The conspiracy theorists were right

As I have repeatedly written, the Conspiracy Theory of History is the only one that stands up to critical analysis.  Not only that, but the closer you look, the more readily apparent the various conspiracies become.  Matt Taibbi, who has been doggedly investigating the world of high finance since the 2008 crisis began, finally throws up his hands and admits what was always readily apparent to the sufficiently logical:

Conspiracy theorists of the world, believers in the hidden hands of
the Rothschilds and the Masons and the Illuminati, we skeptics owe you
an apology. You were right. The players may be a little different, but
your basic premise is correct: The world is a rigged game. We found this
out in recent months, when a series of related corruption stories
spilled out of the financial sector, suggesting the world’s largest
banks may be fixing the prices of, well, just about everything.

You may have heard of the Libor scandal, in which at least three –
and perhaps as many as 16 – of the name-brand too-big-to-fail banks have
been manipulating global interest rates, in the process messing around
with the prices of upward of $500 trillion (that’s trillion, with a “t”)
worth of financial instruments. When that sprawling con burst into
public view last year, it was easily the biggest financial scandal in
history – MIT professor Andrew Lo even said it “dwarfs by orders of
magnitude any financial scam in the history of markets.”

That was bad enough, but now Libor may have a twin brother. Word has
leaked out that the London-based firm ICAP, the world’s largest broker
of interest-rate swaps, is being investigated by American authorities
for behavior that sounds eerily reminiscent of the Libor mess.
Regulators are looking into whether or not a small group of brokers at
ICAP may have worked with up to 15 of the world’s largest banks to
manipulate ISDAfix, a benchmark number used around the world to
calculate the prices of interest-rate swaps.

Interest-rate swaps are a tool used by big cities, major corporations
and sovereign governments to manage their debt, and the scale of their
use is almost unimaginably massive. It’s about a $379 trillion market,
meaning that any manipulation would affect a pile of assets about 100
times the size of the United States federal budget.

It should surprise no one that among the players implicated in this
scheme to fix the prices of interest-rate swaps are the same megabanks –
including Barclays, UBS, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and the Royal
Bank of Scotland – that serve on the Libor panel that sets global
interest rates. In fact, in recent years many of these banks have
already paid multimillion-dollar settlements for anti-competitive
manipulation of one form or another (in addition to Libor, some were
caught up in an anti-competitive scheme, detailed in Rolling Stone last year,
to rig municipal-debt service auctions). Though the jumble of financial
acronyms sounds like gibberish to the layperson, the fact that there
may now be price-fixing scandals involving both Libor and ISDAfix
suggests a single, giant mushrooming conspiracy of collusion and
price-fixing hovering under the ostensibly competitive veneer of Wall
Street culture.

Nor should it come as any surprise that the chief role of government in all of this has been to enable and defend the conspirators.

“But the biggest shock came out of a federal courtroom at the end of
March – though if you follow these matters closely, it may not have been
so shocking at all – when a landmark class-action civil lawsuit against
the banks for Libor-related offenses was dismissed. In that case, a federal judge accepted the banker-defendants’
incredible argument: If cities and towns and other investors lost money
because of Libor manipulation, that was their own fault for ever
thinking the banks were competing in the first place.”

The reason all of this information is finally coming out is because the system is breaking down.  The scale of the efforts required to attempt salvaging the players precludes any ability to keep everything behind the veil of genteel respectability while the straightforward demands for access to taxpayer funds and bank deposits prevents any attempt to confuse matters by appealing to their complexity.