FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:
JPMorgan Chase’s $2 billion trading loss highlights what could be a huge Wall Street problem for President Barack Obama as he faces re-election.
Nearly four years after the financial crisis, little appears to have changed on Wall Street.
These guys can still play fast and loose with whatever rules there are and in the process risk huge losses.
JP Morgan's CEO Jamie Dimon was on "Meet the Press" on Sunday doing damage control. There have already been several resignations at the company.
Dimon acknowledges the $2 billion loss was due to a series of massive bets placed through credit default swaps - which is what nearly brought the country to its knees in 2008.
In other words, what happened at JP Morgan, one of the largest banks in the U.S., is exactly the kind of thing the president's financial law was supposed to stop. But it didn't.
Working in Obama's favor - he can paint his opponent, Mitt Romney, as a big business guy who would slash financial regulations.
But voters will hold up the president against his record - and ask how this could happen again. In light of the mess at JP Morgan, it will be nearly impossible for Obama to run as the president who got tough on Wall Street.
Critics of the president say the White House should have pushed for stronger legislation - and that financial reform took a back seat to the health care and stimulus bills.
They say the president had a historic chance to bring real reform to Wall Street since there was such intense public anger toward the banks.
Administration officials argue Obama pushed for the toughest financial reform law that he could get through Congress.
Here’s my question to you: How big is President Obama's Wall Street problem?
Tune in to the Situation Room at 5pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.
And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.
As Occupy Wall Street marks two months of protests, there are questions about exactly what the activists want and more importantly, how they plan to get it.
Patience is wearing thin in cities around the country as officials begin to move against the demonstrators in places such as New York; Oakland and Berkeley, California; Portland, Oregon; and Salt Lake City.
While getting an "A" for perseverance, the occupiers' tent cities are starting to get on people's nerves, which is part of the idea. But some of the tent cities have spawned drugs, crime and violence, things that are not conducive to generating sympathy for their cause.
And speaking of their cause, what exactly is it? With the protesters so widely dispersed, you have to wonder how focused and concentrated their message is. After two months, a lot of us remain unsure of what exactly the message is. More is needed than a vague complaint against corporate greed if they are to remain relevant.
That brings us to something else the movement has been lacking so far: Leaders. Putting a head on this group would perhaps allow them to crystallize their message a little more.
Finally you could make a very strong argument that the major source of our country's problems is Washington. So why are these folks content to wander around places such as New York, Denver, Seattle, Oakland and other places outside the real scene of the crimes.
If you want to fight a fire, you have to go to where the fire is.
Here’s my question to you: What should Occupy Wall Street's next move be?
Interested to know which ones made it on air?
What started with a few people in New York's financial district complaining about the economy and corporate greed has now spread around the world.
And as the Occupy Wall Street movement marks a month of protests, there are no signs of it slowing down.
Protesters have taken to the streets not only in a growing number of U.S. cities, but around Europe and Asia.
This includes cities like London, Rome, Paris, Oslo, Copenhagen, Sydney, Hong Kong, Taipei, and Tokyo. These protests have been mostly peaceful except for Rome, where they set off riots.
Organizers say protests will be held in 950 cities in 82 countries. Sort of sounds like a revolution.
Here in the U.S., police arrested hundreds of protesters over the weekend, including in New York, Chicago, Denver, Phoenix, and Raleigh, North Carolina.
American protesters say they're angry that banks keep making hefty profits after the 2008 bailouts, while ordinary Americans suffer under a struggling economy and 9% unemployment.
They say they take their inspiration from the Arab spring movement that led to the toppling of regimes in Africa and the Middle East.
Critics accuse the protesters of not having clear goal, and they question how long the movement can keep going. But they have lasted a month so far, and the folks who laughed at them don't look so smart now.
Plus politicians seem to be taking note that these protests aren't going away any time soon:
President Obama has voiced support for the demonstrators, and Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor - who previously compared protesters to "angry mobs" - now says his party agrees there is "too much" income disparity in the U.S.
Here’s my question to you: Where are the Occupy Wall Street protests destined to end?
It's a joke… it's not funny… but it's a joke.
When it comes to reforming Wall Street, Congress decided a big part of the solution is ordering up studies. Lots and lots of studies.
CNNMoney.com reports the Wall Street reform bill - which passed the House last week, and will likely pass the Senate soon - orders various government officials to conduct 68 studies. 68.
The topics of these studies include ethical standards for financial planners, short selling, improved insurance regulation, private student loans... making it easier to sue lawyers, accountants and bankers who help commit securities fraud and on and on and on...
Lobbyists for the financial sector insist that since the bill is so far-reaching, it requires more studies... adding that it's better to take time to do a study than to make a quick decision and get it wrong.
That's one explanation. But don't kid yourself. Ordering studies is what politicians do when they don't have the guts to make difficult or unpopular decisions. See the general theme of studies is to delay or kill - it's a strategy taught on K Street - that's where the lobbyists make their home.
The worst kinds of studies are those that don't require any follow-up or deadlines - and many of these in the so-called financial reform legislation are in that category.
And if you'd like to know how much all this so-called studying will cost - don't bother asking. Congress didn't appropriate any money for the 68 studies nor did they break down how much these 68 studies will cost. It is past time for the revolution.
Here’s my question to you: Is the answer to reforming Wall Street another 68 government studies?
As Wall Street brought the nation to the brink of financial collapse a couple years ago some of our so-called top government regulators were spending hours a day of agency time watching pornography on government computers instead of watching the investment bankers on Wall street who were going south with the economy.
The inspector general for the Securities and Exchange Commission says at least 33 employees were involved watching internet filth. Almost all of these cases occurred in the last two and a half years which would coincide with the near-collapse of the financial system.
More than half of these employees were at a "senior level" making up to $220,000.
And if you're not disgusted yet, let me continue:
One senior attorney at the SEC in Washington spent as much as 8 hours a day looking at and downloading porn. After running out of hard drive space on his computer, he burned the files onto CDs or DVDs and stored them in boxes in his office.
An SEC accountant was blocked more than 16,000 times in one month from trying to access porn sites.
Another SEC accountant tried to access pornography online almost 2,000 times in a two-week period. She had 600 pornographic images saved on her computer.
The SEC won't release the names of these people even though they work for you. They claim those involved have been disciplined, suspended or fired. They should all be fired end of discussion.
Meanwhile President Obama wants to create another new government bureaucracy to oversee Wall Street. What if the SEC just did its job instead?
Here’s my question to you: Should Pres. Obama be more concerned about the SEC watching pornography when they should have been watching Wall Street?
(PHOTO CREDIT: STAN HONDA/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
In calling on Wall St. to back reform - Pres. Obama says he believes in the power of the free market, but he also says: "A free market was never meant to be a free license to take whatever you can get, however you can get it."
The president insists that reform of the financial industry is necessary in order to avoid another crisis - the aftermath of which we're still living through.
He says reform would: Help keep consumers from being "duped" by deceptive financial deals, make complex investment derivatives more transparent, and create a "dedicated agency" to make sure banks don't take advantage of people. The translation of that last part is yet another government bureaucracy.
The president's in a tough spot - trying to convince those on Wall St. to support reforms of Wall St; and he insists the reforms are in the "best interest" of both the country and the industry.
We'll see. The fact of the matter is these calls for more regulation follow government meddling in everything from health care to the auto industry and banks… not what usually comes to mind when you think of free market capitalism.
And not everyone is comfortable with this. A new Pew poll suggests an overwhelming majority of Americans are either frustrated or angry with the federal government... and almost one-third of us see the government as a threat to our personal freedom.
This poll also shows most Americans are against a larger, more activist government... except when it comes to regulating big financial companies.
Here’s my question to you: How much should the government be involved in things like Wall Street, health care, the auto industry and banks?
Tune in to the Situation Room at 6pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.
Only months after being bailed out by billions of our taxpayer dollars... Wall Street is on track to pay employees even more than it did before the financial meltdown.
The Washington Post reports that so far this year the top 6 banks have set aside 74 billion dollars to pay employees - that's up from 60 billion dollars at this time last year - before the bottom fell out.
Washington is up in arms over this... with lawmakers blasting these financial institutions for going back to old habits. They are also promising to pass legislation to increase oversight on Wall Street pay days.
In last night's press conference - President Obama said Wall Street hasn't changed its behavior yet, saying: "I'd like to think that people would feel a little remorse and feel embarrassed and would not get million-dollar or multimillion-dollar bonuses."
All six of the top U.S. banks got federal bailout money last year. Three of them - Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and J.P. Morgan Chase - have since returned those funds. Yet - they still benefit from other emergency federal programs.
All of these banks - except for Morgan Stanley - posted profits this quarter. Some bank executives say it shouldn't be surprising that compensation goes up as performance improves.
Here’s my question to you: Did Wall Street learn anything from last year's meltdown?
Stock markets have been rallying for almost two months now since the Dow hit a nearly 12-year low in early March. The S&P 500 has surged about 30 percent since then; and the Dow Jones industrial average has posted its best two months since the start of the last bull market in 2002. International indexes are up sharply too, marking the strongest global stock rally since 1991.
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange moments before the closing bell.
One expert tells the Financial Times: "All the things are in place for the bear market to have ended."
And it's not just stock markets that are rebounding... credit markets, emerging markets and commodities - like oil - are all on the rise. Also, although company earnings are still decreasing, they aren't as bad as they were. Surprise results have come from companies like Wells Fargo, JP Morgan, Ford and Apple.
And then there's the massive economic stimulus program that may have started to work its way through different parts of the economy.
It's hard to believe two months ago we were all talking about the first depression since the 1930s, deflation and bank nationalizations. But markets often improve before the wider economy does; and some think the markets could keep rallying for another six months.
The 'glass half empty' crowd isn't convinced. They suggest the current stock market rally is not for real. They worry that banks will continue to hold back lending and housing prices will continue to fall.
In light of the fact that many Americans have been standing on the sideline for some time...
Here’s my question to you: Is now the time to invest in the stock market?
High gas prices, slumping home sales and declining values and the whole sub-prime credit mess have combined to make 2007 a pretty tough year for a lot of people. The latest CNN poll shows 57% of Americans think the economy is already in a recession. But you wouldn't know it on Wall Street. Bonus checks at the big investment banking firms are up 14% this year. Four of the biggest investment banks alone - Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns - will pay out $30 billion in bonuses.
Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein will get $70 million, and Lehman Brothers' CEO Richard Fuld will get a $35 million stock bonus. Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack and Bear Stearns CEO Jimmy Cayne are forgoing their bonuses this year. But they'll probably be okay.
Mack got more than $40 million in stocks and options last year. Cayne received a bonus of more than $33 million.
Average Americans who invested in these banks paying out these big bonuses are probably scratching their heads. If they held stock in most of these companies, they saw values plunge up to 45%.
Here’s my question to you: Is it wrong for Wall Street to reward its employees with big bonuses this year?
Interested to know which ones made it on air?
Jack Cafferty sounds off hourly on the Situation Room on the stories crossing his radar. Now, you can check in with Jack online to see what he's thinking and weigh in with your own comments online and on TV.
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