The State of the Union and Wall Street

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: October 3, 2018 ~

U.S. Capitol With Storm CloudsOn August 14, the President of the United States, Donald Trump, tweeted that an African-American woman he had previously hired to work in the White House, Omarosa Manigault Newman, is a “crazed, crying lowlife” and a “dog.”  In any other executive job in America, those published words would be grounds for immediate dismissal.

Yesterday, while attending a political rally in Mississippi, that same President mocked Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, the courageous professor who gave sworn testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on September 27 that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her when she was 15 and he was 17. Dr. Ford also submitted to the Senate the results of the lie detector test that she had passed and affidavits from four people she had told about the assault in earlier years.

Trump mocked Dr. Ford’s sexual assault testimony yesterday, telling the laughing crowd:

“ ‘I don’t know. I don’t know.’ ‘Upstairs? Downstairs? Where was it?’ ‘I don’t know. But I had one beer. That’s the only thing I remember.’ ”

Not only is it an outrage for the President of the United States to mock a credible sexual assault survivor for coming forward as the United States is in the midst of confronting a deplorable history of the Catholic Church, military, college campuses and corporate executives covering up sexual assaults, but the President flagrantly lied to his audience about Dr. Ford’s testimony.

Far from not knowing whether the assault had occurred upstairs or downstairs, Dr. Ford precisely explained to the Senate committee that “Early in the evening, I went up a narrow set of stairs leading from the living room to a second floor to use the bathroom. When I got to the top of the stairs, I was pushed from behind into a bedroom. I couldn’t see who pushed me. Brett and Mark came into the bedroom and locked the door behind them.” Dr. Ford’s other details of the assault itself were very specific. Not remembering what happened before and after a traumatic experience of 36 years ago is not uncommon in trauma victims.

The President of the United States continues to define deviancy down while taking the reputation of the United States with him. On Saturday night he told a crowd in West Virginia that he and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had fallen in love. The North Korean leader is viewed as a dictator and human rights violator around the world.

The Washington Post has chronicled 4,229 lies or misleading claims that Trump has made since he took office. Yesterday, New York Times reporters David Barstow, Susanne Craig and Russ Buettner wrote an in-depth article that found that “President Trump participated in dubious tax schemes during the 1990s, including instances of outright fraud, that greatly increased the fortune he received from his parents…”

As a special counsel investigation hangs over this President’s head, he has chosen a man, Brett Kavanaugh, to be the pivotal vote on the highest court in the U.S. Trump’s continued support for Kavanaugh is contrasted against 500 law professors from almost 100 law schools in the U.S. who have signed their names to a letter sent to the Senate stating that Kavanaugh’s volatile temperament disqualifies him from a seat on the high court.

That’s the state of our union.

The state of Wall Street lies in a similar condition of dangerous dysfunction. Last month marked the 10th anniversary of the greatest financial crash the country has experienced since the Great Depression. Wildly risky and highly leveraged derivative bets made the financial crisis exponentially more difficult to manage and resulted in the Federal Reserve secretly pumping a cumulative $16 trillion in low cost loans to Wall Street banks and their foreign counterparts to keep the entirety of Wall Street’s casino from collapsing.

wall street sign, thumbnailDespite the role of derivatives in the 2008 collapse and despite the promises of both Presidents Obama and Trump to rein in the excesses of Wall Street, the Federal regulator of national banks, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), has archived reports showing that derivative exposures have actually increased on Wall Street since 2008. According to the OCC reports, the top 25 bank holding companies held $194.3 trillion in derivatives as of June 30, 2008. As of June 30 of this year, that figure had not only not diminished but it had grown by 32 percent to a stunning $256.7 trillion.

Waiting for others to correct the rot in our union and on Wall Street is no longer a rational plan for any engaged and concerned citizen. Democracy is not a spectator sport. 

Related Articles:

Alarm Bells Sounded on Wall Street’s Derivatives 

Bailed Out Citigroup Is Going Full Throttle into Derivatives that Blew Up AIG

Citigroup Has More Derivatives than 4,701 U.S. Banks Combined; After Blowing Itself Up With Derivatives in 2008

Two of the Biggest Bailed Out Derivative Banks, Citi and Merrill, Get Fined for Breaking Derivatives Rules

The Contagion Deutsche Bank Is Spreading Is All About Derivatives

U.S. Government Is Now a Major Counterparty to Wall Street Derivatives

Who is Morgan Stanley and Why Its $31 Trillion in Derivatives Should Concern You

Financial System of U.S. Rests on Health of Just Five Mega Banks

Putting John Paulson on AIG’s Board Is an Insult to Every Law-Abiding Citizen

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