BILL MOYERS: This week on Moyers & Company…

MATT TAIBBI: The rule of law isn’t really the rule of law if it doesn’t apply equally to everybody. I mean, if you’re going to put somebody in jail for having a joint is his pocket. You can’t let higher ranking HSBC officials off for laundering eight hundred million dollars for the worst drug dealers in the entire world.


VINCENT WARREN: There is not a country in the world that believes that the U.S. drone attacks that we are doing on countries that we are not at war with is the right and sustainable solution for us.

VICKI DIVOLL: All we have is the president interpreting his own powers and the limits on his own powers. And that is not the way it's supposed to work. We need more oversight.

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BILL MOYERS: Welcome. This week, two United States senators insisted that the Justice Department come clean. Why are Wall Street’s big banks not only too big to fail but too big to jail? Senators Sherrod Brown of Ohio, a Democrat, and Chuck Grassley of Iowa, a Republican, are outraged that the giant banks violate the law with impunity -- laundering money, cheating homeowners, falsifying information -- every trick in the ledger book. They sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder demanding to know why the banks get away with fines instead of jail time.

Maybe they had their anger roiled by “Frontline,” Public Television’s premier investigative series. The other night, “Frontline” broadcast a report called “The Untouchables,” on how the Department of Justice allegedly has looked the other way for fear that prosecuting the banks would do even more damage to the American economy.

ELIOT SPITZER in Frontline: The Untouchables: It was a definite sense that justice backed off.

NARRATOR in Frontline: The Untouchables:Did the government fail?

MARTIN SMITH in Frontline: The Untouchables: A number of people told us that you didn’t make this a top priority.

LANNY BREUER in Frontline: The Untouchables: Well I’m sorry that they think that because I made it an incredibly top priority:

BILL MOYERS: That’s Lanny Breuer, the assistant attorney general in charge of the criminal division at the Justice Department. A week after the Frontline report, he stepped down and is now expected to return to private corporate practice -- one more government appointee spinning through the lucrative revolving door between Washington and Wall Street.

That door could be a big reason why government treats the banks with kid gloves. A man who once worked for Citigroup, Jack Lew, the president’s chief of staff, has been picked to be the new Treasury Secretary. And Mary Jo White, the newly named head of the Securities and Exchange Commission, is a chief litigator at a top law firm representing big investment banks like Morgan Stanley.

With all this happening, it’s time to talk with journalist Matt Taibbi. You’ve seen him on our broadcast before. A contributing editor at “Rolling Stone,” he’s been tracking the high crimes and misdemeanors of Wall Street and Washington for years.

Welcome back to the show.

MATT TAIBBI: Thanks for having me.

BILL MOYERS: You're working on a story right now that'll come out in a couple of weeks on the HSBC settlement. That's the, tell me about that, why it interests you.

MATT TAIBBI: Well, the HSBC settlement was a really shocking kind of new low in the history of the too big to fail issue. HSBC was a serial offender on the money laundering score. They had been twice given formal cease and desist orders by the government. One dating back as far as 2003, another one in 2010 for inadequately policing the accounts in their system. They laundered over $800 million for cartels in Colombia.

BILL MOYERS: Drug cartels?

MATT TAIBBI: Drug cartels in Colombia and Mexico. They laundered money for terrorist connected banks in the Middle East. Russian gangsters. Literally, you know, I talked to one prosecutor who's, like, "They broke basically every law in the book and they did business with every kind of criminal you can possibly imagine. And they got a complete and total walk." I mean, they had to pay a fine.

BILL MOYERS: $1.9 billion, a lot of money.

MATT TAIBBI: It's a lot of money. But it's five weeks of revenue for the bank, to put that in perspective. And no individual had to suffer any consequences at all. There were no criminal charges no individual fines, which was incredible. Incredible.

BILL MOYERS: Lenny Breuer also forced the Swiss bank UBS, as you know, to pay a big fine in the LIBOR, the price fixing conspiracy. And that outraged you as well, didn't it?

MATT TAIBBI: This is the, I think the biggest financial scandal of all time. It was a price fixing scandal where, essentially, some of the world's biggest banks got together and they conspired illegally to artificially rig the global interest rates which are based upon this London inner bank offered rate, which is a rate that measures how much it costs for banks to lend money to each other.

This LIBOR rate affects the prices of hundreds of trillions of dollars of financial products. And it goes from everything from credit cards to mortgages to municipal bonds. Basically everything in the world the price is, you know, is somehow connected to LIBOR. And these guys were monkeying around with this for individual profit. And they got, again, a complete and total walk on this. There were no criminal charges, which is just unbelievable.

BILL MOYERS: Did you see the Frontline documentary “The Untouchables?”


BILL MOYERS: Then you're familiar with Lanny Breuer's testimony.

MARTIN SMITH in Frontline: The Untouchables: You made a reference to losing sleep at night worrying about what a lawsuit might result in at a large financial institution. Is that really the job of a prosecutor to worry about anything other than simply pursuing justice?

LENNY BREUER in Frontline: The Untouchables: I think I am pursuing justice and I think the entire responsibility of the department is to pursue justice, but in any given case, I think I am prosecutors around the country being responsible should speak to regulators, should speak to experts, because if I bring a case against institution A, and as a result of bringing that case there’s some huge economic effect. If it creates a ripple effect so that suddenly counter-parties and other financial institutions or other companies that had nothing to do with this are affected badly, it’s a factor we need to know and understand.

MATT TAIBBI: Think about what he's saying. He's essentially saying that some individuals are so systemically important, that they can't be arrested and put in jail. Now, it's only a few steps forward to the corollary to that, which is if some people are too systemically important to arrest, other people may safely be arrested. So we're creating a class of people who are arrestable and another class of people who are not arrestable, which is crazy. It's a crazy thing for the assistant attorney general to say, to admit out loud that he's dividing Americans up into these two classes. There's no reason they couldn't have taken a number of individuals from some of these companies and put them on trial.

Historically, we've always done this. Even under the Bush administration, if you go back just ten years, you know, WorldCom, Enron, you know, Adelphia. We took the leading individuals of these companies and we put them on trial to make an example out of them. And this is exactly what we're not doing in this case. Those companies were systemically important then. I don't see why they can't do the same thing now.

BILL MOYERS: You were shocked when you heard that President Obama had named Mary Jo White to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission. And you wrote that she was a partner in a law firm that represented a lot of these big banks. You know, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Chase, AIG, Morgan Stanley.

You said, "She dropped out and made the move a lot of regulators make, leaving government to make bucket loads of money, working for the people she used to police." And I gather your great concern is that you don't want to see the country's top financial cop being indebted to the people who created the bank role?

MATT TAIBBI: Right. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it's just simple common sense. I mean, you're sitting on $10 million, $15 million, however much money she made working there at Debevoise and Plimpton when she was a partner and you owe that money to this specific group of clients and now you're in charge of policing them, just psychologically think of that. It doesn't really work, you know? It doesn't really work in terms of how aggressive a prosecutor should be, what his attitude towards the people he's supposed to be policing should be. It's just, the circumstances just aren't quite right. You'd much rather see a career civil servant in that in that situation.

BILL MOYERS: She was once a tough prosecutor. What's your beef?

MATT TAIBBI: Well, you know, I have people who are telling me that I'm wrong about this, that Mary Jo White was an excellent prosecutor and she's a good choice. But, you know I've done stories in the past about an episode, you had an SEC investigator named Gary Aguirre who was pursing an insider trading case against the future CEO of Morgan Stanley. He asked for permission to interview that future CEO. His name was John Mack. It was denied. And it was because there was communication between Morgan Stanley's lawyer, who at the time was Mary Jo White and the higher ups at the SEC who included the director of enforcement, Linda Thomsen. Aguirre was later fired for complaining about having this investigation squelched.

BILL MOYERS: Blowing the whistle.

MATT TAIBBI: For blowing the whistle. But the SEC was later forced to pay a $750,000 wrongful termination suit to Aguirre in that case. But what's so interesting is that Aguirre's boss, the guy who killed that case went to work for Mary Jo White's firm nine months after the case died. And he got, you know, a multi-million dollar position. It's a classic example of how the revolving door works in Washington. You know, you have these regulators at the SEC. And they know that there's that job out there waiting for them. So how hard are they really going to regulate these companies when they know they can get that money?

But in Washington, you know, people kind of shake their heads at it because it's so common you know, that these people, they move from government back to, you know, these high priced legal defense firms that represent the banks. And then they go back to government again. And it's this sort of, this coterie of, you know, 100, 200 lawyers who really run this entire thing. And it's all the same people on both sides.

BILL MOYERS: Lanny Breuer was one of them. He was in a very prestigious Washington law firm. Jack Lew, the new incoming secretary of the Treasury if he gets approved, served three years at Citigroup. His record there, according to “The Wall Street Journal” was not very lustrous for a man who's about to take over the Treasury Department. But “The Wall Street Journal” suggests that he got his job, not because he had the experience, but because he was a crony of Robert Rubin.

MATT TAIBBI: Jack Lew served in the Clinton administration. I think he worked in the OMB in the, you know, Office of Management of the Budget. And he was one of the key players in helping pass the repeal of Glass-Steagall. And, you know, this is kind of the way it works. It's not a one to one, you know, obvious connection. But, you know, Glass-Steagall was repealed specifically to legalize the merger of Citi Group. And, you know, coincidentally Bob Rubin, who was the Treasury secretary and Jack Lew end up working at Citi Group five, ten years later. And they make enormous amounts of money. And then they go back to government. And again, this is just sort of this merry-go-round that everybody in Washington knows about. And that's the way it works.

BILL MOYERS: How do you explain President Obama's attitude in this? When he was running for president, he promised the close the revolving door. And he seemed genuinely shocked at the collapse of the financial system and the banks' role in it. But he also was raking in massive campaign contributions from these very people. Did those investments, did those contributions turn out to be good investments, or do you think he's just overwhelmed by the system that's controlled by these guys?

MATT TAIBBI: I think that they genuinely accept the explanation that they're probably hearing from all these people who run these Wall Street companies. You know, people like Bob Rubin and Larry Summers who are close confidants of the Obama administration are probably telling them, "Look, if we start prosecuting all kinds of people for you know, X, Y and Z, there's going to be major instability in the markets. People are going to flee America. They're going to withdraw capital from the American financial system. It'll be a disaster. Jobs will be lost." But it's just not an acceptable it's explanation. I think they're--


MATT TAIBBI: Well, just because the rule of law isn't really the rule of law if it doesn't apply equally to everybody. I mean, if you're going to put somebody in jail for having a joint in his pocket, you can't let higher ranking HSBC officials off for laundering $800 million for the worst drug dealers in the entire world. People who are suspected, not only of dealing drugs, but of thousands of murders. I mean, this is an incredible dichotomy. And eventually, you know, it eats away at the very fabric of society when some people go to jail and some people don't go to jail.

BILL MOYERS: But do you ever have the sense that those guys are, you know, are and their lawyers are up there laughing at all of us on their way to the bank, no pun intended? I mean, the fact of the matter is they are immune. There was a story in “The Washington Post” the other day by Howard Schneider and Danielle Douglas. With the lead, "Five years after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, a global push to tighten financial regulation around the world has slowed in the face of attempted recovery, which the banks helped bring on. "And a tough industry lobby effort. Big banks, insurers and other financial giants remain intact and arguably too big to fail." I mean, nothing really has changed.

MATT TAIBBI: No, no, definitely not. And in fact, if you want to look at it objectively, since 2008, you know, the companies that we're talking about have become bigger and more dangerous and more immune to prosecution than they were back then. And you might even say by a lot. I mean, you know, the first factor was that you had a series of mergers in 2008, which you know, made companies like Wells Fargo and JP Morgan Chase, you know, double in size.

Or they were much bigger than they were before. So therefore they're more dangerous. And so you have these companies, like Barclays, like Royal Bank of Scotland, like UBS, like HSBC, which are, you know, they can't be regulated. We can't get an accurate accounting of what's going on in their books. And apparently now we can't even criminally prosecute them for laundering money like HSBC does. I mean we just keep setting the bar lower and lower and lower. And it's getting scary I think.

BILL MOYERS: There's a new analysis out just the other day from the Economic Policy Institute that shows the super-rich have done well in the economic recovery, while almost everyone else has done badly. And the economist Robert Reich says, "We're back to the widening inequality we had before the big crash." Are the financial and political worlds just too intertwined and powerful for anything to change?

MATT TAIBBI: I mean, it's a concern, I would worry about. But it doesn't mean you can't, you know, try to stop the problem. I definitely think though that there is this connection now between political power and financial power that's just becoming more and more overt. I mean, what Lanny Breuer is saying in that video is these people who have an enormous amount of power, destructive financial power we can't prosecute them.

On the flip side what they're essentially saying is that people who don't have any money at all, it's politically safe to put them in jail. And so, you know, we're creating this kind of dual class. And it's a very upsetting and disturbing situation.

BILL MOYERS: Matt Taibbi, we'll be looking forward to your next expose in a couple of weeks. Thank you very much for being with us.

MATT TAIBBI: Thanks for having me on.

Matt Taibbi on Big Banks’ Lack of Accountability

Rolling Stone‘s Matt Taibbi joins Bill to discuss the continuing lack of accountability for “too big to fail” banks which continue to break laws and act unethically because they know they can get away with it. Taibbi refers specifically to the government’s recent settlement with HSBC — “a serial offender on the money laundering score” — who merely had to pay a big fine for shocking offenses, including, Taibbi says, laundering money for both drug cartels and banks connected to terrorists.

Taibbi also expresses his concern over recent Obama appointees — including Jack Lew and Mary Jo White — who go from working on behalf of major banks in the private sector to policing them in the public sector.

“The rule of law isn’t really the rule of law if it doesn’t apply equally to everybody. If you’re going to put somebody in jail for having a joint in his pocket, you can’t let higher ranking HSBC officials off for laundering $800 million for the worst drug dealers in the entire world,” Taibbi tells Bill. “Eventually it eats away at the very fabric of society.”

Producer: Gina Kim. Editor: Rob Kuhns. Associate Producer: Reniqua Allen.
Intro Editor: Sikay Tang.

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  • Strawman411

    “If a Nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of
    civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.
    If we are to guard against ignorance and remain free, it
    is the responsibility of every American to be informed.”
    — Thomas Jefferson

    When will a sufficient number of us take the trouble to fight back? Thank you, Bill and Matt.

  • Simon West

    Many are at the edge right now. If there is no justice, any individuals form of justice is good enough no matter how harsh that justice is. The ‘Revolving Door’ is a euphemism for what should be called the door of corruption. Without any action on the part of the government, the time is coming for the people to take action against the corporate and government criminals. When the worst happens, the corrupt can be sure that they and their families will certainly suffer much horrible fates than the legal system would have given them.

  • Anonymous

    Machiavelli in his Discourses on Livy writes that not more than 10 years should pass before someone who is “haughty” and “arrogant” (which is to say, who thinks he is above the law and can steal with impunity) is executed. We don’t have to execute them, but they should be thrown into jail for at least 10 years and fined heavily. To not prosecute them because it would have ripple effects in the economy is crazy–the fact of not prosecuting them will have even more ripple effects as the corruption and stupidity will just spread.

    Here is the text from the Discourses, Book 3, chapter 1:

    The most notable examples of such execution of the laws, before the taking
    of Rome by the Gauls, were the death of the sons of Brutus, the death of the
    ten Citizens (Decemvirs), and that of Melius, the grain dealer; and after the
    taking of Rome were the death of Manlius Capitolinus, the death of the son of
    Manlius Torquatus, the punishment inflicted by Papirius Cursor on Fabius, his
    Master of Cavalry, and the accusation of Scipio. As these were the extreme and
    most notable examples, each time one arose, it caused the people to turn back
    to their principles; and when they began to be more rare, they begun also to
    give men more latitude in becoming corrupt, and the carrying out of the laws
    was done with more danger and more tumults. So that from one such execution to
    another, no more than ten years should elapse, for beyond this time men begin
    to change their customs and transgress the laws; and unless something arises
    which recalls the punishment to their memory, and revives the fear in their
    minds, so many delinquents will soon come together that they cannot any longer
    be punished without danger.
    In connection with this subject, those who governed the State of Florence,
    from the year one thousand four hundred thirty four (1434) until the year one
    thousand four hundred ninety four (1494) said that it was necessary to resume
    the government every five years, otherwise it would be difficult to maintain
    it: and they called “the resuming of the government” to put the same
    fear and terror in men as they had done in the assuming of it, having in that
    time punished those who ((according to that mode of living)) had conducted
    themselves badly. But as the memory of that punishment fades, men become bold
    to try new things and speak ill of it (the government), and therefore it is
    necessary to provide against this, by bringing (the government) back to its
    original principles.

  • Anonymous

    Taibbi talks about the fabric of society, but I think it is already pretty much in tatters at this point. What isn’t being talked about is the cultural (and not just economic or legal) changes. “Management” in American businesses have developed a full-on predatory attitude towards their own employees, and anyone else they can make a buck off of. Most people that I know are stunned at the way management has turned on their employees like hungry wolves, and are still nosing around for bits of flesh they may have missed.

    This isn’t just an economic or legal issue, this is a gargantuan change in the dynamics of how a society functions and interacts. I’m not a historian or anything, but it reminds me of pre-independence India, where there is a rigid caste system – and if you’re not in the right caste, there’s no justice or fairness. Americans are a little bit in shock and denial that something like that could be happening here, and so quickly, but all the signs says that it is.

  • Anonymous

    Matt Taibbi is the proverbial canary in the coal mine. Too bad most people are so in thrall of Obama that they are unable to hear the warning. How in your face does the criminality have to get before you wake up America?

  • from Mexico

    What Taibbi describes is what I call the Giuliani doctrine. Before becoming mayor of NY City, Giuliani served in the United States Attorney’s Office, for the Southern District of New York, eventually becoming U.S. Attorney.

    In 2002, for an agreed $4.3 million, the government of Mexico DF contracted Giuliani to come to Mexico City and tell it how to solve its crime problem. So the Giuliani road show came to Mexico.

    The Giuliani doctrine is law enforcement by the numbers. It’s math gone wild. It’s quantity that counts, not quality. Catching and convicting some kid of stealing a taco, or ducking under the gate at the Metro, counts just as much as catching and convicting a mass murderer. A system of quotas, cash bonuses, as well as promotions and career advancement — all based on the numbers — was formulated and implemented.

    The end result was that police, prosecutors and judges went for the low-hanging fruit. They filled up Mexico City’s jails to three times their designed capacity with poor people who had committed minor property
    crimes or who were innocent, but who lacked the money to mount a proper defense. Meanwhile, those who committed major property offenses, who had the wherewithall to mount proper defenses, or who were violent and posed a real threat to the arresting officers, were allowed to operate with impunity.

    The outcome of the Giuliani doctrine put in practice was documented very poignantly in this video (And it has English bi-lines! )

    It’s nine minutes long, but gives a pretty accurate picture of what criminal justice in the United States
    and Mexico looks like these days due to the triumph of the Giulianai doctrine. Between 2002 and 2005, the
    number of persons incarcerated in Mexico city soared from 18,500 to 31,000. Seventy percent of those
    incarcerated were for petty theft. Confidence in the criminal justice system has sunk so low that 75% of
    felonies in Mexico City go unreported because people view it as a complete waste of time.

    The Giuliani doctrine is now the dominant law enforcement doctrine in both Mexico and the United
    States. It’s ubiquitous. It sets the agenda at every federal law enforcement agency across the land, its tenacle extending to far more areas of law enforcement than just the prosecution of financial crime that Taibbi speaks of.

    For instance, the PBS Frontline program “Lost in Detention” shows how thoroughtly the Giuliani doctrine has vitiated immigration law enforcement in the US:

  • from Mexico

    For those interested in how the Giuliani doctrine fits into the larger, over-arching historical and ideological framework, Adam Curtis does a great job of explaining in “The Trap.” The most germane part begins at minute 38:00 of Part Two:

  • Deborah Barry

    Get Canadian bankers in to supervise them!

  • Cynthia Faisst

    Go deeper Taibbi. If they are laundering drug money for the cartels, what else must they be moving money for. Drugs go north while guns go south. How can we hold our politicians feet to the fire on gun legislation when they are hand fed by the profits made by our weapons industry from cartels south of the border.We are out bid by these vast sums of wealth. Journalist in Mexico are literally dying to write the real story. How long will Wall Street be complicit in bullying our neighbors south of the border with out bringing its misery to the US? The rise of Sandy Hooks in America are a grim sign that these chickens are coming home to roost.

    How can we divest from this kind of corporately driven apartheid which brings the violence of poverty to our Latin American neighbors, and create new institutions which are more answerable to American citizens and are more difficult to corrupt?

  • Barbara Chasson

    Matt Taibbi is super-great! Thks, Bill Moyers, and special thanks to Matt.
    God help America.

  • ccaffrey

    There is a perspective that occasionally gets a passing mention but I don’t think has been fully explored. We are dealing with addiction at a level that would make a junkie blush! It is addiction to competition, to MORE of everything, more power, more property, more wealth–we aren’t even in the picture, not when you get to players like the Koch Brothers and the Banksters. Our well-being is not even part of their thinking. we are only means to an end. It’s about them WINNING the “Game” even if they have to destroy the world to do it. It’s that bad. There is a reason that every spiritual tradition throughout history has warned about the love of power and wealth. It is an addiction that knows no bounds and will destroy everyone and everything in its path. Since I hold little hope that the most powerful players would even make it to step 1 of a 12-step program, the only answer is a PUBLIC INTERVENTION before they take us all down. You can’t reason with someone who’s jonesing that bad for their next fix. I’d be interested in you exploring these issues further–a panel of historians, addiction specialistts and theologians would be interesting….

  • ccaffrey

    Also wish you’d consider having Gar Alperovitz on to discuss the Democracy Collaborative, the Evergreen Foundation, and worker-owned businesses.

  • ccaffrey

    There’s an extra dimension here. As more states pass the ALEC-written Prison Industries Act, private corporations are able to use prison labor….at slave wages, with very little oversight, particularly if their fellow ALEC member CCA is running the prison. Voila! the cheap labor source they’ve dreamed of. Pair that with mandatory minimum sentencing for minor offenses, target the poor, and defund the public defenders’ offices. And on top of that, they got us to foot the bill for the captive labor force! How sick is that. Even the states without the corporate industries bill are looking at using prison labor to supplant public workers…even when the cost of incarceration exceeds the wages and benefits of the public worker! Another way to kill the public sector.

  • Grouse Feather

    Okay, I’m convinced! Now, what should do?

  • Anonymous

    The parallels between the American Empire and the Roman Empire are too similar to ignore though it took the Roman Empire a thousand years to collapse where this country is facing the same outcome after only a little over 230 years. Endless wars of aggression to increase the Roman Empire’s holdings increasingly fought by for-hire armies that had no real stake in maintaining the Empire’s survival. A corrupt government that was increasingly under the control of, and at the beckon call of, a minority group of wealthy Oligarchs. George Washington’s wise warning to avoid entangling alliances with various foreign powers has always been ignored by a host of ever present politically active Anglo American supporters who have kept this country shackled to our British Empire origins who still view us as a colonial resource. FDR understood and voiced this concern to the British Prime Minister of the time, Winston Churchill, during WWII and told him that when the war was concluded he would make it his primary role in life to disassemble the remaining elements of the British Colonial Empire. Unfortunately Roosevelt died before the end of the war and was replaced by a very unpopular last minute substitution for Vice President in the 1944 election that was a dedicated Anglo American that wasted no time, after ascending to the top job, fully capitulating to the British leadership of the time that, after WWII, was instrumental in mounting an unyielding attack against the former Soviet Union that lasted for the next forty years. Their private interests were further served as they solicited U.S. support to mount a campaign of oppression against many of their former Colonial holdings in the Middle East and Africa that had established an independent form of government. The 1952 assault on Iran and the replacement of their Democratically elected leader with a U.S. chosen puppet dictator is a prime example of what has led to sixty years of endless wars primarily against the Muslim countries in this region of the world !

  • Anonymous

    I would hope that your predicted resolution to the crisis is forth coming but history has little to no evidence of past events that yielded this result. The dynasty of the ruling class has survived for a long time and become far to accomplished at controlling the herd !

  • Anonymous

    A good point, if fair and balance competition has always been the Capitalist goal, then why have they used their vast private resources repeatedly in the past to block or eliminate legislation that curtailed the existence of Monopolies and Cartels ? Two forms of business that are the ultimate goal of any Capitalist Enterprise, the total control of a designated market or group of markets that actively discourages any competition from outside interests !

  • Karl Selig

    Geithner and Obama didn’t want to upset the apple cart in early 2009. Geithner said honoring contracts and counterparties was very important. So, astute investors like John Paulson and the people in Michael Lewis’ book “The Big Short” were able to collect hundreds of millions of dollars from their wise bets.
    And that, folks, is what our investment economy is like: a casino, in which there are winners and there are losers. Only in the case of the great 2008 financial crisis, there were a few huge winners and many huge losers (at least as a percentage of their measly incomes).
    On to the next bubble.

  • Ollie Bass

    So why doesn’t Congress investigate this revolving door?

  • Edward

    The reason it has not worked since President Raygun is that we are asking the foxes to guard the kitchen coop

  • Jim Leonardson

    In Michael Shermer’s book “The Mind of the Market”, he says that in order to keep a free market, among the things we need are the rule of law and a secure, trustworthy banking system. I’d like to hear more people make that point.

  • davidcoast

    excellent program, Bill. Both topics superbly covered. This is why I value your serious approach above all other news and opinion shows, even though, yes, you sometimes frustrate me when you seem to veer too easily off to the left without rigor.

  • ccaffrey

    She can’t do it alone. Democracy is not a spectator sport and, lest people forget, it was the PUBLIC who kicked some serious butt in the elections as they railed back against dark money and voter suppression laws. That is the engagement that’s going to change things. I love this quote by Alice Walker, “The most common way people give up their power is thinking they don’t have any.” I’m researching right now the strongest existing ethics/censure charges that can be brought against McConnell, Baucus and Hatch for the Amgen “gift”. Giving a patent extension to a company that was JUST found guilty of defrauding the taxpayers? Enough! And PRISON time for corporate executives found guilty of defrauding us. Fines are just cost of doing business to these guys. Go to the site and see if you aren’t appalled! And for other info on governement contract malfeasance. They get away with this crap because we don’t demand differently.

  • Phill Modjeski

    Disappointed I was not to hear the word integrity used in regards to financial institution behavior.

  • Rain,adustbowlstory

    Just wanted to mention that there are many insightful Bill Moyers quotes in the new book I’m reading about LBJ, Indomitable Will. The Johnson Administration accomplished in one year: “”the Civil Rights Act of 1964…the Food Stamp Bill, the War on Poverty, the Urban Mass Transit Act, the Housing Act, the Wilderness Act, the Fire Island National Seashore Act, and the Nurse Training Act….”

    Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it.

  • Lisa Vincenti

    Prosecuting these white collar criminals would create a wave of inspiration in the general public that challenges what can be argued about economic factors, It reminds the heathens that there is accountability, and make many think twice and thrice. It also offers hope and peace of mind to those who prefer not to live for money, so they may settle into other activities as they see fit without having to put themselves in harm’s way, since those without money are at risk in a society such as this judgment asserts.

  • Are You Kidding Me?

    To answer your question Mr. Moyers, I want to believe our President is overwhelmed by the obstruction and obsequiousness of Wall Street—BUT Mary Jo White is a snake in the grass. Nominating someone like THAT is deliberate. So then he’s not overwhelmed, rather he’s infected. I do think when he ran he did think he could make a difference. The Bull is a god and unrelenting. Neil Barofsky is AS GOOD as it gets and he had to resign because of the frustration of obstruction and not being able to do his job. As the former Special Inspector General of the TARP Bailout had he not resigned (obstruction) Neil Barofsky he’d be an EXCELLENT SEC Chief! I agree with Matt, the BAR is getting lower and the cesspool is undermining our Democracy and Justice system. I suppose it won’t register until BRIC declares WAR and stages their own hostile take-over of our weak and failing Country. Germany and China will not stand by idle lamenting the lost value of their Gold bullion.

  • H A Goodman Author

    Taibbi is 100% correct for the following reasons:

    1. We would never, in a million years, refrain from prosecuting, jailing, or even killing terrorists because of the “consequences” or ripple effect of such actions. We willfully threw habeas corpus out the window with Guantanamo, and are now dealing with how that decision will affect American citizens in the future with drone strikes.

    When national security issues are in play, we act first and think of the repercussions later. Picking to vigorously respond to terror threats with disregard to domestic, diplomatic or human rights consequences (drone strikes, waterboarding, etc.), while at the same time refraining to do the same with financial fraud at the highest levels is not only duplicitous, but extremely dangerous.

    2. A democracy doesn’t pick and choose when to uphold justice. Could a financial ripple effect take place from prosecuting high level executives? Perhaps. But most likely, it would be a short term reaction in markets, if at all, and markets would rebound like they always do. First and foremost, laws that affect the global financial system should be sound, and most importantly, enforceable. If not, then we’ll eventually revisit another meltdown.

    3. Failing to prosecute high level officials today sends a message to future white collar criminals, a frightening message.

    Taibbi is amazing and I applaud his courage!

    H. A. Goodman

  • Kathy Cummings

    “Legalized Plunder of the American People” – G. Edward Griffin

  • Are You Kidding Me?

    TODAY CNN reported Germany removed 300 Tons of their stored Gold at the Federal Reserve! German Deutshe Rep said the Gold is being removed with the Goal that ALL would be removed by 2014! OK?

  • paul c

    why is no one going to jail?go get them mat.

  • William Falberg

    The “public intervention” solution would be so simple to do . It’s obvious that power-hungry politicians and money-hungry businessmen can’t be trusted to play golf without totally corrupting each other by the 8th hole. It has to stop. We need a draconium firewall between them. They all need chastity belts. Our entire culture needs to legally erect and socially accept a firewall between corporation and state as effective and lasting as the separation of church and state (and for the same reasons). Neither state nor federal legislation can remove the revolving doors or criminalize conflicts-of-interest between money and politics; it will require amendment to the U S Constitution.
    This is what that firewall would look like:

    28th Amendment
    “Corporations are not persons in any sense of the word and shall be granted only those rights and privileges that Congress deems necessary for the well-being of the People. Congress shall provide legislation defining the terms and conditions of corporate charters according to their purpose; which shall include, but are not limited to: 1, prohibitions against any corporation becoming so large its failure would pose a threat to national security or harm the general economy; 2, prohibitions against any form of interference in the affairs of government, education, and news media; and 3, provisions for civil and criminal penalties to be paid by corporate executives for violation of the terms of a corporate charter.”
    And it won’t take forever nor be very difficult: just sign the petition; and when asked to ratify, vote “YES”.

  • Imjustsayin

    You nailed it. Even judges on the benches of district courts slide around, depending on who is in the hot seat. Fewer white collars end up in jail for any crime. I do think that American politics and corporate politics are about the same as they ever were – we just see it better now.

  • Molly Wassermann

    Matt Taibbi is my hero, second only to Bill Moyers, both of whom have been bravely exposing and talking about the really important stuff that most pay no attention to.

  • Imjustsayin

    Actually, FDR sold the citizens/ natural Americans via the Federal Reserve to pay off the debts when the US went broke.

  • Imjustsayin

    FDR used US people as collateral for the debt March 9, 1933 because the US is bankrupt. That’s when the US began taking loans from a private, non government affiliated corporation called the Federal Reserve. With no money to pay back the loans, the US began using the citizens as collateral.

  • Jiggs Casey

    Taibbi is brilliant. But I find it curious he can see the connections of Wall St. corruption, justice department negligence and corporate drug money laundering, yet outright reject (rather rudely) 9/11 LIHOP theory. The pre-9/11 put/call option ratios on Wall St. combined with the Pakistani ISI-CIA stuff, alone, should be more than enough to make a brave journalist like Taibbi pause on his absolute rejection of Western corporate complicity in the greatest crime in U.S. history. Maybe he’s afraid of what happened to Daniel Pearl. In any event, he seems to be leading us to the door, yet refusing to knock. Because all roads lead from 9/11.

  • Anonymous

    Google ratified Congressional Apportionment Amendment.

  • Anne Garrett Nicolaou

    I beg to differ! I recently retired from Wells Fargo Bank’s High Risk Customer Due Diligence Group and we regularly had OCC audits. We were continually satisfying their changing demands. We worked very hard to keep Wells from any fines or stop and desist orders.

  • Margaret E. Truman

    Bill Moyers and Matt Taibbi are beacons of hope.

    At this point, I want to hear discussion of how we got where we are and what steps must be taken to permanently fix our system. Bill and Matt talking about the revolving-door reminded me that not long ago, there were laws against it.

    “Take the money out of politics” to me offers the best chance for the American public to take back our government.

    We “the people” must demand publicly-funded elections. Implement severe jail-time penalties for anyone giving money to a politician. Set term limits. Allow and encourage other Parties to participate. Have our politicians cast their vote for “the people” and not what “the party” tells them. Hold town-hall style meetings to discuss issues and have them broadcast, etc.

    I’m sure others can add suggestions for an AMENDMENT to take the money out of politics.

    Limiting the amount of money given to politicians would leave the door open to corruption.

    This goal requires all the worthwhile groups (environmental, political, justice, peace, equality, etc.) join together and call for a ten million person march on Washington. I’ve got my walking shoes on!

  • Anonymous

    In the banking vein, Obama is doing the same thing every other president has done, appoint “experts” in the field to keep track of what their field is doing. The trouble is they are the fox watching the hen house.

  • Anonymous

    The huge winners being the ones who had insider information – also illegal.