Below you see the national debt----this is separate from the budget deficit and the plan to allow national debt soar started with Clinton-----Bush/Cheney said national debt does not matter and allowed it to climb to historic levels----but Obama super-sized the national debt deliberately----as Wall Street wanted to load our government with debt to move control and all public assets to global corporations. Much of the national debt below comes from the super-heated sale of US Treasury bonds all over the world----just as with the subprime mortgage loans---and it is indeed bond fraud because they know it will harm the nation, citizens, and our future.
THIS $20 TRILLION IN NATIONAL DEBT IS THE US TREASURY AND OUR SOCIAL SECURITY TRUST IS LOST IN ALL THAT DEBT.
Federal Debt Clock
Today’s Federal Debt is about $19,171,065,477,000.
The amount is the gross outstanding federal debt issued by the United States Department of the Treasury since 1790.
But, it doesn’t include state and local debt.
And, it doesn’t include so-called “agency debt.”
And, it doesn’t include the so-called unfunded liabilities of entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare.
Federal Debt per person is about $58,753.
before the 2008 crash-----subprime mortgage loan market WAS IN A TEAR-----THE SUBPRIMING BECAME RIDICULOUS and the tear brought the economic crash in 2008. That is what this article is saying-----the subpriming of the muni-market is IN A TEAR----and will be coming down very soon----being held back simply by timing of the FED interest rate increases. ·
'some months now, the municipal bond market has been in turmoil over the possibility that multiple issuers could default on their obligations. Much like how the mortgage-backed bond market cracked and then shattered, spreading chaos throughout the credit markets, the worst-case fear is that there could be a cascade of defaults throughout the country. These defaults would not only be serious for those who depend upon municipal bonds to fund some portion of their retirement needs, but also for the states and state-sponsored agencies that depend upon the muni market for capital. (For a little background and history of this market, check out Fatal Seduction Of The Municipal Bond Insurers.)
Moreover, just as the collapse of the mortgage-backed bond market spread far beyond the debt markets and into the stock markets and economy at large, so too is the fear that a wave of muni defaults will rattle the economy and stocks once again. With all of the worry and anxiety, then, investors have been selling out of these bonds, pushing yields to two-year highs'.
U.S. Muni-Bond Market Is on a TearThe Tax-Favored Debt Has Outperformed Corporate Bonds, Treasurys in 2014
Puerto Rico’s financial troubles caused concern in the U.S. municipal-bond market in 2013, but investors have poured money into the market this year. Here, a beach in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Associated Press
Dec. 28, 2014 4:32 p.m. ET
Municipal bonds are on a winning streak that many investors bet will run into the new year.
The debt issued by U.S. cities, states and local entities such as sewer systems has posted its longest string of monthly gains in more than two decades in 2014, outpacing gains in corporate bonds and U.S. government debt, according to data from Barclays PLC.
Investors are flocking to the $3.6 trillion municipal-bond market at a time of low interest rates, uneven global growth and concern that the nearly uninterrupted rise in many stocks and bonds since the financial crisis will come to an end. The debt is especially attractive because interest payments typically don’t generate federal taxes and, in some cases, aren’t subject to state taxes.
That foundation, along with forecasts for relatively flat issuance of new bonds, is expected to support the rally in 2015 despite concerns about the impact of an increase in short-term interest rates by the Federal Reserve, which many economists and investors expect in the middle of next year. The fiscal woes of state and local governments are also a lingering worry.
“The U.S. muni market lurches between extended periods of tranquility and abrupt interludes of instability,” said Thomas McLoughlin, co-head of fundamental research at UBS Wealth Management Americas. “And the story of 2014 is this has been an extended period of relative tranquility.”
The gains in every month of 2014 have more than reversed the sector’s pullback last year, amid Detroit’s record bankruptcy, Puerto Rico’s financial straits and concerns about higher interest rates. Some observers warned that municipal bonds were vulnerable to an investor exodus, echoing a sentiment that pervaded the market after the 2008 financial crisis.
Instead, municipal bonds have returned 8.71% this year through Friday, including price gains and interest payments, according to Barclays. That compares with a total return of 15.3% for the S&P 500, 6.97% for highly rated corporate debt and 4.6% for U.S. Treasury debt.
The broad debt-market rally that upended Wall Street bets on rising interest rates in 2014 also fueled a surge of investor funds into municipal bonds, many of which are considered as safe as Treasurys because they are backed by tax revenue. Yields on municipal bonds fell to a two-year low of 1.94% in mid-October, according to Barclays data. Yields fall when prices rise.
Investors, led by individuals purchasing the debt through mutual funds, have poured $23.9 billion into municipal-bond funds through mid-December, according to Lipper. They withdrew $63.5 billion last year.
Low overall borrowing by belt-tightening public officials in cities and states through the first three quarters of the year reduced the supply of new bonds, while higher tax rates increased the relative attractiveness of tax-exempt debt, said Daniel Solender, director of municipal-bond management at Lord Abbett & Co., which oversees about $16 billion.
Despite a late-year increase in bond issuance and the prospect of the Fed raising rates, yields on municipal debt still look attractive, he said.
In the first quarter of the year, cities and states borrowed about one-quarter less than they did in the same period of 2013, according to data from the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association. Municipal-bond issuance totaled $295.8 billion through November, about 4% less than in the same period last year.
“When you look at supply, which picked up for us in the fourth quarter, there are still more bonds being called out of the market than being issued, so that creates some demand,” Mr. Solender said.
The supply of bonds isn’t likely to surge in 2015. A SIFMA survey of municipal-bond underwriters and dealers this month predicted issuance will reach $357.5 billion, compared with a total of $348.1 billion forecast for 2014.
At the same time, demand from individual investors, mutual funds and banks and insurance companies has remained robust, said Ashton Goodfield, co-head of the municipal-bond department at Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management, a unit of Deutsche Bank AG . That has helped investors overcome last year’s fears about losses from Detroit or Puerto Rico. The U.S. commonwealth passed a law in June allowing some public agencies to restructure their finances.
“I think people are understanding that there’s not going to be a rash of bankruptcies in the market,” Ms. Goodfield said. “It’s a confirmation that municipal credits are generally solid.”
Some analysts said hedge funds and other distressed-debt investors have assumed much of the risk from Puerto Rico, which has about $73 billion in total debt. Hedge funds were the primary buyers in a March $3.5 billion bond sale. Puerto Rico’s cash-strapped electric-power authority owes about $9 billion and appointed a chief restructuring officer in September.
Investor concerns over municipal pension obligations, however, may become more apparent in the new year, leading some to avoid states with large funding gaps such as Illinois, said Tim McGregor, director of municipal fixed income at Northern Trust in Chicago, which manages about $30 billion.
“Many places have done good work on pension reform, but those that are lagging will continue to be under the microscope,” Mr. McGregor said. “I expect the market will begin differentiating a little more.”
An unexpected jump in interest rates could also slow the rally in 2015, said Chris Mauro, head of U.S. municipal strategy at RBC Capital Markets. A new Congress could also take up tax reform, introducing unforeseen changes to the municipal sector, breaking through a widespread perception of Washington gridlock.
“As we learned in 1986, large-scale tax reform is extremely unpredictable,” he said.
I wanted to end this talk on SS Trust by reminding folks just what the elected officials will be up against after this 2016 election. You have Bernie shouting like Cindy Walsh that the Wall Street banks are acting criminally and Americans need justice from all this fraud-----so we will fight this attempt to loot our government treasuries with fraud and reverse all these bad deals------protecting the money needed to fund our public trusts.
IT IS EASY PEASY-----WE SIMPLY NEED THE PEOPLE IN OFFICE TO DO THIS.
I spoke of Expanded Social Security earlier as a way to extend the life of our Social Security Trust---but the word expanded extends to those citizens left out of the workforce having paid no payroll taxes----expanded means we make sure their are strong public nursing homes, retirement communities, and senior centers for all.
If you are protecting Federal Medicare----and both Republicans and Democrats love both Medicare and SS Trust-----and you are installing Expanded and Improved Medicare for All-----everyone in----no one out-----then you are already funding the core of what will be needed for public nursing homes and retirement communities------expanded Social Security recognizes the importance of Social Security Disability and would augment that Trust. These two Federal programs----expanded Medicare and SS along with Medicaid will provide that safety net for American citizens not having paid enough into SS. Remember, most Americans made long-term unemployed did not want that----it was a product of Republican/Clinton neo-liberalism and global market policies.
Will Social Security Cover Nursing Home Costs
Social Security can Help Cover Nursing Home Costs
If you or a family member faces the need for nursing home care and have limited assets, you can use Social Security to help pay for some cost.
Unfortunately, the costs of nursing home services are staggering, and daily rates are hundreds of dollars per day. According to the government's latest National Nursing Home Survey, the average nursing home stay is 835 days or more than two years.
The costs are different in each state and depending upon your location, the daily rates vary.
According to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance:
- One in 10 residents ages 75 to 84 stays in a nursing home for five or more years
- Three in 10 residents in that age group stay less than 100 days, the maximum covered by Medicare for convalescent care
Social SecurityBefore discussing how Social Security pays for nursing home care, let's clear up the confusion about Social Security Benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
A senior might be eligible for both, potentially, but first know they are different programs.
Social Security BenefitIt's an "entitlement" program, meaning people who work, the employers, and the self-employed worker pays for the benefits with their Social Security taxes. The taxes collected during the working years and put into a special trust fund.
An employee qualifies for the benefits based on his work history (or his spouse's or parent's). The amount received calculated on his or their earnings.
Supplemental Security IncomeIt's a needs-based program for people with limited income and resources. Resources are assets that you own. The program's paid by general tax revenues -- not from the Social Security trust funds.
The benefits amount, based on Federal and State laws, and take into account where you live, who lives with you and what income you receive.
Here's the difference between the two programs:
- Benefits based on earnings
- Financed by employer and wage contributions
- No income limit
- No resource limit
- Must have enough work credits
- Medicare • Benefit Types: -- Retirement (age 62 & older) -- Survivor -- Disability (includes blindness)
- Provides benefits to eligible family members
- Benefits amount based on average lifetime earnings
- Other income does NOT affect benefits (Except wages may affect benefits under full retirement age or disability benefits)
- Where you live or who lives with you does NOT affect benefits
- Benefits based on need
- Financed by General Revenues
- Limited income
- Limited resources
- No work credits required
- Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California)
- The benefits Types: -- Aged (age 65 and older) -- Disability (any age, includes children) -- Blindness (any age, includes children)
- No family benefits
- The benefits amount based on Federal and State laws
- Other income MAY affect benefits - report any income you receive
- Where you live or who lives with you MAY change benefits - report all changes
Paying for Nursing Home CostsIf you depend on your Social Security to pay for assisted living, it's not enough.
The average benefit(s) received in the form of a Social Security check for a retired worker is $1,230, and for a couple, it is $2,045. Both are short of the cost of assisted living. And if one spouse requires care in a nursing home facility, and the other remains home, it's certain the benefit will not cover living expenses for both.
Hardly enough when the average cost of nursing homes is over $6,000 per month, depending on where you live.
As seniors and families begin to look at the monetary assets available, they find themselves plunged into unfamiliar territory.
Another source of supplemental income from the federal government is (SSI), Supplemental Security Income (also known as Title XVI). A senior must be at least 65 years of age to apply. It's a needs-based program that provides a monthly check to persons who are blind, elderly, or disabled. SSI is only available to persons with a very low-income and asset limits.
The average SSI for an individual is a little over $700/month and for a couple it is over $1000/month. To learn if you are eligible to apply: Check out the Social Security disability program.
If you're 65 or over and receive Supplemental Security Income, you may apply for Medicaid that can assist you in paying for nursing home care. It is a federally funded program for low-income Americans and the biggest payer for the room, board, nursing care, and social activities in nursing homes.
Read more information on planning your long-term care using Social Security - Smart Steps on Managing Your Monthly Social Security Check.
Baltimore has gutted its entire public health system and as such all public nursing homes and retirement communties were allowed to decay ----just as with the public housing. Global pols do not see public health------they will simply work people as hard as they can and when you cannot work-----then there are steps to end life as desired. That is what Affordable Care Act has as the mechanism in 'cost savings' for health care. Baltimore pols have held seniors in the city hostage for decades as to whether these vital nursing homes and facilities for seniors would be funded and kept open. This is part of the crony political machine power----AND WE ARE ENDING THAT PAY-TO-PLAY FOR SENIORS.
A developed nation cares for its seniors----it does not allow all Federal, state, and local funds designated for Medicaid, Medicare, and housing for low-income be misappropriated to build global Johns Hopkins and Wall Street Baltimore Development as has been the history. Simply getting funds where they are supposed to go will supply much of the safety net for seniors---and then expanded SS and Medicare will fill in. If you allow the poor to fall out of this safety net system-----INJUSTICE FOR ONE BECOMES INJUSTICE FOR ALL.
Moving the poor, disabled, and seniors out of Baltimore City has been the Master Plan which has a goal of Baltimore City Center being only the rich from around the world----tied to global corporate campuses and global factories.....creating mixed-income housing includes creating housing for seniors, disabled, and the poor in all communities-----
The issue in Baltimore is also gentrification------we can move our public health facilities to allow for affluent growth and do it with justice.
Baltimore nursing home closes, displaces nearly 70 residents
Harborside Nursing and Rehabilitation Center closes after losing Medicaid, Medicare funding
Harborside Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Baltimore… (Baltimore Sun photo by Karl…)
August 30, 2012|By Yvonne Wenger, The Baltimore Sun
Nearly 70 elderly patients and vulnerable adults must find new homes because of the planned closure of Harborside Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Baltimore, a sprawling facility with numerous fire hazards uncovered in a recent state inspection.
The nursing home — the first in Maryland to accept AIDS patients in 1985 — will shut down within the next month after Medicaid and Medicare stop paying for patient care. The federal health care programs decided to cut off funding after a March inspection by the state found more than 30 safety violations, primarily due to structural problems.
The company that owns Harborside, Baton Rouge, La.-based Ravenwood Healthcare Inc., filed for bankruptcy in April and put the facility up for sale. With no buyers and facing the loss of payments for patient care, the company decided to shut down.
"Originally constructed as a hotel, the building's age, layout and structure posed problems, both in terms of day-to-day operations and compliance with modern nursing home building code standards," said Cindie Pittman, Ravenwood's chief financial officer, in a statement. "Ravenwood Healthcare Inc. lacks the financial resources to modernize the building and to continue absorbing the mounting operating losses."
Ravenwood operated the nursing home, at the corner of Paca and West Franklin streets, since 1996, Pittman said.
Eric Moss, 54, and his mother, Lois Henry, said they're upset by the way the closure has been handled. Although residents have 30 days to move, Moss said he and other residents were made to feel that they needed to leave immediately. Residents were told last Friday that Harborside was closing, Moss said.
"I feel for the people who might not have a place to go," said Henry, 81. "I thought it was terrible that they waited until the last minute. Everyone is upset because they don't know what the next day will bring."
Moss, whose leg was amputated about two years ago, suffered a stroke in March and lost much of the mobility in his right hand.
"It's bad for everyone else; it's good for me," said Moss, who's looking forward to his move to a Genesis HealthCare facility in Baltimore.
Advocates are watching over the transition to ensure residents' rights are protected and that each of Harborside's 66 remaining residents finds a new home, according to Alice H. Hedt, Maryland's long-term care ombudsman. City ombudsmen have visited the facility daily.
Leaving the facility will be difficult for the residents, Hedt said.
"No matter how the facility has ranked on inspections, that is still the place the person lived," she said. "It's very important that the residents know they have time to make their decision and move and also that they have a right to choice. They shouldn't feel pressured to go to one place or another."
Nursing homes rarely close, said Dori Henry, spokesperson for the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which oversees the facilities. Clearview Nursing Home in Hagerstown was the last in Maryland to close, in 2006.
State inspectors assessed Harborside between Feb. 29 and March 9 to determine whether the nursing home met standards for funding from Medicare and Medicaid, the government's insurance programs for senior citizens and low-income and disabled individuals.
Among the 33 deficiencies identified were blocked doors and gaps in the ceilings and walls that would allow smoke to spread. Inspectors also found improperly stored oxygen tanks, residents' doors with noncompliant locks and improperly identified exits. Routine cooking set off a kitchen fire alarm, causing the Baltimore City Fire Department to respond.
The property has a history of fires, including one in 1970 that damaged an air-conditioning tower, another in 1976 that injured four patients and a firefighter, and a third in 1987 that killed a 68-year-old woman. The two later fires were attributed to careless smoking.
The building opened as a hotel in the 1960s. Soul singer James Brown bought it and renamed it the James Brown Motor Inn in 1970. Brown, who once owned a local radio station, occupied a 10-room suite on the fifth floor when in Baltimore.
It was converted into a residential home for the ailing in 1972 and changed hands several times before Ravenwood took over patient care.
Former resident Barrin Spivey, 43, of Arbutus said when he arrived at the nursing home from prison in 2008 with multiple sclerosis, he could not walk and could barely feed himself. He left about two years later able to walk and live on his own.
"These staff people here are so genuine. They care," Spivey said. "For this facility to be shut down is so wrong."
It's unclear what will happen to Harborside's staff. The nursing home notified the state this week that it let go 71 workers in a round of layoffs that took effect Saturday. Several workers declined to talk outside the facility on a recent day.
The state health department worked with the company to keep Harborside operating, but a plan to correct problems at the facility was unacceptable, said Henry, the spokeswoman. The state recommended that the federal government terminate Harborside's participation in the Medicaid and Medicare programs.
That termination will be effective Sept. 17, according to Lorraine A. Ryan, a spokesperson for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
I won't go into detail today about why the SS Disability Trust is empty and now draining our SS Trust----but it has to do with the exploding unemployment and this Disability Trust being used to augment unemployment payments once they end. Since Clinton era-----the SS Disability Trust has been used as the safety net for those left long-term unemployed with no access to Welfare. This is why the draw on SS Disability has soared these few decades and it is why it is now distressed.
Bernie Sanders and Cindy Walsh as social Democrats will make sure the SS Disability Trust is funded but we will work to end the need to send people who would rather be working than on Disability BY ACTUALLY CREATING A LOCAL, DOMESTIC, SMALL BUSINESS ECONOMY in all communities so people will not need to fall into these social programs. Most of those on SS Disability are there because of mental health issues surrounding Depression ----because deepening poverty, unemployment, housing instability, food instability DOES CREATE THE BODY CONDITIONS FOR DEPRESSION.
We can protect both SS Trust-----and our SS Disability Trust by simply bringing corporate and rich revenue back into our government coffers and making sure we have a solid stable economy for all. Below you see the Republicans calling for the same----but their reforms are privatization------not fixing what worked for decades ------the Federal SS Disability Trust.
Social Security’s Disability Program Faces an Empty Trust Fund
David C. John / August 23, 2011
With continuing unemployment problems driving more and more Americans to seek Social Security disability benefits, that program’s already weakened trust fund faces a bleak future. Just as unemployed older workers have been forced to apply for Social Security retirement benefits much earlier than they expected, thousands of other unemployed people who have disabilities, or hope that they might qualify, are applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.
SSDI benefits are somewhat more generous than retirement benefits and turn into retirement benefits once the recipient reaches full retirement age. In addition, SSDI benefits allow the recipient to qualify for Medicare after two years, regardless of what age the individual has reached at that time.
The influx of new recipients is draining SSDI’s trust fund much faster than expected. Last year, the program spent $127.7 billion in benefits, but only received $104 billion in SSDI payroll taxes. Since starting to run deficits in 2005, the SSDI trust fund has steadily declined, and it is expected to run out in 2017 or 2018. Assets could be transferred from the slightly healthier retirement and survivors program, but doing so would weaken a part of Social Security that faces its own crisis.
To make matters worse, SSDI has a history of significant administrative problems, and applicants face long delays in getting a decision—even longer delays if they go through the appeals process—and differing standards for approval depending on what state they live in. About 40 percent of initial applications are denied, and while an appeal can be heard in Delaware a mere 10 months later, that same appeal may not be heard for 20 months in Ohio. Despite the continued efforts of the past several Social Security commissioners, it still takes more than 400 days (down from more than 500) to get a decision, and their success in reducing wait times is likely to be overwhelmed by the thousands of new applicants.
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Fixing the problem does not mean raising payroll taxes or spending more. SSDI is filled with picky bureaucratic requirements that delay decisions and tie the hands of appeals judges or bias their decisions. Really reforming the program is not simple, but it is not impossible.
In July, Senator Tom Coburn (R–OK) issued a comprehensive program to reduce federal spending that includes detailed proposals (starting on page 532) for fixing SSDI, reducing overpayments, and making it easier for applicants to get an accurate decision in an acceptable time period. The latest news on SSDI confirms what we already knew—like its sister program, Social Security, it should be fixed through comprehensive reforms.
Corporate fraud is systemic through all industries---not only Wall Street. I try to emphasize to Baltimore citizens who tend to be conservative and Republican and think social safety nets need to go---it is not the cost of these safety nets that drive the cost of the government budgets----IT IS THE FRAUD AND CORRUPTION. We can easily fund all social programs and pay less in taxes by ending this capture of government by global corporate pols. People saying we cannot do that are working for those global corporations because ----EASY PEASY----WE CAN REVERSE THIS AND REBUILD US. CONSTITUTIONAL, RULE OF LAW, EQUAL PROTECTION, AND OVERSIGHT AND ACCOUNTABILITY---AND VOILA---LOWER TAXES AND FULLY FUNDED SAFETY NET PROGRAMS.
If a candidate for Mayor of Baltimore does not even MENTION the systemic Wall Street fraud and in fact is hyping all kinds of future Wall Street leverage and dealings-----they do not care about the poor, seniors, the working and middle-class-----and are not working for ONE BALTIMORE
This coming bond market collapse and fraud is Obama and Clinton neo-liberals partnering with Bush neo-cons who gave us the subprime mortgage loan fraud.
The citizens of Baltimore and Maryland are greatly effected by these corporate frauds-------and this is the #1 reason we have government budget deficits-----government debt-----and our Federal agencies are not working right. The budgeting of funds to all government agencies is so high because 1/2 of those funds are misappropriated and lost to fraud even as citizens are not receiving social safety net benefits. Obama's goal in working for global Wall Street and corporations is to place all of our government coffers and assets at risk with this coming bond collapse and don't believe the new hype that it is caused by an unstable China-------China is unstable because they were the #1 purchasers of US Treasury/US municipal subprimed bond debt. Moving forward which to social Democrats is moving away from Clinton/Obama neo-liberal NEW WORLD ORDER ----will take government executives---Mayor, Governor, President who REALLY want to install oversight and accountability----and it does not mean only against corruption in our local economic structures.
THIS IS TO WHERE THE FUTURE OF OUR SOCIAL SECURITY, VETERAN'S BENEFITS, MEDICARE AND MEDICAID LIE---
This global financial fraud and its gatekeepers
The media's 'bad apple' thesis no longer works. We're seeing systemic corruption in banking – and systemic collusion
Protesters outside a Bank of America annual shareholders' meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina. Photograph: Jason Miczek/ReutersSaturday 14 July 2012 10.47 EDT Last modified on Thursday 31 December 2015 17.42 EST
Last fall, I argued that the violent reaction to Occupy and other protests around the world had to do with the 1%ers' fear of the rank and file exposing massive fraud if they ever managed get their hands on the books. At that time, I had no evidence of this motivation beyond the fact that financial system reform and increased transparency were at the top of many protesters' list of demands.
But this week presents a sick-making trove of new data that abundantly fills in this hypothesis and confirms this picture. The notion that the entire global financial system is riddled with systemic fraud – and that key players in the gatekeeper roles, both in finance and in government, including regulatory bodies, know it and choose to quietly sustain this reality – is one that would have only recently seemed like the frenzied hypothesis of tinhat-wearers, but this week's headlines make such a conclusion, sadly, inevitable.
The New York Times business section on 12 July shows multiple exposes of systemic fraud throughout banks: banks colluding with other banks in manipulation of interest rates, regulators aware of systemic fraud, and key government officials (at least one banker who became the most key government official) aware of it and colluding as well. Fraud in banks has been understood conventionally and, I would say, messaged as a glitch. As in London Mayor Boris Johnson's full-throated defense of Barclay's leadership last week, bank fraud is portrayed as a case, when it surfaces, of a few "bad apples" gone astray.
In the New York Times business section, we read that the HSBC banking group is being fined up to $1bn, for not preventing money-laundering (a highly profitable activity not to prevent) between 2004 and 2010 – a six years' long "oops". In another article that day, Republican Senator Charles Grassley says of the financial group Peregrine capital: "This is a company that is on top of things." The article goes onto explain that at Peregrine Financial, "regulators discovered about $215m in customer money was missing." Its founder now faces criminal charges. Later, the article mentions that this revelation comes a few months after MF Global "lost" more than $1bn in clients' money.
What is weird is how these reports so consistently describe the activity that led to all this vanishing cash as simple bumbling: "regulators missed the red flag for years." They note that a Peregrine client alerted the firm's primary regulator in 2004 and another raised issues with the regulator five years later – yet "signs of trouble seemingly missed for years", muses the Times headline.
A page later, "Wells Fargo will Settle Mortgage Bias Charges" as that bank agrees to pay $175m in fines resulting from its having – again, very lucratively – charged African-American and Hispanic mortgagees costlier rates on their subprime mortgages than their counterparts who were white and had the same credit scores. Remember, this was a time when "Wall Street firms developed a huge demand for subprime loans that they purchased and bundled into securities for investors, creating financial incentives for lenders to make such loans." So, Wells Fargo was profiting from overcharging minority clients and profiting from products based on the higher-than-average bad loan rate expected. The piece discreetly ends mentioning that a Bank of America lawsuit of $335m and a Sun Trust mortgage settlement of $21m for having engaged is similar kinds of discrimination.
Are all these examples of oversight failure and banking fraud just big ol' mistakes? Are the regulators simply distracted?
The top headline of the day's news sums up why it is not that simple: "Geithner Tried to Curb Bank's Rate Rigging in 2008". The story reports that when Timothy Geithner, at the time he ran the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, learned of "problems" with how interest rates were fixed in London, the financial center at the heart of the Libor Barclays scandal. He let "top British authorities" know of the issues and wrote an email to his counterparts suggesting reforms. Were his actions ethical, or prudent? A possible interpretation of Geithner's action is that he was "covering his ass", without serious expectation of effecting reform of what he knew to be systemic abuse.
And what, in fact, happened? Barclays kept reporting false rates, seeking to boost its profit. Last month, the bank agreed to pay $450m to US and UK authorities for manipulating the Libor and other key benchmarks, upon which great swaths of the economy depended. This manipulation is alleged in numerous lawsuits to have defrauded thousands of bank clients. So Geithner's "warnings came too late, and his efforts did not stop the illegal activity".
And then what happened? Did Geithner, presumably frustrated that his warnings had gone unheeded, call a press conference? No. He stayed silent, as a practice that now looks as if several major banks also perpetrated, continued.
And then what happened? Tim Geithner became Treasury Secretary. At which point, he still did nothing.
It is very hard, looking at the elaborate edifices of fraud that are emerging across the financial system, to ignore the possibility that this kind of silence – "the willingness to not rock the boat" – is simply rewarded by promotion to ever higher positions, ever greater authority. If you learn that rate-rigging and regulatory failures are systemic, but stay quiet, well, perhaps you have shown that you are genuinely reliable and deserve membership of the club.
Whatever motivated Geithner's silence, or that of the "government official" in the emails to Barclays, this much is obvious: the mainstream media need to drop their narratives of "Gosh, another oversight". The financial sector's corruption must be recognized as systemic.
Meanwhile, Britain is sleepwalking in a march toward total email surveillance, even as the US brings forward new proposals to punish whistleblowers by extending the Espionage Act. In an electronic world, evidence of these crimes lasts forever – if people get their hands on the books. In the Libor case, notably, a major crime has not been greeted by much demand at the top for criminal prosecutions. That asymmetry is one of the insurance policies of power. Another is to crack down on citizens' protest.