Thursday, November 21, 2013

The MISSING Fact from Bank Settlement Stories

Every news organization has reported what appears to be a huge number.   The USA Today headline blares:  JPMorgan to Pay Record $13B for Toxic Loans.

In the same story, USA Today's Kevin McCoy points out JPMorgan had set aside $23 Billion - that's twenty-three billion U.S. dollars - for litigation costs.   So JPMorgan was prepared to spend $10B more to defend itself than it eventually paid to settle.  

How much did JPMorgan make selling toxic loans?   On story after story about white collar crime one major fact seems to be missing.   How much did the organization make with its crime?   How big were the bonuses for the people who perpetrated the crime?   

What and how did the U.S. Justice Department calculate how much the criminals made?   Did the criminals have to give back ALL the money or just some of it?    Did executives have to return bonuses, or did they get to keep their cash?   How much of a penalty above beyond all the money it made by violating the law did the criminal organization have to pay?   That's a number that needs to be in every story on white collar crime.  

The Center for Public Integrity has done some excellent reporting on what has happened to the executives who helped steal the country blind.   Its series of reports are well worth reading.  As the Center reports:  "As borrowers defaulted at increasing rates in 2006 and 2007, global financial markets tightened, then froze. The result was the worst economic crash since the Great Depression. Today, millions of Americans still face foreclosure. Yet few subprime executives have faced meaningful consequences."

When journalism fails, bad things happen, particularly in the land of greed.   

(PS:  If you have profit calculations from the sale of toxic loans, please post or send.  Thank you)

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