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The Lords of Finance Speak

photo: dorkula via Flickr

photo: dorkula via Flickr

Our Lord Bankers have descended from Davos with news for us peasants: they might accept some meaningless regulation. Yes, there is a pointless regulation that their lackey senators may be allowed to pass that might confuse us mangy serfs into thinking that we can protect ourselves from their failures. But there is a near-riot over the possibility of a fee to pay off the money extorted from taxpayers to salvage them from their failures. The New York Times is allowed to share news of these acceptable and unacceptable laws.

The acceptable and perfectly useless law would limit proprietary trading, whether for the bank or for its clients, by setting a limit on the percentage of business that trading represented. That could be a serious problem for Bank Goldman Sachs, for which trading revenues were 59% of revenues in the third quarter of 2009, according to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. (Graph 6b.) Goldman Sachs assures us that less than 10% of its business is proprietary trading for its own account as opposed to trading for the accounts of its clients. Whatever. As one anonymous senior banker told Andrew Ross Sorkin of the Times:

“I can find a way to say that virtually any trade we make is somehow related to serving one of our clients. They can go ahead and impose the rule on Friday, and I can assure you that by Monday, we’ll find a way around it. Nothing will change unless the definition is ironclad.”

We know that. And we know they can make sure the definition isn’t ironclad.

The unacceptable idea, a fee charged to banks to repay the lost TARP money, really has bank CEOs scrambling.

… [M]ore chief executives [are] stepping over their government relations staff to request personal meetings with lawmakers. The big banks, the lobbyists say, have become increasingly alarmed that the legislative process may move in unexpected directions outside their control.

Chief executives of big banks have been in Washington for meetings with White House and Treasury officials and lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, had lunch with Mr. Obama last Tuesday, and then met separately on Friday with the Federal Reserve chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, and the Treasury secretary, Timothy F. Geithner.

Laws outside their control? It is to swoon.

Dimon’s JPMorgan is a party to about 20% of all credit default swaps. According to the OCC, in the third quarter, 14% of its revenue was from trading. Or, to put it in dollars, that’s $3.7 billion. (P. 3)

King Dimon is having lunch with the President, and visiting his best buddies, newly confirmed Duke of the Fed Ben Bernanke and Earl of the Treasury Timothy Geithner. Sir Chris Dodd is cutting deals with the devil. Sir Harry Reid is missing in action. Wannabe Harold Ford is falling over himself in his push to defend his banking buddies.

Silly humans, government is for the corporations and their human servants. Work harder and feed them. Blood is good, if you don’t have any money.

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