Bernie Madoff: ‘The whole government is a Ponzi scheme’

By Sahil Kapur
Monday, February 28, 2011 11:30 EDT
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Bankers should be convicted, swindler tells NYMag

If there’s one person who knows a Ponzi scheme, it’s Bernie Madoff, the perpetrator of the largest one in world history. And now, locked away in prison, he claims that it wasn’t just him, or even just the financial sector.

Madoff believes the entire US government is a Ponzi scheme.

In an interview with New York Magazine‘s Steve Fishman, Madoff sought to “set the record straight,” and unloaded on the state of financial regulation in the United States and the impropriety of the banks.

He said Wall Street deserved a large share of guilt in bringing about the financial crisis, and that some bankers deserved to be indicted for crimes.

“It’s unbelievable, Goldman … no one has any criminal convictions,” Madoff told Fishman. “The whole new regulatory reform is a joke. The whole government is a Ponzi scheme.”

“The SEC,” he added, “looks terrible in this thing.”

Madoff, 72, a former stock broker and investor, is serving a 150 year life sentence after he confessed to having defrauded clients to the tuns of tens of billions of dollars. He swindled thousands of investors, hedge funds, trusts and charities across five continents, leaving many of them bankrupt.

“These people probably would’ve lost all that money in the market,” he said. “I’m not trying to justify what I did for one minute. I’m not.”

Yet the man guilty of the biggest financial fraud in history sought to clear up his bad imagine, insisting that his intentions were sincere.

“I’m not the kind of person I’m being portrayed as,” he told Fishman, adding: “I am a good person.”

Madoff’s primary banker, JPMorgan Chase, has been accused of deliberately ignoring hints about the illegal nature of Madoff’s activities during the financial crisis.

Attorney Irving Picard, who was appointed by the courts to try and recover funds for Madoff’s victims, is arguing that JPMorgan was complicit in Madoff’s fraud.

Read Steve Fishman’s full interview in NYMag here.

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  • gypski®

    That’s nice Bernie, we already knew that and now its about to collapse. Its what the GOP calls protecting the General Welfare, theirs.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bob-Zentrails/100001475536421 Bob Zentrails

    Also known as “we don’t need no stinkin’ regulations.”

  • Anonymous

    He’s right. But tell us something we didn’t already know!
    The reason he’s in prison is the fact he scammed mostly wealthy people. (OK, he scammed a few middle class folks,but not many.)
    The reason the rest of the Wall Street thieves walk free today to do it all over again is they stole from average folks.

  • RottenJohnny

    Bernie, you ain’t a “good person” by any stretch of the imagination. You swindled good people out of billions. You are correct, though, that many wall streeters should be living out their lives in the same cell block as you.

  • Anonymous

    It’s funny that Madoff should almost directly quote Danny Schechter’s piece “US economics: One Big Ponzi Scheme” (http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/02/2011218151257526294.html,) that’s about Madoff’s “business’” being like the US economic system…hmmmm.

    Since Mr. Madoff obviously read and analyzed the analogies postulated in Schechter’s piece, then are we also soon to receive more information from Madoff that answers these still unknowables from the Schechter piece as well, namely:

    “Madoff is also still not coming clean about the web of alliances he had internationally, as well as in New York. We live in a global economy after all. We now know of Swiss and Austrian connections – but what about Israel, where this ingratiating handler was well known for his connections with Jewish philanthropists and institutions? So far, that story has yet to be told.”

    Tap, tap, tap…..

  • Guest

    He may be the ONLY ONE in jail, but Madoff is right. It takes 2 to Tango.

    The system that we are currently in continuously spawns the likes of a Bernie Madoff (even after Obama’s worthless attempt at “financial reform”) and until we do something about, it won’t be long before someone thinks they can do it again.

  • http://www.zazzle.com/fierylocks FieryLocks

    Yeah, and that ponzi scheming government let’s ponzi schemers like you get away with what you did for too long.


  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/3ETFGMQ3B7VD4AAMILBBEVMCWE JasonA

    And many more should be stretching a rope.

  • https://twitter.com/DrMatthew Dr. Matt

    Yeah, and Bernie has so much credibility.

  • Anonymous

    In the field of Ponzi Schemes, absolutely.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/3NVQSZZC5IM66JEOCSFJUV7FCE Jacques G

    Thanks, Bernie for stating the obvious. You just helped grease the skids, helping the GOPers and big business suck Americans dry. Ronuld RAY-gun was your assistant in crime, laying the groundwork for all of you. Like Pharoh, the rich got all their slave minions like “young Republicans,” to the current crop of TEAdiots to set up the Middle class for the kill. You’ve done more to destroy America than Al Qaeda could have ever hoped for. The only solace we may have is you scalped some greedy rich along with the thousands of middle class delusional “get rich quick” hopefuls in your campaign of avarice.

  • Anonymous


    “It wasn’t always this way. More than a thousand felony convictions followed the savings-and-loan scandal of the 1980s and early 1990s. Some of the biggest kingpins, such as Charles Keating of Lincoln Savings & Loan, went to jail. With this latest financial crisis, there’s been no such accountability.”


  • http://twitter.com/Howieisright Howieisright

    Bernie Madoff you can still do the right thing now and roll over on JP Morgan.

  • Anonymous

    And though I think he’s scum, he right about the banksters.

    I love the fact Inside Job got an Oscar! So many in that movie should be in prison it is astounding! Instead they’re stealing and scamming, just disgusting.

  • Anonymous

    Yes! But will the DOJ do anything?
    It does seem they’re protecting the thieves.

  • Anonymous

    Did you see Inside Job?

  • Anonymous

    The thing is, Madoff’s scandal affected the folks who had invested money with him, most of whom were sophisticated enough that they should have known something was up when Madoff’s reported returns were so consistent, even as the market generally was fluctuating. So, while I have some sympathy for his victims, I also think they were, to a certain extent, happy enough to willfully avoid seeing what was in front of them so long as they were getting that nice return (or at least, thought they were). The shenanigans of the banking industry, however, have caused untolled suffering for millions of folks who really didn’t have the ability to see what was going on because it was quite deliberately concealed from them. The overall harm was much greater than Madoff’s (although his was certainly bad enough).

  • YeaSayer

    Correct, but he genuinely thinks he is. So did Ken Lay. So do many Wall Street CEOs. It’s human nature, and it’s part of what makes concentrated power so dangerous.

  • Anon 7777

    The wealthy feed on the poor and the sick? And this is news?

    Please, news would be if the millions of oppressed overthrew their oppressors.

    Ready for Revolution.

  • Anonymous

    He sounds like a monster of ambition, arrogance and anger. Not unlike Scarface, but with the resources and heart to truly care, to have stayed out of the truly insane category. I suspect that the worst crooks can do it all stone cold, even their love, emotions, affection. He was a barracuda, swimming with sharks, and too proud/scared to quit before genuine disaster. His ripoffs hardly amount to a drop in the real power bucket. He’s receiving, has received his punishment, and it’s not going to end in this life. And I doubt if he has enough goods on the SEC, the banks, the Fed, or any of the others to do more than give them some number of barely less than perfect nights of sleep. If he has anything more than that, he’ll die before it touches them. It’s tragic, like the story of most monsters/humans. Learn from his story, move on, and focus on the sharks — or stay out of the water.

  • Guest

    I guess the only mistake that Madoff made in getting caught was he fleeced for the most part, the very wealthy. Had it been Joe Blow from Cocomo, Bernie would still be bilking billions. This country doesn’t move an inch for it’s People anymore, unless you are very wealthy or very poor. Those in the middle just have to bend over and spread ‘em. Hence, Madison.

  • Guest

    Along with their “enablers”: The Bush Cabal!

  • Anonymous

    1bassman, So true. Ole’ Bernie stepped on all of the wrong feet and now will sit in jail for life. What a terrible man, plus, his son is gone too.

  • Anonymous

    “His ripoffs hardly amount to a drop in the real power bucket.”

    Yeah, it is astounding what the rest of Wall Street has been able to get away with, just incredible. One of the biggest crimes in history, and those chumps are partying with their hookers and cocaine and laughing at everyone.

  • Anonymous

    Glad you understand the concept and the spelling of the word “Untolled”. Too frequently it is rendered as “Untold”.

  • Anonymous

    The previous posts covered anything I may have wanted to say.

  • Anonymous

    he will be dead soon

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VGQPF4SAS4BGFLDBZYCATHIVFY Chris Herz

    Poor Bernie never understood business: This is America where it’s perfectly OK for rich guys to steal from the poor. But God help anyone to stealing from the rich.

  • http://www.myspace.com/_lovedaddy_ JohnnyMorales

    actually if anything he could say might make him suddenly meet death it’s this.

    Sure cynics will say I feel that way too, BUT the average person in the street might be a pessimist, mistrust government, but STILL have faith our system is basically sound – the monetary system especially.

    Should his belief gain traction there, it would be over. The country would implode as people realized they were just pennies in a shell game played for and by the wealthy for their own benefit.

    Most people cannot cope with that kind of knowledge.

    They want to believe that individuals control their own destiny, and the thought of being powerless pawns makes them suicidal.

  • NadePaulKuciGravMcKi

    when they get caught
    they’ll spill the beans

    federal reserve scam

  • http://twitter.com/honorablelordk Karim Walker

    This would be funny, if it weren’t so tragic.

  • Anonymous

    “One step further is that he scammed other wealthy Jews.”

    He signed his own death warrant and his days are numbered. Of course the cause of death listed will be “natural causes,” something along the lines of congestive heart failure, sudden cardiac arrest, or a stroke. But make no mistake; he betrayed his own and the penalty for treason is death.

  • Anonymous

    “It’s unbelievable….no one has any criminal convictions.” “The whole new regulatory reform is a joke.” ~Madoff

    “This is your last chance, after this there is no turning back. you take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.” ~Morpheus, The Matrix.

  • jimbo92107

    Look what you did to your own son, Bernie. Your crimes forced him to commit suicide out of shame and dishonor. You murdered your own son, Bernie. Why did you have children at all if you were just going to kill them?

  • Guest

    Bernie is beginning to wonder why he doesn’t recognize any new inmates coming in and it’s beginning to bother him.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FONW6K3ZWV4BU4ZTCDCSZHHH6E Mick Jagger

    Hey Obama…you are vile and disgusting for not putting Goldman Sach in prison. I am not voting for you.

  • Anonymous

    “I’m not the kind of person I’m being portrayed as,” he told Fishman, adding: “I am a good person.”

    O.k. then, we can stop listening now.

  • Phil E. Drifter

    He’s also jewish.

  • Phil E. Drifter

    None of you people seem to understand: It is the Federal Reserve which is raping the living shit out of every last American, as well as their children, grand children, ad infinitum, because the Constitution grants the power to print/coin money to Congress; it does NOT grant Congress the ability to defer that duty to a 3rd party.

    (They print money below face value then loan it to the US government to use, on interest.

  • Anonymous

    It’s funny how these freaks latch onto these terms that describe them perfectly and then run around trying to hang that label on their “enemies”. It’s kinda like a toddler learning a cuss word, except for that the kid doesn’t know any better, and it’s usually a lot funnier…

  • Anonymous

    I think Madoff was doing some serious money laundering for the ‘chosen ones’. All those funds relocated to the ‘only democracy in the ME’ is probably why so many Jews were sucked in. Madoff thought he was invincible he could name names and like Pollad his Jewihness was supposed to render hm immune from prosecution.

    Heidi Fleiss too had names and she was only convicted for tax evasion, despite the LAPD wiretapping and sting, links to organised crimes, prostitution etc all was espunged from the records She was supposed to go down for 7Y but she only got two months, Let’s see if Madoff Big Names can do the same for him.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/GCPX7DXZGK2H2CPNYRR5IS5A64 Turnip Mcgee

    The newest Ponzi scheme?. War.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/GCPX7DXZGK2H2CPNYRR5IS5A64 Turnip Mcgee

    Those that can conceptualize the whole of it, know this to be true. End the Fed first, and the rest will follow.

  • http://disintermedia8.wordpress.com/ FlatBaroque

    I know I have no great intellect or anything approaching it, so I know I wasn’t he only one who knew that our entire economy is a confidence game (generic for Ponzi scheme).

    I do regret having been cursed with this awareness though. It has made living life while pretending to believe in and conforming to this system a bizarre sort of performance art.

  • http://disintermedia8.wordpress.com/ FlatBaroque

    I find that The Matrix is the single most elegant and accurate allegory for our current cultural state.

  • http://disintermedia8.wordpress.com/ FlatBaroque

    Benjamin Shalom Bernanke

  • Anonymous

    I’m not sure I understand the phrase “the resources…to care.”

  • Anonymous

    I don’t believe that.

  • Anonymous

    ” Madoff believes the entire US government is a Ponzi scheme.”

    With a ponzi there is only money from the players the money we have is real it’s just being stolen before we get any. What the cons want everyone to forget is how rich the federal government is, it owns millions of acres of land containing billions of barrels of oil and trillions of cf of natural gas add the minerals. precious metals, timber, grazing, air way fees, etc. and you’re talking major bucks. The reason no one mentions this is that the corporations are stealing it. The architects of this theft are from former administrations and their moles are still in the government running the cookie store.

  • Anonymous

    Pay no attention to Bernie; he’s wrong. A Ponzi scheme is a fraud because the people doing it know it is a fraud and intend for it to be fraudulent. The government, on the other hand, is a much more complicated affair. While the things they do may be stupid or misguided and produce disastrous results, for the most part the people involved actually believe they’re doing things that benefit the nation. Hence, the government is definitely not a fraud and not a Ponzi scheme as Bernie says.

  • Anonymous

    of course it is bernie, your tribe made it that way!

  • Anonymous

    Madoff is missing the point. He was an incompetent financial manager who lied to his clients for decades rather than admit he sucked at his job and having to work for a living. The ponzi scheme of our financial system is of a different type and magnitude.

  • Anonymous

    I tend to agree that the government is a Ponzi. Look at Social insecurity, using our money to pay for those already retired….

  • Anonymous

    Jeez, doesn’t anyone use editors anymore? This article could use one.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_KJJ4KEVT2Z5RDHTIRGJOUWL2EA Paul M

    Also, like he said, there should be other´s in the “Pen” besides himself if the government wasn´t such a “sham”, ponzi scheme itself. Now if Bernie, wanted to commit suicide instead of facing forever in jail, he would only have to tell the whole truth about who has got the government in their hip pocket and any further ideas they plan for the country.
    He would gone within a week. I don´t think Bernie has that type of courage. I might be wrong.

  • Anonymous

    I understand it. But for those that would like to study up on the Fed check out this video:


    For those of you that still do some good old fashioned reading check out G. Edward Griffin’s book “The Creature from Jekyll Island”.

  • Anonymous

    There is no “Al Qaeda”, it is simply a catchy little word used to scare the bejesus out of scared little sheep.

  • Anonymous

    I know of two S&L (Silverado) criminals that didn’t go to the slammer that should have – fat head jeb bush (uh…you know, the one that facilitated the 2000 election for his bro w) and neil bush.


    The bush family doesn’t do prison.

  • Anonymous

    No, not like that at all.

  • Anonymous

    “for the most part the people involved actually believe they’re doing things that benefit the nation.”

    I don’t believe that for one single minute. It seems naive.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve never belonged to a union in my entire working life so go F yourself. After you F yourself try taking a course in how to construct a sentence.

  • Rush Goofbaugh

    Funny how one gains “clarity” while sitting in jail. The standard repuk argument… everyone is doing it… so why not me?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_J2BKVG44GLNRGIAYKD7UO4O27E Arthur Young

    אתה גאון אמיתי (ציניות)http://www.stars21.com/translator/hebrew_to_english.html

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_J2BKVG44GLNRGIAYKD7UO4O27E Arthur Young

    היהודים אחראים סופות טורנדו, הוריקנים, רעידות אדמה, התפרצויות שמש, הינדנבורג, הטיטאניק, bubonic במגפה, קלקול
    http://www.stars21.com/translator/hebrew_to_english.htmlקיבה מרתה דודה שלך

  • Anonymous

    It’s not new but it’s picked up a lot of steam recently.

  • realnewz

    I used to belong to a Union and you are incorrect.
    The States Pension is not free and is heavily taxed when a Pensioner want to draw on their pension.
    Employees DO put money into the pension fund every pay period so its not “free” money, if employees are paying into it. The amount withdrawn depends on what you make.
    The govt doesnt match employees until an employee has been with the govt for 10 years.
    Govt Employees are tax payers too so in a sense they are paying their own wages and still pay taxes. Unions take donation like any other company and their members do pay dues but general tax payers are not funding the Unions. Unionized tax paying employees are funding Unions. Unions do support political candidates usually democratic ones and that is why Gov Walker wants to bust the Unions.

  • Anonymous

    Way to protect that IMAGINE, Bernie.

  • realnewz

    That is just not true. Pensioners are taxed on their pensions when they withdrawl.
    And, these Pensioners are tax payers as well so you could say they are essentially paying their own salary or are being double taxed.

    All govt employees contribute to the Pension. Its not chump change at all. Least of all it is not free.
    I have a feeling that even if they werent paying into pension you will still be complaining about them collecting Social Security.

    So where do you think the money to pay govt employees should come from?

    Do you have a problem with private corps having Employee Unions?
    If not, so a corp can be Unionized but not govt. workers?

    The fact is that most govt employees with high wages are not even Union employees so this is not about cutting the deficit. Its all about busting Unions.

    The Tea Party won because they were funded by the wealthy and given royal treatement on fake new$.
    They also won because both are essentially the same and people want a third party. The Tea Party is essentially the rep party so there still wont be any fundamental change.

  • http://harry-canary.myopenid.com/ Harry Canary

    As opposed to slimy salestrash like you who thought gettign drunk on the golf course and telling lies to your buddies was work.

  • http://harry-canary.myopenid.com/ Harry Canary

    No you are one of the ones stealing. You are no doubt a salesboy who thinks getting drunk on the golf course, lying and slapping your buddies on the back while whining about unions is real work. You nedd to get a real job.

  • http://harry-canary.myopenid.com/ Harry Canary

    Then it is past time for us to quit giving you your freebies. Sounds like you have been handed way too much for too little in return.

  • Anonymous

    OK, I can’t read your BS any longer. How about this scenario dipshit. You have a job in the private sector, you get paid $x an hour, you also have a benefit package that includes a pension, health care, vacation and sick leave. So, are you still with me you mental midget? Since all of this is funded by the companies customers how does this not make you a thief to? Does government not provide a service/product ie. fire protection, police protection, work safety protection……need I go on? So how are you any different than one of these so called thiefs?

  • Anonymous

    Look asshole, I don’t work for the gubmint, I own a cabinet manufacturing business. What do you do for an HONEST living. My guess is that you’re involved in one of the more parasitic occupations, simply grabbing a handful off the top some one elses pile moves by. Most of you clowns that talk the shit you do never actually earn your loot. I can guarantee you that guys that work for the government in my occupation where I live don’t make near what I do. So talk about some thing you have actual knowledge of, not some propaganda you saw on Fox News. Most private sector jobs pay more than public jobs. It’s obvious that you’re a member of the Fuck You I Got Mine party. Instead of voting for selfish sociopathic morons (teabaggers and Republicans) you should be trying to lift the private sector workers up instead of swallowing Koch Brothers BS and thinking that bringing government workers down to your level will fix the problems we have. This race to the bottom was brought to you by the right wing in the first place. You’re not attacking the real enemy. You are a dupe of the GOP and a sucker for the Kochs.

  • Anonymous

    You heard the leatest, that Israeli officials are behind Yisrael Ziv recr;uiting African mercenaries to be placed at the disposal of Ghadaffi’s intelligence chief Abdullah Sanusi.

    I guess,this what you call backing both sides to guarantee a winner? Or just another Israeli divide and conquer. Probably end up with another Hamas in Lybia

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_J2BKVG44GLNRGIAYKD7UO4O27E Arthur Young

    Yes you are absolutely correct the Israelis are behind it all. Every day as these chosen ones convene in their covens they burnish their ivory horns on their heads and open The Protocols of Zion, that nefarious hand guide that has turned the human race into robots to do their bidding. As they drink the blood of goyim babys these long nosed occupiers plan the eventual takeover of all we hold holy…..untill they call on the mothership from zionosos to herd the gentile cattle into the giant kosher meat processing plant.