Time Magazine's Justin Fox: "Some Financial Market Conspiracies Are Real"

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Washington’s Blog.

 

Nobel prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz says
that Goldman Sachs may have engaged in frontrunning. Ask a Goldman
spokesman, and he or she will undoubtedly say that is a conspiracy
theory.

Indeed, when Matt Taibbi claimed that Goldman created every bubble since the Great Depression, a Goldman spokesman responded by calling Taibbi's essay "an hysterical compilation of conspiracy theories".

Tyler
Durden at Zero Hedge blew the whistle on Goldman's high-frequency
trading and other frontrunning activities, and has also been called a
conspiracy theorist.

PhD economist, former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, and former Wall Street Journal editor Paul Craig Roberts says that the government and mainstream media are lying to the American public about how bad the economic situation really is.

PhD economist Dean Baker said
in February that the true purpose of the bank rescues is "a massive
redistribution of wealth to the bank shareholders and their top
executives".

PhD economist Michael Hudson says
that the financial “parasites” have killed the American economy, and
they are "sucking as much money out" as they can before "jumping ship".

PhD economist Michel Chossudovsky says
that the giant banks which received the most bailout money also finance
a portion of the government's debt, and are exercising their power as
creditors to buy public assets for a song and to impose IMF-style
austerity measures on the U.S. government.

The response to Roberts, Baker, Hudson and Chossudovsky is, oftentimes, "conspiracy theory".

Indeed, it is common - when someone claims that anyone has rigged the game - for people to say "that's a conspiracy theory".

"Some Financial Market Conspiracies Are Real"

Time Magazine's Justin Fox writes today:

Some financial market conspiracies are real...

And Fox, a regular financial writer for one of America's most widely-read "mainstream" publications, adds:

Most good investigative reporters are conspiracy theorists, by the way.

How Judges Look at Conspiracy Theories

Let's be level-headed about this. How do we assess whether or not claims are crazy conspiracy theories?

We have to start by asking: what is a conspiracy theory?

Initially, federal and all 50 state's codes include specific statutes addressing conspiracy, and providing the punishment for people who commit conspiracies.

But
let's examine what the people trained to weigh evidence and reach
conclusions think about "conspiracies". Let's look at what American judges think.

Searching Westlaw,
one of the 2 primary legal research networks which attorneys and judges
use to research the law, I searched for court decisions including the
word "Conspiracy". This is such a common term in lawsuits that it
overwhelmed Westlaw. Specifically, I got the following message:

"Your query has been intercepted because it may retrieve a large number of documents."

From
experience, I know that this means that there were potentially millions
or many hundreds of thousands of cases which use the term. There were
so many cases, that Westlaw could not even start processing the request.

So
I searched again, using the phrase "Guilty of Conspiracy". I hoped that
this would not only narrow my search sufficiently that Westlaw could
handle it, but would give me cases where the judge actually found the
defendant guilty of a conspiracy. This pulled up exactly 10,000 cases
-- which is the maximum number of results which Westlaw can give at one
time. In other words, there were more than 10,000 cases using the
phrase "Guilty of Conspiracy" (maybe there's a way to change my
settings to get more than 10,000 results, but I haven't found it yet)

.

Moreover,
as any attorney can confirm, usually only appeal court decisions are
published in the Westlaw database. In other words, trial court
decisions are rarely published; the only decisions normally published
are those of the courts which hear appeals of the trial. Because only a very small fraction
of the cases which go to trial are appealed, this logically means that
the number of guilty verdicts in conspiracy cases at trial must be
much, much larger than 10,000.

Moreover, "Guilty of Conspiracy"
is only one of many possible search phrases to use to find cases where
the defendant was found guilty of a lawsuit for conspiracy. Searching
on Google, I got 3,170,000 results (as of yesterday) under the term "Guilty of Conspiracy", 669,000 results for the search term "Convictions for Conspiracy", and 743,000 results for "Convicted for Conspiracy".

Of
course, many types of conspiracies are called other things altogether.
For example, a long-accepted legal doctrine makes it illegal for two or
more companies to conspire to fix prices, which is called "Price
Fixing" (1,180,000 results).

Given
the above, I would extrapolate that there have been hundreds of
thousands of convictions for criminal or civil conspiracy in the United
States.

Finally, many crimes go unreported or unsolved, and the
perpetrators are never caught. Therefore, the actual number of
conspiracies committed in the U.S. must be even higher.

In other
words, conspiracies are committed all the time in the U.S., and many of
the conspirators are caught and found guilty by American courts. Remember, Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme was a conspiracy theory.

Indeed,
conspiracy is a very well-recognized crime in American law, taught to
every first-year law school student as part of their basic curriculum.
Telling a judge that someone has a "conspiracy theory" would be like
telling him that someone is claiming that he trespassed on their
property, or committed assault, or stole his car. It is a fundamental
legal concept.

Obviously, many
conspiracy allegations are false (if you see a judge at a dinner party,
ask him to tell you some of the crazy conspiracy allegations which were
made in his court).
Obviously,
people will either win or lose in court depending on whether or not
they can prove their claim with the available evidence.
But not all allegations of trespass, assault, or theft are true, either.

Proving
a claim of conspiracy is no different from proving any other legal
claim, and the mere label "conspiracy" is taken no less seriously by
judges.