By John Hively
No business is too big to fail. That’s a lie. Okay, here’s reality. In the United States, the super rich are not allowed to fail, no matter how incompetent. That’s means if they have their money invested in large enough amounts in a business or a market, then that business is not allowed to fail because that would mean the rich have been allowed to fail. The same thing is true with the failure of markets.
Let’s take the mortgage securities market as an example.
A few decades ago, some commercial banker got the idea to sell off his banks mortgages to Wall Street investment firms, like Goldman Sacs. The sale of mortgages together as a group is called “bundling.”
The investment firms issued bonds to mostly rich investors backed by the bundled mortgages. The home owners made their payments, which went to service the loans, with a large amount of the payments going to the bondholders, i.e. the rich.
This was profitable to say the least. All along the way, there were fees to be had. Billions of dollars worth of fees. There was no government oversight since Wall Street investment firms had ensured that people friendly to them were placed in government oversight agencies, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission. And so in time the quality of the home loans gradually decreased to the point where mortgages were given to people who had minimum or near minimum wage jobs, or no jobs at all. The banks immediately sold the mortgages to Wall Street, who sold the bonds to the wealthy. Since mortgage providers and investment banks didn’t hang on to the bonds for more than a few months, and the investment banks told the bondholders the bonds were of the finest quality, nobody was concerned that homeowners might not be able to pay their mortgages beyond the first few months. That is why the standards for home loans were lowered. Contrary to Fox Fake News, this crisis had nothing to do with the civil rights group called ACORN. It was all about big money and giant profits.
Some of these affluent investors decided to buy insurance on their mortgage backed bonds. These insurance policies were known as credit default swaps. You did not have to own any mortgage backed bonds to insure them. Think of it this way. It was like being able to buy insurance policies on the houses of your neighbors. That means the value of the total number of insurance policies were greater than the total value of all the mortgage bonds, and by a wide margin. If you wanted to make a killing, you bought insurance on the mortgage backed bonds that homeowners weren’t likely to pay. You could’ve had hundreds of people owning insurance policies on the same bad mortgage backed bonds, and none of these people needed to own the bonds. All you had to do was take out a $10 million policy on the mortgage backed securities owned by another person, make your 3 percent yearly payment of $30,000, and when the market collapsed, an insurance company owed you $10 million with virtually no risk to you.
The executives of one company in particular were dumb enough to insure these mortgage backed bonds. Those were the wizards of AIG. And I use the word “wizards” in the most sarcastic way possible. They were really idiots, except they may have figured the government was going to bail them out.
When the housing market toppled, the total amount of insurance policies on mortgage backed securities were somewhere between $32 and $58 trillion, more or less, depending on who was doing the counting. Yes, that’s trillion. AIG couldn’t hope to pay all that it had insured. That meant rich investors were going to lose their shirts and their underpants, and be forced to walk around naked. They’d need to get a real job, like being a clerk at the local Seven Eleven, which may have been the only thing some of these people were qualified to do. Oh, no! Heaven forbid! The government couldn’t allow that to happen. Those guys had already paid the politicians in congress, the senate and the white house a ton of money to bail them out. And so that’s why the government bailed out AIG. That allowed AIG to pay the super rich, especially Goldman Sacs, the money they owed them on their insurance scams, or rather policies.
Of course, not all rich people had insurance on their mortgage backed securities. When the market collapsed, the Federal Reserve printed money and began buying those now worthless bonds, but not at their real value. The Fed paid the wealthy the face value of their worthless bonds. If the affluent had paid $10 million for bonds now worth a nickel, the Fed bought the bonds for $10 million. The rich made off like bandits, because they were, and are.
And what happens if you’re not rich? And you can’t pay your mortgage because you lost your job? The government will do virtually nothing for you. There’s a reason for this. If the government established an agency that renegotiated home loans with home owners, like what occurred under the Franklin Roosevelt administration, they’d need to renegotiate the home mortgages down at least to the level of current value. Let’s face it. The bubble has burst. Home prices are still dropping. That means rescuing homeowners is a big problem if you’re rich, or the owner of those worthless bonds, like The Federal Reserve Bank.
If homeowners are paying less for their mortgages, the value of mortgage backed bonds will wilt even more because the return on investment (i.e. the mortgage payments) will be less. In other words, helping average citizens to stay in their homes during this economic crisis will reduce the value of the wealth owned by the richest and dumbest parasites in the United States. These are the people that Republicans like Congressmen Paul Ryan and John Boehner (pronounced “Boner”) are beholden to. The same is true of liberal Democrats like President Obama, Senator Ron Wyden and Congressman Earl Blumenauer.
On the face of it, this is remarkable. Currently, the 1 percent own 84 percent of the total wealth of the United States. Apparently, your government doesn’t think this percentage should be reduced to help the 99 percent. That tells you all you need to know. Your government stands against you if you’re a member of the 99 percent. However, if you’re as dumb as a brick or as stupid as steaming fresh dog poop, but happen to be rich, you’ll be rewarded when the government bails you out.
There are two other things. Many of these idle rich people would’ve been in complete financial ruin if their government hadn’t saved their financially destroyed hides. The government in this case is the taxpayers. And on whose behalf have Republican politicians been fighting tooth and nail against any increase in their taxes to help pay for the bailouts? The idle rich, of course. People like the Koch Brothers. Apparently, they’ve decided their inherited wealth makes them worthier citizens than the bulk of the American people. These people actually think their taxes should be decreased.
That means one thing. Too big to fail is a lie. That expression is a euphemism for “too rich to be allowed to fail and look stupid in the process.”
The second thing is that the rich are using their immense financial clout to bribe politicians. The principal favor they seek is to redistribute income from working people to the rich. They’re successfully doing this all the time. For example, well bribed congress persons (like Earl Blumenauer) and senators (like Ron Wyden) voted a month ago to off shore US jobs via free trade treaties with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. The difference between the old wages here and the new lower wages there will go to the rich, year after year after year. That means our congressional representatives and president voted to once again redistribute income to the rich from us, as well as to diminish our tax base, pauperize our schools, social services, police and fire departments.
Our political system is completely corrupted by big money, and that includes the corporate wing of the supreme court.
Fight back. Join the Occupy movement. Get involved. Take your government back. Also, take a look at the video below. You’ll see guys like former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson lie to congress. It’s worth a look.