puppets in congress aided Morgan Research and learn!
 
 
+3 # John Locke 2012-07-09 16:33
weverdell: You really need to stop reading propaganda, the first Income tax bill came in the 1890's and was declared unconstitutiona l by the Supreme Court, that was the reason for the constitutional amendment in 1913, JP morgan created the bank run of 1907 then saved the street while he was behind the 1908 and 1909 bills that ultimately gave way to the 1913 Fed Reserve Act...His associates in congress made the legislation as Morgan and other wall street controlling forces required... Look it up its all there in history if you have a mind to learn!
 
 
+8 # Virginia 2012-07-08 11:56
The lawsuits started a while ago – they’ve just kept them under wraps. McCormick et al v. Bank of America Corporation et al…AMONG OTHERS!

THE COURT: Bigger than a bread box.
MR. WEINSTEIN: Yes, definitely bigger than a bread box.
THE COURT: What are we talking about; is it hundreds, thousands. I have no idea.
MR. WEINSTEIN: We don’t know for sure. We believe it’s measured in thousands, yes.
THE COURT: In a five-year period, the Fortune 500 companies issued thousands of debt instruments linked to LIBOR.
MR. WEINSTEIN: We believe so; it’s certainly in the hundreds and we believe it’s in the thousands.
 
 
+6 # Regina 2012-07-08 16:19
Yes, that shift of "public" broadcast channels got us to the outrage of present political campaigns -- for public office -- needing mega-fortunes for candidate promotions. And of course there's a huge feedback loop -- executives in the broadcasting business make tons of money, some of which gets "contributed" back to politicians running for now-tainted office.
 
 
+40 # Wolfchen 2012-07-08 10:49
Road to Plutocracy and Fascism:

Deregulate banks and other financial institutions.

Buy off corrupt politicians and a Supreme Court majority. Declare Citizens United holding to be the law of the land on both federal and state levels.

Prevent any effective civil and criminal prosecutions of those involved in financial crimes that make the Mafia envious.

Bring interest rates so low, that there is almost zero return on money placed in banks, thus encouraging those on fixed incomes etc. to enter the rigged stock market...thus increasing the odds of another Wall Street crash that will then again be bailed out by the government with tax dollars from taxes not collected...thu s leading to further national debt. This is what is becoming the Golden Circle of Life.

Reduce funding for education, thereby creating an ever-more-stupi d electorate that keeps these criminals in power. Along the way, destroy unions so as to take away the bargaining power of the middle class that's at war with itself via the divide and conquer rule.

Hell's bells...we've become such lethargic sheep that we don't even demand of all politicians that public financing of all elections become the law via a constitutional amendment. Without such an amendment, our corrupted judicial system will circumvent public financing of elections.

We are a nation going down for the count, unless we all demand these changes now.
 
 
+12 # Virginia 2012-07-08 12:32
Any politician that doesn't sign on to the Audit the Fed bill as a supporter should be at the top of our list to lobby and investigate... And ultimately remove if necessary. No matter which party - we, the people, have to get serious about our governmental leaders.

We need their disclosure statements at our finger tips. They should chair or participate in a Committe where they would have even the slightest appearance of impropriety.

They need to know we will remove them if they use their office for personal power and gain... And we need to teach our children the importance of managing these politicians and the meaning of integrity.

I think, as a country, we have been so personally damaged by these banks and the government that they can never recover and return our privacy that in addition to taking them down to a manageable realm, we, the people, need new social security numbers - and that's just a start.
 
 
+4 # Jerry 2012-07-08 14:23
If I remember right, the court has already neutered public funding by finding it unconstitutiona l to provide funds matching what a non public funded candidate raises. Thus, if private funds provide more than public, the privately bought candidate still has the largest bullhorn advantage.
 
 
+9 # Wolfchen 2012-07-08 15:33
That's why public financing of elections needs to be enacted and protected by a constitutional amendment...so as to prevent politicians and a corrupted legal system from violating it.
 
 
+4 # jky1291 2012-07-09 00:58
Wolfchen, unfortunately I fear you have a very firm grasp of our current situation. An article submitted on writingforgodot for the enjoyment of the choir expands on your succinct assessment of our crisis.

http://readersupportednews.org/pm-section/78-78/9441-take-our-political-crisis-personally
 
 
+5 # Wolfchen 2012-07-09 09:59
jky,
Thank you for your kind thoughts. It's people like you and others at this site who will get us out of this mess.

Whomever we meet, lets all voice the demand for a constitutional amendment for public financing of elections. Bernie Sanders and others like him need all the support we can muster up.

Such a constitutional amendment is the bedrock upon which all other reforms rests. It's vitally critical for real and lasting reformation of our currently corrupt system. Lets make that demand known by bumper stickers, political rallies...along with mail to and demonstrations before the "Supreme" Court and Congress. We can achieve this goal, if we make it a central issue. Let's get in their face!
 
 
+2 # weverdell 2012-07-09 12:41
[quote name="Wolfchen" ]Road to Plutocracy and Fascism:

>>Deregulate banks and other financial institutions.

Buy off corrupt politicians and a Supreme Court majority. Declare Citizens United holding to be the law of the land on both federal and state levels.

Prevent any effective civil and criminal prosecutions of those involved in financial crimes that make the Mafia envious.

Bring interest rates so low, that there is almost zero return on money placed in banks, thus encouraging those on fixed incomes etc. to enter the rigged stock market...thus increasing the odds of another Wall Street crash that will then again be bailed out by the government with tax dollars from taxes not collected...thu s leading to further national debt.

Reduce funding for education, thereby creating an ever-more-stupi d electorate that keeps these criminals in power. Along the way, destroy unions so as to take away the bargaining power of the middle class that's at war with itself via the divide and conquer rule.
 
 
+28 # jwb110 2012-07-08 10:53
Get your money out of big banks, where any sort of interest on your money is a giant joke, and put it in local banks and credit unions. Those banks have a greater need to lend in their community in order to keep their businesses profitable. Their is the added benefit that when you confront one of those bank managers they will listen.
 
 
+31 # walt 2012-07-08 11:03
As he stated in a previous article, no change will be seen until we jail crooked bankers and CEO's. Why are they exempt from prosecution when we are the victims of their misdeeds?

Wall Street has too many Harvard MBA's sticking it to the public. It's time for some prosecutions!
 
 
+11 # Bob P 2012-07-08 13:08
Thanks for mentioning MBA programs. I have wondered if they are responsible for the shift from focus on customer service to bottom line. Or did they see what was happening and jump on the bandwagon? Either way, I agree they are helping to stick it to us.
 
 
+1 # Tigre1 2012-07-08 23:30
Quoting walt:
As he stated in a previous article, no change will be seen until we jail crooked bankers and CEO's. Why are they exempt from prosecution when we are the victims of their misdeeds?

Wall Street has too many Harvard MBA's sticking it to the public. It's time for some prosecutions!


JAIL WILL NOT KEEP THESE PEOPLE FROM THEIR ONGOING THEFT. As long as they LIVE they will buy their immunity from prosecution. They are doing THAT now.
 
 
+33 # Susan W 2012-07-08 11:12
If everyone joined their local credit union the banks would cease to exist. Why this hasn't happened is a mystery as it is such an easy, painless step to take and doesn't involve politicians or Wall Street. Stop begging for regulation and take an active part in changing the entire system.
 
 
+13 # Virginia 2012-07-08 11:51
Local credit unions also bank with the big boys. The advantage is that members can control the operation and not allow risky bets or investments. And the way the seamless automation works - it's better to invest in tangibles and keep very little in the banks. Get debt free - the sooner the better.
 
 
+21 # Gibbous 2012-07-08 11:17
Some people steal with a gun. Some people steal with a pen. Quote, unquote
 
 
+11 # RHytonen 2012-07-08 15:30
Quoting Gibbous:
Some people steal with a gun. Some people steal with a pen. Quote, unquote


Precisely, Woody wrote:
"As through this world I've traveled,
I've seen lots of funny men,
Some will rob you with a six-gun
some with a fountain pen."

He also wrote, in the same song (Ballad of Pretty Boy Floyd):

"As through this world you ramble
as through this world you roam,
you'll never see an outlaw
drive a family from their home."

I always think of that whenever Occupiers are accused of "lawless"
anarchy, or of exercising "free" speech outside of a "free speech zone."

-but I imagine (and predict)the "outlawed" behavior
can't -and shouldn't- be limited to that.
 
 
+21 # Bill Clements 2012-07-08 11:20
What a fine unseemly profession banking is, populated as it is by those with no moral compass, or at least not the same moral compass most of us rely on to guide us through our lives.

This is a profession, apparently, that one willingly goes into not to serve the public's interests, but rather one's own self-serving interests. This is a profession for those whose moral character (i.e., integrity, honesty, moral courage, etc.) was either stunted in childhood or simply MIA at birth.

What is it going to take for people to demand accountability for these crimes and the sort of far-reaching reforms that are desperately needed to put an end to this unbridled greed?

Apparently, things have to get far, far worse before there is a chance for them to get better. When will that be? When all of us, save the 1%, are eating out of dumpsters? When what is left of our democracy is utterly disemboweled only to be replaced by an oligarchy run by plutocrats? We're getting there, invariably, we're getting there.

"And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?"

W.B. Yeats The Second Coming
 
 
+5 # John Locke 2012-07-08 14:48
The real beginning is a real tax revolt! and to lose all fear of Government... when we have no fear of the Government, the government will then fear us as it is now beginning to do!

What is to fear for the 99% the banks have taken everything. there is only one thing additional to lose "Freedom"
 
 
+13 # KittatinyHawk 2012-07-08 11:35
Mr Clinton greased a lot of hands in the world so that he would be where he is now and to have been able to run Hilary.

It is the what is in it for me Lifestyle glad I am not part of that deception. I think of myself in many circumstances as I am a survivor. I do not however live my life believing to have more is better...cannot take it with you and others are in need.
 
 
+7 # John Locke 2012-07-08 14:51
KittatinyHawk: Very well said! THey can't take it with them, when and where ever they go! money is a tool it can be used for good or evil...to be used for good it should be used to help each other through this life's journey!
 
 
+10 # oakes721 2012-07-08 11:42
When you've "Got the Goods" on enough of them and rediscover that there is no honor among thieves and the corruption has eaten away it's own foundation (much as a cancer destroys its host) the repayment of those stolen funds with Libor interest is due. Then hang them legally and cheerfully.
 
 
+3 # John Locke 2012-07-08 14:53
oakes721: for some reason I keep thinking of the Vigilante movies with Charles Bronson, he went after the wrong criminals!
 
 
-6 # brucbaker 2012-07-08 12:11
Are we a bunch of IGNORANT CHILDREN here? Bankers have created massive schemes to invest money that doesn't exist, or invest the the FRACTIONAL RESERVE money we deposit in their banks, and they always will find a scheme to MAKE MONEY.

COME ON ROBERT REICH ... you are not that stupid. Well .. maybe the rest of us are... I am feeling pretty empty headed on this hot humid day ..
 
 
+10 # dovelane1 2012-07-08 12:39
To repeat what I sent in an earlier comment section: Sydney Harris wrote in his "Best of...": The big failure of capitalist society is neither economic or political. It is social, cultural and educational. We have failed to raise the QUALITY of life nearly as much as we have increased the mere QUANTITY of goods and opportunities.

The general quality of life in our society is low and brutish. The violence we are lately so concerned about is merely an extension of our incivility, our bad manners, our coarseness of values and crudeness of sensibility.

The original idea of the American Revolution was to raise the level of all citizens, to educate them, civilize them, make them responsive to the grand ideas and broad sentiments expressed by Jefferson and his colleagues. Americans were to become a different breed of people.

But something went wrong. In the process of exercising our economic and political freedom, we somehow forgot that these are just means, NOT ends. The ends must include a citizenry ruled by reason AND compassion.

We do not even comprehend the virtues and limitations of capitalism in a way that will permit us to benefit from the former (virtues) while escaping the dangerous consequences of the latter."

As to how much people have changed, or grown more aware of what is happening in our culture, the "Best of Sydney Harris" was copyrighted in 1975, and this editorial was written before that.
 
 
+12 # fredboy 2012-07-08 12:47
The MBA schools are teaching their students that this is simply business as usual.

Amazing, but true.
 
 
+6 # fhunter 2012-07-08 13:02
I was expecting that the "Pecora hearings" will start the day after Obama's inauguration. But our new President was totally ignorant, listened to the wrong advisors. He had a chance to STOP PLUITOCRACY and jail the crooks. Instead, he let them gobble up enormous bonuses, while the rest of us are suffering. Why do we vote for unexperienced, ignorant people as Presidents???
 
 
+6 # Regina 2012-07-08 14:11
Because the experienced, crafty-sly, sneaky-knowledg able, conniving-contr iving operators are even worse.
 
 
+5 # John Locke 2012-07-08 14:58
fhunter I agree but also Obama has been on Wall Streets payroll he would never do anything against his financial supporters and there lies the same problem with Romney...The supreme court sealed our fate to insure money controls the candidates, but we have other ways to promote real candidates after this election many more people are going to be disillusioned and ready for a real third party!

Perhaps we are not really ready yet to take on both controlled parties until they collapse the economy further and more people lose their homes...it will happen no matter who wins!
 
 
+12 # dovelane1 2012-07-08 13:02
If what Bill McKibbon and the other climate scientists are writing is true, all of this means little to nothing. And all of the power and money the bankers and their like think they have now, will mean nothing in the long run.

I wonder if the bankers, Wall St. brokers, Koch brothers, Adelson, and so on, will ever understand how much they all helped grease the skids the earth is currently on. I wonder if anyone living is aware of how much we are all currently greasing the skids.

"Let there be peace and change on earth, and let it begin with...
that other person over there, and that group of people in some other place. But me, I don't need to change."

The essence of immorality is to make an exception of oneself. I believe that includes all the bankers in large banks, many politicians and bureaucrats, and most of the people who believe they have some power over anyone but themselves.

In fact, I believe it is the people who have little to no power over themselves that always want to have power over others, whether that power be manipulative in nature, or whether it be based on violence. I would guess these people have learned to be believe that subterfuge or violence are their only choices in life. If the only tool one has is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

People, look around you,
the truth is everywhere... (Jackson Browne)
 
 
+10 # Jerry 2012-07-08 13:04
Matt Tabbi reported that Robert Diamond, Jr claimed an official of the British government strongly suggested Barclay's should start understating the Libor rate to disguise the financial industries' condition. If so, even governments are implicated in the rip-off. Has that been disproven?
 
 
+14 # dovelane1 2012-07-08 13:18
ps. One of the things I think this and many other societies needs to do, is broaden its definition of what violence consists of. What the bankers in question have done, and are continuing to do, is just another form of violence.

It may not be immediate, or physical, but the outcomes are the same. What they desire is to have power over others and the earth, not to have power with others and the earth. And they will, apparently, use any means necessary to achieve that delusional state of mind and being.

If we could broaden our definition of violence so that everyone understood it in this broader sense, perhaps none of this would happen, as it would automatically be known and understood as violence, and not a healthy form of behavior for anyone, in the long run.

When people are focused on short-term gains and advantages, they will not be aware of the long-term consequences of their decisions and behaviors. And if they are not held accountable for those long-term consequences, who among them will change.

Take fracking, for instance. Or land mines. Or nuclear power. What will the long term consequences be?

We must frame all of these kinds of behaviors and decisions as forms of violence against others and against the earth. Perhaps only then will real change occur.
 
 
+6 # The Voice of Reason 2012-07-08 13:43
Another scandal to end all scandals. That's the third one this week!
 
 
+8 # Igshaddy@aol.com 2012-07-08 13:53
Would someone do a simple outline of the facts and get them out there to convince millions of people to just withdraw their money from those banks and put it in local credit unions. The people must take control. We know the government and media will not do it for us. Help me not give up hope!
 
 
0 # sapereaudeprime 2012-07-08 14:16
I'll bet that we could find out everything we wanted to know if we just picked five hundred of the top international bankers, sequestered their children, picked one child an hour at random and fed it to starving pythons in full view of the bankers. Wouldn't take more than the first brat to start them singing. it certainly wouldn't be any more immoral than what they've done to the rest of us.
 
 
+5 # Jerry 2012-07-08 18:02
That really isn't necessary. They brag about their activities in emails to each other. Their hubris has no bounds. We just need laws that make damaging society illegal and a system of justice that applies to everyone, and enforcement.
 
 
+7 # GREG L 2012-07-08 15:12
Why does this surprise anyone? Our own Fed has forced interest rates down for pretty much the same thing---a giveaway of free money to the banks to speculate with so they can earn their way out of the the morass they created. Supposedly this was done at the behest of the Bank of England. No doubt this was coordinated with the Fed and others.
 
 
+5 # wfalco 2012-07-08 16:12
I am beginning to think my Dad's loansharks were more trustworthy.At least the interest rates and consequences were all out in the open.
The system was rigged but you knew it was rigged.
 
 
+4 # angelfish 2012-07-08 16:25
We MUST get the Foxes OUT of the Henhouse! That is, get the ReTHUGlicans OUT of any power in our House and Senate because it is THEY who are enslaved to the Big Money interests of the Mega-Gazilliona ires and their Candidate (Willard "Mitt" Romney) who are trying to BUY our Country out from under us and rewriting our Laws to favor THEM not US! Remember in November and vote them OUT! Never,EVER vote ReTHUGlican! the People, UNITED, will NEVER be defeated!
 
 
+2 # tonywicher 2012-07-08 23:51
Excuse me, but Larry Summers, Tim Geithner and Obama are all "Democrats"; Glass-Steagall was repealed under Clinton with Larry Summers and Tim Geithner leading the charge. They were also instrumental in privatizing Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac. The result was first the 2 trillion dollar housing bubble with the 2 quaerillion dollar derivatives bubble built on top of it. The very first thing Obama did was bring these turkeys back in. This bubble is causing the current depression. Cancelling derivatives, breaking up the big banks and seizing the Fed is THE ONLY WAY to save the economy. It MUST be done NOW.
 
 
+4 # stonecutter 2012-07-08 18:36
Until Reagan gutted Patco in 1981, we were imbued by a collective private- sector, industrial and manufacturing driving union force that generated awesome political power, in favor of ordinary middle and working class citizens, a formidable ideological counterweight to the plutocratic interests of capital and corporate domination. This was the perceived world for many if not most, a massive, previously stable, thriving middle class that affirmed the attainable reality of the "American Dream" for many millions of workers and their families, but was at the same time just beginning its decline. Despite the inevitable struggles of capital vs. labor in the 20th century, the scales were "in balance": the interests of both sides were more or less grounded in the makeup of Congress, the "old school" pressure to find compromise for the greater good, a shared understanding of "the settled rules" of hardball politics and policy.

Most of that nostalgic reality is gone. Destroyed by a cadre of small-minded, arrogant, authoritarian fools with even smaller "vision", who managed to assume power over the political process and electoral outcomes. Four decades later, unions exert the political equivalent of erectile dysfunction, most Democrats look, sound and feel like Republicans, The Clintons hang out with the Bushes at lavish summer barbecues, and the rest of us? Lethally impotent.

I'm deeply pessimistic, but I wish the OWS kids and their offspring the best of luck.
 
 
+4 # Rick Levy 2012-07-08 21:00
More and more, Mattress Bank & Trust is looking like the safest investment haven of all.
 
 
0 # barbaratodish 2012-07-08 23:16
I have an idea: A write in primary. We demand a kind of 3rd party primary right away, by immediate petition drives. On the petitions everyone writes in their candidate's name and the winner(s) get 50 % of the Democrats and 50% of the Republicans campaign budget! TV, CABLE RADIO, WEB, etc., LIVE IMPROV debates are held where all the candidates, INCLUDING Obama and Romney, do LIVE IMPROV debating where suggestions from live audiences "at the height of their intelligence" are given to begins the spontaneous IMPROV debates! In the alternative write me in!http://www.b arnesandnoble.c om/w/transcendi ng-competitive- chaos-barbara-t odish/111191778 5
 
 
-3 # tonywicher 2012-07-08 23:25
No it isn't too late. Join with Contgressional Republicans to start impeachment proceedings against Obama right now, for "Fast and Furious", for contempt of Congress, for being a lying sack of crap - whatever it takes. We need a real Democrat who will do what Robert Reich says: support Glass-Steagall and break up the big banks. If he won't do it, to hell with him! We will nominate somebody decent at the convention.
 
 
+1 # RHytonen 2012-07-09 08:42
I disagree violently with the "F&F" reference.

The Bush Administration did the same thing (Gunwalking, and yes the EXACT SAME-purposely not apprehending sellers, buyers, smugglers and guns-and 'losing'thousan ds, "2000/day" minus 450 TOTAL?-)in at least three different versions, only the first known, being Operation Wide Receiver.

Either this one is a transparently manufactured "crisis," or it should be ignored the same as the first three. Perhaps the first three, or so, should at the very least be INVESTIGATED AND PROSECUTED FIRST.
 
 
-2 # forparity 2012-07-09 10:24
Actually AG Holder testified that the ATF during the Bush years, did not do exactly the same thing. They did have a program, involving a few guns, which was coordinated with the Mexican government (Fast and Furious was not), where electronic tracking devices were implanted in the guns and the effort was made to track them. After a while, seeing that they were having issues with this program - they cancelled it.

The early stories (year ago) put out in the national media - by CBS, LATimes, etc explain why Holder should be kicked out; the DOJ was involved in stonewalling, then a cover-up.

The current situation is completely the fault of Eric Holder. Had he simply investigated it properly, reported to congress (and to the American people) what had happened, that safeguards - changes - where now in place to make sure such never happens again, and had heads rolled -- Congress would have patted him on the back, given him a gold star, and it would have been over with a year ago.

Holder is in the same mind set as Richard Nixon was. That's the problem.
 
 
-2 # tonywicher 2012-07-09 10:28
Well yes, yes they did. Unfortunately, Obama came in saying that he was going to be "forward looking" and the crimes of the Bush administration would not be prosecuted. Which means that he is totally complicit in those crimes, including 9/11 and trading guns for drugs. Obama and Bush are so palsy-walsy these days, you can't tell the difference. Obama is a member in good standing of the Bush crime family. I bet Junior has already nicknamed him "Barack Bush".
 
 
0 # RHytonen 2012-07-09 08:44
Again, if you try to paas "a new Glass/Steagall" we have already seen exactly how that goes.

The only answer is to CLEANLY REPEAL Gramm/Leach/Bli ley. One sentence.
 
 
+1 # Bigfella 2012-07-08 23:29
So when is the date to break up these to big to fail Banks again?
Cheapest opion and it would be a vote winner....or is that just to simple?
 
 
+4 # mrbadexample 2012-07-09 05:19
Here's a larger question (and issue): It's clear that the Banksters have gamed Wall Street and financial transactions in general. In the US, we didn't go with a guaranteed pension system that's common in most of Europe. Instead, Congress gave Wall Street a gift called the 401K account, which means people are forced to put their retirement money into Wall Street. This made a modicum of sense when first passed, but if Wall Street is nothing but a bucket shop designed to separate the gullible from their cash, why should the government give such plans a tax advantage? such a system is great IF YOU ARE ON THE INSIDE AND KNOW IN ADVANCE which way the market will go. But with the exception of the insiders, the Dow didn't keep up with normal inflation over the last 12 years (Tech bubble begat meltdown begat housing meltdown).
 
 
+5 # tonywicher 2012-07-09 10:23
If you don't have insider information, the stock market is a casino. If you do, you are a crook. There is no third possibility. There must be a better way.
 
 
+3 # JSRaleigh 2012-07-09 10:54
The Bank of England is now implicated in the LIBOR manipulation scandal, encouraging Barclays to falsify their LIBOR submissions to make the bank look more solvent than it really was.

How long will it be before the Federal Reserve is revealed to have encouraged the same kind of fraud by the big Wall Street banks?
 
 
+2 # Ma Tsu 2012-07-09 12:11
Here in the USA, we citizens, called 'consumers' by our betters in governance and finance, account for 70% of the financial activity of the country. While this ration is in no way sustainable, it means that it is we, not they, who control the land's most valued resource - money. We needn't go to the banks or the government, hat in hand, asking for our country back. We own it. We bought it, just as we have been advised to do, most famously, perhaps, by George Bush II who, after the attacks of 9/11, advised us to 'go shopping.'
We need look no farther than the discredited Karl Marx who predicted this stage, the end stage, of capitalism, when capital begets capital, and nothing else, just as we see bankers the world around doing today. The old system is breathing its last. Those of us looking forward can clearly see the repeal of the Law of Supply and Demand, the end of the Economics of Scarcity and the dawning of a new era, the Era of Interdependence and Abundance.
nationaloptimistsparty.org
 
 
+4 # weverdell 2012-07-09 12:14
Writes "John Locke": "It's time to stop wall street control, but it is too late to stop the results of this election...we need a third party and a real president who is for all of us...Wall Street must be broken up and taken over under RICO..."

Any president can do this, because it does not involve changing the law, only executing the law as it exists today. The Attorney-Genera l can indict businesses under RICO, and would have a good chance of making the charge stick. New law might be required to allow the Federal Reserve to take over banks, hedge funds, etc.---any business that lives by manipulating the money supply, which the Fed was founded in 1913 to bring under public control. Then again, it might not. Then it would be Congress's turn. The most important election in 2012 is your local election to the House and the Senate!!
 
 
+1 # Innocent Victim 2012-07-10 21:43
Yes, and my Rep. is C.W.Young of Florida's 10 district. My fellow voters are fools - the majority - and will re-elect him!
 
 
+3 # AStromberg 2012-07-09 19:04
Sorry to threaten all your balloons, folks, but until we have absolute control of our ballot boxes no change is possible. We've been fed a lot of BS about the need to prevent fraudulent voting but the likely biggest danger of fraudulent voting is via the electronic voting machine. We have no real idea what those machines are registering, do we? Did we have a problem when the votes had to be counted by hand? No, but the media couldn't state a winner as early as they now can. I rest my case.
 
 
-3 # Shorey13 2012-07-09 21:48
Well, somebody finally mentioned the Federal REserve Board in this righteous discussion. ONe of the reports on this CRIME on this site noted that Diamond claimed in his testimony before Parliament that not only the Bank of England, but also the New York Federal Reserve was also kept informed of this practice. Guess who was the President of the NY Fed during this period: Timothy Geitner, of course. So this will eventually reach to the highest levels of both governments if it is actually followed to its logical conclusion. Should we be surprised? Don't you all know that the real Golden Rule is that whoever has the gold makes the rules? The Rule of Law will NEVER serve the oppressed. Never.

I am rooting for Romney and the Republicans to sweep in November, so they can run us over a cliff, because only a complete international bankruptcy will ever clean up this mess. Turn all that debt into toilet paper. But, those of us who know better (like most of those who post comments on this site) have to be ready to move in and pick up the pieces, starting with a completely new Constitution.
 
 
+4 # forparity 2012-07-10 00:00
Oh, I would not be too worried . . we're going over the cliff regardless of who is elected.
 
 
+3 # Innocent Victim 2012-07-10 21:41
Where I bank, I get next to nothing in interest, thanks to the Obama-Bernanke team. That means that I must live on my small pension and Social Security. I could spend my savings or gamble on the markets, which I do - a bit. Because I do not borrow money, the LIBOR cheating affects me only indirectly: I get no interest, and I pay no interest.

How shall we re-legislate Glass-Steagall when we do not have representative government and when most voters are too stupid to understand what G-S did? Even Bill Clinton and Barney Frank did not understand Glass-Steagall. They killed it!
 

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