Paranoids Have Enemies, Radical Gold Bugs Have Wall Street

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". . .anyone dealing with Wall Street is in effect putting themselves in the hands of the Sopranos."

Long-derided financial conspiracy theories are finally being reported in the mainstream media. Could be ominous.

In some ways, this situation is similar to the way in which conspiracy theories about the nefarious role of mega-investment-bank Goldman Sachs finally went mainstream last year. (July 20, 2009 column.)

The difference, as I predicted then, is that the theories have now spread to include possible manipulation of financial and particularly gold markets—and ultimately raise grave questions about the fundamental probity of key U.S. financial institutions.

One example: another remarkable article by ferocious Goldman critic Matt Taibbi, posted March 31 on Rolling Stone magazine's website. (Looting Main Street.) It purports to chronicle the way in which J.P. Morgan Chase managed to saddle Jefferson County, Ala. (containing the city of Birmingham) with more than $5 billion debt for a sewage system originally supposed to cost $250 million, bringing it to the brink of bankruptcy.

(Goldman Sachs wasn't involved—because, Taibbi says, J.P. Morgan paid them $3 million to go away.)

If Taibbi is right about this Alabama atrocity—and he says that there have already been more than 20 local convictions for corruption, plus an SEC fine for J.P. Morgan—then anyone dealing with Wall Street is in effect putting themselves in the hands of the Sopranos. It's hard to see how any economy can survive this sort of predatory parasitism.

Another example is Nathan Lewis' March 31 article in the Huffington Pos: It's Ponzimonium in the Gold Market.

Lewis makes an exceptionally blunt statement of the case that there's widespread deception in the institutional gold world, so that customers who think they own bullion actually own "unsecured gold . . .at a negative interest rate." He predicts a scramble to take delivery of gold—which would work like a bank run—and massive dollar decline.

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