THE BLOG

The Grecian Formula

04/27/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Wall Street went back to its playbook of financial tricks to manipulate Greece, just like it tried to do with the bondholders of the country's largest trucking company, YRC Worldwide.

When the Teamsters shined a light on bankers selling insurance betting on YRCW's failure, they were forced to stop, and we were able to keep 30,000 Teamster jobs from being killed.

We saw through the scam. But we shouldn't have to monitor Wall Street. Until Congress stops financial firms from running amok, they will continue to loot the middle class in this country, and help push entire countries like Greece to the brink of financial disaster.

Guess what Wall Street firm Goldman Sachs sold YRCW bondholders and Greece on? Credit default swaps and other derivatives, fancy terms for unregulated financial instruments. These financial gizmos were cooked up by Wall Street traders and became the center of the mortgage meltdown last year that required the multi-billion dollar taxpayer bailout of Wall Street.

Greece reportedly used derivatives and other intricate financial transactions to move debt off its books. Wall Street helped Greece hide its debt, similar to the way Enron did it. Goldman Sachs was the country's magician, all the while making exorbitant profits. No wonder Goldman Sachs handed out huge bonuses, some in the millions last year.

The European Union must now decide how to help Greece, which is not the only European country to try and mask its debt with complex financial transactions.

Goldman Sachs of course has said it did nothing wrong. But we can't rely on their word alone. To keep Wall Street on the straight and narrow, Congress must institute reforms such as cracking down on derivatives. The Teamsters support Sen. Maria Cantwell's call for more transparency and accountability for futures markets and derivative products that are promoted by banks and other institutions.

But until Congress makes such transactions transparent and holds firms accountable for these shady deals, trust me, they will keep trying to sell someone their snake oil.

Working men and women in the United States and around the world are sick and tired of being the chess pieces for the maniacal financial games Goldman Sachs and its Wall Street cronies like to play. Greek workers and their unions have been in the streets in recent days to prevent the looting of public assets.

The Teamsters have seen firsthand how a handful of reckless investors can nearly kill tens of thousands of jobs overnight. You don't have to be a financial whiz to know when you're being scammed. Our message to Wall Street is a simple one: the ATM they call the working class is closed.