Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Wall Street Banks’ Financial Dealings stump the Lord Almighty

Dateline: NEW YORK—A cabal of Wall Street bankers runs a global crime syndicate that buys the regulators of their industry, rigs the rules of the market, and uses convoluted financial instruments and bogus mathematical models to siphon cash from the majority of people in modern economies, according to many experts. However, no judge or jury has convicted the bankers of any crime, because no one other than the bankers understands exactly how they’re doing what they’re doing.

“That’s all going to change,” said Laura Lickspittle, head of the US Securities and Exchange Commission, which is supposed to regulate the black hole that is the financial securities industry. “As our critics point out, the SEC has resorted to employing a workforce of hundreds of trained monkeys instead of people, because of budget cuts and a lack of political will to learn about the nature of global financial fraud. As you can probably tell from my fur, I myself am merely a monkey.

“But we begged Washington for assistance. ‘Mr. President,’ I told him, ‘you know, we’re just a lot of shrieking monkeys over here compared to the diabolical masterminds we’re up against. We need help.’”

Help came in the form of aliens from another planet. “I had this ace in my back pocket,” said the president. “We’d made secret contact with the Poindexters years ago. Now we’ve asked them to prosecute the Wall Street bankers and they’ve agreed.”

The Poindexters are an advanced extraterrestrial species specializing in the science that sustains a number of intergalactic empires. “We conquer planets before breakfast,” said the top Poindexter adjudicator, upon the alien race’s arrival on Earth. “So we think we can figure out what your bankers are doing to you.”

The trial lasted several weeks, during which time the Poindexter attorneys struggled to explain the alleged financial crimes to a jury and to counter the Wall Street lawyers’ obfuscations. The prosecutors’ efforts were hampered by the jury’s inability to stay awake for much of the trial.

In the end, when the jury voted to acquit on all charges, the Poindexters conceded defeat. “We tried to untangle the bankers’ sinister schemes. We really did. But these guys are friggin criminal geniuses. I mean, come on! In fact, we’d like to take them off your hands for you. We could use their weapons of mass economic destruction—however the hell those weapons work.”

The bankers refused to leave Earth, which led the president to invoke Plan B. “I’m shooting for the fences on this one,” he said. “I happen to have a second back channel. This time, I’m calling on God.”

With transcendent splendor, the creator of the universe materialized in front of the White House. His voice boomed as he declared, “I’m not supposed to be judging anyone yet, but I’ve had a look at the evidence. As to how the bankers’ financial instruments work, I’m stumped. I don’t have the foggiest idea what those wonks are up to—and I design universes for a living, so this doesn’t sit well with me.”

God vanished and the stock market shot up a million points.


  1. You should have some violin music playing for some of these recent posts. I guess the past year has been tough for anyone who doesn't own stocks, a lesson learned perhaps?

    1. More than half of Americans own no stocks at all. The wealthiest 10% owns 80% of all stock assets in the US. So what's the lesson learned, that free societies degenerate into plutocracies which perpetuate the gross inequality you see throughout nature in the form of dominance hierarchies?

      If you think I'm some lefty lamenting this state of affairs, you haven't read enough of my writings. I'm not lamenting it. I'm mocking people's delusions about it.

    2. I've lived in the US my entire life. Wall Street is far from innocent, but I can assure the majority of poverty/financial problems in the US are not the result of an oppressive upper class. I watched in the years leading up the financial meltdown, as people took out one home equity loan, after another. Most of these were used, to finance a lifestyle the people couldn't afford otherwise. Oh sure, there are those who blame the big bad banks for offering such tasty, low interest loans that people just couldn't resist! The US is FILLED with whiny babies who want their toys, but don't want to work for them. I'm not really concerned with your political leanings, but you seem to think there is a way to reconcile human existence.

    3. I agree with what you say here. Liberals love the conspiracy theory which scapegoats the cabal of oligarchs. To be sure, the US is in fact an oligarchy, not a democracy, since the majority of Americans rule squat (e.g. only a quarter of Americans voted for Bush Jr, since half didn't vote at all). Moreover, Americans were forced to borrow money because their wages haven't gone up in decades and the interest rates were kept low to create stock market bubbles, so they gained little by saving.

      Still, people should be held responsible for their delusions, such as their egoism, materialism, and blind faith in the American Dream. Smart, well-positioned predators like those at Goldman Sachs don't create the circumstances that make for a grossly unfair situation; they just profit from and perhaps exacerbate them.

      This is why I criticize both liberals and conservatives, because they both propagate myths to obscure the horrifying natural reality. I'm not sure what you mean by "reconcile human existence," but I do indeed have a positive philosophy in addition to my negative one. It's hardly a ten-step program for happiness or success or anything like that. I'm interested more in exploring the best mindframe for dealing with the traumatic existential scenario, which is the one we're all in.

    4. I am conflicted about this one. I am a foreigner living in the U.S. and I have the advantage of an etic (outsider) perspective. I partially agree with Anonymous; American society is obsessed with consumerism, that people prefer shopping on holidays over staying at home testifies to our insatiable materialistic appetite. Not amount of stuff is ever enough. The house I live in is not my home, just the shelter I pay for until its equity goes up, the car I have is not the car I want, just the car I drive until a newer model comes along, the job I have is not the job I want, just the place I work at until the next promotion comes along. So we end up in debt, disconnected and unhappy, and it is easy to blame the elites.
      It is also true that wages have remained stagnant. The American worker has being exploited without mercy. We work longer hours, harder, get less pay, have less vacation and benefits and have less job security than any other country in the developed world. Also, much of the debt the American worker accumulates would not exist if wages had kept up with CEO’s salaries.
      And finally. The values held by the American worker did not emerge randomly out of a quantum fluctuation; they were engineered by the elites (I am a Marxist on this one). Wealth does not trickle down, values do.
      I view Wall Street as the modern equivalent of the medieval Vatican and a modern religion. And religion is truly the opiate of the masses.

    5. Thanks very much for this comment. I agree with virtually all of it, although I'd have more to say about religion. Do you really think Islam makes the terrorists more relaxed, like opium? No, religion in that case exacerbates the suffering from the perceived political inequities (US military on the soil of Muslim countries; US installing secular dictators in the Muslim world; US supporting Israel, etc). I think Marx's view was that religion distracts people from the class war--but that might just be boring, horribly compromised religions like Christianity, so we mustn't overgeneralize.

      Anyway, my point in this satirical report is that the Wall Street bankers might as well be gods. For all practical purposes, they're superhuman. This isn't a normative statement. It's descriptive, albeit hyperbolic.

    6. When you say wages were kept low so the people in the stock market would get more money , do you refer to the stocks of the banks(they get higher cause people borrow money) or is it something more complex?

    7. I'm not sure who you're addressing, Stefan. As for me, I said that because wages were kept low, people had to borrow money to maintain their standard of living. That's just a standard point of economic analysis in the US.

      Now, it's possible this is part of the fraud of creating stock bubbles so that there's an indirect connection between low wages and profit for insiders on the stock market. But it's not like Wall St types were in control of everyone's wages. Keep in mind that I'm not close to being an expert on economic matters, but I believe having access to cheap credit is key to inflating an asset bubble, because then there's (undo) confidence in the market and a stream of easy money that insiders/predators can siphon away. In the case of the Great Recession, the suckers used their credit to buy houses they couldn't afford and the insiders took advantage of all of these circumstances (low wages, low interest for savers, lots of credit from China and credit cards, etc) to profit from the phony, bubble real estate market.

  2. Are those two different anon users?

    Anyway, to the first one, I have to wonder at the various ways you've both screwed up your life and yet relied on a community safety net to get your butt out of it. But neglect to mention it.

    Maybe you live in the mountains in a self sustaining fortress and the above does not apply.

  3. Caitlin: Keep in mind it is the bankers, and people like anonymous 1 here, who are the real victims. Benjamin's little sci fi story on the tragedy of the alphas was hilariously apropos on this subject!