Wall Street still playing tricks on us
by Jim Hightower
President Obama sees "glimmers of hope." The Federal Reserve chairman says he sees "green shoots" of progress.
They're not talking about the White House's new organic garden, but about the sudden emergence of Wall Street profits. Yes, the financial basket cases that required billions of bailout dollars from us, have just announced a magical turnaround, reporting blockbuster profits in the first three months of this year.
Remember, though: Magicians don't perform magic, they create illusions.
Sure enough, the Wizards of Wall Street have created these "profits" through the same sleights of hand they used to create the housing bubble that has now burst and crashed our economy.
Start with the fact that it's not much of a trick to produce a profit when the government has been stuffing billions of dollars into your magic hat. Also, Wall Street lobbyists got Washington to rig the accounting rules to let banks pretend that huge housing losses on their books are — shazam! — actually not losses at all.
Then, there's Goldman Sachs, which reported a first-quarter profit of $1.8 billion. However, Goldman had a little secret: It had altered its definition of "quarter" by shifting its normal calendar ahead a month to eliminate December — a month in which the bank lost $1.5 billion.
Meanwhile, these magicians are using their profit claims as an excuse to — guess what? — bulk up their own paychecks! Goldman Sachs, for example, has set aside nearly $5 billion to be handed out at the end of the year to those magical executives who created the bank's first-quarter "profits."
This is proof that there'll be no reform or recovery until these self-absorbed finaglers are fired. To connect with a grassroots campaign to bring real change to Wall Street, go to www.anewwayforward.org.
For more information on Jim Hightower's work — and to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown— visit www.jimhightower.com
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