Even more comical: Lanny Breuer was named head of the U.S. Department of Justice's criminal division. He'd previously chaired the white-collar defense unit at Covington. Prosecutions on Wall Street slammed to a halt.

Black estimates that at the height of the mortgage crisis, two million fraudulent loans were being written each year, largely through lenders inflating buyers' incomes. But not a single major figure was ever prosecuted. Had those 1,000 savings-and-loan criminals from the 1980s practiced their larceny under Bush II or Obama, they would have been given million-dollar bonuses and retired to beach homes in the Hamptons.

It was under these pleasant skies that oil speculators launched their attack on America. In 2008, when their assault became evident, even some Republicans called for investigations. But that quickly ended when Obama became president. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, not one for subtlety, announced that his party's Mission One was sabotaging Obama.

Former international securities lawyer Dennis Kelleher: “I asked the senior official at Goldman [Sachs] at the time. There were no supply and demand issues that could remotely explain the doubling and doubling again of oil prices.”
Charles Steck
Former international securities lawyer Dennis Kelleher: “I asked the senior official at Goldman [Sachs] at the time. There were no supply and demand issues that could remotely explain the doubling and doubling again of oil prices.”
William Black, former bank regulator turned economist at the University of Missouri-Kansas City: “People can’t conceive of a world without these massive institutions, and can’t believe they’re a negative influence.”
Forester Michael
William Black, former bank regulator turned economist at the University of Missouri-Kansas City: “People can’t conceive of a world without these massive institutions, and can’t believe they’re a negative influence.”

Democrats managed to pass the Dodd-Frank Act in 2010. One of its goals was to hand the oil market back to actual users and allow the feds to crack down on excess speculation. Kennedy believes this alone would have reduced the price of gas by $1 a gallon.

But after Congress announced its great triumph over Wall Street, it quietly teamed with bankers to gut the law. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which was supposed to spearhead the crackdown, saw its budget slashed. Speculators filed suit, essentially arguing that they had the inalienable right to violate the country.

The financial industry would eventually spend $100 million to stave off regulation, buying congressmen, setting up fake public-interest groups and funding academics to produce laughable studies.

Two years after Dodd-Frank passed, the feds have yet to touch a single hair on a speculator's head.

The propaganda campaign has worked. "What they've really won is the intellectual struggle," says Black. "People can't conceive of a world without these massive institutions and can't believe they're a negative influence."

Take the Tea Party movement. Its followers are largely concentrated in the red states, statistically the nation's poorest and the most easily damaged by high gas prices. Yet their greatest benefactors, the Koch brothers, have boasted of being among the top five speculators in the world.

So while the Tea Partiers rally against regulation and government interference, the Kochs steal $14 from them every time they fill up their pickups.

"This is all part of the same formula of lower taxes and less regulation," says Kennedy. "That formula wins elections and ruins the country."


Sorry, but it could get scarier

As gas prices neared $4 this spring, Republicans reprised their Great Campaign of Idiocy from 2008. Once again the environmentalists and liberals were to blame, this time for blocking construction of the Keystone Pipeline, a massive project that would allow the shipping of oil from Canada to Texas.

Presidential aspirants Newt Gingrich and Michele Bachmann claimed they'd lower gas prices to $2 if elected, presumably by magic. Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, considered the party's brightest financial mind, proposed cutting the Commodity Futures Trading Commission's staff by two-thirds, just in case they might decide to grab coffee in the general vicinity of Wall Street. Mitch McConnell said he'd be happy to address speculation — but only if Democrats agreed to allow drilling on environmentally sensitive lands.

"They believe nothing was wrong with the markets in 2008," says Mark Cooper of the Consumer Federation.

Obama, meanwhile, was doing an inverse impression of Teddy Roosevelt. Instead of walking softly and carrying a big stick, he brayed noisily and brandished a twig.

When gas prices approached $4 in April 2011, the president announced the creation of the Oil and Gas Price Fraud Working Group. This was Obama's grand plan to finally strike a blow against our enemies within.

But while the announcement came with fireworks, these new crime fighters would meet just a few times over the next year. Malevolence uncovered: zero.

"Anybody who looks at the non-activity of that working group knows that the only fraud was in naming it," says Kelleher. "I think their non-record speaks for itself."

Some senators, such as Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, have pushed earnestly for the feds to step in. But Republicans say they'll block any move against Wall Street — with swing-state Democrats there to serve the appetizers.

"There's a free-market philosophy that continues to exist," says Mark Williams, a former Federal Reserve examiner now at Boston University. "If you're a trader, you should have the right to trade. But if the greater community is harmed, you shouldn't have that right. We still live in a democracy, right?"

Michael Greenberger is among the few who believe a reprieve is in store. He's a law professor at the University of Maryland and a former director at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. He believes Wall Street's relentless ineptitude may finally do it in.

Two months ago, J.P. Morgan was the latest to set itself aflame. One of its traders managed to gamble away $2 billion in just a few weeks. The damage is expected to reach $7 billion by the time the cinders go out.

"The J.P. Morgan episode really struck at the nerve of the American psyche about banks and what kind of damage they can do," says Greenberger. "These people who are doing nothing productive for the economy are walking away and, even in failure, collecting millions and millions of dollars."

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16 comments
northsiderasta
northsiderasta

Remember when gop lackeys & hacks worried that BP would not have enough money to drill for more oil?

Richard1980
Richard1980

Goldman Sachs, and others, have done the same thing to metals. They've bought warehouses and are "hoarding" steel and aluminum supplies, manipulating the market and pushing prices higher. Wall St. and the banks need to be kicked out of the commodities markets. They've turned our "free markets" into "manipulated markets," their own Las Vegas, and they are putting our economy on the gaming table, as long as they win, our economy, and citizenry, be damned. http://www.protopage.com/buy-keflex-online http://www.protopage.com/buy-clomid-online http://www.protopage.com/order-amoxil-online http://www.protopage.com/bigger-breasts

Daniel Mays
Daniel Mays

just more republican lies when will u people see whats going on and vote democratic for the people not corporations get rid of citizens united reinstate glass- steagall reelect obama

Don G
Don G

Finally! Someone else with the same conclusions I have had from the get go. Nothing more than big business in politicians pockets. What a bunch of A$$ holes!

Imapayne_57
Imapayne_57

And their blaming Obama for this. This was spear headed by George W.

Snazd
Snazd

Maybe we could put a few of our jobless Americans to work - building guillotines to set up on Wall Street and in front of the Capitol building.

Jacquebquique
Jacquebquique

Timothy Geitner was the "fair haired boy" of Goldman-Sachs. I wonder where he ended up?

Mzonker1
Mzonker1

RE Petro terrorists You are beyond "full of crap". Follow the $ to see who profits from increased gas prices. How long will u remain a sophomore in Jr College?

Not Applicable
Not Applicable

I agree with the major tenets of the piece - politicos are soft on regulation and my calculations show gas today would be $2.40 to $2.70 a gallon in STL without speculators (but not 40% less). There are ways to deal with this, but there isn't the political willpower to do so (combined with the reality that too many voters are economics/math challenged and can't understand the true factors involved).

Trista DiGiuseppi
Trista DiGiuseppi

I'm pretty liberal, but this article is ridiculously subjective. Sorry, I believe there is some truth to this piece of work, but I also smell a lot of sour grapes and bullshit.

Droptheduck7
Droptheduck7

How is the WAR on DRUGS going??? Makes one beleive that Congress and Wall Street are making very nice Profits on BOTH!!! - and NO NEWS NETWORK addresses either!!! After reading this article, it is evident to me that BOTH PARTIES MIGHT ON THE TAKE!!! - However, I have no concrete proof of either - except results, or lack there of !!!

Danieljoeoconnor
Danieljoeoconnor

thankyou for this article. i hope your house doesn't get hit by a drone attack. the fact that this insanity continues unabated despite all common simple logic is evidence of an ulterior motive being perpetrated by evil men in league with senator phil ghram. and that is the imploding of our economy along with other sovereign nations economies to create a problem in need of a solution: the new world order global government. it all ties in with the inside 911 job, all the fema camps across the nation, to the rehearsing of martial law complete with tanks in the streets of st. louis. our government has obviously been hi jacked by the satanic devils that eisonhower and john f kennedy warned us about a week before they blew his brains out.

Robert
Robert

The only way America is going to show congress and these corporate fat cats we are tire of their s#*t is to do what they think we wont do. We have to literally storm congress and wallstreet and throw these people out into the streets right and their faces. We would have to start with congress first, the very place these crooks are hiding at. The sad part is America seems to not be ready to stand up so we continue to get raped without the use of any lube. All I see and hear is people talking about doing something and yet nothing happens and the false promises from campaigners telling us what we want to hear for an election. The great John Adams stated that American democracy would destroy itself from within and that is exactly what is happening. So if congress and big bussiness think they don't have to follw the rules, THEN WHY SHOULD THE REST OF AMERICA HAVE TO FOLLOW ANY RULES.

Lennonsmum
Lennonsmum

Most of the country's working people, or should I say unemployed and underemployed, are hiding their heads in the sand. When there is no more money anywhere but in the hands of the ultra-wealthy, there is no one to blame but ourselves for not throwing the thieves in prison. I am very disappointed with how little the average person reads about what is going on. The sound-bites on TV is all they hear and then think they are so well-informed...What's worse is that most people have given up and don't listen or read much of anything; they have given away their power...

Rikarius
Rikarius

And that my dear is how they get away with it. Total denial by citizens as to the depth of corruption in todays political and judicial arena. If one questions the integrity of our leaders we are considered unpatriotic, in reality the opposite is true. It is our duty as citizens to be diligent in the safeguarding of our rights. Politicians only have the power which we give them. To blindly follow any parties or pollitical agenda is ignorance of the highest degree. Businesses only purpose is to make money. The human, environmental or any other factor is contrary to their purpose. If a loophole exist is it there duty to exploit it. It is our duty to amke sure to close it. To allow this type of corruption to exist for so long says a lot about the intelligence and gullibility of our nation as a whole.

 
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