Bill Black's Handy Guide to Bankster Fraud, From 'Small Fraudulent Fry' to 'Septic Tank Scum'
Stay up to date with the latest headlines via email.
Sixty Minutes ' December 11, 2011 interview of President Obama included a claim by Obama that, unfortunately, did not lead the interviewer to ask the obvious, essential follow-up questions.
“I can tell you, just from 40,000 feet, that some of the most damaging behavior on Wall Street, in some cases, some of the least ethical behavior on Wall Street, wasn't illegal.”
Obama did not explain what Wall Street behavior he found least ethical or what unethical Wall Street actions he believed was not illegal. It would have done the world (and Obama) a great service had he been asked these questions. He would not have given a coherent answer because his thinking on these issues has never been coherent. If he had to explain his position he, and the public, would recognize it was indefensible. I offer the following scale of unethical banker behavior related to fraudulent mortgages and mortgage paper (principally collateralized debt obligations (CDOs)) that is illegal and deserved punishment. I write to prompt the rigorous analytical discussion that is essential to expose and end Obama and Bush’s “Presidential Amnesty for Contributors” (PAC) doctrine. The financial industry is the leading campaign contributor to both parties and those contributions come overwhelmingly from the wealthiest officers – the one-tenth of one percent that thrives by being parasites on the 99 percent.
I have explained at length in my blogs and articles why:
- Only fraudulent home lenders made liar’s loans
- Liar’s loans were endemically fraudulent
- Lenders and their agents put the lies in liar’s loans
- Appraisal fraud was endemic and led by lenders and their agents
- Liar’s loans could only be sold through fraudulent reps and warranties
- CDOs “backed” by liar’s loans were inherently fraudulent
- CDOs backed by liar’s loans could only be sold through fraudulent reps and warranties
- Liar’s loans hyper-inflated the bubble
- Liar’s loans became roughly one-third of mortgage originations by 2006
Each of these frauds is a conventional fraud that could be prosecuted under existing laws. Hundreds of lenders and over a hundred thousand loan brokers were “accounting control frauds” specializing largely in making fraudulent liar’s loans. My prior work explains control fraud, why accounting is the “weapon on choice” for fraudulent financial firms, and why liar’s loans were superior “ammunition” for committing massive accounting fraud. These accounting control frauds caused greater direct financial losses than any other crime epidemic in history. They also drove the financial crisis that produced the Great Recession and cost millions of Americans their jobs.
In considering my scale of unethical conduct it is important to keep in mind that it is highly likely that anyone that causes very large numbers of people to lose their homes will cause multiple suicides and indirect deaths that arise from the greater vulnerability of the homeless and the blue collar crime effects of destroying neighborhoods inherent to widespread foreclosures. I ignore for this purpose the fact that the fraudulent loans caused the bubble to hyper-inflate and drove the financial crisis that caused millions of people to lose their jobs. The financial accounting control frauds are the weapons of mass destruction of wealth, employment, and happiness. I also ignore the fact that the frauds described here made the perpetrators wealthy. My scale, therefore, systematically and dramatically understates the perpetrators’ moral turpitude. I have also excluded the massive foreclosure frauds from my scale because they did not cause the underlying crisis. When Obama reveals the bankers actions he claims to be legal but highly unethical readers should keep my conscious understatement of the moral depravity of the illegal acts by bankers that drove this crisis in mind when they compare the relative ethical failings.