By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: March 24, 2016
Presidential candidate Donald Trump and the mega Wall Street bank JPMorgan Chase share a common trait: they can conduct themselves in a manner that insults the values of a civilized society and instead of losing ground, their star rises – or so it appears.
Trump’s public vulgarity and anti-Presidential demeanor are perpetually on display at his Twitter page and in the Republican debates. In just the past month, Trump has called Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly “crazy”; boasted of the size of his “manhood” during a Republican debate; and promised to ramp up the use of torture – illegal under both domestic and international law.
The typically staid Senator Elizabeth Warren even lost her cool with Trump on March 21, Tweeting that “his insecurities are on parade: petty bullying, attacks on women, cheap racism, flagrant narcissism.”
In a new CBS News/New York Times poll released on Monday, only 24 percent of Americans, of which 85 percent were registered voters, had a favorable opinion of Trump. And yet, somehow, primary elections or caucuses in state after state show Trump as the winner on the Republican ticket.
Now consider the same kind of anomaly at JPMorgan Chase.
On the morning of May 20 of last year, JPMorgan Chase was charged with a felony by the U.S. Justice Department for its involvement in rigging foreign currency markets. That was its third felony count in the span of less than a year and a half. One would have expected the price of the stock to tank. The stock price of JPMorgan had closed on May 19, prior to the news, at $67.01. It closed on May 20, after the news, at $66.48. The public is being asked to swallow the idea that a criminal felony count at the nation’s largest bank, holding $1.3 trillion in the life savings of depositors across America, is worth a measly 53 cents.
We went back to January 7, 2014 when the bank was charged with two felony counts for its failures in the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme, the largest financial fraud in U.S. history. In that case, the bank was given a deferred prosecution agreement and put on probation. On January 6, the day before the news broke, the stock closed at $59 even. At the close of trading on January 7, after the two felony counts, JPMorgan’s stock ended the day at $58.32 – a mere 68 cents lower than the day before or 34 cents for each felony count.
Now here’s where you really need to pay attention. For the year 2015, in which the bank received its third criminal felony count and settled more multi-billion-dollar charges with regulators, which had cost shareholders $35 billion over the prior four years, the bank’s Chairman and CEO, Jamie Dimon, who had been at the helm during this full litany of abuses (wait for it) received a pay boost of 35 percent or $27 million in total compensation.
While the business model of Wall Street is, indeed, fraud, as Senator Bernie Sanders continues to remind the nation, equally disastrous for America is that the political model of the country is rapidly becoming one of “failing up.”
Why should a trash-talking, reality TV star who won’t release his tax returns to allow the public to see if his claims of success are valid, and whose businesses filed bankruptcy four times, be the Republican frontrunner in one of the most critical economic moments in U.S. history?
We can’t account for the Trump phenomenon other than to say that there are growing questions about how some of these primaries and caucuses are being conducted. Phoenix, Arizona Mayor Greg Stanton has issued a letter to the Justice Department calling for an investigation of this week’s presidential primary where there were 70 to 85 percent less voting locations than in either 2012 or 2008 and where Stanton said the county “distributed fewer polling locations to parts of the county with higher minority populations.”
As for the anomalies at JPMorgan Chase, we might offer that the bank has spent billions of dollars buying back its own stock during its serial charges of abusing the public trust.