Wed Mar 10th, 2010 at 12:09:49 PM EST
Cross-posted from Real Economics, and from DailyKos.
Danny Schechter, blogger in chief at Mediachannel.Org, and author of the 2008 book, PLUNDER: Investigating Our Economic Calamity, attended the Make Markets Be Markets Conference, and reports that Wall Street financial giants have quietly paid out $430 billion in damages and settlements in over 1500 civil lawsuits (NOTE: this is misleading; recent cases probably tied to the recent crash amount to $75 billion - see update below):
* Bank of America has spent $14.9 billion to settle 15 cases alleging various charges such as securities violations and mismanagement;
* Citigroup has spent over $13.9 billion to settle 12 cases alleging various charges including abusive lending practices and involvement in fraudulent activities;
* Merrill Lynch has spent $12.2 billion to settle cases involving various allegations including negligence and mismanagement of funds;
* Morgan Stanley has spent over $5 billion to settle 11 cases involving various allegations including failure to disclose material information to customers;
* Wachovia has spent over $9.5 billion to resolve allegations including misleading investors and conflicts of interest;
* UBS has spent $19.5 billion to settle 6 cases with various charges including misleading investors.
These cases indicate that there is massive fraud and wrong doing endemic to Wall Street and the financial system. But where are the government prosecutors? And why are they not bringing a similar flood of criminal cases?
At least one Federal Judge has become irate over the lack of response from the Department of Justice and taken matter into his own hands. This is the same judge that in September 2009 gave a tongue lashing to lawyers from the Securities and Exchange Commission for their failure to press criminal charges against Bank of America.
William Black, one of the legal eagles who cleaned up the savings and loan disaster, explains how a criminal environment is created, then begins to dominate a financial institution:
Below, former IMF chief economist Simon Johnson, who wrote the landmark April 2009 Atlantic Monthly article on the new financial oligarchy, The Quiet Coup, addresses the Roosevelt Institute's Make Markets Be Markets conference, held last week. In a powerful eight-minute presentation, Simon shows how the 1980s Reagan Revolution transformed the U.S. financial system and set in motion a "Doomsday Cycle" that has not yet been stopped, but is still careening toward yet another economic cataclysm. If you think I'm applying hyperbole here, take the eight minutes to watch and decide for yourself.
(In case the embed of this Vimeo does not work, here's the link.)
Simon Johnson on the Doom Cycle (MMBM) from Roosevelt Institute on Vimeo.
Some UPDATES from the DailyKos diary:
First, a tip of the hat to gjohnsit, who diaried this story
yesterday, including one of the videos. Give him some mojo! In self defense, I will note that I actually came across the mention of the civil case settlements and penalties by following links from his posting on The Economic Populist, Why we are headed into Depression
Second, a tip of the hat to burrowowl, who points out
that the $430 billion figure is misleading because it is a summary of all cases since the 1990s. Pescadoro Bill replies
that the "emphasis should be more on the $75 billion recently spent to settle the cases."