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Banks on Jello

Does anyone else get the sense that the financial system is so royally screwed up that it’s one butterfly’s wing flap away from collapsing?

Wall Street shut down this morning because of a number of unusual high volume trades, the LIBOR scandal keeps building, the former CEO of Citigroup says merging with Travellers was probably not such a good idea, while Steve Rattner says don’t break up the banks, write a better Dodd-Frank.  Here’s the money quote from Rattner’s piece today:

Because of pressure from Sheila C. Bair, then the chairwoman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the primary responsibility for winding down failing institutions was given to the F.D.I.C., an agency woefully ill equipped to deal with complex global entities. The Federal Reserve Board would have been a far superior choice.

In April 2011, the F.D.I.C. published a hypothetical plan suggesting that it could wind down a global octopus like Lehman in a manner similar to the way in which it routinely takes over small community banks. The report was widely derided.

We need a Dodd-Frank do-over to create the right oversight apparatus for huge banks. Regulators will always be outnumbered by bankers, and they will never find every problem. But, like prison guards, regulators are essential, even if they are outnumbered. In a world of behemoth banks, it is wrong to think we can shrink ours to a size that eliminates the “too big to fail” problem without emasculating one of our most successful industries.

You know who else didn’t like the idea of Sheila Bair taking over the banks?  Tim Geithner.  But he pressured Bair to back them anyway, guaranteeing shareholders a lot of money Bair didn’t think they deserved.  She would have made shareholders take substantial haircuts.  I’m betting that Rattner and his friends wouldn’t have liked that very much which is why it was off the table almost from the beginning.

I’m not sure I like Rattner’s tone.  Is he saying that the FDIC, which has something like 80 years of experience taking over failing banks is incapable of dismantling these behemoths or is he just dissing Sheila Bair?  Maybe it was just bad timing to have a woman as head of the FDIC when a man would have been able to do his job without meddling and disrespect.  Or maybe the world of the political elite should be held accountable for the fact that its ingrained sexism appears to be behind some phenomenally bad decisions in the past 13 years.  There’s more than one account of Bair being called “hard to work with” and “not a team player”.  Those are code words, baby, for we don’t want to listen to her and we’re going to pull out the old sexist staples to knock her status down.  Well, it worked so well against Bair and Brooksley Born, Elizabeth Warren, Christina Roemer and Hillary Clinton.  The pattern is obvious.  They don’t even pretend to hide it anymore.

I don’t know but I’m getting really pissed that so many sensible women are ignored and trampled so that the big boys can keep playing their games uninterrupted.  That shit’s gotta stop or why bother appointing women at all??  Again, this is Obama’s responsibility.  He hired these guys. And it’s not like his female White House staff didn’t warn him about the disrespect shown them.  What has Obama done about it?

Then there’s Rattner’s statement that even if we regulate the banks, they’ll just find a way around the regulations.  I’m not sure what point he is trying to make here.  If he’s trying to put us at ease, it’s not working.  It’s probably time to stop treating banks as a blessed industry while everyone else is getting damned.

And then there are the uber wealthy who are starting to worry that the Sans Culottes are going to turn the country into some dystopian state.  Maybe we shouldn’t have taken so much, they muse while they take in the scenery from their mansions.

Yeah, maybe.  Only time will tell.

And then there is Tim Geithner.  It looks like we were right about him.  He knew all about the LIBOR interest rate fix.  According to Taibbi, it was a well known secret on Wall Street.  Everybody knew it but the American people, who put their faith in Obama and his treasury secretary.

All I can think about is the stress tests and the way that Geithner assured everyone that the banks were solvent.  Who knows what the truth is but all of the Obama administration’s policies were built around the fiction of the condition of the banking industry.  Maybe the regular American citizen didn’t know about the LIBOR interest rate fixes but it’s hard for me to believe that Obama didn’t know.  You have to ask yourself what Obama was thinking when the stimulus turned out to be too small, bankers’ asses were saved and not homeowners, and he treated every bank crisis with an ad hoc solution instead of regulation.  Without regulation, it could happen again.

It’s all very, very shaky.

Bank Wankers bear down on Ireland

A half dozen years ago, Ireland was the Celtic Tiger.  Remember the infamous Irish Sandwich? Corporations loved to do business in Ireland because the country had a ridiculously low corporate tax rate.  You know, that thing the “jahb creators” are always screaming about?  If we only let them pay next to nothing in taxes there would be jobs for everyone and we would all be rich beyond our wildest dreams, more prosperous than our father’s father’s father and able to support ourselves fully without any assistance from the government.

Compared to America, with its harsh and punitive corporate tax rate {{rolling eyes}}, Ireland must be heaven.  The rivers flow with milk and Jamisons, the economy flowers and ripens with boundless enthusiasm for the free market and children are all above average and women are handsome and it is bliss and, uh, what?

The International Monetary Fund has ordered the Irish government to slash dole payments, cut child benefit, and take the automatic right to a medical card away from old age pensioners.

The IMF also wants the government to introduce a hard hitting property tax as it seeks a return on its investment in Ireland.

The proposals have come from the IMF in a hard hitting directive ahead of the government’s December budget.

The IMF is currently bank rolling Ireland’s economic bail-out along with the European Union and their latest orders have been met with harsh criticism from opposition groups and trade unions.

IMF bosses, in Dublin for their regular review of the Irish economy, ordered the Government to cut high social welfare benefits to encourage people back to work.

They warned: “Dole payments are high by international standards and responsible for low exit rates from the Live Register.

“With the Irish economy to grow by just 0.5pc this year, certain welfare payments should be means-tested to avoid long-term unemployment.”

If you have any doubts about where the money men are headed here in America, look no further than the IMF asking old aged pensioners in Ireland to give up their Medicare.  It’s the IMF’s modern update of A Modest Proposal where if the old are going to die anyway, it would be decent of them to do it quickly.

I love the IMF.  It’s so full of optimism.  Like, an unemployed person in Ireland is just collecting money because the government is generous and if only the government would turn off the spigot, people would go back to work. I’m not sure how that’s supposed to work when there aren’t any jobs.  I suppose they will just have to figure something out or starve.

Oh, wait, they did that back in the 1840′s.  And how did that turn out?

You know, given Ireland’s history of mistreatment from the ruling class and its negligence of the people’s incalculable suffering, you’ve got to wonder why it is that the Irish don’t grow a spine and tell the IMF to take a hike.  Depressing Ireland’s economy is likely to make the situation worse. It’s not doing the country any favors.

So, to recap: banks make a lot of stupid bets, corporations get everything they wanted, ordinary people were encouraged to invest everything they had in a party they were assured would never end and a bunch wankers in London fixed interest rates that affected loans, pensions, municipalities and mortgages all around the world.  THEN when the bankers blew it all up, they got to the front of the line to get a gigantic handout from the rest of us.  This gift was bigger than the world had ever seen.  It pretty much wiped us all out.

Now, those same idiots would like for all of us who have lost our jobs, houses, pensions and everything else to stop whining, go get some non-existent job or starve (it doesn’t really matter which as long as we keep the noise down).  In the meantime, they will sit on the gigantic wads of cash we gave them and complain that the corporate interest rates are too high and too many people want them to get off some of that mountain of cash for the pensions they were promised.

Ireland is not Greece.  Greece acted like a spoiled heiress with all of the money it borrowed.  It spent lavishly and didn’t collect taxes.  Sure, it’s not fair to take it out on average Greeks, who now are facing a collapsing public and medical infrastructure, but you can kind of see why they’re in the mess they’re in.  But Ireland has been operating by the west’s free market playbook.  It wasn’t supposed to turn out like this.  The idea of bailing out out the banks and letting everyone else go under is the social welfare for the criminals who caused the problem in the first place. What Ireland needs is an infusion of good Viking women from Iceland to tell the wankers to go take a hike.

Why the ^*(% are we putting up with this s^(% from the assholes who blew up the world??  Why do we willingly starve ourselves so that the wealthy and well connected   experience no deprivation?  Why are we supposed to settle for vastly reduced wages and benefits while the people who stole our money are just sitting on it? Why is it more important to impost a rigid morality on the working person while allowing a more fungible morality for the rich? Answer me that Mr. Brooks.  We’re talking about Ireland here, a Catholic nation that doesn’t allow abortion and frowns on the types of behavior that you find irresponsible. What did the Irish do to deserve this? They let business have everything it ever wanted and this is how they are treated.  The airwaves are full of a constant stream of harsh, mean-spirited, punitive, selfish and religious propaganda that has turned us all into nations full of whip kissers.

Any politician who continues to shelter these immoral, dangerous, out of control bankers deserves to lose and that goes for the donkey party he rode in to town on as well.

I keep thinking that I can’t be surprised anymore by the way these people operate and yet, they confound me.  What will it take for us to pull the plug on the whole damn scheme?  What we need now is a hard reset.  Wipe it out.  Wipe it all out and start from scratch. We all start on a level playing field and the bankers get sent to the Cayman Islands where they can spend the rest of their lives worshipping their worthless money.

********************

If you haven’t had a chance to see it yet, check out Jon Stewart’s run down of the LIBOR scandal from The Daily Show last night.  There’s no way to make this look good.

Ong namo guru dev namo (repeat)

Cleaning the instapaper queue and, At any moment now…

Charles Pierce will roll out his weekly dissection of David Brooks’ latest hand wringing over the declining morals in America.  Because, you know, if we unemployed scientists hadn’t screwed and  gotten high all the time and had children out of wedlock, we’d be better educated and fully employed.  This week’s Brooksian post was a doozy so I am nearly peeing myself in anticipation of the next episode of the adventures of Moral Hazard, the PR dog of the Young Fogey’s club.

In the meantime, here’s some stuff that has accumulated in my instapaper queue:

I can’t wait until I have enough money to buy a Dutch bike. American cities aren’t ready for them but I predict a booming business in the next couple of decades. I love the Bear Bicycle ads.  Look at what we have to look forward to:

************************

In Gene Sequencing for Leukemia, Glimpses of the Future recounts the course of a leukemia researcher’s battle with the disease from a personal standpoint.  This article made me nostalgic because FLT3 was one of the proteins I modeled before we had any good publicly available structures.  It was a tangent that my project went off on while we were working on a closely related protein.  It’s good to know that this group of proteins can be inhibited successfully.  I’d love to still be involved in these projects.  Very satisfying.

************************

In case you haven’t seen this post already, David Kotok writes in BusinessWeek Insider what the financial fallout of the LIBOR manipulations could be and says claims could “spiral into the trillions”.  It could be very profitable for lawyers who have a future full of lawsuits from municipalities, investors and individuals who were negatively affected by the rate manipulations.

************************

BuzzFeed Politics reports on the silly right wing outrage over the Obama campaign’s use of the Revolution Gothic font.  I like the font.  Might even use it myself someday.  It’s just a fricking font, people.  Stop frothing at the mouth.  Anyway, it’s the slogan the Obama campaign is using that should get everyone’s attention:

In the wake of so many Wall Street scandals, and the fact that it funded Obama generously in 2008, “betting on America” seems ill-advised.  Betting and gambling on America definitely conjures up negative connotations.  I’d fire the PR department, but then, I’d fire the whole campaign and the candidate, so, maybe I’m not being objective enough.  Still…

***************************

Crammed into Cheap Bunks, Dreaming of Digital Glory is about “Hacker Hostels” in California where entrepreneurs, techies and geeks can get together and collaborate.  The places are flophouses for the young aspiring future Mark Zuckerbergs.  I think it’s an ingenious solution to a perplexing problem: what are you supposed to live on when you’re creating all this good stuff that venture capitalists and corporations are going to want to license from you or invest in?  Ideating isn’t easy and people have to eat. I think it’s great that geeks are finally starting to socialize and share ideas but you’d think we’d make it easier for Americans to innovate, maybe not indenture them to their student loans so they could actually have their own bedrooms.  But no, this is America!

***************************

Here’s a great timewaster.  (Warning: if you have things to do today, do not click on this link) The Landmark Trust in Britain buys old properties, some of them very old, and renovates them, restoring them as closely as possible to their original forms and functions.  Then, it rents them out as vacation properties.  Yes, you too could stay in your own Mill-on-the-Floss or castle.  It’s bloody brilliant!

Brinkburn Mill

**************************

If you’ve ever wanted to code javascript (and who hasn’t, right?), here’s a cool way to learn how to do it.  The CodeAcademy will take you through a series of exercises, step-by-step.  You type exactly what they tell you to type (not as easy as it sounds) and then hit the run button to watch it work.  This is not a time waster.  I’ve learned a lot in the first 7 or so lessons.  The problem is it doesn’t stick in my brain for very long.  So, practice, practice, practice.

****************************

And now for something completely different, The Thinking Atheist, Seth Andrews, put together this lovely youtube video for people who are scared to death of death:

Chill.

The NYTimes finally puts LIBOR on the frontpage

It took long enough.  This article even starts poking around the edges at the Federal Reserve Bank of NY:

As big banks face the fallout from a global investigation into interest rate manipulation, American and British lawmakers are scrutinizing regulators who failed to take action that might have prevented years of illegal activity.

Politicians in both London and Washington are questioning whether regulators allowed banks to report false rates in the run-up to the 2008 financial crisis and afterward. On Monday, Congress stepped into the fray, requesting information about the role of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, according to people close to the matter.

 [...]

On Monday, the oversight panel of the House Financial Services Committee sent a letter to the New York Fed seeking transcripts from at least a dozen phone calls in 2007 and 2008 between central bank officials and executives at Barclays.

“Some news reports indicate that although Barclays raised concerns multiple times with American and British authorities about discrepancies over how Libor was set, the bank was not told to stop the practice,” Representative Randy Neugebauer, a Texas Republican and the head of the House oversight panel, said in the letter, which was reviewed by The New York Times.

Tim Geithner was the head of the Fed in NY during the time frame in question.  It is hard for me to imagine that he didn’t know that LIBOR was being manipulated.  We have already heard the panic defense, that if the true LIBOR rate was known, a financial apocalypse would have swiftly followed.  But it’s the aftermath of the manipulations when the panic had subsided that intrigue me.  Tim Geithner gave a lot of advice to Obama that was very friendly to bankers.  But he must have known that a couple of banks, like Citigroup, were insolvent.  Yet instead of nationalizing those failed banks, we merely stress tested them, bought their toxic assets and bailed them out.

Much of our current unemployment woes and struggling economy can be traced back to those early days of the Obama administration when we saved the bankers and ignored everyone else’s needs.  There were many smart people who were in favor of being more aggressive with the bankers and making a strong case for a bigger fiscal stimulus package.  They were ignored.  You can blame the Republicans, if you are so inclined.  But let’s remember that the Democrats were in charge in the first two years.  We can only speculate how they might have come together to push financial reforms and New Deal programs if we had only known how serious the situation was.

Hiding the true nature of the financial collapse from our elected officials amounts to a coverup, in my humble opinion.  It’s a coverup that cost many of us our houses, jobs and security.  Heads have got to roll for this one and THIS time, we have to demand that the parties responsible are held fully accountable.  There has to be real reform and perp walks or our present economic environment will never get better.

Yes, it sucks for the White House that it all comes to light in an election year.  What can I say? When you sell your soul to a bunch of people who have more money than God, they usually expect something significant in return. It looks like they got it.

Has someone found a smoking gun?  Reuters reports that Geithner had a “Fixing LIBOR” entry on his calendar in 2008.  Does that mean fix the rate or fix the problem with banks manipulating the rate?  Such ambiguity.

In early 2008, questions about whether Libor reflected banks’ true borrowing costs became more public. The Bank for International Settlements published a paper raising the issue in March of that year, and an April 16 story in the Wall Street Journal cast doubts on whether banks were reporting accurate rates. Barclays said it met with Fed officials twice in March-April 2008 to discuss Libor.

“FIXING LIBOR”

According to the calendar of then New York Fed President, Timothy Geithner, who is now U.S. Treasury Secretary, it even held a “Fixing LIBOR” meeting between 2:30-3:00 pm on April 28, 2008. At least eight senior Fed staffers were invited.

It is unclear precisely what was discussed at this meeting or who attended. Among those invited, along with Geithner, was William Dudley, who was then head of the Markets Group at the New York Fed and who succeeded Geithner as its president in January 2009. Also invited was James McAndrews, a Fed economist who published a report three months later that questioned whether Libor was manipulated.

It doesn’t look like LIBOR got fixed.  But clearly, Geithner knew what was going on.  And if he didn’t have a come to Jesus meeting with politicians right after he took office to explain how dire the situation was, then what can we conclude except that he was operating in the bankers’ interests at the expense of ours?

This s^*( is serious.  It affects mortgages, credit card rates, student loans and economic health and every decision that has been made in the past 4 years.  The timing is even crucial.  These meetings were taking place in the middle of the primary season when money was pouring into Obama’s campaign coffers from Wall Street and crazy Obots were screaming for Hillary Clinton to quit the race even as she was still winning big state primaries.  We know from other sources that the meltdown started in 2007.  So, even our primaries might have been affected by the shaky bank situation.

Darrell Duffie, a Stanford University finance professor who has followed the Libor issue for several years, said that he believed regulators were “on the case reasonably quickly” after questions were raised in 2008.

“It appears that some regulators, at least at the New York Fed, indeed knew there was a problem at that time. New York Fed staff have subsequently presented some very good research on the likely level of distortions in Libor reporting,” Duffie said. “I am surprised, however, that the various regulators in the U.S. and UK took this long to identify and act on the misbehavior.”

Surprise!

One last thing: If Geithner want to fix LIBOR in April of 2008, why did it take the CFTC to launch an investigation about it in March of 2011?  You’d think something as big and potentially litigious as a LIBOR scandal would have prompted swifter action. The fact that that didn’t happen suggests there is some bigger thing that is being covered up.  I can’t imagine what it is but it must be huge.

Ponderables: Part the second

Here are the things I am wondering tonight (in no particular order):

Is it possible for someone in Kansas to deliver a large galvanized tub of margaritas on the rocks to Katiebird so she can sit in it during the heatwave?

What did Tim Geithner know and when did he know it?  As the head of the New York Fed during the dark days of the financial collapse, he must have known that US banks were dicking around with the LIBOR rates.  And if so, is this the part of the reason why he decided to “stress test” the banks without the help of the FDIC?

Why is the “paper of record” silent on LIBOR?  Right now, it’s got some hit piece on Hillary making her look like she is single handedly negotiating the next foreign trade agreement with China when the truth is a lot more complicated than that.  But WHY is the NYTimes complicit in smearing Clinton when it could be having a veritable feast with the LIBOR scandal?

Why is the full tube of unused caulk in the basement dried up and unusable?

Has anyone grouted tile before?  BTW, here is an excellent step-by-step instruction video on how to tile a backsplash from Amy Matthews and DIYNetwork:

What projects are you working on?

LI(E)BOR

We have used the word “evil” to apply to bankers so often in the last four years that it’s become trite.  Nevertheless, the level of austerity imposed on us by the financial establishment in order for them to continue to seize money and power without accountability is so destructive that there’s really no other word that applies.  Once again, we have to go back to Hannah Arendt’s comment about the “banality of evil” to understand what we’re talking about here. It is the normalization of the unthinkable.  It’s not that these financiers are people who beat their wives or sell their children into sexual slavery.  I’m sure that some of these people are perfectly fine to socialize with.  You can play a few rounds of golf, have dinner, go sailing with them.  They seem like such nice, intelligent, clean-cut people, if a bit more ambitious than the average Joe.  OK, insanely more ambitious, but you know what I mean.  They don’t look like gun toting SS droogs in jackboots who will conduct you to the edge of the pit where they will shoot you in the back of the head for inconveniently living on land they had their eyes on.

And yet, isn’t that what they’re doing, in a so far non-violent way?  They’re leading hundreds of millions of people to the edge of the pit of financial instability and a lifetime of precarious existence and pushing them over with a swift kick to the back.  When you lose your job, your house, your marriage, everything but the clothes on your back and the student loans you will be paying off forever, and it’s all because some wealthy bankers need to preserve their bonuses, isn’t that evil?

Check out this unbelievable interview about LIBOR from the BBC with Harvard professor Niall Ferguson.  The second part is particularly outrageous.  Essentially, we are being pressured to turn generation against generation and Ferguson implies that Obama will sell us out at the end of this year:

Part 1:

Part 2:

(Roberto Unger’s call for the left to defeat Obama makes a lot more sense now.  Ahh, I see that Ferguson is one of the original Confidence Fairies that Krugman is always referring to.  What’s more, he’s married to Aayan Hirsi Ali, the Somali born former Dutch MP who works for the conservative American Enterprise Institute.  She has taken Christopher Hitchens’ place in the Four Horseman dialogues.  Man-o-man, no one is safe from the creepy thoughts of extreme right wing philosophy.  I can’t take the Four Horseman dialogues seriously now.  Not until she’s replaced.  She jumped from ultra religious conservatism to ultra right wing conservatism and is not a good ambassador for the New Atheist movement.  Sorry, Richard.  She’s going to damage your credibility.  You’ve got to be very careful about these people because in this country, the political right wing is inextricably tied to the religious right wing.)

The LIBOR scandal took me back to the fall of 2008 when Planet Money popped up on NPR.  At first, Planet Money was a good resource for non-financiers to get a grip on Credit Default Swaps and Collateralized Debt Obligations.  A few months later, that began to change subtly as the hosts of Planet Money got pulled into the realm of the serious people.  But in October 2008, they were on top of LIBOR.  I remember them talking about the TED spread and LIBOR and getting the sense that the LIBOR number, the interbank interest rate showing how willing banks were to lend to one another was an indicator of the global scale of the catastrophe.  No joke.  The higher the LIBOR number creeped, the more likely we were to spin off to a Depression that was bigger than the world had ever seen.  The thing is, according to the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), the banks were manipulating LIBOR starting in 2005, affecting rates on adjustable rate mortgages.  And the downstream effect of LIBOR was felt in just about every interest rate on every act of borrowing by every individual in the world.  We are talking about hundreds of trillions of dollars.  In this Planet Money snippet, Adam Davidson discusses the effect of LIBOR and the TED spread and what it means for global markets around the world.  Throughout October, Planet Money followed TED and LIBOR and the effect of the bailout money.  For some reason, LIBOR numbers should have gone down a bit after the infusion of money but they didn’t, probably because the LIBOR rate, as high as it was, wasn’t real and wasn’t high enough to reflect reality.

But reality might have set off a global panic, triggering much more severe regulation of the finance industry so it had to stay hidden.  In the meantime, we’ve been carrying the weight of these behemoth zombies for four years and if we don’t do something now, we will be carrying them for years to come- at our expense.  And they’ve gotten off with minor slaps on the wrist.  The CFTC fined British banks a paltry $450 million for their manipulations.  That’s an insult to American taxpayers and totally inadequate.  Democratic lawmakers should be outraged and demanding accountability.  Where are they??

In another Planet Money episode from October 2008, we find out what LIBOR meant to the little people:

Justin asks us today:

“I saw you mentioned student loan availability, but what about existing loans? Since many student loans have their interest rates tied to LIBOR or Prime, what does LIBOR hitting all-time highs this week mean for students? And, perhaps more ominously, graduates who are in repayment? How long can this go on before they start to see some effect on their loans?”

Even if Congress passes the bailout, many students across the nation will begin to see higher costs for loans in the coming months or could be turned away by banks altogether as the credit crisis intensifies.

The goes the same for graduates. The big issue is what kind of loans you have.

Most direct government-backed loans such as Federal Stafford and PLUS loans have fixed interest rates. This means the interest rate will remain constant for the life of the loan.

If you took out private loans, which have become increasingly common as students look for new sources to finance the soaring costs of college, they typically have variable rates and are projected to jump this year. Sorry.

Sorry, student.  Sucks to be you.  In the light of the LIBOR manipulation details, that seems particularly callous, along with Davidson’s subsequent attack on Elizabeth Warren for caring about homeowners and consumers and not being “serious”.  It was the influence of the serious people on Davidson (by the way, who was he referring to as his serious sources anyway?  Her colleague Niall Ferguson at Harvard, perhaps? And do “penis years” have something to do with why his word may have carried more weight than hers?) and on our elected officials that lead to the gouging of the taxpayers to pay the bankers’ unconscionable debts on bad bets.  We are talking about trillions of dollars of OUR money, OUR retirements, so that the weekend sailors and golf buddies would not feel inconvenienced.

I used to think my outrage meter was pegged but I have never seen such corruption go unchecked in my lifetime.  What we have here is a bunch of extremely irresponsible and unethical people playing with people’s livelihoods like it wasn’t real money to them.  And it isn’t real money to them.  The tens of thousands of dollars we’ll be collecting each year in measly pensions and social security, that’s nothing.  They can burn through that in a matter of minutes.  If it were several million dollars in Social Security payouts affecting their retirement packages, that might get their attention and they’d be furiously lobbying Congress to save Social Security at all costs.  Social Security and pensions would become holy sacraments. But because we are talking about such piddling amounts that amount to pocket change to the wealthy, it has no real meaning to them.  We might as well be flood victims in Bangladesh, clinging to a few square meters of dry land while the water rises all about us.  Those poor people.  Well, that’ll learn them to farm in a flood zone.

The careers we have lost? Not their problem.  Our children’s college funds, the roofs they have over their heads, the food we put in their mouths, barely registers.  On an individual basis, none of us make enough money to get their attention.  The significance of the figures of our incomes does not arouse their concern.  They are so caught up and preoccupied with making their numbers that they don’t have the time to care about your little problems.  They have jumped to a new level in the game where the sheer volume of money being swapped is intoxicating.  They’re not playing in the real world anymore.

It’s got to stop.  The manipulation of LIBOR was uncovered by the US CFTC.  That means, we’ve been aware of it for some time.  We probably knew about it when Occupy Wall Street was protesting last fall and we probably knew about it when their camps were broken up and they were hauled off to jail and when the DHS sent in their riot troops.  Yep, the Obama administration has known.  And so far, not one banker has been hauled off to jail.  No one has been penalized.

Think about that.  The scope of the LIBOR scandal affects every person who has ever dealt with a bank in the past 7 years.  It’s so outrageously immoral and has caused so much destruction and continues to wreck havoc in Spain, Ireland, Britain, the US, everywhere that if it isn’t prosecuted as a the criminal enterprise that it is, then I can only conclude that our elected officials are complicit.  They had to have known that the banks that are now too big to fail were in fact failing and were disguising the scale of the catastrophe from the public.  Those banks are still in business, thanks to our largess, and no one in the Obama administration, particularly Tim Geithner, has dared to declare them insolvent and break them up as Sheila Bair suggested in 2009. They are now bigger and more dangerous than ever and they are calling the shots about our jobs, retirements and money supply around the world.

Our money went into their bottomless gullets and continues to go in, and yet, they and their political arms have the outrageous gall to insist that we, the hardworking taxpayers who paid in advance for our social security benefits, WE have to take a haircut.  That is what the so-called Grand Bargain is all about, ladies and gentlemen. That’s why we must lose our jobs.  We cost too much.  They think they can dump the blame on us for having to eat and getting old and needy.

We are living in a world that is run by criminals.  You may think that’s they way it’s always been but this is now institutionalized criminality.  No one can be trusted.  And when no one can be trusted, all hell breaks loose.

More on LIBOR:

Boston Globe- How a LIBOR scheme works and what it means to consumers

Joe Nocera- LIBOR’s Dirty Laundry

Yves Smith- Yes, Virginia, the real action in the LIBOR scanda was in the derivatives

Here’s an interesting take on LIBOR from 2007 when banks were manipulating the rate up: Why LIBOR won’t hurt that much.

Also, this Fresh Air interview with Paul Krugman in Oct 2008 is very revealing.  He was right about almost everything except the unemployment rate. (his prediction was too low).  But even more striking is the last 5 minutes of the interview when he talks about the two presidential candidates and why Ben Bernanke was struggling to get a handle on this.  Could it be that the measures were inadequate because the LIBOR rates had been artificially lowered?

Matt Taibbi’s most recent posts in the Rolling Stone:

A Huge Break in the LIBOR Banking Investigation (6/28/2012)

Another Domino Falls in the LIBOR Banking Scam: Royal Bank of Scotland (6/29)

Why is Nobody Freaking out about the LIBOR Banking Scandal? (7/3)

LIBOR Banking Scandal Deepens: Barclays releases damning email, Implicates    British Government (7/4)

Matt Taibbi discusses the LIBOR scandal with Eliot Spitzer:

Ponderables

Just random stuff I think about:

What did everyone see in A Fish Called Wanda?  I’m a sucker for anything with Monty Python members in it but that movie just wasn’t that funny.

For that matter, why is Avengers such a monster hit this summer with all of the angsty discussion about superheros coming to terms with their egos?  Generally, I love superhero action adventures but this one bored me to tears.  In fact, I might have fallen asleep half way through.

Anyone want to offer an opinion on those two?  I promise not to disagree with you or bite your head off.

Ok, here’s more:

Are wine growers getting the hang of making good cheap wine?  Because I’ve had some really good bottles under $10 lately.  The one I’m sipping tonight is an Alsace White called Now and Zen from France.  $7.99/bottle.  Oh sure, it isn’t going to win any prizes but it’s a not too sweet, full bodied wine with a hint of effervescence.  Have you tried any good ones lately?

I finally got some questions on ResearchGate that I can answer with some degree of expertise, which is pretty cool.  But now I really miss my job.  :-(

Has anyone been following the LIBOR scandal?  Matt Taibbi has a series of posts on it and here’s Matt talking to Eliot Spitzer about it.  This one might be the biggy that brings the bankers down.  Yep, provided we actually have someone in office who will hold them accountable.

Taibbi says that a friend of his on Wall Street says that this makes the whole global financial system look like it’s founded on quicksand.  Isn’t that special?  One thing I’m curious about though is why the banks are able to fix their own interest rates but AIG wasn’t able to cancel all those credit default swaps it issued.  I mean, if it’s that easy to cook the books, why not just wipe out all the debt?  It was all digital money anyway, except for the pension funds and 401Ks.  But my biggest question is why it is we feel so obligated to make sure that the traders and shareholders suffer no ill consequence but we’re not allowed to look after our own interests.  I mean, if rates are so fungible, why can’t we set it up so everybody who does not work on Wall Street, including the government, gets the money they need?  And why are Republicans so hell bent on making everyone else’s lives miserable?  Is this a new manifestation of the Stanford prison experiment?  As long as they have the power, they’re going to dehumanize the rest of us?

And I’ve been thinking about Brooke in Nuremberg.  70 years ago, it was at the center of Nazi propaganda.  But the Germans purged themselves after the war and now they are on their guard.  Americans are completely vulnerable because they’ve had no direct experience with rule by mass insanity or a governmental/financial infrastructure that is blatantly criminal.  So, roughly half of our population is now insane.  Except for the pogroms and deaths, how is Birmingham, Alabama different from Nuremburg, Germany circa 1940? How are we supposed to deal with that?

Woah, that was deep.  Gotta lighten it up.

Here’s an interesting factoid: The Tasmanian Echidna has a penis with 4 heads.  Zoologists still don’t understand why it needs a four fold redundancy but imagine what a bris would be like.  Well, there goes the intelligent design argument.

(Wiki says that during mating, one side of the penis shuts down and only 2 of the 4 heads are active.  What I want to know is how they know this?  That must have made one heck of a paper)

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