Saturday, May 11, 2013

Wall Street Shill Maria Bartiromo Exposes A "Continued Assault On The Banks" (No, Really)


Watch CNBC's Maria Bartiromo (above) further ingratiating herself with the banksters on Thursday: "While the banks have done wrong, it is time to ask the question, 'what more does the public want from the banks and why are we trying to destroy this vital industry?' Federal Reserve official Dan Tarullo's recent speech on the banks, creating another alternative to break up the mega banks, he is proposing linking liquidity and capital, meaning the more a financial firm relies on wholesale funding, the more capital it must carry. This is one way to target the big supermarket banks like J.P. Morgan, Citi, Deutsche Bank, Bank of America, and others. Those all have large broker/dealer operations and tend to rely more on wholesale funding than traditional banks. My question is 'how come we never hear about the changes that have already been put in place in the last few years?' Debt: it's been cut by institutions. Capital: it is soaring; has been raised by hundreds of billions of dollars across the industry. Compensation has come down, has been cut across the world, in particular severely in Europe. Money in reserve: the highest levels many of these companies have ever seen. That's why some of them are not lending the way you would want. Yet it is probably inevitable that regulators will adopt more measures that go beyond what they are proposing in Europe, the Basel Three, to ensure that the biggest banks have huge piles of cash in the event of another financial Armageddon. While I do not believe the push for this kind of capital, stockpile and other regulations will in fact result in the major banks splitting up right now, it is having a major impact nonetheless. The uncertainty, the confusion-- we don't even know which companies will be deemed systemically important to the economy, which would totally change the terms for those banks and how they would need to operate-- all of these open questions are causing the banks to sit on money, reluctant to hire, reluctant to lend, unable to invest in the future, and hire workers. I would love to hear some of the positives from regulators as opposed to the constant drumbeat of attacks. Banks are not angels, but they are not the devils they are being made out to be. They remain a vital part of what makes capitalism the best system in the history of the world."

Blue America doesn't endorse candidates who aren't 100% pro-Choice and pro-equality. But that isn't to say that we endorse every pro-Choice/pro-equality candidate. We look for courageous men and women of good character who have fully embraced economic and well as social justice. Right now there is a concerted-- and quite successful-- effort to roll back the modest achievements of Dodd-Frank reforming a few aspects of the giant Wall Street rip-off. Despite Bartiromo's wailing, none of the criminal banksters-- not one-- was sent to prison. Not one was arrested or tried or forced to pay back the millions they looted from the economy. I haven't heard a single politician demanding that banksters should be rounded up en masse and put in front of firing squads before their estates are confiscated. If that happened, I might not agree with Bartiromo, but I could at least understand her pathetic caterwauling on behalf of the horribly beset .001%.

Lately we've seen sleazy New Dems make common cause with the Republicans and the banksters to undermine Dodd Frank. EVERY New Dem on the House Financial Services Committee was pimping the Wall Street agenda last week. Fighting valiantly for working families and ordinary bank customers were Maxine Waters (D-CA), Al Green (D-TX), Nydia Velázquez (D-NY), Mike Capuano (D-MA), and Keith Ellison (D-MN). The worst culprits and bank whores on the committee were Jim Himes (New Dem-CT), Patrick Murphy (New Dem-FL), Kyrsten Sinema (New Dem-AZ), John Delaney (New Dem-MD), John Carney (New Dem-DE), Denny Heck (New Dem-WA), Terri Sewell (New Dem-AL) and David Scott (New Dem-GA). Maria Bartiromo and her CNBC colleagues are part of the captive media pumping those efforts up to the public. ALL of the Blue America candidates want to strengthen financial reform, not weaken it. We asked a couple of them to take a look at what Bartiromo had to say about the banks.

Massachusetts state Rep. Carl Sciortino is running for the congressional seat that Ed Markey is giving up. He faces a gaggle of middle-of-the-road, garden variety Democrats. That's not something anyone will ever label Carl, who helped organize the Massachusetts legislature progressive caucus and takes on the cutting edge issues that everyone else is afraid of. "The worst economic collapse in three generations was created when big Wall Street banks exploited policies of severe under-regulation. Does anyone just assume that banks left to their own devises would protect the interests of the economy and middle class? History would clearly tell us otherwise.

"We have seen far too many predatory loans resulting in foreclosures, a barely-avoided systemic collapse of our financial system, and blatantly illegal practices by some of our largest institutions. When private institutions have so much power over the economic security of our citizens, it is the federal government’s role to make sure they operate on a level playing field and everyday peoples' interests are protected.

"It’s true that banks are a vital part of the economy. But appropriate regulations ensure banks continue to function and support our economy-- instead of being a part of breaking it.

'What more does the public want from banks,' she asks? We should demand full accountability for past illegal and predatory practices, and less whining about how big banks are somehow the victim."

Daylin Leach is also a progressive icon in his state legislature, the Pennsylvania Senate. He's running for the seat Allyson Schwartz is abandoning in northeast Philly/Montgomery County and he sees Bartiromo's outburst a lot like Carl did. "Nobody is assigning religious attributes to banks," he began. "It's not a question of them being 'angels' or 'devils.' Mitt Romney's musing aside, they are not even people. They are financial institutions created to serve us. When they do so honestly, fairly and transparently, they should be applauded. When they cheat, lie, rig the system or violate the law they should be punished and reformed.

"Maria's apologia glosses over the very real damage that some banking practices have wrought on our country. She dedicates precisely one sentence to 'banks have done wrong.' Really? Have they?? The rest of her speech makes the case for not enacting the very changes that will ensure we never have the sort of economic collapse we've recently seen again. If I could distill her speech down to its essence, it would be 'move along, nothing to see here.' The truth is, that consumers are going to need a lot more than that to ever again feel the system works for them."

And Nick Ruiz, a young father and professor, is taking on grotesque and longtime bankster apologist, John Mica in the Orlando area. As always, he sees the problem through the eyes of a typical American family. "The public wants the banks to work for everyone, not just the mega-account holders, and those receiving mega-compensation and mega-bonuses."
Banks are vital, and should be treated as such. But what that means, is that they must function to sustain adequate levels of capital circulation, rather than function to exact austerity and sequestration. Their job is to help people and society through the 'miracle' of reasonable capital security and credit-- not cause people and society enormous pain and suffering. But that is what they have done.

And so now, we have to process that history and decide what to do. It's clear that left to their own devices, too many financial institutions will hoard and speculate, but that does not in itself produce a greater society with a better standard of living. Left to their own devices, too many have acted in such a way as to concentrate their wealth and political power, sequestering the lion's share of the gains to themselves and their most intimate beneficiaries. Their behavior has a wide-ranging effect: it is devastating our society and we must act to alter this historical course now.

The truth of the matter is, a change in this financial aspect of our society will require far more than shoring up capital requirements and the size of different financial institutions-- rather, it will require a progressive change in the ideology of finance and banking itself, along with the redefinition of what banks exist to do. There is a new measure of corporate social responsibility that banks have come to be recognized as worthy of, and it's up to us to be sure that responsibility materializes in our body of laws. In reality, the collective activity of these financial institutions comes to bear upon all sectors of society; from employment, basic scientific research and industry-- to the arts, childhood education, the military, the social safety net and more-- their reach is foundational and constitutive of our entire socioeconomic circulatory system. If they fail-- all of society fails with them. It is this level of understanding, collective reciprocity and solidarity that must come to be expected and managed between Wall Street and Main Street. It is all of this that we must work toward.
Again, if you'd like to help bring about a different world that folks like John Mica, Maria Bartiromo, Ayn Rand and Paul Ryan envision, you can help Carl, Daylin and Nick here.

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