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Les Leopold
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After graduating from Oberlin College and Princeton University's Woodrow
Wilson School of Public and International Affairs (MPA 1975), Les
co-founded and currently directs two non-profit educational
organizations: The Labor Institute (1976) and the Public Health
Institute (1986). He designs research and educational programs on
occupational safety and health, the environment and economics. He also serves as a strategic consultant to the Blue-Green Alliance which brings together trade unions and environmental organizations. Leopold is the author of How to Make a Million Dollars an Hour: Why Financial Elites get away with siphoning off America's Wealth (John Wiley and Sons, 2013), and The Looting of America: How Wall Street's Game of Fantasy Finance destroyed our Jobs, Pensions and Prosperity, and What We Can Do About It, Chelsea Green Publishing, June 2009.

Entries by Les Leopold

The Hedge Fund That Ate Chicago

(4) Comments | Posted May 9, 2014 | 9:45 AM

There's a battle royale raging in Chicago. It pits hedge funds, the Chicago financial exchanges, real estate interests and Mayor Rahm Emanuel on the one side, against public employee unions and community groups on the other.

At issue is whether public employee pension benefits should be slashed.

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New Report Reveals How Wall Street Impoverishes Los Angeles

(28) Comments | Posted March 25, 2014 | 3:26 PM

Los Angeles paid at least $204 million in fees to Wall Street in 2013, and probably significantly more, in addition to principle and interest payments, according to the report, "No Small Fees: LA Spends More on Wall Street than Our Streets." The study, issued today by a coalition...

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Our Most Powerful Weapon Against Wall Street? The Reverse Eminent Domain Movement

(33) Comments | Posted December 23, 2013 | 1:43 PM

Wall Street tore the heart out of our economy. It profited wildly by puffing up the housing bubble. It profited wildly again when the federal government provided more than $10 trillion worth of bailout money and loans. And right now, 95 percent of the economic growth of our so-called recovery...

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Wall Street's Police State?

(26) Comments | Posted December 6, 2013 | 7:50 AM

The U.S. leads the world in prisoners with 2.24 million in jail and more than 4.8 million on parole. That's nearly more than the combination of all those incarcerated in China (1.6 million) and the Russian Federation (681,600).

Minorities have been especially hard hit, forming

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America's Greatest Shame: Child Poverty Rises and Food Stamps Cut While Billionaires Boom

(984) Comments | Posted November 8, 2013 | 7:13 AM

There are 16.4 million American children living in poverty. That's nearly one quarter (22.6 percent) of all of our children. More alarming is that the percentage of poor children has climbed by 4.5 percent since the start of the Great Recession in 2007. And poor means poor. For...

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Banking That Wall Street Will Save Us From the Tea Party and Default?

(14) Comments | Posted October 15, 2013 | 9:59 PM

As we approach the debt limit deadline, we hold our breaths hoping that Wall Street can talk some sense into the Tea Party fanatics. Democrats in particular seem to believe that only Wall Street can pull us back from the brink. But the brink of what? If there's a debt...

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Is the President Selling Out Higher Education to Wall Street?

(60) Comments | Posted September 26, 2013 | 6:46 PM

The Obama Administration is transporting Wall Street logic into higher education by proposing to measure the value of a college by the earnings of its graduates. This conceptual coup may be the best news for Wall Street since the abolition of Glass-Steagall.

We need not repeat all that...

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How Wall Street Devoured the Recovery

(50) Comments | Posted September 20, 2013 | 6:31 AM

We are entering a disastrous new era in which all the economic gains go to the top one percent, according to data from economists Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty. They report that "Top 1% incomes grew by 31.4% while bottom 99% incomes grew only by 0.4% from 2009...

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Happy Labor Day... for Wall Street

(89) Comments | Posted August 30, 2013 | 5:02 PM

Labor Day, established in the late 19th century, "is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers," according to the Department of Labor's website. It is a "tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity,...

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How to End the Student Loan Crisis: Make Wall Street Pay

(266) Comments | Posted July 12, 2013 | 8:36 AM

Anyone with a heartbeat knows that Wall Street took down the economy, killed millions of jobs and hasn't had to pay a penny for the damage it caused. In fact, we are paying them for crashing the economy in the form of trillions in bailouts and low interest loans.

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Big Lie: America Doesn't Have #1 Richest Middle-Class in the World... We're Ranked 27th!

(1571) Comments | Posted June 28, 2013 | 9:53 AM

America is the richest country on Earth. We have the most millionaires, the most billionaires and our wealthiest citizens have garnered more of the planet's riches than any other group in the world. We even have hedge fund managers who make in one hour as much as the average family...

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The Wall Street-Washington Infection

(2) Comments | Posted June 20, 2013 | 10:51 PM

Knowledge is power. But insider knowledge is more lucrative than power, because it offers the surest path to vast riches. If you know something that will move markets before everyone else does, you will profit mightily.

Normally, we think of insider trading as a Wall Street crime of illegally...

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How to Turn $10,000 Into $1,461,920? Find a Hedge Fund That Cheats

(54) Comments | Posted May 30, 2013 | 11:56 PM

How would you like to invest $10,000 and watch it grow over twenty years into $1,461,920? Well that's what happened at the giant hedge fund, SAC Capital Advisors, which made a 30 percent return for 20 years in a row.

How is it possible to make such profitable investments...

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Are We Killing Ourselves for Cut-throat Capitalsim?

(87) Comments | Posted May 17, 2013 | 9:18 AM

There's no question about it--American baby boomers are taking their own lives like never before. Suicide rates in the United States jumped dramatically for 35- to 64-year-olds between 1999 and 2010, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These self-inflicted deaths...

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The Rich Have Gained $5.6 Trillion in the 'Recovery,' While the Rest of Us Have Lost $669 Billion

(200) Comments | Posted May 9, 2013 | 6:16 PM

Oh, are we getting ripped off. And now we've got the data to prove it. From 2009 to 2011, the richest 8 million families (the top 7 percent) on average saw their wealth rise from $1.7 million to $2.5 million each. Meanwhile the rest of us -- the...

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America's New Math: 1 Wall Street Hour = 21 Years of Hard Work For the Rest of Us

(419) Comments | Posted April 22, 2013 | 6:13 PM

The new Rich List is out -- yet another example of financial pornography. While nearly 15 million Americans still can't find jobs due to the 2008 Wall Street-created crash, the top hedge manager, David Tepper, earned $1,057,692 an HOUR in 2012 -- that's as much as the average...

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Is the Entire Deficit Debate Based on a Big Mistake?

(276) Comments | Posted April 18, 2013 | 5:08 PM

Fear of debt is woven deeply into our culture. We associate debt with profligate spending, waste, gambling and overall sinfulness. As we learned during the housing bubble, it's easy to get in over our heads. So naturally we assume that the same must be true for our country -- government...

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The Southern State Fast Becoming Ayn Rand's Vision of Paradise

(260) Comments | Posted April 14, 2013 | 6:05 PM

If you're worried about where America is heading, look no further than Tennessee. It's lush mountains and verdant rolling countryside belie a mean-spirited public policy that only makes sense if you deeply believe in the anti-collectivist, anti-altruist philosophy of Ayn Rand. It's what you get when you combine hatred for...

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Are We Heading Towards Cyprus or Socialism?

(16) Comments | Posted April 4, 2013 | 6:20 PM

What will happen the next time the largest banks in America gamble their way into chaos? Will taxpayers bail them out again or will the "stakeholders" be forced to make up the losses?

You put your money in a bank and you're a stakeholder. The Cyprus crisis demonstrates that...

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Too Big to Whale: Why JP Morgan Chase Should Be Shut Down

(53) Comments | Posted March 17, 2013 | 8:37 PM

If you want more evidence that JP Morgan Chase is closer to a criminal enterprise than a economically useful bank, then read the report from the Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, JP Morgan Chase Wale Trades: A Case History of Derivatives Risks and Abuses. It shows in...

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