Then-CIO Bill Mann appeared on a Motley Fool financial podcast in 2016, discussing the Bloomberg Terminal apparatus that accounts for a vast majority of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s immense wealth – much of it from clients funded by the Bush/Obama-era bailouts.

The Bloomberg Terminal – effectively a custom keyboard and dual monitors paired with proprietary “Bloomberg Professional” software –  has become a mainstay of corporate elites since the 1980s.

“…I don’t just mean New York City, I mean San Francisco, Tokyo, Kazakhstan, whatever, whoever’s in finance,” Mann added.

While some major firms have made noises about moving away from the kit designed by Michael Bloomberg, the reach is still expanding, with around 330,000 Terminals allowing real time access to market data, shipping information, and corporate insider info in use today.

“I’m trying to use a word other than ‘mafia’, but I’m going to fail at it,” said Mann. “I think Bloomberg is the closest thing to a mafia power that exists in finance, because it is such a default, and they have been able, for years, to come in and say, ‘Well, this is our pricing. Discount? No. There’s no discount. This is our pricing.’”

* * * * * * * *

In 2013 it was revealed that journalists at his Bloomberg media company could see inside the Terminal, i.e. spy on Bloomberg Terminal’s customers.

“Until recently, all Bloomberg employees could access information about when and how terminals were used by any customer. But after complaints by Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan, Bloomberg says its 2,000 or so journalists no longer have access to that information, though other staff still do. Bloomberg has more than 15,000 employees,” Quartz reported.

“The banks were concerned that Bloomberg News was keeping tabs on terminal usage in order to aid its reporting. JP Morgan specifically cited coverage of the bank’s disastrous derivatives trading, known as the “London Whale,” which Bloomberg was the first to reveal.”

Former Bloomberg employees have stated they could access a “wide array of data”, with high-profile figures such as former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan’s customer service chat logs being freely available to Bloomberg employees.

Couple that with this quote from Bloomberg himself:

Look, if you don’t want it to be in the public domain, don’t take that picture, don’t write it down. In this day and age, you’ve got to be pretty naive to believe that the NSA isn’t listening to everything and reading every email. And incidentally, given how dangerous the world is, we should hope they are, because this is really serious, what’s going on in the world.

As John Nolte asks, “Is this someone we want in charge of the federal government?”