Friday, April 10, 2009
It’s a class war and we’ve lost: Banks setting themselves up in control again
by Larry Geller
(thanks to Viviane Lerner for pointer to this article)
Oh, check this out. I’m getting too disgusted to say anything. What a twist on the Easter theme of resurrection…
Wall Street Digs In: The old system refuses to change. Is Obama getting the message? (Newsweek, April 10, 2009) (snippet):
At issue is whether trading in credit default swaps and other derivatives—and the giant, too-big-to-fail firms that traded them—will be allowed to dominate the financial landscape again once the crisis passes. As things look now, that is likely to happen. And the firms may soon be recapitalized and have a lot more sway in Washington—all of it courtesy of their supporters in the Obama administration. With its Public-Private Investment Program set to bid up and buy toxic assets, the administration is handing these companies another giant federal subsidy. But this time the money will come through the back door, bypassing Congress, mainly via FDIC loans. No one is quite sure how the program will work yet, but it's very likely going to make a lot of the same Wall Street houses much richer at taxpayer expense. Meanwhile, the big banks that still need help will almost certainly get another large infusion once the stress tests are completed by the end of the month.
The financial industry isn't leaving anything to chance, however. One sign of a newly assertive Wall Street emerged recently when a bevy of bailed-out firms, including Citigroup, JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs, formed a new lobby calling itself the Coalition for Business Finance Reform. Its goal: to stand against heavy regulation of "over-the-counter" derivatives, in other words customized contracts that are traded off an exchange. Companies like these kinds of contracts, which are agreed to privately between firms, because they allow them to tailor a hedge perfectly against a firm-specific risk for a certain time period. But in order to preserve its right to negotiate these cheaper private contracts, Wall Street is apparently willing to argue for the same lack of public transparency and to permit the systemic risk that led to the crash.
It is certainly not a class war. The only class that recognizes themselves as such is the ruling class. I see no self-awareness of class among those that are oppressed. I think that is the underlying problem.