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2015-09-20 07:00 by Karl Denninger
in Corruption , 603 references
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I have written a number of articles related to various violent rage-monster style attacks over the years in this column; Newtown, Aurora Colorado and others.  These attacks, including others such as the infamous Columbine High School shoot-em-up-fest, have a common pair of thematic elements:

  • The assailants were all late adolescents or young adults.


  • They were all taking, or were just taking, a particular type of anti-depressant called an SSRI.

Correlation is not causation and the plural of anecdote is not data.  However, the lack of such rage-monster incidents among other age groups, when these drugs are prescribed across the spectrum of ages, is extremely curious -- and troubling.

Now we have data, in the form of two studies. The first deals with an infamous Glaxo study known as "329", which was related to the drug Paxil; the US brought criminal charges against GSK and ultimately a $3 billion fine for its marketing of the drug to children and adolescents -- an "off-label" use that cannot be marketed under US law and which GSK claimed was supported by "remarkable efficacy and safety" demonstrated by this particular study.

The problem lies in what was found when the study data was re-analyzed -- specifically:

But according to the RIAT team, the effect of paroxetine was not significantly different from placebo for any prespecified primary or secondary outcome measure.

In other words the drug did not work.

But it gets worse:

In the CSR, serious adverse events (defined as an event that “resulted in hospitalization, was associated with suicidal gestures, or was described by the treating physician as serious”) were reported in 11 patients in the paroxetine group, five in the imipramine group, and two in the placebo group.

In other words the rate of serious adverse events including suicidal gestures was more than five times higher in the group receiving the drug than those receiving placebo -- on a drug that didn't work.

Has this paper been retracted?  No.  Has anyone gone to jail for what certainly appears to be impossible to explain away as "accident" or even "ordinary negligence"?  No.  How many young people are dead as a result and why aren't the people responsible for this under indictment as accessories before the fact on negligent manslaughter charges?

But if you think that is bad then you're really going to like this -- which also bears on SSRIs:

From Swedish national registers we extracted information on 856,493 individuals who were prescribed SSRIs, and subsequent violent crimes during 2006 through 2009. We used stratified Cox regression analyses to compare the rate of violent crime while individuals were prescribed these medications with the rate in the same individuals while not receiving medication. Adjustments were made for other psychotropic medications. Information on all medications was extracted from the Swedish Prescribed Drug Register, with complete national data on all dispensed medications. Information on violent crime convictions was extracted from the Swedish national crime register. Using within-individual models, there was an overall association between SSRIs and violent crime convictions (hazard ratio [HR] = 1.19, 95% CI 1.08–1.32, p < 0.001, absolute risk = 1.0%). With age stratification, there was a significant association between SSRIs and violent crime convictions for individuals aged 15 to 24 y (HR = 1.43, 95% CI 1.19–1.73, p < 0.001, absolute risk = 3.0%). However, there were no significant associations in those aged 25–34 y (HR = 1.20, 95% CI 0.95–1.52, p = 0.125, absolute risk = 1.6%), in those aged 35–44 y (HR = 1.06, 95% CI 0.83–1.35, p = 0.666, absolute risk = 1.2%), or in those aged 45 y or older (HR = 1.07, 95% CI 0.84–1.35, p = 0.594, absolute risk = 0.3%).

Got that?

About 3% of the young people, that is, age 15-24, who were prescribed these drugs had a violent crime conviction that appears to be linked to them taking the drug -- a rate approximately double that of the next age cohort and double that of someone not consuming the drug at all.

There was no statistical increase, however, in older patients.

Considering the seriousness of violent offenses and the fact that this measures only convictions (and we know not everyone who does an evil thing gets caught or is convicted) this is an outrageous increase in risk, particularly when you combine it with the above study that appears to show that at least one of the drugs in this class is not effective in patients in this age group -- that is, it doesn't work.

So we have here a drug that appears, from these studies, to literally provide no benefit but it does create a material number of rage monsters.

Further, that the drug was worthless in terms of efficacy and was also dangerous was known long ago.

Oh, and it makes the companies that produce these drugs and the physicians that prescribe them billions of dollars too.

Exactly why aren't all of the executives associated with this and those who put together and published the original studies under indictment as accessories before the fact for those who have committed suicide -- or homicide -- while on drugs that appear to be worthless for the condition prescribed?

Come talk to me about how wonderful our medical and judicial systems are and why anyone in America should have respect for either of them when everyone involved in this crap has been brought to justice.

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Well well, what do we have here.

America needs more judges like James Fensom. Yesterday, the Panama City (Florida) adjudicator threw out felony drug charges against alleged pot dealer Jeffery Gage after depositions revealed that the police officers who arrested Gage had broken the law in order to make their case.

In his ruling (which you can read in full below), Fensom called the actions of the Bay County Sheriffs Office "outrageous...shocking, [and] disturbing," and declared that they "simply cannot stand."

From the record the cops not only illegally attached a tracking device to the suspect's car without a warrant but then twice trespassed to change the batteries in it, and worse, lied about it under oath while giving depositions to the defense and intentionally withheld the information from the defense.

That's illegal.  The premise of a public and fair trial requires that you be able to face your accuser, and that inherently includes having full access when defending yourself to the evidence against you.  When law enforcement intentionally destroys data that would tend to incriminate their own behavior and then conceals that fact your rights have been violated.

Why did they withhold the evidence?  That's easy -- it clearly demonstrated their illegal conduct and would have led to the exclusion of the evidence and search, without which the case collapses.

It's nice to see a judge that is willing to hold the cops to the letter of The Constitution.

The lesson?  Do not cooperate with law enforcement -- they will and do lie whenever it suits them right up until a Judge tosses their case.  

There's no reason to cooperate with or assist those who will intentionally violate your right to due process of law.

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Oh, so the banks don't just bilk investors and rip off municipalities, they also help Mexican Gangs run drugs?

This was no isolated incident. Wachovia, it turns out, had made a habit of helping move money for Mexican drug smugglers. Wells Fargo & Co., which bought Wachovia in 2008, has admitted in court that its unit failed to monitor and report suspected money laundering by narcotics traffickers -- including the cash used to buy four planes that shipped a total of 22 tons of cocaine.

The admission came in an agreement that Charlotte, North Carolina-based Wachovia struck with federal prosecutors in March, and it sheds light on the largely undocumented role of U.S. banks in contributing to the violent drug trade that has convulsed Mexico for the past four years.

That's nice.  Guns and ammunition cost money - lots of it.  Getting that money requires some means of transporting it and "laundering" it.  For that, we turn to the largest financial institutions in the world, who, it turns out, have never been prosecuted for these felonious acts.

Wachovias blatant disregard for our banking laws gave international cocaine cartels a virtual carte blanche to finance their operations, says Jeffrey Sloman, the federal prosecutor who handled the case.

Blatant disregard?  Sounds like something you'd say at a sentencing hearing, right?  Well, no....

No big U.S. bank -- Wells Fargo included -- has ever been indicted for violating the Bank Secrecy Act or any other federal law. Instead, the Justice Department settles criminal charges by using deferred-prosecution agreements, in which a bank pays a fine and promises not to break the law again.

No Capacity to Regulate

Large banks are protected from indictments by a variant of the too-big-to-fail theory.

Indicting a big bank could trigger a mad dash by investors to dump shares and cause panic in financial markets, says Jack Blum, a U.S. Senate investigator for 14 years and a consultant to international banks and brokerage firms on money laundering.

The theory is like a get-out-of-jail-free card for big banks, Blum says.

Theres no capacity to regulate or punish them because theyre too big to be threatened with failure, Blum says. They seem to be willing to do anything that improves their bottom line, until theyre caught.


Facilitating drug-running is just one small part of it.  There's also ripping off municipal governments, such as the Jefferson County sewer deal in Alabama.  There's bid-rigging in the GIC market.  And, of course, there's laundering money for violent Mexican drug cartels, who used that money to buy automatic weapons (no, not from America - from China, Venezuela and even from corrupt Mexican law enforcement officials!) with which they then shoot civilians and government officials who refuse to be corrupted.

Oh, and it's not just Wachovia accused in this story.  It's also Western Union and Bank of America.

Workers in more than 20 Western Union offices allowed the customers to use multiple names, pass fictitious identifications and smudge their fingerprints on documents, investigators say in court records.

In all the time we did undercover operations, we never once had a bribe turned down, says Holmes, citing court affidavits.

Very impressive.

To make their criminal enterprises work, the drug cartels of Mexico need to move billions of dollars across borders. Thats how they finance the purchase of drugs, planes, weapons and safe houses, Senator Gonzalez says.

They are multinational businesses, after all, says Gonzalez, as he slowly loads his revolver at his desk in his Mexico City office. And they cannot work without a bank.


And we have a banking system that, in the United States, has insulated itself from having to obey the law or be prosecuted for violating the law by threatening the government.

Henry Paulson and Ben Bernanke in 2008, remember?  "Tanks in the streets, martial law"?

Dateline September 21, 2008

Gee, it's not enough to steal from ordinary Americans, it's not enough to rip off state and city governments, it's not enough to rig bids in the municipal bond markets, we must sit still while these institutions literally make possible funding criminal gangs that are committing murder.

There's a name for this folks.

Formally this sort of thing is supposed to be called "Operating A Continuing Criminal Enterprise", or "OCCE":

The FBI defines a criminal enterprise as a group of individuals with an identified hierarchy, or comparable structure, engaged in significant criminal activity. These organizations often engage in multiple criminal activities and have extensive supporting networks. The terms Organized Crime and Criminal Enterprise are similar and often used synonymously. However, various federal criminal statutes specifically define the elements of an enterprise that need to be proven in order to convict individuals or groups of individuals under those statutes.

The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) statute, or Title 18 of the United States Code, Section 1961(4), defines an enterprise as "any individual, partnership, corporation, association, or other legal entity, and any union or group of individuals associated in fact although not a legal entity."

The Continuing Criminal Enterprise statute, or Title 21 of the United States Code, Section 848(c)(2), defines a criminal enterprise as any group of six or more people, where one of the six occupies a position of organizer, a supervisory position, or any other position of management with respect to the other five, and which generates substantial income or resources, and is engaged in a continuing series of violations of subchapters I and II of Chapter 13 of Title 21 of the United States Code.


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Amazing story here.... you really need to read the whole thing.  The salient point is here:

The county paid JPMorgan and a group of banks $120.2 million in fees for $5.8 billion of derivatives, according to a series of stories published by Bloomberg News in 2005. The payments were about $100 million more than they should have been based on prevailing rates, according to estimates in 2007 by James White, an adviser the county hired after the SEC said it was investigating the deals.

That's six times what they should have cost - that is, six hundred percent of market price or a 500% overcharge.

Must be nice eh?  What did they do to get this?  Allegedly:

The SEC alleged that JPMorgan, Charles LeCroy, the banker who pitched the refinancing to Jefferson County, and Douglas MacFaddin, the former head of the New York-based banks municipal derivatives desk, made more than $8 million in undisclosed payments to close friends of county commissioners. The associates owned or worked at local-broker dealer firms that didnt do any work on the deals, the SEC said.

Not bad.  Pay $8 million in kickbacks and get $100 million in overcharge.  The allegedly-bribed weren't very good negotiators - you'd think they would have gotten half, right?

And again, we settle for a fine and of course admit no guilt.

Nov. 4 (Bloomberg) -- JPMorgan Chase & Co. agreed to pay $75 million and forfeit another $647 million in interest-rate swap termination fees to settle a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission probe into the sale of derivatives that helped push Alabamas most populous county to the brink of bankruptcy.

If I pulled something like this as a person I'd go to prison for a number of years - maybe 10 or more.

Why don't government officials revoke the corporate charters of firms that pull this sort of crap?

It's pretty hard to argue that executives at the top level of a company "didn't know" when you overcharge someone by 500%.  It's one thing if you charge someone $100 for a $90 product - it's quite another when you charge someone $120 million for something that is trading in the market for $20 million.

"I didn't know about it" looks awfully thin from where I sit.

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Yeah, ok, the title is dramatic and will never happen.

Nonetheless, if we were truly a nation of laws, it would happen.

The LA Times notes regarding IndyMac depositors over the insurance limit:

The head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. delivered some bad news personally to uninsured depositors who lost money last year when IndyMac Bank crashed and burned, saying an act of Congress is their only hope for recovering their funds.

When a bank fails, we have to do whats least-cost to our deposit insurance fund, FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair said during a public appearance Wednesday in Los Angeles.

Sheila is correct as far as she goes, but like most government employees, it is what she didn't say that is the problem, not what she did.

The problem lies with the willful and intentional refusal to enforce black-letter law, in this case Title 12, Chapter 16, Section 1831o which says in part:

Each appropriate Federal banking agency and the Corporation (acting in the Corporations capacity as the insurer of depository institutions under this chapter) shall carry out the purpose of this section by taking prompt corrective action to resolve the problems of insured depository institutions.

"Shall" is a specific term of art in legislation.  It allows no discretion and mandates action.  "May" and "Can" are two other words of course, and mean what they say - as does "shall."

This section of the law goes on to define capitalization "buckets", each of which represents a level above water, or above zero, of the excess of assets .vs. liabilities for depository institutions.

It also contains plenty of other "shall" directives such as:

Each appropriate Federal banking agency shall
(A) closely monitor the condition of any undercapitalized insured depository institution;
(B) closely monitor compliance with capital restoration plans, restrictions, and requirements imposed under this section; and
(C) periodically review the plan, restrictions, and requirements applicable to any undercapitalized insured depository institution to determine whether the plan, restrictions, and requirements are achieving the purpose of this section.

and plenty more.

Everyone should go read that section of law, and note all the shall requirements in there. 

These are not suggestions, they are mandates, and if they were followed each and every bank that has been closed by the FDIC would have resulted in ZERO loss to uninsured depositors.

The reason for this is simple, when you get down to it - a bank's "capital structure" looks like this (roughly) in terms of claims against a failed institution:

  1. Advances and loans/liens by the government (e.g. employment taxes and liabilities)
  2. Deposit liabilities
  3. Senior secured debt (bondholders)
  4. Senior unsecured debt (bondholders)
  5. Ordinary debt (bondholders)
  6. Preferred stockholders (hybrid stock/bondholders)
  7. Common stockholders
  8. Excess capital (retained earnings, etc.)

As you can see in a liquidation depositors are subordinate only to statutory preference for employment and similar related claims; the entire capital structure of the firm has to be wiped out before depositors take any loss whatsoever.

If assets are properly valued at all times by government examiners and the bank is closed in accordance with the black-letter requirements of Prompt Corrective Action, then in a liquidation the depositors will never lose any money and neither will the FDIC's Deposit Insurance Fund.

It is in fact willful and intentional blindness by government agencies, including but not limited to allowing financial institutions to lie about the value of their assets, that has resulted in these losses being sustained by ordinary Americans.

Sheila Bair and the rest of the government's "apparatus", including the OTS and OCC, will undoubtedly claim "sovereign immunity" from suit, even though in the instant case, that of IndyMac, the OTS' own inspector general has disclosed that an OTS employee and persons at IndyMac conspired together to back-date deposits, thereby distorting the bank's financial condition, and there is now a 100-bank set of history on FDIC seizures that shows the FDIC has not been and still is not following the black letter requirements of Prompt Corrective Action.

We the people must not accept this sort of malfeasance and misfeasance.  These losses sustained by ordinary Americans are not the result of bad luck or even bad decisions by the banks that have failed.  

Instead, these losses taken by ordinary Americans occurred as a direct result of malfeasance and misfeasance by the OTS, OCC and FDIC itself.

To be blunt, if you lost money as a consequence of being an uninsured depositor at IndyMac that loss occurred as a direct consequence of the willful blindness (or worse) of government agencies who have intentionally and wantonly refused to obey the mandates set before them under black-letter law.

You were, in essence, robbed by the government.

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