JP Morgan Settlement: Punishment or Blanket Amnesty
Members of the financial elite are above the law
US newspapers on Sunday led with reports of a tentative settlement between JPMorgan Chase and the Obama Justice Department of numerous investigations into the bank’s fraudulent sale of toxic mortgage-backed securities in the lead-up to the 2008 Wall Street crash.
The reports presented the deal, under which the nation’s largest bank will pay $9 billion in fines and provide relief to consumers worth $4 billion, as a victory for the Justice Department and a major step in holding the banks responsible for the economic catastrophe they inflicted on the country and the world.
This is nonsense. JPMorgan and its CEO, Jamie Dimon, have pressed for such a blanket deal to allow the bank to pay a fine and obtain in return the equivalent of a general amnesty for illegal actions that have led to the impoverishment of countless millions of people. The systematic marketing of worthless securities enabled the bank to pocket tens of billions of dollars and further enrich top executives such as Dimon.
When the Ponzi scheme collapsed, the government used trillions of dollars in taxpayer money to bail out the banks and financial firms. Since 2009, it—along with governments all over the world—has been engaged in a savage offensive to recoup the debts taken on by the state by destroying social programs and the living standards of the working class.
The $9 billion fine, the largest penalty ever imposed on a US corporation, is less than half the $21 billion profit JPMorgan recorded in 2012. The bank is pulling in enormous profits despite having set aside $28 billion since 2010 to cover legal costs.