Amy Goodman interviewed Rolling Stone
journalist Matt Taibbi on the news that the five banks—Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland and UBS—which pleaded guilty to rigging the price of foreign currencies and interest rates were fined more than $5 billion. Here's an excerpt:
AMY GOODMAN: But when it comes to this, what did they do?
MATT TAIBBI: They were monkeying around with the prices of every currency on Earth. So, if you can imagine that anybody who has money, which basically includes anybody who’s breathing on the planet, all of those people were affected by this activity. So if you have dollars in your pocket, they were monkeying around with the prices of dollars versus euros, so you might have had more or less money fractionally, depending on all of this manipulation, every single day. And again, Attorney General Lynch went out of her way to say that this activity went on basically every single day for the last five years or so. So every single day, that $5 in your pocket was worth a little bit more or a little bit less, based on what these people were doing. And if you spread that out to everybody on Earth, it turns into a financial crime that’s on a scale that, you know, you would normally only think of in Bond movies or something like that.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, the Justice Department says traders used online chat rooms and coded language to manipulate currency exchange rates. One high-ranking Barclays trader chatted, quote, "If you ain’t cheating you ain’t trying." And another responded, quote, "Yes, the less competition the better." So, could you comment on that, Matt? And also explain why, in this particular case, the companies pleaded guilty.
MATT TAIBBI: Well, I think part of it is because they had this very graphic online record of these people chatting and admitting to essentially a criminal conspiracy in writing. That’s one of the things that’s really interesting about this entire era of financial crime, is that you have so much of this very graphic, detailed documentary evidence just lying around. The problem is the government has either been too overwhelmed or too disinclined to go and get it and do anything with it. In this case, you have people openly calling themselves the cartel or the mafia, and then openly talking about monkeying around or manipulating, you know, the price of this or that.
The CFTC, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, actually released chats from a different case involving interest rate swaps yesterday, where they—where one guy was bragging about how he was holding up the price of interest rate swaps like he was bench-pressing at. They were bragging about this, you know, in these chat rooms. So these—what you have to understand about a lot of these people, they’re very testosterone-laden, souped-up young people who think that they’re indestructible. They’re very arrogant. And they’re doing all this in chat rooms, thinking they’re never going to get caught. And they got caught.
AMY GOODMAN: On Wednesday, Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat said, quote, "The behavior that resulted in the settlements we announced today is an embarrassment to our firm, and stands in stark contrast to Citi’s values," unquote. Meanwhile, JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon called the investigation findings, quote, "a great disappointment to us." He went on to say, quote, "The lesson here is that the conduct of a small group of employees, or of even a single employee, can reflect badly on all of us, and have significant ramifications for the entire firm," said the CEO, Jamie Dimon.
MATT TAIBBI: Well, what’s humorous about this is that virtually all of these so-called too-big-to-fail banks now have been embroiled in scandals of varying degrees of extreme seriousness since 2008. So for them to say, "Oh, it’s just a few bad apples in this one instance," is increasingly absurd. They have been dinged for everything from bribery to money laundering, to rigging Libor, to mass fraud in the subprime mortgage markets and now the forex markets. It’s one mass crime over—you know, after another, and there’s no consequence.
AMY GOODMAN: Now, aren’t these banks competitors?
MATT TAIBBI: Well, sort of. But that’s the main problem in this case, is what’s happening is that they’re colluding, which is a far more dangerous kind of corruption than what we saw, for instance, in 2008, when you saw a lot of banks, in house, committing fraud against their own clients and against the markets. This behavior, where you have a series of major banks colluding to fix the price of a currency, that is extremely dangerous. And if that behavior is allowed to go unchecked, the negative possibilities that could stem from that are virtually limitless. [...]
Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2007—Blank Check on its Way:
Caught between the rock that is George Bush and the hard place of troops on the ground in Iraq, the Dems are apparently going to blink:
All of the details haven't been released yet, pending meetings in the Dem caucus in the House to discuss the bill, so changes could still be made. Will those changes include real timelines? Seems pretty unlikely, since the leadership says they want a bill that won't be vetoed.
|WASHINGTON - In grudging concessions to President Bush, Democrats intend to draft an Iraq war-funding bill without a timeline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops and shorn of billions of dollars in spending on domestic programs, officials said Monday.
The legislation would include the first federal minimum wage increase in more than a decade, a top priority for the Democrats who took control of Congress in January, the officials added.... Democratic officials stressed the legislation was subject to change. They spoke on condition of anonymity, saying they were not authorized to discuss provisions before a planned presentation to members of the party's rank and file later in the day.
So the fight is shunted off down the road a few months, to when we're supposed to be seeing that mythical September when all the Republicans decide to jump ship. On this, I'm in complete agreement with Atrios: we won't see a movement among Republicans for withdrawal, they're in it too deep. They won't back down.
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How long did it take Noah to collect the 900,000 different kinds of known living insects, plus all the ones scientists have yet to discover?
On today's Kagro in the Morning show
, Greg Dworkin
rounds Rand's non-filibuster, Huck's pass on the IA straw poll, Fox says who'll debate, media's still mad at Hillary, and how the media failed Luis Lang. How bored docs pass the time: ICD codes. The sketchy practice of crashing at the Capitol. NSA's trap door into your smartphone. One biker went from lobbying for looser gun laws, to busted at Waco. Banning local bans. Scotland Yard once thought Star Trek fans were a national security threat. Florida bar owner shows us the worst thing wrong with "Stand Your Ground" laws. Guess what? Conservatives are taking a 54th crack at developing their own Move On.
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