Friday, February 5, 2016



"There has been no genuine recovery in the real economy. Instead, a massive diversion of public resources has been carried out to rescue and further enrich the financial oligarchy at the expense of the productive forces and the working class. The focus of domestic policy has been to subsidize the utterly parasitic and quasi-criminal speculative activities of the banks and financial institutions, starving the real economy of productive investment, in order to engineer a further concentration of income and wealth among the top 1 percent and 0.1 percent of the population."


"This comes amid Clinton’s unconvincing answers when pressed on her apparent coziness with banks and financial firms. When CNN anchor Anderson Cooper asked Clinton recently why she accepted $675,000 from Goldman Sachs for giving a grand total of three speeches, she stammered and finally said, “That’s what they offered,” as if she would have taken 25 bucks and a free sandwich, if that’s all Goldman were able to afford."



Sanders: ‘The Business Model of Wall Street Is Fraud’

Thursday on MSNBC’s Democratic presidential primary debate, candidate

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) declared the business model of Wall Street to be “fraud.” Sanders said, “Wall Street is an entity of unbelievable economic and political power. That’s fact. I want to say something and it may sound harsh, not to you, but to the American people. In my view, the business model of Wall Street is fraud. It’s fraud. I believe that corruption is rampant and the fact that major bank after major bank has reached multi-billion dollar settlements with the United States government, when we have a weak regulatory system tells me that not only did we have to bail them out once, if we don’t start breaking them up, we’ll have to bail them out again. I do not want to see that happen.”
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Wall Street donors account for 40 percent of super PAC funds in US election

By Barry Grey
4 February 2016
The 2016 US election campaign has exposed deep-seated popular alienation from the entire political establishment and growing anger over the domination of US society and politics by Wall Street. Democratic contender Bernie Sanders, who calls himself a democratic socialist, has capitalized on this sentiment by basing his campaign on denunciations of the “billionaire class” and an electoral process dominated by corporate money.

New figures on the funding of so-called “super PACs,” the nominally independent “political action committees” that are the main vehicles for corporate bribery of would-be officer-holders, shed light on the degree to which the political system is controlled by big business in general, and Wall Street in particular.

Statistics compiled from Federal Election Commission reports by the Center for Responsive Politics, an election watchdog group, and the Wall Street Journal show that cash from major banks and investment, real estate and insurance firms accounts for more than $116 million of the $290 million raised thus far in the current election cycle by super PACs and other independent campaign organizations. That amounts to 40 percent of the total.

In the second half of 2015, super PACs backing the various presidential candidates took in $100 million. Of this, $81.2 million came from the financial industry.

The weight of finance capital in funding the campaigns of both Democrats and Republicans has grown by leaps and bounds, particularly since the 2010 “Citizens United” Supreme Court ruling that lifted all limits on corporate campaign donations via super PACs.

In the 2012 election, donations from the financial services sector comprised 20 percent, or $169 million, of the $845 million raised for the entire election cycle by super PACs and other independent campaign groups. Thus, as a share of total super PAC money, financial capital’s role has doubled in this year’s election cycle.

This compares to the “mere” $2.4 million of super PAC money donated by Wall Street in the 2004 election. Already in the 2016 election, the total from banks and financial firms is 70 times the level 12 years ago.

Former President Jimmy Carter felt obliged, in an interview Wednesday on BBC Radio 4’s “Today” program, to denounce the US campaign finance system as “legalized bribery.” Carter, who was elected in 1976 and defeated in his reelection bid by Ronald Reagan in 1980, said, “As the rich people finance the campaigns, when candidates get in office they do what the rich people want. And that’s to let the rich people get richer and the middle class get left out.”

A Wall Street Journal article published Sunday provides details on Wall Street funding for various presidential candidates. The super PAC supporting Republican Senator Marco Rubio received over half of its money in the second half of 2015 from financial industry contributors. The two biggest donors were hedge fund billionaires Paul Singer (net worth of $2.1 billion) and Ken Griffin ($6.6 billion), who gave $2.5 million each in the last two months of the year. Hedge fund billionaire Cliff Asness and Florida mega-investor Mary Spencer each donated $1 million.

Half of the $5 million raised by the super PAC supporting Republican Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey came from Wall Street, including a $2 million donation in December by hedge fund mogul Steven Cohen (net worth of $11.4 billion) and his wife, who also gave a combined $2 million to the super PAC in the first half of 2015.

The super PAC backing Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas received at least $11 million from billionaire hedge fund founder Robert Mercer and $10 million from private equity firm founder Toby Neugebauer.
The super PAC backing former Florida Governor Jeb Bush raised $10 million of its $15 million for the second half of 2015 from Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, the former CEO of American International Group, the mega-insurance firm that was bailed out by the US government in 2008 to the tune of $182 billion. As of the end of September 2015, half of Bush’s top donors were employed by major financial firms, including Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Barclays, where Bush previously worked as a consultant making $2 million a year.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, is no slouch when it comes to Wall Street bribes. Of the $25 million raised by the super PAC supporting her in the second half of 2015, $15 million came from financiers. Nearly half of that came from billionaire investor George Soros (net worth of $24.5 billion).

Soros gave the pro-Clinton super PAC, Priorities USA Action, $6 million in December, bringing his total in donations to $7 million. Priorities USA Action also received $3 million from entertainment industry investor Haim Saban (worth $3.6 billion) and his wife, who also gave $2 million earlier in the year.

These figures were compiled from incomplete Federal Election Commission filings, as most of the candidates and their associated super PACs had not filed with the FEC as of early Sunday evening. The deadline to do so was midnight Sunday.

The New York Times reported this week that a super PAC associated with the political network of the right-wing Republican Koch brothers (net worth of $44.3 billion each), reported Sunday that it had raised $11 million. The Koch brothers’ umbrella political organization, Freedom Partners, announced Saturday at its annual winter conference in California that it spent $400 million in 2015 to fund political and “philanthropic” organizations. That put the Koch political network at less than half of the two-year spending goal of $1 billion it announced last year.

Among those at the closed-door conference were two supporters of senators Rubio and Cruz, offering their obeisance in the hope of getting cash from the billionaire arch-reactionaries.

Hillary Clinton’s real Wall Street problem: She could seriously use the money

Rick Newman,Yahoo Finance 2 hours 3 minutes ago

Wall Street celebrates mounting signs of US slump

Wall Street celebrates mounting signs of US slump

30 January 2016
On Friday, the Commerce Department released the latest in a series of economic reports pointing to a dramatic slowdown in the US economy, with vast global implications. The response of Wall Street was a euphoric surge on US markets, sending the Dow Jones industrial average up by nearly 400 points and leading every major stock index around the world to close sharply up for the day.

The Commerce Department said US economic growth fell to a near-standstill in the last quarter of 2015, with the gross domestic product (GDP) expanding at an annualized rate of just 0.7 percent, down from 2 percent in the third quarter. The grim report included a dramatic fall in business investment and a marked slowdown in consumer spending.

This followed a report Thursday that durable goods orders, a key indicator of manufacturing output, tumbled by 5.1 percent in December in the sharpest monthly fall since the 2008–2009 financial crisis.
These statistics coincide with a series of mass layoff announcements by major US corporations. They include 16,000 layoffs at retailer Walmart, 10,000 at oilfield contractor Schlumberger, 6,000 at chemical company DuPont, 4,000 at education resources company Pearson LLC, 2,000 at the Norfolk Southern rail network, 3,000 at consumer products conglomerate Johnson & Johnson, 886 at mining company Alpha Natural Resources, 829 at mobile phone service Sprint, and 800 at technology company VMware.

Also this week, a number of giant US-based corporations, including United Technologies, Boeing, Apple and Caterpillar, reported poor figures for the end of 2015 and even worse estimates for 2016. Apple is anticipating its first annual revenue decline since 2003. Caterpillar, saying its revenues fell 20 percent last year and this year’s revenues could hit the lowest level in six years, announced Friday that it would eliminate 670 US jobs and close five plants in the Midwest.

How is the giddy upturn in stock prices in the face of signs of an economy sliding into recession to be explained?

For the broad mass of the population, economic stagnation and 

slowdown mean a further descent into economic distress, 

unemployment and outright poverty. The recent developments 

explode the claims of economic “recovery” and confirm that the 

destruction of decent-paying jobs, pensions and social services that 

followed the Wall Street crash of 2008 is not a temporary condition,

but only the beginning of a permanent and escalating attack on 

working class living standards.

For the financial aristocracy, on the other hand, the signs of slump 

are welcome indicators that the Federal Reserve will continue to 

pump trillions of dollars into the financial markets, delaying further

interest rate increases and perhaps rolling back the initial increase 

it imposed in December. Bankers and hedge fund speculators were 

rubbing their hands on Friday in anticipation of still more cheap 

credit to underwrite their parasitic financial operations.

The euphoria on Wall Street was a demonstration of the essential character of what the government and media call economic “recovery.” Just over two weeks ago, President Obama in his State of the Union address praised the economic “surge” that had made the US economy “the strongest, most durable… in the world,” and said claims “America’s economy is in decline” were a “fiction.”

There has been no genuine recovery in the real economy. Instead, a massive diversion of public resources has been carried out to rescue and further enrich the financial oligarchy at the expense of the productive forces and the working class. The focus of domestic policy has been to subsidize the utterly parasitic and quasi-criminal speculative activities of the banks and financial institutions, starving the real economy of productive investment, in order to engineer a further concentration of income and wealth among the top 1 percent and 0.1 percent of the population.

Now, with the slowdown in China, the crisis of the “emerging market” economies, the collapse of industrial commodity prices, and signs that the mountain of debt is unraveling, the financial elite is demanding even more free cash to prop up its Ponzi scheme operations.

At the same time, it is demanding the squandering of even greater sums to finance its wars for geo-political dominance and economic plunder in the Middle East and its preparations for war against its nuclear-armed rivals Russia and China.

The mounting economic crisis, for which the ruling class has no rational or progressive solution, intersects with and exacerbates geo-political tensions around the world and social tensions at home. The corporate-financial elite, fearing the spread of social opposition, prepares all the more feverishly the means for violent state repression against the working class.

The deepening economic crisis is playing out against the backdrop of an election that has already revealed deep-seated popular alienation from and disgust with the entire political system and both big business parties, and a profound crisis that threatens to tear apart the two-party system through which the American ruling class has exercised political domination for a century-and-a-half.

There is a growth of working class militancy, reflected in the opposition of auto workers to the sellout contracts imposed by the United Auto Workers last year and protests by workers in Flint against the poisoning of the city’s water supply and by teachers and students in Detroit against intolerable conditions in the schools. At the same time, the broad support for the candidacy of Bernie Sanders, who calls himself a socialist and denounces inequality and Wall Street, even as he seeks to channel popular opposition behind the Democratic Party, reflects a political radicalization and growth of anti-capitalist sentiment among working people and youth.

There is growing fear within the ruling class of impending social upheavals, reflected in a wave of articles and studies on social inequality and worried commentaries on the implications of the support for Sanders. On Friday, the Wall Street Journal published a column by Peggy Noonan, a former speech writer for Ronald Reagan, under the headline “Socialism Gets a Second Life.” She writes, “The rise of Bernie Sanders means that accommodation is ending, and something new will take its place,” and adds, “Do you know what’s old if you’re 25? The free-market capitalist system that drove us into a ditch.”

The coming struggles of the working class must be guided by the understanding that its interests are incompatible with those of the financial oligarchy that dominates the economy and political system. The euphoric response of Wall Street to economic news that spells growing distress and suffering for countless millions is a demonstration of an irreconcilable conflict of social and class interests.
The fight to secure basic social rights—to decent-paying jobs, education, health care, housing, pensions—and halt the drive toward a new and catastrophic world war is a fight to break the power of the ruling financial oligarchy and end its private ownership of the banks and corporations. It is a fight against the capitalist system itself.
Andre Damon

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