Bloomberg News published a story today about SAE’s ban on pledging, and after reading it, I’m not sure who looks the most idiotic. I think everyone involved in this story might be a fucking moron. I can’t deal with this shit on a rainy day after being stuck in traffic for an hour this morning. I’m already frustrated enough without reading what amounts to a laundry list of stupid assholes thinking like stupid assholes, talking like stupid assholes, and doing what stupid assholes do.
For starters, JPMorgan Chase & Co. certainly come off as a bunch of slimy, hypocritical, face-saving dick sucks in this story. According to Bloomberg, they cut ties with Sigma Alpha Epsilon because the bank has been jettisoning clients whose poor reputation may make JPMorgan look bad for doing business with them.
SAE’s charitable foundation had an investment account with New York-based JPMorgan containing about $500,000, which was primarily used to make payments on a loan and occasionally to sell stock gifts. The account dated back to the mid-2000’s, Cohen said.
Then, in February, JPMorgan said that it was reconsidering the relationship to avoid tarnishing its reputation, according to Todd Buchanan, vice president of the foundation and one of Cohen’s predecessors as SAE’s leader.
You’re probably thinking to yourself, “That’s weird. Why would a major bank, an entity that could not possibly give fewer fucks about human decency, all of the sudden grow a conscience?” Don’t worry, they didn’t. Within the walls of JPMorgan Chase & Co., there are still far more hooker bones than there are morals. Dropping SAE and other less than reputable clients was simply a PR move, so that the bank’s name doesn’t sink any lower into the bubbling shit swamp it’s already in.
You may wonder how JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s reputation sank so low. Was it because of other “bad clients” the bank associated with? Nah, it’s because a bunch of sleazy pieces of crap run JPMorgan Chase & Co., and they got the bank in massive trouble by breaking all sorts of federal and international laws. In the process, they fucked over their customers and average consumers to make some extra money for themselves.
There was the time JPMorgan Chase & Co. had to pay $1 billion in fines for trying to cover up $6.2 billion in trading losses on a terribly ill advised gamble, and also because they wrongfully billed their credit card customers.
Then there was the time JPMorgan Chase & Co. was complicit in the LIBOR scandal, wherein they and other international banks manipulated the LIBOR, an average interest rate calculated through submissions of interest rates by major banks in London, for their own profit. Bloomberg News has a pretty succinct description of JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s benefit from that.
The misinformation allowed them to “benefit their investments that were tied to Libor, to reduce their borrowing costs, to deceive the marketplace as to the true state of their creditworthiness, and to deprive investors of the interest rate payments to which they were entitled,” according to the NCUA.
In America, the LIBOR average is often used as a reference rate for student loans, mortgages, financial derivatives, and other financial products. Manipulating the LIBOR can really fuck over the average American, like, for example, a college student with loans, or for example-er, an SAE on student loans. Maybe SAE should have stopped doing with business with an entity actively screwing over many of its members.
Of course, all of that is some pussy shit compared to the $2 billion JPMorgan Chase & Co. paid out to settle criminal charges in the Bernie Madoff case. Overall, the bank has spent about $20 billion in legal fees, thanks to the fact that JPMorgan Chase & Co. basically just let the whole Madoff Ponzi scheme happen instead of reporting suspicious activity to authorities, because money.
Since JPMorgan Chase & Co. finally got caught for being despicable liars who take pleasure in routinely going balls deep (and dry) into the average consumer’s rectum, the bank now has to save face by cutting ties with clients who could further tarnish the bank’s name. JPMorgan Chase & Co. moved on to cutting SAE right after they stopped doing business with Saudi bank Al-Rajhi, and some 500 other foreign lenders, which may or may not have been handling money for terrorists and despotic governments like Iran.
JPMorgan said it cut off the service to about 500 foreign lenders last year as regulators press the world’s biggest banks to verify that transactions are used for legitimate business. The crackdown seeks to halt funds tied to money laundering, terrorism and countries covered by economic sanctions. Correspondent accounts allow lenders to take deposits or make payments on behalf of foreign institutions.
“JPMorgan has to be extra careful to make sure they’re adhering to standards and not even approaching anything questionable,” said David Kass, a professor at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business.
It’s good to know that JPMorgan will take a stand and refuse to work with money that funds terrorism–well, when people are actually paying attention to who exactly they work with. Though, if you think JPMorgan cut ties with their most important clients, who also might happen to be terrible people and entities, well, nah, that’s doubtful. They just cut the ones they could survive losing.
JPMorgan certainly looks awful, but that’s mostly because they are awful. But what about SAE? This story also makes the people who run SAE’s national office sound pretty damn clueless, and laughably so.
Todd Buchanan, SAE’s charitable foundation vice president and former SAE national president, could not believe it when JPMorgan Chase & Co. dropped SAE as a client.
“It was shocking,” Buchanan said. “It really spoke to why we needed to make a stand. We’re better than this.”
Shocking, was it? Didn’t see that one coming, did ya? So I guess the guy who handles a gigantic financial account for SAE–and who used to run the entire fraternity–doesn’t read too much financial news, let alone news about the bank that manages one of the fraternity’s important accounts, huh? Such as, say, this story about JPMorgan cutting risky clients, which was published in the Wall Street Journal in October 2013. This might be the kind of news someone who manages something like that should look out for.
The bank has launched an internal review of its commercial-lending clients that is expected to result in the elimination of relationships with companies that pose a greater risk of fraud or money laundering and are viewed as risky to J.P. Morgan’s reputation, these people said.
Separately, J.P. Morgan is conducting a more rigorous analysis, called “Know Your Customer,” to ensure it learns as much as possible about its business clients.
SAE didn’t want to prepare for that at all, I guess. “NBD, you guys,” SAE nationals said, “Our rep is fine. Sure, we’re tied to 10 deaths over the past decade, but we’re top fucking tier. JPMorgan’s gotta respect that.”
Obviously, that quote is an exaggeration. It’s more likely that SAE had no idea this was coming. After all, the quote above is from the Wall Street Journal. They don’t publish those kinds of pieces in Highlights magazine.
If that egregious oversight wasn’t enough to convince you that the people running SAE are not what you or I would call “people with working human brains,” maybe these quotes from SAE’s current president, Bradley Cohen, will illustrate just how out of touch these guys are.
Fraternity members confined recruits for as long as nine hours in a dark basement without food, water or a bathroom, while blasting the same German rock song at ear-splitting volume, according to two former pledges and the findings of the university’s disciplinary board.
Cohen fired off an e-mail to Marshall and other alumni that likened confining students in the dark, amid deafening German music, to something out of Auschwitz, the Nazi death camp.
“I take offense to that as a Jew,” he remembered saying in the e-mail. “I take offense as a member of SAE.”
Cohen compared some kids sitting in a dark basement while German rock music blared to the Holocaust. Because…German music? This guy is worse at managing analogies than he is fraternities.
Cohen, apparently, has quite the affinity for hysterically bad analogies, because he also compared the process of pledgeship to another systematic prejudice and genocide.
When he announced the pledging ban, Cohen compared the treatment of new members as “second-class citizens” to the abuse of blacks under apartheid.
WHO LETS YOU SPEAK?!?! This is the guy making decisions for SAE–the guy who compares pledging and hazing to two of the world’s most heinous and destructive mass murders, and who has no idea what the people handling his money are doing.
To be fair, Cohen was actually born in South Africa, where he also grew up. So it’s unlikely he would take such an analogy lightly. Cohen no doubt has great respect for the black people who suffered through apartheid.
…he flips through old photos of himself with his fraternity buddies, including one at a party where he is dressed as a Zulu warrior, in a scanty leopard-print outfit.
Nope, never mind. Thazzz rayyycesssssss.
In the end, SAE finally pulled the trigger on eliminating pledgeship because their leadership was inexcusably blindsided by JPMorgan Chase & Co. refusing to do further business with the fraternity. Because they were inexcusably blindsided, Cohen and SAE were incapable of cutting this problem off at the pass. Further, they treated losing JPMorgan as a shocking wake up call when, in fact, all this really is is JPMorgan making cheap PR moves to appease the public for their heinous financial crimes, and throwing SAE under the bus in the process. That’s not a fucking wake up call to SAE. It’s an insult to SAE to be lumped in with money launderers and terrorist funders. However, the brainless and ball-less SAE national office took the insult and ran with it, so here we are now.
In fairness, this was not all on JPMorgan. Lloyd’s of London was also telling the national fraternity that insuring them was becoming riskier and riskier. However, Lloyd’s of London is still insuring SAE. Furthermore, the one time any person with business and common sense was asked his opinion–that being SAE’s most presitigious alumnus, T. Boone Pickens–the billionaire argued against ending pledgeship, and instead focusing on educational programs to combat drug use and binge drinking.
Pickens, whom Cohen consulted before announcing the pledging ban, said through a spokesman that he has reservations about it.
“Mr. Pickens believes pledgeship is a key part of fraternity life and helps those who go through it gain an appreciation for the rich history tied to each fraternity,” spokesman Jay Rosser said in an e-mail. Pickens supports a “greater focus” on alcohol and drug awareness, Rosser said.
The geniuses at SAE didn’t listen. Instead they addressed a real problem with a cheap solution. So, again, here we are.
What a fucking joke this whole thing is.