Category Archives: Banks

JP Morgan Foreclosing On Former Civil Rights Activist

Helen Bailey

JP Morgan is in the process of foreclosing on Helen Bailey, a 78-year-old former civil rights activist and current resident of Nashville, Tennessee. According to change.org, she is being foreclosed on because she cannot keep up with her mortgage payments.  

Helen Bailey is a 78-year-old grandmother who participated in the civil rights movement, worked as a childcare provider for autistic children, and was a community volunteer. She has paid her mortgage since 1999, but now she can’t keep up the payments. All she wants is to stay in her home until she dies, in the neighborhood where she feels safe and has lived for nearly quarter of a century. She could have refinanced with a company willing to let her live in the house for free until her death, but Chase Bank would not reduce her principal by $9,000. She’s been paying 7% interest, well above most rates, so Chase could have decided they had made enough. Instead, they have started foreclosure…While Chase tries to tie itself to the incredible legacy of Martin Luther King, who really did believe in communities, Chase tries to throw a grandmother who marched for civil rights out onto the street. 

Juxtapose this with the fact that JP Morgan Chase has just launched a project to digitize the documents of MLK along with other civil rights leaders to make them available online. Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JP Morgan, said “It’s important for JPMorgan Chase to support Dr. King’s legacy because of the important values he committed his life to promoting, such as equality, equal opportunity, and quality education for all. People like Dr. Martin Luther King are what made America what it is today. The values he espoused are the values that JPMorgan Chase also tries to stand for around the world.”  

Gary Flowers, Executive Director and CEO of the Black Leadership Forum, Inc, responded to the news of the foreclosure. “JP Morgan Chase must practice what it preaches. On one hand, the bank cannot earnestly invoke the values of Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. while devaluing the very principles for which he lived and died.” 

Change.org has started a petition to save her house. To date more than 44,000 people have signed the petition.

Today Occupy Wall Street Held A March To Bank Headquarters

This is a video of OWS protesters marching to the Manhattan headquarters of Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and JP Morgan Chase.  When they arrived they threw paper planes they collected from the website Occupy The Boardroom.  Afterwords, they sent them in large bags to the banks.  

Compassion-Free Conservatism

I read an op-ed this morning by Charles Blow who perfectly described today’s Republican Party, “Compassion-Free Conservatism.”  In the past I have written on the GOP’s plan of turning government programs like Medicare and Social Security over to private companies or just ending them all together like Medicaid (although they won’t come out and say it), and they call it “Starve the Beast.” 

This is part of the modern doctrine of a compassion-free conservatism that’s using the fog of the fiscal crisis to push a program of perverse wealth inequality as sound economic policy: The only way to jump-start the economy is to slash taxes on the wealthy and on companies; the only way to compensate for the deficits that those tax cuts exacerbate is to slash benefits to the poor and vulnerable. It would be comical if it weren’t so callous.

Now that the budgets, both state and national, have been pushed to the brink caused by our last decade of Bush and Republican rule (but began under Reagan in the 80s), they have put themselves in a position to end all of these programs that help sustain and create lower and middle classes. 

At the same time, they are promoting the idea that the only way to do this is to implement even deeper tax cuts for the wealthy and continue corporate tax cuts and tax subsidies that are funded by our tax dollars. 

First, the tax burden of American companies is lower than that of other Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries, as economist Bruce Bartlett pointed out this week. Also, a report issued on Wednesday by Citizens for Tax Justice looked at 12 Fortune 500 companies from 2008-10 and found that on $171 billion in profits earned, their effective tax rate was negative-1.5 percent because of corporate loopholes, shelters and special tax breaks.

And, as Time magazine reported in its June 6 issue, In the 18 months since the Great Recession, which ended in June 2009, U.S. annualized corporate profits rose 42 percent, to a record $1.68 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2010.

Corporations aren’t hurting. They’re hoarding.

This is not what America is all about and is not the values this country was founded on.  Our country does not exist to be used by corporations, and American middle and lower classes are not here to serve them for their benefit.

Too Big To Fail – Wall Street Making Sure It Will Happen Again

The movie based on the extremely popular book Too Big To Fail by Andrew Ross Sorkin is coming out soon, and there was recently a screening in New York that was attended by our current Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner. After the screening Geithner told the crowd that attended something that no one wanted to hear, he predicted another big crisis will be coming.  

“It will come again. There will be another storm, but it’s not going to come for a while. I’m certain we will” experience another catastrophe. He just couldn’t say when or what kind. “You will not know” when, which he is how he answered Sorkin when he tried to pin Geithner down. “It’s not going to be possible for people to capture risk with perfect foresight and knowledge.”

Keep in mind this is at a time when Republicans are trying to remove a lot of the oversight regulations that were instituted after the 2008 Wall Street crash. They are also opposing appointment of Elizabeth Warren to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which was created to protect consumers, and are trying to weaken its regulatory power in order to protect corporations

A GOP bill that was proposed aimed to make it easier for the Financial Stability Oversight Commission to overrule decisions that the CFPB might make in favor of consumers. It would require a simple majority vote by FSOC, instead of a two-thirds majority.

Republicans argued that the changes the bill would produce would make the consumers’ bureau more transparent and accountable, and protect more small banks. Democrats contended that the revisions would only weaken the CFPB, and give financial institutions a stronger say.

To prove Democrats’ point, Maloney offered another amendment that would have defined the “safety and soundness” mentioned in the proposal to exclude profits. Her point was that consumer-friendly decisions generally come at the expense of profits, and — if profitably is a standard — there would be a ready rationale to overturn almost any CFPB rule or finding.

“I am not saying that a financial institution should not be able to make a profit,” Maloney said in the hearing. “I am simply saying that, if you are going to put an extraordinary check on the CFPB’s ability to protect consumers, then a financial institution’s profitability should not come at the expense of consumers.”

How To Rig An Election

GOP has long been a party of Christian and “small-government” conservatives. Since their wins at the state and federal levels in 2010, which they won on a platform of creating jobs, jobs, jobs and deficit reduction, their sole focus, like a laser, has been on busting unions and cutting benefits to people like police, firefighters, and teachers, cutting education for our schools, and getting rid of women’s healthcare (that is to just name a few). At the same time they have been cutting taxes for the very wealthy and corporations, i.e., big oil, Wall Street.

These constituents that used to identify themselves as conservatives are now realizing the GOP do not have their best interest in mind. Since the GOP has been pushing away the people who used to support them, they are now trying to devise a way to win elections without having the majority of Americans behind them anymore.

Since their constituents are now just the wealthy and the people who run those corporations (whose numbers are in the thousands, if that), they have now come up with a way to win elections without a majority of voters behind them. Donna Brazile recently wrote an op-ed:

From coast to coast, the GOP is engaged in what appears to be a coordinated, expensive effort to block voters from the polls. The motivation is political — a cynical effort to restrict voting by traditionally Democratic-leaning Americans. In more than 30 states, GOP legislators are on the move, from a sweeping rewrite of Florida’s election laws to new rules for photo identification in Ohio, Wisconsin, North Carolina and more than 20 other states.

As a result, 11% of Americans — 21 million citizens of voting age who lack proper photo identification — could be turned away on Election Day. And these people tend to be most highly concentrated among people of color, the poor, the young and the old.

This shows that GOP and Republicans are not just racists (their insistence that President Obama show his birth certificate, i.e., “his papers“), they are now waging class warfare. GOP won such huge majorities at the state level that this has allowed them to practically push through any bill they wish, written any way they want, and they are now working to exclude as many people from our elections as possible.

It seems there isn’t much we can do about it; however, as I mentioned in previous posts, the one thing we have that they do not is our enormous numbers. We have that working for us and can use it. It is working across the globe from the uprisings across the middle east to Spain, Britain, Germany, etc. We need to learn from them, stop being complacent with the current system, and take to the streets. We can make a change. This is no longer a country divided by race, we are a country divided by class, plain and simple!

Capitalism Is Code For Corporate Socialism

With all of the pro-capitalism/anti-socialism chatter from the Republicans, it peaked my interest to find out the history of government funded bailouts in our capitalist society.

Below is a list of tax payer funded bailouts since the 1970s. It focuses on government bailouts of U.S. corporations (and one city). It does not include U.S. government aid given to other nations. The costs of the bailouts are given in 2008 U.S. dollars. After you review this, please tell me does capitalism, without oversight and regulations, really work.

Penn Central Railroad — 1970
Cost $3.2 billion

In May 1970, Penn Central Railroad, then on the verge of bankruptcy, appealed to the Federal Reserve for aid on the grounds that it provided crucial national defense transportation services. The Nixon administration and the Federal Reserve supported providing financial assistance to Penn Central, but Congress refused to adopt the measure. Penn Central declared bankruptcy on June 21, 1970, which freed the corporation from its commercial paper obligations. To counteract the devastating ripple effects to the money market, the Federal Reserve Board told commercial banks it would provide the reserves needed to allow them to meet the credit needs of their customers.

Lockheed — 1971
Cost $1.4 billion
In August 1971, Congress passed the Emergency Loan Guarantee Act, which could provide funds to any major business enterprise in crisis. Lockheed was the first recipient. Its failure would have meant significant job loss in California, a loss to the GNP and an impact on national defense.

Franklin National Bank — 1974
Cost $7.8 billion
In the first five months of 1974 the bank lost $63.6 million. The Federal Reserve stepped in with a loan of $1.75 billion.

New York City — 1975
Cost $9.4 billion
During the 1970s, New York City became over-extended and entered a period of financial crisis. In 1975 President Ford signed the New York City Seasonal Financing Act, which released $2.3 billion in loans to the city.

Chrysler — 1980
Cost $4.0 billion
In 1979 Chrysler suffered a loss of $1.1 billion. That year the corporation requested aid from the government. In 1980 the Chrysler Loan Guarantee Act was passed, which provided $1.5 billion in loans to rescue Chrysler from insolvency. In addition, the government’s aid was to be matched by U.S. and foreign banks.

Continental Illinois National Bank and Trust Company — 1984 
Cost $9.5 billion
Then the nation’s eighth largest bank, Continental Illinois had suffered significant losses after purchasing $1 billion in energy loans from the failed Penn Square Bank of Oklahoma. The FDIC and Federal Reserve devised a plan to rescue the bank that included replacing the bank’s top executives.

Savings & Loan — 1989
Cost $293.3 billion
After the widespread failure of savings and loan institutions, President George H. W. Bush signed and Congress enacted the Financial Institutions Reform Recovery and Enforcement Act in 1989.

Airline Industry — 2001
Cost $18.6 billion
The terrorist attacks of September 11 crippled an already financially troubled industry. To bail out the airlines, President Bush signed into law the Air Transportation Safety and Stabilization Act, which compensated airlines for the mandatory grounding of aircraft after the attacks. The act released $5 billion in compensation and an additional $10 billion in loan guarantees or other federal credit instruments.

Bear Stearns — 2008
Cost $30 billion
JP Morgan Chase and the federal government bailed out Bear Stearns when the financial giant neared collapse. JP Morgan purchased Bear Stearns for $236 million; the Federal Reserve provided a $30 billion credit line to ensure the sale could move forward.

Fannie Mae / Freddie Mac — 2008
Cost $400 billion
On Sep. 7, 2008, Fannie and Freddie were essentially nationalized: placed under the conservatorship of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Under the terms of the rescue, the Treasury has invested billions to cover the companies’ losses. Initially, Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson put a ceiling of $100 billion for investments in each company. In February, Tim Geithner raised it to $200 billion. The money was authorized by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008.

American International Group (A.I.G.) — 2008
Cost $180 billion
On four separate occasions, the government has offered aid to AIG to keep it from collapsing, rising from an initial $85 billion credit line from the Federal Reserve to a combined $180 billion effort between the Treasury ($70 billion) and Fed ($110 billion). ($40 billion of the Treasury’s commitment is also included in the TARP total.)

Auto Industry — 2008
Cost $25 billion
In late September 2008, Congress approved a more than $630 billion spending bill, which included a measure for $25 billion in loans to the auto industry. These low-interest loans are intended to aid the industry in its push to build more fuel-efficient, environmentally-friendly vehicles. The Detroit 3 — General Motors, Ford and Chrysler — will be the primary beneficiaries.

Troubled Asset Relief Program — 2008
Cost $700 billion
In October 2008, Congress passed the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, which authorized the Treasury Department to spend $700 billion to combat the financial crisis. Treasury has been doling out the money via an alphabet soup of different programs.

Citigroup — 2008 
Cost $280 billion
Citigroup received a $25 billion investment through the TARPin October and another $20 billion in November. (That $45 billion is also included in the TARP total.) Additional aid has come in the form of government guarantees to limit losses from a $301 billion pool of toxic assets. In addition to the Treasury’s $5 billion commitment, the FDIC has committed $10 billion and the Federal Reserve up to about $220 billion.

Bank of America–2009
Cost $142.2 billion
Bank of America has received $45 billion through the TARP, which includes $10 billion originally meant for Merrill Lynch. (That $45 billion is also included in the TARP total.) In addition, the government has made guarantees to limit losses from a $118 billion pool of troubled assets. In addition to the Treasury’s $7.5 billion commitment, the FDIC has committed $2.5 billion and the Federal Reserve up to $87.2 billion.

Corporate Takeover of America (well, actually the world)

Over the past 3 decades, corporations have steadily been monopolizing more and more power of our government. We all know they do this by funding/donating money to representatives for their campaigns, and once elected, well then our reps work for them. The very rich and the corporations are not going to give their money away for free; expectations always come with it.

I thought it was bad until the decision on the Citizen’s United case by SCOTUS. Now our government is almost completely controlled by special interest groups, corporations, and the extremely wealthy in our nation (for that matter in the world).

It is enraging to me and should be to every middle/lower class American the fact that our political system is completely funded by these people leaving us out in the cold. The only few options left to us are unions, which the numbers are dwindling, and our numbers and the ability to gather and protest. The only thing we have going is the fact that this kind of power rests in only a handful of people/corporations (in the thousands if not hundreds) and WE NUMBER in the MILLIONS.

Here is another disturbing reach for these “elites.” In Florida back in 2008, Charles Koch donated $1.5 million to Florida State University’s Economics Department to be given over 6 years equating to $250,000/year. For this donation Koch’s very own advisory committee will pick candidates to fill teaching positions that are funded by his donation. The candidates will have to be approved by Koch. This gives him complete veto power on any new hires.

Florida State University’s economics department needs to reconsider its relationship with billionaire Charles G. Koch, who pledged $1.5 million to the school as long as professors hired with the money hew to Koch’s Libertarian philosophy. The arrangement reeks of pandering and undermines academic freedom, the cornerstone of American higher education.

Under the terms of a 2008 deal with the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, FSU’s economics department is scheduled to receive $1.5 million over six years to hire professors. But faculty members hired with foundation money must be approved by an advisory committee handpicked by Koch. That means Koch effectively holds veto power, an arrangement rarely found in the academic community and that threatens independent thinking.

The one thing the misguided and basically uneducated Tea Party has shown us over the past 2 years is we still can influence our representatives. We have one thing going for us that they don’t, brains. We know the issues, the politics and cannot be persuaded by false news/reporting. The corporations have to be stopped before we turn into The United States of Corporations.