Saturday Reads Around the Internets - Mafia Supplanted by Banks

shocknews Welcome to the weekly roundup of great articles, facts and figures. These are the weekly finds that made our eyes pop.


The Scam Wall Street Learned From the Mafia

Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi exposes a nationwide bid rigging conspiracy, ran by our largest banks. One obscure financial corruption buried legal case has exposed a Wall Street world that rips off small towns by rigging municipal bond bids.

The defendants in the case – Dominick Carollo, Steven Goldberg and Peter Grimm – worked for GE Capital, the finance arm of General Electric. Along with virtually every major bank and finance company on Wall Street – not just GE, but J.P. Morgan Chase, Bank of America, UBS, Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, Wachovia and more – these three Wall Street wiseguys spent the past decade taking part in a breathtakingly broad scheme to skim billions of dollars from the coffers of cities and small towns across America. The banks achieved this gigantic rip-off by secretly colluding to rig the public bids on municipal bonds, a business worth $3.7 trillion. By conspiring to lower the interest rates that towns earn on these investments, the banks systematically stole from schools, hospitals, libraries and nursing homes – from "virtually every state, district and territory in the United States," according to one settlement. And they did it so cleverly that the victims never even knew they were being ­cheated.


Bill Moyers Interviews Yves Smith & Matt Taibbi

Bill Moyers covered the Jamie Dimon testimony about JPMorgan's derivatives trades and interviewed Yves Smith and Matt Taibbi.  This must watch interview hits upon the role of banks in the European and Greek crisis and all of the lies, scams and rotten dealings banks have been up to.




Dear Mr. Dimon, You're Getting $14 Billion in Corporate Welfare

Bloomberg exposes how JPMorgan Chase is getting $14 billion in government subsidies.

PMorgan receives a government subsidy worth about $14 billion a year, according to research published by the International Monetary Fund and our own analysis of bank balance sheets. The money helps the bank pay big salaries and bonuses. More important, it distorts markets, fueling crises such as the recent subprime-lending disaster and the sovereign-debt debacle that is now threatening to destroy the euro and sink the global economy.


Romney's Tax Plan Doesn't Add Up

The Tax Policy Center analyzed Romney's yet to be fleshed out tax plan. Surprise, there are more tax cuts for the rich.

Governor Romney would permanently extend all the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts now scheduled to expire in 2013, repeal the AMT and certain tax provisions in the 2010 health reform legislation, and cut individual income tax rates by an additional 20 percent. He would also expand the tax base by cutting back tax preferences, but has supplied no information on which preferences would be reduced. Tax provisions in the 2009 stimulus act and subsequently extended through 2012 would expire. These include the American Opportunity tax credit for higher education, the expanded refundability of the child credit, and the expansion of the earned income tax credit (EITC). The plan would also eliminate tax on long-term capital gains, dividends, and interest income for married couples filing jointly with income under $200,000 ($100,000 for single filers and $150,000 for heads of household) and repeal the federal estate tax, while continuing the gift tax with a maximum tax rate of 35 percent.

The plan would reduce the six current income tax rates by one-fifth, bringing the top rate down from 35 percent to 28 percent and the bottom rate from 10 percent to 8 percent. The accompanying repeal of the AMT would increase the tax savings from the rate cuts—without that repeal, the AMT would reclaim much of the tax savings.


Romney's Budget Plans Don't Add Up

Don't ya hate it when people with a little mathematics skill look at policy proposals. Rex Nutting:

Mitt Romney says he wants to balance the federal budget within eight to 10 years, but he doesn’t have a credible way to get there.

Indeed, Romney doesn’t have a specific proposal at all. But based on the best analysis of what it includes and about what he leaves out, his plan doesn’t add up.

Romney’s budget wouldn’t balance because he’d cut taxes even more than he’d cut spending.


200,000 Foreclosures

Almost 200,000 people who were foreclosed on have filed for a review. MarketWatch:

Nearly 200,000 borrowers have requested a review of their mortgage foreclosures to see if they are eligible to receive compensation or other remedies because of errors, federal regulators said Thursday.

The Federal Reserve and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency also extended until September 30 the deadline for borrowers to submit their request for a foreclosure review to bank regulators. The previous deadline was July 31.

This is a very limited time window too, just two years, 2009 and 2010.


America's Long Slope Down

David Cay Johnston outlines the latest evidence of the U.S. going down the tubes economically.

Wages per capita in 2010 were 4.3 percent less than in 2000, effectively reducing to 50 weeks the pay for 52 weeks of work. The median wage in 2010 fell back to the level of 1999, with half of workers grossing less than $507 a week, half more, Social Security tax data show. The bottom third, 50 million workers, averaged just $116 a week in 2010.


Doubling Up

Households are doubling up, meaning people cannot afford to live on their own. The Census just released a study with yet more dire statistics.

In 2010, there were 22.0 million shared households in the United States, an 11.4 percent increase from 2007, according to a new U.S. Census Bureau report. This total of shared households accounted for 18.7 percent of all households, up from 17.0 percent in 2007.

In spring 2007, there were 19.7 million shared households — defined as a household with at least one “additional” adult. An additional adult is a person 18 or older who is not enrolled in school and is neither the householder, the spouse nor the cohabiting partner of the householder. By spring 2010, the number of shared households had increased to 22.0 million while all households increased by only 1.3 percent.

Check this out, 31.1% of all adults lived in shared households in 2010. For 2007 this number was 27.7%. Did you know that many adults in the U.S., are living with Mom & Dad, have roommates or being saved by friends?   Wow.


Eurozone Math Quite Fuzzy

Surprise, Spain and Italy will need €1.6 trillion in bail out funds when what's currently available in the bail out coffers are €400 billion.

Overall, the remaining €400bn firepower in the EFSF/ESM is probably inadequate to finance a bail-out programme for Spain, and would of course be dwarfed by the €1,600 bn needed for both Spain and Italy. In the near term, what this means is that there is very little spare money in the EFSF/ESM to initiate a bond buying programme in the secondary market, which was the favoured option in the G20 summit discussions this week.


Europe's "Growth" Plan?

The press releases fluttering around Europe are usually confusing. This latest just adds to the pile. Is this just another throw money at it? What's missing from this latest announcement is how do they intend to increase economic growth? A quoted billion euro figure is not a direct jobs program, as an example.

At a four-way summit meeting in Rome yesterday, Merkel, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti, French President Francois Hollande and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said they would lobby their European Union partners to accept a growth plan of as much as 130 billion euros ($163 billion), or about 1 percent of the euro-region’s economic output.


Medical Bill Blizzard and Snow Job

Anyone who has received any medical services knows the billing is absolutely a bureaucratic paper work snow job. Now the New York Times outlines how bad it really is.

Ask Jean Poole, a medical billing advocate, about her work helping people navigate the bewildering world of medical bills and insurance claims, and the stories pour out. There’s the client who was billed almost $11,000 for an 11-minute hand surgery. The cancer patient who was charged $9,550.40 for a round of chemotherapy he never received.

What makes matters worse is these same Medical services, from Doctors to Hospitals try to charge loan shark interest rates on bills and hand them over, verified or not, to unscrupulous bill collectors. These scum sucking collection agencies turn around and ruin your credit report when you do not even owe the money! Try to get it off your credit report is a rats maze exercise in are you kiddin' me? Can you imagine buying a defective product and have the same treatment? Of course not. Our Health care sector is getting away with murder, and we might say that's literally.


Good Friggin' God, Losing Customer Money is now a Loophole?

We all know how MF Global gave away customer money to pony up for margin calls. Now, the CFTC is describing how this happened as a loophole.

The loophole that allowed MF Global to convert more than $1 billion in customer property to its own reckless bet on European debt is still in effect — although the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which regulates futures and commodities brokers, said it had since pressured other firms to stop using it.

The CME Group, which is both the largest commodities and futures exchange and also regulates many brokers, told me this week that when MF Global collapsed last year, four of the 40 firms it oversees were still using an “alternative” calculation of customer assets that vastly understates what firms actually owe.

Classifying this criminal theft as a loophole is bogus and implies those customers are never going to get their money back.


Top Five Mortgage Derivatives Civil Suits to Watch

Ritholz outlines the top RMBS lawsuits for their implications:

After a week-long build-up (I’m sure the suspense is killing you), we’ve reached the No. 1 case in our countdown of RMBS Cases to Watch this Summer.  You may wish to catch up with parts I, II, III, and IV, if you haven’t already.  Though Case No. 2, Bank of New York’s Article 77 settlement, may have garnered more media attention thus far, another case gets my vote for No. 1 because it represents a true adversarial process, the best and only way, as far as I know, to establish any semblance of “proof” as to who is to blame for the massive losses associated with mortgage derivatives.


This is kinda interesting

MIT is tracking online prices to measure inflation.

Our data are collected every day from online retailers using a software that scans the underlying code in public webpages and stores the relevant price information in a database. The resulting dataset contains daily prices on the full array of products sold by these retailers.



These assclowns pull a going "Galt," well payback's a b*tch

BOA robosigns foreclosures leading to personal tragedies, suicides, homelessness, well screw them, pull your funds and go to your local credit union. Who would have the balls to enter into a 30 year mortgage (assuming one could find a job in 2012) with a known criminal organization like BOA or Wells Fargo or Chase or someone else? Who could ever trust them?
Same with Well Fargo killing thousands of jobs and moving them to Bangalore (or New Delhi) and Manila, fraudulent foreclosures, etc. Same with Chase that had massive security breaches because they don't care about customers' information, but only care about raping them financially. What, outsourcing data has implications to customers' security? Shocking!
Companies like American Express, GE, Boeing, Gulfstream in GA., FTI Consulting, state and federal govt. post fake jobs, f' them, post the information so the 30 million Americans unemployed in 2012 can pull this "GOING GALT" crap on them - payback. Bloomberg hired his sister for a city job and has his daughter working for him, but nepotism is bad, so my elementary school teacher told me.
USA Jobs posts fake ads to be filled by some dolt, well write to every single HR person involved and your US Senator and Rep. and bug them until they have no choice but to listen.
These scoundrels are blaming fellow Americans for massive unemployment, they are calling them lazy, uneducated, drug addicted losers who don't deserve to live the American dream while these criminals pull a "capital strike" while most certainly continuing to collect $20 million paydays (just look at JC Penney's recent failure of a CEO - scorch and burn management).
Your pension invests in hedge funds that pay the managers 2% of all assets under management in addition to 20% of all profits?! Guess what? That's a losing proposition that merely robs the public servants who have no choice. Write to your AG and Governor and pension administrator and demand to know who decided to invest in hedge funds, how the decision was made, and why the Hell 2% + 20% is a fair deal to public servants who are being fired left and right. FOIA, it's there for a reason.
Capital strike? Yeah, Ayn Rand, there's a role model for morons. Same as Gingrich is a model for being loyal and a man of the people or Obama is someone who knows life as a factory worker or Romney knows how to pull himself by his bootstraps (if your father was a Governor). D & R, equally useless, equally corrupt, equally beholden to the 1%.
These are all clowns so let's treat them as such. Payback, Bozo, payback.

Banksters own enforcement and law makers - game over

The interview was good, but we've known this for far too long. They have ambassadors (why exactly is an MBA and GSux alum with 20 years in that cartel our ambassador to Germany? No one else with the money to buy the position and ram austerity down the EU's throat?). Banksters buy the politicians and pay for everything they want. Banksters buy the campaigns and ads. Banksters have their own AGs and police forces (NYPD thanks Mr. Dimon for his kind donation - I'm not sure shareholders or pensions were consulted, but Dimon needs protection, so who cares). Banksters charge interest rates the mob never dared after the purposely delay receiving payments. Banksters rig auctions. Banksters forge documents. Banksters cause people to lose their homes, get sick, and die. Banksters have repeated security breaches and cause ID theft, but they never lose any sleep or $ over that. Did I miss anything? And no matter how badly they screw everyone else, their puppets keep repeating the "job creators, best and brightest" BS. No matter what, they keep getting richer and smirk like freaking psycopaths. There are simple solutions to all of this, but those are ignored and the people who care are struggling to survive in this rigged coutry.

This country now stands for something, but it's not to be emulated. Whenever these unindicted co-conspirators give other people's $ to some charity, it always makes me laugh and cringe. "Hey, look, I'm giving $1 million to kids in the city, but meanwhile I destroyed entire state economies and fired 10,000 people and foreclosed on your grandmothers and I make money when I screw up or when I simply do my job adequately - but people like me will still meet and great "powerplayers" while sipping champagne and laughing." And many people that ask questions are long-term unemployed and seen as useless. Oh well, back to the Olympic Trials. USA! USA! USA!