FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Predator Nation

When Charles Ferguson accepted the Academy Award in 2010 for his documentary film Inside Job, he told 30 million people viewing the award ceremony that “three years after a horrific financial crisis caused by massive fraud, not a single senior financial executive has been prosecuted and that’s wrong.”

Two years later, still no prosecution.

So, now Ferguson is out with a book – Predator Nation: Corporate Criminals, Political Corruption, and the Hijacking of America (Random House, 2012.)

It reads like an indictment.

Check that.

It reads like a number of indictments.

And Ferguson is hoping that federal prosecutors will pick up the book and get some ideas.

And why exactly have there been no prosecutions of high level Wall Street investment bank executives?

Politics?

“Not exactly,” Ferguson says.

“It’s important to bear in mind the direct personal incentive structures of many of the people involved,” Ferguson told Corporate Crime Reporter last week. “The revolving door phenomenon now effects the Justice Department and federal prosecutors to a very substantial extent.”

“The previous federal prosecutor for the southern district of New York, Mary Jo White, now does white collar criminal defense and makes a great deal more money than she did as a federal prosecutor. I think that phenomenon is very well entrenched, very thoroughly entrenched.”

“Indeed Lanny Breuer, the Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division was head of the white collar criminal defense practice at Covington & Burling. They represent most of the major banks and investment banks in the United States.”

And his boss, Eric Holder, the Attorney General, came from the same firm.

“Exactly,” Ferguson said. “So, when you say politics, you sort of think of Republicans, Democrats, ideology, large scale political and policy debates. I don’t think that’s the only thing going on here. I think you have to consider incentives – individual, personal, financial and professional.”

When Rudy Giuliani was U.S. Attorney, he had no qualms about prosecuting Michael Milken. What has changed?

“One thing that has changed is that the amount of wealth and political power held by the financial sector has gone up by at least an order of magnitude,” Ferguson said.

“Another thing that’s changed is the amount of money that the financial sector spends on politics and acquiring political power and influence has also gone up by at least an order of magnitude.”

“And thirdly, the divergence, the difference between public sector salaries and incomes and private sector salaries and incomes has widened enormously.”

“So again, for those at the level of large scale political behavior and at the level of individual incentive, things have changed dramatically since the 1980s.”

As an undergrad, Ferguson studied mathematics at the University of California Berkeley and went on to study political science at MIT.

He then went on to organize an early software company – Vermeer Technologies – which was sold in 1996 to Microsoft for a reported $133 million.

He was an early fan of President Obama.

“I donated my legal maximum to his campaign in 2008,” Ferguson says.

But at a press conference in October 2011, Obama addressed the question of why no high level Wall Street executive has been prosecuted.

“So, you know, without commenting on particular prosecutions– obviously, that’s not my job, that’s the attorney general’s job – you know, I think part of people’s frustrations, part of my frustration, was a lot of practices that should not have been allowed weren’t necessarily against the law, but they had a huge destructive impact,” Obama said.

Does Ferguson still support Obama?

“I’m now very troubled,” Ferguson said. “I’m going to vote for him because we face only two realistic choices, him and Mitt Romney, and between the two, I still think that, for various reasons, he is by far the better choice. He is the lesser of two evils and I can’t say that I will vote with any happiness.”

Are you going to donate the legal maximum this time?

“I haven’t decided what I’m going to do,” Ferguson said. “I certainly would find it emotionally difficult to donate money to his campaign given my feelings about the situation and his conduct.”

What was Ferguson’s reaction when he heard Obama say – the actions “weren’t necessarily against the law”?

“My reaction was very negative,” Ferguson said. “First of all the statement is thoroughly inaccurate and incorrect, but secondly it’s very difficult for me to believe that he doesn’t know that.”

“Given what we now know, it’s very difficult for me to believe that President Obama actually believes that there was no significant criminality in the housing bubble and the financial crisis.”

Russell Mokhiber edits the Corporate Crime Reporter.

 

More articles by:

Russell Mokhiber is the editor of the Corporate Crime Reporter..

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

June 25, 2019
Rannie Amiri
Instigators of a Persian Gulf Crisis
Patrick Cockburn
Trump May Already be in Too Deep to Avoid War With Iran
Paul Tritschler
Hopeful Things
John Feffer
Deep Fakes: Will AI Swing the 2020 Election?
Binoy Kampmark
Bill Clinton in Kosovo
Kenneth Surin
Brief Impressions of the Japanese Conjuncture
Edward Hunt
Is Mexico Winding Down or Winding up the Drug War?
Manuel E. Yepe
Trump’s Return to Full-Spectrum Dominance
Steve Kelly
Greed and Politics Should Not Drive Forest Policy
Stephen Carpa
Protecting the Great Burn
Colin Todhunter
‘Modified’: A Film About GMOs and the Corruption of the Food Supply for Profit
Martin Billheimer
The Gothic and the Idea of a ‘Real Elite’
Elliot Sperber
Send ICE to Hanford
June 24, 2019
Jim Kavanagh
Eve of Destruction: Iran Strikes Back
Nino Pagliccia
Sorting Out Reality From Fiction About Venezuela
Jeff Sher
Pickin’ and Choosin’ the Winners and Losers of Climate Change
Howard Lisnoff
“Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran”
Robert Fisk
The West’s Disgraceful Silence on the Death of Morsi
Dean Baker
The Old Japan Disaster Horror Story
David Mattson
The Gallatin Forest Partnership and the Tyranny of Ego
George Wuerthner
How Mountain Bikes Threaten Wilderness
Christopher Ketcham
The Journalist as Hemorrhoid
Manuel E. Yepe
Yankee Worship of Bombings and Endless Wars
Mel Gurtov
Iran—Who and Where is The Threat?
Wim Laven
Revisiting Morality in the Age of Dishonesty
Thomas Knapp
Facebook’s Libra Isn’t a “Cryptocurrency”
Weekend Edition
June 21, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Brett Wilkins
A Brief History of US Concentration Camps
Rob Urie
Race, Identity and the Political Economy of Hate
Rev. William Alberts
America’s Respectable War Criminals
Paul Street
“So Happy”: The Trump “Boom,” the Nation’s Despair, and the Decline of Joe Biden
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Ask Your Local Death Squad
Dr. Vandana Shiva
Fake Food, Fake Meat: Big Food’s Desperate Attempt to Further the Industrialisation of Food
Eric Draitser
The Art of Trade War: Is Trump Winning His Trade War against China?
Melvin Goodman
Trump’s Russian Problem
Jonathan Cook
Forget Trump’s Deal of the Century: Israel Was Always on Course to Annexation
Andrew Levine
The Biden Question
Stanley L. Cohen
From Tel Aviv to Tallahassee
Robert Hunziker
Permafrost Collapses 70 Years Early
Kenn Orphan
Normalizing Atrocity
Ajamu Baraka
No Dare Call It Austerity
Ron Jacobs
The Redemptive Essence of History
David Rosen
Is Socialism Possible in America?
Dave Lindorff
The US as Rogue Nation Number 1
Joseph Natoli
The Mad King in His Time
David Thorstad
Why I’m Skipping Stonewall 50
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail