The high-profile role played by Jews on Wall Street has never been a secret. Many of the wheelers and dealers responsible for shaping the current US financial system are Jewish, including former AIG CEO Hank Greenberg, former Citigroup CEO Sandy Weill, recently-retired Lehman Bros. CEO Richard Fuld, former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan, former Treasury Secretary Bob Rubin, current Fed chairman Ben Bernanke,etc. One of the "weapons of mass destruction" described by the legendary investor Warren Buffet is the Credit Default Swap. Greenberg's AIG is the biggest purveyor of CDS. In spite of the warnings by Buffet in 2006, Greenspan and his successor Bernanke argued against regulating derivatives such as credit default swaps. Unregulated financial derivatives are now considered the biggest cause of the financial collapse.
Credit derivatives is one of the most successful innovations of financial engineering over the last ten years. The current active credit derivatives market has produced an array of new products. For example, credit-default swaps are an indicator of the cost of bond "insurance" that varies with the risk of bond default. Credit default swaps are privately traded derivative contracts usually bought by bond holders from CDS issuers like AIG, Ambac, FGIC, and MBIA and other entities. Like other derivatives, CDS are not regulated by government agencies. The CDS issuers are expected (not gauranteed or back-stopped by governments) to reimburse bondholders in case the bond issuing companies or governments default. A basis point on a credit-default swap contract protecting $10 million of debt from default for five years is equivalent to $1,000 a year. The buyers of CDS do not have to be bondholders. Any one can buy a CDS to bet on the probability of default by debt issuers. Once issued, the credit default swaps are bought and sold like any other contract. Many of these derivative contracts were bought to bet that the housing bubble would pop and many homeowners would default on their mortgages. That is exactly what happened this year. These derivative contracts have produced enormous profits for Wall Street firms in the last decade. But now the Fortune magazine calls these derivatives "a $55 tillion problem".
The world of finance is not unique in the dominant role played by Jews. Other businesses including media and entertainment and professions such as medicine, law and accounting have powerful Jewish presence. American Jews are disproportionately over-represented in the US Congress, the Senate and the Supreme Court as well. US policies in all spheres are heavily influenced by the Jewish minority in the United States. The exclusive club of Nobel laureates is dominated by its Jewish members, a testament to Jewish culture of hard work, commitment and achievement. Many significant levers of power are controlled by American Jews, a constant that does not change with election winners or losers in Washington, where AIPAC is the most powerful lobby. Both Obama and McCain teams boast of powerful Jews as key policy advisers on foreign affairs, finance and national security. Robert Rubin and Dennis Ross are advising Obama. Joe Lieberman is advising McCain.
When former President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan addressed a dinner meeting of the American Jewish Congress in September 2005, his Jewish audience were described as the American business, political and social elite.
When things go wrong in any of the major US businesses or institutions, people looking for scapegoats often blame influential Jews because of the large Jewish presence in each of them. The current financial crisis is no exception.
Abraham Foxman, President of Anti-Defamation League, has written in Jerusalem Post about the recent "anti-semitic" response to the financial crisis. He writes, "It never fails. Whenever there is a financial crisis or trading scandal in the stock markets, the anti-Semites come out of the woodwork. The classic stereotype of the Jewish Shylock out to have his Christian pound of flesh dies very hard, if at all. The Jew as economic opportunist sucking the financial life-blood out of a nation or of the whole world is continually reborn".
Mr. Foxman does have a point. Stereotypes, whether Jewish or Muslim, are hard to change. The reality is that there are only three Jews on the CNN's latest top ten list of the culprits of collapse even if one argues that these three are the most important of the top ten. They are: Former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, Current Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and the Lehman Brothers CEO Richard Fuld. As some of us blame the few who made serious mistakes and happen to be Jewish, let us not forget that a large number of Jewish workers and investors on Wall Street are victims of the financial meltdown. Many Jews have lost their jobs while others are suffering major declines in their investment portfolios.
Jewish Lobby Blamed for Economic Crisis
Financial Crisis Brings Out Anti-Semites
Jews on Wall Street
The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy
The Rise of Jewish Power-Nothing Short of Astounding
Jewish Tribal review
Wall Street's WMDs
Credit Default Swaps
$55 Trillion Problem
Jewish Domination of Mass Media
President-elect Barack Obama on Wednesday offered the job of White House chief of staff to Democratic Congressman Rahm Emanuel, who reportedly accepted the offer.
This is Obama's first and most important appointment.
The White House Chief of Staff is an extremely powerful position, setting the agenda and controlling access to the president.
According to a report in Jerusalem Post, Emanuel is the Chicago-born son of former Israelis.
The 48-year-old Emanuel is a member of the Orthodox Jewish community of Chicago and grew up speaking Hebrew with his father, a pediatrician who was a member of Irgun, the Jewish resistance in Palestine that committed acts of terror and atrocities against the Palestinians to drive them out in 1948.
During the Gulf War in 1991, Emanuel came to Israel to serve as a civilian volunteer.
Emanuel was a senior adviser to Bill Clinton during his term in the White House and was first elected to Congress in 2002.
Emanuel was named the Chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 2005.
Jewish Blogging is reporting as follows:
Yes, Bernard L. Madoff is a Jew.
Bernard Madoff was arrested and charged today with allegedly running a $50 billion Ponzi scheme, according to U.S. authorities.
According to Yeshiva University, "Bernard L. Madoff, a member of the University’s Board of Trustees since 1996, was elected chairman of the Board of Directors of Sy Syms School of Business in 2000. Mr. Madoff is chairman of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, one of the nation’s largest third-market dealers in New York Stock Exchange and over-the-counter securities. A Benefactor of the University, Mr. Madoff recently made a major gift to the Sy Syms School."
Forbes reports this 'UNFORTUNATE SET OF EVENTS':
"Bernard Madoff is a longstanding leader in the financial services industry," his lawyer Dan Horwitz told reporters outside a downtown Manhattan courtroom where he was charged. "We will fight to get through this unfortunate set of events."
A shaken Madoff stared at the ground as reporters peppered him with questions. He was released after posting a $10 million bond secured by his Manhattan apartment.
The SEC filed separate civil charges.
"Our complaint alleges a stunning fraud -- both in terms of scope and duration," said Scott Friestad, the SEC's deputy enforcer. "We are moving quickly and decisively to stop the scheme and protect the remaining assets for investors."
The SEC said it appeared that virtually all of the assets of his hedge fund business were missing.
Madoff had long kept the financial statements for his hedge fund business under "lock and key," according to prosecutors, and was "cryptic" about the firm.
From: Dave Schechter
CNN Senior National Editor
To understand reaction in the Jewish community to the growing scandal around investor Bernie Madoff, it helps to know a few words of Yiddish.
Yiddish was the language of Jews in Eastern Europe, with a rich history in literature, theater and music, until that community was decimated in the Holocaust. Today Yiddish is most common in communities of Orthodox Jews.
But for most American Jews it harkens back to previous generations and life in the old country, spoken more by “alta kockers,”
though “bubbie” (grandmother) and “zaide” (grandfather) probably don’t appreciate being referred to as geezers.
Madoff was a “macher” (a big shot, a mover-and-shaker) among machers.
Madoff also is - allegedly - a “gonif” (thief, embezzler). A few folks have used Yiddish words regarding parentage and body parts, but we’ll skip those.
The Jewish community is “farklemt” (depressed, distraught, grieving), but it goes beyond that.
The whole thing is a “shandah” (disgrace). For those concerned with image, it’s a shandah for the “goyim” (non-Jews, in front of whom Jewish community looks bad).
“Catastrophe” and “devastation” are English words being used.
“It’s an atomic bomb in the world of Jewish philanthropy,” Mark Charendoff, president of the Jewish Funders Network, an organization that advises wealthy Jewish donors, told the Forward, a newspaper that reports on Jewish affairs. “There’s going to be fallout from this for years.”
In the United States, at least one charity has closed. “It’s devastating,” Arthur Epstein, a major supporter of local Jewish charities, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, referring to the loss of the Robert I. Lappin Charitable Foundation near Boston and the programs it supported.
An American university professor e-mailed me from Jerusalem that the Madoff case is all that’s being discussed in the philanthropic world in Israel, where there is fear that more than 50 organizations that Madoff supported or that invested in his firm may shut down before “Shabbat,” the Sabbath that begins at sunset Friday.
That fear in the Jewish community extends from the Los Angeles to Boca Raton and Palm Beach, from New York City to Washington, D.C., to Boston and points elsewhere around the globe.
With losses ranging from tens of thousands to tens of millions of dollars, the casualties include national Jewish organizations; local Jewish federations, which support programs throughout their communities; charities and foundations supporting a range of causes; hospitals and schools, from elementary through university. Published reports say that one school, Yeshiva Univ., may have lost as much as $100 million.
Untold numbers of children, students, teachers and researchers, the needy and the disabled, retirees of modest means and some of wealth will suffer anonymously.
Some victims of the alleged swindle have well-known names: Spielberg, Wiesel, Lautenberg, Zuckerman.
Gary Tobin, president of the Institute for Jewish and Community Research, which studies Jewish philanthropy, told the Forward, “The Jewish philanthropic world depends on personal relationships and personal solicitations. Many Jewish philanthropies are dependent on high-end donors in very close social and economic networks, and this guy is right in middle of them.”
Writing in the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, Bradley Burston recognized that at least one segment of society would find advantage in the situation.
“For the true anti-Semite, Christmas came early this year,” Burston wrote. “Rich beyond human comprehension, he handles fortunes for others, buying and selling in a trading empire that skirts investment banks and other possible sources of regulation. He redefines avarice, knowingly and personally bilking charities and retirees in the most classic of con games. Even better, for those obsessed with the idea that Jews control finance, entertainment and the media, is the idea that Madoff’s greed was uncontrollable enough that he targeted fellow Jews, even Holocaust survivors, some of them his own friends, as well as Israeli companies who insured Jews, including Holocaust survivors. The beauty part, for the anti-Semite: Madoff’s machinations, which could have been put to use for the sake of humanity, have directly harmed Jewish welfare and charity institutions.”
Now that is a shandah.
Actually, even minority activism and race egalitarianism has been promoted, supported, financed and spearheaded overwhelmingly by Jews in America(Gould, Lewontin). So, the cause of moral hazard within the ideological policies of Fannie and Freddie can at the very least be partially attributed to Jews. Not to mention obscure financial instruments which were protected by the likes of parasites like Rubin and Greenspan. Furthermore, deeper philosophical and cultural causes like moral and cultural relativism, expounded upon and advocated by men like Franz Boaz, yeah, jew. I would say Jews have their hands all over this issue, whether they like it or not, and no matter how it sounds to the anti-racists. I know, I am a bigot and I am prejudiced. Strange the definition of bigotry is one who is stubborn, stuck in his ways. Is that me? The definition of prejudiced is biased, often from the outset, and therefore incapable of seeing the truth. Who is denying the truth though? Because I say things that are somewhat anti-semitic this makes me wrong? No man is wrong for this reason...despite what your college professors may argue.
In a recent book titled "Capitalism and the Jews", author Muller argues that it was Chrisitians' distaste and dis like of usury that left wide open the business of lending and capitalism to Jews in Europe:
"The unique historical relationship between capitalism and the Jews is crucial to understanding modern European and Jewish history. But the subject has been addressed less often by mainstream historians than by anti-Semites or apologists. In this book Jerry Muller, a leading historian of capitalism, separates myth from reality to explain why the Jewish experience with capitalism has been so important and complex--and so ambivalent.
Drawing on economic, social, political, and intellectual history from medieval Europe through contemporary America and Israel, Capitalism and the Jews examines the ways in which thinking about capitalism and thinking about the Jews have gone hand in hand in European thought, and why anticapitalism and anti-Semitism have frequently been linked. The book explains why Jews have tended to be disproportionately successful in capitalist societies, but also why Jews have numbered among the fiercest anticapitalists and Communists. The book shows how the ancient idea that money was unproductive led from the stigmatization of usury and the Jews to the stigmatization of finance and, ultimately, in Marxism, the stigmatization of capitalism itself. Finally, the book traces how the traditional status of the Jews as a diasporic merchant minority both encouraged their economic success and made them particularly vulnerable to the ethnic nationalism of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Providing a fresh look at an important but frequently misunderstood subject, Capitalism and the Jews will interest anyone who wants to understand the Jewish role in the development of capitalism, the role of capitalism in the modern fate of the Jews, or the ways in which the story of capitalism and the Jews has affected the history of Europe and beyond, from the medieval period to our own."
Here's Alan Greenspan's explanation as carried in Newsweek by columnist Robert J. Samuelson:
Greenspan is in part contrite. He admits to trusting private markets too much, as he already had in congressional testimony in late 2008. He concedes lapses in regulation. But mainly, he pleads innocent and makes three arguments.
First, the end of the Cold War inspired an economic euphoria that ultimately caused the housing boom. Capitalism had triumphed. China and other developing countries became major trading nations. From the fall of the Berlin Wall to 2005, the number of workers engaged in global trade rose by 500 million. Competition suppressed inflation. Interest rates around the world declined; as this occurred, housing prices rose in many countries (not just the United States) because borrowers could afford to pay more.
Second, the Fed's easy credit didn't cause the housing bubble because home prices are affected by long-term mortgage rates, not the short-term rates that the Fed influences. From early 2001 to June 2003, the Fed cut the overnight fed-funds rate from 6.5 percent to 1 percent. The idea was to prevent a brutal recession following the "tech bubble"—a policy Greenspan still supports. The trouble arose when the Fed started raising the funds rate in mid-2004 and mortgage rates didn't follow as they usually did. What unexpectedly kept rates down, Greenspan says, were huge flows of foreign money, generated partially by trade surpluses, into U.S. bonds and mortgages.
Third, regulators aren't superhuman. They can't anticipate most crises, and even miss some massive frauds when evidence is shoved in their face: Bernie Madoff is Exhibit A.
Given regulators' shortcomings, Greenspan favors tougher capital requirements for banks. These would provide a larger cushion to absorb losses and would bolster market confidence against serial financial failures. Before the crisis, banks' shareholder equity was about 10 percent: $1 in shareholders' money for every $10 of bank loans and investments. Greenspan would go as high as 14 percent.
Recent focus on the alleged misdeeds of Goldman Sachs that contributed to the financial melt-down have caused cries of "antisemitism" by American Jewish groups. Here's an excerpt from a recent NPR interview with Michael Kinsley who is a Jewish American:
CONAN: And you begin with the question: when, if ever, are such accusations of anti-Semitism fair?
Mr. KINSLEY: Yes. The purpose of this piece I wrote was not to accuse anyone of anti-Semitism. And in fact, I haven't heard anything that I would call anti-Semitic but to help you think through how to recognize it when you hear it and more importantly how not to recognize it when you don't hear it.
Mr. KINSLEY: And - because I think there's a real problem in our politics today of umbrage. People are very quick to take umbrage at things other people say. And politician use this to, I think, make bigger deals of things than they ought to.
Abe Foxman, who is the - he's the head of the B'nai B'rith Anti-Defamation League, says that virtually any reference to Goldman Sachs alone in the context of this scandal smacks of anti-Semitism, because he says, you know, what about Morgan Stanley and other firms that aren't Jewish? I think that goes much too far.
CONAN: And indeed, there can be an inference that just as if some people say, well, we can't make any criticism of Barack Obama without being accused of being a racist, you can't make any criticism of Goldman Sachs without being accused of being an anti-Semite.
Mr. KINSLEY: Right. I think that's true.
CONAN: There is also - you say you haven't read anything that you would take as anti-Semitic. Probably the most controversial thing was a quote in - by Matt Taibbi in a much quoted article about Goldman Sachs...
Mr. KINSLEY: Right.
CONAN: ...where he said that the world's most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money - a phrase that set off alarm bells.
Mr. KINSLEY: Well, it's a heck of piece. And it's really written with brio. That passage, which has been widely quoted, comes very close to the line, because, you know, it never uses the word Jewish but it invokes a lot of images that are familiar in classic anti-Semitism: the bloodsucking monster, this -the other. And it's smothering the normal life of normal people. All of that has - Jews have been victimized - and I should add - I should mention that I am Jewish - Jews have been victimized by that kind of imagery for centuries.
President Obama has nominated Ms. Elena Kagan, a woman from New York, to replace Justice John Paul Stevens on the US Supreme Court. In addition to being a liberal, she shares her Jewish faith with two serving liberal justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Briar.
She has never been a judge before.
But, with her Princeton undergrad and Harvard law school education and Supreme Court clerkship for Justice Thurgood Marshall, she appears to have strong legal qualifications and background to serve on the apex court.
Here's an excerpt from a story in the Guardian about growing wealth gap between whites and blacks in America:
"A huge wealth gap has opened up between black and white people in the US over the past quarter of a century – a difference sufficient to put two children through university – because of racial discrimination and economic policies that favour the affluent.
A typical white family is now five times richer than its African-American counterpart of the same class, according to a report released today by Brandeis University in Massachusetts.
White families typically have assets worth $100,000 (£69,000), up from $22,000 in the mid-1980s. African-American families' assets stand at just $5,000, up from around $2,000.
A quarter of black families have no assets at all. The study monitored more than 2,000 families since 1984.
"We walk that through essentially a generation and what we see is that the racial wealth gap has galloped, it's escalated to $95,000," said Tom Shapiro, one of the authors of the report by the university's Institute on Assets and Social Policy.
"That's primarily because the whites in the sample were able to accumulate financial assets from their $22,000 all the way to $100,000 and the African-Americans' wealth essentially flatlined."
The survey does not include housing equity, because it is not readily accessible and is rarely realised as cash. But if property were included it would further widen the wealth divide.
Shapiro says the gap remains wide even between blacks and whites of similar classes and with similar jobs and incomes.
"How do we explain the wealth gap among equally-achieving African-American and white families? The same ratio holds up even among low income groups. Finding ways to accumulate financial resources for all low and moderate income families in the United States has been a huge challenge and that challenge keeps getting steeper and steeper.
"But there are greater opportunities and less challenges for low and moderate income families if they're white in comparison to if they're African-American or Hispanic," he said.
America has long lived with vast inequality, although 40 years ago the disparity was lower than in Britain.
Today, the richest 1% of the US population owns close to 40% of its wealth. The top 25% of US households own 87%.
The rest is divided up among middle and low income Americans. In that competition white people come out far ahead.
Only one in 10 African-Americans owns any shares. A third do not have a pension plan, and among those who do the value is on average a fifth of plans held by whites.
The report shows that a typical white middle income family, earning
about $30,000 a year, has accumulated $74,000 in assets, five times that of a black family in the same class which has only about $14,000
The gap is even wider when it comes to families with an income above $50,000 a year."
Here's an interesting Guardian report with UN Drug Czar suggesting that drug money kept the financial system afloat during 2008 financial meltdown:
Drugs money worth billions of dollars kept the financial system afloat at the height of the global crisis, the United Nations' drugs and crime tsar has told the Observer.
Antonio Maria Costa, head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, said he has seen evidence that the proceeds of organised crime were "the only liquid investment capital" available to some banks on the brink of collapse last year. He said that a majority of the $352bn (£216bn) of drugs profits was absorbed into the economic system as a result.
This will raise questions about crime's influence on the economic system at times of crisis. It will also prompt further examination of the banking sector as world leaders, including Barack Obama and Gordon Brown, call for new International Monetary Fund regulations. Speaking from his office in Vienna, Costa said evidence that illegal money was being absorbed into the financial system was first drawn to his attention by intelligence agencies and prosecutors around 18 months ago. "In many instances, the money from drugs was the only liquid investment capital. In the second half of 2008, liquidity was the banking system's main problem and hence liquid capital became an important factor," he said.
Some of the evidence put before his office indicated that gang money was used to save some banks from collapse when lending seized up, he said.
"Inter-bank loans were funded by money that originated from the drugs trade and other illegal activities... There were signs that some banks were rescued that way." Costa declined to identify countries or banks that may have received any drugs money, saying that would be inappropriate because his office is supposed to address the problem, not apportion blame. But he said the money is now a part of the official system and had been effectively laundered.
"That was the moment [last year] when the system was basically paralysed because of the unwillingness of banks to lend money to one another. The progressive liquidisation to the system and the progressive improvement by some banks of their share values [has meant that] the problem [of illegal money] has become much less serious than it was," he said.
Here is a NY Times Op Ed by Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman on questions about rule of law in US foreclosures crisis:
The accounting scandals at Enron and WorldCom dispelled the myth of effective corporate governance. These days, the idea that our banks were well capitalized and supervised sounds like a sick joke. And now the mortgage mess is making nonsense of claims that we have effective contract enforcement — in fact, the question is whether our economy is governed by any kind of rule of law.
The story so far: An epic housing bust and sustained high unemployment have led to an epidemic of default, with millions of homeowners falling behind on mortgage payments. So servicers — the companies that collect payments on behalf of mortgage owners — have been foreclosing on many mortgages, seizing many homes.
But do they actually have the right to seize these homes? Horror stories have been proliferating, like the case of the Florida man whose home was taken even though he had no mortgage. More significantly, certain players have been ignoring the law. Courts have been approving foreclosures without requiring that mortgage servicers produce appropriate documentation; instead, they have relied on affidavits asserting that the papers are in order. And these affidavits were often produced by “robo-signers,” or low-level employees who had no idea whether their assertions were true.
Now an awful truth is becoming apparent: In many cases, the documentation doesn’t exist. In the frenzy of the bubble, much home lending was undertaken by fly-by-night companies trying to generate as much volume as possible. These loans were sold off to mortgage “trusts,” which, in turn, sliced and diced them into mortgage-backed securities. The trusts were legally required to obtain and hold the mortgage notes that specified the borrowers’ obligations. But it’s now apparent that such niceties were frequently neglected. And this means that many of the foreclosures now taking place are, in fact, illegal.
This is very, very bad. For one thing, it’s a near certainty that significant numbers of borrowers are being defrauded — charged fees they don’t actually owe, declared in default when, by the terms of their loan agreements, they aren’t.
Beyond that, if trusts can’t produce proof that they actually own the mortgages against which they have been selling claims, the sponsors of these trusts will face lawsuits from investors who bought these claims — claims that are now, in many cases, worth only a small fraction of their face value.
And who are these sponsors? Major financial institutions — the same institutions supposedly rescued by government programs last year. So the mortgage mess threatens to produce another financial crisis.
Is AIPAC a WikiLeaks Op? asks Prof Juan Cole on his blog:
In 2003 Larry Franklin, the ‘go-to man on Iran’ at the Pentagon under undersecretary of defense for planning Douglas Feith, carried a draft confidential finding on Iran out of the building and gave it to Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman of AIPAC’s Middle East Bureau. They not only were happy to receive the classified document, but they ran with it right over to the Israeli Embassy and delivered it to Naor Gilon, the embassy official with the Iran portfolio.
Rosen and Weissman, and probably AIPAC in general, were under FBI surveillance on suspicion of espionage, and that is how they were caught. The FBI field officers were astonished when Franklin came into the picture unexpectedly. Less astonished, I suspect, when Naor Gilon did.
Franklin confessed to wrongdoing, and spent some years in jail was sentenced to the 10 months he spent under house arrest; he may still work for the Pentagon! But Rosen and Weissman maintained they had done nothing illegal, since under US law for someone who is not a government employee to receive classified documents from a third party is not illegal, nor is sharing them with others once they have been received. AIPAC fired them, so they had to fight their own legal battles. The prosecution was ultimately dropped. The Neoconservatives say that the case should never have been brought, since it just criminalized the routine horse-trading in information typical of Washington.
Rosen has now launched a $20 million wrongful termination suit against AIPAC. He maintains that his action of delivering the classified document to the Israeli embassy was standard operating procedure in AIPAC, and that he did nothing out of the ordinary, and that he should not have been fired. He is also threatening to name details of this routine spying.
Rosen, ironically, was hired by Daniel Pipes’ so-called ‘Middle East Forum.’ Pipes runs Campus Watch, which is a neo-McCarthyite attempt to intimidate US college professors into toeing the Likud Party line whenever they talk about Israel and Palestine. So it is only natural that an indicted spy for Israel, Rosen, should be on staff and energetically using dirty tricks to smear the reputations of patriotic Americans.
What Steven Rosen is alleging is that AIPAC, which arranges for millions to go to the campaigns of American politicians, is in essence a Wikileaks operation, only instead of posting the ferreted-out classified material to the Web, they channel it to the Israeli government. (Of course, the Israeli government sometimes acts as a Wikileaks as well; Seymour Hersh was told by US intelligence officials that Israel shared with the Soviets some of the intel it got from spy Jonathan Pollard.)
Whether the allegations about AIPAC routine spying are true or not, Rosen and Weissman certainly did exactly the same thing Julian Assange did, and yet they are free men.
Rep. Pete King (R-NY), who wants Eric Holder to prosecute Julian Assange of Wikileaks, hasn’t objected to the cases against Rosen and Weissman being dropped, and hasn’t asked for an investigation of AIPAC. One of the problems congressmen like this will have in crafting anti-Wikileaks legislation is that they may well be driving a nail into AIPAC’s coffin, as well. King, who keeps accusing Americans of being terrorists, is also known as a long-time supporter of the Irish Republican Army.
You have to love hypocrisy when it is taken to this Himalyan scale. It has a kind of putrid beauty.
Here's an excerpt from Michael Lewis's The Big Short on how Dr. Michael Burry made a fortune by buying credit default swaps (CDS) to bet against the sub-prime mortgages:
“You just have to watch for the level at which even nearly unlimited or unprecedented credit can no longer drive the [housing] market higher,” he wrote. “I am extremely bearish, and feel the consequences could very easily be a 50% drop in residential real estate in the U.S.…A large portion of current [housing] demand at current prices would disappear if only people became convinced that prices weren’t rising. The collateral damage is likely to be orders of magnitude worse than anyone now considers.”
On May 19, 2005, Mike Burry did his first subprime-mortgage deals. He bought $60 million of credit-default swaps from Deutsche Bank—$10 million each on six different bonds. “The reference securities,” these were called. You didn’t buy insurance on the entire subprime-mortgage-bond market but on a particular bond, and Burry had devoted himself to finding exactly the right ones to bet against. He likely became the only investor to do the sort of old-fashioned bank credit analysis on the home loans that should have been done before they were made. He was the opposite of an old-fashioned banker, however. He was looking not for the best loans to make but the worst loans—so that he could bet against them. He analyzed the relative importance of the loan-to-value ratios of the home loans, of second liens on the homes, of the location of the homes, of the absence of loan documentation and proof of income of the borrower, and a dozen or so other factors to determine the likelihood that a home loan made in America circa 2005 would go bad. Then he went looking for the bonds backed by the worst of the loans.
It surprised him that Deutsche Bank didn’t seem to care which bonds he picked to bet against. From their point of view, so far as he could tell, all subprime-mortgage bonds were the same. The price of insurance was driven not by any independent analysis but by the ratings placed on the bond by Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s. If he wanted to buy insurance on the supposedly riskless triple-A-rated tranche, he might pay 20 basis points (0.20 percent); on the riskier, A-rated tranches, he might pay 50 basis points (0.50 percent); and on the even less safe, triple-B-rated tranches, 200 basis points—that is, 2 percent. (A basis point is one-hundredth of one percentage point.) The triple-B-rated tranches—the ones that would be worth zero if the underlying mortgage pool experienced a loss of just 7 percent—were what he was after. He felt this to be a very conservative bet, which he was able, through analysis, to turn into even more of a sure thing. Anyone who even glanced at the prospectuses could see that there were many critical differences between one triple-B bond and the next—the percentage of interest-only loans contained in their underlying pool of mortgages, for example. He set out to cherry-pick the absolute worst ones and was a bit worried that the investment banks would catch on to just how much he knew about specific mortgage bonds, and adjust their prices.
Once again they shocked and delighted him: Goldman Sachs e-mailed him a great long list of crappy mortgage bonds to choose from. “This was shocking to me, actually,” he says. “They were all priced according to the lowest rating from one of the big-three ratings agencies.” He could pick from the list without alerting them to the depth of his knowledge. It was as if you could buy flood insurance on the house in the valley for the same price as flood insurance on the house on the mountaintop.
The market made no sense, but that didn’t stop other Wall Street firms from jumping into it, in part because Mike Burry was pestering them.
Here are some excerpts from a Vanity Fair article by Nobel Laureate Economist Joe Stiglitz about growing concentration of wealth and power in America. It's titled "Of the 1%, For the 1%, By the 1%":
Americans have been watching protests against oppressive regimes that concentrate massive wealth in the hands of an elite few. Yet in our own democracy, 1 percent of the people take nearly a quarter of the nation’s income—an inequality even the wealthy will come to regret.
It’s no use pretending that what has obviously happened has not in fact happened. The upper 1 percent of Americans are now taking in nearly a quarter of the nation’s income every year. In terms of wealth rather than income, the top 1 percent control 40 percent. Their lot in life has improved considerably. Twenty-five years ago, the corresponding figures were 12 percent and 33 percent. One response might be to celebrate the ingenuity and drive that brought good fortune to these people, and to contend that a rising tide lifts all boats. That response would be misguided. While the top 1 percent have seen their incomes rise 18 percent over the past decade, those in the middle have actually seen their incomes fall. For men with only high-school degrees, the decline has been precipitous—12 percent in the last quarter-century alone. All the growth in recent decades—and more—has gone to those at the top. In terms of income equality, America lags behind any country in the old, ossified Europe that President George W. Bush used to deride. Among our closest counterparts are Russia with its oligarchs and Iran. While many of the old centers of inequality in Latin America, such as Brazil, have been striving in recent years, rather successfully, to improve the plight of the poor and reduce gaps in income, America has allowed inequality to grow.
Economists long ago tried to justify the vast inequalities that seemed so troubling in the mid-19th century—inequalities that are but a pale shadow of what we are seeing in America today. The justification they came up with was called “marginal-productivity theory.” In a nutshell, this theory associated higher incomes with higher productivity and a greater contribution to society. It is a theory that has always been cherished by the rich. Evidence for its validity, however, remains thin. The corporate executives who helped bring on the recession of the past three years—whose contribution to our society, and to their own companies, has been massively negative—went on to receive large bonuses. In some cases, companies were so embarrassed about calling such rewards “performance bonuses” that they felt compelled to change the name to “retention bonuses” (even if the only thing being retained was bad performance). Those who have contributed great positive innovations to our society, from the pioneers of genetic understanding to the pioneers of the Information Age, have received a pittance compared with those responsible for the financial innovations that brought our global economy to the brink of ruin.
Here are some excerpts from a recent speech by veteran journalist Bill Moyers given in memory of historian Howard Zinn:
In polite circles, among our political and financial classes, this is known as "the free market at work." No, it's "wage repression," and it's been happening in our country since around 1980. I must invoke some statistics here, knowing that statistics can glaze the eyes; but if indeed it's the mark of a truly educated person to be deeply moved by statistics, as I once read, surely this truly educated audience will be moved by the recent analysis of tax data by the economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez. They found that from 1950 through 1980, the share of all income in America going to everyone but the rich increased from 64 percent to 65 percent. Because the nation's economy was growing handsomely, the average income for 9 out of 10 Americans was growing, too - from $17,719 to $30,941. That's a 75 percent increase in income in constant 2008 dollars.
But then it stopped. Since 1980 the economy has also continued to grow handsomely, but only a fraction at the top have benefited. The line flattens for the bottom 90% of Americans. Average income went from that $30,941 in 1980 to $31,244 in 2008. Think about that: the average income of Americans increased just $303 dollars in 28 years.
That's wage repression.
Another story in the Times caught my eye a few weeks after the one about Connie Brasel and Natalie Ford. The headline read: "Industries Find Surging Profits in Deeper Cuts." Nelson Schwartz reported that despite falling motorcycle sales, Harley-Davidson profits are soaring - with a second quarter profit of $71 million, more than triple what it earned the previous year. Yet Harley-Davidson has announced plans to cut fourteen hundred to sixteen hundred more jobs by the end of next year; this on top of the 2000 jobs cut last year.
The story note: "This seeming contradiction - falling sales and rising profits - is one reason the mood on Wall Street is so much more buoyant than in households, where pessimism runs deep and unemployment shows few signs of easing." There you see the two Americas. A buoyant Wall Street; a doleful Main Street. The Connie Brasels and Natalie Fords - left to sink or swim on their own. There were no bailouts for them.
Meanwhile, Matt Krantz reports in USA TODAY that "Cash is gushing into company's coffers as they report what's shaping up to be a third-consecutive quarter of sharp earning increases. But instead of spending on the typical things, such as expanding and hiring people, companies are mostly pocketing the money or stuffing it under their mattresses." And what are their plans for this money? Again, the Washington Post:
... Sitting on these unprecedented levels of cash, U.S. companies are buying back their own stock in droves. So far this year, firms have announced they will purchase $273 billion of their own shares, more than five times as much compared with this time last year... But the rise in buybacks signals that many companies are still hesitant to spend their cash on the job-generating activities that could produce economic growth.
That's how financial capitalism works today: Conserving cash rather than bolstering hiring and production; investing in their own shares to prop up their share prices and make their stock more attractive to Wall Street. To hell with everyone else.
Someone has to stop the Federal Reserve before it crushes what remains of America’s Main Street economy, argues former budget director David Stockman in a piece for Marketwatch.com:
n the last few weeks alone, it launched two more financial sector pumping operations which will harm the real economy, even as these actions juice Wall Street’s speculative humors.
First, joining the central banking cartels’ market rigging operation in support of the yen, the Fed helped bail-out carry traders from a savage short-covering squeeze. Then, green lighting the big banks for another go-round of the dividend and share-buyback scam, it handsomely rewarded options traders who had been front-running this announcement for weeks.
Indeed, this sort of action is so blatant that the Fed might as well just look for a financial vein in the vicinity of 200 West St., and proceed straight-away to mainline the trading desks located there.
In any event, the yen intervention certainly had nothing to do with the evident distress of the Japanese people. What happened is that one of the potent engines of the global carry-trade — the massive use of the yen as a zero cost funding currency — backfired violently in response to the unexpected disasters in Japan.
Accordingly, this should have been a moment of condign punishment — wiping out years of speculative gains in heavily leveraged commodity and emerging market currency and equity wagers, and putting two-way risk back into the markets for so-called risk assets.
Instead, once again, speculators were reassured that in the global financial casino operated by the world’s central bankers, the house is always there for them—this time with an exchange rate cap on what would otherwise have been a catastrophic surge in their yen funding costs.
Is it any wonder, then, that the global economy is being pummeled by one speculative tsunami after the next? Ever since the latest surge was trigged last summer by the Jackson Hole smoke signals about QE2, the violence of the price action in the risk asset flavor of late — cotton, met coal, sugar, oil, coffee, copper, rice, corn, heating oil and the rest — has been stunning, with moves of 10% a week or more.
In the face of these ripping commodity index gains, the Fed’s argument that surging food costs are due to emerging market demand growth is just plain lame. Was there a worldwide fasting ritual going on during the months just before the August QE2 signals when food prices were much lower? And haven’t the EM economies been growing at their present pace for about the last 15 years now, not just the last seven months?
Similarly, the supply side has had its floods and droughts — like always. But these don’t explain the price action, either. Take Dr. Cooper’s own price chart during the past 12 months: last March the price was $3.60 per pound — after which it plummeted to $2.80 by July, rose to $4.60 by February and revisited $4.10 per pound.
That violent round trip does not chart Mr. Market’s considered assessment of long-term trends in mining capacity or end-use industrial consumption. Instead, it reflects central bank triggered speculative tides which begin on the futures exchanges and ripple out through inventory stocking and de-stocking actions all around the world — even reaching the speculative copper hoards maintained by Chinese pig farmers and the vandals who strip-mine copper from the abandoned tract homes in Phoenix.
The short-covering panic in the yen forex markets following Japan’s intervention, and the subsequent panicked response by the central banks, wasn’t just a low frequency outlier — the equivalent of an 8.9 event on the financial Richter scale. Rather, it is the predictable result of the lunatic ZIRP monetary policy which has been pursued by the Bank of Japan for more than a decade now--and with the Fed, BOE and ECB not far behind.
Here are some excerpts from a piece by Michael Kinsley on Jewish investment bankers' role in US economic woes:
Goldman Sachs, the huge and hugely profitable investment bank, has become a symbol of the financial excesses that helped to bring on the current recession. Because Goldman is thought of as a "Jewish" firm, and because it dominates the financial industry, criticism of Goldman, or of bankers generally, is often accused of being anti-Semitic. Commentators including Rush Limbaugh and Maureen Dowd have been so accused. When, if ever, are such accusations fair?
If you believe that Goldman has done nothing wrong, then any criticisms of Goldman or use of the firm as a symbol of the crisis are obviously unfair to Goldman. Furthermore, they would raise the legitimate question of "Why pick on Goldman?" and the possibility that anti-Semitism is part of the explanation. Similarly, if you believe that anything Goldman did wrong was done wrong by lots of others, the question of "Why pick on Goldman" arises, as does the same obvious answer.
Unfortunately for Goldman, it is not obviously blameless in the crisis. It was never so reckless that it risked going under. It borrowed only [sic] ten billion dollars from the Federal government, even that under duress, and paid it back as soon as possible, with interest. But the firm engaged in complex transactions that amounted to betting against its clients. Throughout the crisis, it enjoyed an implicit government guarantee on the grounds of being "too big to fail." The government bailed out one of Goldman's biggest borrowers--the insurance company AIG--saving Goldman billions in losses. And its profits and executive bonuses revealed, at the least, a lack of sensitivity at a time when millions are losing their jobs.
Even if Goldman did nothing in particular wrong, its status as one of only two remaining huge investment banks on Wall Street (the other is Morgan Stanley) might make it a legitimate focus, especially given its reputation, even before the crisis, for ruthlessness.
Then there is this oft-quoted passage at the beginning of a lengthy rant against Goldman Sachs by Matt Taibbi last July in Rolling Stone: "The world's most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money." This sentence, many have charged, goes beyond stereotypes about Jews and money, touches other classic anti-Semitic themes about Jews as foreign or inhuman elements poisoning humanity and society, and--to some critics-- even seems to reference the notorious "blood libel" that Jews use the blood of Christian babies to make matzoh.
Taibbi claims to have been utterly blindsided by accusations that his article was anti-Semitic. He says he finds the idea "ludicrous." He denies any relation between his words and classic anti-Semitic stereotypes. His critics find this impossible to believe. Could such a sophisticated writer (the article skewers Goldman with great skill and style) actually not know about the stereotypes and ancient lies that this passage echoes, and could he actually be surprised that there would be people calling his article, fairly or otherwise, anti-semitic? It may be possible to call Goldman Sachs a bloodsucker without being an anti-Semite. But is it possible to call Goldman Sachs a bloodsucker and then be surprised when you're called an anti-Semite?
A number of writers and analysts, including Michael Lewis author of Boomerang, believe that Goldman Sachs is responsible for the Greek crisis which could lead a collapse in the Euro Zone. Here's a NY Times story related to it:
Wall Street tactics akin to the ones that fostered subprime mortgages in America have worsened the financial crisis shaking Greece and undermining the euro by enabling European governments to hide their mounting debts.
As worries over Greece rattle world markets, records and interviews show that with Wall Street’s help, the nation engaged in a decade-long effort to skirt European debt limits. One deal created by Goldman Sachs helped obscure billions in debt from the budget overseers in Brussels.
Even as the crisis was nearing the flashpoint, banks were searching for ways to help Greece forestall the day of reckoning. In early November — three months before Athens became the epicenter of global financial anxiety — a team from Goldman Sachs arrived in the ancient city with a very modern proposition for a government struggling to pay its bills, according to two people who were briefed on the meeting.
The bankers, led by Goldman’s president, Gary D. Cohn, held out a financing instrument that would have pushed debt from Greece’s health care system far into the future, much as when strapped homeowners take out second mortgages to pay off their credit cards.
It had worked before. In 2001, just after Greece was admitted to Europe’s monetary union, Goldman helped the government quietly borrow billions, people familiar with the transaction said. That deal, hidden from public view because it was treated as a currency trade rather than a loan, helped Athens to meet Europe’s deficit rules while continuing to spend beyond its means.
Athens did not pursue the latest Goldman proposal, but with Greece groaning under the weight of its debts and with its richer neighbors vowing to come to its aid, the deals over the last decade are raising questions about Wall Street’s role in the world’s latest financial drama.
As in the American subprime crisis and the implosion of the American International Group, financial derivatives played a role in the run-up of Greek debt. Instruments developed by Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and a wide range of other banks enabled politicians to mask additional borrowing in Greece, Italy and possibly elsewhere.
In dozens of deals across the Continent, banks provided cash upfront in return for government payments in the future, with those liabilities then left off the books. Greece, for example, traded away the rights to airport fees and lottery proceeds in years to come.
Critics say that such deals, because they are not recorded as loans, mislead investors and regulators about the depth of a country’s liabilities.
Some of the Greek deals were named after figures in Greek mythology. One of them, for instance, was called Aeolos, after the god of the winds.
The crisis in Greece poses the most significant challenge yet to Europe’s common currency, the euro, and the Continent’s goal of economic unity. The country is, in the argot of banking, too big to be allowed to fail. Greece owes the world $300 billion, and major banks are on the hook for much of that debt. A default would reverberate around the globe.
A spokeswoman for the Greek finance ministry said the government had met with many banks in recent months and had not committed to any bank’s offers. All debt financings “are conducted in an effort of transparency,” she said. Goldman and JPMorgan declined to comment.
While Wall Street’s handiwork in Europe has received little attention on this side of the Atlantic, it has been sharply criticized in Greece and in magazines like Der Spiegel in Germany.....
Goldman Sachs is often used as the poster child for some of the most egregious practices on Wall Street that are believed to have set off the current economic crisis now sweeping much of America and Europe. This sentiment was summarized in an article Matt Taibi wrote for Rolling Stone Magazine as follows: "The world's most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money."
Taibi's criticism of Goldman Sachs immediately drew charges of antisemitism from some American Jewish leaders. And as the "Occupy Wall Street" movement gathers momentum, similar charges are now flying against the protesters who are joining this movement. Some of the Jewish media outlets, like Yeshiva World News, are using video footage of individual protesters to editorialize the claim that “many Jews” are feeling a bit uncomfortable with the growing protests.
“The reasons for these ‘uncomfortable feelings’ don’t need to be elaborated on this page,” the editorial reads. “Suffice to say that Jews have been blamed for the world’s troubles for thousands of years, and many are nervous that this finger-pointing will soon start — or , maybe it already has.”
I, for one, do not believe that the protests are motivated by antisemitism, and such charges are a great disservice to ordinary middle class Americans who have been forced to take to the streets.
From what I can tell, "Occupy Wall Street" appears to be a genuine grass roots movement that stems from a sense of deep dissatisfaction with the way the majority of American politicians of all parties have aided and abetted in the misdeeds committed by the big Wall Street firms. Some of these misdeeds have been laid bare by a number of authors, including Michael Lewis most recently in his two books on the subject. The actions of Goldman Sachs and other big Wall Street firms have led to massive job losses, growing homelessness, and deep concerns among middle class Americans about their own future and the future of this country. A similar situation is now gripping Europe as well.
Here's a NY Times report about allegations by a resigning executive of Goldman Sachs:
That question is now out in the open, exposed anew by an Op-Ed article in The New York Times on Wednesday by Greg Smith of Goldman Sachs. It could reignite public suspicion that the culture of Wall Street has swung so sharply to the short-term side of the ledger that clients have not been coming in first, or even second, but dead last.
Even bankers who disagreed with Mr. Smith’s conclusions said the piece had struck a chord because it stirred up their own doubts, especially in the wake of the financial crisis. It is a sign of this anxiety that since then, one giant firm after another has publicly proclaimed it is putting clients first.
That much-advertised claim stands in sharp contrast to the world Mr. Smith depicted.
At meetings at Goldman, he wrote, “not one single minute is spent asking questions about how we can help clients,” Mr. Smith wrote. “It’s purely about how we can make the most possible money off of them. If you were an alien from Mars and sat in on one of these meetings, you would believe that a client’s success or progress was not part of the thought process at all.”
He warned, “People who care only about making money will not sustain this firm — or the trust of its clients — for very much longer.”
Pew Survey on how Americans Feel About Religious Groups
Self-loving: Jews feel warmer toward Jews (89 out of 100) than any other group toward itself
Religious groups are rated more positively by their own members than by people from other religious backgrounds. Catholics as a group, for example, receive an average thermometer rating of 80 from Americans who describe themselves as Catholic, compared with 58 from non-Catholics. Similarly, evangelical Christians receive an average rating of 79 from people who describe themselves as born-again or evangelical Christians, compared with an average rating of 52 from non-evangelicals. Among non-evangelicals, roughly as many people give evangelicals a cold rating (27%) as give them a warm rating (30%).
When asked about other non-Christian groups, evangelicals tend to express more negative views. White evangelicals assign Buddhists an average rating of 39, Hindus 38, Muslims 30 and atheists 25. The chilliness between evangelicals and atheists goes both ways. Atheists give evangelical Christians a cold rating of 28 on average.
''The Hollywood Jews created a powerful cluster of images and ideas - so powerful that, in a sense, they colonized the American imagination.'' Neil Gabler "An Empire of Their Own"
The 2014 Hollywood Diversity Report released this week by the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA suggests that the media and entertainment industry is dominated by white men.
The UCLA report finds that only 16.7 percent of film leads, 17.8 percent of film directors, and 11.8 percent of movie writers between 2011 and 2013 were people of color. What the report fails to mention is the obvious fact that most white men dominating Hollywood are Jews.
Ex #CIA officer Valerie Plame blames #Jews for #America's wars on behalf of #Israel, then backtracks. #Iran #Iraq
Valerie Plame Wilson, a former covert CIA operative, caused a controversy on Thursday when she tweeted several antisemitic messages to her nearly 50,000 followers.
''American Jews are driving America's Wars,'' the rampage began. The tweet linked to an article from UNZ.com, a site that claims "a collection of interesting, important, and controversial perspectives largely excluded from the American Mainstream Media.''
The article, written by Philip Giraldi - whose author page on the site reveals a plethora of articles focusing on Israel and Jewish leaders like former Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz - suggested that Jews working in foreign policy-making positions should 'recuse themselves when dealing with the Middle East.''
Twitter users were quick to criticize Plame Wilson, who then charged that her retweet was ''not an endorsement'' before sharing that she is ''of Jewish descent.'' She then told Twitter users to ''put aside [their] biases and think clearly.''
In what could be construed as a contradiction, the pinned tweet at the top of Plame Wilson's page links to a GoFundMe petition that aims to ban President Donald Trump from Twitter for his use of the platform to encourage what she labeled 'violence and hate.'
With Twitter users lambasting her for her comments, Plame Wilson sent out several apologetic tweets two hours after her original controversial one. She tweeted that she "messed up'' having only skimmed the article, and that the whole situation was ''a doozy.'' She then replaced the pinned tweet about Trump with her apology.
"There is so much there that's problematic,'' the tweets continued. "Thank you for pushing me to look again.''
Plame Wilson was the center of a political scandal in the early 2000s after her identity as a covert officer in the CIA was leaked by a journalist. Plame Wilson had penned a memo to senior officials in which she recommended her husband, Ambassador Joseph Wilson, for a diplomatic mission to investigate claims by the then-president that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had purchased uranium from different African countries.
After her husband published several op-eds about the mission and publicly disputed the president's claims, a journalist named Robert Novak "outed" Plame Wilson as an "agency operative on weapons of mass destruction.''
The scandal and subsequent court cases led to Plame Wilson's resignation from the agency in 2005. Since then, she has stayed largely out of the media - aside from selling the rights to her story to Warner Bros. for a film than was highly criticized for its inaccuracies - after moving to New Mexico to work as a consultant.
Barbara Walters, Celebrated Jewish TV Persona, Dies at 93 - World News - Haaretz.com
Walters made history for women and Jewish anchors on mainstream television and was known for 'inventing intimacy on television'
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