“Hundreds of representatives of various underworld groups are reported to have attended the funeral of Vyacheslav "Yaponchik" Ivankov.
The ceremony was closed to the media at the request of his family. Police were present but no arrests were made.” – BBC, “Russian crime boss laid to rest”
“Meanwhile, quarterly performance at the banking giant Goldman Sachs cemented its status at the top of the financial heap, alongside JPMorgan Chase. On Wednesday, JPMorgan reported another profitable quarter, igniting a rally in the stock markets.
Goldman, which repaid its $10 billion government bailout in June, reported that trading gains and corporate investments contributed to a $3.19 billion profit in the third quarter. In announcing its results, Goldman promptly went on the defensive about its bonuses, which are being doled out while the unemployment rates chugs toward 10 percent.
“There is a massive divide between Wall Street and Main Street,” said the analyst Meredith A. Whitney. “Main Street is suffering while Wall Street is doing great. It’s like the Olive Garden is empty while San Pietro is packed,” a reference to the posh Italian restaurant in Midtown Manhattan.
In part to allay criticism of its profits and bonuses, Goldman announced a $200 million contribution to its foundation, which promotes education.”- NYT, Bank Earnings Show Shifting Earnings of Wall Street
The Vory v Zakony is defunct. Banks and bank robbers have always, of course, existed under the sign of Janus: two faces on one body. The man who embezzles and the man who makes a loan are both dealing with money that is not, properly, theirs. But ours is not a world of fabulous absolutes, and at one point the banking system American had served the American public. In the reversal of that order, we have had a chance, us zona freaks, to see into the very bottom of things. It is sad that before a tsunami hits, the water from the shore rushes out, and briefly, the ocean bottom is revealed. And so it was with our good democracy, from October of last year until January. We saw what we suspected during the Bush years – that democracy has become a caricature and a misnomer for the kind of government we suffer under.
So it is that the bubble, concocted, once again, in the White House and by the Fed, has been a-blowing on Wall Street. Because it is a bubble that touches only the important people, it is a bubble in a very closed and restricted circle. That circle likes it. In the profile of Larry Summers published a couple of weeks ago in the New Yorker, Summers (whose very naps are subject to the writer’s adoration) is depicted meeting with some clueless Michiganers, who are, well, pleading for Federal funding to go to several worthy enterprises that would employ people outside of Wall Street. One of the Michiganers even uttered the heresy that the U.S. needed more manufacturing, citing as his authority Immelt, a CEO who has said the American economy should be twenty percent manufacturing (Americans cite CEOs the way the Medievals would cite Aristotle – to give that needed divine sanction to a statement). Summers is portrayed as a veritable intellectual Anny Oakley, shooting down such crackpot notions with his bare genius:
“It’s terribly important that we be very tough-minded about doing things that work, not things that don’t work, and about testing, challenging, claims,” he told the executives. And then, like a machine gun on a rotating turret, he went around the table one by one and questioned every claim he had just heard. “I was very much aware of Jeff Immelt’s statement about twenty per cent,” he said. “That was a very impressive claim, because if you look at every country the manufacturing share of employment has been going down, and I asked him if he had any data analysis to back up his statement. I’m still waiting for the answer.” (Immelt did eventually send him some information.)
Summers was equally doubtful of the idea that fairness required the government to bail out every struggling industry. He said, “The point that some of you made is one that, frankly, a number of the President’s more political advisers make with great frequency: how could you lend money to the big banks in New York and not lend money to regular folk who are employing a hundred people and are losing a hundred jobs?” But, he said, “just like occasionally in war there are unintended benefits, occasionally in bailouts there are unintended beneficiaries.” The bank bailouts, which, he noted several times, began under President Bush, “were directed at preventing a collapse that would have led millions of people to be out of work, not as support for those institutions.”
He also took exception to the idea, voiced by several people in the meeting, that intervening in manufacturing was as imperative as stabilizing the financial industry. “Manufacturing is very special,” he said, “but I promise you that the people involved in energy production think that it’s kind of special. I promise you that there are a lot of people involved in various kinds of retail activities who think they have a crucial role in the economy, and they’re right.”
Such turret like arguments obviously impressed the hell out of Lizza, but they look like so much bs on paper. Nobody disputes manufacturing is going down, the dispute is about the effects of that on working class and middle class incomes – effects that are worsened as nations like the U.S. shift to depending on the financial sector as the main profit center. And of course, talking about a lack of factual, the sheer impudence in pretending that the big banks were saved in the way they were saved (apparently, there was only one way to save them. Who knew?) because there collapse would have “led millions of people to be out of work” ignores that there reconstruction has happened as millions of people have been kicked out of work – and in fact, many of them come from small business which – o the joy – have been falling left and right due to lack of credit. For those wonderful multipliers of employment, the big investment banks, have been investing in … commodities, derivatives, and bank stocks.
The defender of the banker-bank robbers is, of course, on the left – meaning that he, at least, remembers that the Government saved the entire sector between November and February. Goldman Sachs has been busy forgetting that, and no doubt some bright pup from the Cato institute will chop up figures and redefine common sense definitions until he can prove definitively that it didn’t happen. The parasites live for these moments. They are the little undertakers of memory, which is such an enemy to Myth. And no oligarchy can survive long without Myth.
If we must have myth, I prefer the vory v zakone. There is a funny article (in French) at ethnographe.org by Tobias Holzlehner entitled the Paradise of the Great Bandits – which Holzlehner mistakenly locates outside of Manhattan. In fact, he locates it in Russia’s Far East, in Komsomolsk-sur-l’Amour (Konsomolsk on Amur) to be exact. He recounts his adventures in going to see the tomb of Dzhem, which involved him in some difficulties when he was spotted photographing it. In fact, he has to hide for a bit among the tombstones, and keeps slipping on the ice, all of which must have brought some smiles to those lardy Mafioso faces.
Dzhem, it appears, was a mini-Berlusconi or Murdoch. His real name was Evgenii Vasin. In the days of Brezhnevian decay (which has numerous echoes with the American version, circa now), he was a trainer for a soccer team. But the athletes turned out to be much better at beating on the heads of local store owners than kicking a ball towards a field goal, and so they diversified. Life was good and peaceful – artisans and shop owners paid up, the police were paid off, and Vasin, ever the talent scout, even recruited manpower from prisons. In the breakup of the Soviet Union he, a man of vision, saw his chance and greatly expanded his businesses, employing all the standard business practices: motivating his work force, paying his top management bonuses, and administering the physical assault of various concerns and people who did not buy his insurance.
Unfortunately, everything started going to hell when somebody blew up the café Charodeika on February 22, 2001, killing fifteen people. Now, it was a matter of fact that the owner of the café had been behindhand in his payments to Dzhem. The awful truth is, he wasn’t paying at all. Fair is fair. Like any exec, Vasin was inspired by the great leaders. He must have keenly noted the way in which “Chechen” rebels kept blowing up apartment houses in Moscow and elsewhere right before Putin was swept into office on the pledge to kill Chechens, basically.
Things didn’t work out as well for Vasin as for Putin, and so the latter is now Dzhem of Russia and the Dzhem moulders in the cold cold ground.
There’s a warning here. Luckily, America is not the country to stand for violence from criminals, when well organized peculation can more easily and peacefully occur simply by a., grossly understaffing regulators, b., annulling laws against various crimes of corporate fraud and thievery, and c., assuring a gulled and ignorant population that mainlining wealth to the wealthiest is in all our interests, world without end.
Of course, even if the population is not gulled and ignorant, they can do nothing about it. They elect leaders whose every campaign promise and word is a lie. Then they elect their opponents, and it turns out their every campaign promise and word is a lie. Thus, the slow, fatal disenfranchisement of the plebes goes forward.
I hope Goldman Sachs consults the followers of Dzhem about this wondrous educational foundation, which is being endowed with about a month’s worth of salary for one GS highroller:
“In 1996, he opened the charity foundation Sostradanie (« Compassion ») in Komsomolsk-sur-l’Amour, with offices in Khabarovsk, Birobidzhan and on Sakhalin Island. Among the members of the charity service were found former prisoners, writers, former police officers, university professors, and many vory v zakone ..
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