Warning signs of the instability of the global financial system abounded in the months leading up to the 2008 Lehman Brothers crash. Among these early signs were the astounding revelations about UBS, the world’s largest private bank, by Stephanie Gibaud, who was employee at the bank’s French division. Gibaud refused instructions given to her and other employees to delete all their company files. In doing so, she helped reveal a vast web of corruption and fraud linking UBS to a shadowy tax evasion scheme. More than 15 years later, Gibaud has endured harassment, professional ostracization, lawsuits, and threats.
When the FDIC put Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) and Signature Bank into receivership in March, a study reported on the Social Science Research Network found that nearly 200 midsized U.S. banks were similarly vulnerable to bank runs. First Republic Bank went into receivership in May, but the feared contagion of runs did not otherwise occur. Why not? As was said of Lehman Brothers 15 years earlier, the targeted banks did not fall; they were pushed, or so it seems. One blogger shows how even JPMorgan Chase, the country’s largest bank, could be pushed — not perhaps by local short-sellers, but by China.
For today’s episode, we want to talk about what’s going on in the US economy. Because when you look at the discussion that’s going on, you see a lot of contradictory narratives. On the one hand, you have people like Bank of America’s CEO Brian Moynihan, who said on Sunday that the country may face a mild recession later this year. You see a lot of major CEOs making similar predictions. By contrast, the Biden administration and much of the US mainstream media are insisting that the US economy is showing extraordinary resilience. So, Michael, I want to ask you, what is your analysis on the current state of the US economy?
Wells Fargo & Co. leaders are privately expressing increased concern that a years-long effort to unionize the bank’s employees could soon start notching victories — and have made plans to spend millions addressing the “pain points” that can fuel organizing efforts. The lender has seen “an increase in organizing activity” by employees working with the Communications Workers of America, according to an internal PowerPoint presentation viewed by Bloomberg News. That comes amid what it called a broader “resurgence” of US union activity. “Public approval of unions has increased,” the document reads. “And a new generation of employees with activist experience successfully unionized parts of major companies with no prior history of unionization.”
The breakup of banks that is now occurring in the United States is the inevitable result of the way in which the Obama administration bailed out the banks in 2008. When real estate prices collapsed, the Federal Reserve flooded the financial system with 15 years of quantitative easing (QE) to re-inflate real estate prices – and with them, stock and bond prices. What was inflated were asset prices, above all for the packaged mortgages that banks were holding, but also for stocks and bonds across the board. That is what bank credit does. This made trillions of dollars for holders of financial assets – the One Percent and a bit more.
With convicted sex-trafficker Jeffrey Epstein out of the way and his co-conspirator, Ghislaine Maxwell, on ice for 20 years, the mainstream media gets to do its favorite trick; ignoring, burying or otherwise memory-holing stories the ruling class doesn’t like. With convicted sex-trafficker Jeffrey Epstein out of the way and his co-conspirator, Ghislaine Maxwell, on ice for 20 years, the mainstream media gets to do its favorite trick; ignoring, burying or otherwise memory-holing stories the ruling class doesn’t like. Considering the laundry list of prominent men linked to Epstein, no one else has been held to account for what is arguably the largest sex-trafficking case of the decade.
A little known market based initiative known as the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) may not officially be part of the negotiations between nations, but the topic has been saturating panel events and side discussions throughout the UN Biodiversity Summit underway in Montreal right now. This profile has been further heightened with the announcement today that Germany and Norway have pledged 30 Million Euro to the TNFD. Biodiversity advocates are alarmed at the sudden prominence and high level support of a process driven by corporate executives – which few understand. CSOs have referred to TNFD as ‘the next frontier on the corporate greenwashing on nature’ and raised alarm that it is trying to insert itself as a template for future state and international level regulations.
Twelve years ago, the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill devastated the Gulf Coast. The spill caused serious health issues in cleanup workers and coastal communities, cost billions of dollars in economic losses and fundamentally disrupted the Gulf of Mexico’s marine ecology. Deepwater Horizon was an awful chapter in the toxic nightmare that oil, gas and petrochemical operations have long imposed on the region and its residents. Though it has widely been known as “Cancer Alley,” the stretch of land along the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans is now often referred to by residents as “Death Alley.” Instead of attempting to right its horrific legacy, the oil and gas industry is only doubling down. It has plans to build 20 new and expanded export facilities to liquify and ship fracked gas (what the industry calls LNG) in the Gulf Coast.
As climate change accelerates and environmental disasters proliferate around the world, a Big Oil-funded business lobbying group has decided to attack financial firms that are taking their money out of fossil fuel companies, the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) has learned. This month at the annual States and Nation Policy Summit of the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a pay-to-play organization that brings together corporate lobbyists and mostly Republican state lawmakers to author model legislation, members of the group’s energy task force voted unanimously to approve a new model policy that would prevent financial companies that end investments in oil, gas, and coal companies from receiving state government contracts or managing state funds.
The biggest banks are using your money to fund the climate crisis. We have seen this story before. In 2008, the recklessness of megabanks sank the global economic system. Now, in 2021, the youth climate movement is saying that we’ve had enough. We’re not going to let the banks bring down the entire planet too. On October 29, young people are occupying and shutting down banks across the globe to demand an end to fossil fuel financing and the beginning of a Fossil-Free Future, and we need you to join us. Over the past few years, the youth climate justice movement has mobilized historic numbers of people. Together, we’ve brought a new awareness to the climate emergency and inspired a generation of young people in the fight for climate justice. We called on world leaders to listen to science and frontline communities and to treat climate change as what it is: an existential threat to humanity.
Central banks could play a critical role in catalyzing the rapid shift of financial flows away from oil, fossil gas, and coal. However, to date, central banks have instead tinkered at the edges. With a few isolated exceptions – such as decisions by the French and Swiss central banks to partially exclude coal from their asset portfolios – central bank activity on carbon pollution and the climate crisis has been limited primarily to measures to increase financial market transparency.
Even as the pandemic devastated New York City, megabanks like JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America continued to do a roaring trade. And now those financial behemoths are set to manage the funds that New York City and other municipalities will be deploying for the recovery. But financial justice advocates want to see the City move its money from the Wall Street titans to a public bank, owned and operated by the people. A municipally chartered public bank would enable the city government to place its deposits into an institution that is not beholden to a commercial banking sector notorious for fueling the Great Recession, saddling working-class communities of color with toxic debt, and imposing predatory and discriminatory lending on the most vulnerable households.
There are now more than 130 Water Protectors facing criminal charges for protecting the land from the Line 3 tar sands pipeline. At the same time, the climate criminals are free to keep bulldozing through my peoples’ sacred lands. It is physically painful to witness the land being ripped apart, to see our sacred manoomin being irrevocably harmed by a corporation that cares for nothing but profit. It is also deeply powerful to stand with those putting their bodies on the line to defend the land. For months now, we’ve been taking steady, constant direct actions to delay the construction of Line 3. In the freezing cold of a Minnesota winter, people have crawled into pipes, stood in front of excavators, engaged in tree-sits, climbed 40ft bi-pods, delayed construction with prayers, and locked to pianos to block bulldozers.
The fight to stop the Line 3 tar sands pipeline is about justice for the land. It’s about justice for the water. Justice for Anishinaabe people whose culture and way of life it threatens. Justice for people all over the world who are being impacted by the climate crisis. That’s why I am excited to announce that, this week, we launched a major new campaign: #DefundLine3. You can click here to take the first action as part of this campaign. Back in 2016, I helped to launch #DefundDAPL. As Indigenous Water Protectors were being brutalized by racist, militarized police―shot with rubber bullets, bitten by attack dogs and blasted with water cannons in the middle of winter―#DefundDAPL spread nationally.