Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wall Street’s Power Grab

By Michael Hudson for Global Research
You almost could hear the bankers heave a sigh of relief when Haiti’s earthquake knocked the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission hearings off the front pages and evening news broadcasts last week. At stake, after all, is Wall Street’s power grab seeking to centralize policy control firmly in its own hands by neutralizing the government’s regulatory agencies. The first day – Wednesday, January 15 – went innocuously enough. Four emperors of finance were called on to voice ceremonial platitudes and pro forma apologies without explaining what they might be apologizing for. Typical was the statement by Goldman Sachs chairman Lloyd C. Blankfein: “Whatever we did, it didn’t work out well. We regret the consequence that people have lost money.”
Their strategy certainly made money for themselves – and they made it off those for whom the financial crisis “didn’t work out well,” whose bad bets ended up paying Wall Street’s bonuses. So when Paul Krugman poked fun at the four leading “Bankers without a clue” in his New York Times column, he was giving credibility to their pretense at innocent gullibility.
Recipients of such enormous bonuses cannot be deemed all that clueless. They blamed the problem on natural cycles – what Mr. Blankfein called a “100-year storm.” Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase trivialized the crisis as a normal and even unsurprising event that “happens every five to seven years.” It was as if the crash is just another business cycle downturn, not aggravated by any systemic financial flaws, but, if anything, by liberal government planners being too nice to poor people, by providing cheap mortgage credit to the uninitiated who could not quite handle the responsibility.
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