Tuesday, May 15, 2012

  • Crony Capitalism: After Lobbying Against New Financial Regulations, JPMorgan Loses $2B in Risky Bet


    JPMorgan Chase, the nation’s largest bank, is under fire after losing at least $2 billion in derivatives trading it was warned carried high risk. The loss has renewed calls for tougher regulation of Wall Street, with critics saying JPMorgan could have avoided it under regulations the bank opposed. We’re joined by former financial regulator, white-collar criminologist, and University of Missouri-Kansas City Professor William Black, author of "The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One." Black says JPMorgan’s latest woes stem from the flaws endemic to "too big too fail." "Allowing [banks] to be this big, even conservative economists call this crony capitalism," Black says. "The only way this can work is to shrink the systemically dangerous institutions — this is the 20 largest banks in the United States — down to the point that they no longer pose a systemic risk, they are no longer too big to fail, and therefore, they will no longer have this implicit federal subsidy that completely distorts competition [and] ... destroys democracy, because these giant institutions have so much political power." [includes rush transcript]

  • Ex-Financial Regulator William Black: Austerity is Sinking Economies from Europe to U.S.


    White-collar criminologist and former senior financial regulator William Black addresses the grassroots reaction to austerity measures in Europe — from the "Indignados" movement in Spain to the anti-bailout elections in France and Greece — as well as in the United States, where the Occupy movement is re-emerging as the presidential campaign gets into full gear. "Finance is supposed to simply be a middleman to help the real economy," Black says. "It in fact now completely dominates and is a parasite on the real economy. German austerity has pushed the entire eurozone into recession and the periphery into Great Depression-level unemployment. And the same arguments are being made in the United States and are used as a pretext to try to destroy Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. It is economically illiterate, but politically attractive." [includes rush transcript]

  • As Obama OKs Weapons to Bahrain, Neurosurgeon Tortured by Regime Faces Trial for Treating Protesters


    Human rights organizations are criticizing the Obama administration’s decision to resume military sales to Bahrain despite the ruling monarchy’s ongoing repression of pro-democracy protests. The State Department has said it will allow a multi-million-dollar weapons shipment to the Bahraini government, citing "national security interests." The announcement came just days after the Bahraini government vowed "tougher action" in its crackdown on protesters. We’re joined by Dr. Nabeel Hameed, who is one of Bahrain’s only neurosurgeons and among dozens of Bahraini physicians and nurses who have been arrested and tried for treating anti-government protesters. After a three-month prison stint that he says included abuse and torture, Dr. Hameed is expected to be tried by a Bahraini court soon after he returns home. "There is this silence, this deafening silence, from the world governments [about Bahrain]," he says. "There is a situation which is really getting worse and worse. And if you don’t really stop it here, it may get really, really bad in the future. ... You don’t have to wait until the violence propagates out of control." [includes rush transcript]

  • Part 1: "Magic Soap" Maker David Bronner on Labeling Genetically Modified Food, Fair Trade, the War on Hemp


    Critics of genetically modified foods have won a victory in California by securing enough signatures to place a referendum on the November ballot that could force food manufacturers to label food products containing genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. Numerous items are already sold in grocery stores containing genetically modified corn and soy, but companies do not currently have to inform consumers. We speak to David Bronner, president of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, about GMOs, fair trade, the U.S. war on hemp, and the company’s support of Palestinian olive oil producers. [includes rush transcript] Click here to watch Part 2 of the interview.

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    Juan González on How Puerto Rico’s Economic "Death Spiral" is Tied to Legacy of Colonialism
    Could Puerto Rico become America’s Greece? That’s a question many are asking as the island faces a devastating financial crisis and a rapidly crumbling healthcare system. Puerto Rico owes $72 billion in debt. $355 million in debt payments are due December 1, but it increasingly looks like the U.S. territory may default on at least some of the debt. Congress has so far failed to act on an Obama administration proposal that includes extending bankruptcy protection to Puerto Rico and allocating more equitable Medicaid and Medicare...


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