By LOUISE STORY
Published: December 11, 2010
On the third Wednesday of every month, the nine members of an elite Wall Street society gather in Midtown Manhattan.
The men share a common goal: to protect the interests of big banks in the vast market for derivatives, one of the most profitable — and controversial — fields in finance. They also share a common secret: The details of their meetings, even their identities, have been strictly confidential.
Drawn from giants like JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, the bankers form a powerful committee that helps oversee trading in derivatives, instruments which, like insurance, are used to hedge risk.
In theory, this group exists to safeguard the integrity of the multitrillion-dollar market. In practice, it also defends the dominance of the big banks.
The banks in this group, which is affiliated with a new derivatives clearinghouse, have fought to block other banks from entering the market, and they are also trying to thwart efforts to make full information on prices and fees freely available.
Phi Beta Iota: Derivatives are legalized financial crime, and a major reason why these criminal assets inflated in value seventeen times while asset-based values only went up five times during the same period addressed by William Greider in his latest book, Come Home America: The Rise and Fall (and Redeeming Promise) of Our Country. Any government that permits derivatives trading is itself complicit in this crime against humanity.