HOW TO STOP THE ECONOMIC WAR SWEEPING THE WORLD? CAN WE CHALLENGE THE CRIMES OF OUR TIME
Will The Wall Street Banksters Ever Be Held Accountable?
By Danny Schechter
Director, Plunder The Crime of Our Time
We are all still stuck in the "big Muddy." No, not the wars of old or even the oil disaster. The mud I am referring to is more like quicksand and it sucks anyone who wants to look at what happened in the financial crisis deeper and deeper into it.
Soon, you are buried in shifting sea of so-called "exotic financial instruments," and tranches, derivatives, credit default swaps, naked short-selling, etc and so forth, ad fin item. It's murkier in there than in the oil-infested waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
Stop, my head hurts.
A far simpler explanation, pervasive fraud and financial crime, has been ignored by most of our economic geniuses. As I made my film Plunder The Crime of Our Time offering a "crime narrative," I ran up against the denial that greeted my 2006 film In Debt We Trust warning of a meltdown. Then I was called, a "doom and gloomer." Now I have just been ignored or considered simplistic.
Why is that? There are cultural and ideological reasons. The world of finance is dominated by the elite of the elite, up-right citizens all, including many philanthropists and patrons of the arts. How could such important "big men" ever be accused of slimy crimes?
James K. Galbraith, an economist and the son of John Kenneth Galbraith, the late and great economist who argued that "corporate larceny" was behind the crash of '29, (I honor hin in the DVD of my film) believes that the economics profession, the "experts" who set the terms of the debate are partly responsible. He shared his views in recent Congressional testimony.
"I write to you from a disgraced profession. Economic theory, as widely taught since the 1980s, failed miserably to understand the forces behind the financial crisis. Concepts including "rational expectations," "market discipline," and the "efficient markets hypothesis" led economists to argue that speculation would stabilize prices, that sellers would act to protect their reputations, that caveat emptor could be relied on, and that widespread fraud therefore could not occur. Not all economists believed this but most did.
Thus the study of financial fraud received little attention. Practically no research institutes exist; collaboration between economists and criminologists is rare; in the leading departments there are few specialists and very few students. Economists have soft- pedaled the role of fraud in every crisis they examined, including the Savings & Loan debacle, the Russian transition, the Asian meltdown and the dot.com bubble. They continue to do so now. At a conference sponsored by the Levy Economics Institute in New York on April 17, the closest a former Under Secretary of the Treasury, Peter Fisher, got to this question was to use the word "naughtiness." This was on the day that the SEC charged Goldman Sachs with fraud."
What a world: people who steal food are deemed criminals and sent away with long sentences in a prison system with the highest rate of incarceration in the world. Banksters are considered "naughty."
This may be changing, ever so slowly, as a new era of investigations begins. The President has created a new federal anti-financial fraud task force. Goldman Sachs is being probed. So is Morgan Stanley. The Daily Beast reports on NY Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's latest highly political legal jihad: