Best Democracy Money Can Buy
For your reading pleasure, some snapshots of the banks and financial interests controlling our economy and eating up hundreds of billions in public money:
A review of lobbying reports filed indicates that finance, insurance and real estate (FIRE) interests paid over $42 million to lobbyists who worked to defeat mortgage write-down in bankruptcy (cramdown) in the first quarter of 2009, as well as other anti-consumer legislation such as capping credit card interest rates.
$13 million of that comes from TARP recipients.
Then we have the bonus babies:
The 2008 AIG bonus pool just keeps getting larger and larger.
In a response to detailed questions from Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the company has offered a third assessment of exactly how much it paid out in bonuses last year.
AIG now says it paid out more than $454 million in bonuses to its employees for work performed in 2008.
That is nearly four times more than the company revealed in late March when asked by POLITICO to detail its total bonus payments. At that time, AIG spokesman Nick Ashooh said the firm paid about $120 million in 2008 bonuses to a pool of more than 6,000 employees.
And there are the fraudsters:
New York AG Andrew Cuomo just issued 100 subpoenas to investment firms in his expanding investigation of pay-to-play schemes that defraud public employee retirement funds, and announced the participation of 100 officials in 36 states' attorney general offices in the probe.
(This pension fund placement agent scandal looks like a doozy.)
And finally, you have the good old American greedheads:
The White House, auto executives and union representatives were all able to come to an agreement last week to keep Chrysler out of bankruptcy. But the car company's creditors -- Wall Street banks and hedge funds -- refused repeated compromises and drove the company under.
The refusal doomed a major American auto company to bankruptcy, but it may have been a smart business move for the lenders.
Many of the Wall Street firms holding Chrysler bonds may also own credit default swaps that they bought to hedge their bets. These swaps, which are essentially like an insurance policy on the bonds should Chrysler default, were likely mostly issued by AIG.
AIG, thanks to the government bailout, has paid off swaps in the past at 100 cents on the dollar. Under the deal they would have had to accept with Chrysler, the bondholders would have received as little as 30 cents on the dollar, for example.
Why take 30 or 35 cents on the dollar from Chrysler when you can get the whole buck from the American taxpayer?
Like one of these hedge fund managers recently said, "This is America!" It sure is. The land of the "we're going to bring down your car company so taxpayers can indirectly bail us out with our credit default swaps from the company paying out millions in bonuses, freeing us up with more money to put into defrauding public pension funds, and our lobbyists will ensure it."