Thursday, April 7, 2016

The "Bernie Doesn't Know Banking" Kerfuffle - A Pile Of Media Rot!

Bernie had given the media all they needed to know about his plan to break up the banks but they were too fucking dumb to grasp it.

"Bernie Sanders Is Ignorant!", "Sanders Couldn't Give Straight Answers On Breaking Up the Banks!", Sanders Don't Know Nuttin'! And so the yapping talking heads went on and on...and on..with even Queen Hillary chirping in that Bernie didn't seem to know what he was talking about- in an interview with the New York Daily News.  Except he did! But what the fuck does the corporate media know? In fact, not much - so why would you get your news from them unless you can corroborate it independently?

Thankfully, the "Sanders doesn't get it" canard was blown to shit last night when Robert Reich appeared on a fiery Chris Hayes' segment of All In, in which he faced down blabber mouth and Hillary supporter Barney Frank about the Sanders' interview.  Blustering clown Barney had the nerve to opine that Sanders "despite 25 years in congress has very little to show for it" topping off his bit by trying to denigrate one of the most productive members of all, unlike Barney. As Richard Eskow put it in his blog post today (see end link):

"Frank told Slate that Bernie Sanders “has been in Congress for 25 years with little to show for it in terms of his accomplishments.” Really? The VA has hired over 14,000 new doctors, nurses, and medical staff a result of Sanders’ work on that bill alone, and the backlog in disability claims has been reduced by nearly 90 percent.  In 2002, Sanders introduced an amendment in the House that blocked the Bush Administration from implementing a rule allowing companies to cut the pensions of older workers by as much as 50 percent.

“Little to show”? That amendment protected the pensions of countless American workers. And, through compromise and negotiation, Sanders eventually passed another amendment that helped 130,000 IBM workers regain $320 million in pension benefits."

So we knew from the get go Barney Frank is full of it which is why it was more than gratifying when Robert Reich bitch-slapped him, arguing forcefully that Sanders knew exactly what he was talking about, it was the media that fucked it all up. (A point I will get to in a bit citing a WSJ report on p. A4 today,  'Sanders Outlines Plan on Big Banks').

Thus, despite Frank's daft claims  Bernie did , in fact, deliver clear and specific responses in his interview, it was just that the hapless corporate media was unable to parse the subtle differences, i.e. between an actual bill he had put up and Federal Reserve oversight - which is a separate matter.  Since Bernie wasn't exactly clear on the issue of Fed oversight - why the fuck should he be since he isn't a Federal Reserve board member-  the stupid media blew a gasket. (Besides,  the Fed's minutes are concealed until 6 months after meetings are held). But none of this was processed so all we heard was: "Oh he knows nothing!"  Blah, blah, and blah.

Frank tried to make a sophist's case that Reich (and Sanders) were wrong, but looked more like an arrogant school boy trying to argue with Michelson and Morley about whether their famous experiment proved the ether existed (it didn't) and ended up looking like an ass.

Robert further took blabbering Barney to task by citing the fact the big banks now control an even bigger share of banking (43%) than they did in '08. As he put it so Barney could understand, if they control an even bigger share now why are they not too big to fail now while they were back then?

Barney hemmed and hawed and used the specious argument that well, it isn't a matter of sheer size per se but rather how much leverage or debt they have, i.e. in relation to capital But anyone who's followed the banking stories in The Financial Times or the WSJ's 'Money & Investing' section the past 6 months would have seen how the 5 largest banks, including Wells Fargo and JP Morgan Chase often reached debt to capital ratios of 20:1 or more. So hey, there IS a correlation between size and leverage!

Barney also bloviated about Sanders "forgetting or not mentioning the Glass-Steagall bill" - which had been repealed in 1999 and paved the way for mixing commercial and investment banking.  I guess Frank was trying to insinuate Bernie was getting senile or ought to have brought up G-S if he really wanted to venture into banking. But as Reich pointed out, that's all the hell Bernie has been doing the past year!

In the WSJ piece cited, the author makes clear Sanders knew exactly what he was talking about and again, it was the outside media that made a right mess of it.  Thus, to quote the article on  the authority the government could use to break up the big banks, we learn:

"Mr. Sanders said a bill he introduced in May, 2015 would give the Treasury Secretary authority to break up big banks but leave it to the institutions to figure out how to restructure"

Now, if the WSJ's Donna Borak could get this, why not the pissants and knuckleheads in the rest of the media? Well,  because they have such a boner to take Sanders down they don't want to get it! (Though they actually may not have the IQs necessary either. We can't omit that factor!)

Further details (ibid.):

"Under his plan, The Financial Stability Oversight Council, headed by the Treasury Secretary  - would have 90 days to compile a list of banks deemed too big to fail,  The list automatically would include institutions like JP Morgan Chase & Co., Goldman Sachs Group Inc, Citigroup Inc, Bank of America Corp. and Morgan Stanley"

Again, seems clear enough to me. The only reason, in fact, any politico or news media concern would take issue with it and distort it - as they did - is if those same big banks are some of their big money donors, OR their hotshots sit on their corporate boards and interlocking directorates. Which, in fact, was shown by Robert McChesney as long ago as 1995 in the Project Censored Yearbook ('The News That Didn't Make The News And Why') ..At that time, McChesney showed that 11 mass media conglomerates (including the Washington Post Company) "have directorships interlocking with 144 of the Fortune 1000 companies."  Those included banks, by the way, and since banks size and influence has grown you can imagine what it is now.

Further details, mainly for those media charlatans who need their brains jacked up:

"After drawing up the list, the Treasury Secretary - in consultation with the firm's regulator would have one year to make sure the banks break themselves up so that a failure wouldn't require a taxpayer bailout to avoid  big blow to the U.S. or global economy."

Again, one fails to see exactly what it was the MSM didn't get?

Now, the key difference with the Dodd-Frank bill:

"Mr. Sanders's'  proposal differs from the 2010 Dodd-Frank regulatory overhaul in two significant ways. His plan would give the authority to break up the banks to the administration through the Treasury Secretary, and it leaves the decision on how to break up the banks to the institutions themselves, not the Federal Reserve,"

Now again, if Ms. Borak could get the details right, why not the other media stalwarts, who preferred to rush to judgment and end up looking like asses. (Ok, truthfully, Bernie's spokespersons and many of us who blog are trying to clean up the mess the MSM left in its rush to ignore facts and details - but which were readily available - if they'd had the motivation to look as Ms. Borak did.

Finally, blustering Barney made a big to-do over Bernie not specifying the "limits" for breakup, $50 billion, $500 billion or whatever, But he didn't because he wasn't using the Dodd-Frank standard which forces banks to create living wills in case they go bankrupt. Thus, Dodd-Frank calls on the Fed to force banks with $50b or more in assets to draw up credible bankruptcy plans or "living wills". Failure to write a proper plan opens the bank up to regulators capping its size or limiting activities. Bernie's plan leaves it to the Treasury Secretary's discretion to identify the problem banks (too big to fail") and the banks themselves to carry out the  actual break ups - specifying whatever limits they want.

Easy peasy!

See also:


Salsabob said...

This analysis does nothing to either clarify the issue of how banks would actually be broken up or provide any basis for a determination that Sanders knows what he is talking about. A "Bernie Plan" or any other plan that relies on new legislation is simple a joke - go ask Paul Ryan or Mitch McConnell who will both still be there regardless of who is in the White House.

That leaves us with existing legislation and regulatory requirements. Yes, under Dodd-Frank there is a provision for a "living will" for any entity with $50B assets, but if push comes to shove, there will be "living wills" before any break ups, and if anyone has a problem with that, it will take years of court hearings for it to be resolve. And let's not forget that the most recent court action on this, sided with MetLife on their request to NOT be designated as too big to fail. Even where there is a mechanism for action (requiring "living wills" and NOT breaking up), the law is still uncertain and in flux.

Bernie's plan is to have the "too big to fail" listed and broken up in a year. What is the exact definition of "too big to fail" (i.e. what Barney Frank was trying to get at) and what legal basis will the government have to claim that definition is NOT arbitrary and capricious - not your own candy-aXs definition but one with legal precedence.

If you can meet that legal hurdle, then what is the exact authority in Dodd-Frank or any other law that gives the government the authority to break up a private entity on that list - an private enterprise that isn't actually in crisis but instead based on the assumption of an eventual crisis? Please cite by Federal Register Notice date, section and paragraph - I know you can't

Breaking up banks to big to fail is a laudable goal, but it is also just cynical giving-you-what-you-want-to-hear without apparently a second thought about how to bring it about. That is the basis of the entire Sanders campaign, and the reason for the angry push back on Savior Sanders not having a clue.

Copernicus said...

Given your speech, you will be interested to know the Financial Times yesterday listed five huge banks that failed the "living will" test as earmarked by Dodd-Frank. They included JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo. The point of the FT article is that by their failure these banks had already shown themselves too big to fail. Elizabeth Warren herself (see challenged Paul Krugman's claim that Bernie was off base, and his plan unworkable.

What Sanders is doing is letting the Treasury Secretary have initial oversight and list these offender banks according to his Treasury data. This is a YUUUUUGE first step because it steps outside the banking club's PR and separates the numbers, data from their own (likely rigged) internal data stats. It also imposes pressure to complete the job of their own break up or else stay on the public shaming list.

Bernie also defined "too big to fail" clearly, as Robert Reich did (on the All In show cited) as well and Elizabeth Warren: That is, their failure would be so detrimental to the economy as to necessitate a taxpayer bailout (such as already set up by the repukes via the amendment to the 2013 spending bill using the FDIC). There is, then, indeed, such a thing, even if the banking scheister PR mavens want to disinform people enough to disregard it - or believe the already melted down Dodd-Frank will solve the problem.

The point is that Sanders DID have a plan even if many in the media or others may not like it. He did leave it up to the banks themselves to apportion the specific break-up modus operandi, showing clearly once and for all he isn't the commie bogeyman the financial press has made him out to me (which would have seen him calling for the nationalization of the banks not just their break up.)

Evidently, Sanders has more of a clue than you do.

Copernicus said...

This is from salon. Com, referring to Elizabeth Warren's reaction:

Reacting to this news on Wednesday, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren appeared to take a veiled swipe at Krugman’s assessment that the shadow banking industry, as it is called, is actually more harmful to the economy going forward and that it was primarily at fault for the last global recession, not the big banks that remain too big to fail and that have come under near singular scrutiny since 2008.

“This announcement is a very big deal. It’s scary,” Warren wrote on Facebook, pointing to the the Federal Reserve and FDIC’s report. “The announcement also dramatically demonstrates the danger of taking our focus off the big banks as we think about how to prevent the next major crisis,” she said, calling the report a “giant, flashing” warning sign.

“There’s been a lot of revisionist history floating around lately that the Too Big to Fail banks weren’t really responsible for the financial crisis,” Warren said, seemingly referring to Krugman as Huffington Post’s Zach Carter first noted. “Wall Street lobbyists have tried to deflect blame for years. But the claim is absolutely untrue,” Warren said, arguing that “there would have been no crisis without these giant banks.

“Today, our top regulators warned us about the danger of the biggest banks – and we would be foolish to ignore their warnings”:

Copernicus said...

Re: "Legal authority" to impel the banks to break themselves up - easy! By Executive order. Ever heard of them? (Such as JFK's EO to print money outside the Federal Reserve System) Failing adhering to the EO the little bastards would not get line red cent of taxpayer bailout $$$. And I know damned well they wouldn't want that to do down!