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Lords of Disorder: Billions for Wall Street, Sacrifice for Everyone Else

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Headlined to H3 2/27/13

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The president's "sequester" offer slashes non-defense spending by $830 billion over the next ten years. That happens to be the precise amount we're implicitly giving Wall Street's biggest banks  over the same time period.

We're collecting nothing from the big banks in return for our generosity. Instead we're demanding sacrifice from the elderly, the disabled, the poor, the young, the middle class -- pretty much everybody, in fact, who isn't "too big to fail."

That's injustice on a medieval scale, served up with a medieval caste-privilege flavor. The only difference is that nowadays injustices are presented with spreadsheets and PowerPoints, rather than with scrolls and trumpets and kingly proclamations.

And remember: The White House represents the liberal side of these negotiations.

The Grandees

The $83 billion "subsidy" for America's 10 biggest banks first appeared in an editorial from Bloomberg News -- which, as the creation of New York's billionaire mayor Michael Bloomberg, is hardly a lefty outfit. That editorial drew upon sound economic analyses to estimate the value of the US government's implicit promise to bail these banks out.

Then it showed that, without that advantage, these banks would not be making a profit at all.

That means that all of those banks' CEOs, men (they're all men) who preen and strut before the cameras and lecture Washington on its profligacy, would not only have lost their jobs and fortunes in 2008 because of their incompetence - they would probably lose their jobs again today.

Tell that to Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase, or Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs, both of whom have told us it's imperative that we cut social programs for the elderly and disabled to "save our economy." The elderly and disabled have paid for those programs -- just as they paid to rescue Jamie Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein, and just as they implicitly continue to pay for that rescue today.

Dimon, Blankfein and their peers are like the grandees of imperial Spain and Portugal. They've been given great wealth and great power over others, not through native ability but by the largesse of the Throne.

Lords of Disorder

Just yesterday, in a rare burst of candor, Dimon said this to investors on a quarterly earnings call: "This bank is anti-fragile, we actually benefit from downturns."

It's true, of course. Other corporations -- in fact, everybody else -- has to survive or fail in real-world conditions. But Dimon and his peers are wrapped in a protective force field which was created by the people, of the people, and for ... well, for Dimon and his peers.

The term "antifragile" was coined by maverick financier and analyst Nassim Taleb, whose book of the same name is subtitled "Things That Gain From Disorder." That's a good description of JPMorgan Chase and the nation's other megabanks.

Arbitraging Failure

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rj-eskow/the-dumbest-bipartisa

Host of 'The Breakdown,' Writer, and Senior Fellow, Campaign for America's Future
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