Deep Sociopathy

38+

To receive a free full-text email of The Zeitgeist whenever we publish to the website, please sign up here. You’ll get two or three of these emails every week, and your email will not be shared with anyone. Ever.


We don’t pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes.


That’s Leona Helmsley, New York City hotelier and billionaire by marriage, pictured and quoted above. Not a direct quote, mind you, but what one of her housekeepers testified to hearing at Leona’s tax evasion trial.

Leona – who, among many other infamous Queen of Mean escapades, sued her son’s estate for the cost of flying his casket back to New York after he died of a heart attack at age 42 (and evicted her daughter-in-law and four grandchildren from their Helmsley-owned home) – may have been the most flamboyantly villainous NYC cartoon character of the past 40 years, but scratch any New York real estate development family and you’ll find tales of sociopathy that will make your skin crawl. And no, I’m not just sub-tweeting the Trumps. But yes, definitely them, too.

People get all worked up over the Deep State. Not me.

I get worked up over the Deep Sociopathy, the seemingly universal view among the humans who manage the most powerful corporate and social organizations in the world that both laws and social norms are nothing more than speed limits – arbitrary behavioral constraints that have no intrinsic meaning, but are merely part of an annoying cost-benefit analysis that must be performed as they drive merrily down the road at top speed.

Is murder bad? Hmm, I dunno. What are the chances I will be caught and what price will I pay if that happens? If the odds are high enough and the price steep enough, then yeah, I guess THAT would be bad. But the act of murder itself? I mean, I’m sure whoever I murdered – if I were to murder someone, that is, because I really don’t think you can prove that I did – was getting in the way of something that was very important to me. When you really think about it, they were doing the bad thing! Why do you ask?

I thought about Deep Sociopathy when I read this article about BNP Paribas exiting or at least sharply curtailing their commodity trade finance business, following in the footsteps of SocGen, who did a similar pullback recently in Asia.


BNP Halts New Commodity Trade Finance Deals Amid Unit Review (Bloomberg)

The French bank, one of the largest lenders to global commodity traders, has recently told clients that no new deals will be concluded unless there’s a contractual obligation, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information isn’t public. BNP is currently reviewing options for the future of its EMEA commodity trade finance business, the people said.

The move comes after the bank took a hit from commodity trade houses facing financial stress from Dubai to the U.S., the people said. BNP’s commodity trade finance team suffered heavy losses from the bank’s exposure to companies including crop trader Phoenix Group, energy firm GP Global Group as well as coffee dealer Coex Coffee International Inc., the people said.


It’s not BNP getting out of the commodity trade finance business per se that’s revealing of the Deep Sociopathy at work here, but rather this gem of a quote:


“The bank has been shrinking its commodity trade finance business since 2014, when it was fined $8.9 billion for violating U.S. sanctions.”


From 2004 through 2012, BNP Paribas was the go-to money launderer for Cuba and Iran, funneling tens of billions of dollars worth of transactions and assets around the world, as well as the functional central bank of Sudan, all in egregious violation of multiple US laws and sanctions.

Because that’s what commodity trade finance IS … providing loans and processing transactions for the middlemen who run the shell companies who move the oil and other commodities that finance every murderous despot on Earth. Unfortunately for BNP, these particular murderous despots in Cuba, Iran and Sudan – not to be confused with all the murderous despots on friendly terms with the United States – were on the wrong side of US law at this particular time, and BNP got caught. Oops, gotta pay that speeding ticket. An $8.9 billion speeding ticket.

But wait, there’s more.

See, this article isn’t quite right when it describes the $8.9 billion that BNP paid in 2015 as a fine.

No, the fine was only $140 million.

The balance – more than $8.8 billion – was just a forfeiture of the fees and trading profits that BNP made in its decade-long criminal conspiracy with these three regimes and their cut-outs.

And here’s the kicker, from a Reuters article describing the final plea deal and settlement in 2015:

BNP’s sentencing had been delayed for months while it awaited word on whether the U.S. Labor Department would allow it to continue to manage retirement plans despite the plea. The department granted BNP that exemption this month.

I mean, organized crime has got nothing on banks like BNP. Organized crime is a bunch of pikers compared to banks like BNP.

Imagine running this sort of criminal enterprise for years, and then negotiating a deal where you agree to forfeit your profits and pay a wrist-slap fine, BUT ONLY if you’re allowed to keep running your legit businesses with no repercussions.

And as if that weren’t enough to make you sick to your stomach …

Now imagine the criminal enterprise that AGREES to this plea deal.

That’s Deep Sociopathy for you. Deep State ain’t got nothing on that.

Or maybe, come to think of it, it’s all one and the same.

#BITFD


38+

To receive a free full-text email of The Zeitgeist whenever we publish to the website, please sign up here. You'll get two or three of these emails every week, and your email will not be shared with anyone. Ever. It's our effort to spread the word about what we're doing, and allow you to read more Epsilon Theory!

Notify of
6 Comments
oldest
newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Evan
Evan
1 month ago

Isn’t the “criminal enterprise that AGREES to this plea deal” the Deep State? Or in other words, don’t the Deep Sociopathy and Deep State have the same personnel?

Jane VanFossen
Jane VanFossen
1 month ago
Reply to  Evan

In my experience, there are members of the Deep State who are ideological true believers. They don’t lack empathy for others, they just believe they are woke and wise and more righteous than those they seek to nudge or to control outright. They are wrong (IMO) and ignorant, and must be resisted, but they are not sociopaths.

Simons Chase
Simons Chase
1 month ago

Capitalism appears to have morphed into a “technology,” like social media, that is designed to find the clearing price for our values and beliefs.

Vince
Vince
1 month ago

This is why the localism and bottom up movements resonate with me. Sociopaths are inevitable. Will they often be the ones in positions of power? Yes. But a smaller community can more easily avoid including them. The more I can – for lack of a better word – transact locally, the more I can avoid having to deal with the amoral. I’m not naive enough to think such a community could be completely insulated or self sufficient but any step in that direction is worth striving for.

This is also why the FIRE (financial independence retire early) movement excites me. Be frugal, save and invest = more options. Less reliance on institutions.

Mike
Mike
1 month ago

The events of today are going to be a field day for the missionaries as the New York AG announced a lawsuit against the NRA… we can already guarantee that whether the embezzlement and fraud charges are true will have nothing to do with the narratives

cartoox
cartoox
1 month ago

There are many perspectives leading to sociopathy and I’d bet they all act in some sort of reflexive supportive way, where bad tendencies reinforce other bad tendencies…

One popular idea at the moment is  ‘Molecule man’. This is modern philosophy rendering humans as a collection of various atoms functioning according to the rules of physics and mathematics.
Psychological states are a function of dopamine and serotonin etc and nothing more.

I actually meet people – healthy normal looking pleasant people –  who talk to me in these terms …..
“I’m not feeling good today, my dopamine levels are probably low…”

Reducing humans to nothing more than the sum of their parts……
Well, its just a short step from that view point to slip into outright sociopathy .
Ethics and compassion have no atomic correlation. They are not taught as human values but as has said many times here on ET, a way to become instrumental in our dealings with everybody.

.

The Daily Zeitgeist

Why Am I Reading This Now?

By Ben Hunt | September 25, 2020 | 4 Comments

Yesterday, 5 GOP Senators wrote a letter to Netflix, saying that their plan to adapt Liu Cixin’s “The Three Body Problem” for TV/film amounted to “complicity” with the CCP and their horrific mistreatment of the Uyghurs.

Why am I reading this NOW?

Read more

The UNITED States of America

By Ben Hunt | September 19, 2020 | 7 Comments

My RBG story …

I thought she’d be all about women’s rights and legal theory this and legal theory that. I was SO wrong.

RBG’s death is an enormous loss for the UNITED States of America.

Read more

Many People Say

By Ben Hunt | September 16, 2020 | 23 Comments

The go-to move by sophists like Vox and Trump is to claim that “many people” are asserting their made-up premise that justifies an otherwise ludicrous position.

Why do they do this? Because it works.

Why does it work? Because common knowledge game. Because of the power of the crowd watching the crowd.

Read more

The Game of Tesla

By Ben Hunt | September 3, 2020 | 4 Comments

Recent price action in Tesla is the Common Knowledge Game in action.

It is the power of the crowd watching the crowd. It is the power of – not what you think is true, and not what you think the crowd thinks is true – but of what the crowd thinks the crowd thinks is true.

Read more

The Cartoon Put

By Rusty Guinn | September 1, 2020 | 13 Comments

Seeing cartoons made from data doesn’t give us license to ignore the underlying feature of the world being measured – it gives us a duty to cut through the abstractions obscuring that feature of the world.

Read more

Sacrifice for Thee, Vast Wealth for Me

By Ben Hunt | August 25, 2020 | 11 Comments

Doug Parker, American Airlines CEO and Chairman of the Board, wrote a letter to his employees today that pretty much defines high-functioning sociopathy.

I’m going to reprint excerpts from that letter – which is couched in the saccharine vocabulary of modern team-speak, but is in truth a shakedown letter to employees and a ransom note to the US government – and then I’m going to tell you a few things about Doug.

Read more

DISCLOSURES

This commentary is being provided to you as general information only and should not be taken as investment advice. The opinions expressed in these materials represent the personal views of the author(s). It is not investment research or a research recommendation, as it does not constitute substantive research or analysis. Any action that you take as a result of information contained in this document is ultimately your responsibility. Epsilon Theory will not accept liability for any loss or damage, including without limitation to any loss of profit, which may arise directly or indirectly from use of or reliance on such information. Consult your investment advisor before making any investment decisions. It must be noted, that no one can accurately predict the future of the market with certainty or guarantee future investment performance. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.

Statements in this communication are forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statements and other views expressed herein are as of the date of this publication. Actual future results or occurrences may differ significantly from those anticipated in any forward-looking statements, and there is no guarantee that any predictions will come to pass. The views expressed herein are subject to change at any time, due to numerous market and other factors. Epsilon Theory disclaims any obligation to update publicly or revise any forward-looking statements or views expressed herein. This information is neither an offer to sell nor a solicitation of any offer to buy any securities. This commentary has been prepared without regard to the individual financial circumstances and objectives of persons who receive it. Epsilon Theory recommends that investors independently evaluate particular investments and strategies, and encourages investors to seek the advice of a financial advisor. The appropriateness of a particular investment or strategy will depend on an investor’s individual circumstances and objectives.