By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: May 27, 2021 ~
“Like most Americans, I want businesses to make money, and I don’t mind that bankers are rich. Some people are going to be wealthy, and that’s fine. Here’s the problem: under the current system, Wall Street profits no matter what happens to workers, because those profits now come at the expense of workers. And your banks are the ones that largely built that system.
“We often hear about the ‘invisible hand.’ But the economy isn’t physics – it’s not governed by scientific laws outside our control. It’s made up of people making choices about our values and the society we want to live in. The ‘invisible hand’ doesn’t lay off workers. The ‘invisible hand’ didn’t invent credit default swaps. The ‘invisible hand’ doesn’t decide to invest in private equity firms that buy up mobile home parks in Iowa and across the country, and jack up the rent.
“Your banks – your lobbyists, and your fellow CEOs at some of the other largest companies – you all make those choices that dictate how our economy works. Wall Street built this system, and they didn’t build it for everyone – they built it for themselves.”
You can read Senator Brown’s full statement here.
Appearing as witnesses at yesterday’s hearing were the CEOs of the six largest banks on Wall Street: JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs.
Senator Mike Rounds, a Republican from South Dakota who lists the Mortgage Bankers Association, UBS, American Bankers Association and Citigroup among his top 20 largest campaign donors, used seriously twisted logic to urge his Senate colleagues to stop “disparaging” the mega banks on Wall Street. Rounds said this during the hearing:
“Before the Banking Committee ties itself up in knots about any of the controversial issues on the table today, I’d encourage my colleagues to keep in mind that we’re all Americans, as are the firms who are represented here. We have a collective and strategic national interest in having a team of banks that are globally active and international leaders, but who are, above all, American. The last thing that any of us should want to see is a global banking system that’s run by the Chinese government. That’s the road that we’ll be continuing traveling down if we keep disparaging these firms or unfairly gold-plating international banking standards while China, Japan and others run circles around us.”
As we reported on Tuesday, the largest U.S. bank, JPMorgan Chase, is a serial felon, racking up five felony counts brought by the U.S. Department of Justice since 2014. Goldman Sachs appears to be attempting to play catch up, notching two felony counts in its belt last October. (One count was against the parent company, Goldman Sachs Group, and one count was against its Malaysian subsidiary.) Citigroup, which received the largest bailout in global banking history from 2007 through the middle of 2010, pleaded guilty to one felony count in 2015 for being part of a banking cartel that rigged foreign exchange markets.
But despite sporting rap sheets that spark envy among organized crime groups, Senator Rounds doesn’t want Congress “disparaging” felon banks because, somehow, having criminally-inclined mega banks in the U.S. gives Americans a leg up on China.
Apparently, Senator Rounds is too busy counting his campaign windfalls from the banking sector to recall that it was these same U.S. mega banks on Wall Street who caused, through their corrupt activities, the largest economic disaster in America in 2008 than had occurred since the Great Depression. That economic collapse was the biggest threat to the national security of America since the 1930s and these banks remain the gravest national security threat to the U.S. economy.
Apparently, Senator Sherrod Brown was not intimidated by Senator Rounds to say something nice about the Wall Street banks. After yesterday’s Senate Banking Committee hearing concluded, Brown released this statement:
“Wall Street is on notice. The days of these banks and their allies controlling this committee are over. The CEOs that came before us are the most powerful economic actors in the country and the signals they send to other companies influence workers at companies all over the country, not just their own employees.
“They can’t say they value their workers and then pledge to fight employees who want to form a union. They can’t say they are focused on lending to small businesses and growing the economy while spending billions on stock buybacks. They can’t say they put their customers first while charging them overdraft and late fees during a global pandemic.
“And they can’t say climate change is a threat to the entire economy, while dragging their feet when it comes to investing in new technology and the jobs of the future. We need an economy that reflects our values not Wall Street’s.
“These CEOs have a lot of work to do.”