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I also asked my readers, as part of the jury in the court of public opinion, if they found Barclays guilty or innocent.
Your verdict was a resounding… guilty as charged.
There were five times as many cries of "Guilty!" than there were defenses of innocence in the comments thread of that article. It seems as though the majority of my readers have little patience for fraudsters wielding power.
Some of your comments about Barclays stood out to me particularly, as well as a few comments from earlier, and I want to address them now.
Here's how you judged Barclays and my response to some of your best recent comments…
The Court of Public Opinion
Carol K.: A crime against simple decency. Life in America comes down to rampant corruption at every turn. Shocking when your neighborhood bank of 40 years has no honor or intention to have your best interest at heart. Instead it's to screw people out of whatever possible in a world of deceit. No more moral code to keep people honest anywhere in sight. Ashamed and embarrassed for humanity.
Well said, Carol, it is a "crime against simple decency." At the core of it, it's the bankers and their minions, as was woefully demonstrated by what "underlings" were doing at Wells Fargo for a few bucks more. They are supposed to shepherd our money, the money we deposit in their banks for safekeeping, and our trust that the capital markets are "free" and unencumbered by the specter of crooks, but they've instead turned into a criminal enterprise that renders decency naked and afraid.
Ronald G.: Guilty to taxpayers or other financiers?
Surely they deserve a medal for not involving the taxpayers. It seems that if the government rips off the taxpayer that's ok… but don't dare go outside the grid. Why on earth pick on these guys? If they are found guilty, well then, by precedent, EVERY banker in the world is guilty. So, let's not split hairs here – let us charge the whole bloody lot.
"Not involving the taxpayers." What was I thinking? I should have praised them for that. In fact, they deserve to be lauded not locked up. Maybe I'm just a little too harsh. Set them free! NOT!
Norman J.: Barclays saved tax payers a lot of money. No one was harmed. Everybody benefited. These bankers should be rewarded for their smart thinking.
N.J., you aren't a banker, are you?
Knobby: Team Qatar is known for their beyond-the-law, scruples-free dealings. They figured it would be nice to have a well-respected British bank in their back pocket. They have access to trillions, since the West has been paying them good, honest money for their natural resources for 60+ years. And they make sure that cash is kept by an elite clique that is beholden to the group.
So, are the Barclays bankers guilty of violating British law? It seems they are. Was it a bad idea? It is when it is advertised as a selfish play to keep their out-sized compensation intact. Not to mention they sold their allegiance to a gang with a bad rep.
Knobby (love that name), you're cranking on all cylinders my friend. Thanks for chiming in.
Jeff W.: The U.S. government is more guilty in my mind. Many of the institutions who were forced to take "bail out" money (which was actually a government loan) paid it back in 7 months. At a high rate of interest… They were forced to take it supposedly because the govt. did not want the public to distinguish between which banks were really solvent and which ones were not. In the end, institutions like Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, and Bank of America (who was forced to buy an insolvent Merrill Lynch) all paid a high [price] to the govt., all while receiving negative publicity for wrecking the financial system. The Federal Government was a bigger culprit than some of these institutions (although some were complicit and deserved to fail like Lehman did).
Oh Jeff, we need to talk, my friend. Not that the U.S. government isn't guilty of a lot of things – it is. But your impression of how well off some banks were is in fact really far off the mark. You're almost right in saying Goldman didn't need the money from the government; it could have gotten by without it. But it'd be out of business if the Fed didn't take AIG's money and give it to Goldman to keep its doors open. And BoA buying Merrill, that wasn't even close to being a forced merger. BoA wanted Merrill in the worst way. It was just too stupid to understand what a leveraged mess Merrill had become. All the banks that took money needed it. Only Wells Fargo was solvent. None of them paid a high enough price for what they did. The government didn't do squat to them.
We should talk. I was in the thick of it.
Comments I Couldn't Help But Respond To
About the Author
Shah Gilani is the Event Trading Specialist for Money Map Press. In Zenith Trading Circle Shah reveals the worst companies in the markets - right from his coveted Bankruptcy Almanac - and how readers can trade them over and over again for huge gains. He also writes our most talked-about publication, Wall Street Insights & Indictments, where he reveals how Wall Street's high-stakes game is really played.