Showing posts with label financial coup d'etat. Show all posts
Showing posts with label financial coup d'etat. Show all posts

18 September 2014

European Sovereign Debt Levels to GDP Before and After the Bank Bailouts



What is even more clever than lining your pockets by ballooning the financial system into a great bubble by fraud and bad governance?

Getting the victims and bystanders to pay the price of your perfidy, and shifting the anger of the people to some unfortunates,  while 'reforming' the system to make it even more efficient at looting so that you can do it all over again.

No wonder that any movement that threatens the status quo in the least bit gets these white collared reivers and their pampered princes in such a lather.  It is important to make people think that no one else cares, and that they are alone.

Such a parcel of rogues in a nation.



"The sudden explosion of European sovereign debt is the direct and indisputable result of all our political parties deciding they would safeguard their mates’ and their own personal wealth (it is the top 10% who hold the bulk of their wealth in the financial products which would be destroyed in a bank collapse. NOT the rest of us!) by bailing out the private banks and piling their unpaid debts on to the public purse.

So whatever the trigger of the next crisis may be, they know any solution which saves the wealth and power of the over-class will have to involve piling new, private-bank bad-debts on to already indebted sovereigns and that, our leaders must be keenly aware, will not be easy to force on an already angry public. They know a whole range of the assurances they might like to give us about what must be done when the next crisis hits and how those things will undoubtably save us, will not be so easy to shove down people’s throats...

I think one of the cleverest things the 1% have done over the last few years is the way they have created a relentless public discourse, via their paid political front-men and women and their media empires, to insist on the need to ‘fix’ and protect the system, and the extreme danger to us all should the system not be ‘saved’. This has served as a perfect cover for making sure that not enough people have noticed that the system is, in fact, being gutted and replaced by something that better serves the interests of the 1%. We have not been fixing the banks, we have been feeding them."

Golem XIV, The Next Crisis Part One

“Why do you think we have a winner?,” President Snow asks while cutting a white rose.
"What do you mean?,” Seneca asks.
“I mean, why do we have a winner?,” Snow repeats, before pausing. “Hope.”
“Hope?,” Seneca replies slightly bewildered.
“Hope. It is the only thing stronger than fear. A little hope is effective, a lot of hope is dangerous,” Snow declares. “A spark is fine, as long as it’s contained. So, contain it.”

Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games


A Broken Economic System In One Picture



A truly bipartisan effort.

Such a parcel of rogues in a nation.



h/t Neil Irwin, You Can't Feed a Family GDP



26 August 2014

A Tale of Two Markets: One for Wealthy Insiders, And Another For the Rest of Us


"We run carelessly to the precipice after we have put up a façade to prevent ourselves from seeing it.”

Blaise Pascal
 
Here is a brief excerpt from an article today by the amazing team of Pam and Russ Martens at Wall Street On Parade titled, Are U.S. Markets Liquid and Deep or Rigged and Broken? I suggest you read the entire article when you have the opportunity as this is just a snippet.

"...the SEC which oversees stock exchanges has allowed both the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq to create a bifurcated market. The unsophisticated investor is given trading data on which to base trading decisions on a slow data feed called the Securities Information Processor or SIP. The SIP is not only slow in getting the data to the technology-challenged investor, but it has limited data.

For the rich and powerful on Wall Street who can afford massive fees, there is another data feed offered by the exchanges called the Direct Feed. The Direct Feed data, which has far more useful information, arrives in the hands of High Frequency Traders and Wall Street’s proprietary traders ahead of the arrival of the SIP data. This allows the Direct Feed users to buy a stock on the cheap and sell the stock back to the SIP user at a higher price...

The New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq, which also have a mandated regulatory role to ensure that their markets are fair and non-discriminatory, have allowed the two-tiered market to exist because they are collecting hundreds of millions of dollars a year selling the SIP to the dumb money and the Direct Feed to the smart money..."

For someone that is not drinking the daily dose of electronic kool aid from the mainstream media, this is a systemic, institutionalized control fraud that inevitably leads to a financial crisis.   And a close survey of the markets today might lead one to observe, 'My God.  These lunatics are going to do it again.'

That is what it is in plain words.   That is what the price discovery of the US, which controls the reserve currency of the world and sets many of its key prices, is based upon.   This is not some rogue trader, or anomalous abuse.  This is fraud that is deeply woven into the very fabric of the system, and is widely tolerated with a self-serving wink and a nod.

For example, the privately held London Metals Exchange was dismissed as a defendant in the aluminum price fixing case today because it is immune from US prosecution as 'an organ of the UK government.'  That is quite an admission, and some organ.   Droit du seigneur.  Reminds one of the motive for dismissal insinuated by the Barrick motion in the Blanchard gold manipulation suit.

What is it going to take to wake people up?  What markets are left that have not been exposed as deeply rigged at their core?

A big part of the rest of the world isn't buying it anymore. And that is taking us into some very deep, dark, and uncharted waters. 

13 June 2014

Anat Admati: Seeing Through the Bankers' New Clothes - The Bullet or the Bribe


"Looking at the world as a whole, the drift for many decades has been not towards anarchy but towards the reimposition of slavery. We may be heading not for general breakdown but for an epoch as horribly stable as the slave empires of antiquity...few people have yet considered the kind of world-view, the kind of beliefs, and the social structure that would probably prevail in a state which was at once unconquerable and in a permanent state of cold war with its neighbors."

George Orwell

The reign of the Banks was reintroduced on the back of, and is sustained by, a major campaign of corruption of the political processes and the public discourse. The decisive moment was the repeal of Glass-Steagall, and the further withdrawal of the watchers on the wall by both political parties who have gone along to get along.

The difference in the analogy offered in this talk is that the monied interests are not some semi-benign doddering old emperor who has fallen victim to the flattery of courtiers and the schemes of conmen.  They are a monstrous construction of reckless pride and greed who will work their schemes until the exhaustion and collapse of their prey.

One is foolish to expect them to be ruled by self-control and appeals to reason, given the nature of their pathology.  These are the very types that cause people to organize themselves for their protection.  This is the highest responsibility of government: the promotion of justice, and the defense of all people, including the foolish and the weak, for the common good against thieves, conmen, bandit, foreign armies, and domestic predators.
"There are no necessary evils in government. Its evils exist only in its abuses. If it would confine itself to equal protection, and, as Heaven does its rains, shower its favors alike on the high and the low, the rich and the poor, it would be an unqualified blessing."

Andrew Jackson, Veto of the Second Bank of the United States
The Banks and their associated Corporations continue to extract usurious fees, misprice risk, rig markets, and engage in a variety of soft bribery and extortion.  And it will not end well.  I would like to be more optimistic, but it is discouraging to see how easily the financially powerful have co-opted some sincere reform movements into their willing tools, spouting utopian nonsense.  The shepherds have been struck down, by the bullet and the bribe, and the sheep have been scattered.

The Anglo-American financial system is an accident waiting to happen.  And you can be sure that they are expecting, once again, to dip their beaks deeply into the public pockets when they do. 



h/t Bill Moyers



We are surely not the first generation to face this sort of trial, since it is in the very nature of this fallen world, and the burden of every generation to rise to their particular trials and temptations. If anything we may be notable for our weakness, our lack of faithfulness, our foolish pride, a perverted perspective unworthy of our many gifts, and the stubborn hardness of our hearts too often in the name of our just and loving Lord.

"...He prompts you what to say, and then listens to you, and praises you, and encourages you. He bids you mount aloft. He shows you how to become as gods. Then he laughs and jokes with you, and gets intimate with you; he takes your hand, and gets his fingers between yours, and grasps them, and then you are his."

J. H. Newman

13 April 2014

Pay and Deregulation in the US Financial Industry


"It is no exaggeration to say that since the 1980s, much of the global financial sector has become criminalised, creating an industry culture that tolerates or even encourages systematic fraud.   The behaviour that caused the mortgage bubble and financial crisis of 2008 was a natural outcome and continuation of this pattern, rather than some kind of economic accident."

Charles H. Ferguson


“Thus did a handful of rapacious citizens come to control all that was worth controlling in America. Thus was the savage and stupid and entirely inappropriate and unnecessary and humorless American class system created. Honest, industrious, peaceful citizens were classed as bloodsuckers, if they asked to be paid a living wage.

And they saw that praise was reserved henceforth for those who devised means of getting paid enormously for committing crimes against which no laws had been passed. Thus the American dream turned belly up, turned green, bobbed to the scummy surface of cupidity unlimited, filled with gas, went bang in the noonday sun.”

Kurt Vonnegut, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater


"Call me dark, but what I see here is a toxic relationship between deregulation, underpriced risk, and exorbitant, inefficient pay scales that contribute to the growth of inequality, not to mention the shampoo economy (bubble, bust, repeat)."

Jared Bernstein, A Striking Picture of Pay and Deregulation in Finance

A country foolishly deregulates the safeguards created by their forefathers, trusts to the natural goodness of those most hungry for wealth and power, and increases the incentives for enormous wealth by creating loopholes and cutting tax rates, and de-penalizing even the most shocking kinds of white collar crimes.  They recreate the mistakes of history with a wanton disregard for the consequences.

And still they wonder why.  Why do we persecute the poor, and idolize those who would rule us all, without pity or even normal cautions against crises ?  And they say, for God and freedom.

Financial corruption has twisted and perverted public policy, distorted the economy, and polluted the corridors of political and economic power with a flood of easy money.

h/t Jared Bernstein



Related:
A Brilliant Warning On Robert Rubin's Proposal to Deregulate Banks, circa 1995
Andrew Jackson Day Remembered

08 January 2014

The Recovery™ In One Chart


"A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules...

Such an economy kills. "

Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Francis I


"When you won, you divided the profits amongst you, and when you lost, you charged it to the Bank [of the United States]...

You are a den of vipers and thieves. I have determined to rout you out, and by the Eternal, (bringing his fist down on the table), I will rout you out."

Andrew Jackson

Corporatism by any other name, or brand...

h/t for the chart to those wild and crazy guys at GMU.

16 May 2013

The History of the Johnstown Flood: Audacious Oligarchy, Reckless Disregard


The history of the Johnstown Flood of 1889, at that time the worst natural disaster in the US as measured by loss of life, is little understood these days, but quite fascinating.

A group of about fifty wealthy 'robber barons' took over an old dam which had been used as a reservoir for a canal system,  and used it to create a lake resort for their private pleasure.  It served as a weekend retreat from the heat and noise of nearby Pittsburgh. 

Prior to selling the dam to them, the owner, a Congressman Reilly who had purchased the abandoned reservoir from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, removed the discharge pipes from the dam and sold them for scrap, thereby eliminating any emergency water relief measures, excepting the spillway.

They constructed buildings, and cottages, and formed the Southfork Fishing and Hunting Club.

They screened the spillway in order to preserve the fish with which they stocked the lake.  The screening tended to collect debris, and hamper the function of the spillway to relieve pressure on the dam caused by the occasional heavy rains.

Poorly maintained, the dam gave way, and wiped out the towns located down river. Having received no warning, many of the people who could have retreated to the nearby foothills were lost in the deluge.

The powerful members of the Club were never held to account because the law was interpreted to find no single member had been personally involved.

The Club itself was sold at auction to pay its mortgage to the banks.  The litigants received nothing.

It would have been even worse if the wealthy had bought insurance on the lives and property of the towns below, in order to further profit from the tragedy, and had cut telegraph wires and warning whistles to maximize the damage, loss of life, and their profit. 

And it would have been despicable if they had hired experts and newspapers to falsely lecture the public on the nature of dams, and how their concerns were misplaced and ridiculous. And if they had 'captured' the public officials and inspectors so that they would overlook and excuse the reckless disregard of the Club members for others.

I hope the lessons from this story from history are not lost on you.

When things don't make sense, that is often because there is deception involved.  How can there be widespread destruction and crime, but no one is held accountable? 

It is easy to underestimate the brazenness with which wealthy and powerful people will game the system for their personal profit, and then to cover up their wrongdoing.   That is because most people themselves would not lie and cheat to profit from the misery of others.  They find such behavior to be almost inhuman.

It is natural perhaps to blame the victims. They should have known, one might say. And how often can one be fooled before being blamed for their misfortune as a fool?

But most people, when faced with the uncertainty of conflicting stories, tend to accept the one that is put forward by the mainstream media, and backed by very important people. 

This is especially true if it seems like something they might do. Who could believe in such deceit? But they forget that they themselves are not heartless sociopaths.  And they are not well-practiced, almost pathologically proficient, con men who will say and do almost anything for money, without a twinge of conscience. Surely they may bend the truth a little, but never about anything so great.

The Banks must be restrained, and the financial system reformed, with balance restored to the economy, before there can be any sustainable recovery.





23 January 2013

PBS Frontline: The Untouchables



I can hardly wait for the specials about the silver market when that time comes.

The corruption will continue until the people of the Western world hold their politicians accountable, and are not so easily distracted by The Big Show, and emotional bread and circuses.


Watch The Untouchables on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.

28 December 2012

Strangers Among Us: The Fatal Allure of False Premises and Unstable Systems - I Am Fishead


People tend to think other people are like them: imperfect, but generally striving to be good.  Faithful in the important things, but weak and error prone in the small.  Our self-view itself is probably a bit of a self-serving self-delusion, but that is a topic for another conversation on some other day. But it does illustrate the need for some external standard, and the rigor of self-examination against it.

As you may have heard or observed, most people tend to write their own faults in water, and carve the failings of others in large letters written in marble.

But there are strangers among us, people who are quite different from most in how they approach things. In fact, the variance amongst people is greater than most will allow in their thinking. Not all people are constructed in the same way.

There are those who are not at all self-regulating in the rational way in which we would like to think we all are.   They may be different genetically, or from the way in which they grew up in their formative years, and most often a combination of both. 

But as in so many cases,  generalizations can lead to convenient assumptions, and those can often prove dangerous.  This can cause us individual problems, as anyone who has dealt with a family member or associate who has a serious problem will know.

But the greatest source of mischief, and too often tragedy, is when we design social constructs and commercial organizations that, for the well-intentioned sake of simplicity, assume that people are rational and reliably good, except for a small and easily identifiable minority of physical criminals.

This may sound obvious enough, but in fact such mistaken assumptions can and do happen.  Certain financial and economic formulations of risk for example, are laughable in their assumptions, but nevertheless obtained widespread acceptance and recognition, before it failed miserably.  Why? For a number of reasons, most of which have to do with practical convenience of thought that gets carried too far.

 People thinking in groups tend to eschew individual common sense, relying instead on a sort of shorthand 'group think' that substitutes for experience and the hard work of individual reason.   We are both emotional and thinking beings, and have our roots in pack behaviour and tribalism. 

The 'tell' for this phenomenon is that when confronted with contrary evidence from real life, they either studiously ignore it, citing largely irrelevant counter examples from biased and carefully chosen sources, or merely brush it aside, falling back on generalizations and above all slogans. And when harsh reality inevitably intrudes, it is met with shock, stubborn resistance, and disbelief.

So, and this is the point of this essay, when thinking about social or corporate organization, bear in mind that there are a small but potentially powerfully focused set of people who will not fall into your neatly reasoned assumptions. And this fact may cause your system to be founded on sand, on a fatal flaw, that may even be promoted by those who view it to their advantage in undermining and abusing that system for their own ends.   This is why they prefer to redesign and reorganize completely instead of reform.  It provides a greater opportunity to construct new loopholes for their own benefit.

No one can make a reliable diagnosis at a distance. We tend to distort and project when observing others. And people operate from a variety of motives and intentions. But that is not the point.

The point is that systems must be designed to be, what Taleb has called, 'anti-fragile,' that is, not so reliant on certain assumed norms to be vulnerable to corruption and collapse. In system design we used to call an effective system that was even incidentally reliable at the stated extremes to be 'robust.'

I believe quite strongly that the story of our own crisis is the failure to remember the lessons from the past, that there are people whom it would be fair to call evil amongst us, an that although they may be intelligent and superficially charming, they are every bit as dangerous, and probably even more, than the killer who wields a knife or a gun. And more than anything else, we have ceased to love the truth, for the sake of winning.
“Above all, don't lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others.

And having no respect he ceases to love.”

― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
And that is the descent into Hell.

Here is a brief excerpt from an essay put out by Aftermath, the group founded in part by Robert Hare to assist the victims of psychopathy. It is not intended as a diagnostic tool, because without years of specific training one is not capable of performing such a procedure reliably. But it is educative, to help us to understand that not everyone is the same, not like 'us' if such an 'us' really exists except in broad abstractions.

Below that, for your holiday viewing, I reprise the documentary film, I am Fishead.

Enjoy, and plan accordingly.

"There is a class of individuals who have been around forever and who are found in every race, culture, society and walk of life. Everybody has met these people, been deceived and manipulated by them, and forced to live with or repair the damage they have wrought.

These often charming, but always deadly, individuals have a clinical name: psychopaths. Their hallmark is a stunning lack of conscience; their game is self-gratification at the other person’s expense. Many spend time in prison, but many do not. All take far more than they give.

The most obvious expressions of psychopathy, but not the only ones, involve the flagrant violation of society’s rules. Not surprisingly, many psychopaths are criminals, but many others manage to remain out of prison, using their charm and chameleon-like coloration to cut a wide swathe through society, leaving a wake of ruined lives behind


Key Symptoms of Psychopathy
Interpersonal
Emotional
Social Deviance
Glib and superficialImpulsive
Egocentric and grandiosePoor behavior controls
Lack of remorse or guiltNeed for excitement
Lack of empathyLack of responsibility
Deceitful and manipulativeEarly behavior problems
Shallow emotionsAdult antisocial behavior

Glib and Superficial

Psychopaths are often voluble and verbally facile. They can be amusing and entertaining conversationalists, ready with a clever comeback, and are able to tell unlikely but convincing stories that cast themselves in a good light. They can be very effective in presenting themselves well and are often very likable and charming...

Egocentric and Grandiose

Psychopaths have a narcissistic and grossly inflated view of their own self-worth and importance, a truly astounding egocentricity and sense of entitlement, and see themselves as the center of the universe, justified in living according to their own rules...

Psychopaths often claim to have specific goals but show little appreciation regarding the qualifications required-they have no idea of how to achieve them and little or no chance of attaining these goals, given their track record and lack of sustained interest in formal education...

Lack of Remorse or Guilt

Psychopaths show a stunning lack of concern for the effects their actions have on others, no matter how devastating these might be. They may appear completely forthright about the matter, calmly stating that they have no sense of guilt, are not sorry for the ensuing pain, and that there is no reason now to be concerned...Their lack of remorse or guilt is associated with a remarkable ability to rationalize their behavior, to shrug off personal responsibility for actions that cause family, friends, and others to reel with shock and disappointment. They usually have handy excuses for their behavior, and in some cases deny that it happened at all.

Lack of Empathy

Many of the characteristics displayed by psychopaths are closely associated with a profound lack of empathy and inability to construct a mental and emotional “facsimile” of another person. They seem completely unable to “get into the skin” of others, except in a purely intellectual sense. They are completely indifferent to the rights and suffering of family and strangers alike. If they do maintain ties, it is only because they see family members as possessions...

Deceitful and Manipulative

With their powers of imagination in gear and beamed on themselves, psychopaths appear amazingly unfazed by the possibility, or even by the certainty, of being found out. When caught in a lie or challenged with the truth, they seldom appear perplexed or embarrassed-they simply change their stories or attempt to rework the facts so they appear to be consistent with the lie. The result is a series of contradictory statements and a thoroughly confused listener. And psychopaths seem proud of their ability to lie...

Shallow Emotions

Psychopaths seem to suffer a kind of emotional poverty that limits the range and depth of their feelings. At times they appear to be cold and unemotional while nevertheless being prone to dramatic, shallow, and short-lived displays of feeling. Careful observers are left with the impression they are playacting and little is going on below the surface. A psychopath in our research said that he didn’t really understand what others meant by fear.

Impulsive

Psychopaths are unlikely to spend much time weighing the pros and cons of a course of action or considering the possible consequences. “I did it because I felt like it,” is a common response. These impulsive acts often result from an aim that plays a central role in most of the psychopath’s behavior: to achieve immediate satisfaction, pleasure, or relief.

So family members, relatives, employers, and coworkers typically find themselves standing around asking themselves what happened-jobs are quit, relationships broken off, plans changed, houses ransacked, people hurt, often for what appears as little more than a whim...

Poor Behavior Controls

Besides being impulsive, psychopaths are highly reactive to perceived insults or slights. Most of us have powerful inhibitory controls over our behavior; even if we would like to respond aggressively we are usually able to “keep the lid on.” In psychopaths, these inhibitory controls are weak, and the slightest provocation is sufficient to overcome them. As a result, psychopaths are short-tempered or hotheaded and tend to respond to frustration, failure, discipline, and criticism with sudden violence, threats or verbal abuse. But their outbursts, extreme as they may be, are often short-lived, and they quickly act as if nothing out of the ordinary has happened...Although psychopaths have a “hair trigger,” their aggressive displays are “cold”; they lack the intense arousal experienced when other individuals lose their temper.

A Need for Excitement

Psychopaths have an ongoing and excessive need for excitement-they long to live in the fast lane or “on the edge,” where the action is. In many cases the action involves the breaking of rules. Many psychopaths describe “doing crime” for excitement or thrills... The flip side of this yen for excitement is an inability to tolerate routine or monotony. Psychopaths are easily bored and are not likely to engage in activities that are dull, repetitive, or require intense concentration over long periods.

Lack of Responsibility

Obligations and commitments mean nothing to psychopaths. Their good intentions-”I’ll never cheat on you again”-are promises written on the wind. Horrendous credit histories, for example, reveal the lightly taken debt, the loan shrugged off, the empty pledge to contribute to a child’s support. Their performance on the job is erratic, with frequent absences, misuse of company resources, violations of company policy, and general untrustworthiness. They do not honor formal or implied commitments to people, organizations, or principles. Psychopaths are not deterred by the possibility that their actions mean hardship or risk for others.

Early Behavior Problems

Most psychopaths begin to exhibit serious behavioral problems at an early age. These might include persistent lying, cheating, theft, arson, truancy, substance abuse, vandalism, and/or precocious sexuality. Because many children exhibit some of these behaviors at one time or another-especially children raised in violent neighborhoods or in disrupted or abusive families-it is important to emphasize that the psychopath’s history of such behaviors is more extensive and serious than most, even when compared with that of siblings and friends raised in similar settings...

Adult Antisocial Behavior

Psychopaths see the rules and expectations of society as inconvenient and unreasonable impediments to their own behavioral expression. They make their own rules, both as children and as adults. Many of the antisocial acts of psychopaths lead to criminal charges and convictions. Even within the criminal population, psychopaths stand out, largely because the antisocial and illegal activities of psychopaths are more varied and frequent than are those of other criminals. Psychopaths tend to have no particular affinity, or “specialty,” for one particular type of crime but tend to try everything. But not all psychopaths end up in jail. Many of the things they do escape detection or prosecution, or are on “the shady side of the law.” For them, antisocial behavior may consist of phony stock promotions, questionable business practices, spouse or child abuse, and so forth. Many others do things that, though not necessarily illegal, are nevertheless unethical, immoral, or harmful to others: philandering or cheating on a spouse to name a few..."

The Charming Psychopath: How to Spot Social Predators Before They Attack



13 October 2012

Keiser: Nick Verbitsky On Wall Street's Confidence Game


Never allow them to make us forget the poisonous and deliberate fraud that was at the center of the financial collapse.





30 August 2012

Simon Johnson On the Quiet Coup d'Etat in the Anglo-American Financial System



This is a reprise of an interview with MIT economist Simon Johnson which was posted here in February, 2009.

Have we heeded Simon Johnson's warning? Has he proven to be prescient? Is crony capitalism and the kleptocracy becoming bolder, more aggressive, ever more demanding?
"I think I'm signaling something a little bit shocking to Americans, and to myself, actually. Which is the situation we find ourselves in at this moment, this week, is very strongly reminiscent of the situations we've seen many times in other places.

But they're places we don't like to think of ourselves as being similar to. They're emerging markets. It's Russia or Indonesia or a Thailand type situation, or Korea. That's not comfortable. America is different. America is special. America is rich. And, yet, we've somehow find ourselves in the grip of the same sort of crisis and the same sort of oligarchs...

But, exactly what you said, it's a small group with a lot of power. A lot of wealth. They don't necessarily - they're not necessarily always the names, the household names that spring to mind, in this kind of context. But they are the people who could pull the strings. Who have the influence. Who call the shots...

...the signs that I see this week, the body language, the words, the op-eds, the testimony, the way they're treated by certain Congressional committees, it makes me feel very worried.

I have this feeling in my stomach that I felt in other countries, much poorer countries, countries that were headed into really difficult economic situation. When there's a small group of people who got you into a disaster, and who were still powerful. Disaster even made them more powerful. And you know you need to come in and break that power. And you can't. You're stuck....

The powerful people are the insiders. They're the CEOs of these banks. They're the people who run these banks. They're the people who pay themselves the massive bonuses at the end of the last year. Now, those bonuses are not the essence of the problem, but they are a symptom of an arrogance, and a feeling of invincibility, that tells you a lot about the culture of those organizations, and the attitudes of the people who lead them...

But it really shows you the arrogance, and I think these people think that they've won. They think it's over. They think it's won. They think that we're going to pay out ten or 20 percent of GDP to basically make them whole. It's astonishing....

...these people are throughout the system of government. They are very much at the forefront of the Treasury. The Treasury is apparently calling the shots on their economic policies.

This is a decisive moment. Either you break the power or we're stuck for a long time with this arrangement."


Bill Moyer's Journal - Interview with Simon Johnson, February, 2009.

Johnson also wrote a piece in the Atlantic Magazine titled The Quiet Coup. It may be worth re-reading.
Here is the introduction to this in The Fall of the American Republic: The Quiet Coup d'Etat in August 2010.

"I am not so optimistic that this reform is possible, because there has in fact been a soft coup d'etat in the US, which now exists in a state of crony corporatism that wields enormous influence over the media and within the government.

Let's be clear about this, the oligarchs are flush with victory, and feel that they are firmly in control, able to subvert and direct any popular movement to the support of their own fascist ends and unslakable will to power.

This is the contempt in which they hold the majority of American people and the political process: the common people are easily led fools, and everyone else who is smart enough to know better has their price. And they would beggar every middle class voter in the US before they will voluntarily give up one dime of their ill gotten gains.

But my model says that the oligarchs will continue to press their advantages, being flushed with victory, until they provoke a strong reaction that frightens everyone, like a wake up call, and the tide then turns to genuine reform."

As far as I can tell, we are right on track for a very bad time of it. And you might be surprised at how far a belief in exceptionalism and arrogant superiority can go before it finally ends, or more likely, falls.



09 August 2012

Neil Barofsky On the Economy


I think there is a general recognition that the economic and financial systems are broken, no matter what words one wishes to use to describe them.

A credibility trap impedes honest discussion of what happened and what is wrong. The corrupt bargain between the politicians and the monied interests casts a fog over any investigations and the rule of law.

Reform efforts like The Tea Party have been quickly turned by the corporate money powers into platforms for further economic repression of the weak. People are easily led during times of high emotion, no matter how superior they may think themselves to be. Even a cultured, educated people are capable of monstrous acts of madness.

So it is a tough situation, when no one loves the truth, and when appeals to hate and greed find such a ready footing amongst a vocal minority. Sounds familiar to those who read history.

Power structures that have outlived their time remain in control through force and fraud. And as the fraud deteriorates, the force increases.

I found it interesting that Barofsky thinks that the impulse to reform might require another financial crisis to make it happen. I happen to think that there will be another crisis and that it will be pivotal. Which way it goes depends on who grabs the reins of power and who can hold them the longest.


"Barofsky served the watchdog role for the Troubled Asset Relief Fund for years and knows a thing or two about how money and politics are paired in Washington. Now with the current state of the country still causing concern even after his tenure with TARP, Barofsky made little effort to paint a pretty picture to the readers of Gawker.com when offering his input.

In a question-and-answer session hosted on the website this week, one commenter didn’t hold back by asking Barofsky for confirmation on America’s current condition.

So we're just totally f*cked, right?” a user with the online handle grebeck asked. “As citizens, like no-way-out f*cked?”

Barofsky eventually responded to the inquiry with a bit of optimism, but not before confirming that fear with a simple, two-word statement.

“Pretty f*cked,” Barofsky wrote.

“But there is a way-out,” he added. “We need to convince those seeking or trying to retain power that they will not get our votes unless and until they commit to meaningful change of a financial system.

Might not work until we are in the grips of another crisis, but worth trying until then.”

RT, Top Obama Watchdog: We're Pretty F*cked

The problem is that it does not matter if you vote for them or not, if they control who makes it on the ballot.  This is why some people have concluded that working within the system is death by a thousand cuts, and the only recourse at this point is alternative movements and peaceful demonstrations such as the country saw in the civil rights movement.

And these movements should take care in who offers to fund and lead them, keeping the Tea Party in mind as to how quickly reform movements can be co-opted by those with money, slick public relations skills, and ulterior motives.
"That humanity and sincerity which dispose men to resist injustice and tyranny render them unfit to cope with the cunning and power of those who are opposed to them. The friends of liberty trust to the professions of others because they are themselves sincere, and endeavour to secure the public good with the least possible hurt to its enemies, who have no regard to anything but their own unprincipled ends, and stick at nothing to accomplish them."

William Hazlitt

08 August 2012

Lawyers and Banks Offer a Full Range of Elite Criminal Services


There is a two-tiered system of rules, with Liberty and Justice for some.

If you knew how routinely it is marketed, and understood the full extent of it, you would be surprised and angry at the cynical injustice of those who consider that only the 'little people' should bear the burdens for their country and the consequences of their actions.
Do What Thou Will Shall Be the Whole of the Law.
And the demimonde of lawyers, banks, and corrupt politicians may have a pre-packaged solution for you, as long as you have the connections and the means to afford it.

There has always been corruption. But it is rarely as routine and systemic as in the last twenty years. It becomes an open secret.

But many ordinary people are so propagandized by clever PR campaigns and energized by prejudice and hatred that they are no longer able to think. Or it becomes too painful.

More at The Real News

02 August 2012

A Corporatist Coup d'Etat Led By Think Tanks, Media Control, and Bribery By Lobbyists


“The mess we’re in now did not begin on Wall Street. Long before the financial collapse, the dismantlement of government regulation was well under way. All the consequences are the result of a brilliantly executed coup. This is the story of the biggest heist in American history.”

"HEIST: Who Stole the American Dream? is stunning audiences across the globe, as it exposes the real truth behind the worldwide economic collapse, tracing its origins to a 1971 secret memo entitled Attack on American Free Enterprise System. Written over 40 years ago by the future Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell, at the behest of the US Chamber of Commerce, the 6-page memo, a free-market utopian treatise, called for a money fueled big business makeover of government through corporate control of the media, academia, the pulpit, arts and sciences and destruction of organized labor and consumer protection groups.

Sound familiar? Today’s crisis and heart stopping headlines can be directly traced to Powell’s real “end game” which was business control of law and politics. Powell’s fingerprints are all over Citizens United, the fateful Supreme Court decision which gave corporations and the super rich unlimited ability to shape our elections with virtually unrestricted donations. HEIST’s step by step detail exposes the systemic implementation of Powell’s memo by BOTH U.S. political parties over the last forty years culminating in the deregulation of industry, outsourcing of jobs and regressive taxation. All of which led us to the global financial crisis of 2008 and the continued dismantling of the American middle class.

Today, politics is the playground of the rich and powerful, with no thought given to the hopes and dreams of ordinary Americans..."

Why take a government by force when you can delude the public, energize a vocal minority, eliminate a few key leaders of any effective opposition thereby setting an example for any others, and through coercion and soft bribery simply buy it?

The Lewis Powell Memo



Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

The White House Coup of 1933




14 February 2009

America vs. the Oligarchs



Bill Moyers has an interview with former IMF Chief Economist and MIT professor Simon Johnson that is excerpted and linked below.

Simon Johnson's premise is that the big Wall Street banks represent an oligarchy that is exerting undue influence and control on our government and the economy. They are turning this crisis to their advantage, and circumventing the democratic process.

What we are seeing looks to Simon Johnson like a financial coup d'etat.

Now is the time to break up the big money center banks. Now is the time to reinstate Glass-Steagall. We must demand the reforms for which we elected the Obama Administration.

Watch this interview. Think about it. Let other people know. Write your congressmen.

And be prepared to act on a larger scale in a peaceful way to get the point across that we value our liberty and we will stand for justice. We are not optimistic that the government will do the right thing without more prodding and significant support from the public.

"I think I'm signaling something a little bit shocking to Americans, and to myself, actually. Which is the situation we find ourselves in at this moment, this week, is very strongly reminiscent of the situations we've seen many times in other places.

But they're places we don't like to think of ourselves as being similar to. They're emerging markets. It's Russia or Indonesia or a Thailand type situation, or Korea. That's not comfortable. America is different. America is special. America is rich. And, yet, we've somehow find ourselves in the grip of the same sort of crisis and the same sort of oligarchs...

But, exactly what you said, it's a small group with a lot of power. A lot of wealth. They don't necessarily - they're not necessarily always the names, the household names that spring to mind, in this kind of context. But they are the people who could pull the strings. Who have the influence. Who call the shots...

...the signs that I see this week, the body language, the words, the op-eds, the testimony, the way they're treated by certain Congressional committees, it makes me feel very worried.

I have this feeling in my stomach that I felt in other countries, much poorer countries, countries that were headed into really difficult economic situation. When there's a small group of people who got you into a disaster, and who were still powerful. Disaster even made them more powerful. And you know you need to come in and break that power. And you can't. You're stuck....

The powerful people are the insiders. They're the CEOs of these banks. They're the people who run these banks. They're the people who pay themselves the massive bonuses at the end of the last year. Now, those bonuses are not the essence of the problem, but they are a symptom of an arrogance, and a feeling of invincibility, that tells you a lot about the culture of those organizations, and the attitudes of the people who lead them...

But it really shows you the arrogance, and I think these people think that they've won. They think it's over. They think it's won. They think that we're going to pay out ten or 20 percent of GDP to basically make them whole. It's astonishing....

...these people are throughout the system of government. They are very much at the forefront of the Treasury. The Treasury is apparently calling the shots on their economic policies. This is a decisive moment. Either you break the power or we're stuck for a long time with this arrangement."

Bill Moyer's Journal - Interview with Simon Johnson

Simon Johnson's Web Site Baseline Scenario

21 September 2008

Time to Put Away Childish Things


When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 1 Cor 13

'Childish things' in this context refers largely to the level of political discussion about the fall elections that is going around these days, although the behaviour of the US financial system and our government is a close second.

(Before the usual wiseguys chime in, this site is intended to include parody and exaggeration as comic relief and an instrument of satire, in addition to seriously dispassionate commentary, unlike the White house and the Congress and Keith Olbermann and Fox News. - Jesse)

Its all personalities, frivolities, simplistic slogans, appeals to the lowest common denominator, avoidance of the serious issues, and not so subtle propaganda. Its time to start acting like this country is in serious difficulty, and the decisions that we make could affect the world for a generation. We are at a crossroads, a moment in history, and we will now decide the fate of the legacy of freedom granted to us by the blood of our forefathers.

This thoughtful piece by Yves Smith expresses the concerns many have over the Treasury proposal fairly well.

Why You Should Hate the Treasury Bailout Proposal

One thing is of special concern if you think about it a bit. How could the Bush administration have had even the arrogance to put this clause in the draft in the first place? If you think this is some poor wording or just overreach by Henry Paulson you have not been paying attention to current events for the past eight years.
Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.
If this proposal passes, we need to vote out all Republicans and the Democratic leadership, and anyone who votes for this, in the November elections.
"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle..."
Edmund Burke

Time to step back, out of the day to day push and pull of arguments, fears, petty jealousy, prejudice, complacency, sloth, greed and envy. Time to take a stand, to do something. This applies equally to America and to the rest of the world.

As in past moments of history, ultimately there will be no bystanders.