Monday, October 17, 2016

Iceland and USA vs banksters

Of all the forms of human behavior I have paid attention to in life, the one that continues to baffle me is the "soft power" of the creditor classes.  Yes, they provide essential services, but that is a trivial fraction of their activities.  The rest of what they do is just plain naked money-grabbing.  But to hear them describe themselves, they are paragons of financial, political, and moral virtue.  Then, they surround themselves with the trappings of power—bank architecture is so predictable as to be a cliché.  And it works.  They keep their power and no one of significance goes to jail no matter the outrage.

So far, the only place that has managed to rise above the soft power of international finance is Iceland.  It requires a uniquely egalitarian society to rise above the bankster bullshit and they have one. Part of this come from the fact that it is a country small enough so it is possible to actually know who runs the significant elements.  But part is probably the Viking heritage—during a storm in a longboat, no one escaped the dousing when waves broke over the gunwales.  In such conditions, people who didn't understand the concept of "we are all in this together" didn't last all that long.

And so Iceland has thrown their banksters in jail while in USA, they have been returned to their power to loot and given handsome bonuses for keeping the specter of meaningful regulation and enforcement at bay. Not surprisingly, I much prefer the Icelandic approach.

One of the more recent Wikileaks dumps shows how Citigroup managed to surround young Obama with layers of advisors whose job it was to argue that their naked criminality should not have been a crime in the first place.  Notice how accurate Citigroup's list of cabinet appointees turned out to be and this was written well before the election even happened.  To show how successful this operation was, compare it with the Icelandic outcome.  And so the global economy remains in the hands of criminals who can only destroy.  This simply cannot continue.  Turns out the banksters are so destructive, they are about to destroy life on earth as we know it.  It's possible someone will organize resistance to this madness.

Iceland Jail Top Bankers For 46 Years, Europe ‘Outraged’

Iceland has differed from the rest of Europe and the US by allowing bankers to be prosecuted as criminals, rather than treating them as a protected species.

Baxter Dmitry. October 8, 2016

Iceland has found nine top bankers guilty and sentenced them to decades in jail for crimes related to the 2008 economic crash.

On Thursday Iceland’s Supreme Court returned a guilty verdict for all nine defendants in the Kaupthing market manipulation case, after a long running court trial which began in April last year.

Kaupthing was a big international bank headquartered in Reykjavik, Iceland. It expanded internationally for years, but collapsed in 2008 under huge debts, crippling the small nation’s economy.

By demanding that bankers be subject to the same laws as the rest of society, Iceland opted for a very different strategy in the wake of the financial crisis to rest of Europe and the US, where banks were fined nominal amounts, and directors and chief executives escaped punishment altogether.

While the US and UK governments provided bail outs and government stakes for their big banks with tax-payers’ money – essentially giving bankers the green light to continue behaving in the same way – Iceland adopted a different approach, declaring it would let the banks go bust, weed out and punish the criminal element at the top of the banks, and protect the savings of the people.

Former director of the bank, Hreiðar Már Sigurðsson, who was found guilty and jailed last year, was also given a six-month extension to his sentence on Thursday.

According to Iceland Monitor, the bankers are found guilty of crimes relating to deceitfully financing share purchases – the bank lent money for the purchase of the shares while using its own shares as collateral for the loans.

They are also found guilty of creating a misleading demand for Kaupthing shares by means of deception and pretence.

The Icelandic Approach

These guilty verdicts are just the latest in Iceland’s unprecedented clampdown since the economic crash. Authorities have been pursuing bank bosses, chief executives, civil servants and corporate looters for crimes ranging from insider trading to fraud, money laundering, misleading markets, breach of duties and lying to officials.

Meanwhile the economy that collapsed so spectacularly has rebounded after letting its banks go bust, imposing capital controls and protecting its own citizens rather than the elite bank bosses responsible for the mess.

This determination to hold people to account for actions that caused intense financial misery contrasts strongly with the U.K., the rest of Europe and the US. Yes, fines were imposed on the 20 biggest banks for transgressions such as market manipulation, money-laundering and mis-selling mortgages, but these costs fall on shareholders and, by hampering the banks’ ability to lend, they also punish the rest of society.

Meanwhile the guilty senior bankers, thanks to government bail outs, carry on making enormous profits and collecting their obscene bonuses as though nothing happened.

Last year, the International Monetary Fund declared that Iceland had achieved economic recovery “without compromising its welfare model” or unduly punishing its citizens for crimes committed by its bankers.

Iceland is right to jail it’s bankers – and the US and Europe is wrong to merely slap a few wrists and give the green light to future outrages. more

Citigroup chose Obama’s 2008 cabinet, WikiLeaks document reveals

By Tom Eley

15 October 2016

One month before the presidential election of 2008, the giant Wall Street bank Citigroup submitted to the Obama campaign a list of its preferred candidates for cabinet positions in an Obama administration. This list corresponds almost exactly to the eventual composition of Barack Obama’s cabinet.

The memorandum, revealed by WikiLeaks in a recent document release from the email account of John Podesta, who currently serves as Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair, was written by Michael Froman, who was then an executive with Citigroup and currently serves as US trade representative. The email is dated Oct. 6, 2008 and bears the subject line “Lists.” It went to Podesta a month before he was named chairman of President-Elect Obama’s transition team.

The email was sent at the height of the financial meltdown that erupted after the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers on September 15. Even as Citigroup and its Wall Street counterparts were dragging the US and world economy into its deepest crisis since the 1930s, they remained, as the email shows, the real power behind the façade of American democracy and its electoral process.

Froman’s list proved remarkably prescient. As it proposed, Robert Gates, a Bush holdover, became secretary of Defense; Eric Holder became attorney general; Janet Napolitano, secretary of Homeland Security; Rahm Emanuel, White House chief of staff; Susan Rice, United Nations ambassador; Arne Duncan, secretary of Education; Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of Health and Human Services; Peter Orszag, head of the Office of Management and Budget; Eric Shinseki, secretary of Veterans Affairs; and Melody Barnes, chief of the Domestic Policy Council.

For the highly sensitive position of secretary of the Treasury, three possibilities were presented: Robert Rubin and Rubin’s close disciples Lawrence Summers and Timothy Geithner. Obama chose Geithner, then president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Geithner, along with Bush Treasury Secretary (and former Goldman Sachs CEO) Henry Paulson and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, had played the leading role in organizing the Wall Street bailout.

Rubin had served as Treasury secretary in the Bill Clinton administration from 1995 until 1999, when he was succeeded by Summers. In that capacity, Rubin and Summers oversaw the dismantling of the Glass-Steagall Act (1933), which had imposed a legal wall separating commercial banking from investment banking. Immediately after leaving Treasury, Rubin became a top executive at Citigroup, remaining there until 2009.

A notable aspect of the Froman memo is its use of identity politics. Among the Citigroup executive’s lists of proposed hires to Podesta were a “Diversity List” including “African American, Latino and Asian American candidates, broken down by Cabinet/Deputy and Under/Assistant/Deputy Assistant level,” in Froman’s words, and “a similar document on women.” Froman also took diversity into account for his White House cabinet list, “probability-weighting the likelihood of appointing a diverse candidate for each position.” This list concluded with a table breaking down the 31 assignments by race and gender.

Citigroup’s recommendations came just three days after then-President George W. Bush signed into law the Troubled Asset Relief Program, which allocated $700 billion in taxpayer money to rescue the largest Wall Street banks. The single biggest beneficiary was Citigroup, which was given $45 billion in cash in the form of a government stock purchase, plus a $306 billion government guarantee to back up its worthless mortgage-related assets.

Then-presidential candidate Obama played a critical political role in shepherding the massively unpopular bank bailout through Congress. The September financial crash convinced decisive sections of the US corporate-financial elite that the Democratic candidate of “hope” and “change” would be better positioned to contain popular opposition to the bailout than his Republican rival, Senator John McCain of Arizona.

As president, Obama not only funneled trillions of dollars to the banks, he saw to it that not a single leading Wall Street executive faced prosecution for the orgy of speculation and swindling that led to the financial collapse and Great Recession, and he personally intervened to block legislation capping executive pay at bailed-out firms.

The same furtive and corrupt process is underway in relation to a Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump administration. Froman’s email is one of many thousands released by WikiLeaks from the account of Podesta. Those communications, such as the Froman email, which expose who really rules America, have been virtually ignored by the media. The pro-Democratic Party New Republic called attention to it in an article published Friday, but the story has received little if any further coverage.

The media has instead focused on salacious details of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s sexual activities, designed, in part, to divert attention from the substance of the Clinton campaign-related emails being released by WikiLeaks and other sources.

The New Republic drew attention to the Froman memo not because it opposes such machinations, but as a warning to the interests it represents that they must move now to influence the eventual composition of a Hillary Clinton administration.

“If the 2008 Podesta emails are any indication, the next four years of public policy are being hashed out right now, behind closed doors,” wrote New Republic author David Dayen. “And if liberals want to have an impact on that process, waiting until after the election will be too late.” more
See also: "The Most Important WikiLeak" - How Wall Street Built The Obama Cabinet 

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