Tag Archives: Goldman Sachs

Gators don’t drain swamps

America’s president-elect famously promised to “drain the swamp.” Surrounding himself with alligators is a curious way of going about making good on that promise. Alligators like swamps.
Donald Trump hasn’t made all of his appointments yet, but the cast of characters he’s pulled together so far has more wealth between them than the poorest one-third of American households. That’s 17 men and women who have more money than 43 million families combined.
There’s oil tycoon Rex Tillerson. Trump wants Exxon Mobil’s chief executive in charge of international diplomacy as Secretary of State.
The “king of bankruptcy” Wilbur Ross is being put in line to become Commerce secretary. If Trump gets his way, Ross’s deputy at Commerce will be Todd Ricketts, the billionaire son of the billionaire founder of the brokerage firm Ameritrade.
Linda McMahon, the billionaire co-founder of the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) is being tabbed to head the Small Business Administration. McMahon is Trump’s biggest single political donor, having given $7.5 million to a pro-Trump super PAC, which was more than a third of the money collected by the political action committee.
Betsy DeVos, the daughter-in-law of the founder of the home care and beauty product distributor Amway Corporation (since renamed “Quixtar”), is Trump’s choice for Secretary of Education. DeVos’s brother, Erik Prince, started the shadowy soldier-for-hire company known as Blackwater. Her qualifications to oversee the nation’s schools pretty much begin and end with her family’s lavish spending to push taxpayer-funded subsidies for private and religious schools. Anyone paying careful attention to elections in Wisconsin should be familiar with DeVos’s political handiwork. Her front group known as the American Federation for Children has poured more than $5 million into Wisconsin just since 2010 to sway state legislative races and cement legislative majorities favoring privatization of education.
Then there’s Goldman Sachs.
Trump told South Carolina voters “I know the guys at Goldman Sachs” when he was trying to talk them out of supporting Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. “They have total, total control over him. Just like they have total control over Hillary Clinton.”
That was then. This is now. Trump picked Goldman Sachs president Gary Cohn to head up his White House National Economic Council. His choice for Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, spent 17 years working at Goldman Sachs. Trump’s chief strategist and White House counselor, Steve Bannon, started his career at Goldman Sachs as an investment banker.
Quite a crew being put to work draining the swamp. Alligators all of them.

Blue Jean Nation founder and president Mike McCabe is the author of Blue Jeans in High Places: The Coming Makeover of American Politics. He served as executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign for 15 years. For more, go to bluejeannation.com

‘Populist’ Trump chooses Cabinet of billionaires and Wall Street insiders

She supported Trump for his populist vows  to “drain the swamp” in Washington of moneyed elites and Wall Street insiders who crashed the economy, so  when she learned of Trump’s Cabinet pick for Treasury Secretary — Steven Mnuchin — she felt betrayed.

OneWest, a bank formerly owned by a group of investors headed by Mnuchin, had foreclosed on her Los Angeles-area home in the aftermath of the Great Recession, stripping her of the two units she rented as a primary source of income.

“I just wish that I had not voted,” said Colebrook, 59. “I have no faith in our government anymore at all. They all promise you the world at the end of a stick and take it away once they get in.”

Less than a month after his presidential win, Trump’s populist appeal has started to clash with a Cabinet of billionaires and Wall Street elites.

In addition to Mnuchin, Trump has chosen Wlibur L. Ross Jr., a billionaire investor in distressed assets as Secretary of Commerce Department and Chicago Cubs owner and billionaire Todd Ricketts as deputy commerce secretary.

‘Now backing his buddies’

Less than a month after his presidential win, Trump’s populist appeal has started to clash with a Cabinet of billionaires and millionaires that he believes can energize economic growth.

The prospect of Mnuchin leading the Treasury Department drew plaudits from many in the financial sector. A former Goldman Sachs executive who pivoted in the early 2000s to hedge fund management and movie production, he seemed an ideal emissary to Wall Street.

When asked about his credentials to be Treasury secretary, Mnuchin emphasized his time running OneWest — which not only foreclosed on Colebrook but also on thousands of others in the aftermath of the housing crisis caused by subprime mortgages.

“What I’ve really been focused on is being a regional banker for the last eight years,” Mnuchin said. “I know what it takes to make sure that we can make loans to small and midmarket companies and that’s going to be our big focus, making sure we scale back regulation so that we make sure the banks are lending.”

But the prospect of Mnuchin leading the Treasury Department prompted Colebrook and other OneWest borrowers who say they unfairly faced foreclosure to contact The Associated Press. Colebrook wishes she could meet with Trump to explain why she feels betrayed by his Cabinet selection after believing that his presidency could restore the balance of power to everyday people.

“He doesn’t want the truth,” she said. “He’s now backing his buddies.”

The Trump transition team has been sensitive to preserving trust with its voters. Senior adviser Kellyanne Conway publicly warned that supporters would feel “betrayed” if former critic Mitt Romney was named secretary of state, for instance.

Wealth from Great Recession foreclosures

For Mnuchin, the fundamental problem stems from the Great Recession. His investor group was the sole bidder to take control of the troubled bank IndyMac in 2009. The group struck a deal that left the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation responsible for taking as much as 80 percent of the losses on former IndyMac assets and rebranded the troubled bank as OneWest.

The combination of OneWest’s profitability, government guarantees and foreclosure activities drew the ire of activist groups like the California Reinvestment Coalition. It found the bank to be consistently one of the most difficult to work out loan modifications with even though OneWest never drew a major response from government regulators.

By June of 2014, five years after taking over OneWest, Mnuchin sold the bank for $3.4 billion at a tremendous profit.

Colebrook said she learned the hard way about OneWest’s tactics, after the regional bank acquired her home lender, First Federal Bank of California, in late 2009.


Wall Street execs meeting on LGBT equality

Wall Street executives are meeting May 2 for the second annual Out on the street Leadership Summit focused on LGBT issues.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch is hosting the event at its New York City headquarters.

The speakers’ list includes Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd C. Blankfein, Elliott Capital Management CEO Paul Singer, KKR global affairs chief Ken Mehlman, Knoll Furniture president Lynn Utter and KPMG CEO John Veihmeyer. ABC’s George Stephanopoulos will moderate.

The agenda includes discussions on financial services, domestic partnership benefits for employees, marriage equality campaigns and employee affinity groups.

“We are proud to support the cause of LGBT equality. People are the most valuable resource our company has, and our support for initiatives like this one matters deeply to them,” said Blankfein stated.

“The movement towards full LGBT equality in the United States is driven by corporate leaders such as the members of Out on the Street who are taking increasingly public stances of support,” said Morgan Stanley CEO James P. Gorman.

2012 Out on the Street members include Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Barclays, Citi, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, KKR, KPMG, Morgan Stanley and UBS.

Todd Sears, a former banker, created Out on the Street “to engage both gay and straight senior leaders in discussions around making the Street a destination for top talent, as well as to enhance the careers of LGBT senior leaders by creating connections to increase opportunities for business.

For more, go to http://outonthestreet.org.

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LGBT Occupy demonstrators plan action against HRC

LGBT demonstrators will protest outside the Waldorf-Astoria on New York’s Park Avenue on Saturday, Feb. 4. The focus will be on the nation’s largest LGBT group, the Human Rights Campaign.

HRC, at a gala dinner, again will honor Goldman Sachs, this time for “corporate equality.”

The Queer Occupy Wall Street Caucus, in an action endorsed by Queer Rising and Queerocracy, will protest starting at about 4 p.m. and wearing white T-shirts painted with “HELP.”

A statement from the organizing group said the activists “1. Condemn HRC for honoring Goldman Sachs. 2. Call upon HRC to adopt a strategy of Full Equality by 2014. 3. Demand that HRC create a transparent process that includes the grassroots.”

HRC spokesperson Paul Gueguierre, responding to a Time Out NY report on the demonstration plan, said, “We are fortunate to live in a democracy where everyone’s opinion counts.”

The longtime activist group the Radical Faeries also will participate in the action.

Goldman Sachs is a multi-national investment banking and securities firm that is a frequent target of the Occupy Wall Street protesters denouncing corporate greed and government welfare for the wealthy.

The Center for Responsive Politics’ OpenSecrets.org report on Goldman Sachs states, “One of Wall Street’s most prestigious investment banks, was also among the many banks in 2008 and 2009 to receive billions of dollars in taxpayer money to help it stay afloat. Like others in the securities industry, Goldman Sachs advises and invests in nearly every industry affected by federal legislation. The firm closely monitors issues including economic policy, trade and nearly all legislation that governs the financial sector. It has been a major proponent of privatizing Social Security as well as legislation that would essentially deregulate the investment banking/securities industry. The firm tends to give most of its money to Democrats. A number of high-ranking government officials in recent years have spent part of their careers at Goldman Sachs.”

An Occupy petition opposing the HRC award states, “This company has outsourced thousands of jobs overseas. They have taken billions of dollars in taxpayer money with one hand while passing out pink slips with the other. They are a contributor to the economic collapse that has led LGBT Americans, like all Americans in the 99%, to have to struggle to make ends meet, keep their homes and take care of their families.”

HRC, however, has praise for Goldman Sach’s corporate policies and programs, including its Ally Strategy aimed at creating an inclusive environment for LGBT professionals and encouraging straight professionals to champion equality.

HRC also rates Goldman Sachs as one of the “Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality.”

Last year the corporation received HRC’s award for workplace innovation. This year’s award is for corporate equality.