Big Banks | - Part 2

When first reading the questions posed in this story at the Atlantic about how bad financial illiteracy is around the world, I thought they were some sort of trick questions, designed to make even smart people feel a little dumb when they sped through them at too fast a pace.

But there were no tricks involved – they were as simple as they appeared at first glance – as we get a better glimpse into just how bad people all around the world are when it comes to simple math and how little we know about the financial world, problems that adversely affects billions of people financially who are easy prey for big banks and our other Wall Street overlords, both of whom are quite good at both subjects.

The most interesting part of the report (to me at least) was how much financial illiteracy (or literacy below) varies around the world and a pie-chart seemed to be in order.

Go read the questions that were posed if you really want to be gobsmacked.

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The Deep State

Here’s a pretty unsettling look at the status quo in both Washington and corporate board rooms from someone who has seen it all from the inside, Mike Lofgren, a former GOP congressional staff member with the House and Senate Budget Committees, who talked with Bill Moyers below and filed this report on the subject.

One highlight from early on in the discussion:

It’s kind of a natural evolution when so much money and political control is at stake in the most powerful country in the world … a hybrid of corporate America and the national security state … everyone knows about Wall Street and its depredation, everyone knows how corporate America acts. They’re both about the same thing. They’re both about money, sucking as much money out of the country as they can, and they’re about control – corporate control and political control

It’s the red thread that runs through the history of the last three decades. It’s how we had deregulation, financialization of the economy, the Wall Street bust, the erosion of our civil liberties, and perpetual war.

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Bill Black Explains How Best to Rob a Bank

William Black, associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, explains how best to rob a bank in this TED presentation.

It starts out poorly by blaming the too-big-to-fail banks for $11 trillion in lost wealth due to the financial crisis – that wealth would never have been created without the TBTF banks, so, blame them for the boom and bust, but not just for the bust – but it gets better.

I’ve not read Black’s book – The Best Way to Rob a Bank Is to Own One – and probably never will, due largely to that Serenity prayer thing. These things are best left to people like Black.

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The Big Banks are Doing Fine

Among other news about spying and Dennis Rodman’s latest escapades in North Korea, Bloomberg reports that bank profits in 2013 rose to a seven year high.

In what is yet another somewhat disturbing sign of the times, profits would have reached an all-time high last year if not for the nation’s biggest banks having to set aside many billions for legal costs and penalties associated with their prior misdeeds.

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