Yesterday we published our 1,007th article here at Wall Street On Parade on the insidiously corrupt financial system in the United States known as Wall Street. It’s a system that now operates as an institutionalized wealth transfer mechanism that is hollowing out the middle class, leaving one of every five children in our nation living in poverty, while funneling the plunder to the top one-tenth of one percent.
Tens of millions of Americans clearly understand that an entrenched system of corruption such as this, perpetuated through a revolving door between Wall Street and Washington, while enshrined by a political campaign finance system that recycles a portion of the plunder to ensure greater plunders, will inevitably leave the nation’s economy in tatters — again. That’s because systemic corruption and legalized bribery within the financial arteries of the nation can only create grossly perverse economic outcomes.
The actual role of Wall Street is to fairly and efficiently allocate capital to maximize positive economic outcomes for the nation. Under the current model, Wall Street is focused solely on maximizing profits in any manner possible, including fraud and collusion, to maximize personal enrichment. When Senator Bernie Sanders said during his campaign stops and a presidential debate that “the business model of Wall Street is fraud,” there was a long, substantive archive of facts to back up that assertion.
Consider the intensely corrupt Wall Street analyst research practices that led to the Nasdaq crash at the turn of this century. Writing in the New York Times on March 15, 2001, Ron Chernow said it best: “Let us be clear about the magnitude of the Nasdaq collapse. The tumble has been so steep and so bloody — close to $4 trillion in market value erased in one year — that it amounts to nearly four times the carnage recorded in the October 1987 crash.” Chernow compared the Nasdaq stock market, filled with companies boosted by intentionally corrupt Wall Street research, to a “lunatic control tower that directed most incoming planes to a bustling, congested airport known as the New Economy while another, depressed airport, the Old Economy, stagnated with empty runways. The market functioned as a vast, erratic mechanism for misallocating capital across America,” said Chernow.
The financial rewards for this corrupt model flowed to the research analysts at the biggest Wall Street firms and their CEOs who reaped lavish bonuses for the outsized “profits.” The poster boy for this era was Jack Grubman, an analyst at Salomon Smith Barney, a unit of the serially corrupt Citigroup. Grubman was charged by the SEC for fraudulent research. He never went to trial or was criminally charged. He merely paid a $15 million fine, was barred from the industry, and walked away rich. According to the SEC, Grubman’s total personal haul at Salomon Smith Barney “exceeded $67.5 million, including his multi-million dollar severance package.” Let that sink in for a moment: you are barred from your industry for corruption and you still receive a multi-million dollar severance package. There is simply no better testament to the principle that fraud is now both an accepted business model, as well as a profit center, on Wall Street…