Invisible Hands Unrestrained

Anthony Lewis, Adulterated Milk and a Tainted Economy

April 2, 2013   ·   1 Comments

Milnot Filled Milk

April 1, 2013 - In the early days of his brilliant career as legal journalist and commentator, Anthony Lewis, who passed at age 85 on March 25, referred to a vision of the Supreme Court that served as his touchstone:

“[W]hen the channels of opinion and of peaceful persuasion are corrupted or clogged, these political correctives can no longer be relied on, and the democratic system is threatened at its most vital point. In that event, the Court, by intervening, restores the processes of democratic government; it does not disrupt them . . .”

5$ bill

Take Lincoln’s Approach to Hold “Untouchable” Fraudsters Accountable

March 11, 2013 - Within recent months, two media events captured the attention of many Americans: the premier of the Spielberg movie “Lincoln,” showcasing the 19th century federal government’s ability to end our nation’s crime against humanity; and, the airing of the PBS Frontline series “The Untouchables”, showcasing the inability of the twenty-first century federal government to prosecute those responsible for our nation’s largest financial crime spree.

Now, the public watches mindless budgetary slashing of federal regulatory agencies – already underfunded and understaffed – charged with enforcing civil and voting rights and financial laws. And this “sequestration” proceeds at a time of widespread attempts to suppress people of color’s ability to cast ballots in federal elections, and financial fraud and abuse robbing and cutting the savings and assets of tens of millions of Americans.

Cliff Hanger, PBS Kids

Private Police will be on Beat Should Wall St Regulators Fall off “Cliff”

October 8, 2012 - Although most “fiscal cliff” rhetoric concerns Defense cuts, Congressional budgetary intransigence could push federal investor protection agencies off the cliff come January 1. Barring Congressional action, automatic cuts in all Federal programs will occur January 1. These include the Securities and Exchange Commission (a $115 million reduction), Commodity Futures Trading Commission ($17 million on the chopping block), federal courts ($384 million at risk), Public Accounting Oversight Board ($18 million) and the Securities Investor Protection Corporation ($23 million). In sum, $557 million would be cut from investor protection programs.

William Jennings Bryan

“Mother” of All Bank Frauds Shocks and Awes Regulators, As LIBOR Victims Seek Justice

August 28, 2012 - Many wonder why Federal regulatory precincts are so quiet several weeks following discovery that the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) had been rigged for years to benefit a handful of the world’s largest banks. Experts estimate damages to the economy can be measured in multiples of trillions of dollars. But, where are the expressions of horror and outrage, and other hot air emissions from the people’s elected representatives in Washington?

JPMorgan Chase Building, Houston, TX

Chinese Corporate Frauds and US Banks’ Chinese Underwritings Dramatize the Folly of the Supreme Court’s Anti-American, Anti-Consumer Morrison Decision

May 11, 2012 - Will Goldman or JPMorgan sell questionable Chinese stocks to Americans? Our story questions how American investors can legally protect themselves from spurious Chinese stocks sold to them by American banks.

cartoon, hunter thompson

“Fear and Loathing” of Wall Street, 2012

April 4, 2012 - To-date, the presidential primaries have studiously avoided reference to the unfolding catastrophe brought to the American public just four years ago by the financial services industry. The political issues contested thus far bring to mind Hunter Thompson’s reporting of the 1972 election campaign: “This may be the year when we finally come face to face with ourselves; finally just lay back and say it — that we are really just a nation of 220 million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns . . .”
(See: “Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail, 1972,” by Hunter S. Thompson)

Ben Franklin

“TruthOut” Publishes our Op-ed Urging Investors Band Together and Force Real Corporate Reforms

January 7, 2012 - My op-ed urging union and public pension funds use investor class actions to force real corporate reform was published in TruthOut on December 23, 2011. That online publication’s slogan -- “Fearless, Independent News and Opinion” -- defines what it delivers. It also brings to mind an era before international corporate conglomerates hi-jacked much of America’s free press.

Judge Rakoff, photo courtesy of Cityfile

Are the Administration’s Regulators Acting in Judge Rakoff’s “Public Interest” or Wall Street’s?

Dec. 6, 2011 - In one of its filings prior to U.S. Judge Jed Rakoff’s celebrated November 28th refusal to rubber stamp an SEC-Citicorp deal allowing the bank – a “recidivist offender,” according to Rakoff -- to escape significant damages and an admission of wrongdoing for what could have been egregious, knowing fraud in Citi’s sale of bad mortgage-related assets to unwitting investors, the SEC incredibly asserted that “the public interest . . . is not part of [the] applicable standard of judicial review [of the proposed Citicorp settlement.]” To that, Manhattan federal Judge Rakoff simply responded: “This is erroneous.”

boycott apartheid sign on bus

SHAREOWNERS OF THE WORLD UNITE! “Occupy” Annual Meetings and Court Rooms

Nov. 11, 2011 - The spectacular fall and bankruptcy of Jon Corzine’s MF Global Holdings within clear sight of mostly inactive regulators reminds us that “the system is still far too vulnerable and the work of regulatory reform far from finished,” to quote a NEW YORK TIMES editorial on the subject. But, how to continue regulatory reform in a world in which one House of Congress is controlled by anti-regulatory zealots and existing regulators are too often afflicted by chronic DC/NY revolving door syndrome?

photos by Susan Szeliga

What Wall Street Protestors Should Ask For and the Third Battle of Manassas

October 11, 2011--Although the mainstream media has widely reported the photogenic and growing Wall Street protest movement, and many bloggers have cheered on the demonstrators, no one can explain what these idealists hope to achieve. Yes, they’ve drawn attention to pervasive greed among elites, growing income inequality and widespread unemployment, among other ills. And, the protestors chose Wall Street as the appropriate point of departure for an evolving national movement. So, it is fitting that their goals be directed toward Wall Street and its allies on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.

photo courtesy of AIADC's Flickr photostream

“Costs and Benefits” of Wall St Regulation Weighed at Little Noted House Hearing

September 21, 2011 -- Risking “household wealth catastrophe” by hamstringing SEC enforcement to “liberate” small business from regulated financiers.

Financial Regulation

Just What is “Financial Regulation” – That oft Cited Thing that Continues Failing Us Little Folk?

August 10, 2011 -- To unravel the mystery of what “financial regulation” may be, let’s first look at the pickle we are in due allegedly to a lack of it.

New York Stock Exchange Sale to Deutsche Boerse will Raise Fraud Risks for U.S. Investors

May 12, 2011 -- In the weeks since the New York Stock Exchange-Euronext (NYSE) agreed in February to be acquired by the Frankfort-based Deutsche Boerse (DB), neither mainstream media nor regulators have commented on the risks posed by such an unprecedented off-shore concentration of financial market power.

Lehman Brothers

Are Lehman’s Auditors Above the Law?

March 23, 2011 -- Many wonder why the Securities and Exchange Commission and U.S. Department of Justice are seemingly unable to prosecute Lehman Brothers and its auditor Ernst & Young for the misleading (and, possibly, fraudulent) information published in financial statements in the years and quarters leading to the financial meltdown that Lehman’s own bankruptcy helped fuel.

House Cuts Current SEC Funding as Bi-Partisan Experts Call for New SEC Actions

February 28, 2011 -- Twenty-four hours after the so-called “Flash-Crash” panel of economic and Wall Street experts on February 18 called on the SEC to expand its research and rule-making activity to help avert a repeat of the May 6, 2010 market plunge that wiped out more than $800 billion in shareholder value in a few minutes, the U.S. House of Representatives cut that agency’s budget by $25 million for the remainder of 2011. In response the agency has put on-hold planned modernization of IT systems and new hires, according to Federal Times.

Private Actions by Duped Mortgage Securities Investors and Misled Bank Shareholders Seek to Hold Wrongdoers Accountable and Bring Justice to Wall Street (Whether or Not Conflicted Regulators Take Action)

With news breaking daily about how our nation’s largest banks are engaging in alleged fraudulent foreclosure practices (apparently in order to forestall the day their losses will need to be realized on financial statements), the now documented wrongdoing that helped create the bad mortgage debt and real estate-based financial meltdown is off media radar screens. Many financial commentators and bloggers, however, are asking whether federal law enforcement and regulatory agencies will take action against those bankers who knowingly sold investors “defective” mortgage securities and, at the same time, hid the ballooning risks of underwriting and marketing such paper from their own shareholders.

George Wash. U Law Prof Says SEC-Goldman Settlement Tells Wall Street it Has “Little to Fear” From Regulator

Sept. 13, 2010 -- In a recent FINANCIAL TIMES op-ed, George Washington University professor of business law, Theodore Rhinehart, joined the numerous attorneys, economists and academics decrying the Securities and Exchange Commission’s $550 million settlement with Goldman Sachs of civil fraud charges in the sale of subprime mortgage related securities and contracts sold at the beginning of the U.S. housing and financial meltdowns.

Did Wall Street Win (Again)?

July 20, 2010 -- Many political-economic and financial analysts say the Financial Reform Act improves upon status quo, but unlikely to meaningfully change Wall Street. Congress left investors’ legal rights curtailed, even as last month the Supreme Court closed more courtroom doors to fraud victim. Investors worldwide remain particularly vulnerable to accounting scams such as Lehman Brothers, Enron, and other frauds perpetrated on U.S. soil.

Repeated Regulatory Failures Fuel Calls for Restoring Accountability to Investors for Those who Knowingly Aid and Abet Investment Fraud

June 15, 2010 -- Economist Robert Kuttner, money managers, law professors and state securities regulators among those calling upon Congress to restore investor justice now.