I’d like to see a show of hands from people who believe that Barack Obama and his administration don’t use their regulatory power to punish enemies and reward their friends.
I don’t think that Obama’s administration is much different than other administrations in this regard, except varying in the intensity of their pursuit and the volume of regulations they have at their disposal.
This abuse by all politicians, is, in a nut shell, the reason why our Republic, based upon limited government, is supposed to, you know, limit the powers of the government.
Because Obama—and others-- have taken the spoils system to new extremes, extremes that allow them to criminalize any behavior they wish. And then, through selective prosecutions, they can punish enemies and warn friends.
This helps to remind EVERYONE: “Who needs enemies when you have friends like us?”
The Party that campaigned “My body, my Choice” has turned over the regulatory power over everyone’s body to the IRS, and now shares, under Obamcare, Dodd-Frank, Sarbanes-Oxley, the Clean Air Act, the Community Reinvestment Act and the Patriot Act, along with others, much of the punitive power that the Oprichniki had under Ivan the Terrible, if just a bit less terrible.
I mention this because one of Obama’s smartest critics has been under relentless attack by the administration under threat of civil and criminal penalties for loans made and then sold to the federal government under the government’s sub prime lending schemes also known as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
JP Morgan Chase and Jamie Dimon in particular have been subject to record fines, civil sanctions and threat of criminal prosecution.
Their crime apparently has been that Dimon in particular is a critic of the administration and that JP Morgan was one of the better-run banks.
The government is currently outraged that JP Morgan’s London Unit lost $6.2 billion on trades. And as long as the firm is willing to fork over ANOTHER $13 billion and admit they were bad, the administration is willing to let them off the hook for losing the $6.2 billion.
What about the shareholders? What’s $20 billion more or less to fat cat bank shareholders?
They don’t count.
For example, last week on Ransom Notes Radio, it was revealed that JP Morgan’s Chairman Jamie Dimon had resigned from his position as chairman at the banking unit Chase at the suggestion of the U.S. Comptroller of the Currency, one of the myriad of regulatory agencies that “helps” regulate banks in the United States.
“The agency asked for the change as part of an effort to improve corporate governance at the company, said one of the people who asked not to be identified because discussions were confidential,” reported Bloomberg. “The move wasn’t punitive, that person said. Robert Garsson, an OCC spokesman, declined to comment on the talks.”
That move may or may not have been punitive, but it certainly didn’t seem voluntary either. Typically it’s up to the shareholders to decide who runs what at a publically traded company.
But you can hardly blame Dimon for following the government’s “suggestions” when they have targeted you with record fines. Below is a list of fines compiled by the Daily Beast, who think the government has been to easy on Dimon and JPMorgan. The Beast would like to see MORE fines. (Note the list doesn’t include the recent $13 billion fine):
Date: April 2011
Amount: $56 million
Behavior: JPMorgan was one of several banks called out in a class-action lawsuit for overcharging or wrongfully foreclosing on active-duty military personnel. The company apologized, paid out $27 million in cash, cut interest rates on home loans and returned houses that were wrongfully foreclosed upon.
Date: June 2011
Amount: $153.6 million
Behavior: The Securities and Exchange Commission sued JPMorgan for misleading buyers by allegedly failing to inform investors that a hedge fund assisted in picking and betting against securities in a collateralized debt obligation JPMorgan had sold in 2007. JPMorgan paid $153.6 million to settle the charges without admitting or denying the allegations.
Date: July 2011
Amount: $229 Million
Behavior: In response to a suit by federal and state authorities, JPMorgan settled allegations that it rigged the bidding process for reinvesting bond transactions that affected 31 state governments. The bank paid $229 million to settle the charges without admitting or denying the allegations.
Date: August 2011
Amount: $88.3 Million
Behavior: Talk about shady dealings. The Treasury Department alleged the banking giant violated sanction orders by conducting transactions with people or entities tied to Iran, Sudan, Cuba, and Liberia. JPMorgan Chase settled the charges and violations by paying $88.3 million civil penalty.
Date: February 2012
Amount: $5.29 Billion
Behavior: JPMorgan and four other major mortgage servicers agreed to pay a combined $25 billion to settle charges with state attorneys general, the Justice Department, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development relating to what Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna called years of “shoddy loan servicing, illegal robo-signing, and faulty foreclosure processing.” JPMorgan Chase’s share of the settlement came to $5.29 billion.
Date: February 2012
Amount: $110 million
Behavior: Along with Bank of America and a few smaller lenders, JPMorgan settled consumer litigation that claimed the banks processed checks by size—rather than by chronological order—so they could charge unwarranted overdraft fees.
Date: March 2012
Amount: $150 million
Behavior: After being sued by pension funds and investors for investing their funds in a risky structured investment vehicle that failed at the height of the global financial crisis in 2008, JPMorgan settled the suit without admitting wrongdoing.
Date: November 2012
Amount: $296.9 million
Behavior: The Securities and Exchange Commission charged JPMorgan with misleading investors about the quality of mortgages that underlay mortgage-backed securities it sold. The bank settled the charges without admitting or denying guilt.
Date: January 2013
Behavior: Ten banks, including JPMorgan Chase, agreed to an $8.5 billion settlement with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Reserve over “robo-signing” and other alleged abuses of the foreclosure process.
Date: March 2013
Amount: $100 million
Behavior: JPMorgan Chase agreed to return $546 million to former customers of MF Global Holdings, the investment firm run by former New Jersey governor Jon Corzine that collapsed in 2011.
The total comes to one-helluva-lot of money. And it’s the last one that really gives lie to the rest.
Jon Corzine was an Obama stalwart, once hailed by the administration as their go-to guy on the economy.
“As chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee,” writes Peter Roff a contributing editor at US New and World Report, “Corzine helped Obama first win election to the Senate. He helped him win the presidency. He has been praised by Obama and by Vice President Joe Biden as a ‘go to guy’ on financial, economic, and Wall Street issues. He's as close to an insider as you can be without actually being in the White House or a member of the president's cabinet.”
His firm also misplaced $1.5 billion in customer, segregated funds as it nose-dived into bankruptcy. That would be the equivalent of Jamie Dimon and JP Morgan reaching into your checking account and stealing money to cover losses in their trades, which of course they didn’t do.
The stuff they did do- which is pay fines without admitting guilt- is pretty much standard operating procedure with the banking and financial services industry today. The difference is that Obama and Company are taking it to a much higherlevel.
Why would banks pay? In a highly regulated environment, paying fines to the government over infractions is just the cost of doing business.
And apparently JP Morgan doesn’t have strong enough ties to the president to get away with criminal activities.
“There will be no criminal charges for former New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine over the use of customer funds leading up to collapse of MF Global,” reported MarketWatch in June. “The criminal probe into whether there was wrongdoing on the part of Corzine by the Department of Justice will now be dropped due to lack of evidence, said a report in The New York Post, citing a person with knowledge of the matter.”
Really? The old lack of evidence ploy, huh?
That’s only because the Justice Department won’t look for evidence.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m all for banks and investment banks obeying the laws. But I’m very much against the bad laws that have created a regulatory dictatorship for you, me and, yes, even banks.
This isn’t about banking or following the laws anymore.It’s about a government temper tantrum.
The government is outraged because JP Morgan told the world that the government forced them to take bailout funds they didn’t ask for; it’s outraged because Jamie Dimon brought a knife to a gun fight.
And the government is using the $6.2 billion London whale loss as a whipping post to tie the bankers to.
Once upon a time, Generals Motors got $95 billion in new money. Today the company is worth half that.
Where’s the outrage there?