By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: November 11, 2016
Yesterday, CNBC announced that anonymous sources had told the cable business news outlet that Trump’s advisers were considering JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon for U.S. Treasury Secretary. The rumor nugget was quickly spread by other media outlets. The likelihood is that the rumor is coming from Jamie Dimon’s hyper-charged public relations machine rather than from Trump’s closest advisers.
Should Dimon get the nomination from Trump he would have to appear before the Senate Banking Committee for his confirmation hearing. He would be facing hostility from progressive Senate Democrats on the Committee like Senators Elizabeth Warren, Sherrod Brown and Jeff Merkley for overseeing a Wall Street mega bank that has garnered an unprecedented three felony counts from the U.S. Justice Department in just the past three years while Dimon took home massive pay and bonuses.
Two felony counts against the bank were for aiding and abetting the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme, the largest Wall Street fraud in U.S. history, while last year’s felony count on May 20 was for the bank’s involvement in rigging foreign currency markets. Dimon also presided over the scandalous London Whale episode at the bank in 2012 where the side of the bank holding insured deposits, Chase Bank, allowed its traders in London to gamble in exotic derivatives and lose at least $6.2 billion of those deposits – proving beyond any doubt the need to restore the Glass-Steagall Act and separate banks holding insured deposits backed by the taxpayer from the high risk gambles of Wall Street’s investment banks.
Dimon is also well aware of what happened to former Citigroup executive Jack Lew when he went before the Senate Banking Committee for his confirmation hearing to become the current Treasury Secretary. Republicans dug up the fact that Lew had received a $940,000 bonus from Citigroup while the bank was existing on a lifeline from the U.S. taxpayer. Lew’s participation in an investment in an offshore tax haven was dredged up as was his role in the division of Citigroup that blew up the bank. After the Senate Banking Committee got through with Lew, Senator Bernie Sanders ravaged him further on the floor of the U.S. Senate, stating in part:
“Mr. President, the next Treasury secretary will face enormous challenges. Let me give you a few examples of what I mean. The next Treasury Secretary will play a central role in regulating and overseeing Wall Street and large financial firms. Let us never forget: as a result of the greed, recklessness, and illegal behavior on Wall Street, millions of Americans lost their jobs, homes, life savings, and ability to send their kids to college.
“We need a secretary of the Treasury who does not come from Wall Street, but is prepared to stand up to the enormous power of Wall Street. We need a Treasury secretary who will end the current Wall Street business model of operating the largest gambling casino the world has ever seen and demand that Wall Street start investing in the job creating productive economy. Do I believe that Jack Lew is that person? No, I do not.
“The decisions made by the next Treasury secretary will determine whether financial institutions need another taxpayer bailout or do not. In my view, we need a Treasury secretary who will work hard to break up too-big-to-fail financial institutions so that Wall Street cannot cause another massive financial crisis. Do I believe Jack Lew will work to break-up large financial institutions? No, I do not.
“In 2008, against my strong opposition, the taxpayers of this country provided huge financial institutions with the largest bailout in the history of the world because, we were told, they were too big to fail. The Treasury Department provided $700 billion in financial assistance to the largest banks in this country, and the Federal Reserve provided over $16 trillion in virtually zero interest loans to these same financial institutions.
“What is the state of our financial system today? Today, the 10 largest banks in America are bigger than they were before the financial crisis began. Today, the six largest financial institutions in this country (J.P. Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, and MetLife) have assets equal to two-thirds of the Gross Domestic Product of this country – over $9.6 trillion. Today, six financial institutions (JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley) issue two-thirds of all credit cards, half of all mortgages, control 95 percent of all derivatives, and hold nearly 40 percent of all bank deposits in this country.”
Wall Street is also in a tizzy over whether Donald Trump will make good on his promise to restore a 21st Century version of the Glass-Steagall Act which would ban banks dealing in and underwriting securities from also owning commercial banks holding taxpayer-backed insured deposits.
The Republican Party platform promised the following:
“The Dodd-Frank law, the Democrats’ legislative Godzilla, is crushing small and community banks and other lenders…We support reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 which prohibits commercial banks from engaging in high-risk investment.”
On October 26 of this year, speaking at a rally in Charlotte, North Carolina, Donald Trump personally echoed the pledge in the party platform, stating:
“The policies of the Clintons brought us the financial recession — through lifting Glass-Steagall, pushing subprime lending, and blocking reforms to Fannie and Freddie. Two friendly names but they’re not so friendly. It’s time for a 21st century Glass-Steagall and, as part of that, a priority on helping African-American businesses get the credit they need.” (See video clips below.)
That view was backed up the following day when one of Trump’s advisers, Wilbur Ross, appeared on Fox News. Ross had this to say under questioning from Maria Bartiromo:
“Well, our feeling is that it isn’t so much that the banks are too big. It’s that they’re too complex — too connected and too complex internally. Think about what you have to know to run a big bank. You’ve gotta have every geography in the world; every kind of obscure complicated product in the world in the derivatives market. That’s an awful big menu for anybody to absorb. We think it might be better for the banks to stick to lending, and instead of making more restrictions on lending, make it easier for them to make loans.”
What Ross failed to mention is Wall Street’s main motive for repealing the Glass-Steagall Act, which occurred in 1999 during the Bill Clinton presidency. Wall Street can use OPM – other people’s money, the life savings of the little guy sitting in low-earning deposit accounts – to make high-risk gambles for the bank. If the bets pay off, Jamie Dimon and his fellow Wall Street CEOs become billionaires over time. If the bets blow up the bank, as we saw at Citigroup after its CEO Sandy Weill became a billionaire from obscene bonuses and stock options, the taxpayers are forced to bail out the bank to prevent a banking panic and a run on every big bank in the country. Restoring the Glass-Steagall Act is simply about ending heads we win, tails you lose on Wall Street.