Breakup Bank of America
Last Fall, Occupy Wall Street made it impossible to ignore the concentrated wealth and widespread poverty created by the global financial system. This Spring, Occupy Wall Street is targeting one of this system’s major institutions, Bank of America. Bank of America is a giant, raging hurricane of theft and fraud, spinning its way through America and leaving a massive trail of destitute retirees and foreclosed-upon families in its wake. Bank of America is bankrupt and poised on the brink of a meltdown of greater magnitude than the 2008 economic crisis and bailout.
The US government must stop giving Americans’ tax dollars to B of A and move B of A into an orderly and efficient bankruptcy proceeding. Bank of America could not survive without our tax dollars. Our government gives B of A near 0%-interest loans, which it then sells back to us at 5% to 25% interest.
Credit agencies must assess B of A’s real credit rating, based on its real worth. Bank of America could not survive if it was honestly appraised. Right now, B of A (and other big banks) benefit from rules that were changed in 2008 to allow them to inflate the value of their assets. Letting the banks lie about their net worth is a big part of the reason they still have decent credit.
The B of A bankers that got rich by illegally gambling with our mortgages, crashing the economy, and then foreclosing on our homes must be prosecuted. Bank of America could not survive if it paid for its crimes. B of A (and other big banks) used fraud to create mortgages, and fraud to foreclose on homeowners. They are currently trying to get immunity for their crimes in exchange for a relatively small amount of cash.
What can be done?
It’s time to stop B of A before it steals more of our homes and jobs and shocks the entire global economy into another crisis. The politicians are too wedded to big money to stop B of A, but together we can put an end to this criminal institution ourselves.
By forcing Bank of America into bankruptcy proceedings, we can gracefully dissolve it into smaller, less threatening, more accountable financial institutions. This is not a dream. Creating a transparent process to shepherd this breakup is a realistic step towards making our government, and our financial system, work for 99% of the population.
You can help by:
• Moving your money to community banks or credit unions that serve our communities.
• Educating your friends and co-workers about the severe risk B of A poses to the global economy.
• Joining us in taking action against B of A. We will be organizing in our communities to close local B of A branches, stop the sale of illegally foreclosed-upon homes at auction courts, and target politicians and investors that support B of A.
Why Bank of America?
“There are two things every American needs to know about Bank of America. The first is that it’s corrupt… It is a giant, raging hurricane of theft and fraud… The second is that all of us, as taxpayers, are keeping that hurricane raging.”
— Matt Taibbi breaks it down for us. Read More
Right now, Bank of America’s business model is a ponzi scheme–with our tax dollars.
- For the last three years Bank of America has been borrowing billions of dollars a day in “emergency lending” from the Federal Reserve at interest rates close to zero. In just one day in January, 2009, it borrowed $91 billion. All told, it has taken at least $2 trillion in rolling “emergency” loans since 2008. What does B of A do with that money? Lend it back to us at 5% interest rates for mortgages and 20% or even 25% interest rates for credit cards. Borrow at zero, lend at 25 –that’s how Bank of America makes its profits– it lends your money back to you at interest.
- BOFA received $45 billion in taxpayer bailout money in 2008, including $25 billion to help it buy the failing investment company Merrill Lynch.
- Despite having a credit rating one notch above junk level, Bank of America has borrowed $44 billion against the government’s higher credit status, using a little-known Federal Reserve program for banks with damaged credit called the Temporary Liquidity Guarantee Program. In simple terms? BofA received a new platinum credit card guaranteed by the taxpayer as a reward for having a severely damaged credit rating.
- In 2011, Bank of America moved $73 trillion (that’s trillion, with a T) in risky derivative bets from its investment bank Merrill Lynch to its own books. Because BofA’s holdings are insured by the government-controlled and financied FDIC, that puts us taxpayers on the hook for their potential losses. The state’s willingness to guarantee BofA’s losses are what allows the bank to receive loans from otherwise nervous creditors.
Financially supported and legally sanctioned by the state, Bank of America has defrauded everyone it does business with: investors, insurers, homeowners, shareholders, depositors, and the state. If you bank with BofA, it’s likely they stole from you, or at least tried to. Want proof of this illegal activity? Here’s a laundry list of their recent and pending lawsuits:
- Homeowners: Bank of America is facing over a dozen class-action lawsuits for foreclosing on thousands of homeowners across the country. The bank’s electronic foreclosure system, called “robosigning,” may be responsible for illegally forclosing on the homes of 5,000 military members.
- Clients: Bank of America also owes its everyday clients nearly half a trillion dollars from inflated and illegal overdraft fees. In May, 2012, a federal judge ruled that the bank must pay back its clients more than $410 million.
- Minorities: Bank of America systematically defrauded minorities. In 2011, Bank of America paid $335 million to the Department of Justice after facing a lawsuit charging that Countrywide, a BofA-owned mortgage firm, systematically defrauded 200,000 African-American and Hispanic borrowers in mortgage deals, often selling them riskier adjustable loans when they qualified for safer, fixed-rate mortgages.
- State workers: Last year, a court ruled that Bank of America sold $624 million in fraudulent securities to New York public pension funds–meaning that BofA stole more than half a trillion dollars from public workers in just one state! In Mississippi, Bank of America also stole millions from state workers’ pensions by selling fraudulent securities, settling with the state for $315 million. This type of worker pension-fund theft is rampant across the U.S.–and Bank of America is also facing lawsuits by other state governments.
- Counties and Towns: Dallas County, Texas is suingBank of America for stealing as much as $100 million in local taxes by using an electronic mortgage registration system instead of paying county fees. Dozens of other localities, including counties in Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Michigan, are filing similar suits.
- The Federal Government: Bank of America even defrauded the federal government, who is now suing the bank for selling Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac–the taxpayer-owned mortgage-insurance companies–$3 billion in securities which ended up being worthless.
- Investors: Bank of America is facing over a dozen major lawsuits for selling fraudulent securities to institutional investors. It has already settled for $8.5 billion in damages from claims from a group of institutional investors like BlackRock, who bought bad mortgages from Countrywide– the firm purchased by Bank of America. It faces $10 billion in similar claims from AIG, and $700 million more from Allstate. U.S. Bancorp also sued BofA for over a billion dollars for fraud.
- Insurers:Bank of America is facing lawsuits for over $3 billion from major bond insurers MBIA, Assured and Amba–all of whom report being defrauded by Bank of America.
- Shareholders: In 2008, taxpayers gave billions of dollars to Bank of America to buy the failing investment company (FC) Merrill Lynch. Meanwhile, BofA conspired with Merrill Lynch to hide that the investment company’s executives would recieve nearly $3.6 billion in bonuses that same year–a fraud that ended up costing Bank of America more than $125 million after a series of lawsuits by the decieved shareholders.
- More than 8 million homes have been foreclosed since the bailouts. Bank of America won’t tell us how many of these they manage, but they do control 20% of the mortgages in the U.S. Foreclosure rates are expected to increase another 25% this year.
- Meanwhile, Bank of America plans to fire 30,000 working people>, while giving their execs multi-million dollar bonuses. Last year, their top execs (like CEO Brian “money hands” Moynihan) received roughly $10 million each in bonuses.
- Bank of America spent over $600,000 lobbying congress last year, and they payed less in taxes than you did And thanks to the Citizen’s United supreme court ruling, which determined that corporations have the same rights that we do, there is no limit to what they can spend on political campaigns.
No More Bailouts
Despite trillions of dollars in bailout money and hundreds of unenforced new regulations, our economy is as unstable and unfair as before the collapse in 2008. What the newspapers don’t tell us is that banks like Bank of America are once again on the verge of failing and only a continuous stream of our taxpayer money is keeping them alive. Last time we paid the banks a massive bailout, we lost our homes and suffered, while executives enjoyed record bonuses and banks conspired to grow even bigger and more interconnected–putting the rest of us at an even greater risk. We can not let the next crisis be used as a pretext for social service cuts and pillage of our tax dollars. We will not be sold out again.
The Big Picture
We are fighting for economic justice and democracy. We are part of an international movement battling unchecked global capitalism, the crimes of Wall Street and the banks, a corrupt government controlled by monied elites, and the resulting income inequality, unemployment, environmental destruction, and oppression of people at the front lines of the economic crisis. The 99% are organizing to end the tyranny, greed, and selfishness of the 1% and usher in an era of protected freedoms, compassion, collaboration, solidarity, mutual aid, sustainability, economic justice, and democracy by and for the people.
Bank of America’s ongoing theft of public taxes and people’s homes is but one example of our corrupt financial system, which creates incredible private gain at the expense of the public good. We say enough! It is time we create a new system that respects ALL people. Join as we take this important first step and work to break up Bank of America.