Matt Taibbi challenges the notion of “rogue traders”

September 17, 2011 | By | Reply More

Swiss bank UBS recently announced that a “rogue trader” caused the bank to lose $2 billion.

At Common Dreams, Matt Taibbi argues that what this “rogue trader” was doing was par for the course on Wall Street, even since the intentional destruction of the Glass-Steagall Act. Therefore, allegations that “rogue traders” cause losses at Wall Street banks is yet another fraud on behalf of these “banks.”

Investment bankers do not see it as their jobs to tend to the dreary business of making sure Ma and Pa Main Street get their $8.03 in savings account interest every month. Nothing about traditional commercial banking – historically, the dullest of businesses, taking customer deposits and making conservative investments with them in search of a percentage point of profit here and there – turns them on.

. . .

Nonetheless, thanks to the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act passed in 1998 with the help of Bob Rubin, Larry Summers, Bill Clinton, Alan Greenspan, Phil Gramm and a host of other short-sighted politicians, we now have a situation where trillions in federally-insured commercial bank deposits have been wedded at the end of a shotgun to exactly such career investment bankers from places like Salomon Brothers (now part of Citi), Merrill Lynch (Bank of America), Bear Stearns (Chase), and so on.

These marriages have been a disaster. The influx of i-banking types into the once-boring worlds of commercial bank accounts, home mortgages, and consumer credit has helped turn every part of the financial universe into a casino. That’s why I can’t stand the term “rogue trader,” which is always tossed out there when some investment-banker asshole loses a billion dollars betting with someone else’s money.

They’re not “rogue” for the simple reason that making insanely irresponsible decisions with other peoples’ money is exactly the job description of a lot of people on Wall Street. Hell, they don’t call these guys “rogue traders” when they make a billion dollars gambling.

Reckless Wall Street “banks” are mostly not-banks. They only make about 15% of their money raising capital for businesses. Instead, they are gamblers who are using what’s left of their bank function as a human shield so that when their reckless bets go bad they can call out to Congress for yet another mega-wad of cash to save them from going under. You can almost hear them shouting, “Save the banks! Save the banks!” If the federal government hadn’t killed Glass-Steagall, Congress would be much better situated to respond to what would have been only a reckless gambler, “Sorry, but it’s time you suffered the natural consequences of your actions . . . no federal money for you.”

If only Glass-Steagall were still in place, those stodgy and boring bank accounts of people like you and me would be safely segregated from the uncontrolled avarice of huge gambling corporations that currently call themselves “banks.”

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Category: Corporatocracy, Economy, Fraud

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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