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?
Terrorism and tweets, hate speech and murder Just days before an election, Britain is coping with a rash of deadly terrorism, and Prime Minister Theresa May is on the defensive. And again today, President Trump has tweeted criticism of the Mayor of London. Later, a double murder in Portland, Oregon has revealed the ugly past of a supposedly “progressive” city. One immediate question: is “hate speech” protected by the First Amendment?
Is the threat from Russia missing from the Russia meddling probe? There's much being made about the Trump administration's possible ties with Russia. But the bottom line is Russia's effort to influence American democracy. Do the President and his aides care enough to take action before voters go back to the polls?
Human Rights in the era of Donald Trump President Trump’s UN Ambassador, Nikki Haley, said today the US might pull out of the United Nations’ Human Rights Council. Serious violators of human rights are members of the Council itself–and a US resignation could make things worse. Later on today’s show, now that he’s into his second term, comedian turned US Senator Al Franken is telling jokes again.