In the past few years, the investment and banking industries have absorbed news that the world’s largest indexes—LIBOR, gold, silver and even the largest world market, foreign exchange—have all been victimized to various degrees by global banks and their traders who help set and also benefit from these same benchmarks.
While the details about these gargantuan index rigging scandals make excellent reading for anyone interested in how to pull off a successful global crime affecting millions of unsuspecting borrowers worldwide, what is more interesting is the flaccid, and weak response from the professional financial reporters who cover these markets and banks on a daily basis.
One great example comes from Bloomberg News in a December 8, 2016 interview with a reporter Michael Moore (not the movie director) and Bloomberg anchor Julie Hymen. In the report, Bloomberg reported that Deutsche Bank AG employees “may have manipulated internal indexes [affecting silver prices] as part of an allegedly fraudulent scheme to help Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA conceal losses, according to an audit commissioned by German regulators.”
The Bloomberg News report said an audit “shows banker abuse of [the silver] benchmarks may have gone beyond the rigging of industry measures such as the London interbank offered rate, or Libor, that has already triggered probes and fines for global lenders. Deutsche Bank last year paid $2.5 billion to settle claims of interest-rate manipulation — more than any other lender — amid accusations of a widespread effort to rig rates for financial gain.”
Too Accepting of Systemic Criminality
The report was made by Moore, a finance reporter for Bloomberg News, who covers Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and the largest U.S. and European investment banks, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Moore made an objective, very professional, thorough report on this complex scam, but what should catch the attention of viewers is that Moore said the silver rigging scam “certainly doesn’t look great for the industry.” Quite an understatement.
As a former financial reporter myself, I know he had to say this on live TV, but this type of thinking should not become the norm among financial journalists. It is normal for any experienced reporter to become jaded about the beat they cover. It happens in every industry, from fashions and entertainment to covering city hall and the police. But the huge and pervasive index rigging scams worldwide should ratchet up the awareness level of anyone in financial journalism that is not a blind neoconservative advocate that the world banking system has interests that are blatantly self-promoting and criminal.
The Dominant and Prejudiced Neo-Con Position
I know it is impossible for Moore to say this on TV, but other anchors, such as Stephanie Ruhle, Maria
Bartiromo, Lou Dobbs, the rabid Trump supporter and neocon economist Larry Kudlow, Stuart Varney, Neil Cavutto, Joe Kernen, Steve Liesman, and Rick Santelli and the vast majority at CNBC, FOX and CNN, have all adopted the neocon belief in the elevation of the corporation and “free markets” over everything else.
One great example was the intentional misrepresentation made by
Larry Kudlow on CNBC who said there were no victims in the LIBOR price fixing scandal. This ridiculous statement coming from an economist smacks of disseminating pure intentional misinformation. This may explain why he is a Trump economic advisor.
And another from Bloomberg TV anchorwoman Stephanie Ruhle, who said that “America is not ready for a socialist president” when referring to Democratic presidential contender Senator Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) After she made the statement, she said something to the effect “Yes, I just said that,” as if to emphasize her point, state some universal truth or to say on-air that that is what she and others in her network think about a democratic socialist candidate for president.
As a result of this prevailing pro-corporate, pro-Wall Street stance, criminal financial activities conducted by the world’s largest banks, such as bid rigging, mortgage fraud, or opening fake accounts for unsuspecting bank customers, don’t get the coverage they
deserve on these neocon networks, despite the fact that these manipulated indexes affect millions of mortgages and car loans, for instance, for unsuspecting Americans (corporate and individual), as well as millions worldwide.
The scope of these scams is also boggling to anyone who knows the size of these markets. These scams can only be pulled off by the largest players in the world in terms of capital, political clout, regulatory control, audacity and total disregard for their own customers, the public and even their own employees.
Maybe it’s time for financial journalists to work these systemic criminal activities into all of their reporting. Moore and Bloomberg deserve a lot of credit for even covering the latest silver rigging scandal. Bloomberg delivers by far the best financial journalism in the industry on a daily basis, but they should also take the lead to note in their daily reporting of bank criminal activities that these are becoming more common and are definitely working against the interests of their viewers worldwide.
They should also be more aware that their pro-Wall Street comments, such as those by Ruhle and Kudlow, are definitely noticed by their viewers who note this blatant prejudice. Ruhle should also note that Sanders easily could have been elected president if his campaign was not derailed by the Democratic National Committee. Maybe it’s Ruhle who is not ready for a pro-investor, anti-Wall Street president.
Going a step further, under the Trump administration we will see more unregulated capitalism, a dismantling of social benefit structures and more blatant conflicts of interest that should make for some great reporting. Unfortunately, the bad behavior will come at a terrible price for the country. This should change the role of financial journalists who will have a front row seat in reporting some of the biggest scams since the Gilded Age. Maybe they will finally be able to publicly say the unregulated capitalist system is broken.