Skip to main content

Banks

I'm just reading a book on the robber barons called, strangely enough, the Robber Barons. It's the famous old Matthew Josephson work. Surely they put modern capitalists to shame as far as sheer brutality. When financial/boardroom intrigue was not enough to secure their business aims, there was always dynamite.

But I think the one thing you've got to respect about that era of American history was that these men often took real risks. Sure, most of them stole vast piles of currency or land from the government, or invested taxpayer dollars while protecting their own, or wasted huge treasury sums because it would be slightly cheaper for themselves thusly. But these men were playing for keeps, and often as not they would end up crushed and ruined by their capitalist brethren. Every 10-20 years some doofus's land scheme or gold-cornering ploy would collapse like a ton of bricks and lay the whole stock market out for a couple years, and rich men would suffer catastrophic losses.

Not so for today's incarnation of these "captains of industry." None of these pathetic financiers has the steel of a Vanderbilt, a Rockefeller, a (ha ha) Carnegie. Some of those old tycoons had such dizzying wealth (Rockefeller's fortune today would be worth about $320 billion) that in all likelihood the government couldn't have bailed them out even if they tried.

As Kevin Drum says:
As the piece points out, banks aren't using all this cheap money to increase lending. They're using it to fund bigger and bigger bets in the fixed-income sector — the same sector that brought us junk bonds, credit default swaps, subprime loan securitization, interest rate carries, collateralized debt obligations, and all the rest of Warren Buffett's "financial weapons of mass destruction." Fixed income was a sleepy backwater until about 30 years ago, and if we had any brains we'd apply a massive dose of regulatory narcotics to make it that way again. Instead, we're actually egging it on. It's like giving Nero a new barbecue lighter for Christmas because his last one got burned up in that big fire.
It's not like I'm pining for the gilded age. It's just the pathetic, weaselly simpering of today's megabankers that makes me sick. What slime.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Why Did Reality Winner Leak to the Intercept?

So Reality Winner, former NSA contractor, is in federal prison for leaking classified information — for five years and three months, the longest sentence of any whistleblower in history. She gave documents on how Russia had attempted to hack vendors of election machinery and software to The Intercept , which completely bungled basic security procedures (according to a recent New York Times piece from Ben Smith, the main fault lay with Matthew Cole and Richard Esposito ), leading to her capture within hours. Winner recently contracted COVID-19 in prison, and is reportedly suffering some lingering aftereffects. Glenn Greenwald has been furiously denying that he had anything at all to do with the Winner clusterfuck, and I recently got in an argument with him about it on Twitter. I read a New York story about Winner, which clearly implies that she was listening to the Intercepted podcast of March 22, 2017 , where Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill expressed skepticism about Russia actually b

Varanus albigularis albigularis

That is the Latin name for the white-throated monitor lizard , a large reptile native to southern Africa that can grow up to two meters long (see pictures of one at the Oakland Zoo here ). In Setswana, it's called a "gopane." I saw one of these in my village yesterday on the way back from my run. Some kids from school found it in the riverbed and tortured it to death, stabbing out its eyes, cutting off its tail, and gutting it which finally killed it. It seemed to be a female as there were a bunch of round white things I can only imagine were eggs amongst the guts. I only arrived after it was already dead, but they described what had happened with much hilarity and re-enactment. When I asked why they killed it, they said it was because it would eat their chickens and eggs, which is probably true, and because it sucks blood from people, which is completely ridiculous. It might bite a person, but not unless threatened. It seems roughly the same as killing wolves tha

Caffeine Is Not a Bioweapon

I got into a discussion with Yves Smith about caffeine here , and somehow my comment got eaten, so I'd like to finish it up here. She said about this Raw Story piece about a girl who allegedly died from drinking two Monster drinks in two days, "The FDA lapse here is terrible. Caffeine is extremely toxic. We just happen to get highly diluted doses in coffee and tea." I commented: Yves, your implication about caffeine is incorrect on several levels. Most Monster drinks have about 10 mg of caffeine per fluid ounce, which is much less than even drip coffee (18 mg/oz) and WAY less than espresso (51 mg/oz). ( Source ) The whole idea of dilution is misguided in any case. The relevant measurement for caffeine intoxication (and most poisoning generally) is the total amount taken, not the concentration. Concentration is something to worry about, as it can make a lethal dose easier to take on, but the main concern there is pure caffeine pills, not energy drinks which are mostl