At What Point Does This Stop?

23 Dec

Good question, Mr. Cutler!  Stephen Cutler is a top legal adviser to banking behemoth JP Morgan Chase.

He was asking the headline question at a panel discussion in New York a few weeks ago.  He was taking a “poor us” stance in regards to the record $13 billion (with a B) settlement his company made with the Justice Department and other fines his bank is facing or has paid since the financial crash of 2008. Funny, but I hear no violins playing for your poor company.

“We should all be concerned that there doesn’t seem to be a natural end point to how high fines could go.” Cutler said.

Ironic? But there also seems no ceiling or end point for  how deeply this bank and others around the globe would go toward crushing the middle class and poor. CEO and Wall Street salaries are at all time highs.  Yet the global economy for most of us is still quite difficult. What are they rewarding themselves for with these capricious salaries, exactly? Avoiding even bigger fines? Destroying the fabric of our nation? Just curious.

The article I link above says that Mr. Cutler has seen this story from both sides, having previously served as head of enforcement for the Securities and Exchange Commission from 2001-2005. That time frame, by the way, is when the Wall Street banks were building the mortgage bubble and the SEC stood by and did absolutely NOTHING about the risk and leverage being undertaken by these banks our taxpayers would later have to bail out.  So, again, very good question Mr. Cutler, when will it stop?  When?

His dual ties to Wall Street and the SEC demonstrate part of the problem we have with regulation in this country.  The regulators are the companies they regulate and vice-versa.  Is it a conflict of interest for a man like Cutler to bring his knowledge of enforcement rules to a large bank? Is it wrong that our government agencies act as farm leagues for corporate America, launching individuals like Cutler into their high salaried consulting jobs in the private industry?

At what point does this stop, Mr. Cutler? What a disingenuous question you’ve asked. But here is my answer.

It stops only when the greed and avarice of individuals like yourself and those at the tops of Wall Street banks begin to figure out how much uber-wealth is enough. When they begin to share the enormous revenue being manufactured on the backs of the global middle class and poor by increasing the salaries of those below them. When they stop ripping off investors. When they stop turning a blind eye to scammers like Bernie Madoff as your bank did while you were playing a fiddle over at the SEC. When they stop pumping and dumping bubble after bubble. When the banking world finds a moral compass and begins to change, that is the “point when this stops.”

But please, spare us your pleadings and ‘poor us’ speeches. In 2012, your bank earned over $10 billion in profits.  Sorry you all had to pay for your evil deeds. But it appears, in spite of these massive fines, JP Morgan is still doing ok. The bank’s share price is at an all time high. Profits are record highs.

See my thumb and finger, Mr. Cutler? It is playing the world’s smallest violin. But really, your drivel wants me to show you another finger…


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