A very dire US story was shown on Four Corners last night about the Global Financial Crisis and how Wall Street may have caused it; at first I thought this was a copy editor’s wet dream. As a piece of fiction it was so bad, so unbelievable, I thought an interesting exercise would have been to rewrite parts of it as fiction revised.
Let me start with my personal point of view: we are having a federal parliamentary debate about media management, during which it was revealed that Channel Nine is owned by two US Wall Street Hedge Funds; a sixth of the Australian media landscape owned by banksters; in the 1980’s I owned an acreage in the country, but also decided to buy an apartment in the city, after all I was living and working here; I got into bother transitioning from country ownership to financing my city property; Citibank helped me refinance; in an ethical situation that would not have occurred. They featured in last night’s story.
I recently read a gay detective novel by Richard Stevenson about the fact that Wall Street has not been prosecuted for clear instances of fraud during the GFC. The word currently used of these financial folk is BANKSTER, so apt. Lastly, the current cricis in Cyprus has to be mentioned, the fact that every owner of a bank account may have to forfeit 10% of their wealth to prop up the bad decisions of bank managers.
Last night an individual of Obama’s administration mewled and whined that banks were too important a part of the system to be vigorously prosecuted for their actions. Someone else said that greed was not necessarily illegal; however, the system of assessing debts was then discussed. It was sub-contracted to companies who would descend onto California hotels and do their worktogether in a room; a party atmosphere soon generated merriment and disbelief, where mortgages and the details of a mortgagee’s income generation were so unbelievable that often they were re-written like so much bad fiction. In other words, there were some base grade standards used to assess an applicant’s suitability to be given a mortgage; when these looked as if the applicant would be disqualified, the standards were re-written, lowered.
There was a fine line between legality and best business practice; I personally do not know what areas of a mortgage application constitute legality. However, when a middle management member of Citibank frantically wrote everyone emails alerting people to the possibility that fraud was taking place, and the president of Citibank was questioned about this by the mewling whining one and his comfortable response was ” I’m sure I directed that to the appropriate area”, something very wrong has taken place.
Numerous contractors doing due diligence work admitted to the doco presenter that the investigative work would not be difficult to do; these multi-million dollar annual-earning executives could be brought to book. By contrast, mewler, whiner, kept repeating how difficult the burden of proof was. Also he repeated on two occasions that the banking structure was too fragile to risk vigorous judicial procedure. As another official remarked, concern about the banking structure was not his purview, his duty was the vigorous pursuit of justice. Sadly, this will be an extensive blot on Obama’s reputation.
To recapitulate, bankers are now able to operate without legal restraint; facts that might previously have been accompanied by a warning that deliberate inaccuracy constituted fraud and would attract legal retribution were now unencumbered. In other words, these capitalists are able to generate income any way possible; meanwhile we suffer the dire effects of such ruthlessness; also, we are all members of a society that depends on a certain degree of mutual regard to operate properly. We are, none of us angels, but a degree of consideration helps the system work. These banksters lined up in silk suits outside their lunching establishments rely on the rest of us to obey the law; not behaving like brigands on the footpath, being civilised. Somehow, this is no longer a universal dynamic; the bankster is getting away with it, WHY?