Thursday, August 9, 2012

Bankster Bus of Blame

Jamie Dimon is a weird cross between Tony Soprano and Sarah Palin. In a combination political/mock execution tour, he and his consiglieres have boarded a big black bus to roll down the highways and shake down the masses. He is scolding everybody but himself for the financial meltdown and long depression. And, of course, demanding ever more concessions.

He is doing his crony capitalist duty to ram the second coming of the Catfood Commission down your throats. Stop whining that you're in pain just because his bankster mob broke a few of your precious financial bones. If the economy sucks, it's your fault too, people. Stop blaming him, because it makes him the sensitive market lose confidence. And by the way, pay tribute by cutting some entitlement programs, so the rich can get even richer and gain back some of that self-esteem so cruelly taken from them by the selfish underclass.

Dimon, who simultaneously acts as both CEO of JPMorganChase and board member of the NY Fed, (and thus regulates himself) flew to the Midwest on his private corporate jet this week, only to board an armored bus, the better to connect with his minions and customers in the heartland. (He did similar tours in foreclosure-riddled California and Florida last year.) They are a combination of chutzpah, browbeating and damage control. They're a way to connect with folks, and in the proudest godfather tradition, make them an offer they can't refuse. Convince them with a threatening smile that the interests of Wall Street and Main Street intertwine. Physically ingratiate yourself into their geographical space.

Dimon's exact itinerary has been kept very much on the QT, and his folksy meetings with customers and wage slaves have  been closed to the media. But Mark Williams of the Columbus (Ohio) Post-Dispatch somehow managed to infiltrate one of the Chase road-shows to listen to Dimon's shrill, finger-pointing harangue:
"It’s because of us. We scapegoat each other. We point fingers,” Jamie Dimon said yesterday while visiting with customers of the bank’s Kingsdale office in Upper Arlington, as well as the branch’s current and former employees.
And shades of John McCain's infamous 2008 remark that the "fundamentals of our economy are strong" and Barack Obama's infamous 2012 gaffe that "the private sector is doing fine":
I actually think the underlying economy is not bad,” Dimon told about 200 people gathered in a tent set up next to the branch.
Consumers and small and large businesses have healthier balance sheets than before the recession, he said.
“I can’t prove it in real time,” Dimon said of his thesis.
But Dimon pointed to last summer’s debate in Washington over raising the debt ceiling and critical comments made of banks and other businesses as examples of how such episodes sap the confidence of consumers and businesses to invest and expand.
“We’ve done it to ourselves,” he said. “I just hope something breaks the back of this political environment.”
Hear that, peons? You and Jamie are in the same cozy little club and you did it to yourselves by buying a subprime-mortgaged house and using one of his usurious credit cards. If you want him and his corporatists to stop hoarding their obscene profits, you have to pay him back, with interest compounded hourly and ad infinitum. You have to give up your Social Security cost of living increases and wait till you're 70 to retire while they foreclose your underwater homes. That's the cudgel that will break your environmental back. 

Oops... Wrong Finger

Of course, there is another practical reason that Dimon is venturing into the heartland: Market share. JPMC is only Number Four in market share in the midwest. There are scads of small bankers in flyover country just waiting to be sucked up in the voracious Wall Street maw. From a Milwaukee Sentinel pre-show interview:
Dimon insisted that even for a megabank with $2.3 trillion in assets, a market such as Wisconsin is important.
"We contribute $1.5 million in philanthropy in the state, a lot of which is in Milwaukee," he said. "We make community development loans. We bank some of the bigger companies - like we're one of the banks to Harley-Davidson. So we really bring a lot, even though we're not local the way you think of a local bank."
And, echoing the mantra of Bain-style vulture capitalism:
"We want to make customers happy. So if they don't do a good job integrating and bringing their products and services to Milwaukee, yeah, it will give us an opportunity," Dimon said. "I don't wish for other companies to fail. But, of course, if they're not good at what they do, we'll win share."
Charity, motorcycles and corporate raiders -- what a way to win heartland hearts and minds, eh Jamie? John Gotti, the teflon don, used to give neighborhood street parties in between hits, too. Anyway, the new Dodd-Frank rules are way too cumbersome for the itty-bitty community banks to handle, so it's much better to let the mega-banks just eat them for lunch:
"Unfortunately, I think a lot of the new rules make it very tough for community banks," Dimon said "We're one of the biggest bankers to banks, including community banks. I think it will be easier for some of the big firms to accommodate all these new rules and regulations and capital. So in spite of the fact that they said they'd try to favor small banks in all this legislation, the law of unintended consequences usually means that's not what happens."
And he makes sure to blend some sweet rah-rah patriotism into the arsenic to make it easier for the doomed local economies to swallow. This guy deserves the gold medal for Bullshit Artist of the Year:
The underpinning of the American economy is actually quite good, and I wish our politicians would say what I'm about to say," Dimon said. "We have the best military, the best universities, the best businesses, the best capital markets - the widest, deepest, most transparent, even though we've had some problems in it. . . . Consumers are in far better shape than they were in. Corporations large and small are in far better shape. We've got a pretty good hand."
You can say that again, Jamie. You got dealt an exceedingly good hand, with nary a slap on the wrist from your political cronies in Congress and the DOJ for that unexplained "loss" of $5 billion or $9 billion in the London Whale deal.

You and your Wall Street mob are not content to simply throw us under the bus. You get on the bus, and you run us over, again and again and again.


Denis Neville said...

The wealth of our nation, its capital, its credit, must be saved from the predatory poor!!!

If Dimon was an honest individual, he would look at himself in the mirror and, after reflecting on his very existence on this earth, conclude that he was really a dick. Everyone gets screwed except the banks.

We may have lost our jobs, our homes, our savings, our pensions, and our American dreams, but at least we never lost our souls.

What has happened, one is compelled to ask, to the love of nation?

Someone please save us from these predatory rich, but above all save us from the predatory politicians.

Anne Lavoie said...

I've got my own idea of why Jamie is touring the Heartland. Today I also read about Goldman Sachs venturing out into Montana to 'help out' small businesses there, and it struck me that there seems to be a pattern forming amongst the Banksters that may be related to the ongoing severe drought.

The Banksters ALWAYS position themselves to benefit from other people's misfortunes, when they are not actively trying to cause them. I suspect they are positioning themselves to profit by extending generous loans to ranchers and farmers whose (natural resource-rich) collateralized property they can take possession of due to likely defaults in the near future. Farmers and ranchers don't easily part with their land in the Heartland, but they might have it taken from them when they just can't make a go of it anymore.

China comes to mind as being one client/party that would be very interested in large chunks of land, even if drought-stricken. I have read that they are already making big investments throughout this country. It would be just like the Banksters to insert themselves in Heartland economics in order to make out like bandits by then selling our countryside to foreign investors. The housing market 'recovery' is due in large part to foreign investors, but the news media usually fails to mention that fact.

I can see the Banksters doing to gullible farmers and ranchers what they did to homeowners. There is nothing and no one to stop them.

Denis Neville said...

Our golden age of the assholocracy!!!

“Ayn Rand's 'philosophy' is nearly perfect in its immorality, which makes the size of her audience all the more ominous and symptomatic as we enter a curious new phase in our society….To justify and extol human greed and egotism is to my mind not only immoral, but evil.” - Gore Vidal

Yet another unacceptable face of crony capitalism, bullying ordinary people; the one percent bulldozing through the lives of the 99 percent: “You’ve Been Trumped,” a documentary film about the perils of rampant capitalism and gluttonous conspicuous consumption, epitomized by Donald Trump’s aggressive efforts to build “the greatest golf course in the world” across ancient sand dunes in Scotland.

“It seems to me there’s one rule for the super-rich and one rule for everybody else. And the 99 percent of people in the world are tired and fed up of having money and power riding roughshod over their lives and our planet…Our planet can afford these kinds of decisions.” - Anthony Baxter, director of “You’ve Been Trumped”

American exceptionalism!!!

“The stuff of nightmare is their plain bread. They butter it with pain. They set their clocks by deathwatch beetles, and thrive the centuries. They were the men with the leather-ribbon whips who sweated up the pyramids seasoning it with other people's salt and other people's cracked hearts. They coursed Europe on the white horses of the plague. They whispered to Caesar that he was mortal, then sold daggers at half-price in the grand March sale. Some must have been lazing clowns, foot props for emperors, princes, and epileptic popes. Then out on the road, Gypsies in time, their populations grew as the world grew, spread, and there was more delicious variety of pain to thrive on. The train put wheels under them and here they run down the log road out of the Gothic and baroque; look at their wagons and coaches, the carving like medieval shrines, all of it stuff once drawn by horses, mules, or, maybe, men.” - Ray Bradbury, Something Wicked This Way Comes

Ormond Otvos said...

You know and we know, Karen, that humanity is defective in ways that emerge as evil, but are merely mismatches to the niche.

Wiser ones will engineer the genome to match the niche, and make that genome infinitely adaptable, which it is now not.

Presuming we will adapt by normal evolution is Thelma and Louise.

Valerie said...

We live in an Alice and Wonderland world at the moment, especially in the U.S. Jamie Dimon and his ilk get away with saying whatever they want because they believe that saying it over and over will make it so - or at least convince lots of people that it is so. Sadly, the most pro-corporate tid-bits will be repeated again and again on FOX and then dribble down into the other mainstream media outlets.

We all know people – or know OF people - who got in over their heads with credit cards, put in that extra bathroom, or renovated their kitchen at the tune of $60,000. We might even know a couple of people who bought second homes with the intention of flipping them or a family who lost one income and after exhausting their savings and retirement made the forced choice of walking away from their home. Very few of us know rich "investment" bankers who gambled with derivatives or bundled bad loans with good ones and sold them on the world market as solid investments. So it is easier to blame the people we know - who have done the kinds of things we understand - than the people we don't know - who have done things we don't understand. The old "there is plenty of blame to go around" mantra of the most guilty, has unfairly become the accepted conventional wisdom of the least guilty.

I would like to point out something that gets lost in all of the rhetoric that I never hear mentioned. Most of the people who got in over their heads had good paying jobs they expected keep till they retired. Unemployment was for the unmotivated – not people like them. Most of us in the Middle Class who are good at their jobs, never envisioned losing their jobs and not being able to find another. Those who borrowed had EVERY INTENTION of paying off those 1% credit cards and that kitchen renovation they got when “lines of credit” from the banks were at 3%. Real estate had, throughout their lifetimes, been a solid investment, and they naively took on that debt with the expectation that it would pay off and that they would pay back their debts. But unlike the gamblers on Wall Street, many of the people on Main Street didn't understand the risk. We grew up in a world where the banks wouldn't lend you money if they didn't see what you were doing as a reasonable risk. No one knew that their loans were being bundled and sold because it was inconceivable that major banks would act irresponsibly. Of course, people should have had some common sense and recognized that they were getting in way over their heads with debt. But when your neighbours sell their house after a bidding war because they put in new kitchen appliances and marble countertops, you start to think that this is what it takes to turn a profit. When almost everyone you know is doing it, it starts to sound reasonable – like the new norm.

For investment bankers who live in the world of casino banking to criticise Main Street for wanting to get in on a sliver of the pie – tens of thousands of dollars – while they recklessly gambled with billions and reaped profits in the millions is totally convoluted. But sadly many Main Streeters are willing to accept it at face value and are so busy blaming each other that they are not paying attention to those who deserve the bulk of the blame. More importantly, as long as the blame game continues, they are distracted from demanding the regulation that would keep another crash – a worse crash - from happening again.

Valerie said...

After all the compromising that Obama has done - all the caving in and sucking up to the CEO's of the big corporations and the investment bankers at Main Street's expense - not surprisingly, THEY have jilted HIM. Obama's problem is that he never REALLY understood who his friends and allies were - the little people of this country. He kicked them to the curb in favour of the rich and glorious and now the rich have kicked him to the curb. Too bad the Democratic Party doesn't do the same. Unless they produce a populist candidate and fast, who the people can relate to, I don't see American's rallying to the Democratic ticket in 2012.

James F Traynor said...

If you want to look into the face of real evil check out Amy Goodman's interview (Democracy Now) with a reporter on the reporter's investigation of Romney's foundation of Bain Capital.

Jay - Ottawa said...

Maybe the CEOs have jilted Obama, Valerie, but I'm not so sure after reading the morning's news. Look what they're doing to Romney.

Have the Wall Street puppeteers, the people who have just about every big politician in Washington on a string, plotted Romney’s moves with the intention of seeing him go down to defeat at the end of this election cycle?

Romney acting alone has done enough to insure a Republican defeat at the polls this fall. Is he the Manchurian, er, Wall Street Candidate programmed to do the unthinkable thing: Cripple the Elephant? Is there anything attractive to the mass of voters in Romney’s privileged past or his latest stuttering limp across the political stage?

In light of his recent European trip, supposedly to burnish his foreign policy creds, can one think of anything more he might have said to generate more mockery and resentment, short of having stones thrown at him? Was this his customary ineptitude, or was it the plan all along? Recent poles confirm Romney’s slide in the estimation of the public. It's not just progressives who don't like him.

Now Mitt has picked – that is, according to many reports, the party has picked for him – Paul Ryan as a running mate. There has to be a joke in here somewhere. Ryan is known as the axe man. How can scaring off more voters with Ryan’s road map to the poorhouse for grandma and the grandkids and all the people in between the young and old cohorts help Romney in November?

Then there’s Karen’s report, above, about Jamie Dimon, Mr. Ugly Money himself, touring the country in a black helicopter – correction: maybe Jamie is touring in one of those $2.2 million, armor-plated, Secret Service busses used by Obama last year -- to scold voters from whom Dimon and friends have already taken their life savings. What’s the picture here? Echoes of gypsies picking the pockets of rubes as they pass through towns with their caravans. Obama has turned over the Lincoln bedroom to Jamie, so why not the bus too?

Well, here’s a notion. Scare the voters into throwing themselves around the ankles of Obama. Save us from the bogeymen. Not to worry. Wall Street WANTS Romney to end up in the loser column on November 6. The Republican presidential team is not being made more attractive; it’s intentionally managed to look more repellent. Why?

Aha. Obama has been good to the Jamie Dimons of this world. Obama’s grand bargains with private health insurance and pharmaceuticals, for example, take the breath away from types like Axe Man Paul Ryan.

Obama has not been appeasing relentless forces backing him to the wall; he volunteers his drastic cuts before sitdowns with the likes of Paul Ryan across the table. Obama beats austerians to the punch every time – or haven’t we noticed that yet.

Why change the leading man or the script from Obama’s first term? The puppeteers know Obama is their most flexible puppet. So smooth. He looks real, even though he’s on a string. And he is so efficient at slowly, steadily turning up the heat on his big pot of frog stew.