Big Banks Busted Manipulating Aluminum and Copper Prices

Break Them Up … Or They’ll Take Over More and More of the Economy, Making Us Poorer and Poorer

We’ve previously notedthat the big banks have massively manipulated commodity prices … with the help of government agencies.

And that the big banks are taking over important aspects of the physical economy, including uranium mining, petroleum products, aluminum, ownership and operation of airports, toll roads, ports, and electricity.

Four congressmen warned in a letter to the Federal Reserve:

Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, and Morgan Stanley are no longer just banks – they have effectively become oil companies, port and airport operators, commodities dealers, and electric utilities as well. This is causing unforeseen problems for the industrial sector of the economy. For example, Coca Cola has filed a complaint with the London Metal Exchange that Goldman Sachs was hoarding aluminum. JP Morgan is currently being probed by regulators for manipulating power prices in California, where the “bank” was marketing electricity from power plants it controlled. We don’t know what other price manipulation could be occurring due to potential informational advantages accruing to derivatives dealers who also market and sell commodities. The long shadow of Enron could loom in these activities.

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These financial services companies have become global merchants that seek to extract rent from any commercial or financial business activity within their reach.  They have used legal authority in Graham-Leach-Bliley to subvert the “foundational principle of separation of banking from commerce”. This shift has many consequences for our economy, and for bank regulators. We wonder how the Federal Reserve is responding to this shift.

It seems like there is a significant macro-economic risk in having a massive entity like, say JP Morgan, both issuing credit cards and mortgages, managing municipal bond offerings, selling gasoline and electric power, running large oil tankers, trading derivatives, and owning and operating airports, in multiple countries. Such a dramatic intertwining of the industrial economy and supply chain with the financial system creates systemic risk, since there is effectively no regulatory entity that can oversee what is happening within these sprawling global entities.

We’ve been proven right.

The New York Times reported yesterday that Goldman Sachs has been scalping consumers of billions of dollars by manipulating the amount it charges to warehouse aluminum in its storage facilities.

And the Times notes that Goldman and JP Morgan are doing the same thing with copper.

Break up the big banks, or they will continue to take over and manipulate more and more of the economy … increasing their profits while making everyone else poorer.

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