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The Morning Grumpy – 6/14/12

14 Jun

All the news, views, and filtered excellence fit to consume during your morning grumpy.

Good morning, Jesus! Show us how you do it.

 

1. Yesterday, the Senate Banking Committee embarrassed itself in a hearing with JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon. The tenor of the questions were akin to a tween girl interviewing Justin Bieber, in short, it was a disturbing spectacle. Ostensibly, Mr. Dimon was brought in for a hearing over more than $2 billion in bank losses caused by risky hedge investments made by the bank that simply that blew up. It was the kind of behavior that led to the 2008 bank bailout that nearly sent the global economy into depression. Surely, the Senate would have some tough questions for Mr. Dimon and ask some tough questions about the continued behavior of his bank and their tendency to skirt regulations. Nope.

The long-shot big hope for Wall Street reformers Wednesday was that JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon would trip up before the Senate Banking Committee and expose the need for tighter rules governing big banks. His firm, after all, recently lost billions making risky bets with depositor funds on the line.

Instead, with some notable exceptions, the senators themselves turned the cross-examination into a coronation, and exposed the extent to which elected officials still feel compelled to genuflect to powerful financial interests.

“You’re obviously renowned, rightfully so I think, as being one of the most, you know, one of the best CEOs in the country for financial institutions,” crooned Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN). “You missed this, it’s a blip on the radar screen.”

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) — a tea party hero — gave Dimon a full pardon. “I really appreciate you voluntarily coming in to talk with us,” he said. “It is important that we talk about things happening in the industry. It helps us as we look forward and, hopefully, it will contribute to best practice scenarios in industry. I appreciate your emphasis on continuous quality improvement. We can hardly sit in judgment of your losing $2 billion. We lose twice that every day in Washington.”

Oh, for fucks sake. Of course, this behavior by the Senators (Democrats and Republicans alike) is not unexpected. As Mother Jones notes, the ties between the Senate banking Committee and JP Morgan run deep and seemingly point out that the committee serves at the pleasure of Mr. Dimon.

Through campaign contributions and well-connected staff, JP Morgan appears to have already taken its own accounting of the Banking committee. Here’s a picture of connections between the company and the committee:

One current staffer on the Senate banking committee, Dwight Fettig, is a former lobbyist for JP Morgan. In 2009, the bank hired him to work on “financial services regulatory reform.” Meanwhile, JP Morgan is stacked thick with former committee staff.

American Banker also reported that three other outside lobbyists currently working for JP Morgan were once affiliated with the committee:

A former senator on the committee, Mel Martinez, R-Fl., is also now the JP Morgan exec in charge of Florida, Central America, and the Caribbean.

Lobbyists for JP Morgan appear to be keeping busy. The bank spent $7.6 million on lobbying last year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

JP Morgan is the second largest campaign contributor to Johnson, the committee chair, and to the top Republican on the committee, Richard Shelby of Alabama, over the past twenty years, according to a tally from American Banker.

Dimon even offered to get an apartment in D.C. so he can help the committee go through regulations in detail.

Access and influence for the 1%, blogs and bitching for the 99%.

2. Billionaires funding elections, America 2012!

Billionaire Sheldon Adelson made a $10 million contribution to Restore Our Future, an independent group running ads that support Romney’s campaign, according to two people with knowledge of the situation. They spoke on condition of anonymity Wednesday because they were not authorized to discuss Adelson’s plans publicly.

Restore Our Future is staffed by former Romney advisers. The group has spent at least $46 million on ads backing the former Massachusetts governor during the Republican primary and since he emerged as Obama’s presumptive challenger.

So far, the vast majority of independent groups have supported Republican candidates. Priorities USA Action, formed by former Obama White House staffers to promote Obama’s re-election effort, has struggled to raise money and keep pace with its GOP-leaning counterparts.

The very idea that these SuperPACs are independent of the campaigns is an insult to our collective intelligence.

3. From the Royal Observatory, Greenwich in the U.K. comes a short video detailing how scientists measure the size of the universe.

Measuring the Universe from Royal Observatory Greenwich on Vimeo.

4. The Wall Street banks have chosen their horse in the Presidential race, Mitt Romney.

Now, thanks to campaign finance filings, it’s possible to put a price tag on just how much: Mitt Romney‘s presidential campaign and the super PAC supporting it are outraising Obama among financial-sector donors $37.1 million to $4.8 million.

This is a class warfare election, it’s time for Obama to get on the offensive and fully embrace it. Perhaps he has burned too many bridges with the progressive base to really capitalize on it.

5. Inequality, it’s worse than we thought.

The Federal Reserve released new numbers on Monday. Unsurprisingly, wealth distribution is even more skewed than income distribution. In 2010, the median family had assets (including their house but subtracting their mortgage) of $77,300. The top 10 percent had almost $1.2 million, or more than 15 times as much.

For the 90%, a drop of nearly 40% in three years.

Fact Of The Day: There is a cognitive bias called the Google effect where a person tends to forget information that can easily be found using a search engine.

Quote Of The Day: “The last shirt you wear has no pockets.” – German Proverb

Video Of The Day: “Audacious Visions” – Neil DeGrasse Tyson with a lesson we need to learn yet again.

Song Of The Day: “In The Summertime” – Mungo Jerry

Follow me on Twitter for the “incremental grumpy” @ChrisSmithAV

Email me links, tips, story ideas: chris@artvoice.com

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