Those wacky banksters. Private banking is a tangled web of opacity. Let's review some of their recent and long-running shenanigans, remembering this list is far from exhaustive:
Class Action for Interest Rate Swap Fixing
In November, the Public School Teachers' Pension and Retirement Fund of Chicago initiated a class action suit contending that ten of Wall Street's largest banks have "extract[ed] billions of dollars in monopoly rents, year after year . . ." and in doing so, wrecked Chicago teachers' retirement accounts. Defendants are Goldman Sachs, Bank of America Merril Lynch, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Credit Suissie, Barclays, BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank, & Royal Bank of Scotland. All are accused of "colluding to prevent the trading of interest rate swaps on electronic exchanges, like the ones on which stocks are traded."
Also last month, the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC), a group dedicated to increasing "the flow of private capital into traditionally underserved communities," released a study demonstrating that banks are prohibitive in their mortgages to black residents in the Baltimore. "Banks' lending practices are continuing the cycle of devastation experienced by poor blacks in the city," the report concluded.
The Baltimore report comes on the heels of September 2015 allegations by the federal government that Fifth Third Bank discriminated against blacks and Hispanics with higher interest rates in auto loans. And those allegations followed the 2014 settlement between the United States Department of Justice and Fifth Third Mortgage in which the bank engaged in a pattern of discrimination on the basis of disability and receipt of public assistance in violation of Equal Credit Opportunity Act. None of which, apparently, stopped a banking cheerleader group from giving Fifth Third its "Best Small Bank Brand of the Year" award.
In May, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland and UBS Group AG pled guilty to felonies, while Swiss Bank had cooperated with federal authorities early on; all had manipulated international exchange rates and national currencies, ruining millions of lives. The federal government made them pay paltry fines. Nobody went to jail and no serious threat to any of those banks' profits exists. They devastated millions of lives in multiple cities and states. In disgust, California's Santa Cruz County declared it wouldn't do business with the guilty banks.
In July, the Maryland Public Policy Institute, a conservative-leaning think tank, "tracked the returns of 33 state pension funds and found that those that paid higher fees recognized lower returns than those with low fees."
In June, Michael Snyder of Economic Collapse Blog notoriety explained that "derivatives represent nothing more than a legalized form of gambling . . . a bet that something either will or will not happen in the future. Ultimately . . . one of these days this gigantic time bomb is going to go off and absolutely cripple the entire global financial system."
. . . and the list, actually, goes on. Bet you can't wait to see what these jokers accomplish in 2016.
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