Another voice confirming what we already know. Wall Street, financial institutions lobbied for our and their demise. Two watch dog groups, have released a report (large pdf) on precisely how Wall Street, the financial sector, hedge funds bought off our government.
Blame Wall Street for the current financial crisis. Investment banks, hedge funds and commercial banks made reckless bets using borrowed money. They created and trafficked in exotic investment vehicles that even top Wall Street executives — not to mention firm directors — did not understand. They hid risky investments in off-balance-sheet vehicles or capitalized on their legal status to cloak investments altogether. They engaged in unconscionable predatory lending that offered huge profits for a time, but led to dire consequences when the loans proved unpayable. And they created, maintained and justified a housing bubble, the bursting of which has thrown the United States and the world into a deep recession, resulted in a foreclosure epidemic ripping apart communities across the country.
Some facts from this report: They spent $1.7 billion dollars in federal elections. They split their money 55% to the GOP and 45% to Democrats. They spent a whopping $3.4 billion dollars lobbying during the past decade.
The report goes through several regulations these groups sought to remove in order to create the Ponzi gambling scheme which has brought the world to it's knees.
From the Wall Street Watch Press release:
12 Key Policy Decisions Led to Cataclysm
Financial deregulation led directly to the current economic meltdown. For the last three decades, government regulators, Congress and the executive branch, on a bipartisan basis, steadily eroded the regulatory system that restrained the financial sector from acting on its own worst tendencies. "Sold Out" details a dozen key steps to financial meltdown, revealing how industry pressure led to these deregulatory moves and their consequences:
- 1. In 1999, Congress repealed the Glass-Steagall Act, which had prohibited the merger of commercial banking and investment banking.
- Regulatory rules permitted off-balance sheet accounting -- tricks that enabled banks to hide their liabilities.
- The Clinton administration blocked the Commodity Futures Trading Commission from regulating financial derivatives -- which became the basis for massive speculation.
- Congress in 2000 prohibited regulation of financial derivatives when it passed the Commodity Futures Modernization Act.
- The Securities and Exchange Commission in 2004 adopted a voluntary regulation scheme for investment banks that enabled them to incur much higher levels of debt.
- Rules adopted by global regulators at the behest of the financial industry would enable commercial banks to determine their own capital reserve requirements, based on their internal "risk-assessment models."
- Federal regulators refused to block widespread predatory lending practices earlier in this decade, failing to either issue appropriate regulations or even enforce existing ones.
- Federal bank regulators claimed the power to supersede state consumer protection laws that could have diminished predatory lending and other abusive practices.
- Federal rules prevent victims of abusive loans from suing firms that bought their loans from the banks that issued the original loan.
- Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac expanded beyond their traditional scope of business and entered the subprime market, ultimately costing taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars.
- The abandonment of antitrust and related regulatory principles enabled the creation of too-big-to-fail megabanks, which engaged in much riskier practices than smaller banks.
- Beset by conflicts of interest, private credit rating companies incorrectly assessed the quality of mortgage-backed securities; a 2006 law handcuffed the SEC from properly regulating the firms.
The executive summary of this report is attached to this post, I suggest reading the entire thing. The top link is the entire document.