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The Good, The Bad & The Ugly – Week of 6/17/13

SEC Whistle

Occupy the SEC is a group of concerned citizens, activists, and financial professionals with decades of collective experience working at many of the largest financial firms in the industry. This is our roundup of juicy press about Wall Street and financial regulation, for this week.

Good

NY state superintendent of financial services Benjamin Lawsky (basically New York’s top cop over the banking sector) notched another win, landing a $250 million fine against Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi-UFJ for its role in secretly handling banking for Iran and other sanctioned countries. As Jonathan Weil at Bloomberg pointed out yesterday, this is in stark contrast to the Treasury Department’s flimsy fine of $8.5 million. Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism takes a closer look today at Lawsky’s performance and is also impressed.

Elizabeth Warren takes a stand outside of her normal comfort zone and uses her platform to issue a strong critique of Michael Froman, Obama’s nominee for US Trade Representative, as well as the secrecy surrounding the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Although it’s important to remain skeptical of Ms. Warren, a principled public criticism with no upside should be given some credit, Yves Smith notes at Naked Capitalism June 20, 2013

Bad

The Senate votes 93-4 to approve Froman, a Rubinite and by extension a supporter of the Trans Pacific Partnership. Roll Call of the U.S. Senate June 19, 2013.

Lynn Parramore takes down the now “official” defender of the uber rich, Harvard economist Greg Mankiw after he writes a bluntly titled paper, “Defending the One Percent”. Mankiw, an extremely influential economist, isn’t even hiding his Randian views from the public. The people in the bubble truly think they are untouchable. Lynn Parramore at Alternet June 17, 2013.

Ugly

The role of the credit ratings agencies in the crisis is well known, as is the outrageous lack of real penalties, but the fact that they knew exactly what they were doing by giving processed subprime junk a AAA rating make the injustice even more outrageous. Emails between rating analysts and their clients reveal how ratings were the result of negotiations rather than analysis, and that the agencies were well aware of the problems in the mortgage market even as they continued to grant AAA ratings. Matt Taibbi at Rolling Stone June 19, 2013.

Bloomberg reports that “some of the world’s biggest banks manipulated benchmark foreign exchange rates rates used to set the value of trillions of dollars of investment.” The FX Market is 4.7 Trillion dollar a day currency market and for sheer scope it could easily dwarf the Libor scandal. Liam Vaughan, Gavin Finch & Ambereen Choudhury at Bloomberg. Distilled in layman’s terms: Matt Taibbi at Rolling Stone June 13, 2013.

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