Thoughts on banks
Lanny A. Breuer is head of the US Justice Department’s criminal division. If any of you saw the Jan. 22, Frontline television show called “The Untouchables,” Mr. Breuer was the impeccably dressed fellow who kept trying to explain how complicated it is to criminally prosecute CEO’s and members of the boards of the big Wall Street banks. He also advocates avoiding criminal lawsuits, because if the Justice Department wins a criminal case against a bank, the bank could be prevented from operating in the US, which in turn could shut down the bank, potentially jeopardizing the world economy, i.e., too big to jail.
At the same time, the Justice Department and the Obama administration want us to believe they’re coming down hard on Wall Street. They cite the attorneys general settlement with five banks for $26 billion and a recent $8.5 billion settlement involving ten banks. After each settlement, the Justice Department tells us how they’re socking it to the banks. When Justice settled with HSBC, the huge British bank, for $1.9 billion, Mr. Breuer said, “HSBC is being held accountable . . . .” When Standard Chartered, another British bank, agreed to pay $327 million for money laundering, Mr. Breuer said, “Standard Chartered is being held to account.” Aside from the robotic consistency of Mr. Breuer’s rhetoric, the question is, How hard have the banks been punished by government lawsuits? Have they been taught a lesson?
Perhaps the best way to answer this is to look how their stocks are doing, say, for the last six months:
Bank of America: Aug. 2012: $7.96; today: $11.42. =====> 44% increase
HSBC: Aug. 2012: $45.00; today: $55.00. =====>22% increase
JP Morgan Chase: Aug. 2012: $38.04; today: $48.25. =====> 27% increase
Standard Chartered: Aug. 2012: $1435.00; today: $1741.50. =====> 21% increase
CitiGroup: Aug. 2012: $29.34; today: $42.35. =====> 44% increase
Wells Fargo: Aug. 2012: $34.07; today: $35.46. =====> 4% increase
USBancorp: Aug. 2012: $32.90; today: $33.77. =====> 3% increase
What’s really happening is that after the crisis, the settlements, and the lawsuits, the banks are making out like the bandits they really are.
- Friday, Feb. 22, 1:00 PM: Auction protest at Northwest Trustee Services in Bellevue. For SAFE supporters coming from Seattle, carpools will be leaving Bethany (Beacon Ave. and Graham) at 12:20 PM. Please get their by noon. After the auction protest Jeremy will deliver to Routh Crabtree Olsen his reply to their threat to sue and evict him. Great irony here: Jeremy has attempted to deliver to Wells Fargo rent checks, but Wells refuses to accept his money. (Wells even closed down their Seattle headquarters 1.5 hours early, rather than accept Jeremy’s rent.) Now, Routh Crabtree Olsen says if Jeremy refuses to move out, they’ll demand he pay them rent! Not even Shakespeare could write this.
- Friday, Feb. 22, 9:00 AM: Karen Pooley’s court battle continues. King County Courthouse on 3rd and James. Judge Jeffrey Ramsdell, Courtroom W-813. Karen requests the Court impose Civil Contempt charges against Quality Loan Service Corporation for violating two Court orders and impose sanctions.
- Tuesday, Feb. 26, 6:30 PM: SAFE Neighborhood Meeting: Homeowners will meet others facing foreclosure and see how together we can fight the banks. Lots of food. Children welcome. Free legal services for income-qualified families.
Other Upcoming & Ongoing Events:
- Tuesdays, 7:00 – 8:30 PM: Weekly Meetings at the SAFE House at Bethany UCC. All are welcome!
- Working Group and Organizer meetings:
- ITC (Information Technology & Communication) – Mondays at 3:00 PM on Google Hangout
- Message – Tuesdays at 5:00 PM at the SAFE House
- Resource – Tuesdays at 5:30 PM at the SAFE House
- Organizers – Tuesdays at 6:00 PM at the SAFE House
- Tactical – Wednesdays at 6:30 PM at the SAFE House
- Outreach – Saturdays at 1:30 PM at the SAFE House. Door-to-Door canvassing. We train you. An experienced volunteer goes with you.
This Past Week:
- On Monday, eight SAFE volunteers completed a mailing to 314 Seattle families whose homes are scheduled to be auctioned off in March. We did this in 90 minutes, a record! Anyone who thinks the foreclosure crisis is winding down, please note that 314 auctioned homes is the largest mailing SAFE has yet to do for one month.
Housing is a Human Right!