Long time readers will know that the best return on investment (ROI for you wonky types) in America is lobbying dollars. For a pittance you can purchase present your case to a Congressman or woman and generate multitudes of that same dollar spent in return. It appears Federal Reserve and Treasury officials are also on sale (aisles 7 and 10 respectively) so hurry on in, but only those with annual revenue of $500M+ allowed in on the bidding! Our financial oligarchs are top dogs at playing the game but it's across all major industries. Remember, competition in America is good - on paper, and as long as it does not effect my fortune 500 corporation. Then it must be stymied!
All the usual suspects in the financial oligarchy - no surprise, since they now control the vast majority of American assets. Oops sorry let me go by the company line... there are 8000 financial institutions in Cramerica competing blah blah blah snore.
- Bank of America (BAC) $2.3 Trillion
- JPMorgan (JPM) $2.0 Trillion
- Citigroup (C) $1.8 Trillion
- Wells Fargo (WFC) $1.3 Trillion
My favorite statistic in this piece was
Lobbyist dollars by top 10 Oligarchy (representing perhaps 300K Americans): $16.3M
Lobbyist dollar by consumer protection groups (representing 300M+ Americans): $0.8M
That's like bringing a Colt 45 to a gun fight, while the oligarchy has their AK47s in hand. You've been served!
- The 10 banks that received the most bailout aid during the financial crisis spent over $16 million on lobbying efforts in the first half of 2010, as the debate over financial regulatory reform reached its height.
- Disclosure reports show that the banks that got the most government help in late 2008 and early 2009 also invested the most to influence members of Congress, the White House, the Federal Reserve, Treasury Department and a long list of federal agencies as new rules were enacted governing Wall Street and the nation's financial system.
- The $16.32 million spent in the first half of 2010 was 26 percent higher than the combined $12.94 million they spent in the first half of 2009.
- I'm not shocked that they spent that much money because I saw them every day, said Ed Mierzwinski, consumer program director at U.S. Public Interest Research Group, who said more than 2,000 lobbyists worked on the financial reform bill. (translation: for one bill there was roughly a 3.5:1 ratio of lobbyist to representative - think about that. Than multiply that by every industry group - media, telecom, oil, retail, real estate, agriculture, states and cities, et al) They did manage to make changes.
- Leading the pack this year was JPMorgan Chase & Co., which spent $1.52 million on lobbying in the second quarter, on top of $1.51 million in the first quarter of 2010, for a total of $3.03 million. [Jul 21, 2009: NYT - In Washinton, JPMorgan's Dimon Increasing Sway] Citigroup Inc., the largest bank recipient of government funds during the crisis in late 2008 and early 2009, was second. The New York-based bank spend $1.47 million on lobbyists in the second quarter, after spending $1.31 million in the first quarter for a total of $2.78 million. And Wall Street titan Goldman Sachs Group Inc. was third, with $1.58 million spent in the second quarter, on top of $1.19 million in the first quarter of 2010. Bank of America Corp. and Wells Fargo & Co. both also spent more than $2 million in the first half of the year.
- Lobbying figures do not include any campaign contributions that banks or their employees might also have made.
- Consumer advocacy groups had their own lobbyists working the Capitol's halls during the finance reform debate as well, but their spending was dwarfed by the banks -- a total of $792,000 in the first half of the year for four of the top organizations. (Go get em tiger!)
- We're talking billions, Sloan said. So the lobbying money is the most effective money you'll spend. (translation: once you reach a certain size as a corporation, your actual business becomes a sideshow and your main focus is blocking and tackling in Congress to make sure competition is neutered and favoritism in all aspects is bestowed. You could invest $1 in capital or people and potentially lose money, or instead spend $1 in D.C. and make back $50-100 almost guaranteed. There is no better business perhaps on the planet.)
Speaking of bailed out corporations....
- General Motors Co. spent $2.72 million in the second quarter lobbying the federal government on energy and defense spending, safety regulations and research funding for autos that run on alternative fuels, according to a disclosure report. GM, now 60.8 percent owned by the U.S. government, also lobbied on driver distraction, event data recorders, compliance with recalls and safety regulations, health care reform, electric vehicle infrastructure, pensions, climate change, tariff and trade bills and highway funding.
- GM lobbied Congress, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, the International Trade Commission and the Departments of Defense, Energy and State, among others, according to the report it filed with the House clerk's office.
Glad to see there is one industry with no shortage of job growth prospects. Go team lobbyist.
[Nov 13, 2008: Washington Post - A Quiet Windfall for US Banks][Jun 26, 2009: Bloomberg - Paul Volcker Marginalized; Major Push Back on Curbing Excess. Our Life of Financial Oligarchy Does not Change]
[Sep 18, 2009: 3 Oligarchs Now Dominate Mortgage Market - all Backstopped by You][Oct 15, 2009: All of Tim Geithner's (Wall Street) Men] [Mar 24, 2010: WSJ: Stimulus Plan Creates $33B Tax Windfall for Corporations Across America]