The $9 Billion Witness: Meet JPMorgan Chase’s Worst Nightmare
Matt has moved back to Rolling Stone and I am starting to catch up on his old posts, so this might be the first of a few. I have often attempted to tell people that the ‘historic’ $13 billion find that Chase agreed to was nothing more than a slap on the wrist and represented a trivial fraction of the profit they made and a teeny tiny fraction of the economic harm they caused. This post details that it is even worse; in addition to, naturally, the fine being paid by the share holders (the CEO got a raise!), the fine itself is being used as a tax deduction. Four of the supposed $13 billion isn’t even real money at all, it is just accounting trickery to inflate the $9 billion number (which, after writing off the taxes, is really much closer to $5.5 billion (this on a company that nets that much each quarter)).
Matt’s article makes it crystal clear the complicity of our supposed government watchdogs on the coverup. This is, of course, just a single instance of our government’s efforts to work with Wall Street to cover up crimes that should result in hard jail time for many executives.
Anyway, here are a couple of excerpts to attempt to get my reader(s) to take a look:
In September, at a speech at NYU, Holder defended the lack of prosecutions of top executives on the grounds that, in the corporate context, sometimes bad things just happen without actual people being responsible. “Responsibility remains so diffuse, and top executives so insulated,” Holder said, “that any misconduct could again be considered more a symptom of the institution’s culture than a result of the willful actions of any single individual.”
Because after all this activity, all these court actions, all these penalties (both real and abortive), even after a fair amount of noise in the press, the target companies remain more ascendant than ever. The people who stole all those billions are still in place. And the bank is more untouchable than ever – former Debevoise & Plimpton hotshots Mary Jo White and Andrew Ceresny, who represented Chase for some of this case, have since been named to the two top jobs at the SEC. As for the bank itself, its stock price has gone up since the settlement and flirts weekly with five-year highs. They may lose the odd battle, but the markets clearly believe the banks won the war. Truth is one thing, and if the right people fight hard enough, you might get to hear it from time to time. But justice is different, and still far enough away.