Are Jews Responsible for Financial Meltdown?

The high-profile role played by Jews on Wall Street has never been a secret. Many of the wheelers and dealers responsible for shaping the current US financial system are Jewish, including former AIG CEO Hank Greenberg, former Citcigroup CEO Sandy Weill, recently-retired Lehman Bros. CEO Richard Fuld, former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan, former Treasury Secretary Bob Rubin, current Fed chairman Ben Bernanke,etc. One of the "weapons of mass destruction" described by the legendary investor Warren Buffet is the Credit Default Swap. Greenberg's AIG is the biggest purveyor of CDS. In spite of the warnings by Buffet in 2006, Greenspan and his successor Bernanke argued against regulating derivatives such as credit default swaps. Unregulated financial derivatives are now considered the biggest cause of the financial collapse.

Credit derivatives is one of the most successful innovations of financial engineering over the last ten years. The current active credit derivatives market has produced an array of new products. For example, credit-default swaps are an indicator of the cost of bond "insurance" that varies with the risk of bond default. Credit default swaps are privately traded derivative contracts usually bought by bond holders from CDS issuers like AIG, Ambac, FGIC, and MBIA and other entities. Like other derivatives, CDS are not regulated by government agencies. The CDS issuers are expected (not gauranteed or back-stopped by governments) to reimburse bondholders in case the bond issuing companies or governments default. A basis point on a credit-default swap contract protecting $10 million of debt from default for five years is equivalent to $1,000 a year. The buyers of CDS do not have to be bondholders. Any one can buy a CDS to bet on the probability of default by debt issuers. Many of these derivative contracts were bought to bet that the housing bubble would pop and many homeowners would default on their mortgages. That is exactly what happened this year. Once issued, the credit default swaps are bought and sold like any other contract. These derivative contracts have produced enormous profits for Wall Street firms in the last decade. But now the Fortune magazine calls these derivatives "a $55 tillion problem".

The world of finance is not unique in the dominant role played by Jews. Other businesses including media and entertainment and professions such as medicine, law and accounting have powerful Jewish presence. American Jews are disproportionately over-represented in the US Congress, the Senate and the Supreme Court as well. US policies in all spheres are heavily influenced by the Jewish minority in the United States. The exclusive club of Nobel laureates is dominated by its Jewish members, a testament to Jewish culture of hard work, commitment and achievement. Many significant levers of power are controlled by American Jews, a constant that does not change with election winners or losers in Washington. Both Obama and McCain teams boast of powerful Jews as key policy advisers on foreign affairs, finance and national security. Robert Rubin and Dennis Ross are advising Obama. Joe Lieberman is advising McCain.

When former President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan addressed a dinner meeting of the American Jewish Congress in September 2005, his Jewish audience were described as the American business, political and social elite.

When things go wrong in any of the major US businesses or institutions, people looking for scapegoats often blame influential Jews because of the large Jewish presence in each of them. The current financial crisis is no exception.

Abraham Foxman, President of Anti-Defamation League, has written in Jerusalem Post about the recent "anti-semitic" response to the financial crisis. He writes, "It never fails. Whenever there is a financial crisis or trading scandal in the stock markets, the anti-Semites come out of the woodwork. The classic stereotype of the Jewish Shylock out to have his Christian pound of flesh dies very hard, if at all. The Jew as economic opportunist sucking the financial life-blood out of a nation or of the whole world is continually reborn".

Mr. Foxman does have a point. Stereotypes, whether Jewish or Muslim, are hard to change. The reality is that there are only three Jews on the CNN's latest top ten list of the culprits of collapse even if one argues that these three are the most important of the top ten. They are: Former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, Current Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and the Lehman Brothers CEO Richard Fuld. As some of us blame the few who made serious mistakes and happen to be Jewish, let us not forget that a large number of Jewish workers and investors on Wall Street are victims of the financial meltdown. Many Jews have lost their jobs while others are suffering major declines in their investment portfolios.

Related Links:

Jewish Lobby Blamed for Economic Crisis

The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy

The Rise of Jewish Power-Nothing Short of Astounding

Jewish Tribal review

Financial Crisis Brings Out Anti-Semites

Jews on Wall Street

Wall Street's WMDs

Credit Default Swaps

$55 Trillion Problem


Riaz Haq said…
Jewish Blogging is reporting as follows:

Yes, Bernard L. Madoff is a Jew.

Bernard Madoff was arrested and charged today with allegedly running a $50 billion Ponzi scheme, according to U.S. authorities.

According to Yeshiva University, "Bernard L. Madoff, a member of the University’s Board of Trustees since 1996, was elected chairman of the Board of Directors of Sy Syms School of Business in 2000. Mr. Madoff is chairman of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, one of the nation’s largest third-market dealers in New York Stock Exchange and over-the-counter securities. A Benefactor of the University, Mr. Madoff recently made a major gift to the Sy Syms School."

Forbes reports this 'UNFORTUNATE SET OF EVENTS':

"Bernard Madoff is a longstanding leader in the financial services industry," his lawyer Dan Horwitz told reporters outside a downtown Manhattan courtroom where he was charged. "We will fight to get through this unfortunate set of events."

A shaken Madoff stared at the ground as reporters peppered him with questions. He was released after posting a $10 million bond secured by his Manhattan apartment.

The SEC filed separate civil charges.

"Our complaint alleges a stunning fraud -- both in terms of scope and duration," said Scott Friestad, the SEC's deputy enforcer. "We are moving quickly and decisively to stop the scheme and protect the remaining assets for investors."

The SEC said it appeared that virtually all of the assets of his hedge fund business were missing.

Madoff had long kept the financial statements for his hedge fund business under "lock and key," according to prosecutors, and was "cryptic" about the firm.
Riaz Haq said…
From: Dave Schechter
CNN Senior National Editor

To understand reaction in the Jewish community to the growing scandal around investor Bernie Madoff, it helps to know a few words of Yiddish.

Yiddish was the language of Jews in Eastern Europe, with a rich history in literature, theater and music, until that community was decimated in the Holocaust. Today Yiddish is most common in communities of Orthodox Jews.

But for most American Jews it harkens back to previous generations and life in the old country, spoken more by “alta kockers,”
though “bubbie” (grandmother) and “zaide” (grandfather) probably don’t appreciate being referred to as geezers.

Madoff was a “macher” (a big shot, a mover-and-shaker) among machers.

Madoff also is - allegedly - a “gonif” (thief, embezzler). A few folks have used Yiddish words regarding parentage and body parts, but we’ll skip those.

The Jewish community is “farklemt” (depressed, distraught, grieving), but it goes beyond that.

The whole thing is a “shandah” (disgrace). For those concerned with image, it’s a shandah for the “goyim” (non-Jews, in front of whom Jewish community looks bad).

“Catastrophe” and “devastation” are English words being used.

“It’s an atomic bomb in the world of Jewish philanthropy,” Mark Charendoff, president of the Jewish Funders Network, an organization that advises wealthy Jewish donors, told the Forward, a newspaper that reports on Jewish affairs. “There’s going to be fallout from this for years.”

In the United States, at least one charity has closed. “It’s devastating,” Arthur Epstein, a major supporter of local Jewish charities, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, referring to the loss of the Robert I. Lappin Charitable Foundation near Boston and the programs it supported.

An American university professor e-mailed me from Jerusalem that the Madoff case is all that’s being discussed in the philanthropic world in Israel, where there is fear that more than 50 organizations that Madoff supported or that invested in his firm may shut down before “Shabbat,” the Sabbath that begins at sunset Friday.

That fear in the Jewish community extends from the Los Angeles to Boca Raton and Palm Beach, from New York City to Washington, D.C., to Boston and points elsewhere around the globe.

With losses ranging from tens of thousands to tens of millions of dollars, the casualties include national Jewish organizations; local Jewish federations, which support programs throughout their communities; charities and foundations supporting a range of causes; hospitals and schools, from elementary through university. Published reports say that one school, Yeshiva Univ., may have lost as much as $100 million.

Untold numbers of children, students, teachers and researchers, the needy and the disabled, retirees of modest means and some of wealth will suffer anonymously.

Some victims of the alleged swindle have well-known names: Spielberg, Wiesel, Lautenberg, Zuckerman.

Gary Tobin, president of the Institute for Jewish and Community Research, which studies Jewish philanthropy, told the Forward, “The Jewish philanthropic world depends on personal relationships and personal solicitations. Many Jewish philanthropies are dependent on high-end donors in very close social and economic networks, and this guy is right in middle of them.”

Writing in the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, Bradley Burston recognized that at least one segment of society would find advantage in the situation.

“For the true anti-Semite, Christmas came early this year,” Burston wrote. “Rich beyond human comprehension, he handles fortunes for others, buying and selling in a trading empire that skirts investment banks and other possible sources of regulation. He redefines avarice, knowingly and personally bilking charities and retirees in the most classic of con games. Even better, for those obsessed with the idea that Jews control finance, entertainment and the media, is the idea that Madoff’s greed was uncontrollable enough that he targeted fellow Jews, even Holocaust survivors, some of them his own friends, as well as Israeli companies who insured Jews, including Holocaust survivors. The beauty part, for the anti-Semite: Madoff’s machinations, which could have been put to use for the sake of humanity, have directly harmed Jewish welfare and charity institutions.”

Now that is a shandah.
Anonymous said…
Helpful to read, even in part. A continued balance of ideas will teach us that no one is an exception to being harmed financially; and we cannot assign one group, or even a nation the blame for the troubles of the world.
Riaz Haq said…
Recent focus on the alleged misdeeds of Goldman Sachs that contributed to the financial melt-down have caused cries of "antisemitism" by American Jewish groups. Here's an excerpt from a recent NPR interview with Michael Kinsley who is a Jewish American:

CONAN: And you begin with the question: when, if ever, are such accusations of anti-Semitism fair?

Mr. KINSLEY: Yes. The purpose of this piece I wrote was not to accuse anyone of anti-Semitism. And in fact, I haven't heard anything that I would call anti-Semitic but to help you think through how to recognize it when you hear it and more importantly how not to recognize it when you don't hear it.

CONAN: Mm-hmm.

Mr. KINSLEY: And - because I think there's a real problem in our politics today of umbrage. People are very quick to take umbrage at things other people say. And politician use this to, I think, make bigger deals of things than they ought to.

Abe Foxman, who is the - he's the head of the B'nai B'rith Anti-Defamation League, says that virtually any reference to Goldman Sachs alone in the context of this scandal smacks of anti-Semitism, because he says, you know, what about Morgan Stanley and other firms that aren't Jewish? I think that goes much too far.

CONAN: And indeed, there can be an inference that just as if some people say, well, we can't make any criticism of Barack Obama without being accused of being a racist, you can't make any criticism of Goldman Sachs without being accused of being an anti-Semite.

Mr. KINSLEY: Right. I think that's true.

CONAN: There is also - you say you haven't read anything that you would take as anti-Semitic. Probably the most controversial thing was a quote in - by Matt Taibbi in a much quoted article about Goldman Sachs...

Mr. KINSLEY: Right.

CONAN: ...where he said that the world's most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money - a phrase that set off alarm bells.

Mr. KINSLEY: Well, it's a heck of piece. And it's really written with brio. That passage, which has been widely quoted, comes very close to the line, because, you know, it never uses the word Jewish but it invokes a lot of images that are familiar in classic anti-Semitism: the bloodsucking monster, this -the other. And it's smothering the normal life of normal people. All of that has - Jews have been victimized - and I should add - I should mention that I am Jewish - Jews have been victimized by that kind of imagery for centuries.
Riaz Haq said…
Ex #CIA officer Valerie Plame blames #Jews for #America's wars on behalf of #Israel, then backtracks. #Iran #Iraq

Valerie Plame Wilson, a former covert CIA operative, caused a controversy on Thursday when she tweeted several antisemitic messages to her nearly 50,000 followers.

''American Jews are driving America's Wars,'' the rampage began. The tweet linked to an article from, a site that claims "a collection of interesting, important, and controversial perspectives largely excluded from the American Mainstream Media.''

The article, written by Philip Giraldi - whose author page on the site reveals a plethora of articles focusing on Israel and Jewish leaders like former Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz - suggested that Jews working in foreign policy-making positions should 'recuse themselves when dealing with the Middle East.''

Twitter users were quick to criticize Plame Wilson, who then charged that her retweet was ''not an endorsement'' before sharing that she is ''of Jewish descent.'' She then told Twitter users to ''put aside [their] biases and think clearly.''

In what could be construed as a contradiction, the pinned tweet at the top of Plame Wilson's page links to a GoFundMe petition that aims to ban President Donald Trump from Twitter for his use of the platform to encourage what she labeled 'violence and hate.'

With Twitter users lambasting her for her comments, Plame Wilson sent out several apologetic tweets two hours after her original controversial one. She tweeted that she "messed up'' having only skimmed the article, and that the whole situation was ''a doozy.'' She then replaced the pinned tweet about Trump with her apology.

"There is so much there that's problematic,'' the tweets continued. "Thank you for pushing me to look again.''

Plame Wilson was the center of a political scandal in the early 2000s after her identity as a covert officer in the CIA was leaked by a journalist. Plame Wilson had penned a memo to senior officials in which she recommended her husband, Ambassador Joseph Wilson, for a diplomatic mission to investigate claims by the then-president that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had purchased uranium from different African countries.

After her husband published several op-eds about the mission and publicly disputed the president's claims, a journalist named Robert Novak "outed" Plame Wilson as an "agency operative on weapons of mass destruction.''

The scandal and subsequent court cases led to Plame Wilson's resignation from the agency in 2005. Since then, she has stayed largely out of the media - aside from selling the rights to her story to Warner Bros. for a film than was highly criticized for its inaccuracies - after moving to New Mexico to work as a consultant.

Riaz Haq said…
#Tech Giants #Facebook, #Google and #Apple As New #Landlords Eye Lucrative #Rent Market With End to Eviction Moratorium Could Leave Millions Homeless. A “tsunami” of evictions is about to sweep across the #UnitedStates when 120-day moratorium ends today

In a ‘normal’, pre-pandemic economy, a number roughly equal to the population of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania – or about 3.7 million people – are evicted every month in the United States, according to Matthew Desmond, principal investigator of Princeton University’s “Eviction Lab” project, which tracks evictions throughout the country and produces the first nationwide eviction database.

But, come Friday, July 24, those numbers could rise precipitously should the moratorium on evictions, included in the CARES Act be allowed to expire. The legislation afforded renters with a 120 days’ grace period from “fees, penalties, or charges in relation to nonpayment of rent” and barred landlords from filing eviction notices of any kind during that period.

The situation facing low-income communities is exceedingly harsh when considering the endemic economic disparity that characterizes cash-poor communities with scant access to any sort of financial resources or affordable credit. Studies on wealth inequality have shown time and again how excessive rent burdens can leave families on the brink of homelessness over relatively minor, unexpected emergencies like a simple car repair or a doctor’s visit.

A “semi-permanent renter class” has developed among poor African Americans, in particular. 1 in 11 people who fall into this demographic face eviction every year. For the rest of the United States, the rate is 1 in 20. African American communities and other communities of color are the most vulnerable to the approaching deadline, which not only opens the door for the resumption of eviction filings but also brings potentially large bills of fees and penalties, which the CARES Act allowed to accrue for 120 days.

A broad crisis
So far, few lawmakers have come out against the end of the moratorium despite the uncertainty and great potential for popular unrest this is likely to cause. Some cities like Houston have already lifted the eviction freeze leading many in the legal profession to expect a “tsunami” of eviction filings. The prospect of homelessness looms large over working families living on incomes under $40K a year; 40 percent of which lost a source of employment in March, according to Shamus Roller of the National Housing Law Project.

Milwaukee and Cleveland are two of the cities most at risk, with a 40 percent jump in eviction rates from their typical level at this time of year. The American Bar Association’s Task Force Committee on Evictions revealed that a staggering 28 million homes are at risk of coming under eviction orders due to the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. Emily Benfer, who chairs the ABA committee is also the co-creator of the COVID-19 Housing Policy Scorecard put out by the Eviction Lab.

In an editorial published Wednesday by NBC News, Benfer called for a “long-term solution to housing precarity and its disproportionate impact on Black and Latinx families” and warned that without “robust government intervention” the “avalanche of evictions” will take a heavy toll on entire communities. She predicts renters will suffer increasing levels of distress as unemployment benefits are cut off and reopened courts begin hearing thousands of pending evictions.

Benfer decried the Trump administration’s attempts to eliminate fair housing rules, that were set up to push back against “longstanding discriminatory housing practices,” echoing her partner at Eviction Lab, Matt Desmond, who contrasted the plight of African American and Latino renters with white American families who are “buffered” from the looming eviction crisis by virtue of most of them owning their own home.
Riaz Haq said…
Kyrie Irving Boosts Antisemitic Movie Peddling ‘Jewish Slave Ships’
The video is based on a venomously antisemitic book which asserts that "many famous high-ranking Jews" have "admitted" to "worship[ing] Satan or Lucifer."

HOURS BEFORE ANOTHER Brooklyn Nets loss on Thursday, noted “free-thinker” and basketball player Kyrie Irving took to Twitter to boost a movie and book, Hebrews to Negroes, stuffed with antisemitic tropes.

The 2018 film was directed by Ronald Dalton, Jr., and based upon his 2015 book of the same name. A description for the film states that it “uncovers the true identity of the Children of Israel,” while a similar one for the book reads, “Since the European and Arab slave traders stepped foot into Africa, blacks have been told lies about their heritage.” Both suggest Hebrews to Negroes espouse ideas in line with more extreme factions of the Black Hebrew Israelites, which have a long history of misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia, Islamophobia, and especially antisemitism.

The Black Hebrew Israelite movement is fairly broad, comprising organizations that (per the Anti-Defamation League) “operate semi-independently.” The movement generally coalesces around the notion that Black people are the real descendants of the ancient Israelites, with more extreme factions claiming that Black people have been “robbed of their identity as being ‘God’s chosen people'” (via the Southern Poverty Law Center).

It’s those extremist sects that have often parroted “classic” antisemitic tropes, like claiming European Jews (often referred to as the “synagogue of Satan”) wield outsized control over society, especially in industries like banking and the media. They’ve also pushed antisemitic claims that Jews are responsible for slavery and the “effeminizing of Black men.”

At one point in the purported documentary Irving shared, Dalton (who also narrates the film) brings up the “real truth about the slave trades.” He claims that, when teaching slavery, schools don’t mention the involvement of the Catholic Church, Arab, East African, or Islamic slave traders, or “the Jewish slave ships that brought our West African negro or Bantu ancestors to slave ports owned by [Jews].”

Immediately after, Dalton pivots to the mass media, calling it “the biggest tool of indoctrination, brainwashing, and propaganda that the world has seen” and adding that it’s been “helping Satan deceive the world” for centuries. To back up his claim, Dalton utilizes a fabricated quote that’s been a staple of antisemitic literature for decades. The quote — which details the supposed control Jews have over every facet of society — is attributed to Harold Rosenthal, an aide to former New York Senator Jacob Javits who was killed in a terrorist attack in Istanbul in 1976. The “quote” first appeared two years later, published in a pamphlet called The Hidden Tyranny by a man named Walter White, Jr., who appeared to make up an entire interview with Rosenthal to push this antisemitic theory.

In introducing the phony quote, Dalton pointedly describes Rosenthal as an “Ashkenazi Jew.”

Hebrews to Negroes, the book, contains even more instances of antisemitism. The book’s fourth chapter — “When Did Racism Towards Blacks Start?” — starts by falsely suggesting that anti-Black racism can be traced back to key Jewish texts. “Western Education and Religion tries to teach the world that blacks are cursed with their skin color by the Curse of Ham/Canaan. This is also taught in European Jewish documents and in the teachings of the Talmud book in Judaism. Some can say that it established the base for black racism even before the KKK.”
Riaz Haq said…
Everyone has a theory of contemporary anti-Semitism. Progressives tend to see the threats to American Jews emanating from the conspiracy-driven Right, with white supremacists and neo-Nazis taking their cues from dog-whistling Republicans. Conservatives observe that Jews frequently endure harassment, denigration, and violence from the anti-Zionist Left, which wields progressive academic theories to demonize them as complicit in white supremacy, if not perpetrators themselves.

These theories—admittedly simplified, but then again, the simplified arguments are the ones most frequently made—have some things in common. They are both elite-driven, seeing politicians and academics as the prime movers in a chain reaction leading to Jewish suffering. And they are, not coincidentally, convenient. Each side has a neat story to tell about who is responsible for the uptick in anti-Jewish violence in recent years: it’s our cultural opponents. And that seems suspiciously convenient.

That is not to say that neither side has a point. Clearly some anti-Jewish violence can be traced to malicious elites and their bad ideas or rhetoric. But most just doesn’t quite fit, as the experience of visibly Orthodox Jews here in New York suggests. Hasidim and other ultra-Orthodox Jews have borne the brunt of the assaults, harassment, and arson attacks, in neighborhoods with few Republicans (let alone white supremacists), at the hands of perpetrators who don’t seem steeped in postcolonial theory, to put it mildly.

Modern Orthodox Jews like me, who do not wear distinctive clothes except for perhaps the yarmulkes on our heads, have felt it, too. Growing up in the New York area, I can recall being harassed twice in 20-odd years. In the past two years living in Manhattan, though, I have been yelled at and menaced numerous times, and on one occasion assaulted (and then followed through a subway station). Something has changed, and blaming elite opponents just doesn’t get at the heart of the issue. I have observed the people trying to make my life miserable; they are neither MAGA types nor campus progressives.

They are, in all likelihood, tuned into mass popular culture, however. Which is why the scandal of hip-hop and fashion mega-star Kanye West, who recently made a series of bizarre and flagrantly anti-Semitic public comments, deserves some attention. For better or worse, West is better known than, say, Marjorie Taylor Greene or Edward Said. He made his comments on radio shows and podcasts that enjoy big followings but evade outgroup attention, much less analysis. Perhaps his brand of vulgar anti-Semitism can tell us something about what is motivating similarly vulgar—in the sense of being both ugly and common—violence.

First, it’s notable that West’s anti-Semitism comes in the midst of what appears to be a mental breakdown. This suggests that we should not read too far into the motivations or culpability of West as an individual. But it also reminds us that anti-Semitism thrives within delusion and conspiracy theories. Indeed, those who attack Jews on New York streets are far more likely to parrot such conspiracies than campus buzzwords or white-supremacist slogans. Controlling such violence is a function of effective treatment—or at least incapacitation—of mentally ill individuals, whose rantings can quickly turn to something worse.
Riaz Haq said…
Barbara Walters, Celebrated Jewish TV Persona, Dies at 93 - World News -

Walters made history for women and Jewish anchors on mainstream television and was known for 'inventing intimacy on television'

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