Monday, January 16, 2017


US banks report massive fourth quarter profits

US banks report massive fourth quarter profits


"The US stock market is now valued at $26 trillion, the highest in history."

"Overall, share prices and profits of the big Wall Street banks are soaring, fueled by expectations of sharply higher profits under a new administration pledged to dismantle the 2010 Dodd-Frank bank regulatory overhaul and remove virtually all regulations restricting speculative activity and protecting investors and the general public from Wall Street fraud."

US banks report massive fourth quarter profits
By Gabriel Black
16 January 2017
Profits for the two largest US banks by assets surged in the fourth quarter, reflecting a rise in trading activity following the election victory of Donald Trump.
JPMorgan Chase profits increased 24 percent to $6.7 billion, while the bank’s revenue rose two percent to $24.3 billion, according to the quarterly earnings report released by the bank on Friday. The bank reported its best-ever fourth quarter trading business. It net income jumped 96 percent from a year earlier.
Bank of America’s fourth quarter profit shot up by 42 percent to $4.7 billion. The second largest US bank’s revenue climbed 2.1 percent to $20 billion, the result of a gain in interest income and loan growth.
Earnings for the country’s fourth largest bank by assets, Wells Fargo, fell 5.4 percent to $5.3 billion and revenue remained flat in the wake of a scandal over the bank’s practice of opening unauthorized customer accounts in order to meet aggressive sales targets.
Combined 2016 profits for Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo totaled $64.6 billion, some two percent higher than in 2015.
Overall, share prices and profits of the big Wall Street banks are soaring, fueled by expectations of sharply higher profits under a new administration pledged to dismantle the 2010 Dodd-Frank bank regulatory overhaul and remove virtually all regulations restricting speculative activity and protecting investors and the general public from Wall Street fraud.
The incoming Trump administration is also promising to sharply cut corporate taxes and personal income taxes for the wealthy. Its key economic posts are filled with Wall Street insiders, including Goldman Sachs alums named to at least five top positions. These include Steven Mnuchin as treasury secretary, Gary Cohn as director of the National Economic Council, and longtime Goldman lawyer Jay Clayton to head the Securities and Exchange Commission.
US financial stocks have been on a tear since the November 8 election, with total gains for the 63 largest groups hitting $459 billion. The financial sector has headed up a general surge in stock prices, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average increasing 8.9 percent since Election Day and nearing the 20,000 mark. The US stock market is now valued at $26 trillion, the highest in history.
The Dodd-Frank law is a largely token measure that has done virtually nothing to rein in the type of speculative and fraudulent activity that led to the 2008 Wall Street crash. Nevertheless, the big US banks have denounced it and lobbied against provisions that require them to maintain a bigger capital reserve and others that minimally restrict their ability to gamble with depositors’ money.
And while the Obama administration worked systematically to bail out the banks and make the financial oligarchy richer than ever, shielding the architects of the Great Recession from criminal prosecution, it did impose fines for some of the banks’ grossest swindles, including the sale of worthless subprime mortgage-backed securities, the rigging of key global interest rates such as the London Interbank Offered Rate (Libor), drug money laundering, illegal home foreclosures and other illicit activities.
Now the banks are confident they will not even face such token reprimands for their reckless and often criminal pursuit of super-profits.
Trump is also expected to offer massive tax breaks to companies that invest in government-sponsored infrastructure projects. A spurt in growth and an anticipated rise in interest rates promise to increase the opportunities for the banks to realize higher returns.
This Trump boom will make the inevitable bursting of the stock bubble that much more violent. The fundamentals of the European, East Asian and American economies remain weak, with very low rates of reinvestment.
The massive profits reported by the American banks contrast sharply with the situation in Europe. The total profits of the three largest US banks for 2016, $65 billion, exceeds the combined market value of Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse, two of the largest European banks.
This reflects a sharp decline in the position of European banks relative to their US rivals in the aftermath of the 2008 crisis. Share prices for major European banks such as the Royal Bank of Scotland, Deutsche Bank, Barclays and UniCredit are below their pre-2008 levels.


"Hillary Clinton is a known liar, a criminal of monstrous proportions; others have gone to prison for crimes she has committed over and over: lying to Congress, lying to the FBI, violating national security laws by which she was bound as Secretary of State, etc. It's a long list."

Clinton, the candidate favored by most of Wall Street and the corporate elite and large sections of the Republican Party establishment, is seeking to assemble something akin, within the framework of the US political setup, to a grand coalition between the Democratic Party and the Republican leadership.

Transcripts released by WikiLeaks of Clinton 

speeches to Wall Street bankers, for which she

received six-figure paychecks, show her 

praising the recommendations of the 2010 

Simpson-Bowles deficit-reduction 

commission, which called for sweeping cuts to

Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid; the 

elimination of 200,000 federal jobs; a tax on 

employees’ health benefits; and huge cuts in 

income taxes for the wealthy and corporate 


“But what the Clintons do is criminal because they do it wholly at the expense of the American people. And they feel thoroughly entitled to do it: gain power, use it to enrich themselves and their friends. They are amoral, immoral, and venal. Hillary has no core beliefs beyond power and money. That should be clear to every person on the planet by now.”

Wikileaks exposes Obama’s bankster-infested




banksters’ RENT BOY!

 “Citigroup’s recommendations came just three days after then-President George W. Bush signed into law the Troubled Asset Relief Program, which allocated $700 billion in taxpayer money to rescue the largest Wall Street banks. The single biggest beneficiary was Citigroup, which was given $45 billion in cash in the form of a government stock  purchase, plus a $306 billion government guarantee to back up its worthless mortgage-related assets.”


“As president, Obama not only funneled trillions of dollars to the banks, he saw to it that not a single leading Wall Street executive faced prosecution for 
the orgy of speculation and swindling that led to the financial collapse and Great Recession, and he personally intervened to block legislation capping 
executive pay at bailed-out firms.”

“So when Clinton was hobnobbing with  Goldman Sachs CEO Blankfein in 2013, while  investigations of wrongdoing by Goldman and the other Wall Street banks were still ongoing, she was consorting with a man who belonged in prison.”

Report to Davos summit: Rising inequality threatens “market capitalism”
By Nick Beams
14 January 2017
The year 2016 was characterised politically by the emergence of deep hostility to the official political and economic establishment as a result of rising social inequality. This was manifested most sharply in the Brexit vote in Britain and the election of Donald Trump to the US presidency, with right-wing nationalist forces being the main beneficiaries to date due to the reactionary anti-working class policies of what passes for the political “left.”
This shift has found expression in a warning sounded by the World Economic Forum, which hosts its annual gathering of world business and political leaders in Davos, Switzerland next week. The annual “risks report” prepared for the meeting concludes that the growing concentration of income and wealth at the very top of society is the biggest single risk to the stability of the economic and political order over which the millionaires and billionaires assembling in Davos preside. The report identifies “rising income and wealth inequality” as the most significant force driving global politics over the next decade.
The report cites the weakness of the economic “recovery” following the financial crisis of 2008 as one of the reasons for the anti-establishment backlash, but warns that boosting growth is not sufficient to shore up the credibility of the capitalist system.
There is a need to revive growth, “but the growing mood of anti-establishment populism suggests we may have passed the stage where this alone would remedy fractures in society: reforming market capitalism must also be added to the agenda,” the report states.
It continues: “The combination of economic inequality and political polarization threatens to amplify global risks, fraying the social solidarity on which the legitimacy of our economic and political systems rest.”
The report notes that the policy of quantitative easing by the world’s central banks—the pumping of trillions of dollars into the global financial system—has “exacerbated income inequality” by boosting “the returns enjoyed by the owners of financial assets, while workers’ real earnings have been growing very slowly.”
Productivity growth has been slow to recover from the crisis and structural rates of unemployment remain high, particularly among young people in Europe, while in the United States there has been a marked decline in the labour participation rate, signifying that large numbers of workers are dropping out of the workforce.
The report points out that “in contrast to the pre-crisis era, when China’s rapid expansion bolstered overall growth rates, there is no market game-changer on the horizon,” with China in a gradual slowdown as its economy moves away from investment-led growth.
“In sum, it is difficult to identify routes that will lead back to robust global rates of economic growth,” the Davos report concludes.
In line with other studies, the report points to rising inequality in the US, with the incomes of the top 1 percent rising by 31 percent between 2009 and 2012 compared to less than 0.5 percent for the rest of the population.
“Middle-class income stagnation,” it states, “is particularly affecting youth; recent research shows that 540 million young people across advanced economies face the prospect of growing up to be poorer than their parents.”
In examining longer-term trends, the report dwells on the impact of new technologies associated with the advance of computerisation and the Internet. According to one study it cites, some 47 percent of jobs in the United States are at risk from automation, affecting more than 80 percent of low-income work.
“Technology is also contributing to the changing nature of work, with secure and predictable jobs giving way to more sporadic and short-term self-employment,” with research suggesting that the number of people in so-called “alternative work arrangements” in the US increased faster than overall employment between 2005 and 2015.
In fact, the rate at which this is taking place is increasing. A recent study has found that 94 percent of the 10 million jobs created during the Obama administration were temporary, contract or part-time positions, with the proportion of the workforce engaged in such occupations rising from 10.7 percent to 15.8 percent. The number of full-time jobs today is 1 million below the level at the start of the recession.
The increased use of technology provides the material foundation for the advance of living standards. But under the profit system, it is the means for driving down the living standards of the mass of the population.
According to statistics prepared by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and cited in the World Economic Forum report, up to 80 percent of the decline in labour’s share in national income between 1990 and 2007 was the result of the impact of technology. This trend will only have accelerated in the past decade.
The report warns that one way in which technological change could prove disruptive is via the labour market, with incomes pushed down and unemployment pushed up in affected sectors and regions, leading to “disruptive” social conditions. This is in line with the overall finding of the report that “the most important of global risks is the pairing of unemployment and social instability.”
While pointing to the rise of populist and nationalist movements, the report does not offer much in the way of in-depth analysis. But it does at least indicate one of the most significant factors, noting that “the economic policies of historically mainstream parties from the right and the left have converged in recent decades,” making it possible for “once-fringe movements” to rise by “portraying the established parties as part of the same technocratic political class, focused on self-enrichment.”
The overriding fear of the World Economic Forum, though not stated explicitly in the report, is that popular opposition will shift to the left. As other commentators have noted in this, the centenary year of the Russian Revolution, there is a parallel between the conditions that prevailed a century ago and those of today.
Summing up its findings, the report concludes that it is a “febrile time for the world,” where “deep-rooted social and economic trends are manifesting themselves disruptively across the world,” and “persisting inequality, particularly in the context of comparative economic weakness, risks undermining the legitimacy of market capitalism.”
The World Economic Forum, which begins in the alpine resort of Davos, Switzerland on Tuesday, will involve the usual round of networking by business chiefs, political leaders and the heads of NGOs, as lucrative deals are made and relationships established. Of course, it will produce no solutions to the deepening social, political and economic malaise. How could it, as the forces gathered there preside over the very social order that has produced the crisis?
But for the global elites, the taste of the champagne, the delicacy of the canap├ęs and the flavour of the haute cuisine may be somewhat tainted by the smell of death wafting up from the grave opening up before them.

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