JPMorgan Chase, biggest banking profits ever

This 17 December 2019 Yahoo Finance video from the USA says about itself:

JPMorgan Chase bank engulfed in racism scandal after ex-NFL player speaks out

Former NFL player Jimmy Kennedy discusses his allegation of facing racism at JPMorgan Chase.

By Gabriel Black in the USA:

Amid poverty wages and tax cuts for the rich

JPMorgan Chase records the biggest profit of any bank in US history

18 January 2020

JPMorgan Chase, the most valuable private bank in the world, made $36.4 billion in 2019, the biggest annual profit of any bank in American history. The news, reported Tuesday, sent the company’s stock up by 2 percent. In the fourth quarter of 2019, the company took in $8.5 billion, also a record, making it the tenth-largest publicly traded company in the world, with a market cap of $437 billion.

JPMorgan Chase’s record profits were joined by Morgan Stanley, which also reported both record profits and record revenues for 2019, sending its stock price surging 6.6 percent on Thursday.

News of these record gains came as the six largest US banks revealed that they saved a combined $32 billion last year from President Donald Trump’s 2017 corporate tax cut. The tax windfall was up from 2018 for all but one of the banks. JPMorgan’s tax cut went from $3.7 billion in 2018 to $5 billion last year.

At Wednesday’s signing ceremony for the phase one trade deal with China, attended by an array of corporate executives, Trump turned to Mary Erdoes, a top executive at JPMorgan Chase. Calling the bank’s earnings report “incredible”, he joked, “Will you say, ‘Thank you, Mr. President’, at least?”

The tax cuts for the corporations and the rich, enacted with only token opposition from the Democrats, are only one factor in the surge in profits over the past year. When stocks plunged at the end of 2018, Trump stepped up his demand that the Federal Reserve reverse its policy of gradually raising interest rates to more normal levels, following years of near-zero rates in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. Acting as the mouthpiece of Wall Street, he demanded that the Fed begin cutting rates once again in order to pump more cash into the financial markets.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell dutifully complied, cutting interest rates three times in 2018 and assuring the markets that he had no intention of raising them again any time soon. Then, beginning in the late fall, the Fed began pumping tens of billions of dollars a week into the so-called “repo” overnight loan market, resuming the money-printing operation known as “quantitative easing”.

This de facto guarantee of unlimited public funds to backstop stock prices has produced record highs on all of the major US indexes, sending billions more into the private coffers of the rich and the super-rich.

These measures are a continuation and intensification of policies carried out on a bipartisan basis for four decades to redistribute wealth from the working class to the corporations and the financial elite. They have effected a fundamental restructuring of class relations in America, drastically lowering the social position of the working class. Decent-paying, secure jobs have been wiped out and largely replaced by poverty-wage, part-time, temporary and contingent employment—the so-called “gig” economy exemplified by corporations such as Amazon and Uber.

This decades-long ruling class offensive was accelerated in response to the 2008 financial crisis. President Barack Obama oversaw the channeling of trillions of dollars to the banks and financial markets in order to pay off the debts of the bankers and speculators, whose reckless and criminal activities had led to the crisis, and make them richer than ever. At the same time, he imposed a restructuring of the auto industry based on a 50 percent across-the-board pay cut for new-hires and an expansion of temporary and part-time labor.

Meanwhile, state, local and federal government programs have been dramatically slashed. Education, housing, Medicaid and food stamps have been particularly hard hit. This process has been accelerated under Trump, along with the removal of occupational safety and environmental regulations, with no opposition from the Democrats, who represent sections of the financial elite and wealthy upper-middle class.

The devastating human cost of the plundering of society by the corporate-financial oligarchy is registered in declining life expectancy, rising mortality and record suicide and drug addiction rates. A recent study by the Brookings Institution found that 53 million people in the US—44 percent of all workers—“earn barely enough to live on”. The study found that the median pay of this group was $10.22 per hour, around $18,000 a year. Thirty seven percent of those making $10 an hour have children. More than half are the primary earners or “contribute substantially” to family income.

Similarly, a Reuters report from 2018 found that the average income of the bottom 40 percent of workers in the United States was $11,600.

A recent study by Trust for America’s Health found that in 2017 “more than 152,000 Americans died from alcohol- and drug-induced fatalities and suicide.” This was the highest number ever recorded and more than double the figure for 1999. Among those in their 20s and early 30s, the prime working life age, drug deaths have increased more than 400 percent in the last 20 years.

At the other pole of society, the Dow Jones Industrial index is now double what it was at its peak in 2007, prior to the implosion of the financial system. Between March 2009 and today, the Dow has risen from 6,500 to over 29,000.

This 18 January 2020 video from the USA is called Dow Soaring Means ABSOLUTELY Nothing.

The stock market, buttressed by central bank and government policy, has become the central instrument for funneling wealth from the bottom of society to the top. As a result, the top 10 percent of society now owns about 70 percent of all wealth, whereas the bottom 50 percent has, effectively, nothing.

In the midst of this orgy of wealth accumulation at the very top of society, every demand of workers for jobs, decent pay, education, housing, health care and pensions is met with the universal response: “There is no money.” Hundreds of thousands of teachers have struck over the past two years to demand the restoration of funds cut from the public schools and substantial increases in pay and benefits. None of their demands have been met. The same applies to auto workers who struck for 40 days last fall to demand an end to two-tier pay systems and the defense of jobs.

JPMorgan’s $36.4 billion profit in 2019 is more than half the education budget of the US federal government.

Meanwhile, Americans are deeper in debt to JPMorgan and the other banks than at any time in history. Collective consumer debt in the United States approached $14 trillion last year. Credit card debt has surpassed $1 trillion for the first time. Auto debt is at $1.3 trillion and mortgage debt is now $9.4 trillion. Student loan debt has increased the fastest, surging from $500 billion in 2006 to $1.6 trillion today.

These are the conditions, rooted in the historical bankruptcy and crisis of the capitalist system, that have sparked a global upsurge in the class struggle and the growth of anti-capitalist and pro-socialist sentiment. The past year has seen a dramatic expansion of working-class struggle that is only a glimpse of what is to come. India, Hong Kong, Mexico, the United States, Puerto Rico, Lebanon, Iraq, France, Chile and Brazil are only some of the places where mass struggles have erupted.

What is becoming increasingly clear to hundreds of millions of people around the world is that the social problems confronting humanity in the 21st century—poverty, debt, disease, global warming, war, fascism, the assault on democratic rights—cannot be solved so long as this parasitic and oligarchical financial elite continues to rule. The turn is to the American and international working class—to unite, take power and seize control of the wealth which it produces to ensure peace, prosperity and equality for all people.

JP Morgan bank’s $1 billion cocaine smuggling

This 10 July 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

A cargo ship owned by JPMorgan Asset Management has been seized by officials during an investigation into $1 billion worth of cocaine discovered on the vessel. Veuer’s Justin Kircher has more.

From Forbes magazine in the USA:

July 11, 2019, 08:44pm

U.S. Authorities Seize 20 Tons Of Cocaine From Ship Owned By JP Morgan

By Rachel Sandler

In one of the largest drug busts in U.S. history, federal authorities in Philadelphia seized nearly 20 tons of cocaine—worth about $1 billion— last month from a ship owned by JP Morgan‘s asset management arm.

  • 19.76 tons of cocaine (that’s an estimated street value of $1.3 billion, according to Business Insider) were seized from the ship when it arrived at Packer Marine Terminal in Philadelphia on June 17.
  • The ship, named MSC Gayane, is operated by Switzerland-based Mediterranean Shipping Company, but it was financed by a transportation strategy fund run by JP Morgan‘s asset management arm. The ship is leased out to MSC.
  • Six crew members aboard MSC Gayane have been arrested and charged with knowingly and intentionally conspiring to possess more than five kilograms of cocaine, the Justice Department said in a statement.
  • The ship was flying under the flag of Liberia, a country in West Africa, according to online vessel tracking website MarineTraffic.

JP Morgan declined to comment. …

Very probably, JP Morgan fat cat Tony Blair also did not comment.

From Richard Nixon to Donald Trump, United States administrations wage a bloody ‘war on drugs’. A war often against poor peasants, homeless hippies, African Americans. But: a war against JP Morgan or other big banks, like HSBC? No sir. They are ‘too big to jail‘.

Though maybe a few ordinary seamen of this cocaine ship will be used as scapegoats. But no bankster fat cats.

This isn’t the first time MSC has experienced problems with drug trafficking aboard its ships. Earlier this year, authorities in Philadelphia found 13 large black duffel bags with a combined 450 bricks of cocaine being shipped in one of MSC’s shipping containers.

Trump, JP Morgan Chase bank attack socialism

This 6 February 2019 video from the United States Congress says about itself:

Trump tells Congress – and Sanders – ‘America will never be socialist’

During the State of the Union address, Donald Trump took a swipe at former Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, stating that “America will never be a socialist country.’

By Andre Damon in the USA:

Socialism haunts the American ruling class

8 April 2019

In the two months since Donald Trump vowed in his State of the Union Address that “America will never be a socialist country”, the right-wing demagogue president and the Republican Party have embraced anti-socialism as the defining theme of their campaign in the 2020 elections.

Speaking at the National Republican Congressional Committee Dinner last week, Trump declared that he will be running in 2020 to fight a “socialist takeover” of the United States. “I love the idea of ‘Keep America Great’” as a campaign slogan, Trump said, “because the socialists will destroy” the country.

Trump’s rhetoric is increasingly being embraced by the Republican Party as a whole. Last week, Utah Congressman Chris Stewart announced the formation of an “anti-socialist caucus” in the House of Representatives. This “anti-socialism movement” would serve “as a bulwark to stop the advancement of socialist policies and legislation”, Stewart said.

“If we fail to recall those dangerous times”, he added, “the primitive appeal of socialism will advance and infect our institutions.” Socialism wants to “destroy freedom, democracy and the rule of law,” the congressman declared.

Republican ideologue [and anti-Semite] Pat Buchanan went farther, declaring that the 2020 election would be a choice between Trump and socialism, in which “Trump would be the nation’s last line of defense against the coming of a Socialist America.”

While Trump and the Republicans express it in a particularly crude form, both major parties of the American ruling elite are united in their hatred and fear of socialism. Last week, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, who was known as Barack Obama’s favorite banker and who has been a major donor to the Democratic Party, centered his annual letter to shareholders on a denunciation of socialism.

This 4 April 2019 video from the USA is called Jamie Dimon defends capitalism in his annual letter.

Dimon’s bank received tens of billions of dollars in government bailouts and many billions more from the Obama administration’s ultra-low interest rate and “quantitative easing” money-printing policies.

Some people call such government policies ‘socialism for the rich’, as opposed to socialism for the poor.

He told his shareholders that “socialism inevitably produces stagnation, corruption” and “authoritarian government”, and would be “a disaster for our country.”

These statements express the fear that pervades the ruling class over the growth of political opposition within the working class to social inequality, which is fueling an international strike wave. Last year, more than half a million US workers went on strike, a 20-fold increase over 2017.

Last week, Ray Dalio, the former CEO of the hedge fund Bridgewater Associates, published an essay warning that the United States may be on the brink of social revolution. He wrote: “Disparity in wealth, especially when accompanied by disparity in values, leads to increasing conflict and, in the government, that manifests itself in the form of populism of the left and populism of the right and often in revolutions.”

He added that “we are now at a juncture in which” the growth of social inequality, unless reversed, would lead to a “great conflict and some form of revolution.”

Stratfor, the private intelligence service, warned that the 2020 US election represents a “global inflection point”, marked by the intersection of soaring social inequality and a crisis of global dominance for the United States. “The ‘socialist’ label is being bandied left and right”, it wrote, “as a way of questioning the very survival and moral legitimacy of US capitalism.”

What haunts the ruling class is … the objective impulse toward mass working-class struggle and hostility toward capitalism. Though only as yet in its initial stages, the growth of the class struggle will inevitably bring about a development of explicit anti-capitalist and socialist sentiment.

Facing an international economic, social and political crisis for which they have no answers, the ruling elites around the world are promoting extreme right-wing movements. All of these movements rose to prominence, like Trump, by promoting xenophobia and economic nationalism, but they are increasingly expressing their essential social character, in keeping with all fascist organizations, in their extreme hatred of socialism.

In France, President Em[m]anuel Macron has made overtures to the far-right National Rally and praised Marshal Philippe Pétain, the war-time Nazi collaborationist dictator. In Britain, Brexit has been used to mobilize right-wing extremists, who have murdered Labour Party MP Jo Cox, plotted to kill another Labour MP, violently assaulted Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, and repeatedly desecrated the grave of Karl Marx.

But this process has taken its most dangerous form in Germany, whose ruling class gave the world Adolf Hitler, where the media, the political establishment and large sections of academia have systematically promoted and defended leading figures within the far right. When the International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE) drew attention to the right-wing extremist views of Humboldt University Professor Jörg Baberowski, who declared that “Hitler was not vicious”, the IYSSE was attacked not only by the media, but also by the university administration, which steadfastly defended the hero of the far right.

As the Socialist Equality Party wrote earlier this year:

Fascism is not yet, as it was in the 1930s, a mass movement. But to ignore the growing danger would be politically irresponsible. With the support of sections of the ruling class and the state, right-wing movements have been able to exploit demagogically the frustration and anger felt by the broad mass of the population. In this situation, the fight against the resurgence of extreme right-wing and fascistic movements is an urgent political task.

The efforts of the American ruling elite to promote a fascistic movement against the growth of socialist opposition within the working class underscores the critical importance of the meetings being held across the US by the Socialist Equality Party and the IYSSE, beginning this week, under the title “The Threat of Fascism and How to Fight It.”

The meetings will be addressed by Christoph Vandreier, the deputy national secretary of the Sozialistische Gleichheitspartei (Socialist Equality Party) of Germany and author of the newly released book Why are They Back? Historical Falsification, Political Conspiracy and the Return of Fascism in Germany, who will bring the lessons of the struggle against fascism in Germany in the 1930s and today to an American audience. Many of the meetings will also be addressed by David North, the chairman of the WSWS international editorial board and the national chairman of the SEP in the United States.

We urge all of our readers to attend Vandreier’s lectures and participate in a discussion of the socialist strategy to mobilize the working class against the threat of fascism. As David North, explaining the importance of these meetings in the development of an international movement of workers and young people against the fascist danger, told a German audience recently: “Almost overnight, to the extent that people become aware in this country of the threat they face, we anticipate an enormous growth of social and political opposition. But what will be required is a very high level of historical and political awareness.”

JP Morgan bank cleaners on strike

This video from the USA says about itself:

J.P. Morgan Chase Whistleblower Alayne Fleischmann on Democracy Now

11 November 2014

A mere slap on the wrist for wreaking havoc on markets throughout the world.

By Joana Ramiro in Britain:

JP Morgan cleaners start all-out strike

Wednesday 8th June 2016

UVW members walk out indefinitely after ‘unlawful’ sackings

CLEANERS at the London offices of banking juggernaut JP Morgan Chase will start an indefinite strike today after several of their colleagues were sacked.

The Thames Cleaning and Support Services workers are fighting for the London living wage of £9.40 an hour and recognition for their union United Voices of the World (UVW).

The union says that after Thames took over the contract this year it unlawfully sacked half the workforce, some of whom had been working at 11 Wood Street for 15 years, in contravention of Tupe regulations.

The union successfully fought off a threatened High Court injunction last week but Thames did succeed in stopping the pickets chanting within 10 metres of the entrance of the building hosting financial behemoths including JP Morgan, Schroder and Law Debenture.

Walking out today was Ecuadorian cleaner Victor Ramirez, who said: “This is only the start. Together we will win.

“Nothing and no-one will change our belief in our right to earn a living wage and to be treated with respect.

“All we are doing is fighting for our rights and in response our employer has dragged us to the High Court.”

The company has claimed the problem lies with 100 Wood Street’s owner CBRE — a Fortune 500 commercial real estate company with over £11 billion in revenues — which does not want to meet the cleaners’ demands.

But it was Thames that sought the High Court injunction, at a cost of over £20,000.

UVW general secretary Petros Elia described the decision to go on all-out indefinite strike as “courageous.”

He said: “Thames have ignored [workers’] reasonable requests and refused to engage constructively in dialogue and negotiation.

“In fact they have gone much further than this, choosing to spend £20,000 in a futile attempt to silence our members.

“This shows just how far some companies will go to stop low-paid workers from speaking out about exploitation and injustice.

The union said the injunction on striking members protesting outside their working facilities set a “scary precedent” and a “gross and unjustified interference” with their human rights.

Mr Elia added: “Cleaners deserve dignity and respect, not to be treated like the dirt they clean.”

USA: DOJ Sues JPMorgan For Racial Discrimination. The suit claim that the bank charged African-American and Hispanic borrowers more than white borrowers with the same credit profile. 01/18/2017 09:53 am ET: here.

FINANCE CHIEF: I WAS WRONG TO SPEAK OUT ON TRUMP JPMorgan Chase Chief Executive Jamie Dimon said he regretted saying that he was “smarter” than Trump and could beat him in an election. “I shouldn’t have said it. It also proves I would not be a good politician,” Dimon said in an interview on ABC’s “This Week.” [HuffPost]

JP Morgan bank attacks underpaid cleaners

This video from the USA says about itself:

Documents in JP Morgan settlement reveal how every large bank in U.S. has committed mortgage fraud

29 November 2013

Bill Black: Justice Dept.’s failure to understand pervasive schemes of fraud in financial industry obstructs meaningful prosecution of banks.

By Joana Ramiro in Britain:

JP Morgan legal bid to prevent strike solidarity

Thursday 19th May 2016

Underpaid cleaners refuse to stymie action in face of giant bank’s intimidation

CLEANERS for transnational banking juggernaut JP Morgan Chase were threatened with a legal injunction yesterday unless they promised to ignore all acts of solidarity at an upcoming all-out strike.

Staff at London’s 100 Wood Street — offices for JP Morgan, Schroder and Law Debenture investment banks — are currently balloting for strikes over job losses and living wage demands.

Two cleaners have already been dismissed by subcontractor Thames Cleaning and Support Services Ltd, a grievance their non-TUC affiliated union United Voices of the World (UVW) is hoping to take to a tribunal.

“I feel like they are stepping on and completely disregarding my rights,” said James Vivas, who, the union contends, was sacked without justification.

“How can we be dismissed without any consideration? Where are my rights?”

Thames Cleaning was awarded the contract for 100 Wood Street six weeks ago, but is already planning to cut the staff in half and refusing to pay the London living wage of £9.40 per hour.

A refusal from management to engage with UVW has led the cleaners, some of whom have worked at the address for 15 years, to consider industrial action.

According to UVW, Thames Cleaning originally attempted to seek an injunction against the strike on grounds of alleged non-compliance with statutory procedure.

But realising that no compliance issues were actually on hand, the company threatened to make the strike unlawful unless workers agreed to restrict the picket line to striking workers and one trade union official.

“Trying to make our members choose between a small lawful picket and a large unlawful picket is completely unacceptable,” said UVW general secretary Petros Elia.

“It is not for the employer to decide the size of a picket and it’s a damning indictment of the growing arrogance and ruthlessness of employers, especially in the cleaning sector.

“It’s outrageous that an injunction is even being contemplated against a small group of low-paid workers who have decided that to withdraw their labour is the only means to save their jobs and win them a wage they can live on, especially when they clean the building in which JP Morgan is a tenant.”

Trade unionists promised to keep up the strike despite all intimidation.

JP Morgan did not reply to the Star’s request for comment.

Bloodthirsty Blair blasted by British peace movement

This video is about ex-British Prime Minister Tony Blair, asked at the United Nations by Inner City Press about payments to him by JPMorgan Chase bank and $11M from the dictatorship in Kazakhstan.

By Joana Ramiro in Britain:

Iraq: Stop the War leader Lindsey German blasts ex-PM Tony Blair for denying responsibility for new Islamist insurgency

Monday 16th June 2014

‘Demented warmonger’ Blair is ‘wrong, wrong, wrong’ to call for more Western intervention in decimated Iraq, says giant of the peace movement

Tony Blair was branded a “demented warmonger” yesterday after the slippery former prime minister tried to rescue his reputation from the embers of the Iraq conflict.

Mr Blair argued in a long essay published on his website that Iraq would be a much worse place today if he had not ordered British troops to invade the country.

He added that the ongoing occupation of Mosul by jihadist organisation Isis could have been prevented with British intervention in the Syrian civil war.

Stop the War Coalition convenor Lindsey German condemned his discredited views and the airtime he was given to peddle them, including an appearance on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show.

Ms German told the Star: “Blair has yet again been given a lengthy platform to promote his demented warmongering.”

And she said it was precisely the bombing of the country’s infrastructures 11 years ago that lead to “disastrous consequences which are still playing out to the cost of the Iraqi people.”

Ms German called on Mr Blair to step down from his role as Middle East peace convoy.

She said it was a “a job for which he lacks a single qualification.”

Ms German wasn’t alone in her criticisms as politicians and the public piled into the ex-PM.

Former international development secretary Clare Short — who stepped down from her role over the invasion of Iraq — labelled her former boss as a “complete American neocon.”

Mr Blair’s opinions, she argued, were “absolutely, consistently wrong, wrong, wrong.”

“More bombing will not solve it, it will just exacerbate it,” she urged.

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond suggested the former Labour leader was suffering from “breathtaking amnesia.”

He said: “No reinterpretation of history will absolve the former prime minister of a direct line of responsibility for this sequence of disasters.”

Even security academics at the Royal United Services Institute weighed into the row, with spokesman Michael Stephens saying: “I think Mr Blair is washing his hands of responsibility.”

Journalist Owen Jones was among hundreds who took to Twitter to hit back at Mr Blair’s statement.

He wrote: “Tony Blair says we’re not to blame for Iraq disaster. Quite right. Him and his cheerleaders are.”

With typical sociopathic panache Tony Blair continues his decade-long defence of the Iraq war with a rebuttal of his culpability in the latest disastrous disintegration of the Middle East: here.

Dear Tony Blair, thanks for everything, hope you enjoy the oil, Love – Iraq: here.

Western intervention has been the curse of the Middle East for over 100 years. The cure for the crisis in Iraq is not more intervention, says John Rees, but ending this disastrous history of meddling: here.

The U.S. embassy in Baghdad has evacuated some workers.

The events of the past week have starkly exposed the ethnic and sectarian fracturing of Iraq that was fomented during the US occupation: here.

French Prime Minister Valls kowtows to racists, bankers

This video is about mass demonstrations by young people in France in France against the deportation by Minister Valls of Roma schoolgirl Leonarda to dangerous Kosovo.

By Alex Lantier in France:

Incoming French Prime Minister Valls pledges austerity, appeals to far right

9 April 2014

In his speech yesterday outlining his political agenda, incoming Socialist Party (PS) Prime Minister Manuel Valls laid out plans for deep social cuts and made militaristic, law-and-order appeals to the neo-fascist National Front’s (FN) growing political base.

Valls’ speech testifies to the disintegration of bourgeois “left” politics in France and Europe as a whole. The Socialist Party’s response to its unprecedented defeat in last month’s municipal elections, due to popular anger over mass unemployment and austerity measures, is a violent shift to the right. Given the choice between making concessions to the working class or slashing workers’ living standards while stoking up pro-FN sentiment, the PS has chosen to promote the neo-fascists.

Valls, whose speechwriters evidently read the police reports he received in his previous post as interior minister, began by raising the existence of deep popular alienation from official politics. “I have seen many closed faces, shaking voices, tightened lips,” he said. “To say things more simply, many of our fellow citizens do not believe us anymore. They do not hear us anymore. For them, public life has become a dead letter.”

Valls then made a series of appeals to far-right sentiment, calling for targeting “delinquency” as well as “anti-Christian” acts, as part of a broader campaign supposedly targeting racism.

He saluted the French army and its wars in Mali and the Central African Republic, brazenly denying France’s well-documented support for the Rwandan Hutu regime’s 1994 genocide of the Tutsis. “Our voice—that of our head of state, our diplomacy, of our armies—is respected,” he said. “I do not accept unjust accusations that France might have been the accomplice of genocide, whereas France always stakes its honor on its role of separating belligerents.”

He grotesquely praised French chauvinism, declaring: “France is not obscure nationalism; it is the light of what is universal. France, yes, it is the arrogance to believe that what we do here is what the entire world should be doing.”

This right-wing trash is to be the pretext for a campaign to massively lower living standards, slash social spending, and funnel vast amounts of money to the rich. Valls pledged to meet this week with the trade union bureaucracy and employers’ groups to discuss new favors for business and the planned €50 billion cut in yearly public spending under President François Hollande’s so-called “Responsibility Pact.” This includes €19 billion in cuts to the public sector wage bill and €10 billion in health care cuts.

Valls openly stated that he aims to slash workers’ living standards, which he called the “cost of labor.” He said, “The time of decision has come. First of all, there is the cost of labor. It must fall. It is one of our main levers for competitiveness—not the only one, but a major one.”

He proposed tax incentives for businesses to hire workers on salaries between 100 and 130 percent of the minimum wage. These would include the elimination of taxes paid by businesses on their wages to fund health care and pensions. The aim of this policy is the development of France as a low-wage export economy—in which social programs would be systematically starved of funding and workers would have to step up the already widespread practice of buying private health insurance to supplement the national health plan.

Valls also laid out plans for a massive reorganization and cut in spending by authorities at the various levels of French local government, from regions to departments to communes or municipalities.

He called for cutting the number of regions in France by half and eliminating elected councils at the departmental level by 2021. He also called for eliminating the “general competence clause,” which stipulates that local governments can undertake projects on any subject of public interest, unless responsibility for it is specifically allocated to other authorities.

Valls’ predecessor, PS Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, had already called for this measure as part of a “simplification shock” to slash local government spending and more directly subordinate it to the central government and the banks.

Like the Responsibility Pact and his nationalist appeals, Valls’ calls for local government cuts are aligned with the demands of the financial aristocracy. They underscore the significance of investment bank JPMorgan’s calls last year for “political reforms” to better suppress opposition to social cuts across Europe. (See: JPMorgan calls for authoritarian regimes in Europe).

JP Morgan wrote that European political systems “were established in the aftermath of dictatorship, and were defined by that experience.”

It continued: “Constitutions tend to show a strong socialist influence, reflecting the political strength that left-wing parties gained after the defeat of fascism. Political systems around the periphery typically display several of the following features: weak executives; weak central states relative to regions; constitutional protections of labor rights; consensus-building systems which foster political clientelism; and the right to protest if unwelcome changes are made to the political status quo. The shortcomings of this political legacy have been revealed by the crisis.”

The PS’ moves to undermine labor rights, wages and public spending while simultaneously promoting the far right are taken directly from JPMorgan’s playbook for dismantling all the gains won by the working class in the post-World War II period. …

The Socialist Party’s public adoption of a platform of wage-cutting and social regression justified through appeals to far-right sentiment marks a further step in the decomposition of European bourgeois “left” politics. Like the discredited Greek PASOK party, the PS is setting up a confrontation between the working class and a capitalist elite that is rapidly shifting towards the far right.

The National Assembly voted 306 to 236 to approve Valls’ policy speech, with the bulk of the opposition coming from the right-wing Gaullist Union for a Popular Movement (UMP). Eleven PS, six Green, and three Left Radical deputies abstained, but the overwhelming majority of the bourgeois “left” deputies supported the speech.

Left-wing parties and trade unions took to the streets of Paris and Marseille on Saturday to protest against austerity measures by French President Francois Hollande’s government: here.

On Saturday, tens of thousands of people took to the streets in France and in Italy, protesting the social-democratic governments’ austerity measures and pro-market labour reforms: here.

At a meeting of the Defense and National Security Council on June 2, France’s Socialist Party (PS) President François Hollande ended over three weeks of arm-twisting by Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and the armed forces’ top generals against cuts in military spending, which culminated in a threat by the entire French general staff to resign: here.

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JPMorgan, other US banks, committed fraud

This video from the USA says about itself:

Documents in JPMorgan settlement reveal how every large bank in U.S. has committed mortgage fraud

29 Nov 2013

Bill Black: Justice Dept.’s failure to understand pervasive schemes of fraud in financial industry obstructs meaningful prosecution of banks.

By Susie Madrak in the USA:

December 01, 2013 09:00 AM

JPMorgan Settlement Docs Show Every Large Bank in U.S. Committed Mortgage Fraud

We know the administration didn’t really pursue criminal charges against any of these banksters. So it’s good to have an experienced regulator like Bill Black explain the whole mess to us:

JAISAL NOOR, TRNN PRODUCER: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Jaisal Noor in Baltimore. And welcome to this latest edition of The Black Financial and Fraud Report.

Now joining us is Bill Black. He’s an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He’s a white-collar criminologist, a former financial regulator, author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank Is to Own One, and he’s regular contributor to The Real News.

Thank you so much for joining us, Bill.


NOOR: So, Bill, what do you have for us this week?

BLACK: So, this’ll be the first installment in what can we learn from the statement of facts that constitutes JPMorgan‘s admissions. This in that settlement that the Department of Justice is billing as the $13 billion settlement. As I’ve explained in the past, it’s not that big, but it’s still quite large in dollar terms. And we owe a debt of gratitude to Judge Rakoff, who’s been giving the Securities and Exchange Commission a hard time about settling cases and getting absolutely no useful admissions from the people that perpetrated the frauds.

And so the Justice Department was embarrassed into getting this statement of fact, which was obviously closely negotiated with JPMorgan to try to not establish its criminal liability, but still is a remarkable document in terms of what it tells us about the fraud second epidemics, not just at JPMorgan, but also the criminality at Washington Mutual and at Bear Stearns. And it tells us about the whole secondary market frauds. And it tells us a great deal about why the Justice Department is batting .000 against the elite frauds.

So, to back up, the Department of Justice is only investigating the secondary markets sales. But there, the Justice Department has finally gotten to the point of essentially saying that there was a epidemic of fraud in sales to the secondary market. And what they’ve done in particular is endorse and piggyback and take advantage of the work of the Federal Housing Finance Administration, which is the conservator for Fannie and Freddie, and in that capacity has sued 18 of the largest financial institutions in the world and said that each of them engaged in fraud.

So, you know, stop right there. The United States government, now with the endorsement of the Justice Department, has said that after investigation it found that essentially every large bank involved in the secondary market sales to Fannie and Freddie committed fraud. And frauds and intentional crime. Right? So that’s an extraordinary thing.

There were three of these epidemics of mortgage fraud that drove this crisis. Individually, each of the three fraud epidemics would have been the most destructive financial fraud in world history, but all three of them occurred at the same time and they’re related. So the first two are in the mortgage origination phase, and that is what I’ve described in the past: the epidemic of appraisal fraud, led by lenders, and the epidemic of liars loans, also led by lenders and their agents. And that generated literally millions of fraudulent mortgages originated each year, most of which they sold to the secondary market. And since there’s no fraud [incompr.] they had to, of course, engage in fraud in the representations and warranties–what we call reps and warranties for short–in the sale of these fraudulent mortgages through a further fraudulent representation to the secondary market.

So the first thing that we have is that there are admissions not just as to JPMorgan in this statement of facts, but also as to Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual. And collectively, of course, we’re talking about three of the largest and most elite financial institutions in the world. And the Justice Department says each of these engaged in fraud, which ought to be sort of the headline news, right, that three of the largest financial entities in the world engaged in pervasive fraud.

Now, this is particularly remarkable in the case of Bear Stearns and in the case of Washington Mutual, both of them acquired by JPMorgan (Washington Mutual is called WAMU by most people for short), because they’re infamous from past investigations. So the famous phrase used by the industry–remember, the industry used the phrase liars loans. That was not something that prosecutors came up with to try to bias juries. Well, the phrase in the industry was “Bear don’t care”, meaning that Bear Stearns could care less about the quality of the loans that it was buying in the secondary market, that it was most happily deceived and such. And Washington Mutual’s infamous for the investigations that found that it was one of those places that did have a literal blacklist of honest appraisers who refused to inflate appraisals, in which WAMU refused to send future business to honest appraisers because it wanted to engage in this massive fraud scheme of inflating appraisals.

Okay. So we’ve got not just really big, really elite, but incredibly infamous places, and we’re getting confirmation from the Justice Department and from JPMorgan, the acquirers of these entities, that says, yes, these two entities ran this fraud scheme in the secondary market sales. But, of course, there’s also the same allegations against JPMorgan and JPMorgan conceding to these facts as well, which, of course, leads to the obvious question: why haven’t these senior officers controlling JPMorgan, Washington Mutual, and Bear Stearns been prosecuted for the crimes? And if for some reason they don’t think they can prosecute the individuals, why don’t you prosecute the corporation instead of letting it get off scot-free, apparently, with no criminal case? So that’s the big take away at this point.

But as I say, there’s a second story, and that is that the Justice Department still doesn’t understand this industry, the fraud schemes at all, and it is still living in this mythical world in which this is supposedly the first virgin crisis. And that’s why you still don’t see President Obama or Attorney General Eric Holder actually just making a flat-out statement that says, you know, we were wrong; this crisis really was driven by fraud, and it was driven by fraud in our most elite institutions, and it’s a national scandal that they’ve gotten away with it without any prosecutions and that not a single one of the leading officers who led the frauds and became wealthy through the frauds, not only has a single one not been prosecuted, but we have not taken back a significant chunk of the money and left them, you know, with none of the fraud proceeds. We’ve done that in zero cases as to elite bankers. So in next installment we’ll look at what the statement of facts tells you about how the Department of Justice unfortunately remains largely clueless.
NOOR: Thank you so much for joining us, Bill.

BLACK: Thank you. And happy Thanksgiving, everybody.

NOOR: Thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

£2m: average pay award for JP Morgan’s top staff in 2012 revealed: here.

Better Markets, a non-profit Wall Street watchdog, filed a lawsuit Monday against the US Department of Justice (DOJ) alleging that its $13 billion settlement with JPMorgan Chase over the bank’s sale of toxic mortgage-backed securities in the run-up to the financial crisis was an illegal cover-up: here.

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JPMorgan banking scandal news

This video from the USA is called JPMorgan Chase CEO Welcomed By Senators Flooded With Millions in Wall Street Donations.

By Barry Grey in the USA:

Blanket settlement with JPMorgan: A $13 billion cover-up

21 October 2013

US newspapers on Sunday led with reports of a tentative settlement between JPMorgan Chase and the Obama Justice Department of numerous investigations into the bank’s fraudulent sale of toxic mortgage-backed securities in the lead-up to the 2008 Wall Street crash.

The reports presented the deal, under which the nation’s largest bank will pay $9 billion in fines and provide relief to consumers worth $4 billion, as a victory for the Justice Department and a major step in holding the banks responsible for the economic catastrophe they inflicted on the country and the world.

This is nonsense. JPMorgan and its CEO, Jamie Dimon, have pressed for such a blanket deal to allow the bank to pay a fine and obtain in return the equivalent of a general amnesty for illegal actions that have led to the impoverishment of countless millions of people. The systematic marketing of worthless securities enabled the bank to pocket tens of billions of dollars and further enrich top executives such as Dimon.

When the Ponzi scheme collapsed, the government used trillions of dollars in taxpayer money to bail out the banks and financial firms. Since 2009, it—along with governments all over the world—has been engaged in a savage offensive to recoup the debts taken on by the state by destroying social programs and the living standards of the working class.

The $9 billion fine, the largest penalty ever imposed on a US corporation, is less than half the $21 billion profit JPMorgan recorded in 2012. The bank is pulling in enormous profits despite having set aside $28 billion since 2010 to cover legal costs.

It is necessary to place the size of the fine in the context of the economic damage resulting from the bank’s practices. Reportedly, $4 billion will go to settle a suit by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) charging JPMorgan with knowingly making false statements and omitting material facts in selling $33 billion in worthless mortgage bonds to the government-sponsored mortgage finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac at the height of the subprime mortgage bubble (2005-2007). That is about 2 percent of the $188 billion in taxpayer money the government has spent thus far to prop up the firms.

In setting the fine, the Obama administration calculated that the bank could absorb the loss with minimal damage. At the same time, the size of the penalty indicates that the Justice Department has abundant evidence of illegality—on a massive scale.

Yet it has refrained from indicting Dimon, any other high-ranking JPMorgan executive, or the bank itself. Instead, Attorney General Eric Holder, the country’s top law enforcement official, has been spending much of his time in secret negotiations with Dimon over the precise wording of any eventual admission of wrongdoing, so as to minimize the criminal liability of the bank and its leading officers.

As the New York Times wrote on Sunday, “The government also prefers to settle with big companies rather than indict them, fearing that criminal charges could unnerve the broader economy.” Last March, in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Holder acknowledged that the failure of the Obama administration to prosecute a single major Wall Street banker was part of a calculated policy.

He told the committee that the big banks are so large and powerful that “if we do bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy.”

What does this astonishing admission signify? First, that the financial elite is above the law. It, like the aristocracies of old, is immune from the laws that apply to the lower orders. In America, people are routinely sentenced to long prison terms for petty crimes that involve hundreds of dollars. The speculators and swindlers who steal millions and billions, however, do so with impunity. They control the government and both political parties.

Second, it shows that criminality is so pervasive within the corporate-financial establishment that to attack it threatens to undermine the foundations of the financial system.

JPMorgan is a case in point. Just last month, it agreed to pay close to $1 billion to settle charges that it lied to investors and government regulators and committed accounting fraud to conceal $6.2 billion in losses in derivatives bets last year. A 300-page report on the so-called “London Whale” scandal issued last March by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations concluded that the bank used accounting dodges “to hide hundreds of millions of dollars of losses,” and “misinformed investors, regulators, and the public about the nature of its risky derivatives trading.”

The report also concluded that Dimon lied when he downplayed the losses. At the time when he called the matter “a complete tempest in a teapot,” he “was already in possession of information about…sustained losses for three straight months” and “the exponential increase in those losses during March [2012],” the Senate committee wrote.

Yet Dimon and other top executives were exonerated of any intentional wrongdoing in the carefully drafted “admission” that accompanied the fine. Instead, the government claimed they were misled by subordinates and culpable only for insufficient oversight.

The London Whale and subprime mortgage probes are only two among a host of investigations into the bank’s operations, concerning such offenses as credit card fraud, illegal debt collection practices, rigging of energy markets, complicity in the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme, illegal home foreclosures, bribing Chinese officials, and involvement in the Libor rate-rigging scandal.

JPMorgan is the rule, not the exception. Every major US bank is the subject of multiple investigations and lawsuits. In 2011, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations issued a 630-page report on the financial crash detailing illegal activities by Washington Mutual, Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs that contributed to the global crisis. The report also documented the collusion of the credit rating firms and government regulatory agencies.

The committee chairman, Senator Carl Levin, said at the time that the investigation had found “a financial snake pit rife with greed, conflicts of interest and wrongdoing.”

The Obama administration, both political parties, Congress and the courts have worked assiduously to cover up the snake pit and shield the snakes from prosecution. The role of the government in running interference for the banks and protecting the financial aristocracy is illuminated by one little-noted detail of the negotiations between Dimon and Holder.

While the press has reported that Dimon was joined by his bank’s chief counsel, Stephen Cutler, in the Friday night conference call where the agreement was reached, the media has failed to note that Cutler headed the enforcement division of the Securities and Exchange Commission between 2001 and 2005.

The Most Disturbing Part Of The JPMorgan News Is That It’s Not Shocking At All: here.

US government lets JPMorgan off the hook for mortgage fraud: here.

Man faces one year in jail for protesting JP Morgan’s fossil fuel investments: here.

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon has been awarded $20 million in pay for 2013, an increase of 74 percent, following a year in which the bank paid out $20 billion in legal settlements: here.

JP Morgan bank Chinese corruption scandal

This video from the USA says about itself:

JPMorgan Chase Screws Alabama County

14 June 2011

JPMorgan Chase exploded an Alabama county’s budget along with corrupt politicians. MSNBC host Cenk Uygur explains how the bankers suffered no consequences.

From the New York Times in the USA:

Hiring in China By JPMorgan Under Scrutiny


August 17, 2013, 8:01 pm

Federal authorities have opened a bribery investigation into whether JPMorgan Chase hired the children of powerful Chinese officials to help the bank win lucrative business in the booming nation, according to a confidential United States government document.

In one instance, the bank hired the son of a former Chinese banking regulator who is now the chairman of the China Everbright Group, a state-controlled financial conglomerate, according to the document, which was reviewed by The New York Times, as well as public records. After the chairman’s son came on board, JPMorgan secured multiple coveted assignments from the Chinese conglomerate, including advising a subsidiary of the company on a stock offering, records show.

The Hong Kong office of JPMorgan also hired the daughter of a Chinese railway official. That official was later detained on accusations of doling out government contracts in exchange for cash bribes, the government document and public records show.

The former official’s daughter came to JPMorgan at an opportune time for the New York-based bank: The China Railway Group, a state-controlled construction company that builds railways for the Chinese government, was in the process of selecting JPMorgan to advise on its plans to become a public company, a common move in China for businesses affiliated with the government. With JPMorgan’s help, China Railway raised more than $5 billion when it went public in 2007.

The focus of the civil investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission’s anti-bribery unit has not been previously reported. JPMorgan — which has had a number of run-ins lately with regulators, including one over a multibillion-dollar trading loss last year — made an oblique reference to the inquiry in its quarterly filing this month. The filing stated that the S.E.C. had sought information about JPMorgan’s “employment of certain former employees in Hong Kong and its business relationships with certain clients.”

In May, according to a copy of the confidential government document, the S.E.C.’s anti-bribery unit requested from JPMorgan a battery of records about Tang Xiaoning. He is the son of Tang Shuangning, who since 2007 has been chairman of the China Everbright Group. Before that, the elder Mr. Tang was the vice chairman of China’s top banking regulator.

The agency also inquired about JPMorgan’s hiring of Zhang Xixi, the daughter of the railway official. Among other information, the S.E.C. sought “documents sufficient to identify all persons involved in the decision to hire” her.

The government document and public records do not definitively link JPMorgan’s hiring practices to its ability to win business, nor do they suggest that the employees were unqualified. Furthermore, the records do not indicate that the employees helped JPMorgan secure business. The bank has not been accused of any wrongdoing.

Yet the S.E.C.’s request outlined in the confidential document hints at a broader hiring strategy at JPMorgan’s Chinese offices. Authorities suspect that JPMorgan routinely hired young associates who hailed from well-connected Chinese families that ultimately offered the bank business. Beyond the daughter of the railway official, the S.E.C. document inquired about “all JPMorgan employees who performed work for or on behalf of the Ministry of Railways” over the last six-plus years. …

Western companies have been aggressive in trying to snag a share of riches in China’s fast-growing economy in recent years. Some have come under fire over their business practices there, including GlaxoSmithKline, whose employees are said by Chinese officials to have confessed to bribing doctors to increase pharmaceutical sales.

Global companies also routinely hire the sons and daughters of leading Chinese politicians. What is unusual about JPMorgan is that it hired the children of officials of state-controlled companies.

It is even less common for American authorities to scrutinize such practices. Only a handful of Wall Street employees have ever faced bribery accusations, including a former Morgan Stanley executive in China who pleaded guilty to criminal charges in 2012, admitting to “an effort to enrich himself and a Chinese government official.”

In recent years, the S.E.C. and the Justice Department have each stepped up their enforcement of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, a 1977 federal law that essentially bans United States companies from giving “anything of value” to a foreign official to win “an improper advantage” in retaining business.

The S.E.C. created its own corrupt practices unit, which since 2010 has filed about 40 cases against companies like Tyco and Ralph Lauren. Over that same period, the Justice Department has leveled charges in more than 60 cases. …

The inquiry into JPMorgan comes when the bank is already the focus of investigations in the United States by at least eight federal agencies, a state regulator and two foreign nations. Many of the cases, including a civil and criminal investigation in California, involve JPMorgan’s financial-crisis-era mortgage business.

The multitude of cases has led some lawmakers to question whether JPMorgan, which has operations in more than 60 countries, is too big to manage.

The potential perils of JPMorgan’s size also came to light with a multibillion-dollar trading blowup last year that came to be known as the “London Whale.” The trading losses, stemming from a bad bet on the exotic financial instruments known as derivatives, prompted Congressional hearings and wide-ranging investigations.

On Wednesday, federal prosecutors in Manhattan and the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced criminal charges against two of the bank’s former traders in London, accusing them of masking the size of the $6 billion loss.

The S.E.C., conducting a parallel investigation, is seeking to extract a rare admission of wrongdoing from the bank related to the losses. A settlement, which could come as soon as this fall, will also include a hefty fine, according to people briefed on the matter.

The agency’s bribery inquiry could pose an even steeper challenge to JPMorgan. Although banks are prone to the occasional trading blunder — JPMorgan produced record quarterly profits despite the losses in London last year — a corruption inquiry could leave a more lasting mark on its reputation. It might also spur the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation.

SENATE: THREE MAJOR BANKS MANIPULATED COMMODITIES PRICES A Senate investigative report accused Goldman, JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley of using their involvement in the storing and moving of commodities such as aluminum to manipulate prices to their advantage. You can read the whole report here. [AP]