Conspiracy Theories vs. the Real World of Financial Crime

… Bankers Face Prosecution For Conspiracy – Published on Global, by Danny Schechter, December 23, 2012.

When most mainstream media outlets discuss conspiracy theories, it is usually to debunk the views of dissenting and critical thinkers who are routinely denounced as simplistic, paranoid or worse.

You have frequently seen the mantra questioning their motives and conclusions as if the idea of people or officials acting together covertly to advance their interests in illegal ways is something new in history.  

Until recently, US press outlets characterized conspiracy arguments as rants that lacked any factual basis, engaged in guilt by association and stretched the facts.

The only conspiracy charges they tended to look at uncritically were criminal complaints against the Mafia under anti-racketeering statutes like the RICO statutes. Prosecutors loved these cases because normal concerns with  protecting  the rights of defendants didn’t apply when hearsay evidence was permitted.

But now, four years after the financial crisis, prosecutors have finally discovered what critics have been alleging repeatedly:  that big banks were  crooks, engaging, engaging among other illicit practices,  in secretive, illegal and conspiratorial schemes to rig baseline interest rates and manipulate credit markets,

It has now been admitted that traders at two major financial institutions were fixing LIBOR—the London Interbank Offered Rate, used to set the interest rates of $800 trillion worth of financial products, including credit cards and mortgages.

That figure again: $800 trillion! … //

… The Wall Street Journal couldn’t ignore the story and reported that regulators “alleged” a vast conspiracy, even after the banks admitted to some of what they had done.  Rupert Murdoch couldn’t resist his tabloid training by having two UBS stars quoted in large type on the front page:

  • Said a Broker to a Trader: “”Mate your getting bloody good at this Libor game…think of me when yur on your yacht in Monaco won’t yu.”
  • Said The Man Called “Trader A:” I need you to keep it as low as possible..if you do that…I’ll pay you, you know, “$50,000, $100,000 dollars.. whatever you want…I’m  a man of my word.”

Notice these violations of banking regulations are always presented as victimless crimes or crimes that only affect investors, never people who lose jobs or homes or how they impact on the economy worldwide,

Most of the coverage does not link all these financial crimes to the larger effect and impact they have had on the world … //

… I and other in the independent media have been making these points for years, as the website Zero Hedge noted:

  • Fraud caused the Great Depression and the current financial crisis, and the economy will never recover until fraud is prosecuted
  • Criminal fraud is the main business model adopted by the giant banks.
  • Largely because they are out-of-control criminal enterprises, economy cannot recover unless the big banks are broken up.
  • The Obama administration has made it official policy not to prosecute fraud. Indeed, the “watchdogs” in D.C. are so corrupt that they are as easily bribed as a policeman in a third world banana republic.
  • Instead of prosecuting, the government throws money at them
  • As Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz noted years ago:

“The system is set so that even if you’re caught, the penalty is just a small number relative to what you walk home with. The fine is just a cost of doing business. It’s like a parking fine. Sometimes you make a decision to park knowing that you might get a fine because going around the corner to the parking lot takes you too much time.”

Slowly, these concerns are working their way into the media but without much of the larger framework presented in a dire global economic report on just how deeply the world economy has been wounded.

The UN reported that it will take until 2017 before jobs come back to pre crisis levels, if they ever do, Global recession could easily deepen given the problems with the US, European and, now, the Chinese economies.

Much of this tracks back to the financial crimes that are just officially being acknowledged. It’s important to remember the warnings of Vanity Fair’s Graydon Carter who, years ago,  referred to the criminal practices of big bankers, when he said: “Never have so few done so much to so many.”

Also note that none of this “back story” is ever referenced in the reporting on the so-called “fiscal cliff” negotiations. It is rarely mentioned how much of the money owed is in interest due banks. We keep hearing reports about our economic woes without any discussion of what is behind it.
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Top Tax Expert Confirms Our Doubts About Occupy Wall Street’s Debt Buying/Forgiveness Scheme, on naked capitalism, by Yves Smith, DECEMBER 23, 2012: As readers may recall, we expressed serious reservations about the tax consequences of a program launched by Strike Debt, an Occupy Wall Street working group, to buy distressed consumer debt from debt collectors and forgive it. These concerns have been confirmed by a top tax expert, Lee Sheppard. Sheppard not only describes how the scheme has the potential to harm the borrowers that Strike Debt wants to help, but also points out how their initiative runs afoul of IRS rules for not for profits …;

Wolf Richter: The EU Bailout Oligarchy Issues A Report About Itself, on naked capitalism, by Yves Smith, DECEMBER 23, 2012: On Friday before Christmas when nobody was paying attention, when people were elbowing their way through department stores or heading out for vacation, the European Commission issued its report on bank bailouts in the European Union—a dry document with mind-boggling numbers that left out the most important fact …;

Egypt: Economy on the brink, on Al-Ahram weekly online, December 19, 2012: While the whole Egyptian economy has been suffering a slowdown since the revolution, some areas were particularly hard hit. Al-Ahram Weekly presents a glimpse into the main developments in these sectors … // … And this has been the story of tourism since the revolution. Tourism was the sector hardest hit by the political instability and lack of security in the wake of the revolution …;

In Greece, history does not rhyme but it repeats itself, on RWER Blog, by merijnknibbe, December 21, 2012.

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