Over at Medium: Organized Crime on Wall Street

By James Kwak

One of the central dramas of the early seasons of The Wire is the cat-and-mouse game between Avon Barksdale’s drug operation and the detectives of the Major Crimes Unit. The drug dealers started off using pagers and pay phones. When the police tapped the pagers and the phones, Barksdale’s people switched to “burner” cell phones that they threw away before the police could tap them. By Season 4, Proposition Joe advised Marlo Stanfield not to use phones at all.

Well, apparently, Wall Street currency traders don’t watch The Wire. I don’t think anyone was surprised to learn that major banks including JPMorgan, Citigroup, Barclays, RBS, and UBS conspired to manipulate currency prices — something that regulators have been investigating for over a year and a half. One common strategy was cooperating to time large transactions in order to manipulate daily benchmark rates at which other client transactions are executed.

Read more at Medium.

15 thoughts on “Over at Medium: Organized Crime on Wall Street

  1. Does numbers matter, what about history….

    “The nearly nine-year quest for independence cost the American colonies just over $2.4 billion, and nearly 4,500 lives in battle. While the war began as a revolt against unjust taxation, it ended with the Founding Fathers rejecting the social and political structures of Europe in favor of a democratic republic. The Treaty of Paris ended the war in 1783, officially recognizing the U.S. as an independent country and establishing its borders.”
    Fast forward today, April 22, 2015 at 2:00 pm PST: President Obama@POTUS, Followers 2.34 million. Hillary Clinton @HillaryClinton, Followers 3.55 Million. Bernie Sanders @SenSanders, Followers 328,000. Elizabeth Warren @SenWarren, Followers 209,000.

    The most troubling and really worrisome was the article pinned to the side bar of this website: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/05/tpp-elizabeth-warren-labor-118068.html#ixzz3asdKdzMi
    Editorialized with corrected typos/grammar here again:
    The fact that most of the Agreement was written in secret; cannot be debated fully in Congress (only allowing 88 seconds per legislator to debate on the floor); that “anyone who has read the text of the agreement could be jailed for disclosing its contents;” the rules were written mostly by corporate lobbying interests; international tribunal are made up of corporate interests lawyers and judges – all, should raise red flags.

    If the president argues that the TPP will be in America’s best interest, why was the treaty written mostly in secret (for years), it took Wikki leaks to make it somewhat more transparent. Why no debate if the Agreement is such a good deal. Why only an up or down vote with no amendments allowed.

    What person in their right minds would sign a document without reading it first, and in the case of Congress, debating the merits and liabilities in a transparent manner before their vote.

    The president and his Administration should be more worried about why THIS government of ours does not do more for its citizenry than what China apparently does for theirs. Has not our government ever heard of tariffs? The Obama Administration can first start there, then restructure the U.S. tax code by reforming and ending Corporate Welfare as we all know it to be.

    The Transpacific Partnership is “selling out” at best, at worst, really treasonous.

    Copied Post May 19 2015: Senators Manchin and Warren Introduce ‘Trade Transparency Act’ – Legislation would require release of trade deal text before Congress grants fast track Senators Will Seek Approval of Measure Before Congress Completes Work on Fast Track Legislation:

    Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) introduced the Trade Transparency Act, a bill that would require the President to release the scrubbed bracketed text of any trade agreement at least 60 days before Congress grants fast track authority to grease the skids for approval of that agreement.



    There was a rather surprised ending in the movie Assault on Wall Street (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assault_on_Wall_Street). The movie ends with the main protagonist walking out onto the street after he had “mowed” down the Wall Street shakers and movers, saying basically that he had only begun to fight on behalf of the financial underclass, the mission continues.

    As for Hillary Clinton recently “talking tough” on Wall Street, Hillary talking tough….and? Has anyone publicly asked the Democratic presidential nominee if she would advocate as well as, act all in her presidential powers to “breaking up the banks” as a means to resolving Too Big To Fail……only if it doesn’t tarnish my public image, speaking fees (at Goldman Sachs), and how the history books would look upon my presidency for the 21st century.

    Agreed with president, Hillary Clinton is just being a politician as well.

  2. Great to see honest critical work exposing some realism in action. Perhaps all good work must include exposure and expelling of the bad as ‘destructive creation?” Wake me up when we get up to 2009 !
    Nice job on comments 2016: That’s authentic ‘forward looking’ research !
    ‘NAFTA-Gate’ now Trans-Pacific-Gate !
    2004: “Obama said. ‘The problem in a lot of our trade agreements is that the administration tends to negotiate on behalf of multinational companies instead of workers and communities.’” (Fact Check:

    2008: (http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/Vote2008/story?id=4365922)
    “…the Canadian Television network reported that two unnamed Canadian sources said a “senior member” of Obama’s campaign team had called Michael Wilson, Canada’s ambassador in Washington, in the last month to warn him that Obama would be ratcheting up rhetoric against the North American Free Trade Agreement, but that he should “not be worried about what Obama says about NAFTA,” adding, “It’s just campaign rhetoric. … It’s not serious.”
    (more: NY Times 2008) : The Big Lie of the Political Vail / Too Big to Fail !

  3. DOJ Calls Out UBS Rap Sheet; Ignores Homegrown Citigroup’s Rap Sheet
    By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: May 22, 2015

    [Quoted Excerpt}
    “On March 14 of last year, when former Citigroup executive Stanley Fischer appeared before the Senate Banking Committee for his confirmation hearing to become Vice Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Senator Elizabeth Warren raised appropriate concerns of cronyism. Warren stated:

    “Many big banks are well represented in Washington but the connection between Citigroup and Democratic administrations really sticks out. Three of the last four Democratic Treasury Secretaries have Citigroup ties; the fourth was offered but turned down the CEO position at Citigroup. Former Directors of the National Economic Council and the Office of Management and Budget at the White House and our current U.S. Trade Representative also have Citigroup ties. You once served as President of Citigroup International and are now in line to be number two at the Federal Reserve…

    “I also think it’s dangerous if our government falls under the grip of a tight knit group connected to one institution. Former colleagues get access through calls and meetings; economic policy can be dominated by group think; other qualified and innovative people can be crowded out of top government positions.” ”

    And there’s one more thing this kind of political cronyism allows: it allows a bank like Citigroup to survive on the backs of taxpayers in the biggest bailout in history in 2008 and then continue to run up a rap sheet like the following without seeing one executive go to jail or the banking tyrant being ordered to be broken up by regulators.
    Wall Street on Parade: A citizens guide to Wall Street is an excellent resource; recent articles listed include Popular and Publishers selections (see the margins at the link):

  4. http://wallstreetonparade.com/2015/05/wall-street-is-corrupting-everything-even-university-commencements/
    Wall Street Is Corrupting Everything – Even University Commencements
    By Pam Martens: May 15, 2015
    “…designed to fail….”
    “The article goes on to note that “the School (NYU) has named the first floor lobby of Tisch Hall and the School’s auditorium” in Paulson’s honor.
    To the rational human mind, what Paulson did in the Abacus deal was straight out cheating…”
    (He) “… helped foster the bubble by getting Goldman Sachs and others to create structured products designed to fail”

    …Paulson also sits on the Board of Trustees of NYU. The Board notes in its statement of goals that “trustees are the keepers of the mission of NYU…They must pay particularly close attention to the mission and the obligations to society that are unique to the academic enterprise.”

    Two current Trustees on the NYU Board were previously involved with Lipton in the New York Stock Exchange compensation scandal: Laurence Fink, CEO of BlackRock, and Kenneth Langone.

  5. @Woych – without the “whistleblowers”, the moon walking Middle Class of USA would have NEVER BEEN ALLOWED to discover that the banksters were being fed with “Patriot Act” economic data – they were NOT listening to your conversation with Grandma – they were designing an algorithm to snatch up your real labor money as they achemey-ed it into e-money.

    They BANKRUPTED us using our labor-earned money deposits.

    The NORMAL USA BORN AND BRED CITIZENS who the foreign citizen ideologue FREAKS at NSA focused on were the archetypes – take out one you take out 50 million….every court in USA has judged it a CRIME.

    Where is the ENFORCEMENT of Law? Do we have to behead some innocent, take a selfie video as we do it, and then have it programmed so that it is the first video result on a google search for the word “ass ho le”?

    It was a CRIME. Taking it to the “supreme court” level of claw-back that people weezeled out of War Lords after WWII….http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/15/swiss-bank-holocaust-fund_n_3597359.html

    Why is it that the people wiped out by having their deposit money used to concoct REVOLUTIONARY nihilistic “financial instruments” not seeing a penny of the fines??!! WTF??!!

  6. Ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tammany_Hall [In quotes]

    The Tammany Society, also known as the Society of St. Tammany, the Sons of St. Tammany, or the Columbian Order, was founded in New York on May 12, 1789, originally as a branch of a wider network of Tammany Societies, the first having been formed in Philadelphia in 1772.[7] The society was originally developed as a club for “pure Americans”.[8]

    The name “Tammany” comes from Tamanend, a Native American leader of the Lenape. The society adopted many Native American words and also their customs, going so far as to call its hall a wigwam. The first Grand Sachem, as the leader was titled, was William Mooney, an upholsterer of Nassau Street.[9]

    The Tammany Society emerged as the center for Democratic-Republican Party politics in the city in the early 19th century. After 1854, the Society expanded its political control even further by earning the loyalty of the city’s rapidly expanding immigrant community, which functioned as its base of political capital. The business community appreciated its readiness, at moderate cost, to cut through red tape and legislative mazes to facilitate rapid economic growth,

    The Tammany Hall ward boss or ward heeler – “wards” were the city’s smallest political units from 1786 to 1938 – served as the local vote gatherer and provider of patronage. By 1872 Tammany had an Irish Catholic “boss,” and in 1928 a Tammany hero, New York Governor Al Smith won the Democratic presidential nomination.

    However, Tammany Hall also served as an engine for graft and political corruption, perhaps most infamously under William M. “Boss” Tweed in the mid-19th century.

    By the 1880s, Tammany was building local clubs that appealed to social activists from the ethnic middle-class.[1][2] In quiet times the machine had the advantage of a core of solid supporters and usually exercised control of Politics and policymaking in Manhattan; it also played a major role in the state legislature in Albany.

    Early cases of political corruption involving Tammany Hall came to light during the group’s feud with local politician Dewitt Clinton. The feud began in 1802 after he accused Aaron Burr of being a traitor to the Democratic-Republican Party.[11]

    In 1803, Clinton left the United States Senate and became Mayor of New York City.[12] As mayor, Clinton enforced a spoils system and appointed his family and partisans to positions in the city’s local government.[12] Tammany Hall soon realized its influence over the local political scene was no match for that of Clinton,[12] in part because Burr’s support among New York City’s residents greatly faded after he shot and killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel.[13] Tammany continued to support him for a time,[13] but eventually pressure from the public persuaded the organization to no longer affiliate themselves with Burr.[13]

  7. Here’s to all the guys (including Western educated SouthKoreans) that still get the joke (in all very seriousness) :

  8. James Kwak, on some levels, in your SNOBBISH WAY you are a dick, but I still love you man, cuz you ALLOWED this (above video) to get thru. I get it, you get it, maybe THEY get it, LOVE you man.

  9. Here’s to snobbish Kwak’s daughter, a political future greater than = > wink wink Elizabeth Warren:

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