In 2008 when the stock market crashed and the financial system began a meltdown, an organized crime began to unravel. And like the organized crimes of the mafia, once one piece of the fraud comes apart all the rest follows in the collapse. This time though the crime syndicate was Wall Street. This series will take a look back to see the roots of an organized crime and the players who laid the ground work and participated in one of the greatest crime syndicates the world has ever seen. From the beginning, these guys knew what they were doing, and just as with Enron; they all thought that they were the smartest guys in the room. Like the mafia gangsters who used extortion to control neighborhoods and organizations, the Wall Street mob used the same methods, including taking out insurance policies on the very products and organizations they were betting on and betting against. Today, and into the near future, we will continue to experience the devastating consequences of these international criminals from American residential neighborhoods to Iceland, Ireland, Greece, Spain, Portugal and across the European Union, all were targets of the Wall Street mafia; to loot personal savings, incomes, pensions, healthcare benefits, state treasuries, and businesses. More of the players will appear in custody. These were not the smartest guys in the room. They were the criminals in the room.
Bill ‘Bubba Skirts' Clinton 2015. Acrylic on canvas, 20 x 24”
Bill Clinton, the 42nd President of the United States.
Clinton came to office in 1993 and continued the "anti-government rhetoric [that] had become fashionable" since the Reagan administration. Clinton, a former governor of Arkansas, wanted to reassure Wall Street that he was on their side and did that by first appointing former Goldman Sachs executive Robert Rubin to the position of Assistant to the President for Economic Policy and then later appointing him to be Secretary of the Treasury. "Rubin found an unlikely ally" in Clinton; the President also asked Alan Greenspan to remain at the Federal Reserve.
As Timothy O'Brien of the New York Times noted, "Bob Rubin was Bill Clinton's emissary to Wall Street. Clinton placed great trust in Bob Rubin and Bob Rubin's view of financial markets and financial regulation." Rubin then went on to populate "the Clinton administration with a network of free market true believers," including Larry Summers. Rubin, Greenspan and Summers "formed their own pro-business, anti-regulation support group know as "the President's Working Group", which also included SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt.
Larry ‘Fat Bastard’ Summers 2011. Acrylic on canvas, 20 x 24”
Larry Summers was Deputy Treasury Secretary and Treasury Secretary under President Bill Clinton. During his time in the Clinton Administration Summers was part of Clinton’s secretive council in the White House known as “the President’s Working Group” run by Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin. Summers was instrumental along with Clinton, Rubin and Alan Greenspan to derail regulation of Over-the-Counter (OTC) derivatives as proposed by Brooksley Born, head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). As noted by Timothy O’Brien of the New York Times, “Bob Rubin is not a guy who likes confrontation. He's confrontation averse. But he understands that you need someone in there who can swing a heavy axe, and that person was Larry Summers. He was the enforcer.”1
Timmy ‘The Punk’ Geithner 2011. Acrylic on canvas, 20 x 24”
Timothy Geithner, formerly president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and now Treasury Secretary. Geithner rose up through the Clinton Treasury department which was populated with free market true believers selected by Robert Rubin and Larry Summers.1 According to Paul Krugman, an Economist at Princeton University, “Geithner is a Larry Summers protégé from Treasury. He worked his way up during the Summers years at Treasury.”2
Henry ‘Potato Head’ Paulson 2011. Acrylic on canvas, 20 x 24”
Henry Paulson served as Treasury Secretary in the George W. Bush administration from 2006 to 2009. Before that Paulson was CEO of Goldman Sachs (1999-2006), one of the most powerful investment banks in the world, a bank heavily involved in sub-prime mortgage securities. Paulson had been with Goldman Sachs since 1974 and was CEO during the period of the greatest expansion of mortgage based securities as financial instruments. He was also CEO when Goldman Sachs helped Greece hide its debt through transferring it into derivatives, “specifically, cross-currency swaps”; swapping debt issued in dollars and yen for euro to be exchanged back at a date in the future.1
Benny ‘Gray Beard’ Bernanke 2011. Acrylic on canvas, 20 x 24”
Ben Bernanke, a two term chairman of Federal Reserve, first appointed by George W. Bush, then re-appointed by Barack Obama. Before becoming Fed chairman he was chairman of George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers (June 2005 to January 2006).1
Bernanke is a Republican economist, true believer in de-regulation, and enamored with Wall Street. He spent his career in and around the Federal Reserve, first as a visiting scholar at the Fed in Philadelphia in 1987, followed by Boston and New York. From 1990 to 2002 he was a member of the Academic Advisory Panel at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.2 In February 2006 he began a 14-year term as a member of the Board of Governors. He remains as Chairman until January 31, 2014, though he will still be on the Board until January 31, 2020.3
Alan ‘4-eyes Ayn’ Greenspan 2013. Acrylic on canvas, 20 x 24”
Alan Greenspan, Federal Reserve Chairman under Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush.
Greenspan was a devout follower of the odd, anti-government, free-market Libertarian writer, Ayn Rand. Rand was opposed to any government control and believed in “separation of state and economics.”1 However, toward the end of her life she was living off of Social Security checks. As the economist Joseph Stiglitz noted, Greenspan’s belief in Ayn Rand was a “bit curious for a central banker, because what is central banking? It's a massive intervention in the market, setting interest rates.”2
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About the Artist
Martin Ostrye lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two children. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in History. He began the Patriot Games series in December 2001, in the aftermath of 9/11 and the Enron and Worldcom scandals. Editorial Paintings arose through a search for a more profound communication of social and political expression. Like a letter to the editor, it questions, comments and explains but in the form of images. The accompaning text provides the opportunity to expand further on the topic of the painting.