Ah, The Leaks that Shall Not Be Named (if you work for the US Government, at least) seem to have some amusing data on one of our banks here in the US.  This is not new news – Assange mentioned this last month.  But I like this piece on DealBook on who really is freaked out by this . . . turns out it is the government, again.  I agree completely with the author – pretty much nothing that is dumped would surprise me or much of the public anymore.  We know we got screwed . . . well, at least some of us have figured this out.  The rest of the population seems to be preoccupied by . . . well, honestly I have no idea what the hell people are looking at anymore.  Where is the collective rage?  Why hasn’t Congress rammed serious regulation of the financial industry through in fear of a pitchfork-wielding constituency?  Oh, right, Simon Johnson covered that . . .

All that aside, as the piece in DealBook points out this new dump of documents might shed some light on just how close the relationship between the financial industry and the government really is.  If, as Johnson claims, the financial industry has more or less captured the government in a sort of quiet coup, there may well be evidence of this – such as clear instances of regulators ignoring evidence of illegal acts, or warning institutions to change their behaviors before the regulators were forced to act.

Who knows what is in the documents . . . but given the remarkable Officer Barbrady impression pulled by the SEC in the “flash crash” case, I have a feeling something ugly is in there.  I just don’t believe the regulators are that blind, or that stupid . . .

But here’s what I am wondering – and I’ve not seen it raised yet: what if these documents contain evidence of the conscious manipulation of wheat pricing that triggered the 2008 global food price spike, and appears to be behind at least some of the current food price increases we are seeing.  It is one thing to screw around with financial instruments until you collapse the economy . . . but it is entirely another to quite literally starve people to death for profit.  It would be interesting to see if such behavior qualified as a crime against humanity.  It damn well should.

This strikes me as especially pertinent because the document dump, by placing the documents in the public realm, makes them usable by various governments (including our own) in prosecutions of criminal acts.  While the documents were illegally obtained, they were not obtained at the behest of the government (I think we can all agree that Assange and the US Government are not colluding on much of anything these days) and therefore may not be “fruit of the poisoned tree.”  Would regulators/the Justice Department dare ignore evidence there for all to see?  Would the ICC get involved?  And how ugly would this get, if indeed there was evidence of collusion between the regulators and the financial institutions?  Are the regulators liable for actions in commodities markets if they allowed manipulation to take place?