Volatility

January 12, 2010

Ha Ha Ha (bonus time)

 

It’s bonus time on Wall Street! Rejoice, indebted, jobless people of America! The bankers are laughing! Even if all the lies of our government fall down on us like cold rain, at least the reflected glory of our banks can trickle down upon us like sunshine!
 
Is it strange that the banksters are laughing and giving themselves bonuses even as real America sinks further into the Second Great Depression? The latest jobs report was bad enough to put to shame the green shoots hype preceding it, and preemptively silence the spin expected to follow upon it. Unemployment has risen to 17.3% according to the most accurate tally, while even the costume ball U3 number defied expectations and remains above 10%. We’ve now lost 7.2 million jobs since the recession officially began in 12/07, to bring a violent end to a whole lost decade which saw no job creation at all, even as the population steadily increased.
 
Meanwhile the quality of jobs everywhere has continued its plunge into the abyss. In terms of wages, hours, benefits,  job security, worker safety, meaningfulness, self-reliance, self-respect, freedom, and all other indicators, quantifiable and not (and the more important ones often unquantifiable by our standards), the real number must be far worse than even the horrific U6.
 
Jobwise this is already the worst recession since the end of World War II. So there’s the level of destruction to which we must look for at least a figurative comparison. (Although, if we look at the dismantled, shuttered, and disappeared manufacturing economy of America, it’s difficult to see how bombs could have wrought a more complete devastation.) And we’re just getting started.
 
But to the banksters this is all grist for joking. 
 
We could, perhaps, have thought to use our social wealth to rebuild our economy, a real economy. (I think I hear laughter..) There were still trillions left even after the phony wealth of the bubble started vaporizing. But instead a rogue government, now completely beyond the control or comprehension of the people, embarked upon a policy of looting the people to restore some of the vaporized wealth of the bank rackets. This is now the core policy of the Federal government, which must from here on be called Bailout America, in the same way you’d call an equally disreputable regime something like “Vichy France”.
 
The big banks have already stolen over $14 trillion in just over a year, while according to TARP inspector Neil Barofsky the total could run to $23.7 trillion. And that was before the government just raised the ceiling for Fannie and Freddie MBS purchases to infinity. The banksters certainly have a lot to laugh about.
 
The big joke is now permanent. The Bailout is permanent. The laughing banks are insolvent. They’ll never be solvent again. They’re loading up their balance sheets with new gambles to ensure their insolvency forever in the absence of the Bailout. They’ve received guarantees from the government, and have guaranteed every counterparty, that their position is impregnable. They will loot and loot and loot the people into slavery if that’s what it takes.
 
And what’s their grand goal in all this? What’s the great ideological project which moves this power, to compare with Nazism or Stalinism, that they don’t flinch from even such monumental crimes? $23.7 trillion?
 
Unfortunately, it’s nothing even so pseudo-majestic. It’s simple, personal, gutter greed. That’s where the bonuses come in. Every step of the way these criminals, who are just common crooks raised to high levels of power, are looting for themselves while the looting’s good. Over the next few weeks their announcements will trickle down to us, as we huddle in the cold and the fear of the cold, how generous they’ve been to themselves with the money they stole from us. And their laughter will resound in our ears.
 
Before we hear about those bonuses, let’s consider again who these perps are and what they’ve done. Let’s hear what all the laughter is about. Some of their little jokes.
 
* They’ve already stolen $14 trillion, headed toward unlimited ceilings, the upper limits being nothing but the literal blood they can squeeze from us.
 
* That’s in addition to decades of looting and vandalism. With the financialization of the whole economy, indeed of all of society, they have stolen untold amounts in money, opportunity costs, recruited a whole generation of the potentially best and most constructive minds into the gangs, thereby perpetrating a massacre among the educated comparable to that of the Khmer Rouge; for this purpose they completely corrupted and pimped out the media and educational systems. With their housing bubble they drove up the price of decent housing, a human right and necessity. With their commodity speculation they drove up the price of food, a human right and necessity, condemning millions worldwide to starvation.
 
* They were pure parasites, even before our government bought them on our behalf. We the people are now the owners, once and for all, of these big banks. But of course the government leaves the management in complete control and with complete license to keep looting our revenues.
 
* They caused the crash. They’ve brought immense suffering. As terrorists they’ve brought fear across the land. Unemployment heading up and over 20%. Services and infrastructure collapsing. Democracy ravaged. A Depression throwing families onto the cold winter streets. They’ve done it all.
 
* And now they continue to steal. Billions a day are handed over by their little flunkies, Obama, Bush, Geithner, Paulson, Frank, Pelosi, Dodd, Reid, Bernanke.
 
* And every step of the way they are LAUGHING. They are LAUGHING RIGHT IN OUR FACES.
 
* I guess they should laugh. Look what fun they have with the money they steal:
 

“We’ve already seen stronger sales,” said Wayne Duris, general manager of New Country Porsche of Greenwich, Conn., a Manhattan suburb packed with money managers and investment bankers.

Duris said November sales at his showroom doubled compared with last year and that December is already off to a strong start, thanks to interest from Wall Street traders. His company recently sold two new Porsches — with price tags of more than $100,000 — to Wall Street professionals.

“People are feeling like they can spend again as the economy gets a little bit better,” Duris said.

There are other signs that bankers are loosening their wallets as bonus season approaches.

A recent auction of modern art at Sotheby’s beat estimates by bringing in $182 million. Retail sales at luxury retailers such as Saks and Burberry also rose for the first time in more than a year. And five-star restaurants in Manhattan are once again packed.

One Wall Streeter recently spent about $38,000 to rent out the lower Manhattan restaurant Tribeca Grillfor 100 guests, according to a manager there. Nobu, another expensive eatery in Tribeca, has seen bookings for parties by Wall Street firms soar in recent months compared with the same period last year, the restaurant said.

Another reliable indicator that Wall Street is expecting a big bonus season: high-end real estate sales are on the rise. Kathy Cole, a property broker with Coldwell Banker Timberline Real Estate in Vail, Colo., said she has already fielded calls from several people in the financial industry wanting to see listings for ski homes with price tags north of $3 million.

In Manhattan, where the number of home sales soared 45.6 percent in the third quarter compared to the second quarter, real estate brokers report an uptick in luxury sales.

“Everyone’s waiting for bonus time,” said Stephen Kliegerman, executive director of development marketing for brokerage Halstead Property.

Kliegerman said a top broker at his firm closed on about $85 million in real estate contracts in November thanks to stronger spending from financial sector employees. That’s about double the November 2008 tally.

 
That’s just one glimpse from the odious menagerie turned up by a search on “banker bonus luxury”.
 
Meanwhile their little waterboy Obama vegetates there with his vapid solemnity and pompous voice and intones that this Ferrari and prostitute binging is going to trickle down to us. Many of his liberal hacks have converted to Reaganism as well. This is going to trickle down to us. So they too are laughing at us. Most of those who ever claimed to care about the people are actually fascist opportunists after all. They’re laughing traitors, for as long as we the people allow them to laugh.
 
This deranged glee is the appropriate soundtrack to the tottering pinnacle of the Debt Age. The Babel is a gale of laughter. The bankers are laughing as they count out the bonuses. A job well done. A man works hard for a meager wage, you club him on the head, steal what little he has, and then you laugh. You award yourself a bonus for your hard work, then you kick him in the face while he’s down, and then you laugh again. That’s the bankster way.
 
They’re going to keep stealing, and stand there and laugh in our faces. Until we smash in their faces once and for all.     
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