4 Things That Need to Happen Before the Year’s Up (But Won’t)

There’s a lot going on in both the financial and political circles. First, we have tonight’s presidential debates, which, I’m afraid are going to be little more than a few “breaking news” stories to hit our in-boxes every time one of the candidates say something with any degree of wisdom.

While everyone’s gearing up for that – whatever it ultimately becomes, there are a lot of other things flying under the radar – and honestly, it almost seems as though it’s intentionally planned this way. Either way, there are a few things that really need to happen before the end of the year, but certainly won’t.

The state of New York filed a lawsuit against JPMorgan Chase on Monday. This is just another minor blip for Dimon & Co, who have glided through the entire financial brouhaha with not so much as hurt feelings. Still, you can’t help but wonder when it’s going to catch up not only with the “big banks”, but specifically Jamie Dimon. You can be sure of one thing – this lawsuit? This is not the “catch up” so many are waiting for. In fact, when the news broke, one might have expected it to affect the banking giant’s shares to fall – it barely registered at all. Do the words “too big to fail” sound appropriate here?

Here’s the problem though – New York’s attorney general said this isn’t about forcing anyone to take responsibility via criminal avenues – the lawsuit is being filed from a civil perspective. I get the sense that AG Schneiderman would have things take a different path if he had his way. He’s already vented his frustration that “more has not been done to hold accountable the Wall Street banks” and that the irresponsible and at least unethical choices behind “the mortgage-backed bonds that imploded” and all but “brought down the U.S. economy”. So where is the FBI? Where is the SEC? I don’t know either – but take a look at what the FBI says:

“With losses totaling approximately $40 billion per year, combating Securities and Commodities Fraud remains a priority for the FBI. The FBI is investigating 1655 cases of Securities and Commodities Fraud and has 157 agents dedicated to the problem.”

These are criminal cases the FBI is referring to. More than 1,600 cases with less than 200 agents to handle them? How did the problem get so big to start with?

There has to come a point in time when those responsible are held criminally responsible. This civil nonsense? Think it’s a big deal? Two questions: did you know another lawsuit was filed Friday against Bank of America from the state of New York? Most people didn’t. Have you seen Jamie Dimon plastered all over the airwaves, showing concern that his bank is facing yet one more lawsuit? This is like, I don’t know, the third or fourth lawsuit this year alone. He’s not worried about this.

The best we can hope for is that the state will use the Martin Act in these suits. This will allow Schneiderman to present evidence without having to prove intent. As we know, folks love hiding behind the difficulties associated with proving intent when they’re facing a lawsuit. The banks hopefully won’t have that advantage.

A solution – a real solution (and in my opinion that includes criminal charges) needs to be found this year. We don’t want to drag this into a new year.

OK – second thing that needs to happen actually has a lot to do with tomorrow’s debate.

It’s short and sweet – these two candidates need to show passion in their arguments. Here’s where they’re going to fail miserably – first, they confuse passion for near-hatred they feel towards each other. More importantly though, they (meaning Obama and Romney) get so frustrated with one another that they forget it’s the taxpayers/consumers/American citizens they need to focus on. So yeah – they need to show bit of passion towards what really matters to the ones who will be casting their votes. Show a bit of maturity and respect and skip the stupidity.

Third thing – Congress needs to show a bit of maturity, as well. If the fiscal cliff comes full circle, and it appears it might (although some economists say it won’t), you and me and your boss and your worst enemy will immediately be hit with a staggering $3,500 tax increase. Don’t even kid yourself that the tax brackets will play any role in this, either. We’re all going to be paying it in some way or another. They need to be cornered or shamed or pushed – whatever it takes – into doing the right thing and finding a solution to the Bush tax cuts that will expire at midnight on December 31.

Fourth thing – We all know the media is bias. There are selfish motives, money, egos and a host of other unattractive reasons that drive the collective American media. If all of us took an interest in uncovering our own truth, the media would have no choice but to return to the more passive role it’s supposed to serve. There’s an old saying, “Be the only thinker in your own mind”. I used to tell my son that when he was a little one. I wanted him to grow up defining his own stance, his own beliefs and his own moral code. Seems like so many have allowed the media to do their thinking for them. Question everything. Make no mistake: these journalists that are landing in our living rooms every day? They too are human – they have their own opinions and beliefs and political parties. It’s time we all take responsibility for making up our own minds.


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