Wall Street “Banksters”

The Year of the Great Redistribution

Robert Reich

The stock market closed out a record year at an all-time high [at the end of the year] giving stockholders in 2013 their biggest annual gains in almost two decades.

But the real news here, that went completely unreported, is that the 2013 bull market widened inequality because

(1) the richest 1 percent of Americans own 35 percent of the value of all shares of stock, and the richest 10 percent own over 80 percent,

(2) the corporate profits on which these gains were based came largely from keeping the wages of ordinary workers low,

(3) the capital gains and dividends these gains generated are taxed at a lower rate than most of the income of the middle class, and

(4) the biggest winners are the top executives and Wall Street traders whose year-end bonuses are tied to the stock market, and the hedge-fund and private-equity managers whose “carried interest” loophole allows them to cash in big-time. When will we stop measuring the health of the economy by the Dow Jones Industrial average? —

Uh, America, are we listening to this man?

Wall Street Executives Believe Employees Need To Engage In Illegal Behavior To Succeed

So it looks like those guys will be doing “business as usual” (circa 2000-2008) with impunity.  Back in 2008 the outgoing Bush administration deemed the several large banks involved in the crash too big to fail.  Yet, the strongest of those banks have gobbled up the weaker banks and now the three or four major banks left are too big to fail on steroids.

It appears these banks can do whatever they want because the same government that they tend to despise will bail them out once again.  I doubt this problem is going to be resolved through the next presidential term, regardless of whose in office.

The following report on a survey conducted by the law firm of Labaton Sucharow reveals a lot about current attitudes of Wall Street Executives regarding illegal behavior and regulations, which they are adamantly against.  After all, how can they continue their illegal activities with so many regulators snooping around on them all the time?

Think Progress

British and U.S. authorities are both now investigating Barclays and other banks for manipulating the London InterBank Offered Rate, an interest rate that is a benchmark for a host of financial products around the world. Regulators charge that the banks rigged the interest rate’s movements in order to profit and to make themselves look healthier during the financial crisis of 2008 than they actually were.

This comes on the heels of JP Morgan losing billions of dollars chasing profits with trades that were meant to reduce risk, and, of course, is just a few years removed from a crisis caused in large part by Wall Street malfeasance. But according to a survey by the whistleblower law firm Labaton Sucharow, Wall Street executives believe this is just part of the financial business. In fact, nearly one quarter of survey respondents said that financial services employees need to be unethical or engage in illegal behavior in order to be successful:

In a survey of 500 senior executives in the United States and the UK, 26 percent of respondents said they had observed or had firsthand knowledge of wrongdoing in the workplace, while 24 percent said they believed financial services professionals may need to engage in unethical or illegal conduct to be successful.

Sixteen percent of respondents said they would commit insider trading if they could get away with it, according to Labaton Sucharow. And 30 percent said their compensation plans created pressure to compromise ethical standards or violate the law.

Big banks, of course, have continued to fight reforms to the financial regulatory framework, even in the wake of the crash of 2008. But if this survey is any indication, Wall Street needs a mentality change, along with stricter supervision.

How Unequal We Are: The Top 5 Facts You Should Know About The Wealthiest One Percent Of Americans

This article breaks it down for those of us who might say that the banksters are “struggling to make ends meet”.  Give me a break, Mayor Bloomberg!

Think Progress

[...]

It may shock you exactly how wealthy this top 1 percent of Americans is. ThinkProgress has assembled five facts about this class of super-rich Americans:

1. The Top 1 Percent Of Americans Owns 40 Percent Of The Nation’s Wealth: As Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz points out, the richest 1 percent of Americans now own 40 percent of the nation’s wealth. Sociologist William Domhoff illustrates this wealth disparity using 2007 figures where the top 1 percent owned 42 percent of the country’s financial wealth (total net worth minus the value of one’s home). How much does the bottom 80 percent own? Only 7 percent:

 

 

As Stiglitz notes, this disparity is much worse than it was in the past, as just 25 years ago the top 1 percent owned 33 percent of national wealth.

2. The Top 1 Percent Of Americans Take Home 24 Percent Of National Income:While the richest 1 percent of Americans take home almost a quarter of national income today, in 1976 they took home just 9 percent — meaning their share of the national income pool has nearly tripled in roughly three decades.

3. The Top 1 Percent Of Americans Own Half Of The Country’s Stocks, Bonds, And Mutual Funds: The Institute for Policy Studies illustrates this massive disparity in financial investment ownership, noting that the bottom 50 percent of Americans own only .5 percent of these investments:

 

 

4. The Top 1 Percent Of Americans Have Only 5 Percent Of The Nation’s Personal Debt:

Using 2007 figures, sociologist William Domhoff points out that the top 1 percent have 5 percent of the nation’s personal debt while the bottom 90 percent have 73 percent of total debt:

 

 

5. The Top 1 Percent Are Taking In More Of The Nation’s Income Than At Any Other Time Since The 1920s: Not only are the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans taking home a tremendous portion of the national income, but their share of this income is greater than at any other time since the Great Depression, as the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities illustrates in this chart using 2007 data:

 

 

As Professor Elizabeth Warren has explained, “there is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody…Part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.” More and more often, that is not occurring, giving the protesters ample reason to take to the streets.

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