Sunday, October 20, 2013

Makers Takers and Rakers - JP Morgan's $13 Billion Dollar Sweetheart Deal

If you listen to Fox News or Billionaire Koch Brothers sponsored talk radio, you may have heard Frank Luntz’ focus group tested latest Republican catch phrase “makers and takers”.  Yes, that’s right in America there are makers and takers with billionaires and corporations being the “makers” and the American people being the “takers”.

Frank Luntz, the Fox News wordsmith who puts together focus groups and tests phrases to see what conjures up the most vitriolic response from his Republican audience, came up with the phrase “makers and takers”. 

Recently while I was watching C-Span’s Washington Journal, a caller said he was a 100% disabled American Veteran and relied on food stamps to survive.  Many, many callers spoke of how they worked full-time and could not afford to feed their families, even with two minimum wage incomes. Next came a call from a Republican caller who brought up the “makers and takers” talking point.  This is the point Republicans use to justify cutting supplemental nutritional assistance for the American people as well as social security and medicare.

“Right now about 60% of Americans get more benefits in dollar value than they pay back in taxes”

Paul Ryan Republican Vice-Presidential Candidate 2012

So according to Ryan and Republicans the “takers” are the American people and the “makers” are billionaires and corporations.  When Ryan said that “60% of Americans get more benefits in dollar value than they pay back in taxes” it reminded me of an article I read some time ago.

Apple announced $9.5bn in profits in the first quarter of 2013. According to corporate filings, Apple allocates more than 70 percent of its profits overseas to countries with lower tax rates.

These profits are held in subsidiaries in countries like the Netherlands and Ireland before being moved again to offshore tax havens in the Caribbean - in a move Apple is said to have pioneered known as the 'Double Irish with a Dutch Sandwich'.

According to an investigation by the NYT last year the company thus avoids a standard US tax rate of 35 percent.

Many other big corporations, such as Google or General Electric, also avoid paying billions in tax, largely by channeling income offshore to countries like Bermuda.
In 2010, General Electric raked in $4.2bn in profits - paid no taxes and in fact received a $3bn refund.

That’s right, in 2010 General Electric raked in $4.2 billion in profits, paid no taxes and got a $3 billion dollar refund.  Yet, according to Paul Ryan, “60% of Americans get more benefits in dollar value than they pay back in taxes”.  So GE is a “maker” and the disabled American Veteran on food stamps is a “taker”. 

Yesterday I saw a headline on Google News that stated:

JPMorgan in tentative $13 billion deal with U.S. Justice Department: source (Reuters) - JPMorgan Chase & Co has reached a tentative $13 billion agreement with the U.S. Justice Department to settle government agency investigations into bad mortgage loans the bank sold to investors before the financial crisis, a source said on Saturday.

So $13 billion, sounds like a lot doesn’t it?  Wrong, it’s chicken feed. 


Yes, that arrogant smirking prick wearing his "Presidential Seal" cufflinks took over $500 billion or a half trillion in TARP (Toxic Asset Releif Program) Funds to get bailed out of the worthless mortgage backed securities they dumped into retirement funds and municipal bonds which was illegal, and they are going to pay a fine of $13 billion.  More from Reuters:
The tentative deal does not release the bank from criminal liability for some of the mortgages it packaged into bonds and sold to investors, a factor that had been a major sticking point in the discussions, the source said.

The record settlement could help resolve many of the legal troubles the New York bank is facing. Earlier this month JPMorgan disclosed it had stockpiled $23 billion in reserves for settlements and other legal expenses to help cover the myriad investigations into its conduct before and after the financial crisis.

So they stockpiled $23 billion in reserves for settlements and legal expenses.  I wonder how much money they have?  So I decided to do a little surfing to find out.

JPMorgan operates a Chief Investment Office (CIO) that is responsible for this bad bet. The CIO takes the portion of the bank’s $1.1 trillion in deposits that the rest of the bank does not know how to lend or invest and trades that money — with the idea of making a profit for JPMorgan. In 2009, CIO’s net income peaked at $3.7 billion — generating 147% more profit than it had earned in 2008. Back then, JPMorgan had made a lucky bet on U.S. government guaranteed mortgage-backed securities.

 So this is on the heels of another settlement from June of this year,

Bank of America $8.5 billion mortgage settlement case opens

(Reuters) - Bank of America Corp's (BAC.N) proposed $8.5 billion settlement with investors in mortgage securities that went bad during the financial crisis offers billions more than they are likely to get if they go to trial, a lawyer for the trustee who helped negotiate the deal argued Monday.

"You may hear a lot from the objectors about what the trustee should have done or could have done or might have done," Ingber told Justice Barbara Kapnick, who must decide whether to approve the deal. "But, your honor, all those coulda, woulda, shoulda are irrelevant if the pot of gold isn't going to be there."

Opening arguments are set to continue on Tuesday, with Texas attorney Kathy Patrick making the case for the institutional investors who support the settlement.

The opponents are expected to argue that losses to the trusts might exceed $100 billion. They claim BNY Mellon placed its interests and those of Bank of America above those of bond holders. And they point out BNY Mellon gets trust business from Bank of America.

Colorado attorney Dan Reilly, who represents AIG, said last week the proposed deal "offers pennies on the dollar" to the bond holders.

And who could forget, Outrageous HSBC Settlement Proves the Drug War is a Joke by Matt Taibbi

If you've ever been arrested on a drug charge, if you've ever spent even a day in jail for having a stem of marijuana in your pocket or "drug paraphernalia" in your gym bag, Assistant Attorney General and longtime Bill Clinton pal Lanny Breuer has a message for you: Bite me.

Breuer this week signed off on a settlement deal with the British banking giant HSBC that is the ultimate insult to every ordinary person who's ever had his life altered by a narcotics charge. Despite the fact that HSBC admitted to laundering billions of dollars for Colombian and Mexican drug cartels (among others) and violating a host of important banking laws (from the Bank Secrecy Act to the Trading With the Enemy Act), Breuer and his Justice Department elected not to pursue criminal prosecutions of the bank, opting instead for a "record" financial settlement of $1.9 billion, which as one analyst noted is about five weeks of income for the bank. 

The banks' laundering transactions were so brazen that the NSA probably could have spotted them from space. Breuer admitted that drug dealers would sometimes come to HSBC's Mexican branches and "deposit hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, in a single day, into a single account, using boxes designed to fit the precise dimensions of the teller windows."

We now know that United Kingdom's HSBC Bank's money laundering using wire transfers and cash transactions were in the $100's of trillions of dollars using their banking offices located in the United States.

So while Paul Ryan and the Republicans are busy stealing food out of the mouths of the poor in the United States, the "Makers" keep making out and the "Takers" continue to be beaten, starved, robbed, and incarcerated.

So there's the "makers", the "takers", and the "rakers".  Which one are you?

By Patricia Baeten

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