WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says his next target is a major U.S. bank, according to CNN. Assange said he has evidence of wrongdoing in secret documents from a major financial institution. He hopes to bring to light the shady dealings of whichever bank will be exposed.
In an interview with Forbes magazine, Assange said half of the documents WikiLeaks has unreleased have to do with private-sector companies. The founder of WikiLeaks hopes to take down a bank or two with his next planned leak. Assange also hopes whichever bank he exposes will come under investigation by congressional lawmakers.
Any new revelation about a financial institution in America likely won’t be a surprise. The United States has a history of banks which have ruined the very banking system we’ve come to depend upon.
Bank Bailouts of 2008
Subprime mortgages given out by banks started in October 2008 and went for almost an entire year, according to ProPublica. When people couldn’t pay mortgages on houses they were given in 2004 and 2005, the banking industry lost money on investments backed by these same mortgages.
The banks went unchecked and needed to be propped up by billions of dollars from the United States government, otherwise they would fail. Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, AIG and Citigroup, amongst others, were bailed out by American taxpayers with loans that would eventually be paid back.
Savings and Loan Crisis
Risky investments in savings and loans led to a crisis in which many failed during the mid-1980s. Ironically, many savings and loans had put money in the housing market, and they tried to make too much money too quickly, according to the FDIC.
When the housing market slowed down, the risk taken upon these financial institutions meant they lost money. Amongst other causes was a change in the tax code, as well as deregulation of the savings and loans that let them invest as much money as they saw fit. Even before the subprime mortgage crisis of the 2000s, the savings and loan crisis was caused by much the same thing.
The FDIC states on its website that banks failed when the stock market crashed in 1929 due to failure to repay loans. The beginning of the Great Depression came because investors were taking out massive bank loans to speculate on the stock market.
When the stock market crashed, investors couldn’t repay the loans. When loans couldn’t be repaid, the banks failed. It was a lose-lose situation that took over a decade to recover from. Another factor was the Federal Reserve didn’t step in to save the banks, unlike the more recent bailouts of 2008.
When Assange and WikiLeaks reveal their secrets about an as-yet-unnamed bank, Americans will probably shrug it off. In the grand scale of bank failures and bailouts, hearing more secrets about shady dealings of a major bank won’t matter very much.
Barr, Colin, “WikiLeaks’ next target: ‘A big U.S. bank,'” CNN.com.
Greenberg, Andy, “An Interview With WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange,” Forbes.
ProPublica, “Bailout Timeline: Another Day, Another Bailout.”
FDIC, “The S&L Crisis,” FDIC.gov.
FDIC, “Learning Bank: 1930s,” FDIC.gov.