The corrupt bailout deal Washington made with Wall Street is simple: Wall Street can play games with your money just like before, except that this time, if they lose your (investors’) money, you (taxpayers) have to compensate them (Wall Street – not the investors, who might be you). So Wall Street is free, indeed encouraged, to make all the same irresponsible gambles that created the current recession all over again, only this time “Wall Street” is even more centralized than before, which makes it more dangerous and make further political corruption (i.e., bailouts without financial transparency) more likely. Bottom line: before we even get out of the current mess, we are busy paving the way to a repeat performance…and the road to this hell is not paved with good intentions. Tighten your belt: for the average American, the good times are not coming back.
For the details, consider the following assessments of our predicament by Robert Reich and Paul Krugman.
The resurgence of JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs gives both banks more financial clout than any other players on the Street -- allowing both firms to lure talent from everywhere else on the Street with multi-million pay packages, giving both firms enough economic power to charge clients whopping fees, and bestowing on both firms even more political heft in
Where are the antitrusters when we need them? Alternatively, why isn't the government charging Goldman and JPMorgan a large insurance fee for classifying both firms as "too big to fail" and therefore automatically bailed out if the risks they take turn sour? Instead, we've ended up with two giants that now have most of the casino to themselves, are playing with poker chips backed by taxpayers, and have a big say in what the rules of the game are to be.
When JP Morgan repaid its federal bailout of $25 billion last month it was, like Goldman, freed from stricter government oversight. The freedom has also allowed JP, like Goldman, to take tougher and more vocal stands in
against proposed financial regulations they dislike. Washington
JP is mounting a furious lobbying campaign against regulations that would funnel derivatives trading through exchanges where regulators can monitor them, and thereby crimp JP's profits. Now the Street's biggest derivatives player, JP has generated billions helping clients navigate these contracts and assuming counter-party risk in such transactions. Its derivatives contracts were valued at roughly $81 trillion at the end of the first quarter, representing 40 percent of the derivatives held by all banks, according to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. JP has played down its potential risk exposure from these derivatives contracts, of course, but anyone who's been paying attention over the last ten months knows that unregulated derivatives have been at the center of the storm.
…by rescuing the financial system without reforming it,
has ... made another crisis more likely. Washington
Let’s start by talking about how Goldman makes money.
Over the past generation — ever since the banking deregulation of the Reagan years — the
economy has been “financialized.” The business of moving money around, of slicing, dicing and repackaging financial claims, has soared... U.S.
Such growth would be fine if financialization really delivered on its promises — if financial firms made money by directing capital to its most productive uses, by developing innovative ways to spread and reduce risk. But can anyone, at this point, make those claims with a straight face? ...
Goldman’s role in the financialization of
was similar to that of other players, except for one thing: Goldman didn’t believe its own hype. ... Goldman, famously, made a lot of money selling securities backed by subprime mortgages — then made a lot more money by selling mortgage-backed securities short, just before their value crashed. All of this was perfectly legal, but the net effect was that Goldman made profits by playing the rest of us for suckers. America
And Wall Streeters have every incentive to keep playing that kind of game.
The huge bonuses Goldman will soon hand out show that financial-industry highfliers are still operating under a system of heads they win, tails other people lose. ... You have every reason, then, to steer investors into taking risks they don’t understand.
And the events of the past year have skewed those incentives even more, by putting taxpayers as well as investors on the hook if things go wrong. ... Wall Street in general, Goldman very much included, benefited hugely from the government’s provision of a financial backstop — an assurance that it will rescue major financial players whenever things go wrong.
You can argue that such rescues are necessary if we’re to avoid a replay of the Great Depression. In fact, I agree. But the result is that the financial system’s liabilities are now backed by an implicit government guarantee.
Now, the last time there was a comparable expansion of the financial safety net, the creation of federal deposit insurance in the 1930s, it was accompanied by much tighter regulation, to ensure that banks didn’t abuse their privileges. This time, new regulations are still in the drawing-board stage — and the finance lobby is already fighting against even the most basic protections for consumers.
If these lobbying efforts succeed, we’ll have set the stage for an even bigger financial disaster a few years down the road. The next crisis could look something like the savings-and-loan mess of the 1980s, in which deregulated banks gambled with, or in some cases stole, taxpayers’ money — except that it would involve the financial industry as a whole.