Posts Tagged ‘wall street’

eanda logoby @anarchyroll

What does a white-collar, wall street economic terrorist have to do to go to jail?

Write billion dollar checks with strings attached and an ability to make money back off the deal I suppose.

That is what Goldman Sachs recently did in New York as a means of settling their Legacy Matters related to the 2008 economic collapse that they have now admitted to being at least partially responsible for.

Usually when a person confesses to a crime, they still go to jail, they still face a righteous punishment. Maybe instead of the death penalty they serve life in prison. The deal that Goldman Sachs cut with the working group headed by the New York Attorney General, is very Manhattan, a lot of bluster for the sake of appearances that stinks like garbage when brought into the sun.

What good is restitution without a righteous penalty? What is the value of a fine to people with unlimited money and unlimited capacity to get free money from the US government?

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A penalty isn’t a penalty if it doesn’t hurt the person or party being penalized.

Fining Goldman Sachs five billion dollars is like fining the ocean enough water to run a water park for a summer. Not only is it less than a minimal but its a pretty salty reward  that cant quench anybody’s thirst.

In the developed world money equals power. The purpose of news is to inform the common person about what those in power are doing. The event of the 2008 economic collapse and the ripple effects in the aftermath of it effect more people directly than any presidential election in modern times

Yet how much coverage did the announcement of this multi billion dollar settlement get compared to any aspect of the presidential primary or anything Donald Trump has said in the last year?

Legacy matters.

Most people would agree that it does. On Wall Street that means a whole different thing. Then again what doesn’t? The announced five billion dollar settlement by Goldman Sachs sums up their legacy and the legacy of the 2008 economic collapse quite well.

Smoke screens, legalese, under the table deals, double talk, fine print, more mystery than truth, more PR than pure.That is the legacy of the 2008 economic collapse and the Great Recession that followed it.

That is the legacy that matters to Goldman Sachs, and the royal we of Wall Street. The legacy matters of the too big to fail institutions on Wall Street are nothing more than numbers on a spreadsheet…just like everything and everyone else in the world.

On Wall Street, legacy matters are things you put behind with shame. In the rest of the world, it’s something you leave behind with pride.

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ajclogo2By @anarchyroll

Few people, whether real or fictional, are as synonymous with America’s version of capatilsm as Gordon Gekko in the movie Wall Street.

“Greed is good” are words to live by for the people who try to fill the hole in the soul with copious amounts of money by any means necessary. That quote is the foundation of type of free market capitalism that brought about the 2008 Great Recession.

That economic collapse should was a very very big, very very loud, very very painful sign that we as a society have allowed greed to get out of control. It is one of the seven deadly sins for a reason. Wall Street and unregulated capitalism have transformed greed into the deadliest sin. Able to negatively impact the entire developed world with greedy actions of a relatively small percentage of the global population.

One of the ripple effects of the Great Recession has been the mainstream populous rise of what a generation ago would have been considered a fringe presidential candidate. Bernie Sanders through passionate speeches and a lifetime of walking the talk has risen like a phoenix.

Another ripple effect has been that greed is no longer good enough for the top 20% – .01%. The rich get richer no longer is a substantial enough metaphor. How do I know this? How can I be sure of this?

The fact that the real life person who inspired the fictional icon Gordon Gekko is publically endorsing Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders for President.

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How can the inspiration for the phrase Greed is Good be endorsing a socialist for president? Because the unregulated greed thanks to the Clinton and Bush administrations has become something beyond excess and gluttony.

 

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by @anarchyroll
10/15/2014

It turns out Apple is worth more than a lot of things. A lot of things and a lot of other companies.

The company is valued at over half a trillion dollars and at any one time, has around $160 billion of liquid assets on hand.

The US government for instance, has less than 1/3 of that on hand. Although, as the Forbes article linked above makes sure to note, the US Treasury can at any time print more money and invest it into treasury notes.

What does it mean when a company has more than three times the amount of money as the government  of the country it operates in? Does that tremendous gift on incredible wealth come with added responsibility? A responsibility not just to employees and shareholders, but to cities, cultures, and societies?

Apple hoards so much cash, that Carl Ichan, the man who the lead character in the movie Wall Street is based on, thinks Apple is being too greedy with their profits. That takes a whole lotta greed. Ichan is as ruthless of a capitalist as it gets. If someone who makes his living using money to make money thinks Apple owes something to other people, that puts Apple in a different light than the idolatry bestowed upon their founder and products.

Apple already deserves some scorn for their notorious tax dodging/avoidance practices. They dodge taxes and hoard cash from even their own stockholders. What about the societies that have enabled the company to become richer than governments? What about the roads, schools, bridges, farms, poverty, intelligence, and morale of the places and people Apple has made their billions in? Do they owe something? Should they bear more responsibility to the public than slightly newer, slightly modified consumer electronic gadgets a few times per year?

With great power comes great responsibility. Money equals power in the world we live in. No one person, government, or corporation in the world has more money than Apple. Where does responsibility come in?

 

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by @anarchyroll
8/14/2014

Can a nuclear bomb be repackaged and sold as anything other than a weapon of mass destruction?

Countries that have the bomb, like the United States, claim they can be used as weapons of peace. Peace via the threat of destroying the world hanging over the head of anyone who dares to cross the boss.

Derivatives were at the core of the financial collapse of the global economy in 2008. Warren Buffet; America’s greatest living investor, has publicly stated he stays far away from them. With those two unremovable stains, it is no wonder why JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs are trying to rebrand derivatives.

Derivatives are the tool or instrument most used by big banks and hedge funds that turns Wall Street and the finance sector of the American economy into a casino on steroids. Until derivatives are regulated (they are completely unregulated presently) then Wall Street will, like a degenerate gambler, continue rolling the dice as often as possible, at the highest stakes possible.

Using money to make money has been described as The American Way by many CEO’s who have taken their respective companies public. If that is an acceptable definition of The American Way, then there is nothing more patriotic than using derivatives to make money.

One of the many problems with derivatives is that it uses nothing real, tangible that can be held and felt in the real world. The only thing a derivative is used for, is to make money in the finance sector. The finance sector of any economy is meant to help build wealth for the masses. Derivatives are a tool used by finance sector insiders, for finance sector insiders. Derivatives are purposefully complex and confusing, in many cases beyond any verbal explanation.

Attempting to rebrand derivatives under the umbrella of Alternative Mutual Funds, shows exactly why the finance sector of America’s economy needs to be strictly and tightly regulated this side of the 2008 collapse. They know how dangerous and damaging derivatives have been in the past, and rather than allow transparency and regulation, Wall Street is trying to sweep them under a rug, and try to tell people that the rug is a self-sustaining money tree.

 

eanda logoajclogo2by @anarchyroll
5/22/2014

How many people went to jail for causing the 2008 economic collapse of not just the United States, but the entire global economy?

I thought the answer was zero, it turns out I was wrong. The answer is one, one person from Wall Street went to jail post 2008.

It’s not just an income inequality gap that exists and is expanding in America, there is also a judicial inequality gap. Since I’m white I’ve only noticed this recently. If I was a minority I would have likely not just written about the disparity, but would have been arrested and put in jail already.

Graph courtesy of Project.org

In America, white-collar criminal really is a double entendre. One for the type of crime, a second for the race of the criminal.

Though maybe it is time to update the image and the term. Something more appropriate would be green collar crime. Though the fact that almost all of the white-collar corporate CEO’s were/are white; it is the quantity of dead presidents in their offshore bank account that is the blade to their prison term skate.

What does it say about us as a society that we allow this kind of disparity to justice to become the norm? Is the damage caused by the architects of the ’08 collapse greater than, equal to, or less than the robbery of a single person? How about the rape of a single person? The murder of a single person? Selling drugs to a single person?

I’m not pretending to have an answer here. I am certainly not standing on a pedestal.

Was the damage caused by World Com and Enron akin to a serial robber? A serial killer? A serial rapist? A drug kingpin? How do we measure the collateral damage? Is the death by stabbing of a man in his early twenties different from a retiree who finds out they have lost all of their money in a Ponzi scheme and is destitute without the physical ability to earn for the rest of their life?

What about the people who kill themselves due to an economic depression? What if they have spouses and children? Is their loss, pain, and suffering different from a woman who gets robbed and raped at gun point walking home from the train station?

When entire neighborhoods and towns are put into foreclosure. Hundreds, thousands, millions without work, shelter, food, water, or hope for the future…are the people responsible for causing so much human tragedy somehow less evil, deserving less scorn, and less judicial prosecution than a teenager who runs over a kid while texting and driving? What about drinking and driving?

When blood is spilled, lives taken, innocence stolen in violent crimes we as a society hunt down the criminals, lock them up, throw away the key, and turn the other cheek while they are habitually raped in prison. Victims of violent crimes and their families are forever changed, unable to ever fill the hole created by an evil person that took something that can never be given back.

But is that psychological damage not shared by victims of massive financial crimes against society like in 2008? When we aren’t talking about a single person losing a job or life’s savings but a large percentage of the global population. Are the strains placed on society not akin to that placed on the immediate friends and families of violent crimes?

If not, can we at least as a society agree that we should lock up hedge fund managers, investment bankers, and Ponzi schemers that cause global recessions and depressions as strictly and regularly as we lock up drug dealers and users?

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by @anarchyroll
4/27/2014

The stock market in the United States is rigged like crooks who have the fix in on a casino table game.

Many skeptics and people who have lost money have been saying this under their breaths at bars and loudly at family gatherings for decades now. But since the economic collapse of 2008, many people who have watched even the most sanitized network news show that Wall Street is an insider social club with insider language, insider trading, meant for only those in the club to benefit at the expense of those on the outside.

Do you know what flash trading is?

Whether or not you have any money in the stock market you need to know about it. Because if you’re smart, then one day, you will have some money in the stock market. Like it or not, most wealth generation is created by people who are able to make money in the stock market. The US stock market, though rigged, is the gold standard of using money to make more money in the world we live in. High Frequency Trading or Flash Trades leverages technology to rig the game for those in the know.

A con using fiber optic cables is still a con. The great author Michael Lewis recently exposed flash trades to the world for the con that it is. If flash trading wasn’t/isn’t a con, then why are both the SEC and Congress already looking to enact laws to make it illegal?

If flash trading isn’t as shady as it gets, why has a separate stock exchange called the IEX opened for business on a foundation of being able to prevent flash trading? If flash trading isn’t a con, why has the IEX gotten both so much positive press, high level start-up capital, and high-profile clients/traders?

I first heard of flash trading when the Flash Crash of 2010 become public knowledge. I also remember reading an article in TIME about buildings in Manhattan being bought and turned into server farms. Considering the price of Manhattan real estate, the fact that buildings would be bought and not turned into residential or commercial property to collect rent of any kind should raise an eyebrow.

Flash trading is the epitome of why my economics blog is called Excess and Algorithms. Excess and Algorithms is what flash trading is all about. Flash trading symbolizes what Wall Street has become over the past 25 years. Shady, dishonest, illegal but allowed to exist because of high level bribery, blackmail, and under the table handshakes between those in power and those in the know. The pervasiveness of flash trading in turning the stock market into a rigged game shows why the movement was called Occupy Wall Street. #OWS tried to teach and preach many things. Their critics would argue, too many. Two of the aspects related to business and Wall Street were/are:

  • Bailouts for citizens > Bailouts for banks
  • Jail for economic collapse architects > Bonuses paid to economic collapse architects
  • Cash > Credit
  • Credit Unions > Banks

Now, thanks to Michael Lewis we know one more thing about Wall Street to adapt to going forward:

  • IEX > NYSE & NASDAQ

Act accordingly…

eanda logoby @anarchyroll
2/1/2014

Part One  |  Part Two

Ex cons have a hard time getting jobs in America due to a stigma that they can’t be trusted due to past actions. Even though going through the incarceration process is supposed to bring you the other end rehabilitated with a clean slate, the reality of the situation is often quite the opposite. It also often only applies to racial minorities who commit blue collar crimes as opposed to white collar criminals who not only don’t go to jail but often barely get a metaphoric slap on the wrist.  In the spirit of the latter example, Janet Yellen is the new Fed Chief.

Janet Yellen is a much better choice than Larry Summers.  Summers is one of the forgotten architects of the 2008 economic collapse thanks to his economic policy of derivatives deregulation during the Clinton administration during the 1990s.  Summers was thought to be getting the job last year before the liberal wing of the Democratic party threatened rebellion in the midterm elections if it happened.

Ben Bernanke who Yellen is replacing, well he is to the economy what George W Bush is to national security.  9/11 happened on Bush’s watch, the 2008 collapse happened on Bernanke’s watch, that’s all you need to know.

Janet Yellen was recently featured in a TIME magazine cover story since she is about to become the most powerful person in the economic world. Why does she fit into the Quantitative Easing conversation? Two reasons. One, she helped create it in 2010. Two, she will be responsible for the tapering (fading out of) and ending of it. But do drug dealers and drug addicts often voluntarily quit their habit? Or do they continuously justify their habit to themselves?

Yellen and QE have been, are presently, and will be in the future tied together for better and for worse.  Wall Street has benefited immensely from QE. The massive bond buying program has held down interest rates (QE’s stated intent).  This has allowed the casino that is the stock market to function smoothly and at times on steroids, seeing unprecedented highs.

But these highs are drug induced. When a person does blow, crack, or meth they get an intense high for a limited amount of time.  Someone who drops acid sees walls melt and a new world of colors birth before their very eyes. But these things do not last, because they are induced by an outside substance.  The crash afterwards can be brutal, even from a simple alcohol or marijuana high. The high may feel real, but not as real as the hangover.

The American economy was high after the recovery from the dot com bubble burst. Deregulation, default swaps, and derivatives were the drug of choice of the early 2000s and the high was tremendous making houses as affordable as cars, cars as affordable as vacations, and vacations as affordable as a credit card induced weekend shopping spree. The hangover that started in 2008 was and is very real. Make no mistake we are still in recession, the recovery is false.

The recovery is false because it is also drug induced, stock market highs snorted, smoked, and shot up thanks to quantitative easing.  Asset bubbles have been created, inflation is inevitable, and any time tapering is stated or hinted at the stock market nose dives.

Tapering is occurring at about $5 to $10 billion a month, which is a good thing.  Yellen has publically stated her support for stricter economic regulation and has the backing of Elizabeth Warren.  My concern is that Yellen is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. In addition to being an architect of the current quantitative easing policy written about here, she is also proponent of trickle-down economics or Reaganomics.

The last paragraph of her TIME interview is a quote which that TIME tries to spin as “a rising tide can lift all boats” and then point out that phrase was first used by President Kennedy.  The problem is Yellen states that the purpose of QE is directly tied to trickle-down theory. The more money rich people have, the more they will spend, and that will mean more money for the poor by osmosis.  Aka when a drunk person drinks a lot, they’ll piss a lot more. QE is nothing more than a tax cut substitute in the Reaganomics equation. She claims to have main street on her mind, but her economic actions indicate she is looking out for the people at the top, hoping their crumbs become big enough to feed the poor when they trickle down after their hedge fund has enough capital freed up to buy another section of homes.

Better than Larry Summers? Yes. Does she deserve some time as the Fed Chair to prove herself? Yes. But QE is her baby. The stock market and unemployment numbers are her master.  She is going to nurture her baby and serve her master as long as they are tied together.  And all economic indicators show that QE is directly tied to stock market gains and losses as well as the unemployment numbers.  Yellen has stated as long as unemployment remains high, QE will remain.

Drug cartel kingpins tend not to be at the forefront of legalization movements. Why? Because the status quo makes them rich.  Janet Yellen helped devise QE and now she’s in charge of ending it? Next thing you know you’re going to tell me the insurance companies helped write the Affordable Health Care Act…..

eanda logoby @anarchyroll
1/28/2014

Click Here for Part One

Getting high, if it wasn’t fun, why would so many people do it? The only problem is that the high doesn’t last forever. The come down is often a crash, back to reality, damnit there’s still the law of gravity. Oh no, the stash is gone. What to do? Face life and the world as it is? Okay, but only for as long as it takes to get the next hit.

The sky was falling in the fall of 2008.  Not just millions, not just billions, but TRILLIONS of dollars evaporated from the global economy.  The wound wasn’t just opened, it was hemorrhaging blood.  What to do? Let the free market run free until it corrected itself?  Use taxpayer money to try and plug the leak? Bomb another middle eastern country?

Desperation causes people to do things that they don’t fully understand. Under intense stress and scrutiny many human beings seek a temporary escape from reality in mind or mood altering chemical substances produced naturally or artificially known to many simply as drugs.  Coffee, cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana, molly, mushrooms, lsd. cocaine, heroin, meth, crack.  Those who shake their head and thumb their nose at drug users often substitute adrenaline, food, binge screen watching, and other socially accepted mind altering reality escapes in place of the illicit stuff, but it’s all the same.

The federal government and federal reserve bank of the United States of America is run by human beings. Human beings susceptible to the same highs, lows, pros, cons, disciplines, and vices as you and me.  In the midst of panic, desperation, and catastrophe a series of steps were taken to stop the economic bleeding, stabilize the markets, and attempt to spur future growth.  However, the policies were all nothing more than reality escaping substances on a meta scale.

First came TARP. Then came the auto industry bailout.  Those got the headlines and the public ire or support depending if you’re a political elephant or jackass.  However another, much less sexy, but equally if not more important was the Federal Reserve Bank’s $85 billion per month bond buying program known as Quantitative Easing.

There have been three waves of QE from 2009 through present, it is expected to end in 2015.  But if it’s expected to end clean, at a predetermined time, why the drug analogy?

The problem, is that the markets have become dependent, on the fed flooding the market with cash, now there is a new bubble, that could bring the market(s) down in flames.

So the withdrawal pains, in the form of inflation and higher interest rates, could cause a relapse into recession or worse for both the US and global economy.  QE has been like an alcoholic going to rehab and starting a two pack a day cigarette habit.  Our recovery has been artificially enhanced by QE. We haven’t quit cold turkey, we’re on synthetic drugs. It isn’t until all the meds are out of our system that we’ll know if the economy has recovered or not.

Where does QE go from here?  I’ll cover that in part 3…

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by @anarchyroll
1/17/2014

Quantitative easing is a hard concept to comprehend and I would not classify it as easy to write about either. I wanted to write an article about the subject in August. I sat down to do my research and gather sources. When I decided to take a break, I saw that I had been reading articles, watching videos, and listening to audio clips on the subject for five hours. And I felt like I had barely scratched the surface of the subject. And I just wanted to write a blog, not a graduate school thesis.

The economic collapse of 2008 and the fallout of it, part of which being quantitative easing, are the fuel for me wanting to write economics articles in simple language.

QE (quantitative easing’s often used abbreviation) is a tool in the monetary policy tool belt of the a country’s central bank. In the case of the QE being used by the United States Federal Reserve Bank (not associated with the federal government) to ease credit flow or encourage lending by banks to small businesses and citizens, buy up government bonds with freshly printed money to keep the financial markets stabilized, and encourage large scale investors to invest in safer more boring assets than riskier/sexier assets (derivatives, credit default swaps).

So the Fed is printing money and buying government debt with it to stop the bleeding, close the wound, and aide in the rehab of the US financial sector and the global economy.

Sounds good right? The central bank of the United States is using their stroke to end a financial crisis and prevent another one…..except…Many signs and indicators are pointing to the economy becoming or already being dependent upon QE, hence the crack analogy/drug metaphor. There are also signs pointing to an asset bubble growing in the debt market. What do both of those last points mean? I’ll explain and expand in part two…