Category Archives: Banksters

Headline of the day II: Cash and carry Clinton


From the Washington Post:

Clinton blasts Wall Street, but still draws millions in contributions

Even as Hillary Clinton has stepped up her rhetorical assault on Wall Street, her campaign and allied super PACs have continued to rake in millions from the financial sector, a sign of her deep and lasting relationships with banking and investment titans.

And the Post’s Ann Telnaes offered her own contribution on Clintonian hypocrisy, keying off a statement the candidate made at last night’s New Hampshire Democratic Town Hall:

BLOG Clinton

Borrowing while black: Banksters in action


Just having a name that sounds like the applicant is African American will cost the would-be borrower a 71 percent reduction on the lender’s credit score, according to a new study.

From teleSUR English:

Mortgage lenders across the United States discriminate against African-Americans clients, according to a new study.

In an industry where credit scores are meant to determine eligibility, race was half as much a determining factor of the lender’s response to a loan request.

The study, published in the latest issue of the Journal of Urban Economics, emailed over 5,000 Mortgage Loan Originators—the first point of contact that can offer and negotiate loans—with white-sounding and Black-sounding names.

Differences in the initial responses were significant enough to note consistent discrepancies: in the rate, length, content, tone and timing of the responses. The African American-sounding clients were repeatedly treated more poorly. On the whole, the treatment amounted to about 71 percent lower credit score.

More from the Marquette University College of Business Administration:

A Marquette University study forthcoming in the Journal of Urban Economics has found that African-Americans seeking home loans are discriminated against by mortgage lenders at the earliest stages of the application process.

According to Dr. Andrew Hanson, associate professor of economics and the study’s lead author, black Americans are far more likely than white Americans to be ignored by mortgage loan originators.

Hanson pointed out that allegations of discriminatory lending practices during the 2004-08 housing boom resulted in the two largest cash settlements ever between mortgage lenders and the Department of Justice — $335 million from Bank of America’s Countrywide group and $175 million from Wells Fargo. The complaints alleged that these institutions steered equally qualified minority applicants into higher interest (sub-prime) loans and charged higher fees than for white borrowers.

“While some observers may chalk the root cause of discrimination during the boom to an unusual housing and lending market, that may not necessarily be the case, as our research points out,” Hanson said.

In the three-year study, Hanson and his collaborators tested for racial discrimination by mortgage lenders using what’s known as a correspondence experiment approach. The team sent identical email inquiries to lenders, with one primary difference — the name of the potential borrower.

“We used names that are highly likely to be associated with either African-Americans or white Americans to see if their inquiries were treated differently by lenders,” Hanson said.

After analyzing the data from more than 10,000 emails, Hanson found net discrimination by 1.8 percent of lenders through non-response. The study also showed that lenders offer more details about loans and are more likely to send follow-up correspondence to whites.

“Looking just at the response rates of mortgage loan originators, the effect of being African-American is equivalent to the effect of having a credit score that is 71 points lower,” Hanson noted.

Greek tragedy and dreams of a Star Trek future


Yanis Varoufakis is a political hybrid, perceived as so a dangerous radical by the financial powers of Europe that they forced his ouster as finance minister in the supposedly radical leftist government of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who had be voted into power precisely to resist that Troika of European Central Bank, the IMF, and the European Commission.

His term in office lasted less that six months, from 27 January to 6 July of 2015.

Varoufakis now serves as Professor of Economic Theory at the University of Athens and as private consultant for Bellevue, Washington, video game  development and software distributor Valve Corporation. He’s also a prolific blogger and Twitterpater.

In a 3 August 2015 profile by Ian Parker of the New Yorker, Varoufakis described one incident during his brief tenure a Greek money manager:

At the White House, Varoufakis repeated a line that he had used at Brookings: “Mr. President, my government is planning, and I am planning, to compromise, compromise, and compromise, but we’re not going to be compromised.” (“He liked that,” Varoufakis recalled.) Varoufakis told him, “Mr. President, of course one has to suffer costs in order to get the benefits, but the question is the balance. There has to be a positive balance.” He went on, “We are being asphyxiated for trying to simulate what you did, right?”

Obama showed more solidarity than Varoufakis was expecting. “I know — austerity sucks,” Obama said. (“He used those words. Very un-Presidential.”) According to Varoufakis, the President was referring less to austerity’s unpleasantness than to its ineffectiveness. Obama meant that austerity “doesn’t work — it creates misery, and it’s self-perpetuating, and it’s self-defeating.”

Varoufakis told Obama that he hadn’t felt quite the same comradeship when speaking with the U.S. Treasury Secretary. “Jack Lew is not toeing the Obama line,” he said.

Lew’s views prevailed.

In the following interview for The Real News Network by Canadian lawyer, journalist, and environmental activist Dimitri Lascaris, Varoufakis details the pressure on Greece and the reasons he abandoned his office:

Yanis Varoufakis: How The Greek People’s Magnificent “No” Became “Yes”

From the transcript:

LASCARIS: Let’s talk a little bit about the future, what the future holds for Greece in particular. As you know, I’m sure all too painfully, the Syriza government has been implementing a series of so-called reforms at the insistence of the Troika, which many regard as being harsher than the terms previously dictated to the right-wing New Democracy-led government. And recently Alexis Tsipras, the prime minister, expressed the view that 2016 would mark the beginning of the end of the economic crisis in Greece. Do you think that that’s a realistic assessment in light of the nature and harshness of the austerity measures being implemented?

VAROUFAKIS: Dimitri, a simple one-word answer: no. Look. This program that was agreed in August, and which I voted against in Greek parliament, was designed to fail. There is precisely zero probability that it will succeed. The prime minister himself, Tsipras, said so back in August. He described the treaty that he signed, the agreement that he signed on [I think] the 13th of July, as a document that was extracted from him by coup d’etat. These were not my words. These were his.

Now, the great disagreement we had, we had this personally, as well, in a very comradely and friendly way, but it was nevertheless a strong, intellectual disagreement, was this. He said to me, and he said to the parliament, and he said to the public, that we have to accept this toxic, failed program that is never going to work, because if we don’t then the banks will never open again, and we’ll then have blood on the streets, more or less.

Well, what he intended to do was to introduce a parallel program, legislative program, comprising his own, his own government’s agenda for looking after the weak, sustaining those on very low pensions and income. A parallel program, he called it. So there is the [proposed] failed program, which is the price we have to pay according to Prime Minister Tsipras, for the surrender, the defeat. But we introduce a parallel program which justifies why you are staying in power to implement the toxic program.

Now, it is indeed the case that Prime Minister Tsipras and his government tried to do that. In early–late November, early December, they did table in Greek parliament the parallel program. Two days later, the president of the Euro Working Group, which is the effective functionary of the Troika, it came out and said, uh-uh, you have to withdraw that. And a Greek minister humiliated himself and the Greek government by making it sound as if it was his own idea that they should withdraw this parallel program. So this parallel program now has been withdrawn by the Greek government itself, at the behest of the Troika.

So even by the logic of the prime minister, the answer to your question is no.

If you’re curious about Varoufakis’s political and economic beliefs, here’s a December TED talk in which he expounds of a set of ideas that he believes is simultaneously libertarian, Marxist and Keynesian, via his post on Social Europe:

Why Capitalism Will Eat Democracy

Program notes:

Have you wondered why politicians aren’t what they used to be, why governments seem unable to solve real problems? Economist Yanis Varoufakis, the former Minister of Finance for Greece, says that it’s because you can be in politics today but not be in power — because real power now belongs to those who control the economy. He believes that the mega-rich and corporations are cannibalizing the political sphere, causing financial crisis. In this talk, hear his dream for a world in which capital and labor no longer struggle against each other, “one that is simultaneously libertarian, Marxist and Keynesian.”

A transcript of the talk is posted here.

The New Official City of Berkeley Anthem™


Yep, there’s no more fitting anthem for the City of Berkeley, California, than this little video offering from Berkeley music vlogger 6VIDEO9.

For six years we toiled as the land use reporter for the late print edition of the Berkeley Daily Planet til shortly before the paper folded, laying off its paid journalists but still active as a website.

Despite it’s reputation as a city of the radical Left, Berkeley has a political system devoted to gentrification and the construction of massive apartments catering to upscale tenants, while less monumental erections serve as hives for UC Berkeley students, who are forced to pay their rent to corporations run by investment bankers, massive real estate holding companies, and the occasional UC Berkeley professor.

The reason the city allows the demolition of existing buildings is due in part to the city’s largest landowner — an owner exempt from property taxes and development fees — the University of California.

And the pressure comes from a decades-old decision to stop building student housing for undergrads, rendering students objects of corporate prey. And to cover the coast of soaring rents and ever-increasing tuition rates, they become prey for another clutch of predators, the banksters who force them into indentured servitude to cover the costs of their student loans.

The city government and its police, fire, ambulance, and other services depends in part on funds from it’s share of real estate taxes, and in part on funds from real estate development fees, which serve as the basis for the budget of the city planning department.

Oh, and it’s a former city planning executive who spun through the revolving door and emerged as a [shock!] real estate developer who is spearheading what will be the largest upscale apartment highrise of the 21st Century, with images of the ex-planner and his project featured prominently in the video.

Mayor Tom Bates is also included, his image shown under a Bates Hotel header. Bates is a developer-turned politician, and a former UC Berkeley football star who campaigns are mainly funded by folks from the real estate trade, from builders and owners to those who earn their money from commissions on building and land sales.

And with further ado [or adieu] the :

Stack o’ Dolla

Program note:

Is this the City You Want? Collective

Headline of the day IV: Fears of Spanish Left turn


From El País, fears of a left-populist Spanish government:

Brussels warns that “political risk” in Spain is eroding market confidence

European Commission lays out views of current situation in its draft ‘Spain 2016’ report

Headline of the day: Banksters and their pet pols


From the McClatchy Washington Bureau:

Goldman Sachs is in the eye of the campaign storm

  • Investment bank has been criticized by Democrats and Republicans
  • Hillary Clinton got $675,000 in speaking fees from Goldman Sachs
  • Ted Cruz is under fire for his links to Goldman, his wife’s employer

Headline of the day II: Cash and carry politics


From the Associated Press:

Billionaire donors helped Cruz rise in GOP presidential bid

Four of America’s wealthiest businessmen laid the foundation for Ted Cruz’s now-surging Republican presidential campaign and have redefined the role of political donors