Under the Reading Lamp — 4/3/2012

BANKING


When Bankers Rule the World

David Korten, Op-Ed: “The tell-all defection of Greg Smith, a former Goldman Sachs executive, provided an insider’s view of the moral corruption of the Wall Street banks that control of much of America’s economy and politics. Smith confirms what insightful observers have known for years: the business purpose of Wall Street bankers is to maximize their personal financial take without regard to the consequences for others.”


Fed Policy and Inflation Risk

Martin Feldstein, Op-Ed: “During the past four years, the United States Federal Reserve has added enormous liquidity to the US commercial banking system, and thus to the American economy. Many observers worry that this liquidity will lead in the future to a rapid increase in the volume of bank credit, causing a brisk rise in the money supply – and of the subsequent rate of inflation.”

CIVIL RIGHTS


Chris Hedges | Someone You Love: Coming to a Gulag Near You

Chris Hedges, Truthdig Op-Ed: “The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), signed into law by President Barack Obama last Dec. 31, puts into the hands of people with no discernible understanding of legitimate dissent the power to use the military to deny due process to all deemed to be terrorists, or terrorist sympathizers, and hold them indefinitely in military detention.”

ECONOMY


Robert Reich | Whose Recovery?

Robert Reich, Op-Ed: According to an analysis of tax returns by Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Pikkety, the top 1 percent pocketed 93 percent of the gains in 2010. 37 percent of the gains went to the top one-tenth of one percent. No one below the richest 10 percent saw any gain at all. In fact, most of the bottom 90 percent have lost ground. Their average adjusted gross income was $29,840 in 2010.


Desolation Row: Five Pictures of the Future in a Paul Ryan/Mitt Romney America

Richard (RJ) Eskow, Op-Ed: The Romney/Ryan America of tomorrow is more like the science-fiction worlds of H.G. Wells’ Time Machine or Fritz Lang’s Metropolis than it is like the United States, as we know it. The privileged few would be even wealthier than they are today, while the rest of us struggle to survive in a dystonic world of disease, deprivation, and fear. That’s not lefty rhetoric, either. All you have to do is read the budget. What did Romney say about Ryan’s budget? “He is setting the right tone for finally getting spending and entitlements under control.”

ELECTION REFORM


Conservative Wisconsinites Call For Greater Transparency In Outside Election Spending

Scott Keyes, Video Report: With the election just two months away, outside spending groups are already scrambling to pour money into ads both for and against Walker. However, because of a quirk in Wisconsin campaign law, these groups can spend unlimited funds without disclosing where their money is coming from. ThinkProgress spoke with attendees last weekend at the Americans For Prosperity Defending the American Dream Summit in Milwaukee.

ENERGY


A New Energy Third World in North America?

Michael T. Klare, Op-Ed: Eager to escape ever-stronger environmental restrictions and dying oil fields at home, the energy giants were naturally drawn to the economically and environmentally wide-open producing areas of the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America — the Third World — where oil deposits were plentiful, governments compliant, and environmental regulations few or nonexistent.


Steve Horn | Unpacking the Shale Gas LNG Export Boom

Steve Horn, News Analysis: “While the North American shale gas boom continues full-steam ahead, so too does another boom receiving less of the spotlight: the LNG export boom. LNG, shorthand for liquefied natural gas, is gas that’s been condensed into a liquid form by chilling it to approximately −162 °C (−260 °F). That gas is placed in LNG tankers, also known as ‘trains,’ then shipped off to lucrative global markets.”

ENVIRONMENTAL


Jim Hightower | Congress Opts to Keep Poisoning Children

Jim Hightower, Op-Ed: “Yes, we certainly need to cut unnecessary and frivolous federal spending, because…well, because it’s unnecessary and frivolous. So Congress has targeted unnecessary oil subsidies and frivolous tax giveaways to billionaires, right? Uh…no. Instead, our learned solons have chosen to whack the Lead Poisoning Prevention Program.”


FDA Rejects Monumental BPA Ban

Mike Barrett, News Report: BPA has been shown to prompt hyperactivity and depression in young girls, while also being linked to breast cancer in more than 130 studies. Infertility and fertility defects are also caused by BPA exposure. The chemical is used so widely that it has been found in the urine of nearly 93 percent of Americans, with one study finding that eating canned soup can spike urinary bisphenol-A levels by 1,200 percent compared to fresh soup.


Anthony Gucciardi | BPA Makers to Gross $8 Billion Thanks to FDA Rejecting Ban

Anthony Gucciardi, News Report: “Producers of toxic BPA are now boasting $8 billion in sales for 2012 thanks to the FDA rejecting a potential ban on the cancer-linked chemical on March 30th. According to GlobalData, manufacturers will produce 4.7 million metric tons of BPA this year to be dispersed into the daily lives of millions worldwide.”


Illegal Ocean Dumping Persists Despite DOJ Crackdown

Ronnie Greene, News Report: “Under federal and international law, ships must properly dispose of oily wastewater and sludge by passing the waste through an oil-water separator on board, or burning sludge in an incinerator. The ship’s crew must record each transfer or disposal in an ‘Oil Record Book.’ When dumping occurs in international waters, U.S. authorities cannot prosecute the actual pollution because it lies outside their jurisdiction.”


Extreme Weather is the New Normal

Stephen Leahy, News Analysis: “A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), released Mar. 28, provides solid evidence that record-breaking weather events are increasing in number and becoming more extreme. And if current rates of greenhouse gas emissions are maintained, these events will reach dangerous new levels over the coming century.”


Anthony Gucciardi | Stealth GMOs Rapidly Consuming Global Food Supply

Anthony Gucciardi, News Analysis: “Obviously there is no room for GMOs in truly healthy food products, which is why it is truly vital that you understand the nature of GMOs and how they are oftentimes hidden in commercial food products. It may very well shock you to know just how prevalent GMOs are within the food supply. It’s truly amazing that modified products continue to go unlabeled despite being linked to organ damage — among a barrage of other conditions — in a prominent review of 19 studies.”

HEALTHCARE


The Best, Most Revealing Reporting on Our Healthcare System

Blair Hickman and Cora Currier, News Analysis: As we wait for the Supreme Court to issue its verdict on the health-care reform law, we rounded up some of the most revealing reporting on the issues. They’re grouped roughly into articles on high costs and those on insurance. The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, and Reuters are some publications who have given their opinion on the subject matter.


Romney Would Lower Health Costs By Asking Patients To Pay More For Their Benefits

Igor Volsky, News Analysis: “Republicans like to claim that exposing people to the true cost of health care — that is, putting more skin in the game — would discourage overtutilizaiton of care and force health care beneficiaries to act more like consumers, shop around, and select the best deal for a given service or treatment. The theory sounds good, but there is very limited evidence that it actually works. After all, insurers have been shifting individuals into high-deductible plans for some time now, but premiums and prices continue to increase. ”

IDEOLOGY


Five Preposterous but Persistent Conservative Myths

Paul Buchheit , Op-Ed: “With the mainstream media in the hands of the mostly conservative wealthy, it’s difficult for average Americans to learn the truth about critical issues. The following five conservative claims are examples of mythical beliefs that fall apart in the presence of inconvenient facts.”


Koch-Funded Reason Institute Trivializes Severity of Bullying Young People Experience

Zack Ford, News Report: Despite acknowledging the technology young people have access to, he completely ignores the significant impact that cyberbullying now has on young people. Last year, the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project found that nine out of ten have witnessed the cyberbullying of their peers. A similar Associated Press-MTV poll found that about half of young people regularly encounter discriminatory slang in their online communications, and 54 percent of them think it’s okay to use such language in their circle of friends because “I know we don’t mean it.”

INTERNET GAMBLING


Robert Reich | Turning America Into a Giant Casino

Robert Reich, Op-Ed: “Organized gambling is a scam. And it particularly preys upon people with lower incomes – who assume they can’t make it big any other way, who often find it hardest to assess the odds, and whose families can least afford to lose the money. Yet America is now opening the floodgates. Organized gambling is a scam. And it particularly preys upon people with lower incomes – who assume they can’t make it big any other way, who often find it hardest to assess the odds, and whose families can least afford to lose the money.”

SUPREME COURT


Robert Scheer | Five Hypocrites and One Bad Plan

Robert Scheer, Truthdig Op-Ed: “The Supreme Court is so full of it. The entire institution, as well as its sanctimonious judges themselves, reeks of a time-honored hypocrisy steeped in the arrogance that justice is served by unaccountable elitism. My problem is not with the Republicans who dominate the court questioning the obviously flawed individual mandate for the purchasing of private-sector health insurance but rather with their zeal to limit federal power only when it threatens to help the most vulnerable.”


Jokes from Justice Scalia Mask Grim Reality of American Health Care

Wendell Potter, News Analysis: “Since Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia clearly isn’t going to take the time to actually read the health care reform law before he decides whether or not it’s constitutional, maybe he and a couple of his buddies on the High Court can catch a screening of ‘The Hunger Games’, the movie about children battling each other to the death in a futuristic America, renamed Panem.”


Dean Baker | The Supreme Scream: Obamacare After the Court Ruling

Dean Baker, Op-Ed: “The conventional wisdom following the oral arguments before the Supreme Court last week is that, at the least, the health insurance mandate portion of the Affordable Care Act is going down. Many observers thought it likely that the Republican-controlled court would strike down the entire bill. Either way, it will be necessary to do some serious rethinking of health care policy.”


The Right’s Stealthy Coup

E.J. Dionne Jr., Op-Ed: “Last week’s Supreme Court oral arguments on health care were the most dramatic example of how radical tea partyism has displaced mainstream conservative thinking. It’s not just that the law’s individual mandate was, until very recently, a conservative idea. Even conservative legal analysts were insisting it was impossible to imagine the court declaring the health-care mandate unconstitutional, given its past decisions.”

Under the Reading Lamp — 11/28/2011


Despite GOP Claims, U.S. Health Care Nowhere Near ‘Best’ in the World
Wendell Potter, News Analysis: “Boehner is not the first nor the only Republican to try to make us believe that the U.S. has the world’s best health care system and that we’re bound to lose that distinction because of Obamacare. I’ve heard GOP candidates for president say the same thing in recent months, charging that we need to get rid of a President who clearly is trying to fix something that doesn’t need fixing, something that isn’t broken in the first place.”


Decade-Old Bush Tax Breaks Continue to Loom Over Budget
Lisa Mascaro, News Report: A decade later, those tax cuts continue to loom large, becoming central to almost every budget debate in Washington. Whether to maintain the reduced tax rates for wealthy Americans was a question that deadlocked the congressional “super committee” in its search for a plan to cut the government’s long-term deficit. The expiration of the tax cuts at the end of next year will be a major issue in 2012 campaign.


Wall Street Banks Earned Billions in Profits in Secret Fed Loans Made During the Financial Crisis
Travis Waldron, News Analysis: In the lead-up to the financial crisis that crippled the American economy and plunged the country into a recession, the Federal Reserve made trillions in undisclosed loans to struggling banks and financial institutions, according to official documents obtained by Bloomberg News. Six of the country’s largest banks then turned those loans into more than $13 billion in previously undisclosed profits.


Guantánamo: The Most Expensive Prison on Earth
Angela Williams, Op-Ed: “The United States has spent billions in taxpayer money on weapons, operations, and salary to support the ‘war on terror.’ However, we must not disregard the hundreds of millions of dollars being spent on the upkeep and operations of the Guantánamo Bay detention camp. The facility was established in 2002 by the Bush administration to hold detainees from the wars in Afghanistan and later Iraq. Guantánamo currently houses about 171 captives. It costs roughly $800,000 per year to house each captive, which includes $38.45 of food per day.”


Hunger in America, By the Numbers
Pat Garofalo and Travis Waldron, News Report: Last year, 17.2 million households in the United States were food insecure, the highest level on record, as the Great Recession continued to wreak havoc on families across the country. Of those 17.2 million households, 3.9 million included children. On Thanksgiving Day, here’s a look at hunger in America, as millions of Americans struggle to get enough to eat in the wake of the economic crisis:


After BP Oil Spill, Future Uncertain for Vietnamese Fishers
Nina Kahori Fallenbaum, News Report: When the BP oil spill started gushing into fishing waters, it hammered an industry that had been struggling for years. Until the early 2000s, the gulf provided most of the shellfish eaten in the United States. In the last decade, however, the growth of commercial fish and seafood farming in Southeast Asia (and the subsequent influx of low-cost seafood) has bitten deep into the American seafood industry.


Wisconsin GOP Faithful Stoop To New Lows In Tampering With Recalls
Segway Jeremy Ryan, Addicting Info: So what do people do when they are used to having control over everything and they see that control slipping? They cheat, that is what they are good at. Realizing that this was democracy in action and the people were about to take control, again, the GOP faithful, the few who still stand by and swear allegiance to Scott Walker, concocted a plan to try to derail the recalls. It started with complaining about how much it cost. Keep in mind this is the same party that ran fake Democrats in the previous recalls just to force an extra election.


Congressional Perks: Lawmakers’ Most Surprising Benefits
Corbin Hiar, News Report: “It’s seemingly been a pretty rough autumn on Capitol Hill. But there’s still plenty for the nation’s lawmakers to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. Being a member of Congress remains a surprisingly sweet gig. In addition to the power to shape policy and public discourse, legislators get great health care and retirement benefits, hefty salaries with annual cost of living increases and the incumbency-boosting ability to blanket constituents with mail touting their achievements.”


Don’t Blame This Mess on Obama
Ruth Marcus, Op-Ed: “The collapse of the supercommittee is not Obama’s fault. If he had pushed and prodded and cajoled and horse-traded, the result likely would have been the same. Perhaps even worse, in the sense that the partisan digging-in might have been even more entrenched. For all the eleventh-hour, ‘where-was-Obama?’ moaning, the bipartisan congressional directive to the White House as the supercommittee did its work was simple: Back off.”


Foreclosed Homeowners Re-Occupy Their Homes
Zaineb Mohammed, News Report: “On Dec. 6, there will be a national day of action, ‘Occupy Our Homes,’ where people across the country facing predicaments similar to Gage and Richardson may follow their lead. Partly inspired by the Occupy movement, the day of action is supported by various community organizations like Take Back the Land and ACCE. The call to action is for people to move back into their foreclosed properties and to defend the properties of families facing eviction.”


No Country for Young Children
Jeff Bryant, Op-Ed: Speaking at one of America’s top institutions of learning, Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Gingrich, who had earlier in the week bragged about being paid millions to be a “historian” for mortgage behemoth Freddie Mac, boldly declared that laws preventing child labor are “truly stupid.” So say what you will about “crazy Newt.”


Tar Sands Oil Producers Eye California
Ngoc Nguyen, News Report: “Last week, Canadian firms bought up thousands of miles of existing pipeline in the U.S. Midwest, intending to reverse oil flows southward to Gulf Coast refineries – a “workaround” that would get oil flowing in the right direction, but still not enough to accommodate the volume of crude being produced. A second – lesser known — alternative involves piping tar sands oil westward across Canada to Vancouver, where it would reach West Coast refineries by tanker.”


As the World Crumbles: the ECB Spins, FED Smirks, and US Banks Pillage
Nomi Prins, Op-Ed: “Elsewhere in my trolling, I came across a gem of a working paper on the IMF website, written by Ashoka Mody and Damiano Sandri, entitled ‘The Eurozone Crisis; How Banks and Sovereigns Came to be Joined at the Hip” (The paper does not ‘necessarily represent the views of the IMF or IMF policy’. ) In the IMF paper, the authors convincingly make the case that it wasn’t just the US subprime asset meltdown itself that initiated Europe’s implosion, but the fact that our Federal Reserve and Treasury Department adopted a reckless don’t-let-em-fail doctrine.”


GOP’s Phantom Job Losses
Michael Morse, News Analysis: “Republicans — eager to show that President Obama’s oil and gas drilling policies ‘cost jobs’ — have been using a number they now admit was more than three times too high. Even after they corrected their error (after we pointed it out), they started using a figure that is based on industry-sponsored studies, uses dubious assumptions and doesn’t apply to any jobs that currently exist.”


Pulling Accounts from the Unaccountable
Amy Goodman, Op-Ed: “Just after the financial crash in late 2008, activists in Oregon started looking into the creation of a state bank, modeled after the only state-owned bank in the United States, in North Dakota. The cities of Portland and Seattle are now looking into shifting their massive municipal accounts away from the Wall Street banks. According to one report, Bank of America may lose upward of $185 billion from customers closing accounts.”


With 50 Million Americans in Poverty, David Vitter Proposes Gutting Food Stamp Program
Travis Waldron, News Analysis: “A record number of Americans have fallen into poverty since the financial crisis sparked a deep recession in 2008, but that hasn’t stopped House and Senate Republicans from targeting the poor on their crusade to slash federal spending. In September, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (R) declared that “the poor are getting richer even faster” than the rich while relying on government programs, even as the number of children and senior citizens living in poverty has increased to record levels.”

OWS News Update from Sen. Bernie Sanders

The Occupy Wall Street protests are shining a national spotlight on the most powerful, dangerous and secretive economic and political force in America.

If this country is to break out of this horrendous recession and create the millions of jobs we desperately need, if we are going to create a modicum of financial stability for the future, there is no question but that the American people are going to have to take a very hard look at Wall Street and demand fundamental reforms.  I hope these protests are the beginning of that process.

Click here to read my recent op-ed at the Huffington Post.

Let us never forget that as a result of the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior on Wall Street, this country was plunged into the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.  Millions of Americans lost their jobs, homes and life savings as the middle class underwent an unprecedented collapse.  Sadly, despite all the suffering caused by Wall Street, there is no reason to believe that the major financial institutions have changed their ways, or that future financial disasters and bailouts will not happen again.

The question now becomes: how do we change the financial system so that it works for all Americans, not just the top one percent?

Here are several proposals that I am working on:

  1. If a financial institution is too big to fail, it is too big to exist.  Today, the six largest financial institutions in America have assets equivalent to 65% of the United States’ GDP – $9.4 trillion dollars.  It is time to take a page from Teddy Roosevelt and break up these behemoths so that there will be real competition in the financial industry and, when big banks fail again, there will be no need to bail them out.
  2. Put a cap on credit card interest rates to end usury.  When credit card companies charge 25- or 30-percent interest rates they are not engaged in the business of “making credit available” to their customers.  They are involved in extortion, usury and loan-sharking.
  3. The Federal Reserve needs to provide small businesses in America with the same low-interest loans it gave to foreign banks.  When Wall Street collapsed, the Fed lent out $16 trillion in low interest loans to central banks around the world and every major financial institution in this country.  Now, at a time when small businesses can’t get the loans they need, it is time for the Fed to create millions of American jobs by providing low-interest loans directly to small businesses.
  4. Stop Wall Street oil speculators from artificially increasing gasoline and heating oil prices.  Wall Street speculators are buying and selling billions of barrels of oil in the energy futures market with no intention of using a drop for any purpose other than to make a quick buck.  We have got to end excessive oil speculation and bring needed relief to American consumers in lower oil and gas prices.
  5. Demand that Wall Street invest in the job-creating productive economy, instead of gambling on worthless derivatives.  The American people have got to make it crystal clear to Wall Street that the era of excessive speculation is over.  The “heads, bankers win; tails, everyone else loses” financial system must end.
  6. Establish a Wall Street speculation fee on credit default swaps, derivatives, stock options and futures.  Both the economic crisis and the deficit crisis are a direct result of the greed and recklessness on Wall Street.  Establishing a speculation fee would reduce gambling on Wall Street, encourage the financial sector to invest in the productive economy, and significantly reduce the deficit without harming average Americans.

Click here to read my full op-ed at the Huffington Post.

The Occupy Wall Street demonstrators are shining a light on one of the most serious problems facing the United States — the greed and power of Wall Street.  Now is the time for the American people to demand that the president and Congress follow that light — and act.  The future of our economy is at stake.

Thank you for your support.

Letter from former-Representative Alan Grayson

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 10, 2011
Alan Grayson

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) says that our Government has handed out $16 trillion to the banks.

Let me repeat that, in case you didn’t hear me the first time. The GAO says that our Government HAS HANDED OUT $16 TRILLION TO THE BANKS.

That little gem appears on Page 131 of GAO Report No. GAO-11-696. A report issued two months ago. A report that somehow seems to have eluded the attention of virtually every network, every major newspaper, and every news show.

How much is $16 trillion? That is an amount equal to more than $50,000 for every man, woman and child in America. That’s more than every penny that every American earns in a year. That’s an amount equal to almost a third of our national net worth — the value of every home, car, personal belonging, business, bank account, stock, bond, piece of land, book, tree, chandelier, and everything else anyone owns in America. That’s an amount greater than our entire national debt, accumulated over the course of two centuries.

A $16 trillion stack of dollar bills would reach all the way to the Moon. And back. Twice.

That’s enough to pay for Saturday mail delivery. For the next 5,000 years.

All of that money went from you and me to the banks. And we got nothing. Not even a toaster.

I have been patiently waiting to see whether this disclosure would provoke some kind of reaction. Answer: nope. Everyone seems much more interested in discussing whether or not they like the cut of Perry’s jib.

Whatever a jib may be.

In the next few weeks, I’m going to be writing more about this. But right now, I wanted to keep this really simple. Just give folks something to talk about when they’re standing next to the coffee maker.

The Government gave $16 trillion to the banks. And nobody else is talking about it.

Think about it. Think about what that means.

Courage,

Alan Grayson

Federal Reserve—Socialism for the Rich

The first top-to-bottom audit of the Federal Reserve uncovered eye-popping new details about how the U.S. provided a whopping $16 trillion in secret loans to bail out American and foreign banks and businesses during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. An amendment by Sen. Bernie Sanders to the Wall Street reform law passed one year ago this week directed the Government Accountability Office to conduct the study. “As a result of this audit, we now know that the Federal Reserve provided more than $16 trillion in total financial assistance to some of the largest financial institutions and corporations in the United States and throughout the world,” said Sanders. “This is a clear case of socialism for the rich and rugged, you’re-on-your-own individualism for everyone else.”

Among the investigation’s key findings is that the Fed unilaterally provided trillions of dollars in financial assistance to foreign banks and corporations from South Korea to Scotland, according to the GAO report. “No agency of the United States government should be allowed to bailout a foreign bank or corporation without the direct approval of Congress and the president,”  Sanders said.

The non-partisan, investigative arm of Congress also determined that the Fed lacks a comprehensive system to deal with conflicts of interest, despite the serious potential for abuse.  In fact, according to the report, the Fed provided conflict of interest waivers to employees and private contractors so they could keep investments in the same financial institutions and corporations that were given emergency loans.

For example, the CEO of JP Morgan Chase served on the New York Fed’s board of directors at the same time that his bank received more than $390 billion in financial assistance from the Fed.  Moreover, JP Morgan Chase served as one of the clearing banks for the Fed’s emergency lending programs.

In another disturbing finding, the GAO said that on Sept. 19, 2008, William Dudley, who is now the New York Fed president, was granted a waiver to let him keep investments in AIG and General Electric at the same time AIG and GE were given bailout funds.  One reason the Fed did not make Dudley sell his holdings, according to the audit, was that it might have created the appearance of a conflict of interest.

To Sanders, the conclusion is simple. “No one who works for a firm receiving direct financial assistance from the Fed should be allowed to sit on the Fed’s board of directors or be employed by the Fed,” he said.

The investigation also revealed that the Fed outsourced most of its emergency lending programs to private contractors, many of which also were recipients of extremely low-interest and then-secret loans.

The Fed outsourced virtually all of the operations of their emergency lending programs to private contractors like JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, and Wells Fargo.  The same firms also received trillions of dollars in Fed loans at near-zero interest rates. Altogether some two-thirds of the contracts that the Fed awarded to manage its emergency lending programs were no-bid contracts. Morgan Stanley was given the largest no-bid contract worth $108.4 million to help manage the Fed bailout of AIG.

A more detailed GAO investigation into potential conflicts of interest at the Fed is due on Oct. 18, but Sanders said one thing already is abundantly clear. “The Federal Reserve must be reformed to serve the needs of working families, not just CEOs on Wall Street.”

To read the GAO report, click here.  While home owners have been struggling to refinance to enable them to stay in their homes, the big boys have been getting trillions in dollars in 0% interest loans from the Fed … and those loans have been not just to American banks, but to foreign banks as well.  The list of institutions that received the most money from the Federal Reserve can be found on page 131 of the GAO Audit and are as follows..

  • Citigroup: $2.5 trillion ($2,500,000,000,000)
  • Morgan Stanley: $2.04 trillion ($2,040,000,000,000)
  • Merrill Lynch: $1.949 trillion ($1,949,000,000,000)
  • Bank of America: $1.344 trillion ($1,344,000,000,000)
  • Barclays PLC (United Kingdom): $868 billion ($868,000,000,000)
  • Bear Sterns: $853 billion ($853,000,000,000)
  • Goldman Sachs: $814 billion ($814,000,000,000)
  • Royal Bank of Scotland (UK): $541 billion ($541,000,000,000)
  • JP Morgan Chase: $391 billion ($391,000,000,000)
  • Deutsche Bank (Germany): $354 billion ($354,000,000,000)
  • UBS (Switzerland): $287 billion ($287,000,000,000)
  • Credit Suisse (Switzerland): $262 billion ($262,000,000,000)
  • Lehman Brothers: $183 billion ($183,000,000,000)
  • Bank of Scotland (United Kingdom): $181 billion ($181,000,000,000)
  • BNP Paribas (France): $175 billion ($175,000,000,000)

and many, many more including banks in Belgium of all places …. Are you mad yet?