Most people have no idea that Wall Street has become a gigantic financial casino. The big Wall Street banks are making tens of billions of dollars a year in the derivatives market, and nobody in the financial community wants the party to end.
The word “derivatives” sounds complicated and technical, but understanding them is really not that hard. A derivative is essentially a fancy way of saying that a bet has been made. Originally, these bets were designed to hedge risk, but today the derivatives market has mushroomed into a mountain of speculation unlike anything the world has ever seen before.
The first top-to-bottom audit of the Federal Reserve uncovered eye-popping new details about how the U.S. provided a whopping $16 trillion in secret loans to bail out American and foreign banks and businesses during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. An amendment by Sen. Bernie Sanders to the Wall Street reform law passed one year ago this week directed the Government Accountability Office to conduct the study.
“As a result of this audit, we now know that the Federal Reserve provided more than $16 trillion in total financial assistance to some of the largest financial institutions and corporations in the United States and throughout the world,” said Sanders. “This is a clear case of socialism for the rich and rugged, you’re-on-your-own individualism for everyone else.”
The current state of affairs in America is untenable. The government that the American people put into power has turned its back on the majority of Americans. Both major political parties are sustained by corporate dollars for their political campaigns and by out-and-out bribery. There are fundamental ills that are destroying the United States that must be addressed. These are:
A popular documentary, Inside Job, captured kudos at the 2010 Academy Awards. Its hard-hitting analysis marked a milestone among filmmakers for shining light in the dark corners of Wall Street. Writer, producer and director Charles Ferguson provided a public service by exposing key perpetrators.
Laudable yet incomplete, Ferguson’s popular film left unaddressed the all-important “how.” The storyline left moviegoers with the impression that the film’s featured insiders operated virtually alone in perpetrating history’s greatest heist. In truth, the real “inside job” is far more sinister and remains ongoing.
Bank of Ireland Plc will seek to impose losses of as much as 90 percent on 2.6 billion euros ($3.7 billion) of subordinated debt as it offers bondholders an exchange for cash or equity.
The lender, ordered to raise 5.2 billion euros of capital, said in a statement it expects to offer to pay cash of 10 percent of nominal value for Tier 1 securities and 20 percent for Tier 2 debt, with no settlement of accrued interest. The Dublin-based bank said it may also offer an equity-swap alternative at a premium to the cash offer with a payment of accrued interest.
The conservative playbook isn’t difficult to decipher. They rely heavily on the politics of resentment – point to someone in our society, claim they’re a lucky-duck using unverifiable anecdotes or cherry-picked data, and then urge people to ask, “Why does that person have it so good when I’m busting my ass to make ends meet?”
It was apparent in Ronald Reagan’s “welfare queen” rhetoric, and also in the ubiquitous references to “young bucks” buying T-bone steaks with their food-stamps. Now the Right’s using the exact same play for those greedy public employees supposedly living large on their fat salaries.
This week, the Wall Street Journal featured an excellent example of the genre by John Cogan, a fellow at the corporate-backed Hoover Institution. The piece, titled, “The Millionaire Retirees Next Door,” is a shining testament to the dishonesty surrounding our discourse on “entitlements.”
Have you stopped to wonder why it is that many government programs seem to have been set in place in order to stop job growth, stop the economy and essentially destroy wealth while politicians, complete with soap boxes, continue to shout how we must do more to help the economy?
Here is one example of how this began to take shape since the booming economy of the 90’s.
Paul R Ehrlich believes that there are too many rich people in the world. At the International Conference on Population and Development” in Cairo in 1994, he delivered a paper stating, point blank, that the rich are burdens on global resources, and if we, as a people were to survive, we would have to ensure that everyone cuts his/her energy consumption, drastically.
One of the wishes that readers often express to me came true today (May 11). I was on the mainstream media. It was a program with a worldwide reach–the BBC World Service. There were others on the program as well, and the topic was Hillary Clinton’s remarks (May 10) about the lack of democracy and human rights in China.
I startled the program’s host when I compared Hillary’s remarks to the pot calling the kettle black. I was somewhat taken aback myself by the British BBC program host’s rush to America’s defense and wondered about it as the program continued. Surely, he had heard about Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo detainees, CIA secret torture prisons sprinkled around the world, invasion and destruction of Iraq on the basis of lies and deceptions, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya. Surely, he was aware of Hillary’s hypocrisy as she demonized China but turned a blind eye to Israel, Mubarak, Bahrain and the Saudis. China’s record is not perfect, but is it this bad? Why wasn’t the Chinese Minister for Foreign Affairs criticizing America’s human rights abuses and rigged elections? How come China minds its own business and we don’t?
As he did with the occupation of Iraq in No End in Sight, Charles Ferguson shines a light on the global financial crisis in Inside Job. Accompanied by narration from Matt Damon, Ferguson begins and ends in Iceland, a flourishing country that gave American-style banking a try – and paid the price.
[This is probably one of those times when you have to watch it now, before it gets yanked. Be sure to read FAQ 10 so that you can watch the entire film.~Ed.]
Then he looks at the spectacular rise and cataclysmic fall of deregulation in the United States. Unlike Alex Gibney’s fiscal films, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room and Casino Jack, Ferguson builds his narrative around dozens of players, interviewing authors, bank managers, government ministers, and even a psychotherapist, who speaks to a culture that encourages Gordon Gekko-like behavior, but the number of those who declined to comment, like Alan Greenspan, is even larger.
PressTV interview with Journalist and Blogger David DeGraw
Libertarians know and hate the Federal Reserve. They hate Goldman Sachs and J.P Morgan. But they are not willing to go to the poor people who are being forced to pay for the crimes of those people that they hate because it’s a union or because there may be some Democrats involved in it. Libertarians and progressives can find common ground, but at this point still they are refusing to step back and concede a little bit to find it. They have to come together on campaign finance and lobbying and most importantly they can come together on breaking up the banks.
Naomi Klein on Anti-Union Bills and Shock Doctrine American-Style: “This is a Frontal Assault on Democracy, It’s a Kind of a Corporate Coup D’Etat”
“Obama is also involved in attacking labor rights with his pushing of charter schools and draconian budget cuts. He’s not a good bad guy for progressives. So, we’re still in a situation where Obama is getting away with, in my opinion, shock doctrine-style tactics, because people don’t—still don’t want to believe that Obama is doing it, too.”
As a wave of anti-union bills are introduced across the country following the wake of Wall Street financial crisis, many analysts are picking up on the theory that award-winning journalist and author Naomi Klein first argued in her 2007 bestselling book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. In the book, she reveals how those in power use times of crisis to push through undemocratic and extreme free market economic policies. “The Wisconsin protests are an incredible example of how to resist the shock doctrine,” Klein says.
Contrary to what those in power would like you to believe so that you’ll give up your pension, cut your wages, and settle for the life your great-grandparents had, America is not broke. Not by a long shot. The country is awash in wealth and cash. It’s just that it’s not in your hands. It has been transferred, in the greatest heist in history, from the workers and consumers to the banks and the portfolios of the uber-rich.
Review of: The Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the XXI Century
Editors, Michel Chossudovsky and Andrew Gavin Marshall
Publisher: Global Research, 2010 (391 pp)
There’s a certain irony to my reading this book while waiting at the Food Stamp office. I’m part of an increasing number suffering under the New World Order’s systematic destruction of the planet’s middle classes so as to concentrate wealth in the hands of fewer and fewer families. While global uprisings now threaten global governance under a single currency, scheming rulers have long anticipated this reaction. In The Global Economic Crisis, we learn exactly how a planet-wide military dictatorship plans to enforce its feudal vision.
The 18 day non-violent Egyptian protests for freedom raise the question: is America next? Were Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine around, they would likely say “what are we waiting for?” They would be appalled by the concentration of economic and political power in such a few hands. Remember how often these two men warned about concentrated power.
Our Declaration of Independence (1776) listed grievances against King George III. A good number of them could have been made against “King” George W. Bush who not only brushed aside Congressional War-making authority under the Constitution but plunged the nation through lies into extended illegal wars which he conducted in violation of international law. Even conservative legal scholars such as Republicans Bruce Fein and former Judge Andrew Napolitano believe he and Dick Cheney still should be prosecuted for war and other related crimes. The conservative American Bar Association sent George W. Bush three “white papers” in 2005-2006 that documented his distinct violations of the Constitution he had sworn to uphold.
Over drinks at a bar on a dreary, snowy night in Washington this past month, a former Senate investigator laughed as he polished off his beer. “Everything’s fucked up, and nobody goes to jail,” he said. “That’s your whole story right there. Hell, you don’t even have to write the rest of it. Just write that.” I put down my notebook. “Just that?” “That’s right,” he said, signaling to the waitress for the check. “Everything’s fucked up, and nobody goes to jail. You can end the piece right there.”
Nobody goes to jail. This is the mantra of the financial-crisis era, one that saw virtually every major bank and financial company on Wall Street embroiled in obscene criminal scandals that impoverished millions and collectively destroyed hundreds of billions, in fact, trillions of dollars of the world’s wealth — and nobody went to jail. Nobody, that is, except Bernie Madoff, a flamboyant and pathological celebrity con artist, whose victims happened to be other rich and famous people.
The rest of them, all of them, got off. Not a single executive who ran the companies that cooked up and cashed in on the phony financial boom — an industry-wide scam that involved the mass sale of mismarked, fraudulent mortgage-backed securities — has ever been convicted.
Finally, Obama will be delivering real change. But not the kind envisaged by those who voted for him. Rather, Obama’s revolutionary change builds upon the foundations laid by Reagan, who drastically altered American society by promoting the corporate sector at the expense of working people.
Obama’s state of the union speech was the culmination of months of right-wing policies that began in earnest after the mid-term election, where his fake liberal garb was completely shed. Now, the naked, corporate President presides unhindered by any pretense to help working people.
“In 2009, the State of North Dakota does not have any funding issues at all. We, in fact, are dealing with the largest surplus we’ve ever had.” Eric Hardmeyer, president of the state-owned Bank of North Dakota.
Courtesy of Economic Policy Journal we now know that the majority of American states are currently insolvent, and that the US Treasury has been conducting a shadow bailout of at least 32 US states. Over 60% of Americans receiving state unemployment benefits are getting these directly from the US government, as 32 states have now borrowed $37.8 billion from Uncle Sam to fund unemployment insurance.
In all things, there exists a ‘point of balance’; a line that, if crossed, results in the sudden and expedient loss of our self-determinism and makes us subservient to the fickle whims of social, political, and physical gravity. We are “thrown” into the air, as it were, and the landing is rarely ever pleasant. The U.S. Constitution and the civil liberties it outlines is itself one of these historic points of balance.
Paul Jay interviews Leo Panitch, the Canada Research Chair in Comparative Political Economy and a Distinguished Research Professor of Political Science at York University in Toronto. Panitch says that the Irish government’s decision to force the public to bear the private debt of the banks has caused its economic meltdown. He suggests that Ireland lead the way out of this class war by defaulting on the debt, and then nationalizing the banks and making them a public utility.