Holder Shakes Down JP Morgan

On the heels of IRS targeting of Tea Party groups, we have another example of the "Chicago Way" in action. The New York Post reported on Sunday:

JPMorgan Chase has tentatively agreed to pay the Department of Justice a record $13 billion settlement to resolve several civil probes relating to residential mortgage-backed securities - a costly deal that still doesn't protect the bank against additional criminal prosecutions.

The settlement, revealed Saturday, would be the largest lump payout the US government has ever asked of an individual company.

"This is a basic and fundamental attack on capitalism," declared Dick Bove, an influential bank analyst at Rafferty Capital.

"It is possible that the government is taking away the property of the JPMorgan shareholders without the shareholders having committed any crime or having any say in the expropriation of these funds."

The shakedown was completed personally by Attorney General Eric Holder. According to newsmax.com:

The settlement deal was sealed this past Friday night in a telephone call between Attorney General Eric Holder and JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon.

Some financial analysts argue that the shakedown was unjustified. The supposed crimes by JP Morgan resulted from portfolios of failed banks that JP Morgan had taken over at administration request. JP Morgan and Wells Fargo were the two well-managed major banks that didn't need government help during the fall 2008 financial meltdown.

The attack on JP Morgan could be payback for things that Dimon, a former Obama favorite, said during the 2012 election season. According to newsmax.com:

Last year Dimon told Fortune magazine that "we have the royal straight flush," suggesting that "the debt-ceiling crisis, the failure to do Simpson-Bowles, [and] what I consider the constant attack on business" by the Obama administration had stymied the recovery.

If you want to understand where this behavior comes from, read this May 17 commentary from the Chicago Tribune by John Kass (IRS scandal a reminder of how I learned about The Chicago Way). Kass reminisces about family discussions within his large Greek-American family growing up in Chicago. Here is a selection from this engaging commentary about why his family members enjoyed talking about politics but were afraid to engage in political activities:

"Are you in your good senses?" said my father. "We have lives here. We have businesses. If we get involved in politics, they will ruin us."...

The health inspectors would come, and the revenue department, the building inspectors, the fire inspectors, on and on. The city code books aren't thick because politicians like to write new laws and regulations. The codes are thick because when government swings them at a citizen, they hurt.

And who swings the codes and regulations at those who'd open their mouths? A government worker. That government worker owes his or her job to the political boss. And that boss has a boss....

My father had a similar experience involving freedom of the press in Chicago. In the 1930s, he and his brother published a free neighborhood newspaper. It was going well, but then, all of a sudden, its advertising dried up -- turned out that the local alderman had told the businessmen that they shouldn't advertise in his paper. Next the newsboys distributing the paper destroyed the copies. That was the end of a potential voice against the machine.

Under the Obama administration, the Federal government is taking the Chicago Way nationwide. It was tolerated when it was just imposed upon a single American city. Now it threatens America's political and economic freedom.

The author teaches economics online. He and his father and son maintain a blog at www.idealtaxes.com and co-authored the 2008 book, Trading Away Our Future.

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