FROM Mark Calabria
Are Wall Street Execs Getting Off Easy for Committing Fraud? Federal Judge Jed Rakoff is still considering Citigroup's latest settlement of fraud charges brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission. It follows a familiar pattern — for Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America —and for Citigroup itself. But for corporate executives there's no shame and no pain. We hear how the latest case against Citigroup fits into a troubling pattern.
SEC Settlements Raise Questions about Watchdog's Teeth A federal judge is still considering Citigroup's latest settlement of fraud charges brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Citigroup did not have to admit wrongdoing and received a fine critics call "a slap on the wrist," that shareholders, not executives, will have to pay. It follows a familiar pattern — for Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America and Citigroup itself -- that has even some insiders asking who is the SEC working for? Is it protecting consumers or big banks? Why aren't company executives being hauled into court, especially if their practices helped bring about the collapse of the housing market?
Political Gridlock and the Fight over the Consumer Watchdog Agency Political gridlock is pushing Washington closer to financial catastrophe if the two parties can't agree to raise the debt ceiling by August 2. Now there's potential gridlock over implementing last year's finance reform , passed by the Democrats when they controlled both houses. This year, Republicans are hell-bent to change it. Harvard Professor Elizabeth Warren is out as head of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau , so President Obama has nominated Ohio's Attorney to run the new agency. But Richard Cordray has to be confirmed by the Senate, and the GOP says he, too, is " dead on arrival ." They're demanding that a board, instead of a single director, run the new agency and that funding come from Congress rather than the Federal Reserve.
Political Gridlock and the Fight over the Consumer Watchdog Agency The debt ceiling and deficit aren't the only issues subject to partisan gridlock in Congress. Last year, with majorities in both houses of Congress, Democrats passed finance reform . This year, Republicans are hell-bent to change it. One controversial element is the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau , which was given more power than Republicans wanted. President Obama has nominated Ohio's former Attorney General to run it. But the consumer advocate has to be confirmed by the Senate, and Republican Jerry Moran of Kansas, says Richard Cordray is " dead on arriva l." It's another example of political polarization in Washington: major bills might pass on party-line votes, but then lack the support required for implementation. Is divided government creating an atmosphere of perpetual gridlock? Is that making Washington unable to govern at all?
Three Years Later, the Housing Crisis Continues Three years after the housing market began to collapse banks own more than a million homes due to foreclosures, with another million on the verge of repossession this year and millions more in years to come. Economists call it a "glut" that's extending the housing crisis and pushing down prices. In several states, attorneys general say they're trying to rebuild public confidence in the home loan industry by going after banks and lenders for fraud. Could criminal convictions restore public confidence or is it already too late?
Three Years Later, the Housing Crisis Continues Banks and mortgage lenders now own a million foreclosed properties, with another million on the verge of repossession this year, creating a drag on the real estate market that will only get bigger. In the worst hit states, attorneys general are gearing up to investigate and prosecute lenders for fraud in both sales and foreclosures. In Washington, the bi-partisan Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations issued a 650-page report outlining risky, deceptive practices by Goldman Sachs and other major Wall Street investment houses that made big money, essentially by betting against their own clients. Should they be prosecuted too? Would high-profile convictions renew public confidence in the home-loan industry or slow the market even more?
Trump's ethical conflicts pile up as transparency diminishes President Trump's refusal to reveal his income tax returns is just one example of a lack of transparency that could be hiding conflicts of interest. Other conflicts are already obvious from his appointments. And he's being sued for using his job to increase his profits.
The flight bumping heard around 'round the world Recent video of a passenger forcibly removed from a United Airlines plane is a worst-case example of what's happened since consolidation into just four US-based carriers. Management seems to be tone-deaf to a decline in service — and even abuse — of passengers.
After Syria strike a new Trump doctrine emerges The President who promised an end to entanglements in the Middle East and snuggled up to Vladimir Putin has now outraged Russia with surprise missile attacks on Syria. That's raised questions about who's running the White House? We hear a variety of answers.