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Two Standards of Justice

Two Standards of Justice

Senator Elizabeth Warren

Senator Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren: Banks Get Wrist Slaps While Drug Dealers Get Jail

During a Senate Banking Committee hearing about money laundering, Warren (D-Mass.) grilled officials from the Treasury Department, Federal Reserve and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency about why HSBC, which recently paid $1.9 billion to settle money laundering charges, wasn’t criminally prosecuted and shut down in the U.S. Nor were any individuals from HSBC charged with any crimes, despite the bank confessing to laundering billions of dollars for Mexican drug cartels and rogue regimes like Iran and Libya over several years.

Defenders of the Justice Department say that a criminal conviction could have been a death penalty for the bank, causing widespread damage to the economy. Warren wanted to know why the death penalty wasn’t warranted in this case.

“They did it over and over and over again across a period of years. And they were caught doing it, warned not to do it and kept right on doing it, and evidently making profits doing it,” Warren said of HSBC. “How many billions of dollars do you have to launder for drug lords and how many economic sanctions do you have to violate before someone will consider shutting down a financial institution like this?”

Elizabeth Warren: Banks Get Wrist Slaps While Drug Dealers Get Jail

We could start by marveling at the idea that any rational human being could contemplate a fine as a penalty for international subversion? This subversion involved laundering money so it could be used anywhere in the economic system, thus, making it available to pay for bribes, drug smuggling, murder and kidnapping.

We could wander casually over to our second problem which is bankers, especially the international and investment variety, and wonder what made them so special? It is a simple matter to document one law for them and one law for the rest of us. That is the why Ms. Warrent’s example hits home. We are living by two sets of laws, one harsh and punitive and another for the banks.

Let us conclude with out third problem, where do get off allowing banks to attack foreign governments? Can there be any doubt in anyone’s mind that laundering billions in drug cartel money is the equivalent of a direct attack on the nation of Mexico and a more minor, by comparison, attack on this country, the United States?

It might be better if instead of thinking of the HSBC bank as a financial institution but more as a hostile foreign power willing to exploit our financial system for profit. I believe that is a more accurate reading of how it views its status in the world.

I don’t think Mexico feels safer after we fined HSBC. They may not feel that we have sent a message to those who would empower those who actively kidnap and murder in their country?

How would you feel about this if you lived in Mexico? Does it make you feel secure in American protection anywhere on earth?

James Pilant


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Elizabeth Warren Announces for the U.S. Senate

Elizabeth Warren, Chairman of the Congressiona...

Image via Wikipedia

This is from Daily Kos. The actual announcement is not supposed to be out until tomorrow.

Former White House financial reform adviser Elizabeth Warren will officially launch her campaign for U.S. Senate from Massachusetts on Wednesday, challenging incumbent Republican Sen. Scott Brown.

“The pressures on middle class families are worse than ever, but it is the big corporations that get their way in Washington,” Warren said in a statement. “I want to change that. I will work my heart out to earn the trust of the people of Massachusetts.”

Warren has been exploring a run in recent weeks, and has been on a listening tour of the state.

Professor Warren has addressed many issues particularly  consumer fraud. One of her specialities is the pressure on and the decline of, the Middle Class in America. I have watched this presentation. I recommend you watch it as well. Just click on the link.

The Coming Collapse of the Middle Class

You may consider this web post an endorsement of Elizabeth Warren’s candidacy. I wish her well and hope to play my small part in the struggle for that Senate seat.

James Pilant

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5 reasons why banks hate [and fear] Elizabeth Warren (via Eideard)

5 reasons why banks hate [and fear] Elizabeth Warren

I’m sorry, Congressman, you’re small-minded, too! Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission Elizabeth Warren, it’s not you they hate. It’s what you represent. You want to be an honest cop when so many before you in Washington have looked the other way and pretended that the banking industry could police itself. I can’t think of a better reason why this presidential adviser shouldn’t be the new chief of an unfettered Consumer Financial Protectio … Read More

via Eideard

I couldn’t agree more. An honest broker is the last thing the large banks can stand. They want the status quo of unaccountability to continue forever. We’re just sheep to be sheared under current law. Even knowing what shenanigans the industry is up to is very difficult.

Let’s get Elizabeth Warren confirmed.

James Pilant

From around the web.

From the web site, leaf  – stitch – word. (An unusual endorsement. jp)


I’m really glad she won the November 2012 Senate race against Scott Brown.
And I’m really glad that Jimmy had the presence of mind to make a
contribution to her campaign and ask volunteers to install one of her
giant signs in our front yard. The sign came on a giant wooden stake
that, since mid-November, has been resting against the wall of our
garage, too tall to put in a trash barrel. Today I cut and drilled that
scrap to make a hanger for bike helmets on the garage wall.

From the web site, The Web of Debt Blog.


On July 1, interest rates will double for millions of students – from 3.4% to 6.8% – unless Congress acts; and the legislative fixes on the table are largely just compromises. Only one proposal promises real relief – Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s “Bank on Students Loan Fairness Act.” This bill has been dismissed out of hand as “shameless populist demagoguery” and “a cheap political gimmick,” but is it? Or could Warren’s outside-the-box bill represent the sort of game-changing thinking sorely needed to turn the economy around?

Warren and her co-sponsor John Tierney propose that students be allowed to borrow directly from the government at the same rate that banks get from the Federal Reserve — 0.75 percent.

From the web site, Politics USA.


Sen. Warren said, “Some people say that we can’t afford to help our kids
through school by keeping student loan interest rates low,” said
Senator Warren. “But right now, as I speak, the federal government
offers far lower interest rates on loans, every single day – they just
don’t do it for everyone. Right now, a big bank can get a loan through
the Federal Reserve discount window at a rate of about 0.75%. But this
summer a student who is trying to get a loan to go to college will pay
almost 7%. In other words, the federal government is going to charge
students interest rates that are nine times higher than the rates for
the biggest banks – the same banks that destroyed millions of jobs and
nearly broke this economy. That isn’t right. And that is why I’m
introducing legislation today to give students the same deal that we
give to the big banks.”

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Let’s get in there and put pressure on Obama to get this nomination done. The banks and the special interests have allied to block it. They are trying to kill the agency before any work can be done. Their crimes and unethical behavior will not be brought into the light without the agency.

Please go sign the petition. Elizabeth Warren will make a difference.

James Pilant

JOIN NOW! 200,000 SIGNATURE DRIVE FOR ELIZABETH WARREN RECESS APPOINTMENT GET COMBO TITLE AND SECURITIZATION ANALYSIS – CLICK HERE EDITOR’S NOTE:  A recess appointment is one in which the President appoints someone during a congressional recess. I’m no expert on the details but I know that recess appointments have been extensively used, particularly by the Bush administration to get around the requirement of getting congressional approval. If Congress is not in session, the President makes the appointment because the p … Read More

via Livinglies’s Weblog

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Why Elizabeth Warren Is Still the Best Choice for CFPB Director (via Rortybomb)

Just like the writers at Rortybomb I have long believed that Elizabeth Warren was the best choice.

I have written about this before. You can read my July 26, 2010 post – Elizabeth Warren Should Be The Head Of The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or the July 24th, 2010 post –  Treasury Makes A Mistake – Claiming They Are Not Blocking Elizabeth Warren (via The Baseline Scenario).

Please read the post and add Rortybomb to your favorites.

James Pilant

Why Elizabeth Warren Is Still the Best Choice for CFPB Director The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau just launched its website. Meanwhile, Shahien Nasiripour has a story that found “… if the White House can’t get a nominee through the Senate by July, the bureau will lack the authority to supervise nonbank lenders, according to a Jan. 10 report by the inspectors general of the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve obtained by The Huffington Post.” One of the main reasons for creating a Consumer Financi … Read More

via Rortybomb

Elizabeth Warren Should Be The Head Of The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

I am calling for Elizabeth Warren to made the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. I am not a great voice in the press or in politics, but I am a voice on the internet in my small way. Sometimes an issue comes along where ethics and morality demand action. We have labored under a system is which the consumer has often been little more than a prey animal – rabbits to be cultivated as long as profit is possible and discarded when not. Elizabeth Warren has fought for the incomes, the rights and sustainability of the American middle class. This fight has been abandoned by the politicians of both parties. This is a test for the current administration. Will it be Warren or a corporate flack? This is a turning point for the current government. If they have no willingness to defend the public from such vicious predation, where will they draw the line to fight for the public interest or is there a line at all.

James Pilant

This is Elizabeth Warren discussing the coming commercial real estate market –

Treasury Makes A Mistake – Claiming They Are Not Blocking Elizabeth Warren (via The Baseline Scenario)

President Obama faces a choice and this choice will tell us a lot about the administration. Does this administration intend serious oversight of the finance industry. The choices are simple, Elizabeth Warren, a long time defender of the public interest or someone acceptable to Geithner and the Department of the Treasury. Who counts in this country, the millions of individuals who suffer from the fees and often the cruelty of these institutions or the institutions and their political muscle? We’ll know soon. In the meantime, read this fine analysis from Simon Johnson!

By Simon Johnson It’s one thing to block Elizabeth Warren from heading the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. It’s quite another thing to deny in public, for the record, that any such blocking is going on (e.g., see this report; Michael Barr apparently said something quite similar today). There is a strong groundswell of opinion on this issue from the left – see the BoldProgressives petition.  But the center also feels strongly that, given … Read More

via The Baseline Scenario

This is one of Elizabeth Warren’s appearances before Congress:

Ethics Roundup – Sunday – June 6th, 2010

Could British Petroleum cease to exist? Check out this article from Minyanville.

Chris MacDonald in his June 5th blog entry discusses the play between rapidly developing technological complexity and regulatory science. MacDonald quotes from Kenneth Rogoff’s article, The BP Oil Spill’s Lessons for Regulators.

Chris MacDonald in a totally successful effort to keep my off balance has a new post on June 6th. Entitled Galarraga’s Corvette, MacDonald while admitting that everyone is entitled to an opinion points out that even though tax payer dollars are involved in the company’s continued operation that doesn’t mean every corporate action should be second guessed. He says managers are there to manage. I doubt that Chris MacDonald will be very surprised (or bothered) that I don’t always agree with him but he’s dead on this time. Nit picking day to day decisions is a waste of everybody’s time and the giveaway was a shrewd PR move. jp

Dani Rodrik writing in Project Syndicate, A World of Ideas, argues that the nation-state, globalization and democracy are all incompatible with each other and that at the most we can only have two of the three. It’s a thought provoking argument.

Gael O’Brien writing on her blog, The Week in Ethics, discusses the message of John Wooden. During his lifetime, Wooden created a “pyramid of success” comprised of fifteen elements. (The diagram is included in the article.)

Edward Lotterman writing in Twin Cities dot com discusses how salaries in different currencies vary, can be compared effectively and when they can’t be compared effectively. It’s a pretty piece of writing.

Jeffrey Seglin writing in his blog, The Right Thing, tells us that Panera Bread is opening a store where you pay what you believe is appropriate for their baked goods. The new store is opening in Clayton, Missouri. Seglin is interested in your opinion. I’d go to his site and let him know. (There was only one comment when I left.)

Rod Dreher writes that the BP spill is a rolling apocalypse.

Michael Hiltzik writing on the Los Angeles Times business page discusses online privacy. He is a champion of preserving the rights of the individual and when he talks people should listen. This is an issue of considerable importance to me.

Marian Wang writing in ProPublica reports that illnesses reported by the clean up workers on the gulf coast are caused by the oil and not by the host of other possibilities the oil company or the government will cook up.

Elizabeth Warren prophecies the coming collapse of the middle class.

Ethics Round Up – June 3rd 2010

Loren Steffy at the Houston Chronicle tells how to get your ideas to fix the spill to British Petroleum. (No, I’m not kidding.)

Jim Denison writing for the Associated Baptist Press reviews To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World.

Jon Talton in the Seattle Times explains why the recovery doesn’t feel better Here’s a quote from the article: “Many of the economic imbalances that led up to the crash were also pretty much frozen in place, instead of the painful but ultimately healthy cleansing that recessions usually bring. More dolorous trends were accelerated, such as offshoring of jobs, increased used of temporary and contract labor, stagnant or falling wages, and rising income inequality.” If you get the idea he is not optimistic, you’re on point.

Asher Meir writing in the Jerusalem Post concludes a three part discussion on the morality of bankruptcy in the light of Jewish law.

Jay Hancock of the Baltimore Sun writes that if you stop paying your mortgage it takes about a year to get kicked out of your home so he asks if you’re in financial trouble why not default and essentially get a years free rent. (I do not approve, but I want to include it because if some clever business or ethics student sees it, they will have a dynamite article to take to class.)

Edward Lotterman writing for Twin Cities press does a good analysis of the question of what duty does an investment broker have to his client. He discusses this in the light of a case that on Wednesday reached a verdict and awarded 30 million dollars to several non-profits from Wells-Fargo.

From Business Ethics, the Magazine of Corporate Responsibility, we have a piece by Jake Bernstein analyzing the likelihood of a wider circle of fraud in the Madoff fraud case. Even if you only do a casual reading of the story, you get an immediate impression of how much research went into it. I was impressed.

Here’s Elizabeth Warren (who should have been appointed to the Supreme Court by Obama) discussing small business in the light of the COP report.

Credit Card Reform?

The Senate passed a law that will force credit card companies to reduce fees for debit card transactions.

I have often said that these institutions simply cannot be fought by individual card holders. A single human being is but an insignificant statistic to a corporation of this size. Only the government can stand up for you on these kinds of issues.

In a true free market society, credit card companies would have to compete. The competition we see in this field is not price based but based on the successful amount of fine print allowing extra fees and penalties. You win by apparent price advantages when a whole reading of a document many pages in length is necessary to give you an idea of the real costs. This isn’t capitalism, it’s the law of the jungle, it’s the consumer as prey animal like a rabbit to a wolf.

Take a look at what I’m talking about. –

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