A watchdog group has found that the U.S. Treasury Department allowed big raises for executives at three firms being bailed out during the financial crisis. The special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program published findings that show the Treasury approved 18 requests for paydays around $100,000 -- and even up to $1 million -- for leaders at General Motors, American International Group and Ally Financial, despite rules that limited pay. Together, the three firms received close to $250 billion in bailout money. The Treasury official who approved the raises said the pay wasn't excessive.
The Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program said Treasury approved all 18 requests it received last year to raise pay for executives at American International Group Inc., General Motors Corp. and Ally Financial Inc. Of those requests, 14 were for $100,000 or more; the largest raise was $1 million.
Treasury also allowed pay packages totaling $5 million or more for nearly a quarter of the executives at those firms, the report says.
Also noted: A $200,000 raise was approved for an executive of Ally’s mortgage-lending subsidiary Residential Capital LLC just weeks before ResCap filed for bankruptcy protection. Ally was GM’s financial arm until it was taken over by the government in the bailout.
“We ... expect Treasury to look out for taxpayers who funded the bailout of these companies by holding the line on excessive pay,” said Christy Romero, the special inspector general for TARP. “Treasury cannot look out for taxpayers’ interests if it continues to rely to a great extent on the pay proposed by companies that have historically pushed back on pay limits.”
The report says Treasury bypassed rules under the 2008 bailout that limited pay. Treasury approved raises that exceeded pay limits and in some cases failed to link compensation to performance, it notes.
As infuriating as this news is on its own, I find it serves to underscore how ridiculously difficult it is just to get our states to raise the minimum wage to a living wage for all of those who aren't corporate CEOs, out here in real America.
In "The Untouchables," Frontline investigates why Wall Street's leaders have escaped prosecution for any fraud related to the sale of bad mortgages. Are Wall Street's big bankers untouchable?
Producer Martin Smith joined HuffPo Live on Tuesday to discuss his investigation into the lack of prosecution of Wall Street executives for any fraud related to the sale of bad mortgages:
Commenting on clips from the episode showing former home loan underwriters explaining how they would laugh as they pushed through mortgages that were too expensive for the borrowers, Smith said this type of behavior was "very frequent and common."
"There are lawsuits that name 35 -- easily 36, 37 -- of these kind of testimonies," Smith told HuffPost Live host Jacob Soboroff. "And these guys are joking about it at this point, but of course it's not really funny in the end because it all resulted in the collapse of 2008, a million people losing their houses, many people out of work and businesses seeing demand sink."
"It was like a party," one former loan underwriter tells Frontline's" Martin Smith. "We were getting through these loans as quick as we can. They were not being looked at like they should've been looked at."
The PBS Frontline investigation "The Untouchables," airs on Tuesday, January 22, 2013. Frontline investigates how more than four years since the financial crisis, not one senior Wall Street executive has faced criminal prosecution for fraud. Are Wall Street executives “too big to jail"? Check out the preview video above. You can check your local viewing schedule here.
As the first anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement is approaching, activists are organizing multiple events with the themes centering on the ongoing debt crisis, student loan crisis and mortgage crisis.
"We want to celebrate our resistance over the past year with actions pointing to the ongoing debt crisis, the student debt crisis, the home mortgage and loans debt crisis," said Karanja G. an activist with the movement.
He told Press TV’s U.S. Desk that police brutality, oppression, and racism were among some of the other issues the 99 percenters sought to address at the anniversary of their movement.
The Occupy Wall Street demonstration started out on September 17 last year with around a dozen college students spending days and nights in Zuccotti Park in New York.
The demonstrators protest against government corruption an unequal distribution of wealth wherein one percent of the American population benefits from the capitalism system, while the other 99 percent is exploited. The protesters say they are that 99 percent.
Proposition 32 would stop unions from engaging in political activity while letting corporations do as much of it as their little hearts desire.
The so-called "Stop Special Interest Money Now Act" is not what it seems. It's really the Special Exemptions Act, intentionally written to create special exemptions for billionaire businessmen, wealthy CEOs, Wall Street investors, and more.
Don't let them gain even more power to write their own set of rules.
Who is pushing for these "Special Exemptions"?
Thomas Siebel, the billionaire founder of Siebel Systems, just dropped $500,000 on the pro-side. That’s pocket lint for Siebel, who is worth $1.8 billion, after he sold his company to Oracle for $5.9 billion in 2005.
Politically, Siebel may own the crown for Best Political Rally Intro Ever with his 2008 flourish for GOP VP candidate Sarah Palin. Or, as he referred to her: “The embodiment of pure, unadulterted good.” Really.
“Sarah Palin represents the best in each and every one of us,” he told the crowd, calling her ”an optimist, thoughtful, energetic, engaging … the embodiment of pure, unadulterated good.”
”Talk about change, my goodness, the world will never be the same,” said Siebel.
But he didn’t stop there.
"Sarah Palin has risen as if from some mythical kingdom of the north. She carries the flag of outrage for the rest of us: the employers who create jobs, the shareholders, the parents, the people who raise children … and the students, the future of America,” he said. ”Sarah Palin carries the flag of outrage for each of us … who cries out, ‘We’re mad as hell, and we’re not going to take it anymore.”
As JPMorgan announced a $2 billion trading loss, members of Congress called for federal regulators to scrutinize and tighten banking rules and trades. New rules are being drafted as part of the Dodd-Frank bill that prevent federal banks from making investments that might put taxpayers at risk.
“The argument that financial institutions do not need the new rules to help them avoid the irresponsible actions that led to the crisis of 2008 is at least $2 billion harder to make today,” said Democratic Rep. Barney Frank.
After the creation of the Volcker Rule, a regulatory law meant to prevent overly risky trading, JPMorgan Chase sent lobbyists to Washington to argue for loopholes that would allow for trades much like those that led to a $2 billion loss announced by the bank on Friday. Bank chief executive Jamie Dimon and other members of upper management paid regular visits to lawmakers to argue that, while they thought some parts of the rule were useful, others would hurt the bank’s ability to hedge against risk. The result, said Senator Carl Levin, was a “big enough loophole that a Mack truck could drive right through it.”
From the director of "No End In Sight" comes a documentary on the financial meltdown of 2008 and the ways in which it could have been avoided.
"Inside Job" provides a comprehensive analysis of the global financial crisis of 2008, which at a cost over $20 trillion, caused millions of people to lose their jobs and homes in the worst recession since the Great Depression, and nearly resulted in a global financial collapse. Through exhaustive research and extensive interviews with key financial insiders, politicians, journalists, and academics, the film traces the rise of a rogue industry which has corrupted politics, regulation, and academia. It was made on location in the United States, Iceland, England, France, Singapore, and China.
Academy Award winner Matt Damon narrates this unflinching look at the deep-rooted corruption that has left millions of middle-class Americans jobless and homeless as the major corporations get bailed out while paying millions in bonuses.
Imagine how cold this must have been. Three topless Ukrainian protesters were arrested Saturday at the World Economic Forum in Davos trying to break into an invitation-only gathering of international CEOs and political leaders in an effort to draw attention toward the world’s poor. They carried signs that read “Crisis! Made in Davos!” and “Poor, because of you” and “Gangster's Party in Davos.” They are part of a popular Ukrainian protest group called Femen that frequently stages half-naked protests to draw attention to the needy. A group of about 40 Occupy protesters held a separate protest on Saturday, gathering in front of the town hall and shouting, “If voting would change anything, it would be illegal” and “Don’t let them decide for you, Occupy WEF.”