Thursday, April 5, 2012

The banksters work their magic

I watched The International the other day.  It is supposed to be about banksters and their nefarious plots.  And while the film has much to recommend it (the choice of architecture as locations and the way these buildings are used and photographed is beyond superb) the plot is pretty thin gruel.  The big problem is that to make the movie "interesting", the big bad banksters must become movie bad guys—gun toting thugs who order assassinations and buy crooked cops.  This thinking belongs in the same category of foolishness that believes bank robbers are like Bonnie and Clyde—not insiders with a computer hacker's abilities and mentality.  Because the power and wealth-snatching capabilities of the banksters are so much more sophisticated than can be enforced with a 9mm Glock, the villains in The International are just the petty crooks.  The real bad guys don't even make an appearance.

By FAR, the single greatest source of bankster power is cultural legitimacy.  They have a story about how banking actually works and even though this story is completely self-serving, they are sticking to it and make concerted efforts to ensure everyone else believes their narrative.  There are many elements to their story but the most interesting concerns fractional banking.  The bankers want us to believe that they joyfully take in the honest savings of the community and then lend that money at interest to promising individuals and enterprises—their take in this transaction is owed them because of their valuable service in "allocating capital."

But what really happens is that banks create the vast majority of the money they lend out of thin air using simple book-keeping maneuvers—they press a few buttons and money appears in your checking account.  They make the appropriate commands to their computer and you get a loan you may spend most of your working life paying back.  It is almost impossible to imagine a more unequal financial arrangement.  A small fraction of the community with control of the banks computers can corner the whole community's economic output.  It's no damn wonder the bankers want everyone to believe their fairy tales.

But just to show how widespread the belief in the banks-as-mangers-of-the-community's-capital story really is, we see a guy named Fullwiler over at Naked Capitalism just destroy Paul Krugman for sticking to the official bankster fairy-tale.  Krugman is the voice of "reason" at the New York Times.  Fullwiler is a professor at a small liberal arts college in Iowa.  He will never write for the New York Times because even though he is absolutely correct, he is an economic heretic making light of banking's most sacred cow.  A summary of the debate Krugman is losing badly can also be found here.

Why do bankers get to decide who pays for the mess Europe is in?

There were summits about how much misery would be imposed on the Greeks – and no trade unions got a say

Aditya Chakrabortty, Monday 2 April 2012

What you're about to read does, I admit, sound like a conspiracy theory. It involves powerful people meeting in private offices, hundreds of billions of euros, and clandestine deals determining the fates of entire countries. All that's missing is a grassy knoll or a wandering band of illuminati. There are, however, two crucial differences: these events are still unfolding – and they're more worrying than any who-killed-JFK fantasy I've ever heard.

Cast your mind back to the euro crisis talks last year, when the future of Greece was being decided. How much Athens should pay its bailiffs in the banks, on what terms, and the hardship that ordinary Greeks would have to endure as a result.

There were times when the whole of 2011 seemed to be one long European summit, when you heard more about Papandreou and Merkozy than was strictly necessary. Yet you probably didn't catch many references to Charles Dallara and Josef Ackermann.

They're two of the most senior bankers in the world – among the top 1% of the 1%. Dallara served in the Treasury under Ronald Reagan, before moving on to Wall Street, while Ackermann is chief executive of Deutsche Bank. But their role in the euro negotiations, and so in deciding Greece's future, was as representatives of the International Institute for Finance.

The IIF is a lobby group for 450 of the biggest banks in the world, with members including Barclays, RBS and Lloyds. Dallara and Ackermann and their colleagues were present throughout those euro summits, and enjoyed rare and astounding access to European heads of state and other policy-makers. EU and IMF officials consulted the bankers on how much Greece should pay, Europe's commissioner for economic affairs Olli Rehn shared conference calls with them.

You can piece all this together by poring over media reports of the euro summits, although be warned: you'll need a very high tolerance threshold for European TV, and financial newswires. But Dallara and co are also quite happy to toot their own trumpets. After a deal was struck last July, the IIF put out a note bragging about its "catalytic" role and claiming its offer "forms an integral part of a comprehensive package".

By now you'll have guessed the punchline: that July agreement was terrible for the Greeks, and brilliant for the bankers. It was widely panned at the time, for slicing only 21% off the value of Greece's loans, when Angela Merkel and many others agreed that financiers ought to be taking a much bigger hit. As the German government's economic adviser, Wolfgang Franz, later remarked in an interview: "If you look at the 21% and our demand for a 50% participation of private creditors, the financial sector has been very successful." Another way of putting it would be to say that the bankers overpowered even the strongest state in Europe.

None of this was inevitable. Iceland had made it clear that simply defaulting on one's loans didn't immediately lead to economic apocalypse. Across Greece, there were massive, repeated protests about the enormous spending cuts that citizens would suffer by paying off Goldman Sachs and the rest. And there was a growing movement in Greece and Portugal and France, among other countries, questioning the legitimacy of some of these loans. more
The problem with the banksters owning everything is that those who own nothing can become consumed with despair.

Pensioner shoots himself at Greek Parliament, refuses to 'search for food in garbage' 

04 April, 2012, 21:32

A 77-year-old Greek man has committed suicide in central Athens by the nation’s parliament, shooting himself with a handgun in apparent financial desperation.

Eyewitness reports say that the man shouted “So I won’t leave debts for my children” before turning the gun on himself. Others claimed he said nothing.

Greek state media reports the man left a suicide note saying “The Tsolakoglou government has annihilated all traces for my survival. And since I cannot find justice, I cannot find another means to react besides putting a decent end [to my life], before I start searching the garbage for food and become a burden for my child."

Georgios Tsolakoglou headed the Greek collaborationist government during the German occupation of Greece in the Second World War.

The note has been widely regarded as drawing a parallel between Lucas Papademos’ current collaborationist government and Tsolakoglou’s regime because of the economic crisis in the country.

In his note, the deceased forecasts the Greek government a fate similar to Benito Mussolini’s if they continue robbing young people of their future. The Italian dictator’s body hung in Milan for public view several days after his execution in April 1945.

“Young people without a future will one day take up arms and hang the traitors upside down in Syntagma Square, as the Italians did to Mussolini in 1945,” the message reportedly reads. more
And the rot spreads to the richest countries in Europe.  That this can happen only shows what a powerful fairy tale the bankers use to destroy lives.

France's Former Middle Class Citizens Are The New Working Poor, Reduced To Living In Campgrounds

By Susie Madrak   April 02, 2012

It is perhaps not a coincidence that the austerity shock troops have imposed their will on most of the Western world, steadily driving down wages, shredding safety nets and producing a growing, more permanent class of the working poor. But let's look at the bright side — once people are desperate enough, we're competitive with the Third World!

Europe’s long-running euro crisis may be cooling. But the economic distress it has left in its wake is pushing a rising tide of workers into precarious straits in France and across the European Union. Today, hundreds of thousands of people are living in campgrounds, vehicles and cheap hotel rooms. Millions more are sharing space with relatives, unable to afford the basic costs of living.

These people are the extreme edge of Europe’s working poor: a growing slice of the population that is slipping through Europe’s long-vaunted social safety net. Many, particularly the young, are trapped in low-paying or temporary jobs that are replacing permanent ones destroyed in Europe’s economic downturn.

Now, economists, European officials and social watchdog groups are warning that the situation is set to worsen. As European governments respond to the crisis by pushing for deep spending cuts to close budget gaps and greater flexibility in their work forces, “the population of working poor will explode,” said Jean-Paul Fitoussi, an economics professor at L’Institut d’Études Politiques in Paris.

To most Europeans, and especially the French, it seems this should not be happening. With generous minimum wage laws and the world’s strongest welfare systems, Europeans are accustomed to thinking they are more protected from a phenomenon they associate with the United States and other laissez-faire economies.

But the European welfare state, designed to ensure that those without jobs are provided with a basic income, access to health care and subsidized housing, is proving ill-prepared to deal with the steady increase in working people who do not make enough to get by.
The trend is most alarming in hard-hit countries like Greece and Spain, but it is rising even in more prosperous nations like France and Germany. more

No comments:

Post a Comment