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Notes from Larry:

I wish to thank those of you who come to this site even though I have been absent for quite some time. This site has a very important purpose. There is much to say and much to hear from all of you.

For those of you who might be wondering about m;y health, I am happy to report that I have fully recovered and am healthier and stronger then I have been in over 20 years. My health was not my reason for my absence. I just needed some time away and appreciate your understanding. I will, however, be back right after the New Year.

Please contact me at of you would like to participate. There is a lot happening and -
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To Larry:

December 11, 2009

More Of The Same...No Change In Sight. What Part does Goldman Sachs Play?

Obama preached "change" as many Presidential candidates have done for many years but this time American's really believed he (Obama) could do so.

Wrong!  It is not only more of the same, it will continue to be the same as long as the same people are in power in front of and behind the scenes.  You see, I currently believe that it matters not who we elect as President as that position is just a figurehead for those truly in charge.

If we want change we need to clean house - not just the White House but the House of Representatives and the Senate where you have long term members (dictators) who run the show.

You need also clean house in both the Democrat and Republican Parties as both seem to be growing closer together while attempting to show their differences.  As a friend of mine always says, "they are the same head on a two sided coin".

There are "new" housekeepers out there but their views and parties are suppressed by our two major parties and the ruling forces behind them.  This country needs a complete overhaul.  We need political reform - getting away from a just two party system - we need economic reform, health care true reform, regulatory reform (especially in our banking system), tax reform, education reform and social reform.   Have I left out any broken pieces?

My same friend (the two headed coin guy) also says that this country is headed to becoming a "third world" country.  I believe he is right but at the very least it is becoming a two class society - the very rich and the poor.

Edward Harrison of The Huffington Post reported today on a story - Matt Taibbi on Obama's Big Sellout.  He writes:
This article originally appeared on my site Credit Writedowns
Matt Taibbi is one of the few commentators in the mainstream media who is not worried about 'access' and has, therefore, been free to write much more critically about the economic crisis and reform efforts on Wall Street.
His first piece was a polemic against Goldman Sachs, which triggered a backlash against the venerated Wall Street firm due to its incestuous relationship with Washington.  Afterwards, he took on health care reform. Now, he is taking on the Obama Administration and its status quo bias. I have an excerpt below and a link to the full article. But, first, let me say a few words.
As you probably know, I have been quite disappointed with this Administration's lead
As you probably know, I have been quite disappointed with this Administration's leadership on financial reform. While I think they 'get it,' it is plain they lack either the courage or conviction to put forward a set of ideas that gets at the heart of what caused this crisis.
Read Harrison's full article which includes excerpts from Matt here

Read Matt Taibbi's article Obama's Big Sellout in Rolling here

The president has packed his economic team with Wall Street insiders intent on turning the bailout into an all-out giveaway

...What inspired supporters who pushed him to his historic win was the sense that a genuine outsider was finally breaking into an exclusive club, that walls were being torn down, that things were, for lack of a better or more specific term, changing.
Then he got elected.
this article is being simultaneouslly published in:


  1. December 11, 2009
    BILL MOYERS: Welcome to the Journal. There's only one way to counter the power of organized money, and that's with the power of organized people. This is the theme of our broadcast this week.

    We've all seen in recent months how the insurance companies, the drug cartels, Wall Street bankers, corporate lobbies and other powerful interests are reaching deep into their pockets to stifle efforts at reform. And they've been winning. It's been a year since the big financial firms blew a hole in the economy and took down the jobs, wages, pensions and homes of millions of people. They would have gone down too — devoured by their own greed — were it not for the taxpayer bailout. But now major banks and securities firms are on track to pay their employees up to $140 billion in compensation this year. That's more than the combined budgets of the Departments of Commerce, Education, Energy, Housing and Urban Development, the National Science Foundation and the Environmental Protection Agency.


  3. December 13 2009: Obama and Rubin at the Bada Bing!

    As I said before, I can’t think of one single thing Obama did on finance that George W. Bush wouldn’t have done the exact same way. And whether that means that Obama is a lame duck or a full-blown perpetrator of illegal acts doesn't matter. The president should certainly be smart enough to know when he's being played, and step down the very moment he figures that one out. The fact that he's still in office makes the suspicion that Obama is more than just an innocent and ignorant fall guy a lot stronger. He could have said no, and he still can, any moment he chooses, just as he could have said no to the ridiculous "peace prize for warmongers" he collected last week.

    All in all, what this makes clear, once again, is that the US is in the depths and thralls of a full blown political crisis. The country is run by its own particular form of oligarchy, a cabal of visible and non-visible money lenders who through the past two or three decades have gotten an ever stronger grip on the nation's finances, and thereby its very well-being as well as that of its citizens.

    If Obama's presidency shows one thing, it's that there no longer are any genuine differences between political parties; the policies adopted and executed are identical. There is therefore no longer any real choice, or any influence, for the average citizen in his or her own life. In China, that’s the accepted life as usual; in America, it's not yet.

  4. The country is run by its own particular form of oligarchy, a cabal of visible and non-visible money lenders who through the past two or three decades have gotten an ever stronger grip on the nation's finances, and thereby its very well-being as well as that of its citizens.

    Very well said. The questions are:

    Who is truly in control and running our country?

    Why is it that the same group of people keep surfacing through each different administration?

    Are we governed under what I call a "Democratic Dictatorship?

    It seems that if "Joe Sixpack" was elected as President, the same sameness would exist. It matters not who is elected President.

  5. Pay no attention to Obama's faux "anger"; he's lying as well.

    Don't even get me started on the financial reform bill. Oh, I'll have commentary on it - but my first read is that the lobbyists have once again done it to us, cold, dry and hard. The most-blatant example that I found with about 30 seconds of skimming are subtle changes in the so-called derivatives "regulation" section that allows a person to be an alternative "exchange." That's right. That would include an artificial person (e.g. Corporation) since it doesn't say otherwise, which means that our dear old big banksters (represented in their lobbying by "Do-we Cheatem and How") have managed to actually remove what little regulation currently exists - while claiming to be for "strong and sound regulation of derivatives."

  6. Maybe obama doesn't get the real news ...maybe we should start sending it to him:
    Interest Rates Are Low, but Banks Balk at Refinancing

    One in Four Children on Food Stamps, One in Eight Overall; Weekly Unemployment Claims Tick Up

    Americans More Pessimistic On Economy, Nation's Direction

    No transparency

    WaMu Freedom of Information Request Denied

    Of particular interest were internal emails, which could help explain why regulators seized the bank in September 2008 even though WaMu appeared to meet regulatory standards for operating banks, despite its burden of bad loans.

  7. Nothing will come from this meeting...all for show.

    Obama has been more interested in sending out a pro-business signal to re-assure business interests and to court independent voters. I believe he has made a political calculation that he can hold his base of support even if he adopts a more center-left positioning because they have nowhere else to go. It’s not like they are going to vote for the Republicans. This has been an effective way to power for left-leaning mainstream parties for at least 15 years.

    However, I suspect that the Obama Administration was taken by surprise by how huge post-bailout profits in the banking sector were. He probably also never anticipated the lack of political antennae Wall Street executives showed in paying large bonuses. So, his pro-business emphasis has backfired and he finds himself in a position where he must ratchet up the populist rhetoric – not necessarily to be followed by any concrete actions.

    The problem with this calculus is that, in the wake of this major financial crisis, there are lots of voters who want much more fundamental change than Barack Obama has been willing to make. This is true on banker pay, on auditing the Federal Reserve and on protecting American jobs. Words alone are meaningless – one reason populism and protectionism escalate from rhetoric into action.

  8. Tarp repayment scam

  9. Everyone of them (politicians) are captured....

  10. So there were no surprises for the likes of Jaime Dimon of JP Morgan, Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs, John Mack of Morgan Stanley or Citigroup's Richard Parsons. Said one CEO who attended: "I expected to be taken to the woodshed, but the tone was quite the opposite."

    Said another senior exec with knowledge of the meeting: "The whole thing was so telegraphed that not much was accomplished, other than giving Obama a PR stunt . . . He might have sounded mean on '60 Minutes,' but during the meeting he was a hell of a lot nicer."

  11. Squeeze The People –

    Squeeze the People is the most sincere act of patriotism I can offer to my fellow neighbor. It is an album of Freedom Music of the People who are being squeezed to death by Fat Cat Wall Street banksters. Its purpose is to encourage alternative perspective and hopefully a greater sense of things. I invite you to listen. And please know that I am grateful for your time, because time is the most valuable commodity we have to share.

  12. Goldman Sachs Mortgage Role Should Be Probed, Labor Union Says

    Workers United sent the letters this week urging officials to follow the example of Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley. In May, Goldman Sachs agreed to a $60 million settlement to end an investigation by Coakley’s office into how the New York-based bank packaged securities containing home loans made to Massachusetts residents.

    “It is clear from its response in Massachusetts that Goldman is prepared to respond to pressure from Attorneys General like yourself, which can translate to millions of dollars for hundreds of troubled homeowners,” Workers United President Bruce Raynor wrote in a letter to New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, a copy of which was obtained by Bloomberg News. “The people of New York deserve the same level of compensation for problem loans and access to affordable refinancing.”

    n addition to New York and California, Raynor also sent letters to the attorneys general in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, Texas and Virginia, the union said. Brian Morse, a researcher at Workers United, said in an interview that the letters were mailed on Dec. 14.

    The Massachusetts homeowners covered by the Goldman Sachs settlement are getting a better deal than those covered by the U.S. government, Morse from Workers United said. The federal program doesn’t cut borrowers’ principal balances and their monthly bills can start to adjust higher after five years.

  13. Jon Stewart's take on the bank CEOs missing the meeting with President Obama ...

  14. McCain's Redemption?

    Reinstating Glass-Steagall would be a near-total reversal of his previous position. It would be recognition of the facts: Banks that are allowed to gamble in the financial markets inherently are gambling with the sovereign credit of The United States, and inevitably transfer their losses to the taxpayer while keeping ALL of the profits for their overpriced staff and executives.

    This is often said to be of "benefit" to the public because these banks are public companies. This is a flat lie: Goldman typically bonuses out roughly half of their gross profits, with only a minuscule piece being paid in dividends to shareholders. Other banks have similar compensation policies.

  15. The Last Word On Strategic Defaults

    Why is Morgan Stanley doing this?

    The Morgan Stanley buildings may have lost as much as 50 percent since the purchase, he estimated.

    As a consequence of being "upside down" they are walking away.

    BANKS - the very same BANKS that people claim you have a MORAL AND ETHICAL OBLIGATION TO PAY EVEN IF YOU ARE UPSIDE DOWN - are walking away (by "negotiation" - as in "do it or we'll default and you'll get even less!") from properties EVEN WHILE THE CARNIVAL BARKERS IN THE PRESS ARGUE IT IS IMMORAL FOR YOU TO DO SO.

  16. Thursday - December 17

    Ungovernability in the US

  17. Since your kind of busy in your new role as king elbow rubber maybe your legal staff could look into this:

    Talking about residential mortgages are there any legal minds in the audience that can address the veracity of this:

    Ms. Brackey: I am a paralegal at a firm which does nothing but defend foreclosure actions. I am absolutely astonished at the complete failure of circuit court judges, throughout the 3 county area, to apply basic rules of procedure and fundamental principals of law to the multitude of "Plaintiffs" who are suing homeowners for foreclosure. No one has publicized or written about the obvious "conspiracy" among all such judges, to allow the lenders to say and file anything and ignore the rules of law, just for the sake of moving the case to completion. I promise you, that if you discuss this issue with ANY foreclosure defense attorney, you will be shocked at what the local courts are doing. For example, the primary defense in any foreclosure case is that the Plaintiff does not actually own the promissory note. In most cases, they cannot even produce the actual promissory note. Plaintiff's attach copies of such to their complaint, and the copy proves that another entity is the lender. The law is well settled that in such a case the Complaint must be dismissed because the Plaintiff's own evidence establishes someone else owns the note. No Judge in the 3 counties has EVER granted such a request. They deny knowledge of the law, or simply tell you that they don't care, and dare you to appeal their decision. Another matter, just today. A lender filed suit for foreclosure, then filed an ex parte (no notice to the opposing party) motion to change the identity of the lender/Plaintiff, because the first lender never owned the note. The Court granted the ex parte Motion without notifying the Defendant of the existence of the motion or the order. This is patently a violation of the rules of procedure, and fundamental rights to due process. Today, the Judge laughed it off, and refused to do anything about the unlawful procedure, or the fact that the first Plaintiff caused the Defendant to hire a lawyer and expend fees, when they admittedly had no right to file suit in the first place. There are MULTIPLE examples of this abuse of the rule of law throughout these cases in South Florida. The result, homeowners are getting screwed because the Courts don't care if the Plaintiff is the legitmate owner of the note/mortgage or not. Their sole interest is to move the case out of their court as soon as possible. I think this is a great story, and again ask any foreclosure defense lawyer for similar examples, and you will be inundated with such.

  18. HBS Grad Jamie Dimon Showed His Alma Mater No Mercy

    JPMorgan went after them like a debt collector after a deadbeat auto owner, according to today's report from Bloomberg:

    Harvard would have avoided paying the costs of its swap obligations by waiting. Its banks, including JPMorgan Chase & Co., headed by James Dimon, were demanding cash collateral payments — ultimately totaling almost $1 billion — that Harvard in 2004 had agreed to pay if the value of the swaps fell. At least $1.8 billion of the swaps the school held were with JPMorgan, said a person familiar with the agreements. Dimon, a 1982 Harvard Business School alumnus, declined to comment on the agreements through a spokeswoman.

  19. December 18, 2009
    Amidst fading hopes for real reform on issues ranging from high finance to health care, economist Robert Kuttner and journalist Matt Taibbi join Bill Moyers to discuss Wall Street's power over the federal government

  20. OpEd on AIG: Show Us the E-Mail

    The three of us, as experienced investigators and prosecutors of financial fraud, cannot answer these questions now. But we know where the answers are. They are in the trove of e-mail messages still backed up on A.I.G. servers, as well as in the key internal accounting documents and financial models generated by A.I.G. during the past decade. Before releasing its regulatory clutches, the government should insist that the company immediately make these materials public. By putting the evidence online, the government could establish a new form of “open source” investigation.

  21. Hey Mr. President maybe you could give her a little more power:

    Elizabeth Warren Named 'Bostonian Of The Year'

    It's the year end so we're getting more of these made public. This honor at least was heartily deserved. A feisty (yet polite) graceful, academic-civil servant who effectively utilized the only weapon she was handed (in fact, 'not handed') by Congress: the media bully pulpit. She was given a grand title and little else. The rest was pure moxie.

  22. This is a recovery?

    Utility Bill Is One More Casualty of Recession

    The recession has accentuated what was already a growing home-energy challenge for low-income and many middle-class households across the nation. Rising numbers have had their utilities shut off, causing desperate scrambles to pay arrears and penalties to get them restored.

    In 2009, some 31,000 households in Rhode Island will have their utilities shut off, and the effort to juggle energy bills and mortgages is helping push some homeowners into foreclosure, said Henry Shelton, director of the George Wiley Center, a consumer advocacy group here. (Here, as in many states, utilities may not disconnect the poor in the winter.)

  23. "Nickel and Dimed"

    Q: What do you think about reports that an economic recovery may be at hand?

    A: Many people you might have called middle class or working class before have been ground down toward poverty or even destitution and then you see these billions of dollars of bonuses on Wall Street.

    Wall Street is having a wonderful time. Banks are doing fine ... Are we going to come out of this being an even more economically unequal society than we were in 2007?
    Q: What role did loose lending practices play in masking declining wages during the last period of economic expansion?

    A: Easy credit has been America's substitute for decent wages.

    Q: Is the upper middle class safe?

    A: Over the last 15 or 20 years, white collar workers have become increasingly disposable ... It became a trend, a fad, whatever, to cut your payrolls as much as possible, so we have more and more people who went to college, maybe even got a master's degree -- did all the right things -- and now they're lucky to get short-term contract work, no benefits.

  24. Tavakoli: Time To Claw Back AIG Money Paid To Goldman Sachs

    Blodget And Spitzer Discuss The Ethics Of AIG Email Coverups; Ratigan Chimes In Too

  25. HAMP seems pretty DAMP

    Serious U.S. mortgage delinquencies up 20 pct

    * Serious delinquencies up from prior quarter, year
    * Many loans modified under HAMP, but few permanent

    WASHINGTON, Dec 21 (Reuters) - Serious delinquencies among U.S. prime mortgages rose nearly 20 percent in the third quarter from the prior quarter, as the percentage of current and performing mortgages fell for the sixth consecutive quarter, banking regulators said on Monday.

    The report by the Office of Comptroller of the Currency and the Office of Thrift Supervision, which are part of the Treasury Department, covered about two-thirds of all U.S. mortgages.

    It found 3.6 percent of prime mortgages -- those made to the most credit-worthy borrowers -- were seriously delinquent in the third quarter. That was more than double the year-ago quarter and up nearly 20 percent from the 2009 second quarter. The report defined "serious delinquencies" as those loans 60 days or more past due and loans to delinquent bankrupt borrowers.

    Big U.S. banks and thrifts carried out 2.4 million home loan modifications, trial period plans or payment plans in the quarter, spurred mostly by a government plan offered by President Barack Obama, according to the report.

    Most came from the government's Home Affordable Modification Program. Mortgage servicers carried out 274,000 trial plans in the third quarter, up 240 percent from the second quarter when the plan was launched.

    But only 1 percent of those had been converted to permanent modifications as of Sept. 30, 2009, the report said.

    A major cause of this disconnect is that loan servicers are finding that many borrowers who initially appear to qualify for the program do not, according to the report.

    The Treasury Department has been pressuring lenders and mortgage servicers to do more to ease the harm from rising foreclosures.

    Loan modifications made outside the new aid program fell in the third quarter by nearly 8 percent, the report said.

  26. Change that will make certain people rich......

    Health Interests Spend More Than $600 Million to Sway Congress


    There are 3,300 lobbyists registered to lobby on health care, Senate records show, six for each of the 535 members of the House and Senate. More than 1,400 of those lobbying on health care formerly worked for Congress, the White House or federal agencies, including 55 former lawmakers.

    “This is the way the political system works,” said Representative Patrick Kennedy, a Rhode Island Democrat. “People curry favor in all kinds of different ways.”

  27. Why Is Obama Such a Failure?

    "What's costing the president are three things: a laissez faire style of leadership that appears weak and removed to everyday Americans, a failure to articulate and defend any coherent ideological position on virtually anything, and a widespread perception that he cares more about special interests like bank, credit card, oil and coal, and health and pharmaceutical companies than he does about the people they are shafting." Drew Westen, Leadership Obama Style

  28. Dec. 23, 2009, 12:01 a.m. EST · Recommend · Post:
    Winning the trial, losing your house
    Trying to prevent foreclosure while waiting for a permanent loan modification

    WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- Question: I have also made trial payments under the Making Home Affordable program. But my house truly was in foreclosure and I spoke with an attorney. Your advice in your column is wrong. They can foreclose, they will foreclose, and they are foreclosing on thousands of people who have made their trial payments every month! See previous Realty Q&A.

    There is nothing written into this program that provides any penalty for lenders if they do not modify a loan. They very clearly state that you are not actually approved for the program, and stipulate that the magical approval (or denial) will happen at some unspecified future time.

  29. Looks like people are getting fed think?

    Thou Shalt Steal

    Tim Jones, parish priest of St Lawrence and St Hilda, told his congregation in York, northern England: "My advice, as a Christian priest, is to shoplift."

    Jones, who according to the church Web site previously worked in Corinth, Mississippi, made his comments about what he regarded as acceptable behavior by those in need when they were desperate.

    In a transcript of his sermon published in the local newspaper, "The Press," Jones said: "I do not offer such advice because I think that stealing is a good thing, or because I think it is harmless, for it is neither.

    "I would ask that they do not steal from small family businesses, but from large national businesses, knowing that the costs are ultimately passed on to the rest of us in the form of higher prices."

    That sounds rather un-Christian.

    Or is it?

  30. Mr. President as you fine dine over the holidays with your banker friends (soon to be partners after you leave your 1 term presidency), please take the time to see how middle America is faring.

    For America's Santas, It's Hard to Be Jolly With the Tales They're Hearing
    In Hard Times, Kids Ask for Bare Essentials: Shoes, Eyeglasses and a Job for Dad


    Yesterday, President Obama claimed, "I didn't campaign on the public option." Seriously? Reporters quickly proved otherwise.
    Now we have a rapid-response TV ad showing that Obama not only promised a public option, but said that mandates requiring people to buy private insurance are bad policy. (The Senate health care bill does the exact opposite of what he promised.)
    Can you help make sure Congress knows the truth as they negotiate a final bill? Click here to see the ad and chip in $4 to help put it on TV in DC.

  32. Rewarding a Catastrophe
    Bernanke and the Corruption of Washington Culture

    The second tool that the Fed could have pursued was to crack down on the fraudulent loans that were being issued in massive numbers at the peak of the bubble. It is absurd to claim that the Fed didn’t know about the abuses in the mortgage market. I was getting e-mails from all over the country telling me about loan officers filling in phony income and asset numbers so that borrowers would qualify for mortgages. If the Bernanke and his Fed colleagues did not know about these widespread abuses, it is because they deliberately avoided knowing.

    But, in Washington no one is ever held accountable for their performance. The economic collapse is treated like a fluke of nature – a hurricane or an earthquake – not the result of enormous policy failures.

    So, it is the 15 million unemployed that go without work, not Ben Bernanke. Instead, the senators praise Bernanke to the sky and thank him for his service. The running line in the Senate is: “it could have been worse.”

    That is the way Washington works these days. And, everyone should be very very disgusted.

  33. Kleptocracy in America?

    The obvious corollary of this theory is that most successful modern societies are, in fact, kleptocracies. The key is to use the four methods to gain popular support in order to re-distribute as much wealth to the ruling class as the populace will support. If the ruling class takes too much, it will be overthrown and replaced by a new ruling class (which in turn will re-distribute wealth to itself using the same four methods).

  34. Responding to Goldman Sachs

    Goldman said it suffered losses due to the deterioration of the housing market and disclosed $1.7 billion in residential mortgage exposure write-downs in 2008. These losses would have been substantially higher had it not hedged. Goldman describes its activities as prudent risk management. Many Wall Street firms wound up taking losses. The question is, however, how did they manage to get through a couple of bonus cycles without taking accounting losses while showing "profits?"

    The answer is that they sold a lot of "hot air" disguised as valuable securities. Goldman claims this was prudent risk management. In reality, Goldman created products that it knew or should have known were overrated and overpriced.

    Earlier, Goldman denied it could have known this was a problem, yet acknowledged I had warned about the grave risks at the time. If Goldman wants to stick to its story that it didn't know the gun was loaded, then it is not in the public interest to rely on Goldman's opinion about the greater risk it now poses to the global markets.

    The public is an unwilling majority owner in AIG, and public money was funneled directly to Goldman Sachs as a result of suspect activity. The circumstances of AIG's crisis were extraordinary and without precedent. I maintain that the public is owed reparations, and it would be fair to make all of AIG's counterparties buy back the CDOs at full price, and they can keep the discounted value themselves.

  35. Third Quarter 2009 "Mortgage Metrics

    only 781 or less than 1% of HAMP trial period plans have been converted to permanent HAMP modifications

  36. NOW we know Who brought many to the brink
    “The simultaneous selling of securities to customers and shorting them because they believed they were going to default is the most cynical use of credit information that I have ever seen,” said Sylvain R. Raynes, an expert in structured finance at R & R Consulting in New York. “When you buy protection against an event that you have a hand in causing, you are buying fire insurance on someone else’s house and then committing arson.”
    Goldman Sachs: The Grinch who stole Christmas?
    Goldman Sachs Sold Hot Air
    Goldman Scam: Selling Bad Debts While Betting Against Them
    Goldman Sachs' secret bets
    Goldman Sachs secretly bet on housing crash

    Q&A WITH KEVIN DUFFY AND BILL LAGGNER: Two hedge-fund managers predict the economy's next leg down. Shorting Goldman Sachs.

  37. Barron's: What would you have done differently as the credit bubble was bursting and the Fed and the Treasury were declaring that the world would come to an end without an $800 billion bailout package?

    Duffy: Allow those who essentially bet wrongly to fail, instead of bailing out people with friends in high places.

    Barron's: What about the argument that a financial panic would have ensued and crushed the little guy?

    Duffy: The little guy actually has been crushed. The little guy is always going to be the last one in the soup line. So he will get a bone tossed to him, like cash for clunkers. But if you are Goldman Sachs or if you have got essentially the red bat-phone to Washington, D.C., you are first in line.

  38. Gee, Who WASN'T Bribed?

    And let's remember, he is accused of basically stealing the money.

    Now tell me how different this is from Henry Paulson showing up at the SEC's office to press for, and receive, a removal of leverage limits from the Investment Banks - an act that then allowed big Wall Street firms to package up trash loans into securities, shop ratings to get that coveted "AAA" and then sell them off to unsuspecting rubes - who in turn took huge losses in 2007 and 2008?

    I argue there is no difference.

    There is a fine line between a "campaign contribution" and a "bribe". The law defines it in one place - an explicit "quid pro quo."

  39. Sunday, December 27, 2009
    2009: The Year Wall Street Bounced Back and Main Street Got Shafted

    In September 2008, as the worst of the financial crisis engulfed Wall Street, George W. Bush issued a warning: "This sucker could go down." Around the same time, as Congress hashed out a bailout bill, New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg, the leading Republican negotiator of the bill, warned that "if we do not do this, the trauma, the chaos and the disruption to everyday Americans' lives will be overwhelming, and that's a price we can't afford to risk paying."

    In less than a year, Wall Street was back. The five largest remaining banks are today larger, their executives and traders richer, their strategies of placing large bets with other people's money no less bold than before the meltdown. The possibility of new regulations emanating from Congress has barely inhibited the Street's exuberance.

    But if 2009 has proved anything, it's that the bailout of Wall Street didn't trickle down to Main Street. Mortgage delinquencies continue to rise. Small businesses can't get credit. And people everywhere, it seems, are worried about losing their jobs. Wall Street is the only place where money is flowing and pay is escalating. Top executives and traders on the Street will soon be splitting about $25 billion in bonuses (despite Goldman Sachs' decision, made with an eye toward public relations, to defer bonuses for its 30 top players).