Actions, and thoughts on derivatives

Upcoming Actions:
  • 6:00 PM, Tues., Nov. 6:  ELECTION PARTY at Bethany!!! Lot’s of food and drink. If you’d like to bring along a potluck, please let us know.
  • 5:00 PM, Fri., Nov. 9:  Demand Delivery. SAFE will march into a bank and present a letter demanding the bank reduce the mortgage principal and interest to fair market value for one of our member families. More details will be presented at our Nov. 6 Election Party.
  • Last week in Nov.: Another mailing to all Seattle families going to auction in Dec. and Jan.
  • 1st week in Dec.:  Mass phone calling to Seattle families to tell them about SAFE.
  • 2nd week in Dec.: Mass meeting of families in foreclosure and their supporters.
  • 3rd week in Dec.: We anticipate engaging in direct actions.

Other Upcoming & Ongoing Events:

  • 4:30 – 5:30 PM, Tuesdays:   Please join us for a SAFE Banner Drop on the skybridge over the intersection of Rainier Ave. South and MLK Way.
  • 7:00 – 8:30 PM, Tuesdays:   Organizational Meeting at Bethany UCC.  All are welcome.
  • 3:30 – 5:00 PM, Wednesdays: Door-to-Door Canvassing. All are welcome. No experience necessary; we’ll train you!
  • 3:00 – 5:00 PM, Saturdays: More door-to-door canvassing.

This Past Week:

  • On Thursday, SAFE members addressed, stuffed, and stamped envelopes, then mailed them to 250 Seattle families whose homes are scheduled for auction during the month of November.
  • On Thursday, members presented information on SAFE at a UW conference called Rethinking Marxism. Several attendees signed up to volunteer.
  • During the week, other homeowners contacted us looking for support to fight the banks.

Questions?  Comments?

You can reach us at or 206-203-2125.  Please visit our web site:

Thoughts on Derivatives

Part of the reason for the economic crash in 2007-08 was the unregulated, opaque, activities of Wall Street’s banking industry as it gambled our money on derivatives. Derivatives are one step away from stocks. When you buy stocks, you are buying shares of a company, and you are hoping the stock’s price will go up over time. When you buy derivatives, on the other hand, you are not buying stock in a company, instead you are making a bet, often but not always, about the stock. You might, for example, bet that the stock’s price goes down, or you might bet that the corporation’s creditworthiness improves or falls. Or you might bet that certain interest rates will go up or down. Further, when you buy derivatives, you can decide to buy insurance against your bet going sour. But even more bizarre, you can buy insurance on other people’s bets, bets that you otherwise have nothing to do with! In reality, there is little difference between this sort of betting and placing a wager at Las Vegas’ Caesars Palace on whether the Seahawks will beat the Giants on a given Sunday.

Well, actually, between Wall Street and Las Vegas there is a difference, a big difference. Compared to Wall Street, Vegas is nothing more than a game of penny-ante poker. The current derivative market — which, remember, is barely regulated and done largely in secret — is valued around $700 trillion. (I say, “around,” because no one knows for sure.) Further, over 95% of this business is run by only five banks: JP Morgan Chase, Citibank, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley.

The reason that’s often spouted as to why we even need a derivatives market is that it allows investors to spread their risk by buying insurance on a bet or by “swapping” one bet for another . The question is why do they need to be making bets in the first place? Who asked them to gamble with our pensions? our mortgages? Does a rational economy need a derivatives market?

$700 trillion, by the way, is over ten times the annual gross product of the entire world! And not one cent of this $700 trillion dollars produces anything we can use. It builds no homes, grows no food, weaves no clothes. On top of that, the world’s ten largest banks hold $25 trillion in assets, so compared to $700 trillion they are betting with money they don’t have.

Since the crash, there’s been a feeble attempt to regulate the derivatives market. Regulators want the banks to put down collateral when buying derivatives, like making a downpayment when you take out a mortgage. The International Swaps and Derivatives Association, a group representing the banks, claims that if these regulations are enacted, the banks will have to come up with $30 trillion in collateral, money they don’t have. Their recommendation (Surprise! Surprise!) is we should leave the banks alone.

The US cannot employ all of its people, cannot feed, clothe, house, educate and care for the health of all of its people. But it can gamble trillions of dollars like nobody’s business.

Housing is a Human Right!

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