Why Is $21 TRILLION in the Cayman Islands When It Should Be in USA Stimulating the Economy?

The latest reports show that all the real money in the world issued by governments totals around $85 Trillion. AND the latest reports show that 1/4 of all the money in the world is in the hands of “Companies” (Straw-men) controlled by people in the United States. And the last statistic I find important, is that the shadow banking system has now grown to approximately $1.25 QUADRILLION dollars.

How did that money get to the Cayman Islands when it wasn’t there before the mortgage madness meltdown? If you don’t believe in magic or coincidence one can only conclude that the Cayman money, most of which came from the our country, derives (i.e., is a derivative of) the false cash equivalents that was created by Wall Street. How did it get there.

Based upon my research, the money came from (a) skimming the investor money (around $17 trillion) before it ever reached the mortgage markets and (b) betting on losses under circumstances where  the Banks were in total control of the losses and the declaration of who could claim those losses.

And there are other more exotic ways in which at least $3 trillion was siphoned out of the U.S. economy. Altogether it looks like bankers are controlling more than $10 trillion that was “withdrawn” from the U.S> economy and are still on their way to doubling that figure as they foreclose on residential and commercial property in which the real loss w as suffered by real people whose future pension and retirement benefits are going to be cut because of a shortage of money.

So while we are arguing about national deficit and joblessness and hopelessness, the bankers have been vacuuming up all the money we have and maintaining their overpowering oligarchy see this article which mirrors my own writing for several years and that of Simon Johnson and others from the International Monetary Fund and other prestigious economists:

Why Does No One Speak of America’s Oligarchs?
http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/03/why-does-no-one-speak-of-americas-oligarchs.html

With all indicators pointing to the fact that bankers control our deficit, our debt and our spending, it is an inconvenient truth that the U.S. is going through a period in which government is by the banks, for the banks. Jefferson warned us of this and Hamilton successfully countered Jefferson with some very reasonable arguments.

The truth is, if you look back into American history and politics, there were two things that the framers of the constitutions missed completely. Banking is a necessary ingredient in every economy and thus is the support for any society. Investment banking increases liquidity by coming up with increasingly exotic ways to lower the cost of risk and thus lower the cost of credit.

BUT, what both Jefferson and Hamilton missed was the possibility that the quest for profit would turn out to be like one of those sci-fi movies in which our own creations — robots — take over the world and kill all the humans.

The answer is a middle ground — to treat banks for what they are, just like water, power and other utility companies that are essential for human existence. By putting them under restrictions that are reviewed for their effect on society, and indeed the world, the likelihood of another crash would be substantially reduced.

As it stands now, the likelihood of another crash and recession is at least as high as it was in 2007. Everyone is buying gold but nobody is talking about it. The fact is that with the next crash the use of American currency as the world’s currency will diminish to near zero. And THAT means we will need to find something that pays back all that currency we have issued in a form acceptable to other nations.

The reason things are out of hand is the housing crisis and the failure of regulators and law enforcement officials to tackle the big problems the way the Senate is attempting to do in the break-up of the big banks. They see the risk. Whether they can act in time to prevent another drop into the abyss remains to be seen.

The entire TBTF doctrine is a cover-up for “let us keep the money we stole.” Take back the Cayman money and we have a thriving economy where workers are trained, deficits go down and the national debt tumbles. But that would mean allowing homeowners to reap rewards from Wall Street’s game — restoring their equity in homes that had been pumped in appraised value far beyond anything real. For reasons that defy imagination it seems to the the policy of this country that it would be better to stay in recession, better to allow the bankers to escape jail. better to leave with their trillions in the Cayman Islands, than to allow relief to the most essential segment of any economy — the middle class which is shrinking as I write this.

Who do you think will buy your upscale goods and food and services if 46 million Americans are living below the poverty line as it is MOST conservatively measured. Where will the revitalization of the American economy come from when the true number of Americans ling right at the poverty line or below is more than 80 million.

The facts are actually quite simple, but Wall  Street, in its quest for continued control attempts to make them complex. If the debt owed to investors  whose money was loaned on residential and commercial deals has been paid down or extinguished, then the borrower should have a corresponding reduction in his payable. That’s all we need to stop foreclose and restore the American dream. Shout out to the Senators in the U.S. congress to get on the stick and restore money to the U.S> Treasury and restore money to those who were victims of the mortgage scam, and while you are at it, make sure you find out state senator and state representative and tell them the same thing. “Give up your alliance with the banks or suffer the consequences.”

First and foremost where is the media, which has gone dark on stories about bank criminal activity? Where is the outrage?

 

 

 

Bribery or Business as Usual?

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Editor’s Comment and Analysis:

There is only one way this isn’t an outright bribe that should land the senator in jail — and that is proving that he received nothing of value. Stories abound in the media about haircut rates given to members of government particularly by Countrywide, now owned by Bank of America. Now we see it on the way down where others go through hoops and ladders to get a modification of short-sale but members of Congress get special treatment.

The only way this could be considered nothing of value is if the banks that gave this favor knew that they didn’t lend the money, didn’t purchase the loan and didn’t have a dime in the deal. They can prove it but they won’t because the fallout would be that there are no loans in print and that there are no perfected mortgage loans. The consequence is that there can be no foreclosures. And it would mean that the values carried on the books of these banks are eihter overstated or entirely fictiouos. The general consensus is that capital requirments for the banks should be higher. But what if the capital they are reporting doesn’t exist?

We are seeing practically everyday how Congress is bought off by the Banks and yet we do nothing. How can you expect to be taken seriously by the executive branch and the judicial branch of goveornment charged with enforcing the laws? If you are doing nothing and complaining, it’s time to get off the couch and do something with the Occupy Movement or your own private war with the banks. If you are not complaining, you should be — because this tsunami is about to hit the front door of your house too whether you are making the payments or not.

The power of the new aristocracy in American and European politics is felt around the globe. People are suffering in the U.S., Ireland, France, Spain, Italy, Greece and other places because the smaller banks in all those countries got taken to the cleaners by huge conglomerate Wall Street Banks. Ireland is reporting foreclosures and defaults at record rates. It was fraud with an effect far greater than any other act of domestic or international terrorism. And it isn’t just about money either. Suicides, domestic violence ending in death and mental illness are pandemic. And nobody cares about the little guy because the little guy is just fuel for the endless appetite of Wall Street. 

If Obama rreally wants to galvanize the electorate, he must be proactive on the fierce urgency of NOW! Those were his words when he was a candidate and he owes us action because that urgency was felt in 2008 and is a vice around everyone’s neck now.

JPMorgan Chase & the Senator’s Short Sale:

It’s Hypocritical –But Is It Corrupt?

By Richard (RJ) Eskow

There’s a lot we have yet to learn about the story of Sen. Mike Lee, Tea Party Republican of Utah, and America’s largest bank. But we already know something’s very, very wrong:

Why is it that most Americans can’t get a principal reduction from Chase or any other bank, but JPMorgan Chase was so very flexible with a sitting member of the United States Senate?

The hypocrisy from Sen. Lee and JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon overfloweth. But does the Case of the Senator’s Short Sale rise to the level of full-blown corruption? We won’t know until we get some answers.

People should be demanding those answers now.

When Jamie Met Mike

It’s not a pretty picture: In one corner is the Senator who wants to strike down Federal child labor laws and offer American residency to any non-citizen who buys a home with cash. In the other is the bank whose CEO said that the best way to relieve the crushing burden of debt on homeowners is by seizing their homes.

“Giving debt relief to people that really need it,” said Dimon, “that’s what foreclosure is.” That comment is Dickensian in its insensitivity – and Dimon’s bank offered real relief to the Senator from Utah.

The story of the short sale on Sen. Mike Lee’s home broke broke shortly not long after the world learned that JPM lost billions of dollars through trading that might have been illegal, and about which it certainly misled investors.

A Senator who doesn’t believe in child labor laws, and a crime-plagued bank that was just plunged into a trading scandal after losing billions in the London markets.

Why, they were practically made for one another.

Here in the Real World

This was also the week we learned from Zillow, one of the nation’s leading real estate data companies, that there are far more underwater homeowners than previously thought. Zillow collated all the information on home loans, including second mortgages, in order to develop this larger and more accurate number.

The new estimated amount of negative equity – money owed to the banks for non-existent home value – is $1.2 trillion.

Zillow found that nearly 16 million homeowners, representing roughly a third of all homes with a mortgage, were “underwater” (meaning they owe more than the home is now worth). That’s about 50 percent more than had been previously believed. Many of these homeowners are desperate for principal reduction, which would allow them to get back on their feet.

Banks can reduce the amount owed to reflect the current value of the house, which would lower monthly payments for many struggling homeowners. Another option is the “short sale,” in which the bank lets them sell the house for its current value and walk away. That would allow many of them to relocate in search of work.

But the banks, along with their allies in Washington DC, have been fighting principal reduction and resisting any attempts to increase the number of short sales. They remain out of reach for most struggling homeowners.

Mike’s Deal

But Mike Lee didn’t have that problem. Lee was elected to the Senate after buying his luxury home in Alpine, Utah at the height of the real estate boom. JPMorgan Chase agreed to a short sale, and it sold for nearly $400,000 less than the price Lee paid for it four years ago.

Sen. Lee says that he made a down payment on the home, although he hasn’t said how much was involved. But if he paid 15 percent down and put it $150,000, for example, then the Senator from Utah was just allowed to walk away from a quarter of a million dollars in debt obligations to JPMorgan Chase.

Let’s see: A troubled bank gives a sitting member of the United States Senate an advantageous deal worth hundreds of thousands of dollars? You’d think a story like that would get a little more attention than it has so far.

The Right’s Outrageous Hypocrisy

We haven’t seen this much hypocrisy in the real estate world since the Mortgage Bankers Association walked away from loans on its own headquarters even as its CEO, John Courson, was lecturing Americans their “legal obligation” and the terrible “message they would send” by walking away from their mortgages.

Then he did a short sale on the MBA’s headquarters. It sold for a reported $41 million, just three years after the MBA – those captains of real estate – paid $74 million for it.

The MBA calls itself “the voice of the mortgage banking industry.”

The hypocrisy may be even greater in this case. Sen. Mike Lee is a member in good standing of the Tea Party, a movement which began on the floor of Chicago Mercantile Exchange as a protest against the idea that the government might help underwater homeowners, even though many of the angry traders had enriched themselves thanks to government bailouts.

When their ringleader mentioned households struggling with negative equity, these first members of the Tea Party broke into a chant: “Losers! Losers! Losers!”

Mike Lee’s Outrageous Hypocrisy

Which gets us to Mike Lee. Lee accepted a handout of JPMorgan Chase after voting to end unemployment for jobless Americans. Lee also argued against Federal child labor laws, although he did acknowledge that child labor is “reprehensible.”

How big a hypocrite is Mike Lee? His website (which, curiously enough, went down as we wrote these words) says he believes “the federal government’s out-of-control spending has evolved into a major threat to our economic prosperity and job creation” and that he came to Washington to, among other things, “properly manage our finances”. Lee’s website also scolds Congress because, he says, it “cannot live within its means.”

As Ed McMahon used to say, “Write your own joke.”

Needless to say, Lee also advocates drastic cuts to Social Security and Medicare while pushing lower taxes for the wealthy – and plumping for exactly the same kind of deregulation which let bankers to run amok and wreck the economy in 2008 by doing things like … well, like what JPMorgan Chase just did in London.

“Give Me Your Wired, Your Wealthy, Your Upper Classes Yearning to Buy Cheap”

Lee has also co-sponsored a bill with Chuck Schumer, the Democratic Senator from Wall Street New York, that would grant US residency to foreigners who purchase a home worth at least $500,000 – as long as they paid cash.

The Lee/Schumer bill would be a big boon to US banks – banks, in fact, like JPMorgan Chase. If it passes, the Statue of Liberty may need to be reshaped so that Lady Liberty is holding a book of real estate listings in her right hand while wearing a hat that reads “Million Dollar Sellers’ Club.”

Mike Lee’s bill would also have propped up the luxury home market, offering a big financial boost to people who are struggling to hold to the equity they’ve put into high-end homes, people like … well, like Mike Lee.

Jamie Dimon’s Outrageous Hypocrisy

Then there’s Jamie Dimon, who spoke for his fellow bankers during negotiations that led up to the very cushy $25 billion settlement that let banks like his off the hook for widespread lawbreaking in their foreclosure fraud crime wave.

“Yeah,” Dimon said of principal reductions for homeowners like Sen. Lee, “that’s off the table.”

Dimon’s been resisting global solutions to the negative equity problems for years. He said in 2010 that he preferred to make decisions about homeowners on a “loan by loan” basis.

The Rich Are Different – They Have More Mortgage Relief

“The rich are different,” wrote F. Scott Fitzgerald, and (in a quote often misattributed to Ernest Hemingway) literary critic Mary Colum observed that ” the only difference between the rich and other people is that the rich have more money.”

And they apparently find it a lot easier to walk away from their underwater homes.There’s been a dramatic increase in short sales lately, and the evidence suggests that most of the deals have been going to luxury homeowners. Among other things, this trend toward high-end short sales the lie to the popular idea that bankers and their allies don’t want to “reward the underserving,” since hedge fund traders who overestimated next year’s bonus are clearly less deserving than working families who purchased a modest home for themselves.

Nevertheless, that’s where most of the debt relief seems to be going: to the wealthy, and not to the middle class.

Guess that’s what happens when loan officers working for Dimon and other Wall Street CEOs handle these matters on a “loan by loan” basis.

Immoral Logic

While this “loan by loan” approach lacks morality, there’s some financial logic to it. Banks typically have a lot more money at risk in an underwater luxury home than they do in more modest houses. A short sale provides them with a way to clear things up, recoup what they can, and get their books in a little more order than before. That’s why JPMorgan Chase has been offering selected borrowers up to $35,000 to accept short sales. You can bet they’re not offering that deal to middle class families.

There are other reasons to offer short sales to the wealthy: JPM, like all big banks, is pursuing very-high-end banking clients more aggressively than ever. That’s where the profits are. So why alienate a high-value client when they may offer you the opportunity to recoup losses elsewhere?

(“Sorry to interrupt, Mr. Dimon, but it’s London calling.”)

Corruption Or Not: The Questions

Both the bank and the Senator need to answer some questions about this deal. Here’s what the public deserves to know:

Could the writedown on the home’s value be considered an in-kind gift to a sitting Senator?

If so, then we have a very real scandal on our hands. But we don’t know enough to answer that question yet.

What are JPMorgan Chase’s procedures for deciding who receives mortgage relief and who doesn’t?

Dimon may prefer to handle these matters on a “loan by loan” basis, but there must be guidelines that bank officers can follow. And presumably they’ve been written down somewhere. Were they followed in Mike Lee’s case?

Who was involved in the decision to offer this deal to Mike Lee?

Offering mortgage relief to a sitting Senator is, to borrow a phrase, “a big elfin’ deal.” A mid-level bank officer isn’t likely to handle a case like this without taking it up the chain of command. So who made the final decision on Mike Lee’s mortgage?

It wouldn’t be unheard of if a a sensitive matter like this one was escalated to all the way to the company’s most senior executive – especially if that executive has eliminated any checks on his power, much less any independent input from shareholders, by serving as both the Chair(man) of the Board and the CEO.

In this, as in so many of JPM’s scandals, the question must be asked: What did Jamie know, and when did he know it?

Is Mike Lee a “Friend of Jamie”?

Which raises a related question: Is there is a formal or informal list of people for whom JPM employees are directed to give preferential treatment?

Everybody remembers the scandal that surrounded Sen. Chris Dodd when it was learned that his mortgage was given favorable treatment by Countrywide – even though the Senator apparently knew nothing about it at the time. The world soon learned then that Countrywide had a VIP program called “Friends of Angelo,” named for CEO Angelo Mozilo, and those who were on the list got special treatment.

Is there a “Friends of Jamie” list at JPMorgan Chase – and is Mike Lee’s name on it?

Were there any discussions between the bank’s executives and the Senator regarding the foreign home buyer’s bill or any other legislation that affected Wall Street?

Until this question is answered the issue of a possible quid pro quo will hang over both the Senator and JPMorgan Chase.

Seriously, guys – this doesn’t look good.

Was MERS used to evade state taxes and recording requirements on Sen. Lee’s home? 

JPMorgan Chase funded, and was an active participant, in the “MERS” program which was used, among other things, to bypass local taxes and legal requirements for recording titles.

As we wrote when we reviewed hundreds of internal MERS documents, MERS was instrumental in allowing banks to bundle and sell mortgage-backed securities in a way that led directly to the financial crisis of 2008. It also helped bankers artificially inflate real estate prices, encourage homeowners to take out loans at bubble prices, and then leave them holding the note (as underwater homeowners) after the collapse of national real estate values that they had artificially pumped up.

“Today’s Wall Street Corruption Fun Fact”: MERS was operated by the Mortgage Bankers Association – the same group of real estate geniuses who lost $30 million on a single building in three years, then gave a little lecture on morality to the homeowners they’d been so instrumental in shafting.

Q&A

I was also asked some very reasonable questions by a policy advocacy group. Here they are, with my answers:

If this happened to the average American, would they be able to walk away from the mortgage as well?

If by “average American” you mean “most homeowners,” then the answer is: No. Although short sales are on the rise, most underwater homeowners have not been given the option of going through a short sale. Mike Lee was. The question is, why?

Will Mike Lee’s credit rating be adversely affected?

This is a very important question. The credit rating industry serves banks, not consumers, and it operates at their beck and call.

The answer to this question depends on how JPM handled the paperwork. Many (and probably most) homeowners involved in a short sale take a hit to their credit rating. If Lee did not, it smacks of special treatment.

Given the fact that it was JPMorgan who financed the loss, does that mean, indirectly through the bailout, that the taxpayers paid for Lee’s mortgage write-off?

That gets tricky – but in a moral sense, you could certainly say that.

Short Selling Democracy

There’s no question that this deal is hypocritical and ugly, and that it reflects much of what’s still broken about both our politics and Wall Street. Is it a scandal? Without these answers we can’t know. This was either a case of the special treatment that is so often reserved for the wealthy, or it’s something even worse: influence peddling and political corruption.

it’s time for JPMorgan Chase and Sen. Mike Lee to come clean about this deal. If they did nothing wrong, they have nothing to hide. Either way the public’s entitled to some answers.


Robert Creamer: Big Banks Plan Sneak Attack on Wall Street Reform Law Within Days

COMBO Title and Securitization Search, Report, Documents, Analysis & Commentary SEE LIVINGLIES LITIGATION SUPPORT AT LUMINAQ.COM

BANKS LAUNCH NATIONWIDE PRESS FOR CONTROL

Editor’s Analysis: Once upon a time, the Banks were content to make an ordinary profit doing ordinary banking things. Now they see us as prey rather than customers to be protected under their risk-averse general policy. Their current policy to to take your money and make it their money. Their current policy is to take your home and make it their home. Their current policy is to take your pension and make it their capital.

The article below picks up on one oef the many ways they are attempting to accomplish their aims without regard to their customers, and frankly without regard to their own shareholders. Management seeks only one thing — more money for themselves and the power and prestige that comes along with it.

Along the way, with government complicity, they have created huge computer networks that are essentially utilities for the banks to transfer funds. Despite numerous efforts by the Department of Justice, they managed to control the rules by making themselves appear quasi-governmental. Small banks and credit unions are scared of Visa, MasterCard etc. They have rules. None of the bank members know what the rules are because they are never actually delivered to any of the banks.

So the name of the game is make the rules, use the infrastructure to control competition, and make it impossible for any competing bank to take market share away from the megabanks because the megabanks get “special treatment.” The megabanks that once started with such innocuous names as Southeast Switch, Inc. in Maitland, Florda, (later called “HONOR”) realized that they could keep the community bankers and credit unions in check while at the same time forcing the smaller banking institutions to PAY FOR the same infrastructure that limits their profitability and their ability to compete with the megabanks.

It’s really the perfect scam. 7000 smaller institutions not only pay the costs of the network system but create a profit for those who prey on unsophisticated customers and smaller banks and credit unions. The supreme irony of this is that a transaction whose actually cost is less than a 1/4 of a cent including communications expense, is now being charged to customers at the rate of $3-$6 and now will be raised to over $10 because of the front end fees and back end fees the mega banks want to charge.

Customers are misled into believing that only by going to BOA can they have the convenience of a bank that is everywhere, when in fact, the network operations that controls ALL transactions is accessible to even the smallest bank. ATM access is possible for the customers of even the smallest bank, without paying any fee in most instances, even if they go to a BOA, Chase or Citi ATM. It is all a lie. Elizabeth Warren wants the public to have access to this information and the banks want Warren’s mouth to be paralyzed. They are not having much luck there so they are resorting to their usual way of doing things — sneaky legislative attacks and sneaky control over state and federal agencies that are there to protect the consumer but instead do as they are instructed by the unknown names and faces at megabanks.

Robert Creamer

Political organizer, strategist and author

Posted: March 24, 2011 08:39 AM
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Big Banks Plan Sneak Attack on Wall Street Reform Law Within Days

Read More: Bank Lobbyists , Debit Card Interchange Fees , Debit Card Swipe Fees , Dick Durbin , Duopoly , Mastercard , Middle Class , Non Competitive Prices , Visa , Wall Street Banks , Wall Street Bonuses , Wall Street Reform Law , War On The Middle Class , Business News

The big Wall Street banks are planning a sneak attack on an essential element of the Wall Street reform law that was passed by Congress last year. They plan to make their move as early as next week.

The target of their attack is the provision limiting the “interchange” fee that the big banks charge retailers and their consumers every time a debit card is used. Right now, so-called “swipe fees” are set by Visa and MasterCard — who control 80% of all credit card transactions. In other words, they are not subject to competitive market pressure of any sort. They are fixed by the Visa-MasterCard duopoly.

According to the Federal Reserve, $16.2 billion of debit interchange fees were paid in 2009.

It is estimated that the financial reform law will save consumers $10 billion of that total. How could that be? Because it should come as no surprise to anyone who has even a passing acquaintance with Economics 101, that fees set by a duopoly have no relationship whatsoever to the costs of the transaction.

They are in fact just one more mechanism that Wall Street has used to siphon an increasing percentage of our Gross Domestic Product out of the pockets of the middle class and into the increasingly-bloated financial sector.

The central problem of our economy — and society — is that virtually every dime of the considerable economic growth of the last twenty years has gone to the top two percent of the population. Wall Street salaries and bonuses have exploded, while middle class incomes have stagnated.

From 1948 to 1980, profits generated by the financial sector represented from 5% to 15% of all U.S. business profits. Then they began to creep up — and finally explode — to an unbelievable 40% right before the Great Recession. They dropped briefly, and by the end of 2009, they were back to 36% .

Let’s remember that the financial sector does not make anything. Its goal is to take a little piece of every transaction as money flows through its hands — what novelist Tom Wolff calls the “golden crumbs.”

In the last twenty years, the exploding financial sector has sucked the lifeblood out of the American middle class. It has vacuumed money out of the pockets of people who actually work for living producing goods and services. It has siphoned off virtually every dime of economic growth so that real middle class incomes have actually fallen at the same time the economy has grown. That wasn’t just disastrous for the middle class — it was catastrophic for our entire economy. It meant that there weren’t enough consumer dollars available to buy new goods and services — a problem that was temporarily solved by the credit bubble until it ultimately collapsed and cost eight million Americans their jobs.

To put it simply, the financial sector — and especially the big Wall Street banks — are a huge cancer growing on our economy.

To have an economy that will allow long-term, widely shared, growth — we have to shrink the financial sector and put money back into the hands of companies that produce actual goods and services, and consumers who buy them.

The Wall Street reform law made a big step in the direction of reining in the big Wall Street banks. And a key element of that law was the provision that prevents the duopoly power of those big banks — exercised through Visa and MasterCard — from fixing the price of the fees merchants pay every time you use your debit card.

The new law requires that these fees must be reasonable and proportionate to the cost of running a debit transaction over that network’s wires. But it turns out their actual cost of providing this service is very low. If prices for “swipe fees” were set by the competitive market, they would dramatically fall because of competitive pressure. But since the prices are set through a duopoly they allow gigantic profits for the banks.

Right now Visa and MasterCard — at their sole discretion — set different fee rates for different types of debit transactions. For example, they charge higher fee rates for small businesses than for large ones. Most debit interchange fee rates are set as a percentage of the transaction amount plus a flat fee (e.g., 0.95% + $0.20). The Fed found that the average interchange fee for all debit transactions in 2009 was 44 cents per transaction, or 1.14% of the transaction amount.

The Fed put out a draft rulemaking in December 2010 that suggested options for reform. Both of the options suggested limiting interchange fee rates for the biggest 1% of banks to 12 cents per transaction (down from the average 44 cents per transaction today). This comes close to the 0.2% debit interchange rate that Visa and MasterCard recently agreed to use in the European Union. A reduction of this amount would save U.S. consumers around $10 billion per year.

Now, this proposed rate is obviously not below their costs, since that’s what they agreed to charge in Europe.

But the big banks are desperate to hang onto the gusher of profit that comes out of American pockets.

They have used their enormous lobbying muscle to convince some otherwise decent Senators, that this is really nothing more than a battle between the banks and retail merchants. Baloney. Non-competitive “swipe fees” are just one more way they reach into the pool of money generated by the real economy and set it aside so it can end up as part of some Wall Street banker’s multi-million dollar bonus check. And you can be certain that most retailers don’t eat the costs of “swipe fees.” They pass the vast majority of these costs on to consumers in the form of higher prices.

Nonetheless, next week the big banks hope to get the Senate to pass an amendment “delaying” implementation of this law. This delay would save the banks — and cost consumers — about $10 billion a year, simple as that. The provision’s original sponsor, Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), promises to lay down on the tracks to prevent them from being successful. But there is still a grave danger that the bankers will succeed.

That’s because the big banks hope to conduct this attack without a great deal of public notice. They have conducted a vigorous PR campaign inside the beltway, but out in the rest of the country, no one has heard word one about this issue.

And this is just the beginning. If they are successful with “swipe fees,” they will be emboldened to try to gut other sections of this critical law.

The big banks do well under cover of darkness. When they are exposed to the bright light of public attention — as they were during the battle over financial reform — consumers had the high political ground. The Wall Street reform bill got tougher as it moved through the legislative process because Members of Congress were afraid to side with Wall Street against ordinary Americans.

Now, the big banks hope to conduct their attack on the Financial Reform Law while the voters are focused on a new war in Libya, a nuclear disaster in Japan, the battle over collective bargaining and March Madness.

Big bank lobbyists are like cockroaches.When you turn on the light they scatter, but they take over if they’re allowed to operate in the dark.

When you’ve finished reading this article, pick up the phone, call your Senator and turn on the light. Tell them to keep Wall Street from gutting this key provision of the Wall Street Reform Law.

Robert Creamer is a long-time political organizer and strategist, and author of the book: Stand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win, available on Amazon.com.

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