Category Archives: Banks/Banking

Lockdowns, Coronavirus, and Banks: Following the Money

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It usually makes sense to follow the money when seeking understanding of almost any major change. The strategy of following the money in our current convergence of crises in late summer of 2020 leads us directly to the lockdowns. The lockdowns were first imposed on people in the Wuhan area of China. Then other populations throughout the world were told to “shelter in place,” all in the name of combating the COVID-19 virus.

Understanding of the enormous impact of the lockdowns is still developing. The lockdowns are proving to pack a far more devastating punch than any other aspect of the strange sequence of events that is making 2020 a year like no other. Even when the issues are narrowed to those of human health, the lockdowns have had, and will continue to have, far more wide-ranging and devastating impacts than the celebrity virus.

The lockdowns have, for starters, been directly responsible for explosive rates of suicide, domestic violence, overdoses, and depression. In the long run, these maladies from the lockdowns will probably kill and harm many more people than COVID-19.

But this comparison does not tell the full story. The nature and length of the lockdowns are causing millions of people to lose their jobs, businesses and financial viability. It seems that the economic descent is still gathering force. The assault of the lockdowns on our economic wellbeing still has much farther to go.

The lockdowns have proven to be a powerful instrument of social control. This attribute is becoming very attractive especially to some politicians. They have discovered they can derive considerable political traction from hyping and exploiting the largely manufactured pandemic panic.

The lockdowns are still a work-in-progress. There are past lockdowns, revolving lockdowns, partial lockdowns, mandatory lockdowns, voluntary lockdowns, severe lockdowns and probably an array of many lockdown types yet to be invented.

The lockdowns extend to disruptions in supply chains, disruptions in money flows, drops in consumption, breakdowns in transport and travelling, increased bankruptcies, losses of finance leading to losses of housing, as well as the inability to pay taxes and debts.

The lockdowns extend beyond personal habitations to prohibitions on large assemblies of people in stadiums, concert halls, churches, and a myriad of places devoted to public recreation and entertainment. On the basis of this way of looking at what is happening, it becomes clear the economic and health effects of the lockdowns are far more pronounced than the damage wrought directly by the new coronavirus.

This approach to following the money leads to the question of whether the spread of COVID-19 was set in motion as a pretext. Was COVID-19 unleashed as an expedient for bringing about the lockdowns with the goal of crashing the existing economy? What rationale could there possibly be for purposely crashing the existing economy?

One possible reason might have been to put in place new structures to create the framework for a new set of economic relationships. With these changes would come accompanying sets of altered social and political relationships.

Among the economic changes being sought are the robotization of almost everything, cashless financial interactions, and elaborate AI impositions. These AI impositions extend to digital alterations of human consciousness and behavior. The emphasis being placed on vaccines is very much interwoven with plans to extend AI into an altered matrix of human nanobiotechnology.

There are other possibilities to consider. One is that in the autumn of 2019 the economy was already starting to falter. Fortuitously for some, the new virus came along at a moment when it could be exploited as a scapegoat. By placing responsibility for the economic debacle on pathogens rather than people, Wall Street bankers and federal authorities are let off the hook. They can escape any accounting for an economic calamity that they had a hand in helping to instigate.

A presentation in August of 2019 by the Wall Street leviathan, BlackRock Financial Management, provides a telling indicator of foreknowledge. It was well understood by many insiders in 2019 that a sharp economic downturn was imminent.

At a meeting of central bankers in Jackson Hole Wyoming, BlackRock representatives delivered a strategy for dealing with the future downturn. Several months later during the spring of 2020 this strategy was adopted by both the US Treasury and the US Federal Reserve. BlackRock’s plan from August of 2019 set the basis of the federal response to the much-anticipated economic meltdown.

Much of this essay is devoted to considering the background of the controversial agencies now responding to the economic devastation created by the lockdowns. One of these agencies is empowered to bring into existence large quantities of debt-laden money.

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The very public role in 2020 of the Federal Reserve of the United States resuscitates many old grievances. When the Federal Reserve was first created in 1913 it was heavily criticized as a giveaway of federal authority.

The critics lamented the giveaway to private bankers whose firms acquired ownership of all twelve of the regional banks that together constitute the Federal Reserve. Of these twelve regional banks, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York is by far the largest and most dominant especially right now.

The Federal Reserve of the United States combined forces with dozens of other privately-owned central banks thoughout the world to form the Bank of International Settlements. Many of the key archetypes for this type of banking were developed in Europe and the City of London where the Rothschild banking family had a large and resilient role, one that persists until this day.

Along with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, BlackRock was deeply involved in helping to administer the bailout in 2008. This bailout resuscitated many failing Wall Street firms together with their counterparties in a number of speculative ventures involving various forms of derivatives.

The bailouts resulted in payments of $29 trillion, much of it going to restore failing financial institutions whose excesses actually caused the giant economic crash. Where the financial sector profited greatly from the bailouts, taxpayers were abused yet again. The burden of an expanded national debt fell ultimately on taxpayers who must pay the interest on the loans for the federal bailout of the “too big to fail” financial institutions.

Unsettling precedents are set by the Wall Street club’s manipulation of the economic crash of 2007-2010 to enrich its own members so extravagantly. This prior experience bodes poorly for the intervention by the same players in this current round of responses to the economic crisis of 2020.

In preparing this essay I have enjoyed the many articles by Pam Martens and Russ Martens in Wall Street on Parade. These hundreds of well-researched articles form a significant primary source on the recent history of the Federal Reserve, including over the last few months.

In this essay I draw a contrast between the privately-owned regional banks of the Federal Reserve and the government-owned Bank of Canada that once issued low-interest loans to build infrastructure projects.

With this arrangement in place, Canada went through a major period of national growth between 1938 and 1974. Canada emerged from this period with a national debt of only $20 billion. Then in 1974 Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau dropped this arrangement to enable Canada to join the Bank of International Settlements. One result is that national debt rose to $700 billion by 2020.

We need to face the current financial crisis by developing new institutions that avoid the pitfalls of old remedies for old problems that no longer prevail. We need to make special efforts to change our approach to the problem of excessive debts and the overconcentration of wealth in fewer and fewer hands.

Locking Down the Viability of Commerce

Of all the facets of the ongoing fiasco generally associated with the coronavirus crisis, none has been so widely catastrophic as the so-called “lockdowns.” The supposed cure of the lockdowns is itself proving to be much more lethal and debilitating than COVID-19’s flu-like impact on human health.

Many questions arise from the immense economic consequences attributed to the initial effort to “flatten the curve” of the hospital treatments for COVID-19. Did the financial crisis occur as a result of the spread of the new coronavirus crisis? Or was the COVID-19 crisis set in motion to help give cover to a long-building economic meltdown that was already well underway in the autumn of 2019?

The lockdowns were first instituted in Wuhan China with the objective of slowing down the spread of the virus so that hospitals would not be overwhelmed. Were the Chinese lockdowns engineered in part to create a model to be followed in Europe, North America, Indochina and other sites of infection like India and Australia? The Chinese lockdowns in Hubei province and then in other parts of China apparently set an example influencing the decision of governments in many jurisdictions. Was this Chinese example for the rest of the world created by design to influence the nature of international responses?

The lockdowns represented a new form of response to a public health crisis. Quarantines have long been used as a means of safeguarding the public from the spread of contagious maladies. Quarantines, however, involve isolating the sick to protect the well. On the other hand the lockdowns are directed at limiting the movement and circulation of almost everyone whether or not they show symptoms of any infections.

Hence lockdowns, or, more euphemistically “sheltering in place,” led to the cancellation of many activities and to the shutdown of institutions. The results extended, for instance, to the closure of schools, sports events, theatrical presentations and business operations. In this way the lockdowns also led to the crippling of many forms of economic interaction. National economies as well as international trade and commerce were severely impacted.

The concept of lockdowns was not universally embraced and applied. For instance, the governments of Sweden and South Korea did not accept the emerging orthodoxy about enforcing compliance with all kinds of restrictions on human interactions. Alternatively, the government of Israel was an early and strident enforcer of very severe lockdown policies.

At first it seemed the lockdown succeeded magnificently in saving Israeli lives. According to Israel Shamir, in other European states the Israeli model was often brought up as an example. In due course, however, the full extent of the assault on the viability of the Israeli economy began to come into focus. Then popular resistance was aroused to reject government attempts to enforce a second wave of lockdowns against a second wave of supposed infections. As Shamir sees it, the result is that “Today Israel is a failed state with a ruined economy and unhappy citizens.”

In many countries the lockdowns began with a few crucial decisions made at the highest level of government. Large and proliferating consequences would flow from the initial determination of what activities, businesses, organizations, institutions and workers were to be designated as “essential.”

The consequences would be severe for those individuals and businesses excluded from the designation identifying what is essential. This deep intervention into the realm of free choice in market relations set a major precedent for much more intervention of a similar nature to come.

The arbitrary division of activities into essential and nonessential categories created a template to be frequently replicated and revised in the name of serving public heath. Suddenly central planning took a great leap forward. The momentum from a generation of neoliberalism was checked even as the antagonistic polarities between rich and poor continued to grow.

To be defined as “nonessential” would soon be equated with job losses and business failures across many fields of enterprise as the first wave of lockdowns outside China unfolded. Indeed, it becomes clearer every day that revolving lockdowns, restrictions and social distancing are being managed in order to help give false justification to a speciously idealized vaccine fix as the only conclusive solution to a manufactured problem.

What must it have meant for breadwinners who fed themselves and their families through wages or self-employment to be declared by government to be “non-essential”? Surely for real providers their jobs, their businesses and their earnings were essential for themselves and their dependents. All jobs and all businesses that people depend on for livelihoods, sustenance and survival are essential in their own way.

Was COVID-19 a Cover for an Anticipated or Planned Financial Crisis?

A major sign of financial distress in the US economy kicked in in mid-September of 2019 when there was a breakdown in the normal operation of the Repo Market. This repurchase market in the United States is important in maintaining liquidity in the financial system.

Those directing entities like large banks, Wall Street traders and hedge funds frequently seek large amounts of cash on a short-term basis. They obtain this cash from, for instance, money market funds by putting up securities, often Treasury Bills, as collateral. Most often the financial instruments go back, say the following night, to their original owners with interest payments attached for the use of the cash.

In mid-September the trust broke down between participants in the Repo Market. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York then entered the picture making trillions of dollars available to keep the system for short-term moving of assets going. This intervention repeated the operation that came in response to the first signs of trouble as Wall Street moved towards the stock market crash of 2008.

One of the major problems on the eve of the bailout of 2008-09, like the problem in the autumn of 2019, had to do with the overwhelming of the real economy by massive speculative activity. The problem then, like a big part of the problem now, involves the disproportionate size of the derivative bets. The making of these bets have become a dangerous addiction that continues to this day to menace the viability of the financial system headquartered on Wall Street.

By March of 2020 it was reported that the Federal Reserve Bank of New York had turned on its money spigot to create $9 trillion in new money with the goal of keeping the failing Repo Market operational. The precise destinations of that money together with the terms of its disbursement, however, remain a secret. As Pam Martens and Russ Martens write,

Since the Fed turned on its latest money spigot to Wall Street [in September of 2019], it has refused to provide the public with the dollar amounts going to any specific banks. This has denied the public the ability to know which financial institutions are in trouble. The Fed, exactly as it did in 2008, has drawn a dark curtain around troubled banks and the public’s right to know, while aiding and abetting a financial coverup of just how bad things are on Wall Street.

Looking back at the prior bailout from their temporal vantage point in January of 2020, the authors noted  “During the 2007 to 2010 financial collapse on Wall Street – the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, the Fed funnelled a total of $29 trillion in cumulative loans to Wall Street banks, their trading houses and their foreign derivative counterparties.”

The authors compared the rate of the transfer of funds from the New York Federal Reserve Bank to the Wall Street banking establishment in the 2008 crash and in the early stages of the 2020 financial debacle. The authors observed, “at this rate, [the Fed] is going to top the rate of money it threw at the 2008 crisis in no time at all.”

The view that all was well with the economy until the impact of the health crisis began to be felt in early 2020 leads away from the fact that money markets began to falter dangerously in the autumn of 2019. The problems with the Repo Market were part of a litany of indicators pointing to turbulence ahead in troubled economic waters.

For instance, the resignation in 2019 of about 1,500 prominent corporate CEOs can be seen as a suggestion that news was circulating prior to 2020 about the imminence of serious financial problems ahead. Insiders’ awareness of menacing developments threatening the workings of the global economy were probably a factor in the decision of a large number of senior executives to exit the upper echelons of the business world.

Not only did a record number of CEOs resign, but many of them sold off the bulk of their shares in the companies they were leaving.

Pam Marten and Russ Marten who follow Wall Street’s machinations on a daily basis have advanced the case that the Federal Reserve is engaged in fraud by trying to make it seem that “the banking industry came into 2020 in a healthy condition;” that it is only because of “the COVID-19 pandemic” that the financial system is” unravelling,”

The authors argue that this misrepresentation was deployed because the deceivers are apparently “desperate” to prevent Congress from conducting an investigation for the second time in twelve years on why the Fed, “had to engage in trillions of dollars of Wall Street bailouts.” In spite of the Fed’s fear of facing a Congressional investigation after the November 2020 vote, such a timely investigation of the US financial sector would well serve the public interest.

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The authors present a number of signs demonstrating that “the Fed knew, or should have known…. that there was a big banking crisis brewing in August of last year. [2019]” The signs of the financial crisis in the making included negative yields on government bonds around the world as well as big drops in the Dow Jones average. The plunge in the price of stocks was led by US banks, but especially Citigroup and JP Morgan Chase.

Another significant indicator that something was deeply wrong in financial markets was a telling inversion in the value of Treasury notes with the two-year rate yielding more than the ten-year rate.

Yet another sign of serious trouble ahead involved repeated contractions in the size of the German economy. Moreover, in September of 2019 news broke that officials of JP Morgan Chase faced criminal charges for RICO-style racketeering. This scandal added to the evidence of converging problems plaguing core economic institutions as more disruptive mayhem gathered on the horizons.

Accordingly, there is ample cause to ask if there are major underlying reasons for the financial crash of 2020 other than the misnamed pandemic and the lockdowns done in its name of “flattening” its spikes of infection. At the same time, there is ample cause to recognize that the lockdowns have been a very significant factor in the depth of the economic debacle that is making 2020 a year like no other.

Some go further. They argue that the financial crash of 2020 was not only anticipated but planned and pushed forward with clear understanding of its instrumental role in the Great Reset sought by self-appointed protagonists of creative destruction. The advocates of this interpretation place significant weight on the importance of the lockdowns as an effective means of obliterating in a single act a host of old economic relationships. For instance Peter Koenig examines the “farce and diabolical agenda of a universal lockdown.”

Koenig writes, “The pandemic was needed as a pretext to halt and collapse the world economy and the underlying social fabric.”

Inflating the Numbers and Traumatizing the Public to Energize the Epidemic of Fear

There have been many pandemics in global history whose effects on human health have been much more pervasive and devastating than the current one said to be generated by a new coronavirus. In spite, however, of its comparatively mild flu-like effects on human health, at least at this point in the summer of 2020, there has never been a contagion whose spread has generated so much global publicity and hype. As in the aftermath of 9/11, this hype extends to audacious levels of media-generated panic. As with the psyop of 9/11, the media-induced panic has been expertly finessed by practitioners skilled in leveraging the currency of fear to realize a host of radical political objectives.

According to Robert E. Wright in an essay published by the American Institute for Economic Research, “closing down the U.S. economy in response to COVID-19 was probably the worst public policy in at least one-hundred years.” As Wright sees it, the decision to lock down the economy was made in ignorant disregard of the deep and devastating impact that such an action would spur. “Economic lockdowns were the fantasies of government officials so out of touch with economic and physical reality that they thought the costs would be fairly low.”

The consequences, Wright predicts, will extend across many domains including the violence done to the rule of law. The lockdowns, he writes, “turned the Constitution into a frail and worthless fabric.” Writing in late April, Wright touched on the comparisons to be made between the economic lockdowns and slavery. He write, “Slaves definitely had it worse than Americans under lockdown do, but already Americans are beginning to protest their confinement and to subtly subvert authorities, just as chattel slaves did.”

The people held captive in confined lockdown settings have had the time and often the inclination to imbibe much of the 24/7 media coverage of the misnamed pandemic. Taken together, all this media sensationalism has come to constitute one of the most concerted psychological operations ever.

The implications have been enormous for the mental health of multitudes of people. This massive alteration of attitudes and behaviours is the outcome of media experiments performed on human subjects without their informed consent. The media’s success in bringing about herd subservience to propagandistic messaging represents a huge incentive for more of the same to come. It turns out that the subject matter of public health offers virtually limitless potential for power-seeking interests and agents to meddle with the privacies, civil liberties and human rights of those they seek to manipulate, control and exploit.

The social, economic and health impacts of the dislocations flowing from the lockdowns are proving to be especially devastating on the poorest, the most deprived and the most vulnerable members of society. This impact will continue to be marked in many ways, including in increased rates of suicide, domestic violence, mental illness, addictions, homelessness, and incarceration far larger than those caused directly by COVID-19. As rates of deprivation through poverty escalate, so too will crime rates soar.

The over-the-top alarmism of the big media cabals has been well financed by the advertising revenue of the pharmaceutical industry. With some few exceptions, major media outlets pushed the public to accept the lockdowns as well as the attending losses in jobs and business activity. In seeking to push the agenda of their sponsors, the big media cartels have been especially unmindful of their journalistic responsibilities. Their tendency has been to avoid or censor forums where even expert practitioners of public health can publicly question and discuss government dictates about vital issues of public policy.

Whether in Germany or the United States or many other countries, front line workers in this health care crisis have nevertheless gathered together with the goal of trying to correct the one-sided prejudices of of discriminatory media coverage. One of the major themes in the presentations by medical practitioners is to confront the chorus of media misrepresentations on the remedial effects of hydroxychloroquine and zinc.

On July 27 a group of doctors gathered on the grounds of the US Supreme Court to try to address the biases of the media and the blind spots of government.

Another aspect in the collateral damage engendered by COVID-19 alarmism is marked in the fatalities arising from the wholesale postponement of many necessary interventions including surgery. How many have died or will die because of the hold put on medical interventions to remedy cancer, heart conditions and many other potentially lethal ailments?

Did the unprecedented lockdowns come about as part of a preconceived plan to inflate the severity of an anticipated financial meltdown? What is to be made of the suspicious intervention of administrators to produce severely padded numbers of reported deaths in almost every jurisdiction? This kind of manipulation of statistics raised the possibility that we are witnessing a purposeful and systemic inflation of the severity of this health care crisis.

Questions about the number of cases arise because of the means of testing for the presence of a supposedly new coronavirus. The PCR system that is presently being widely used does not test for the virus but tests for the existence of antibodies produced in response to many health challenges including the common cold. This problem creates a good deal of uncertainty of what a positive test really means.

The problems with calculating case numbers extend to widespread reports that have described people who were not tested for COVID-19 but who nevertheless received notices from officials counting them as COVID-19 positive. Broadcaster Armstrong Williams addressed the phenomenon on his network of MSM media outlets in late July.

From the mass of responses he received, Williams estimated that those not tested but counted as a positive probably extends probably to hundreds of thousands of individuals. What would drive the effort to exaggerate the size of the afflicted population?

This same pattern of inflation of case numbers was reinforced by the Tricare branch of the US Defense Department’s Military Health System. This branch sent out notices to 600,000 individuals who had not been tested. The notices nevertheless informed the recipients that they had tested positive for COVID 19.

Is the inflation of COVID-19 death rates and cases numbers an expression of the zeal to justify the massive lockdowns? Were the lockdowns in China conceived as part of a scheme to help create the conditions for the public’s acceptance of a plan to remake the world’s political economy? What is to be made of the fact that those most identified with the World Economic Forum (WEF) have led the way in putting a positive spin on the reset arising from the very health crisis the WEF helped introduce and publicize in Oct. of 2019?

As Usual, the Poor Get Poorer

The original Chinese lockdowns in the winter of 2020 caused the breakdowns of import-export supply chains extending across the planet. Lockdowns in the movement of raw materials, parts, finished products, expertise, money and more shut down domestic businesses in China as well as transnational commerce in many countries outside China. The supply chain disruptions were especially severe for businesses that have dispensed with the practice of keeping on hand large inventories of parts and raw material, depending instead on just-in-time deliveries.

As the supply chains broke down domestically and internationally, many enterprises lacked the revenue to pay their expenses. Bankruptcies began to proliferate at rates that will probably continue to be astronomical for some time. All kinds of loans and liabilities were not paid out in full or at all. Many homes are being re-mortgaged or cast into real estate markets as happened during the prelude and course of the bailouts of 2007-2010.

The brunt of the financial onslaught hit small businesses especially hard. Collectively small businesses have been a big creator of jobs. They have picked up some of the slack from the rush of big businesses to downsize their number of full-time employees. Moreover, small businesses and start-ups are often the site of exceptionally agile innovations across broad spectrums of economic activity. The hard financial slam on the small business sector, therefore, is packing a heavy punch on the economic conditions of everyone.

The devastating impact of the economic meltdown on workers and small businesses in Europe and North America extends in especially lethal ways to the massive population of poor people living all over the world. Many of these poor people reside in countries where much of the paid work is irregular and informal.

At the end of April the International Labor Organization (ILO), an entity created along with the League of Nations at the end of the First World War, estimated that there would be 1.6 billion victims of the meltdown in the worldwide “informal economy.” In the first month of the crisis these workers based largely in Africa and Latin America lost 60% of their subsistence level incomes.

As ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder, has asserted,

This pandemic has laid bare in the cruellest way, the extraordinary precariousness and injustices of our world of work. It is the decimation of livelihoods in the informal economy – where six out of ten workers make a living – which has ignited the warnings from our colleagues in the World Food Programme, of the coming pandemic of hunger. It is the gaping holes in the social protection systems of even the richest countries, which have left millions in situations of deprivation. It is the failure to guarantee workplace safety that condemns nearly 3 million to die each year because of the work they do. And it is the unchecked dynamic of growing inequality which means that if, in medical terms, the virus does not discriminate between its victims in its social and economic impact, it discriminates brutally against the poorest and the powerless.

Guy Ryder remembered the optimistic rhetoric in officialdom’s responses to the economic crash of 2007-2009. He compares the expectations currently being aroused by the vaccination fixation with the many optimistic sentiments previously suggesting the imminence of remedies for grotesque levels of global inequality. Ryder reflected,

We’ve heard it before. The mantra which provided the mood music of the crash of 2008-2009 was that once the vaccine to the virus of financial excess had been developed and applied, the global economy would be safer, fairer, more sustainable. But that didn’t happen. The old normal was restored with a vengeance and those on the lower echelons of labour markets found themselves even further behind.

The internationalization of increased unemployment and poverty brought about in the name of combating the corona crisis is having the effect of further widening the polarization between rich and poor on a global scale. Ryder’s metaphor about the false promises concerning a “vaccine” to correct “financial excess” can well be seen as a precautionary comment on the flowery rhetoric currently adorning the calls for a global reset.

Wall Street and 9/11

The world economic crisis of 2020 is creating the context for large-scale repeats of some key aspects of the bailout of 2007-2010. The bailout of 2007-2008 drew, in turn, from many practices developed in the period when the explosive events of 9/11 triggered a worldwide reset of global geopolitics.

While the events of 2008 and 2020 both drew attention to the geopolitical importance of Wall Street, the terrible pummelling of New York’s financial district was the event that ushered in a new era of history, an era that has delivered us to the current financial meltdown/lockdown.

It lies well beyond the scope of this essay to go into detail about the dynamics of what really transpired on 9/11. Nevertheless, some explicit reckoning with this topic is crucial to understanding some of the essential themes addressed in this essay.

Indeed, it would be difficult to overstate the relevance of 9/11 to the background and nature of the current debacle. The execution and spinning of 9/11 were instrumental in creating the repertoire of political trickery presently being adapted in the manufacturing and exploiting of the COVID-19 hysteria. A consistent attribute of the journey from 9/11 to COVID-19 has been the amplification of executive authority through the medium of emergency measures enactments, policies and dictates.

Wall Street is a major site where much of this political trickery was concocted in planning exercises extending to many other sites of power and intrigue. In the case of 9/11, a number of prominent Wall Street firms were involved before, during and after the events of September 11. As is extremely well documented, these events have been misrepresented in ways that helped to further harness the military might of the United States to the expansionistic designs of Israel in the Middle East.

The response of the Federal Reserve to the events of 9/11 helped set in motion a basic approach to disaster management that continues to this day. Almost immediately following the pulverization of Manhattan’s most gigantic and iconographic landmarks, Federal Reserve officials made it their highest priority to inject liquidity into financial markets. Many different kinds of scenario can be advanced behind the cover of infusing liquidity into markets.

For three days in a row the Federal Reserve Bank of New York turned on its money spigots to inject transfusions of $100 billion dollars of newly generated funds into the Wall Street home of the financial system. The declared aim was to keep the flow of capital between financial institutions well lubricated. The Federal Reserve’s infusions of new money into Wall Street took many forms. New habits and appetites were thereby cultivated in ways that continue to influence the behaviour of Wall Street organizations in the financial debacle of 2020.

The revelations concerning the events of 9/11 contained a number of financial surprises. Questions immediately arose, for instance, about whether the destruction of the three World Trade Center skyscrapers had obliterated software and hardware vital to the continuing operations of computerized banking systems. Whatever problems arose along these lines, it turned out that there was sufficient digital information backed up in other locations to keep banking operations viable.

But while much digital data survived the destruction of core installations in the US financial sector, some strategic information was indeed obliterated. For instance, strategic records entailed in federal investigations into many business scandals were lost. Some of the incinerated data touched on, for instance, the machinations of the energy giant, Enron, along with its Wall Street partners, JP Morgan Chase and Citigroup.

The writings of E. P Heidner are prominent in the literature posing theories about the elimination of incriminating documentation as a result of the controlled demolitions of 9/11. What information was eliminated and what was retained in the wake of the devastation? Heidner has published a very ambitious account placing the events of 9/11 at the forefront of a deep and elaborate relationship linking George H. W. Bush to Canada’s Barrick Gold and the emergence of gold derivatives.

The surprises involving 9/11 and Wall Street included evidence concerning trading on the New York Stock Exchange. A few individuals enriched themselves significantly by purchasing a disproportionately high number of put options on shares about to fall precipitously as a result of the anticipated events of 9/11. Investigators, however, chose to ignore this evidence because it did not conform to the prevailing interpretation of who did what to whom on 9/11.

Another suspicious group of transactions conducted right before 9/11 involved some very large purchases of five-year US Treasury notes. These instruments are well known hedges when one has knowledge that a world crisis is imminent. One of these purchases was a $5 billion transaction. The US Treasury Department would have been informed about the identity of the purchaser. Nevertheless the FBI and the Securities Exchange Commission collaborated to point public attention away from these suspect transactions. (p. 199)

On the very day of 9/11 local police arrested Israeli suspects employed in the New York area as Urban Movers. The local investigators were soon pressured to ignore the evidence, however, and go along with the agenda of the White House and the media chorus during the autumn of 2001.

In the hours following the pulverization of the Twin Towers the dominant mantra was raised “Osama bin Laden and al-Qeada did it.” That mantra led in the weeks, months and years that followed to US-led invasions of several Muslim-majority countries. Some have described these military campaigns as wars for Israel.

Soon New York area jails were being filled up with random Muslims picked up for nothing more than visa violations and such. The unrelenting demonization of Muslims collectively can now be seen in retrospect as a dramatic psychological operation meant to poison minds as the pounding of the war drums grew in intensity. In the process a traumatized public were introduced to concepts like “jihad.” At no time has there ever been a credible police investigation into the question of who is responsible for the 9/11 crimes.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld chose September 10, the day before 9/11, to break the news at a press conference that $2.3 trillion had gone missing from the Pentagon’s budget. Not surprisingly the story of the missing money got buried the next day as reports of the debacle in Manhattan and Washington DC dominated MSM news coverage.

As reported by Forbes Magazine, the size of the amount said to have gone missing in Donald Rumsfeld’s 2001 report of Defense Department spending had mushroomed by 2015 to around $21 trillion. It was Mark Skidmore, an Economics Professor at the University of Michigan, who became the main sleuth responsible for identifying the gargantuan amount of federal funds that the US government can’t account for.

As the agency that created the missing tens of trillions that apparently has disappeared without a trace, wouldn’t the US Federal Reserve be in a position to render some assistance in tracking down the lost funds? Or is the Federal Reserve somehow a participant or a complicit party in the disappearance of the tens of trillions without a paper trail?

The inability or unwillingness of officialdom to explain what happened to the lost $21 trillion, an amount comparable to the size of the entire US national debt prior to the lockdowns, might be viewed in the light of the black budgets of the US Department of Defense (DOD). Black budgets are off-the-books funds devoted to secret research and to secret initiatives in applied research.

In explaining this phenomenon, former Canadian Defense Minister, Paul Hellyer, has observed, “thousands of billions of dollars have been spent on projects about which Congress and the Commander In Chief have deliberately been kept in the dark.” Eric Zuesse goes further. As he explains it, the entire Defense Department operates pretty much on the basis of an unusual system well outside the standard rules of accounting applied in other federal agencies.

When news broke about the missing $21 trillion, federal authorities responded by promising that special audits would be conducted to explain the irregularities. The results of those audits, if they took place at all, were never published. The fact that the Defense of Department has developed in a kind of audit free zone has made it a natural magnet for people and interests engaged in all kinds of criminal activities.

Eric Zuesse calls attention to the 1,000 military bases around the world that form a natural network conducive to the cultivation of many forms of criminal trafficking. Zuesse includes in his reflections commentary on the secret installations in some American embassies but especially in the giant US Embassy in Baghdad Iraq.

The US complex in Baghdad’s Green Zone is the biggest Embassy in the world. Its monumental form on a 104 acre site expresses the expansionary dynamics of US military intervention in the Middle East and Eurasia following 9/11.

The phenomenon of missing tens of trillions calls attention to larger patterns of kleptocratic activity that forms a major subject addressed here. The shifts into new forms of organized crime in the name of “national security” began to come to light in the late 1980s. An important source of disclosures was the series of revelations that accompanied the coming apart of the Saudi-backed Bank of Credit and Commerce International, the BCCI.

The nature of this financial institution, where CIA operatives were prominent among its clients, provides a good window into the political economy of drug dealing, money laundering, weapons smuggling, regime change and many much more criminal acts that took place along the road to 9/11.

The BCCI was a key site of financial transactions that contributed to the end of the Cold War and the inception of many new kinds of conflict. These activities often involved the well-financed activities of mercenaries, proxy armies, and a heavy reliance on private contractors of many sorts.

The Enron scandal was seen to embody some of the same lapses facilitated by fraudulent accounting integral to the BCCI scandal. Given the bubble of secrecy surrounding the Federal Reserve, there are thick barriers blocking deep investigation into whether or not the US Central Bank was involved in the relationship of the US national security establishment and the BCCI.

The kind of dark transactions that the BCCI was designed to facilitate must have been channelled after its demise into other banking institutions probably with Wall Street connections. Since 9/11, however, many emergency measures have been imposed that add extra layers of secrecy protecting the perpetrators of many criminal acts from public exposure and criminal prosecutions.

The events of 9/11 have sometimes been described as the basis of a global coup. To this day there is no genuine consensus about what really transpired to create the illusion of justification for repeated US military invasions of Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East and Eurasia.

The 9/11 debacle and the emergency measures that followed presented Wall Street with an array of new opportunities for profit that came with the elaborate refurbishing and retooling of the military-industrial complex.

The response to 9/11 was expanded and generalized upon to create the basis of a war directed not at a particular enemy, but rather at an ill-defined conception identified as “terrorism.” This alteration was part of a complex of changes adding trillions to the flow of money energizing the axis of interaction linking the Pentagon and Wall Street and the abundance of new companies created to advance the geopolitical objectives emerging from the 9/11 coup.

According to Pam Martens and Russ Martens, the excesses of deregulation helped induce an anything-goes-ethos on Wall Street and at its Federal Reserve regulator in the wake of 9/11. As the authors tell it, the response to 9/11 helped set important precedents for the maintaining flows of credit and capital in financial markets.

Often the destination of the funds generated in the name of pumping liquidity into markets was not identified and reported in transactions classified as financial emergency measures. While the priority was on keeping financial pumps primed, there was much less concern for transparency and accountability among those in positions of power at the Federal Reserve.

The financial sector’s capture of the government instruments meant to regulate the behaviour of Wall Street institutions was much like the deregulation of the US pharmaceutical industry. Both episodes highlight a message that has become especially insistent as the twenty-first century unfolds.

The nature of the response to 9/11 emphasized the mercenary ascent of corporate dominance as the primary force directing governments. Throughout this transformation the message to citizens became increasingly clear. Buyer Beware. We cannot depend on governments to represent our will and interests. We cannot even count on our governments to protect citizens from corporatist attacks especially on human health and whatever financial security we have been able to build up.

Bailouts, Derivatives, and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York

The elimination of the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999 was essential to the process of dramatically cutting back the government’s role as a protector of the public interest on the financial services sector. The Glass-Steagall Act was an essential measure in US President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. Some view the New Deal as a strategy for saving capitalism by moderating ts most sharp-edged features. Instituted in 1933 in response to the onset of the Great Depression, the Glass-Steagall Act separated the operations of deposit-accepting banks from the more speculative activity of investment brokers.

The termination of the regulatory framework put in place by the Glass Steagall Act opened much new space for all kinds of experiments in the manipulation of money in financial markets. The changes began with the merger of different sorts of financial institutions including some in the insurance field. Those overseeing the reconstituted entities headquartered on Wall Street took advantage of their widened latitudes of operation. They developed all sorts of ways of elaborating their financial services and presenting them in new packages.

The word, “derivative” is often associated with many applications of the new possibilities in the reconstituted financial services sector. The word, derivative, can be applied to many kinds of transactions involving speculative bets of various sorts. As the word suggests, a derivative is derived from a fixed asset such as currency, bonds, stocks, and commodities. Alterations in the values of fixed assets affect the value of derivatives that often take the form of contracts between two or more parties.

One of the most famous derivatives in the era of the financial crash of 2007-2010 was described as mortgaged-backed securities. On the surface these bundles of debt-burdened properties might seem easy to understand. But that would be a delusion. The value of these products was affected, for instance, by unpredictable shifts in interest rates, liar loans extended to homebuyers who lacked the capacity to make regular mortgage payments, and significant shifts in the value of real estate.

Mortgage-backed securities were just one type of a huge array of derivatives invented on the run in the heady atmosphere of secret and unregulated transactions between counterparties. Derivatives could involve contracts formalizing bets between rivals gambling on the outcome of competitive efforts to shape the future.  An array of derivative bets was built around transactions often placed behind the veil of esoteric nomenclature like “collateralized debt obligations” or “credit default swaps.”

The variables in derivative bets might include competing national security agendas involving, for instance, pipeline constructions, regime change, weapons development and sales, false flag terror events, or money laundering. Since derivative bets involve confidential transactions with secret outcomes, they can be derived from all sorts of criteria. Derivative bets can, for instance, involve all manner of computerized calculations that in some cases are constructed much like war game scenarios.

The complexity of derivatives became greater when the American Insurance Group, AIG, began selling insurance programs to protect all sides in derivative bets from suffering too drastically from the consequences of being on the losing side of transactions.

The derivative frenzy, sometimes involving bets being made by parties unable to cover potential losses, overwhelmed the scale of the day-to-day economy. The “real economy” embodies exchanges of goods, services, wages and such that supply the basic necessities for human survival with some margin for recreation, travel, cultural engagement and such.

The Swiss-based Bank of International Settlements calculated in 2008 that the size of the all forms of derivative products had a monetary value of $1.14 quadrillion. A quadrillion is a thousand trillions. By comparison, the estimated value of all the real estate in the world was $75 trillion in 2008.

[Bank for International Settlements, Semiannual OTC derivative statistics at end-December, 2008.]

As the enticements of derivative betting preoccupied the leading directors of Wall Street institutions, their more traditional way of relating to one another began to falter. It was in this atmosphere that the Repo Market became problematic in December of 2007 just as it showed similar signs of breakdown in September of 2019.

In both instances the level of distrust between those in charge of financial institutions began to falter because they all had good reason to believe that their fellow bankers were overextended. All had reason to believe their counterparts were mired by too much speculative activity enabled by all sorts of novel experiments including various forms of derivative dealing.

In December of 2007 as in the autumn of 2019, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York was forced to enter the picture to keep the financial pumps on Wall Street primed. The New York Fed kept the liquidity cycles flowing by invoking its power to create new money with the interest charged to tax payers.

As the financial crisis unfolded in 2008 and 2009 the Federal Reserve, but especially the privately-owned New York Federal Reserve bank, stepped forward to bail out many financial institutions that had become insolvent or near insolvent. In the process precedents and patterns were established that are being re-enacted with some modifications in 2020.

One of the innovations that took place in 2008 was the decision by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to hire a large Wall Street financial institution, BlackRock, to administer the bailouts. These transfers of money went through three specially created companies now being replicated as Special Purpose Vehicles in the course of the payouts of 2020.

In 2008-09 BlackRock administered the three companies named after the address of the New York Federal Reserve Bank on Maiden Lane. BlackRock emerged from an older Wall Street firm called Blackstone. Its former chair, Peter C. Peterson, was a former Chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

The original Maiden Lane company paid Bear Stearns Corp $30 billion. This amount from the New York Fed covered the debt of Bear Stearns, a condition negotiated to clear the way for the purchase of the old Wall Street institution by JP Morgan Chase. Maiden Lane II was a vehicle for payouts to companies that had purchased “mortgage-backed securities” before these derivative products turned soar.

Maiden Lane III was to pay off “multi-sector collateralized debt obligations.” Among these bailouts were payoffs to the counterparties of the insurance giant, AIG. As noted, AIG had developed an insurance product to be sold to those engaged in derivative bets. When the bottom fell out of markets, AIG lacked the means to pay off the large number of insurance claims made against it. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York stepped in to bail out the counterparties of AIG, many of them deemed to be “too big to fail.”

Among the counterparties of AIG was Goldman Sachs. It received of $13 billion from the Federal Reserve. Other bailouts to AIG’s counterparties were $12 billion to Deutsche Bank, $6.8 billion to Merrill Lynch, $5 billion to Switzerland’s UBS, $7.9 billion to Barclays, and $5.2 billion to Bank of America. Some of these banks received additional funds from other parts of the overall bailout transaction. Many dozens of other counterparties to AIG also received payouts in 2008-2009. Among them were the Bank of Montreal and Bank of Scotland.

The entire amount of the bailouts was subsequently calculated to be a whopping $29 trillion with a “t.” The lion’s share of these funds went to prop up US financial institutions and the many foreign banks with which they conducted business.

Much of this money went to the firms that were shareholders in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York or partners of the big Wall Street firms. Citigroup, the recipient of the largest amount, received about $2.5 trillion in the federal bailouts. Merrill Lynch received $2 trillion,

The Federal Reserve Bank was established by Congressional statute in 1913. The Federal Reserve headquarters is situated in Washington DC. The Central Bank was composed of twelve constituent regional banks. Each one of these regional banks is owned by private banks.

The private ownership of the banks that are the proprietors of the Federal Reserve system has been highly contentious from its inception. The creation of the Federal Reserve continues to be perceived by many of its critics as an unjustifiable giveaway whereby the US government ceded to private interests its vital capacity to issue its own currency and to direct monetary policy like the setting of interest rates.

Pam Martens and Russ Martens at Wall Street on Parade explain the controversial Federal Reserve structure as follows

While the Federal Reserve Board of Governors in Washington, D.C. is deemed an “independent federal agency,” with its Chair and Governors appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, the 12 regional Fed banks are private corporations owned by the member banks in their region. The settled law under John L. Lewis v. the United States confirms: “Each Federal Reserve Bank is a separate corporation owned by commercial banks in its region.”

In the case of the New York Fed, which is located in the Wall Street area of Manhattan, its largest shareowners are behemoth multinational banks, including JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.

There was no genuine effort after the financial debacle of 2007-2010 to correct the main structural problems and weaknesses of the Wall Street-based US financial sector. The Dodd-Frank Bill signed into law by US President Barack Obama in 2010 did make some cosmetic changes. But the main features of the regulatory capture that has taken place with the elimination of the Glass-Steagall Act remained with only minor alterations. In particular the framework was held in place for speculative excess in derivative bets.

In the summer edition of The Atlantic, Frank Partnoy outlined a gloomy assessment of the continuity leading from the events of 2007-2010 to the current situation. This current situation draws a strange contrast between the lockdown-shattered quality of the economy and the propped-up value of the stock market whose future value will in all probability prove unsustainable. Partnoy writes,

It is a distasteful fact that the present situation is so dire in part because the banks fell right back into bad behavior after the last crash—taking too many risks, hiding debt in complex instruments and off-balance-sheet entities, and generally exploiting loopholes in laws intended to rein in their greed. Sparing them for a second time this century will be that much harder.

Wall Street Criminality on Display

The frauds and felonies of the Wall Street banks have continued after the future earnings of US taxpayers returned them to solvency after 2010. The record of infamy is comparable to that of the pharmaceutical industry.

The criminal behaviour in both sectors is very relevant to the overlapping crises that are underway in both the public health and financial sectors. In 2012 the crime spree in the financial sector began with astounding revelations about the role of many major banks in the LIBOR, the London Interbank Offered Rate. The LIBOR rates create the basis of interest rates involved in the borrowing and lending of money in the international arena.

When the scandal broke there were 35 different LIBOR rates involving various types of currency and various time frames for loans between banks. The rates were calculated every day based on information forwarded from 16 different banks to a panel on London. The reporting banks included Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, UBS, and Deutsche Bank. The influence of the LIBOR rate extended beyond banks to affect the price of credit in many types of transactions.

The emergence of information that the banks were working together to rig the interest rate created the basis for a huge economic scandal. Fines extending from hundreds of millions into more than a billion dollars were placed on each of the offending banks. But in this instance and many others to follow, criminality was attached to the financial entities but not to top officials responsible for the decisions that put their corporations on the wrong side of the law.

One of the factors in the banking frauds comprising the LIBOR scandal was the temptation to improve the chance for financial gains in derivative bets. The biggest failure of the federal response to the financial meltdown of 2007-210 was that little was done to curb the excesses of transactions in the realm of derivatives.

Derivatives involved a form of gambling that exists in a kind of twilight zone. This twilight zone fills a space somewhere between the realm of the real economy and the realm of notional value. Notional values find expression in unrealized speculation about what might or might not come to fruition; what might or might not happen; who might win and who might lose in derivative speculations.

The addiction of Wall Street firms to derivative betting remains unchecked to this day. The bankers’ continuing fixation with unregulated gambling, often with other people’s money, is deeply menacing for the future of the global economy…. indeed for the future of everyone on earth. According to the Office of the Controller of Currency, in 2019 JP Morgan Chase had $59 trillion in derivative bets. In July of 2020 it emerged that Citigroup held $62 trillion in derivative contracts, about $30 trillion more than it held before it was bailed out in 2008. In 2019 Goldman Sachs held $47 trillion and Bank of America held $20.4 trillion in derivate bets.

A big part of the scandal embodied in these figures is embedded in the reality that all of these banks carry their most risky derivative bets in units of their corporate networks that are protected by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. This peril played a significant part in deepening the crisis engendered by financial meltdown that began in 2007.

One of the most redeeming features of the Dodd-Frank Act as originally drafted was a provision preventing financial institutions from keeping their derivative portfolios in banks whose deposits and depositors were backed up by federal insurance.

Citigroup led the push in Congress in 2014 to allow Wall Street institutions to revert back to a more deregulated and danger-prone economic environment. The notoriously inept decisions and actions of Citigroup had played a significant role in the lead up to the financial debacle of 2007 to 2010. Since 2016 Citigroup has become once again the biggest risk taker by loading itself up with more derivative speculations than any other financial institution in the world.

By returning derivative speculations to the protections of federal financial backstops, taxpayers are once again forced to assume responsibility for the most outlandish risks of Wall Street’s high rollers. It is taxpayers who are the backers of the federal government when it comes to their commitment to compensate banks for losses, even when these losses come about from derivative bets.

How much more Wall Street risk and public debt can be loaded onto taxpayers and even onto generations of taxpayers yet unborn? How is national debt to be understood when it plunders working people to guarantee and augment the wealth of the most privileged branches of society? Why should those most responsible for creating the most excessive risks to the financial wellbeing of our societies be protected from bearing the consequences of the very risks they themselves created?

Along with Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase stands out among a group of financial sector reprobates most deeply involved in sketchy activities that extend deep into the realm of criminality. In a simmering scandal six of JP Morgan Chase’s traders have been accused of breaking laws in conducting the bank’s futures trading in the value of precious metals. They have been accused of violating the RICO statute, a law meant for people suspected of being part of organized crime.

In the charges pressed by the Justice Department on JP Morgan Chase’s traders it is alleged that they “conducted the affairs of the [minerals] desk through a pattern of racketeering activity, specifically, wire fraud affecting a financial institution and bank fraud.”

In 2012 JP Morgan Chase faced a $1 billion fine for its role in the “London Wale” series of derivative bets described as follows by the Chair of the US Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigation. Senator Carl Levin explained, “Our findings open a window into the hidden world of high stakes derivatives trading by big banks. It exposes a derivatives trading culture at JPMorgan that piled on risk, hid losses, disregarded risk limits, manipulated risk models, dodged oversight, and misinformed the public.”

Traders at Goldman Sachs appear to have been part of the Wall Street crime spree. The tentacles of corruption in the Goldman Sachs case apparently extend deep into the US Justice Department. The case involves allegations of embezzlement, money laundering and missing billions. These manifestations of malfeasance all spin out of a scandal-prone Malaysian sovereign wealth fund administered by Goldman Sachs.

A big part of the scandal reported in Wall Street on Parade in July of 2020 involves the fact that the Justice Department’s prosecutors seem to be dragging their feet in this possible criminal felony case against Goldman Sachs. The prosecutors, including the US Attorney-General, William Barr, worked previously for the law firm, Kirkland and Ellis. Kirkland and Ellis was retained to defend Goldman Sachs in this matter.

Pam Martens and Russ Martens express dismay at the failure of US officialdom to hold Wall Street institutions accountable for the crime spree of some of its biggest firms. They write, “Congress and the executive branch of the government seem determined to protect Wall Street criminals, which simply assures their proliferation.”

Even racketeering charges against officials at JP Morgan Chase, where Jamie Dimon presides as CEO, failed to receive any attention from the professional deceivers that these days dominate MSM. The star reporters of Wall Street on Parade write, “Crime and fraud are so de rigueur at the bank led by Dimon that not one major newspaper ran the headline [of the racketeering charge] on the front page or anywhere else in the paper.

While federal charges that JP Morgan Chase’s Wall Street operation engaged in criminal racketeering was not of interest to the press, Jamie Dimon’s surprise visit in early June to a Chase branch in Mt. Kisco New York aroused considerable media attention. Dimon was photographed with staff wearing a mask and taking the knee. By participating in this ritual Dimon signaled that his Wall Street operation is in league with the sometimes violent cancel culture pushed into prominence by the Democratic Party in partnership with Black Lives Matter and Antifa.

Jamie Dimon takes a knee 039df

*(JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon takes a knee with employees in front of a bank vault. Credit: JPMorgan)

In an article on 21 July marking ten years since the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010, the Martens duo conclude, “So here we are today, watching the Fed conduct another secret multi-trillion dollar bailout of Wall Street while the voices of Congress and mainstream media are nowhere to be heard.”

Enter BlackRock

In March it was announced that representatives of the US Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve Board and the BlackRock financial management were joining forces to make adjustments in the US economy. The aim was to address the financial dislocations resulting from the decision to lock down businesses, citizens, schools, entertainment, and social mingling outside the home, all in response to the health care hysteria promoted by governments and their media extensions.

The format of this process suggested some relaxation in the strict distinctions historically drawn between the US Treasury and the Federal Reserve. What would be the role of the third member of the group? In reflecting on this topic Joyce Nelson observed, “the new bailout bill not only further erases the line between the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Treasury, it places BlackRock effectively in an overseer position for both.”

Some saw as symbolically instructive the delegation to BlackRock of a larger role than that assigned it during the first bailout of 2007-2008. It would be hard to overestimate the significance of this prominent Wall Street firm’s return to a strategic role near the very heart of this major exercise of federal power. This invitation to take part in such crucial negotiations at such a consequential juncture in history caused some to characterize BlackRock as a “fourth branch of government.”

As Victoria Guida commented in Politico, “This is a transformational moment for the Fed, and BlackRock’s now going to be in an even stronger position to serve the Fed in the future.”

BlackRock officials had been instrumental in helping to manoeuvre their company into such a strategic role by responding proactively to the understanding in some elite circles that another financial debacle was imminent. Only months before the financial meltdown actually occurred a group of former central bankers all commissioned by BlackRock delivered a recovery plan in August of 2019.

Presented at a G 7 summit of central bankers in Jackson Hole Wyoming, the plan for the government responses to the looming financial collapse was entitled Dealing with the Next Downturn. Its authors are Stanley Fischer, former Governor of the Central Bank of Israel, Philipp Hildebrande, former Chairman of the Governing Board of the Swiss National Bank, Jean Boivin, former Deputy Governor of the Bank of Canada, and Elga Bartsch, Economist at Morgan Stanley.

The BlackRock Team at Jackson Hole put forward the case that a more aggressive and coordinated combination of monetary and fiscal policy must be brought to the job of stimulating a financial recovery. Monetary policy includes the setting of interest rates. Where monetary policy has historically been the domain of the central banks, fiscal policy, involving issues of taxation as well as the content and size of government budgets, lies within the jurisdiction of elected legislatures.

The nub of the proposal to unite fiscal and monetary policy put the US Treasury and the US Federal Reserve on the same political platform. As the author of this merger of monetary and fiscal policy, BlackRock became third member of the triumvirate charged to address the broad array of economic maladies that arrived in the wake of the lockdowns.

In the spring of 2020 BlackRock has been hired by the Bank of Canada and by Sweden’s Central Bank, the Riksbank, to deliver on the approaches to crisis management its representatives had laid out at Jackson Hole. BlackRock’s most high-profile and strategic engagement, however, began with its involvement in the negotiation of the $2 trillion CARES stimulus package that passed through the US Congress in March of 2020.

The CARES Act included $367 billion for loans and grants to small business, $130 billion for health care systems, $150 billion for state and local government, $500 billion for loans to corporate America, and $25 billion for airlines (in addition to loans).

The heart of the plan involved a payout of $1,200 per adult and $500 per child for households making up to $75,000. This payment to citizens approaches the concept of disseminating “helicopter money” as referred to in BlackRock’s initial outline for dealing with the “downturn.” Helicopter money distributed by the federal government to its citizens was also related to the concept of “going direct” in strategies for stimulating the economy.

BlackRock seems to be moving into the space recently held by Goldman Sachs as Wall Street’s best embodiment of ostentatious success including in the preparation of its corporate leaders for high-ranking positions in the federal government. Laurence Fink, BlackRock’s founder and CEO, might well have replicated this career path to become Treasury Secretary if Hillary Clinton had succeeded in becoming US President in 2016.

BlackRock’s leadership went to great lengths to avoid being tagged with the title in the United States of a “systematically important financial institution” (sifi). To be subject to this “sifi” label entails added federal scrutiny and regulation as well as heightened requirements to keep high amounts of capital on hand. BlackRock’s status as a private company not subject to sifi regulations makes the financial management firm more attractive to its federal partners in the federal payout operation presently underway.

One of the reasons for including a private company in the trio of partners involved in the payouts is to sneak around limitations on the legal powers of the Federal Reserve. As explained by Ellen Brown in her essay, Meet BlackRock: The New Great Vampire Squid, the Federal Reserve can only purchase “safe federally-guaranteed assets.” As a private company, BlackRock apparently faces no such restrictions. It can purchase more risky assets not backstopped by federal insurance.

The regional banks of the Federal Reserve Board are owned by private companies whose directors seem to have been part of the decision to include BlackRock in the implementation of the CARES process. There can be no doubt that the format of the CARES negotiations pulled the supposedly independent Federal Reserve more deeply into the political orbit of the US Treasury branch. The presence of a major Wall Street firm in the process, however, apparently gave the advocates of the Fed’s supposed independence from politics a sense that they retained some leverage in the process.

The inclusion of private companies in the conduct of government business has become in recent decades a very common expression of neoliberalism. One of the reasons for this embrace of public-private partnerships in the conduct of government business is to take advantage of the legal nature of private companies. The apportionment to private companies of significant roles in deciding and implementing public policies helps put veils of secrecy over the true nature of government decisions and actions.

Private companies can more easily assert claims to “proprietary information” than can public institutions when they act on behalf of citizens. This feature of privatization in the performance of public responsibilities by elected government runs counter to the imperatives of democratic transparency. It puts obstacles in the way of genuine accountability because the public is more likely to be kept in the dark about key aspects of what is being decided and done on their behalf.

Suck Up Economics and State Monopoly Capitalism

BlackRock owns, controls, or manages about $30 trillion in total in securities. It directly controls or owns somewhat less than a third of this amount. The remainder of the assets BlackRock manages are to service clients responsible for taking care of pension funds, philanthropies, foundations, endowments, family offices, superannuation funds and such.

A big part of BlackRock’s business model involves attracting customers by allowing them access to great masses of timely information of significant utility to those responsible for making investment decisions. This technological wizardry happens on a very advanced computational platform known as Aladdin.

Aladdin remains a work-in-progress, one that is widely recognized as the most sophisticated medium of its kind for assessing all manner of financial risks and potentials for profit. Its future as an investment platform is to become more and more integrated into the complex mix of hardware and software animating Artificial Intelligence.

BlackRock’s job is to dispense funds ushered into existence through the money-creating powers of the Federal Reserve. These transactions are to take place through eleven so-called “special purpose vehicles” similar to the Maiden Lane companies that BlackRock administered during the prior bailouts.

The funds it distributes in this round starting in 2020 are meant, at least at this early stage of the crisis, as payments for various sorts of assets. These assets might include an array of corporate bonds spanning a range from so-called investment grade to garbage grade junk bonds. The losses incurred in this exchange, involving supposed assets that might turn out to be worthless, or loans that might not be paid back, are to be charged to the US Treasury. Ultimately the liability lies on US taxpayers who are the holders of the national debt.

Bonds of varying levels of worth lie beneath another asset eligible for transformation into cash. This instrument of value is referred to as Exchange Traded Funds, ETFs. ETFs happen to be a specialty of BlackRock ever since the company launched a range of commercial ETFs into Stock Market circulation through its iShares division. BlackRock’s role on both sides of buying and selling ETFs comes up repeatedly as one of the many conflicts of interest of which the Wall Street firm stands accused.

Given that BlackRock is involved in one way or another in the proprietorship of pretty much every major company in the world, there is plenty to back up the allegation that Black Rock is an interested party in most of the transactions in which it engages as part of its partnership with the US Fed and Treasury Branch.

Pam Matens and Russ Martens have been very critical of the role of the Federal Reserve and BlackRock in the current economic crisis. They have anticipated that, if the current drift of events continues, American taxpayers will once again be gobsmacked with a huge growth in the national debt. This development would amount to another major transfer of wealth away from working people to the beneficiaries of Wall Street firms and the same commercial institutions that received the lion’s share of funds during the last bailout.

The co-authors picture BlackRock is part of a scheme to use “Special Purpose Vehicles” like “Enron used to hide the true state of its finances and blow itself up.” They entitle their article published on 31 March, 2020 as  “The Dark Secrets in the Fed’s Wall Street Bailout Are Getting a Devious Makeover in Today’s Bailout.”

The authors observe. “What makes the New York Fed’s bailout of Wall Street so much more dangerous this time around is that it has decided to use a different structure for its loans to Wall Street – one that will force losses on taxpayers and, it hopes, will provide an ironclad secrecy curtain around how much it spends and where the money goes.”

I find this account of an effort by the Federal Reserve to create an “ironclad secrecy curtain” shocking under these circumstances. It suggests an intention to exceed the deceptiveness of the last bailout. This warning renews longstanding suspicions that the failures of transparency and accountability have not subsided since the beginning of the era when deregulation and the 9/11 deceptions converged in the domestic and international operations of Wall Street.

The structural problems already identified in the process initiated to implement the CARES Act could have enormous consequences if the current economic crisis continues to deteriorate. This deterioration is not likely to stop anytime soon given the depth of the crash and its probable domino effects. It was reported in late July that during the second quarter of 2020 the US Gross Domestic Product collapsed at an annualized rate of 33%, the deepest decline in output ever recorded since the US government began measuring GDP in 1947.

The CARES Act helped set in motion a program with the potential to repeat elements of the earlier bailout. The amount of $454 billion was to be set aside to assist the banking sector. The Fed can leverage this amount by ten times according to the principles of fractional reserve banking.

The news of this development caused Mike Whitney to imagine “the Fed turning itself into a hedge fund in order to buy the sludge that has accumulated on the balance sheets of corporations and financial institutions for the last decade,” Whitney pictured an onslaught of “scheming sharpies who will figure out how to game the system and turn the whole fiasco into another Wall Street looting operation.”

Meanwhile the Martens Team at Wall Street on Parade called attention to the $9 trillion already injected by the New York Fed to flood liquidity into the still-troubled Repo Markets that began to falter in September of 2019. Add to this revelation the news that the Fed “has not announced one scintilla of information on what specific Wall Street firms have received this money or how much they individually received.”

There is no doubt that the nature of economic relations will be substantially altered in the process of dealing with the financial meltdown induced by the lockdowns and by the overreliance on high debt rates combined with artificially low interest rates prior to 2020. The altered political economy that is beginning to emerge following the lockdowns is sometimes described as state monopoly capitalism.

In deciding what companies get bailed out and what companies don’t, the financial authorities that are intervening in this crisis are pretty much deciding what enterprises get the advantage of federal financial backstops and what enterprises will not enjoy government sanction. Increasingly, therefore, it is the state that determines winners and losers in the organizing of financial relations. This development further undermines any notion that some idealized vision of competition and market forces will determine winners and losers in the economy of the future.

As Peter Ewarts has observed, it seems that BlackRock is being delegated by federal authorities to exercise “discretionary powers to pick winners and losers,” a choice that is “where the real bonanza and clout lies.” Will the winners be chosen from the companies run by executives that used the money gained from the prior bailouts to engage in stock buy backs? This process of buying back stock tends to be reflected in CEO bonuses and higher share prices. Alternatively this way of allocating funds tends to short change workers as well as innovation and efficiency in industrial production?

Will companies be rewarded whose executives have moved production facilities overseas or issued billions in junk bonds? Will companies be rewarded whose directors have participated in the effort to censor the Internet, bring about lockdowns or foment mask hysteria? Why is it that the coddled elites serving the financial imperatives of most wealthy branches of society are being put in the best position to decide who gets a life preserver from the state and who must sink and drown?

Might this bias be a factor in the current process that led Forbes Magazine to conclude in a headline that “Billionaries Are Getting Richer During the Covid-19 Pandemic While Most Americans Suffer.”

There can be no doubt that the financial transactions beginning with the CARES Act represent a crucial initial stage in what the promoters of the World Economic Forum have been labeling as the Great Reset. Laurence Fink and the BlackRock firm are significant participants in the World Economic Forum. The WEF helped introduce the pandemic in Event 201 in October of 2019 even as it is now trying to put a positive face on the fiasco.

Why should the people most harshly affected by the lockdowns tolerate that the very Wall Street interests dispossessing them, are tasked once again to lead and exploit the reset of the financial system? As presently structured by the likes of BlackRock and its beneficiaries, this process is once again transferring new wealth to the most wealthy branches of society. Simultaneously it is burdening the rest of the population with yet another massive increase in both personal and national indebtedness.

There is no more discussion of “trickle down” economics, a frequent metaphor invoked in the Reagan-Thatcher era. Instead we are in the midst of an increasingly intense phase of suck up economics. The rich are being further enriched and further empowered through the dispossession of the poor and the middle classes. This procedure, initiated when locked down citizens were sidelined from the political process, has the potential to result in the largest upward transfer of wealth so far in history.

BlackRock Versus the Debt-Lite Legacy of the Bank of Canada

At the end of March Laurence Fink, CEO and founder of BlackRock, announced in a letter to his company’s shareholder, “We are honored to have been selected to assist the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the Bank of Canada on programs designed to facilitate capital to businesses and support the economy.”

This announcement might leave the impression that the Bank of Canada and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York are similar institutions. This impression is unfounded. The two banks have very different structures and histories. A spotlight on these differences helps illuminate the nature of a number of core financial issues.

These financial issues should command avid attention during this time of reckoning with a serious economic crisis that may well be still in its early stages. Such issues inevitably draw attention to the current manifestations of very old questions about the character of money and its relationship to the concepts of usury and debt. Questions about debt, debt enslavement as well as the possibility of debt renunciation or debt forgiveness are becoming especially pressing.

These controversial queries arise in an era when a tiny minority is aggressively asserting sweeping claims to ownership of vast concentrations of the world’s available assets. The other side of this picture reveals that the largest mass of humanity is sinking into a swamp of rising debt on a scale that is concurrently unsustainable and unconscionable. How did this level of inequity reach such audacious extremes? Are there any remedies in sight?

There is nothing to suggest structural remediation in the current approach to the economic crisis. In fact so far there is every indication that the current approach of bringing about an enormous expansion in the availability of debt-laden money will only compound the further dispossession of the already dispossessed in order to expand the wealth of the already wealthy.

As already noted, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York is one of twelve regional banks that together constitute the US Federal Reserve. Every regional Federal Reserve Bank is owned by a group of private banks. Each of the private banks at the base of a Federal Reserve regional bank marks its proprietorship through the ownership of shares. These shares cannot be freely traded in stock markets. The ownership of these shares expresses the private ownership of the US banking system.

The Fed’s New York regional bank has a special role in money creation given its location at the heart of the US financial sector on and around Wall Street. In this crisis, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York is creating new money in the name of holding back onslaughts of destitution and penury in a traumatized society. Ever since 1913 every new dollar brought into existence by the Federal Reserve, which is the central bank of the United States, creates added debt that collects compound interest as long as it is left unpaid.

The Bank of Canada was created to counter the delegation of money-creating authority to privately-owned banks. The Bank of Canada was founded during the Great Depression, a time when the failure of many existing institutions created the conditions to try out alternative entities in the attempt to improve economic relationships.

One of the driving forces in the creation of Canada’s new banking system was Gerald Gratten McGeer. McGreer was an elected official in British Columbia dedicated to changing the system so that the people of Canada could generate their own currency through the sovereign authority of Canada’s Parliament. McGeer helped to push the national government of Prime Minister R.B. Bennett in this direction. The wheels were set in motion in 1933 through the work on the Royal Commission on Banking and Currency.

McGeer drew much of his inspiration from former US President, Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln led the US federal government throughout the US Civil War. To finance the Armed Forces of the Union, Lincoln used the authority of the federal government to create “Greenbacks” as a means of paying the troops. By employing the sovereign authority of the US government to create its own currency, Lincoln avoided the intrigues that often accompanied the process of borrowing money from foreign lenders.

McGreer had obtained what he viewed as credible evidence that Lincoln had been assassinated because of his antagonism to the designs of private bankers seeking to widen their base of power in the United States. The Canadian politician had taken to heart a comment attributed often to Lincoln: “The privilege of creating and issuing money is not only the supreme prerogative of Government, but it is the Government’s greatest creative opportunity.”

The Bank of Canada was created in 1934 and nationalized as a Crown Corporation in 1938. To this day it retains its founding charter that affirms,

WHEREAS it is desirable to establish a central bank in Canada to regulate credit and currency in the best interests of the economic life of the nation, to control and protect the external value of the national monetary unit and to mitigate by its influence fluctuations in the general level of production, trade, prices and employment, so far as may be possible within the scope of monetary action, and generally to promote the economic and financial welfare of Canada.

The Bank of Canada formed an essential basis of a very creative period of Canadian growth, development, and diversification throughout the middle decades of the twentieth century. The Bank of Canada created the capital that financed the Canadian war effort from 1939 until 1945. After the war the Bank of Canada lent money at very low rates of interest to the municipal, provincial and national governments. The monies were used for infrastructure projects and for investments to increase the wellbeing and creative potential of Canada’s most important resource, its people.

This type of low interest or no interest financing formed the economic basis for projects like the creation of a national pension plan, national health care insurance, the Trans-Canada Highway, the St. Lawrence Seaway, the Avro-Arrow initiative as well as a formidable system of colleges and universities.

One could say that the Bank of Canada provided an indigenous money supply that was spent into the operations of a fast growing economy greased with lots of federal liquidity. The new money derived its value from the efforts of Canadian workers.  Together they brought about significant increases in the country’s net worth through practical improvements that bettered the lives of all citizens.

Consider the contrast between this type of national development and the kind of larceny facilitated by the Federal Reserve’s infusions of the money it creates into Wall Street’s operations in the twenty-first century. In, for instance, the financial bailouts of 2007 to 2010 the largest part of the newly-created money ended up in the coffers of the wealthy whereas the new debt created ended up as part of a US national debt.

The burden of carrying this debt falls inter-generationally on average working people who form the lion’s share of taxpayers. They have long been saddled with an “inextinguishable debt” that unrelentingly grows, hardly ever shrinks, and remains basically unpayable forever. The very concept of “compound interest” conveys the image of an overall debt spread out over many venues. This debt must grow in perpetuity. There is a constant need for additional debtors while existing debtors must face constantly growing personal debt.

There is reason to suspect that the financial debacle of 2020 will re-enact some the worst excesses of the 2008 bailout. Might the payouts this time around to derivative-addicted Wall Street firms like Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase exceed the scale of the prior bailout? Would there be any way of even knowing whether the current round of payouts outdoes the former round of bailouts? The current process of federal disbursements is not transparent. In fact the process has been described as one designed to “provide an ironclad secrecy curtain around how much [the Fed} spends and where the money goes.”

Why is the Canadian government turning to the very firm that emerged as Wall Street’s main fixer and winner in the 2008 bailouts? Why is Justin Trudeau looking to BlackRock to respond to the Canadian aspects of the 2020 economic crash?

Justin Trudeau seems unwilling or unable to provide a coherent answer to this question and others requiring thoughtful replies rather than barrages of platitudes. Why is Justin Trudeau instituting what Joyce Nelson has characterized as a “new feudalism” in Canada’s economic policies?

Any decent effort of response on Trudeau’s part would have to make some reference to the background of the current debacle. There would have to be some acknowledgment that between 1934 and 1974 the Canada government did not build up any significant national debt. Then, between 1974 and 2020, the national debt of Canada skyrocketed from $22 billion to $700 billion.

Why was such a good and sustainable use of the Bank of Canada put aside, one that contributed magnificently to the health and wellbeing of the Canadian people as well as the Canadian federation? Who lost out? Who gained besides the international bankers?

The incomprehensible abandonment of a winning formula for Canadian development by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau puts a special onus on his son, Canada’s current PM, to explain the incredibly costly mistake of his father. Why won’t Justin Trudeau fix the mistake of his father and restore the Bank of Canada to its former role in Canadian nation building?

There has never been a full and satisfactory explanation of what really happened in 1974 to persuade Pierre Trudeau to throw aside the means of developing infrastructure with resources generated internally within Canada. Trudeau Senior’s decision to stop building up Canada through the operation of the Canadian people’s own national bank was not debated in Parliament. The option was never part of an election platform let alone the subject of a national referendum.

Apparently the Swiss-based Bank of International Settlements, which is often referred to as the central bank for central bankers, had some role in Pierre Trudeau’s decision to cease using the Bank of Canada’s powers to generate near-debt-free Canadian currency.

Government as a Means of Escaping Debt Entrapment

That powers of debt-lite money creation invested by Parliament in the Bank of Canada have never been formally withdrawn. The Bank of Canada could still revert back to the direct creation of Canadian currency to be spent into an economy of national recovery; to be spent in investments in infrastructure as well as in cultivating and applying the creative skills of the Canadian people.

Between 2011 and 2017 a court case was brought against the government of Canada with the aim of restoring the Bank of Canada to its former role. As Rocco Galati, the lawyer for the Committee on Monetary and Economic Reform (COMER) explained  “Not only has the government abandoned its constitutional duty to govern, but it has transferred it to international private banks which corresponds to an abandonment of its sovereignty.”

After some significant rulings and contentious appeals, the COMER case came to an end without delivering results that its plaintiffs sought. But the court case helped to put a spotlight on the potential of the Bank of Canada. If properly utilized, this institution could provide a model corrective to the subordination of governance to the international Lords of Debt Explotation and their minions.

This process of politicizing the role of the Bank of Canada should extend to a process of calling out Justin Trudeau’s current approach to selling off key components of Canada’s infrastructure.

This topic came up in private discussions between Larry Fink and Justin Trudeau at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January of 2016. Fink apparently got Trudeau interested in attracting private investors to the project of improving or building Canadian infrastructure projects like roads, high-speed trains, airports and such. This kind of approach to developing infrastructure projects runs counter to the role once played by the Bank of Canada in incorporating self-sufficiency into the process of national building.

The dangers and opportunities in this time of manufactured crises are indeed unprecedented.  Instead of rejecting the Davos crowd’s preoccupation with a giant reset, why not embrace the concept? Why not treat this moment as an opening to reset the global economy in a way that would restore the Bank of Canada to some of its former functions. Why not highlight this return to the sovereign embrace of benevolent nation building as an example for the rest of the world?

Why not reconstitute the worldwide structures of the international system of economic relations to restore elected governments to the functions that have been pre-empted by unaccountable institutions like the US Federal Reserve or the Bank for International Settlements? Why not renew the model of banking as an exercise and expression of national sovereignty and the self-determination of peoples in a dynamic global arena of rules-based economic interaction?

Why not withdraw the power from private bankers to create national currencies? Why not follow the advice of the deceased Abraham Lincoln by restoring “the greatest of all creative possibilities available to governments,” namely their power to issue money and set interest rates. The restoration of economic power to governments and the people and peoples they represent would involve the infusion of life into conceptions of globalization very different than those used to justify the industrialization of China and the deindustrialization of North America.

By delegating to international organizations much of their capacity to influence the economic conditions affecting their own people, national legislatures have lost much of their capacity to provide responsible government. Governments thus weakened are not realistically in a position to derive their authority from the consent of the governed. When representative bodies cannot effectively express the right of their constituents to collective self-determination in economic realm, what legitimacy is left to the institution of representative government?

This strange moment puts humanity face to face with much that is novel and unprecedented and much that is old and integral to the history of human interaction. The economic dimensions of this crisis constitute its most devastating and far-reaching attribute. The supposed remedy being rushed into operation is to flood large quantities of debt-laden loans into existence and for governments to distribute the borrowed funds to individuals, businesses, and organizations as they see fit.

Once again, vast quantities of debt-laden money are being created without the informed consent of those on whose shoulders the vastly increased loads of debt are falling. Once again governments are rewarding political friends and punishing political enemies by means of the way the new funds are being apportioned.

Decisions are pushed forward that emanate not from citizen constituents but from cabals of supranational connivers actively engaged in wrecking what little remains of responsible government. As governments lose legitimacy by engaging in collusion with corrupt cronies and international crime syndicates they must depend more and more on police state thuggery to enforce some semblance of order.

This process is going forward in spite of the fact that alternative means exist to create as much new money as is required without having to pay large amounts of compound interest to private bankers. Every sovereign government has the capacity to generate new money by following the model of the Bank of Canada between 1938 and 1974.

There is an especially urgent need at this time for some serious reckoning with the economic dimensions of the crisis before us. This reckoning will inevitably meet the resistance of extremely powerful interests who are deriving great benefits from the existing system. The process of privatizing the creation of money has enriched and empowered a clique whose institutionalized, deep-rooted and continuing kleptocracy was exposed in part by the bailout of 2008.

Why should we take for granted in 2020 that the best way to deal with the economic debacle put before us is to create new money by agreeing to go much deeper into a quagmire of debt entrapment. This debt trap, whose cumulative amount will soon be more that $300 trillion globally, creates gross liabilities in a trajectory of disadvantage that severely limits the life chances even of many generations still unborn.

The other side of debt is embodied in assets. Who gets the assets and who gets the liabilities that coalesce to form indebtedness? What is to be made of the role of birth or inheritance or race or natural ability or social connections in apportioning assets or imposing the enslavements of accumulated debt?

John Perkins addressed some of these issues in his Confessions of an Economic Hit Man and in a subsequent follow-up volume. Perkins chronicled how an inter-related complex of US institutions aligned themselves with his own greedy and unscrupulous interventions. The goal of their coordinated aggressions was aimed at imposing the enslavements of massive debt with compound interest. Their version of loan sharking is one of many manifestations expressing a very old and common phenomenon. It often happens that powerful interests parasitically exploit the weak to further enrich themselves.

This partnership between John Perkins and the kleptocratic agencies directed by the US government has long been drawing wealth from struggling countries by pushing them more deeply into national indebtedness. Once the governments of target countries succumbed to greater dependence on debt-based financing, the conditions were ripe to force officials into adopting policies of austerity that harmed local citizens in order to augment the assets of international investors.

Significantly the World Bank demonstrated how this coercion works in the context of the current economic crisis. The World Bank attempted to impose conditions on a loan of $940 million to Belarus because the WB wanted Belarus to conform to the lockdowns that are a primary cause of the current manufactured crisis.

As revealed by the Belarus’s President, Alexander Lukashenko, the World Bank wanted his country to adopt the full set of COVID-19 measures that had been implemented by the Italian government. Lukashenko said no to the loan. He refused to accept the conditions and carried on the established policies of Belarus, a country that has “not implemented strict coronavirus containment measures.”

Lukashenko is far from alone in his contempt for the manipulative tactics of the apparatus promoting the manufactured crisis. For instance Tanzanian President, John Magufuli, tested the accuracy of the testing procedures being forced on his country by the World Health Organization. President and Medical Doctor Mugufi included in the samples submitted to the testing agency some tissue of a goat and a papaya. Both the goat and the papaya tested positive for COVID-19, an outcome he publicized before ordering the WHO group to leave his country.

The Political Economy of Usury From the Middle Ages to the Era of Social Credit and Ezra Pound

We cannot assess the division of humanity between a massive group of debtors and a much smaller group of creditors without touching on the issue of usury. The subject of usury, the lending of money with the addition of interest payments, has been an extremely contentious issue throughout much of human history.

There were prohibitions against usury in ancient Greece, ancient India and the Roman Empire. Throughout much of the last thousand years usury has been regarded as a sin outlawed in the Bible, the Torah and the Koran. At different times in history the Roman Catholic Church has been an especially zealous opponent of some forms of usury.

Considering the nature of our current predicaments including obscene levels of economic inequality, usury might yet again arouse contentions. Some of the core ethical issues raised by the resort to usury remain unresolved. How is it ethical, for instance, to subject disinherited children in poor countries to the indignities of deepened poverty so that rich folks in rich parts of the world can reap larger dividends?

Beginning in the Middle Ages, forms of usury began to show up first in the Italian city states and in the towns of the Franco-Flemish realm. The act of loaning money with interest gradually spread throughout Europe. In some predominately-Muslim jurisdictions, the concept conveyed in the Arabic term, “riba,” approximated the idea of usury or interest. Over time various versions of riba have affected Muslim banking practices.

Often there were prohibitions preventing Jews from demanding interest on loans made to other Jews. There were many Talmudic teachings, however, permitting interest to be collected from gentiles when they borrowed money from Jews. Many accounts of Jewish efforts to break down prohibitions on usury highlight obstacles preventing Jews from pursuing other lines of work. The case is made that the pull of some Jews into banking came about in part because of their exclusion from other occupations.

Whatever the case, the obstacles to usury continued to be lessened including through the changes to Biblical interpretation that came with the Protestant Reformation. Even in the twentieth century, however, usury continued to arouse criticism and distrust. Ezra Pound was one of those who became very outspoken when it came to problems with usury.

The modernist poet and scholar, Ezra Pound, was one of the most influential literary figures of the twentieth century. The importance of his work was expressed not only in his own literary efforts but also in his contributions to other authors in his circle of friends and colleagues.

Pound’s outspoken criticism of usury formed part of the discourse that was integral to the political movements seeking economic reform. The creation and successful nationalization of the Bank of Canada was one of the outgrowths of the concerted quest to give substance to economic institutions that would more effectively serve human needs.

The creation of the Bank of Canada drew on the ideas of Abraham Lincoln and also on those of many other theorists including Major C.H. Douglas. While Major Douglas and John Maynard Keynes each denounced one another’s work, both sought to stimulate economic activity by expanding the supply and distribution of money.  Major Douglas’ vision of Social Credit, one that Pound enthusiastically embraced, sought to bring about greater harmony and equilibrium between the forces of production and consumption.

A biographer of Pound has explained that this formidable literary figure believed “there was the prospect of building a Social Credit society where money served the consumer and served the producer.”  As Pound pictured it, “the middle men” seeking usurious, interest bearing profit” to be collected “without work or prior motivation, could be cut out.” During the Depression the hope of prosperity through the application of Social Credit principles was seized upon by many. One of them was an evangelical preacher in the Canadian province of Alberta.

Largely as a result of the popularity he gained by incorporating Major Douglas’ analysis of Social Credit into his Sunday afternoon Christian radio broadcast, “Bible Bill” Aberhart became the Premier of Alberta. His Social Credit Party gained 56 of 63 seats in the Alberta Legislature. The Social Credit Party continued in power until 1971.

The Social Credit preoccupation with bringing about changes in the relationship of citizens to financial institutions helped add to the discourse from which the Bank of Canada emerged as a dynamic instrument of nation building.

The enthusiasm was well placed of those who threw their lot in with the movement to create and enlivened the Bank of Canada. The generations that put their trust in this federal financial institution had the satisfaction of knowing that their taxes were not devoured to pay big amounts of interest to private bankers in the style that presently prevails almost everywhere.

Like his good friend and colleague, Ernest Hemingway, Pound was a devotee of clear, terse and succinct prose.

This characteristic of his writing comes through strongly in his harsh condemnations of usury. “Usury is the cancer of the world,” Pound wrote. He explained, “Until you know who has lent to whom, you know nothing of politics, you know nothing whatever of history, you know nothing of international wrangles.”

Ezra Pound was born in Idaho but was attracted to Italy throughout long periods of his life. In Italy he lionized its fascist leader, Benito Mussolini. He embraced the Axis side in World War II developing close relations with the British fascist leader, Oswald Mosley. Pound threw himself into the contest producing a torrent of radio broadcasts seeking to win over English-speaking converts to the Axis side. These broadcasts are today widely described as war propaganda.

Pound was indicted in the United States in 1943 and arrested at the war’s end by the US Armed Forces in Italy. After being jailed in Pisa, Pound was charged with treason. Then Pound was diagnosed as being mentally unfit to face charges.

The finding that he was mentally ill caused Pound to be locked up as a patient in St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in the Washington DC area for the next 13 years. In spite of his severe prejudices against Jewish bankers and his active embrace of fascism during the war years, Pound continued to carry on very lively interactions with his formidable circle of poets, essayists and novelists.

Pound’s circle included James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, and T.S. Eliot. All these writers wrote works that won a Nobel Prize for Literature. These and many other authors benefited from Pound’s encouragement and mentorship. In 1948 Eustace Mullins joined Pound’s circle. Mullins was introduced to the famous poet and scholar through Pound’s wife, Dorothy Shakespeare,

When he first met Pound, Mullins was an art school student and a veteran of the US Air Force. He had already published some short pieces in the British journal, Social Creditor. Mullins remembered Pound’s place of forced residence as “a hideous, urine-soaked madhouse in Washington D.C.” As their visits became increasingly regular, Pound encouraged Mullins to conduct research into the history and activities of the Federal Reserve.

When Pound proposed the idea Mullins was unaware of the existence of the Federal Reserve. Nevertheless, Mullins threw himself into the project that he supported by combining his research with work as a book stacker at the Library of Congress. At the Library he befriended George Stimpson who was well known among Washington journalists and government officials for his wealth of knowledge and his ability to locate relevant research materials.

Stimpson happily worked with Mullins. He helped the aspiring author by guiding him into the primary and secondary literature illuminating many facets of the Federal Reserve’s history

Eustace Mullins Explores the Secrets of the Federal Reserve

An initial edition of the volume appeared in 1952 as Mullins on the Federal Reserve. Another edition with added information was published in 1954. The text has been republished many times, sometimes in different editions under the title Secrets of the Federal Reserve. The text is organized around both thematic and chronological facets.

Mullins lays out the history of the Federal Reserve with considerable attention to the institution’s roots and origins. The author emphasizes several strands of continuity showing the links of the Federal Reserve to the banking establishments of Europe but especially those of Great Britain and Germany.

Mullins characterizes the Federal Reserve as the most powerful institution in the United States whose influence grew so that “it gradually superseded the popular elected government of the United States.” The power of the Fed and its core facet, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, is said to have become so formidable because the agency operates in secrecy without any genuine form of accountability to any public institution. The NY Fed combines the power of secrecy with the enormous power to create new currency and to set interest rates becoming in the process “the most gigantic trust on earth.”

Mullins makes the case that the financial district known as the City of London exercised enormous influence over the activities of the Federal Reserve and many of the large Wall Street banks. Mullins wrote, “London is the world’s financial centre, because it commands enormous sums of capital created at its command by the Federal Reserve Board of the United States.”

Mullins is conscientious in presenting many citations to back up his observations and interpretations. He cites, for instance the New York Times on January of 1920 where it states, “The Federal Reserve is a fount of credit not capital.” The manipulation of credit, however, can greatly affect the industrial economy by affecting the ability of manufacturers and farmers to produce.

Mullins emphasizes throughout the text how events are often engineered to strengthen the hand of the Lords of Credit in the matrix of society’s operations. In referring, for instance, to a secret banker’s plan to crash the stock market in 1929, Mullins expressed a view that could as easily describe the growing suspicion in 2020. Could it be that the lockdowns of businesses and workers were purposely engineered to strengthen the hands of the Lords of Credit whose main platform is the Federal Reserve Bank of New York?

Mullins explains that sometimes “bankers paralyse the industrial energies of the country” in order to highlight and strengthen “their tremendous powers” over the financial and business organization of the American economy. Mullins’ observation that “panic is an instrument of [financial] power” is another statement with obvious relevance to the current crisis.

As have many authors since, Mullins emphasizes the importance of a top-secret meeting on Jekyll Island in the state of Georgia in 1910. At this meeting Paul Warburg essentially took the intellectual lead in creating a plan for a Central Bank in the United States. Such an institution was long contemplated and promoted but it had been stopped repeatedly, most famously be Andrew Jackson. Jackson’s political career culminated in his winning the US presidency between 1829 and 1837.

Warburg left his family banking business in Hamburg Germany in 1902. He joined the Wall Street Office of Kuhn Loeb, a Wall Street House that helped finance the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. Mullins devotes much effort to describing the complex of alliances and rivalries that characterized banking before and after the founding of the Fed.

Weaving throughout these networks of financial activity were the banking operations of the Rothschild family. Mullins leaves no doubt that the operations of the Rothschild family of bankers were extensive, elaborate and very influential.

In the nineteenth century the Rothschild banking establishment gradually wove its operations into those of large segments of Europe’s royal and aristocratic establishments. Mullins emphasizes the genesis of the close business relationship between the Rothschild banking clan and a London-based US company, George Peabody and Company.

Peabody’s bank was passed on to a father and son team, Junius Spencer Morgan and John Pierpont Morgan. In the days of the Fed’s founding and even today, the name of J.P. Morgan is synonymous with New York banking. Mullins explains how the Rothschild bankers kept a fairly low profile in New York by conducting much of their American business largely through the financial organizations associated with the name and reputation of J.P. Morgan.

Mullins outlines the role of the Federal Reserve in the funding of two world wars. Many of the topics covered in Secrets of the Federal Reserve were later pursued in much more detail in the prolific writings of Antony C. Sutton.

Most of Sutton’s volumes describe the role of Wall Street in helping to bring about many of world history’s major turning points during the twentieth century. These turning points include Wall Street’s funding of the rise of the National Socialist government in Germany in the 1930s and the role of Wall Street in financing the Bolshevik Revolution and the business activities of the Soviet Union.

The capacity of the New York Bank of the Federal Reserve to create vast quantities of credit to finance wars, often with the same bankers funding competing sides in conflicts, provided the key to the creation of huge fortunes. The funding of both sides in war can be seen as an early form of hedging one’s bets. This kind of high impact intervention through banking sometimes created huge leverage for a very small number of people to steer history towards preconceived destinations.

As Mullins explains it, the Federal Reserve was founded in extreme secrecy and often employs deceptive tactics to misrepresent its true nature. As Mullins sees it, for instance, the creation of the twelve regional banks was a ploy to gain political acceptance for the Central Bank’s core entity, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Mullins explains, “the other eleven banks were so many expensive mausoleums erected to salve local pride and quell the Jacksonian fears of the hinterland.”

The ability of Wall Street bankers to invoke the credit creating powers of the New York Fed forms a key aspect of the frequent military adventurism of the US government. This military adventurism continued full force even after the United States became the world’s largest debtor nation after 1990. How large has been the role of the US Fed in building up the US national debt together with the tens of trillions missing from the books of the US Defense Department?

The Israel Lobby and the Federal Reserve

Much of the military adventurism of the United States especially after 9/11 was directed into invasions of Muslim-majority countries that threaten a particular view of Israel as a dominant power in its region and in the world. Why would it be that the Federal Reserve is any less involved in creating the available credit for the waging of wars in the twenty-first century than it was in creating the wars of the twentieth century?

In his authorship of The Secrets of the Federal Reserve, Mullins seems largely oblivious to the role in world history of Zionism and the genesis of Israel. His main attention lay elsewhere. As I read his text, he accurately conveyed how the large Jewish influence in the banking institution of Europe, including the influence of the Rothschild consortium, was extended into Wall Street including the Federal Reserve.

While Mullins does not shy aware from dealing with the Jewish component of the story he set out to tell, I don’t think he belabours this subject or becomes aggressively polemical about it. Certainly the same cannot be said of some of his critics whose condemnations of Mullins can sometimes be extremely polemical.

Mullins might have made more of the identity politics prevailing throughout the twentieth century. The sensibilities of the dominant Christian constituency in the United States probably influenced the decisions of many customers shopping for banking services. Quite likely some of them would have been more comfortable dealing with firms identified with names like J.P. Morgan, Rockefeller and Mellon rather than Warburg, Greenspan or Fink. Times, however, have changed.

Some of the more severe prejudices seem to have subsided around the time that Sandy Weill combined his Travellers Insurance Company with Citicorp to create Citigroup. This merger helped create the political momentum leading to the elimination of the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999. With Glass-Steagall’s elimination, Citigroup tried to become a giant department store of varied financial services. In its inner sanctums, however, Citigroup developed a preoccupation with derivatives that continues yet.

In the twenty-first century it happened that some of the cosmetic overlays were removed that had previously been imposed to disguise the large representation of Jews in Wall Street banking, including in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. For good or bad, usury has become a core features of how the contemporary world is organized. Some reckoning with the ethnic inheritances attending usury are therefore inescapable, especially when dealing with the some of the most dramatic displays of usury on steroids in Wall Street institutions.

Where I see the need to draw a line in the sand is not on the question of the ethnicity of Wall Street personnel. Rather this line in the sand involves the question of how power is used or abused at the domineering heights of our financial institutions. Generally speaking it is not a justifiable use of the Federal Reserve to produce credit that enables the waging of wars that are offensive rather than defensive in character.

The waging of war has long been one of the big bonanzas producing major windfalls for international bankers. In the twenty-first century so many of the wars involve the flexing of military might by the United States to advance the expansionary designs of the Israeli state. The US Federal Reserve has been part of the process of creating what some would consider wars for Israel in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Iran.

Why are the money-generating powers of the secretive Federal Reserve being invoked to help fund wars for Israel and also to help shape public opinion to accept the US role in these wars of aggression. Especially sensitive is the further indebting of the American people to subsidize the production of propaganda aimed at persuading them to back wars for Israel. This propaganda is deemed necessary to deflate opposition to Israel’s actions including the ruthless dehumanizing treatment of Palestinian Arabs.

We have seen that the Federal Reserve Bank of New York was deeply engaged in 2008 in transferring tens of trillions into the coffers of its own member institutions and counterparties. What uses were made of this bailout produced through a dubious process of legalized financial larceny?

One way or another the Israel Lobby must be a prime beneficiary of the machinations of Wall Street and its money spigot, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. This pattern of priority can easily be related to US federal funding of the Israel project as a higher priority in federal budgeting than even the basic needs of the domestic population of the United States. Black Lives Do Matter but why is it that the lives of Israel First Partisans seem to matter more than any other group?

This Israel Lobby has the power to prevent any critic of Israeli policies from gaining the nomination of a major US party to run for US president. The result is that, in election after election, Americans are offered a very limited choice between competitors who are equally supportive of Israel.

The Israel Lobby can intervene to prevent the leadership of opposition parties from adopting policies that emphasize equity in Israel-Palestinian relations. Through its campaign contributions, the Israel Lobby dominates the process of choosing and electing representatives in Congress. How much does it cost to buy the political obedience of most federal politicians? How much does it cost to replicate this feat in the state legislatures and even municipal governments?

Through the ownership and/or control of major media outlets, the Israel Lobby exerts major influence in determining the main outlines of much public discourse when it comes to US-Israeli relations and many related subjects. How could one calculate the amount of money it took to achieve this feat? How much of this money is directed into payments for compliance, in other words, bribery? In the post-Epstein era what is the role of bribery’s criminal cousin, namely backmail?

The Israel Lobby is deeply engaged with other lobbies in transforming the Internet from an open forum of public interaction and debate into a centrally controlled propaganda instrument. Prominent among the Internet’s most aggressive censors and thought police are Google, You Tube, Facebook, Twitter and the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith.

Through all kinds of interventions the Israel Lobby asserts significant forms of control over a broad array of institutions and operations including those of the judiciary, the universities, book publishing, magazine publishing, municipal governments, trade unions and cultural groups. The biggest and most influential cultural group of all is the Hollywood film industry. Not surprisingly there is little in its cinematic output that provides critical perspectives on Zionism and its emanations.

The injection of huge amounts of money are essential to the exercise of so much concerted influence over such a broad sweep of political, intellectual and cultural organizations. Where do the large quantities of money supporting the activities the Israel project come from? Why is it that so many of agencies of the Israel Lobby have the status of charitable organizations with the capacity to extend tax write-offs to donors? What is the relationship of the Israel Lobby to Wall Street and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York?

Even the act of asking such questions will be seen by some as heretical. There is, however, nothing wrong with looking into issues that have so much impact on the quality of our political discourse… so much impact on our capacity to live together with the civility and security we have been losing so quickly with the imposition of the economically crippling lockdowns.

It is no less legitimate to ask questions about the ethnic identity of those who benefit most from the US economy than it is to ask questions about what groups suffer the most from the deprivations of poverty. Wouldn’t it make sense to try to moderate the disparities beginning with processes of research and discussion?

In a book of the same name, former ADL Executive Director, Abe Foxman, has opened the discussion of Jews and Money. Foxman effectively counters the view that all Jews are rich. Foxman, of course, is correct in this assertion. All Jews are not rich. Some are outright poor. A fairly large number of Jews, however, are somewhat rich and a small minority of Jews are disproportionately invested with wealth and power. Jews are especially well represented in the billionaires club both within the United States and internationally.

Some of the wealthiest Jews are part of the Wall Street establishment including the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Perhaps the time has come to begin retiring this, “the most gigantic trust on earth.” Perhaps it is time to retire some of the debt created over more than a century of putting private bankers in charge of dictating interest rates as well as creating debt-laden dollars. Perhaps the time has come to lessen the debt burden that is narrowing the life chances of so many people who have been funding the wars for Israel mounted in the wake of the 9/11 deception.

The severity of the crisis before us compel all thoughtful people of conscience to look beyond the redeployment of old institutions and old remedies for old problems that are different from the challenges facing us now. One of the most obvious ways to avert further calamity is to move away altogether from the empowerment of private bankers to massively expand national debts with compound interest charged to tax payers.

The alternative to this approach is to change the present means of creating new money. The creation of many banking systems similar to that of the Bank of Canada should be considered in the quest for the main ingredients of a global reset. The Bank of Canada brought about an almost-debt-free run of prodigious nation building before Pierre Trudeau bent the policies of his government to meet the impositions of the Bank of International Settlements.

  • First published at American Herald Tribune.
  • The post Lockdowns, Coronavirus, and Banks: Following the Money first appeared on Dissident Voice.

    Crushing the States, Saving the Banks: The Fed’s Generous New Rules

    Congress seems to be at war with the states. Only $150 billion of its nearly $3 trillion coronavirus relief package – a mere 5% – has been allocated to the 50 states; and they are not allowed to use it where they need it most, to plug the holes in their budgets caused by the mandatory shutdown. On April 22, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he was opposed to additional federal aid to the states, and that his preference was to allow states to go bankrupt.

    No such threat looms over the banks, which have made out extremely well in this crisis. The Federal Reserve has dropped interest rates to 0.25%, eliminated reserve requirements, and relaxed capital requirements. Banks can now borrow effectively for free, without restrictions on the money’s use. Following the playbook of the 2008-09 bailout, they can make the funds available to their Wall Street cronies to buy up distressed Main Street assets at fire sale prices, while continuing to lend to credit cardholders at 21%.

    If there is a silver lining to all this, it is that the Fed’s relaxed liquidity rules have made it easier for state and local governments to set up their own publicly-owned banks, something they should do post haste to take advantage of the Fed’s very generous new accommodations for banks. These public banks can then lend to local businesses, municipal agencies, and local citizens at substantially reduced rates while replenishing the local government’s coffers, recharging the Main Street economy and the government’s revenue base.

    The Covert War on the States

    Payments going to state and local governments from the Coronavirus Relief Fund under the CARES Act may be used only for coronavirus-related expenses. They may not be used to cover expenses that were accounted for in their most recently approved budgets as of March 2020. The problem is that nearly everything local governments do is funded through their most recently approved budgets, and that funding will come up painfully short for all of the states due to increased costs and lost revenues forced by the coronavirus shutdown. Unlike the federal government, which can add a trillion dollars to the federal debt every year without fear of retribution, states and cities are required to balance their budgets. The Fed has opened a Municipal Liquidity Facility that may buy their municipal bonds, but this is still short-term debt, which must be repaid when due. Selling bonds will not fend off bankruptcy for states and cities that must balance their books.

    States are not legally allowed to declare bankruptcy, but Sen. McConnell contended that “there’s no good reason for it not to be available.” He said, “we’ll certainly insist that anything we borrow to send down to the states is not spent on solving problems that they created for themselves over the years with their pension programs.” And that is evidently the real motive behind the bankruptcy push. McConnell wants states put through a bankruptcy reorganization to get rid of all those pesky pension agreements and the unions that negotiated them. But these are the safety nets against old age for which teachers, nurses, police and firefighters have worked for 30 or 40 years. It’s their money.

    It has long been a goal of conservatives to privatize public pensions, forcing seniors into the riskier stock market. Lured in by market booms, their savings can then be raided by the periodic busts of the “business cycle,” while the more savvy insiders collect the spoils. Today political opportunists are using a crushing emergency that is devastating local economies to downsize the public sector and privatize everything.

    Free Money for Banks: The Fed’s Very Liberal New Rules

    Unlike the states, the banks were not facing bankruptcy from the economic shutdown; but their stocks were sinking fast. The Fed’s accommodations were said to be to encourage banks to “help meet demand for credit from households and businesses.” But while the banks’ own borrowing rates were dropped on March 15 from an already-low 1.5% to 0.25%, average credit card rates dropped in the following month only by 0.5% to 20.71%, still unconscionably high for out-of-work wage earners.

    Although the Fed’s accommodations were allegedly to serve Main Street during the shutdown, Wall Street had a serious liquidity problem long before the pandemic hit. Troubles surfaced in September 2019, when repo market rates suddenly shot up to 10%. Before 2008, banks borrowed from each other in the fed funds market; but after 2008 they were afraid to lend to each other for fear the borrowing banks might be insolvent and might not pay the loans back. Instead the lenders turned to the repo market, where loans were supposedly secured with collateral. The problem was that the collateral could be “rehypothecated” or used for several loans at once; and by September 2019, the borrower side of the repo market had been taken over by hedge funds, which were notorious for risky rehypothecation. The lenders therefore again pulled out, forcing the Fed to step in to save the banks that are its true constituents. But that meant the Fed was backstopping the whole repo market, including the hedge funds, an untenable situation. So it flung the doors wide open to its discount window, where only banks could borrow.

    The discount window is the Fed’s direct lending facility meant to help commercial banks manage short-term liquidity needs. In the past, banks have been reluctant to borrow there because its higher interest rate implied that the bank was on shaky ground and that no one else would lend to it. But the Fed has now eliminated that barrier. It said in a press release on March 15:

    The Federal Reserve encourages depository institutions to turn to the discount window to help meet demands for credit from households and businesses at this time. In support of this goal, the Board today announced that it will lower the primary credit rate by 150 basis points to 0.25% …. To further enhance the role of the discount window as a tool for banks in addressing potential funding pressures, the Board also today announced that depository institutions may borrow from the discount window for periods as long as 90 days, prepayable and renewable by the borrower on a daily basis.

    Banks can get virtually free loans from the discount window that can be rolled over from day to day as necessary. The press release said that the Fed had also eliminated the reserve requirement – the requirement that banks retain reserves equal to 10% of their deposits – and that it is “encouraging banks to use their capital and liquidity buffers as they lend to households and businesses who are affected by the coronavirus.” It seems that banks no longer need to worry about having deposits sufficient to back their loans. They can just borrow the needed liquidity at 0.25%, “renewable on a daily basis.” They don’t need to worry about “liquidity mismatches,” where they have borrowed short to lend long and the depositors have suddenly come for their money, leaving them without the funds to cover their loans. The Fed now has their backs, providing “primary credit” at its discount window to all banks in good standing on very easy terms. The Fed’s website states:

    Generally, there are no restrictions on borrowers’ use of primary credit….Notably, eligible depository institutions may obtain primary credit without exhausting or even seeking funds from alternative sources. Minimal administration of and restrictions on the use of primary credit makes it a reliable funding source.

    What State and Local Governments Can Do: Form Their Own Banks

    On the positive side, these new easy terms make it much easier for local governments to own and operate their own banks, on the stellar model of the century-old Bank of North Dakota. To fast-track the process, a state could buy a bank that was for sale locally, which would already have FDIC insurance and a master account with the central bank (something needed to conduct business with other banks and the Fed). The state could then move its existing revenues and those it gets from the CARES Act Relief Fund into the bank as deposits. Since there is no longer a deposit requirement, it need not worry if these revenues get withdrawn and spent. Any shortfall can be covered by borrowing at 0.25% from the Fed’s discount window. The bank would need to make prudent loans to keep its books in balance, but if its capital base gets depleted from a few non-performing loans, that too apparently need not be a problem, since the Fed is “encouraging banks to use their capital and liquidity buffers.” The buffers were there for an emergency, said the Fed, and this is that emergency.

    To cover startup costs and capitalization, the state might be able to use a portion of its CARES Relief Fund allotment. Its budget before March would not have included a public bank, which could serve as a critical source of funding for local businesses crushed by the shutdown and passed over by the bailout. Among the examples given of allowable uses for the relief funds are such things as “expenditures related to the provision of grants to small businesses to reimburse the costs of business interruption caused by required closures.” Providing below-market loans to small businesses would fall in that general category.

    By using some of its CARES Act funds to capitalize a bank, the local government can leverage the money by 10 to 1. One hundred million dollars in equity can capitalize $1 billion in loans. With the state bank’s own borrowing costs effectively at 0%, its operating costs will be very low. It can make below-market loans to creditworthy local borrowers while still turning a profit, which can be used either to build up the bank’s capital base for more loans or to supplement the state’s revenues. The bank can also lend to its own government agencies that are short of funds due to the mandatory shutdown. The salubrious effect will be to jumpstart the local economy by putting new money into it. People can be put back to work, local infrastructure can be restored and expanded, and the local tax base can be replenished.

    The coronavirus pandemic has demonstrated not only that the US needs to free itself from dependence on foreign markets by rebuilding its manufacturing base but that state and local governments need to free themselves from dependence on the federal government. Some state economies are larger than those of entire countries. Gov. Gavin Newsom, whose state ranks as the world’s fifth largest economy, has called California a “nation-state.” A sovereign nation-state needs its own bank.

    Economic Epidemic

    Dynamic duo:  Same bat virus, same fat profits

    From Havana to Helmstedt

    The major reason for Cuba’s travel restrictions — always used as grounds for slandering the Cuban state — is the extreme difficulty Cuba has maintaining foreign exchange reserves essential for international trade,  especially since the end of trade-in-kind with the COMECON. Every traveller from Cuba spends pesos that have to be covered by Cuba’s USD or EUR reserves. Since there are already more than enough obstacles imposed by the US embargo, every forex transaction is critical for Cuba’s balance of payments — for its ability to buy what it cannot produce. In fact, those who can still recall crossing from West Berlin to East Berlin will also remember that it was necessary to exchange DM 30 for M 30 for every day one spent in the GDR. This was heavily criticised in the West, especially by travellers who would complain that it was impossible to spend the M 30 in a day since everything was so inexpensive. Of course, the GDR was trying to compensate for the discriminatory exchange rates that made trade with the West a drain on its foreign currency reserves.

    While many ordinary visitors complained and the Western media encouraged Germans in the East to complain about the buying power of the GDR mark, the fact is that throughout the world national economies only survived the Bretton Woods regime as long as they maintained currency controls. A major element in the economic warfare waged by the US Empire since 1945 has been to abolish fixed exchange rates. Having rigged the post-war international monetary regime to replace the British pound with the US dollar as the benchmark currency, the International Monetary Fund and World Bank were deployed to stabilise the US dollar with advantage over the old European currencies.

    Although officially these were international institutions, they were organised like private corporations. The decisions were to be made by the majority of shares held in the IMF or World Bank. Since the US held the majority of capital in both, it was endowed with the most votes over any Fund or Bank decision. The quasi-currency of the Fund and the Bank was called special drawing rights (SDR). These units of account were based on a weighted value of the underlying “reserve” currencies, mainly the USD. SDRs could be used to resolve balance of payments discrepancies. Members of the IMF were extended SDRs according to the relative strengths of their economy. Based on the SDRs allocated to a country it could draw dollars or another reserve currency in amounts sufficient to pay temporary imbalances between imports and exports, transactions that after WWII were almost all USD business.

    As the late Jamaican Prime Minister Michael Manley once pointed out — when the Bretton Woods agreements were signed most of the countries, like Jamaica, were still colonies or protectorates of some European or North American power. Hence no provision was made for them to even have independent economies or national currencies. As a result most of the world’s population and any of the newly independent countries that did not adopt a version of a Euro-American currency had no way to monetize their economic activity in international trade. They were left entirely dependent upon the USD, GBP, and FF for foreign trade of any kind. In order to limit USD hegemony in Africa, the French invented the CFA-Franc. This African franc tied its former African colonies to France by giving the CFA-franc a favourable exchange rate with French franc, although not parity. Overall, however, the post-war independence movements were all faced with the inherent dependence of their currency systems from the machinations of US and European banks with their control over the two major foreign exchange markets, the City and Wall Street. The exceptions to this regime were the Soviet Union and COMECON as and after 1959 Cuba.

    When the US economy faced possible financial collapse toward the end of its war in Vietnam (it had been fairly successful in transferring the costs of the Korean War to the “United Nations”), secret negotiations by the Nixon administration with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia had, through their offices within OPEC, saved the USD by abolishing the gold fixing and establishing the USD as the sole currency for the world oil trade. At one fell swoop any country that did not have domestic oil supplies or had to trade oil on the world market was forced to use US dollars. To prove the point the US regime has never hesitated to wage war against any OPEC member that does not comply with this iron rule. Of course, the US is the only country which can issue US dollars and its banks are the only ones who can sell USD denominated debt, directly or indirectly, hence the central role of the Federal Reserve System — the private banking cartel chartered to issue dollars and control US monetary policy. The US regime has also pursued rigorous policies, even if not always entirely successful, to draw all those dollars back into US assets or to permit US entities to acquire foreign assets through the unlimited capacity to generate USD and to monetize private business (while on the other hand prohibiting the monetizing of public debt for social services, infrastructure etc.)

    This is the context in which the current economic war with China and to a lesser extent with Russia has to be seen. This economic war entered a new phase with the Wuhan attack.

    Lucrative lockdown

    Fast-forward: European and US authorities order various degrees of “lockdown” and international travel, even within the EU itself, comes to a virtual halt. Airlines, hotels, and the rest of the travel sector have practically no more than essential business. The transport sector is also substantially restricted. The everyday economy is almost in coronary arrest.

    What are the benefits of the general lockdown in the West? Is it really possible that the corona virus was so shocking that the economy as a whole was only an afterthought? Are we to believe that it was merely an oversight on the part of government to contemplate contingencies for epidemics but not for economics? It would be nice to think that Western governments care so much about the health of their citizens but that is rubbish. What is really very important — in fact, it is the only important issue for those who own our governments is MONEY and, of course, the power that goes with it.

    What are the immediate consequences of the lockdown in economic terms?

    1. a) restriction of travel by masses of a generally mobile and consuming population (at least in the EU)
    2. b) restriction — soon to reach extinction of a substantial percentage of SMEs
    3. c) obstruction of supply chain transactions, not least of which with China
    4. d) increased unemployment beyond the already deliberately understated figures
    5. e) inevitable price increases, whether scarcity induced or because of added “safety” costs
    6. f) the creation of potential for a layer of corruption and contraband traffic that will not only raise the prices of everyday life but partly criminalise it.

    At the same time we have heard more than a few reports of new QE (aka giving trillions to so-called banks). *

    In the Western media one finds accusations that China caused the “corona crisis” to benefit from a fall in asset prices (not only stock markets but also for businesses damaged by the lockdown) to buy them up on the cheap. Personally I follow a golden rule when reading Western official statements, whether directly from regime mouthpieces or through their Great Wurlitzer: what they accuse is what they are hiding. It is like that classic scene in many a classroom: the bully slaps another pupil. Pupil slaps back and bully screams. The teacher only sees the return slap and never the first strike. The slapped pupil is punished and the bully rewarded.

    If we ask critically what the new QE is supposed to do — is it to protect all these banks from another 2008 failure? No, not really. Instead it is to fill the “banks” with cash for pre-emptive buying following the price crashes so that China can be blocked out of any further investment in the West’s critical sectors.

    It is also survival money so that all the defaults and bankruptcies in the SME sector can be written off without damaging the overall profit line.

    In other words a) and b) can be directly linked not only to strategic population control objectives, linked also to the now infamous universal vaccination programme, but also to the imposition of currency controls. In Europe, fewer euros will flow to China and in the US obviously the USD flows will be reduced.

    1. c) The disruption of supply chains is mainly an organisational measure. This will reduce the number of channels by which China can trade in the West. In the first stage it will also facilitate the consolidation of the economy in fewer hands so that those supply chains can be better managed from the top.
    2. d) As argued elsewhere, purchasing power has declined steadily over the past thirty to forty years for most of the working population on both sides of the Atlantic. There is a need for a fundamental demographic adjustment. Germany, for instance, has used imported labour since its reestablishment in 1949. First it was a substitution for labour shortages immediately after its defeat by the Soviet Union.  The so-called Economic Miracle — the reconstruction period — in large part funded by orders from the US war machine in Korea — quickly absorbed its available German labour force. Hence it started to suck workers from impoverished Italy and Greece. If the German government is to be believed, then the domestic labour force is too old or too small to meet current demands, hence while domestic workers are under house arrest, the flow of persons displaced by NATO wars; e.g., in Syria, continues uninterrupted. Thus the new generation of industrial and technical labourers at the bottom of the German social hierarchy will not be Turkish but Arabic speaking. There is no reason that they will be able to return to their homes any time soon since NATO is not finished destroying them.

    At the same time the crushing of the domestic small and medium-sized sector will — as it always has — have a positive effect by forcing wages down even more. If the virus is really as effective as some claim at killing people aged 60 and above, then the state pension funds will be able to declare surpluses soon, net revenues from immigrants and a sudden decline in beneficiaries. This sounds cynical but the insurance model for social security installed under Bismarck anticipated much shorter lifespans and fewer eligible retirees than today. The government’s plan to raise the retirement age to 70 cannot solve the problem because there are no jobs for these 65+ citizens. Hence they have to live from savings or the dole. Better just let them die.

    If there is an economic meltdown in the West, then these assets have to remain denominated in USD/EUR in order to prop up these currencies and preserve the fortunes of dollar/euro/or sterling billionaires.

    Now add to this the lockdown and recall the case of CUBA.

    The lockdown makes good economic sense from the commanding heights of the Western economy! By more or less crushing the SME sector with its increasing exposure to China; e.g., import of components and finished goods for resale, a substantial foreign exchange gap is closed. China is deprived of these payments. Thus foreign trade with China becomes ever more concentrated in the few cartels that share control over the monetary policies of the FED, Bank of England and ECB.

    For normal mortals this is insane.  Why would the West want to crush the lower third of its economy? For years people have been whining about the 1% but otherwise not doing very much about it. In fact, the 1% can live very well without most of the normal economy as long as they have currency stability for their stores of wealth in the world.

    Not only travellers, like for Cuba, but much of the real economy, constitute a genuine risk to the monetary system the great Western private banks created in the BoE, in 1913 with the FED, and later with the ECB. The ECB and the euro can be sacrificed as long as the USD and GBP remain world standards.

    1. e) One of the virtues of the system which could emerge as a short-term or medium-term result of the lockdown and its associated policies and practices is the creation of a new class of criminal activity — the real economy. Since it is unlikely that the West can suborn China and together with Russia impossible, the West has an obvious potential as far as I can see that has hardly been mentioned. Perhaps it is worth recalling from mainstream history the narrative of feudalism: the peasants were tied to the land. The aristocracy and royalty fought over land plus the chattel (the people occupying and working the land). Movement from the land was forbidden without permission by the feudal lord (a prohibition also enforced by the Churc; e.g., through the Inquisition). Pursuing a craft or trade was almost only possible in cities, which may or may not have been “free”. The details can be found in most standard history books about this period.

    Casino royale and camino real

    However, we have almost no peasantry left — something that can be detected in the abysmal quality of food found in countries like Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Great Britain. Instead there are only “free labourers” some of whom imagine they own their homes. Immediately after the collapse of the GDR any traveller could see an explosion in the number of hairdressers and small restaurants or similar personal service enterprises. Much of this business was the desperate attempt to recover earning capacity after West German government and business closed GDR factories and other employing institutions causing an explosion in unemployment that is still vastly understated and concealed by half-hearted social policies. These businesses are vulnerable to taxation and other cost-intensive regulations that are characteristic of modern bureaucratic states like Germany. It is also no wonder that they offer little more than a marginal income that often has to be compensated by some other job or social benefit.

    At present that is all very exhausting and frustrating for the vast majority of people in this low-income sector. Yet it is still legal. The first step toward terrorizing the bulk of the soon to be even more under- or unemployed is to restrict or effectively prohibit the personal service sector — for health reasons. Now it is almost impossible to get a haircut or a manicure anywhere because these businesses have been forced to close as part of the policy of “social distancing”. Reality, however, knows no such prohibitions. Those people who have no other means of earning a living except personal services and those who need those services will find a way to meet and transact business.

    This is where the spirit of Mr Gates is especially pernicious — but not simply because of some billions more that he may steal. What Mr Gates, as the poster boy, and the whole public health paramilitary/civil affairs regime that is nascent as I write offer us — or may well force upon us — is spiritually and socially akin to the Prohibition regime created by the Volstead Act in the US. Prohibition was introduced ostensibly to control alcohol abuse. However, it failed to get substantial legislative support until people like Henry Ford — then along with Rockefeller one of the world’s richest men — insisted that Prohibition would give them the power to destroy the meeting places of immigrants, especially those from Eastern and Southern Europe where beer and wine were integral to social life. Forbidding alcohol to people who for centuries considered wine and beer part of their diets was a serious attack on their private and family lives. However, since this was a “health” issue the Volstead Act did not violate any constitutional rights. Any place could be closed for serving alcohol of any kind. The meeting venues for almost all immigrants could be shut by armed police wholly within the law.

    Although this was a draconian law, it was not really enforceable. In fact, the famous Kennedy political dynasty was only one family whose wealth came from breaking the law. At no time during the period of Prohibition in the US was the ruling class deprived of intoxicating drink. Moreover the covert sale of alcohol, the bribery of police and other officials, the payment of protection money to gangsters, created an entire corporate structure, which survives today although its product range is based mainly on opiates. The illegal and legal drug businesses constitute one of the main pillars of USD supremacy, along with oil and weapons, but that is just a detail here.

    The important point here is that the culture of prohibition has clearly mutated into the field of “communicable disease”; i.e., highly infectious viruses. Whether or not Mr Gates and his friends will succeed in their ID2020 scheme — vaccine or subcutaneous identity chips — is certainly a very serious question. But even if this particular model does not get forced under our skin, the struggle in the lower half or third of the population to survive through personal services and hospitality will become a target for the same kind of parasitical class that developed and enriched itself under the Prohibition regime, and in the environment of permanent war (which was what 1984 most nauseatingly described) scarcity and corruption are designer processes — intended to punish and discipline the majority of the population while extracting every bit of surplus from their already meagre incomes. This artificially created illegality will empower a class of people who profit from serving it and have no interest whatsoever in return to normal human relations. The already immanent price increases and due to increased unemployment parallel decline in wages — with the risk that one can be excluded from work or income for “health” reasons — will further enrich those at the top while undermining solidarity downward as people become caught in the net of this policing regime.

    Therefore, it is absolutely essential to resist any further imposition of this state of siege. In this matter, I cannot help paraphrasing some otherwise noxious colonial from the 18th century: we must all be sick together, or each of us will be sick separately — in isolation.

    There are some people who read George Orwell’s books as prescriptions; after all he spent his last years working for an office in the British “Ministry of Truth”. Then there are those who completely misread his books as attacks on the Soviet Union and communism. However, those who read his books carefully will see that he understood the spirit and actions of his employers very well. Orwell’s fiction is ambivalent, like his entire career and his nonfiction works as well. Perhaps the best way to understand them is as the diaries of a colonial police officer, who knew his duty and no matter how disagreeable did it. That duty was to hold down the hands and feet of the ruled while the rulers emptied their pockets. Orwell knew he was working for gangsters, but he needed the job. That was the price he paid.

    AND yes, if Madeleine Albright was ready to see half a million Iraqi children dead for the policies she was appointed to represent, you can bet that some 60 million, dead or enslaved, is also a price the 1%  find worth paying to keep their privilege on this planet intact.

    *QE = quantitative easing: a term of financial jargon used by the US Federal Reserve System to denote privileged financial support to the top tier “banks” to prevent them from suffering (or collapsing) under the weight of their own elaborate extractive operations; e.g., debt siphons and gambling rackets. The mechanism involves the quasi-governmental (but actually privately owned and managed) Federal Reserve System purchasing the “bad” or uncollectible debts or gambling chits of these top tier “banks” by issuing Treasury obligations (e.g. so-called T-notes), basically certified claims that these “banks” may then assert against the US government to siphon tax receipts and other public income into their coffers. These claims are negotiable too, meaning they are traded on financial markets and can be used like money to buy non-financial assets.

    Was the Fed Just Nationalized?

    Did Congress just nationalize the Fed? No. But the door to that result has been cracked open.

    Mainstream politicians have long insisted that Medicare for all, a universal basic income, student debt relief and a slew of other much-needed public programs are off the table because the federal government cannot afford them. But that was before Wall Street and the stock market were driven onto life-support by a virus. Congress has now suddenly discovered the magic money tree. It took only a few days for Congress to unanimously pass the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which will be doling out $2.2 trillion in crisis relief, most of it going to Corporate America with few strings attached. Beyond that, the Federal Reserve is making over $4 trillion available to banks, hedge funds and other financial entities of all stripes; it has dropped the fed funds rate (the rate at which banks borrow from each other) effectively to zero; and it has made $1.5 trillion available to the repo market.

    It is also the Federal Reserve that will be picking up the tab for this bonanza, at least to start. The US central bank has opened the sluice gates to unlimited quantitative easing, buying Treasury securities and mortgage-backed securities “in the amounts needed to support smooth market functions.” Last month, the Fed bought $650 billion worth of federal securities. At that rate, notes Wall Street on Parade, it will own the entire Treasury market in about 22 months. As Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari acknowledged on 60 Minutes, “There is an infinite amount of cash at the Federal Reserve.”

    In theory, quantitative easing is just a temporary measure, reversible by selling bonds back into the market when the economy gets back on its feet. But in practice, we have seen that QE is a one-way street. When central banks have tried to reverse it with “quantitative tightening,” economies have shrunk and stock markets have plunged. So the Fed is likely to just keep rolling over the bonds, which is what normally happens anyway with the federal debt. The debt is never actually paid off but is just rolled over from year to year. Only the interest must be paid, to the tune of $575 billion in 2019. The benefit of having the Fed rather than private bondholders hold the bonds is that the Fed rebates its profits to the Treasury after deducting its costs, making the loans virtually interest-free. Interest-free loans rolled over indefinitely are in effect free money. The Fed is “monetizing” the debt.

    What will individuals, families, communities and state and local governments be getting out of this massive bailout? Not much. Qualifying individuals will get a very modest one-time payment of $1,200, and unemployment benefits have been extended for the next four months. For local governments, $150 billion has been allocated for crisis relief, and one of the Fed’s newly expanded Special Purpose Vehicles will buy municipal bonds. But there is no provision for reducing the interest rate on the bonds, which typically runs at 3 or 4 percent plus hefty bond dealer fees and foregone taxes on tax-free issues. Unlike the federal government, municipal governments will not be getting a rebate on the interest on their bonds.

    The taxpayers have obviously been shortchanged in this deal. David Dayen calls it “a robbery in progress.” But there have been some promising developments that could be harnessed for the benefit of the people. The Fed has evidently abandoned its vaunted “independence” and is now working in partnership with the Treasury. In some sense, it has been nationalized. A true partnership, however, would make the printing press available for more than just buying toxic corporate assets. A central bank that was run as a public utility could fund programs designed to kick-start the economy, stimulate productivity and generally serve the public.

    Harnessing the Central Bank

    The reason the Fed is now working with the Treasury is that it needs the Treasury to help it bail out a financial industry burdened with an avalanche of dodgy assets that are fast losing value. The problem for the Fed is that it is only allowed to purchase or lend against securities with government guarantees, including Treasury securities, agency mortgage-backed securities, debt issued by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and (arguably) municipal securities. To get around that wrinkle, as Wolf Richter explains:

    [T]he Treasury will create (or resuscitate) a series of special-purpose vehicles (SPVs) to buy all manner of financial assets, backed by $425 billion in collateral conveniently supplied by the US taxpayer via the Exchange Stabilization Fund. The Fed will lend to SPVs against this collateral which, when leveraged, could fund $4-5 trillion in asset purchases.

    That includes municipal bonds, non-agency mortgages, corporate bonds, commercial paper, and every variety of asset-backed security. The only things the government can’t (transparently, yet) buy are publicly-traded stocks and high-yield bonds.

    Unlike in QE, in which the Fed moves assets onto its own balance sheet, the Treasury will now be buying assets and backstopping loans through SPVs that the Treasury will own and control. SPVs are a form of shadow bank, which like all banks create money by “monetizing” debt or turning it into something that can be spent in the marketplace. The SPV decides what assets to buy and borrows from the central bank to do it. The central bank then passively creates the funds, which are used to purchase the assets backing the loan. As Jim Bianco wrote on Bloomberg:

    In other words, the federal government is nationalizing large swaths of the financial markets. The Fed is providing the money to do it. BlackRock will be doing the trades. This scheme essentially merges the Fed and Treasury into one organization. …

    In effect, the Fed is giving the Treasury access to its printing press. This means that, in the extreme, the administration would be free to use its control, not the Fed’s control, of these SPVs to instruct the Fed to print more money so it could buy securities and hand out loans in an effort to ramp financial markets higher going into the election.

    Of the designated SPVs, none currently serves a public purpose beyond buoying the markets; but they could be designed for such purposes. The taxpayers are on the hook for replenishing the $425 billion in the Exchange Stabilization Fund, and they should be entitled to share in the benefits. Congress could designate a Special Purpose Vehicle to fund its infrastructure projects, and to fund those much-needed public services including Medicare for all, a universal basic income, student debt relief, and similar programs. It could also purchase a controlling interest in insolvent or profligate banks, pharmaceutical companies, oil companies and other offenders and regulate them in a way that serves the public interest.

    Another possibility would be for Congress to fund these programs in the usual way by issuing government bonds, but to enter into a partnership agreement first by which the central bank would buy the bonds, roll them over indefinitely, and rebate the interest to the Treasury. That is how Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has funded his stimulus programs, with none of the predicted inflationary effects on consumer prices. In fact, the Japanese consumer price index is hovering at a very low 0.4%, well below even the central bank’s 2 percent target, although the Bank of Japan has monetized nearly half of the government’s debt. Half of the US debt would be over $11 trillion. Assuming $6 trillion for the current corporate bailouts, that means another $5 trillion could safely be monetized for programs benefiting individuals, families and local governments. (How to do this without driving up consumer prices will be the subject of another article.)

    Relief for State and Local Governments

    State and local governments, which are on the front lines for delivering emergency services, have for the most part been left out of the bailout bonanza. While we are waiting for action from Congress, the Fed could make cheap loans available to local governments using its existing powers under Federal Reserve Act Sec. 14(2)(b), which authorizes the Fed to purchase the bills, bonds, and notes of state and local governments having maturities of six months or less. Since local governments must balance their budgets, these loans would have to be repaid, but the loans could be extended by rolling them over for a reasonable period, as is done with repo loans and the federal debt; and the loans could be made at the same near-zero interest rate banks can borrow at now. State and local governments are at least as creditworthy as banks – they have a taxpayer base and massive assets. In fact, the private banking industry would have been insolvent long ago if it were not for the deep pocket of the central bank and the bailouts of the federal government, including the FDIC insurance scheme that rescued the banks from bankruptcy in the Great Depression.

    There is a way state and local governments can take advantage of the near-zero interest rates available to banks even without federal action. They can set up their own publicly-owned banks. Besides giving them the ability to borrow much more cheaply, having their own banks would allow them to leverage their loan funds. A $100 million revolving fund issuing loans at 3% would gross the state $3 million per year. If that same $100 million were used to capitalize a bank, it could issue ten times that sum in loans, grossing $30 million per year. Costs would need to be deducted from those earnings, including the cost of funds; but the cost of funds is quite low for banks today. They can borrow to meet their liquidity needs from their own deposit pool, or at 0.25% in the fed funds market, or at about the same rate in the repo market, which is now backstopped by the central bank.

    The blatant disparities in the congressional response to the current crisis have shone a bright light on how our financial system is rigged against the people in favor of a wealthy elite. Crisis is when change happens; this is the time for advocates to unite in demanding change on behalf of the people. As Greek economist Yanis Varoufakis admonished in a recent post:

    [T]his new phase of the crisis is, at the very least, making it clear to us that anything goes – that everything is now possible.… Whether the epidemic helps deliver the good or the most evil society will depend … on whether progressives manage to band together. For if we do not, just like in 2008 we did not, the bankers, the spivs [petty criminals], the oligarchs and the neofascists will prove, again, that they are the ones who know how not to let a good crisis go to waste.

    From Rags to Riches, from Plague to Profits

    One of the lessons I recall from school was about the theory of spontaneous generation with regard to disease. Of course, there is the well-known phenomena of spontaneous combustion, when something starts to burn without any apparent external ignition. Spontaneous generation we were taught was the idea that something considered dirty or impure, like rags, could give inception to diseases. This was superseded by the germ theory, where microorganisms — that might actually be harboured by such rags — actually were the cause of the illnesses blamed on the rags.

    In economics a similar theory still prevails.  It could be called spontaneous wealth. It was popularised in the US by stories like those of Horatio Alger, Jr.  It has also been called the “rags to riches” myth whereby under rather ambiguous conditions rags could also give inception to wealth. Although this has been superseded by other theories, whereby microeconomics — that might actually cause the production of such rags — actually caused the wealth originally attributed to the bearer/ wearer of said rags.

    During the period of European peninsular history known as the Middle Ages, there was an outbreak of disease also called the Black Death, identified as bubonic plague. The result of the epidemic that swept through the peninsula was not only a reduction in the population but an increase in the cost of labour. Since the rich do not work, the scarcity of those who do meant that labour costs increased drastically, whether measured in wages or weaponry to acquire forced labour.

    Fast forward to 2020. China appears close to controlling, if not eliminating, the residue of baggage left behind by abusive visitors. These might have been borne in rags, but certainly not in dead bats. As has been argued elsewhere, the response of the PRC leadership, the Chinese Communist Party, was commensurate with the intended threat and reflects government policies since Mao and Deng that are diametrically opposite to those of the US, EU and its vassals.

    While the mass media in the West — both state-held and privately owned — has continuously attacked China for its reactions to anything the West does to it, the fact remains that such attacks serve to reinforce the prejudices and ignorance promoted by the China Lobby after it was evicted from the mainland seventy years ago. Not only does the 80% US-controlled mass media feed upon two centuries of cultivated racism, it also distorts history beyond recognition—with ease given the general ignorance of accurate history fostered in Western schools and universities, where Forrest Gump has become the standard.

    The central economic doctrines foisted on the post-WWII world by the Anglo-American establishment could be summarised as “socialism for corporations” and “private enterprise for everyone else”. It would exceed the scope of this comment to explain all the silliness that has become economics orthodoxy in the West. However, it is important to recognise that the argument I make here is not from a “Marxist” perspective. Rather it is a sober restatement of the policies adopted, in fact, by the oligarchy that runs the West and the world financial system too. The so-called Great War, great for firms like DuPont, J P Morgan, et al., was followed by the Great Depression primarily to force states to return to the system by which profits of 40-100%, as were made during that war, would again be possible.1

    The Great Depression only ended once these folks has a major war against the Soviet Union and to conquer Asia under way. George Kennan wrote sincerely or cynically at the end of World War II that only military force exercised worldwide would guarantee the profits and US access to 60% of the world’s resources after 1945.2 This meant war in the Congo, war against Korea, war against Vietnam and the overthrow of independent governments from Indonesia to Iraq, not to mention an iron fist in Latin America. It is a testimony to that very 80% of the US-controlled world media that this was all called a “Cold War” and blamed first on the Soviet Union and then on China. This slander persists today when Europeans and North Americans blame Russia and China for all the violence and destruction perpetrated by NATO since 1989.

    Permit me to return to our “economics”. Elsewhere I have explained the persistent tubercular myth called the American Dream, the result of trillions spent since 1916 to create a popular vision of America only rivalled by the Catholic Church’s vision of the Resurrection3. (At least the Resurrection does not depend on Hollywood or whatever sock puppet occupies the W**** House.)

    There is a lot of needless debate about the motives and intentions of possible actors in the lead-up to what has obviously been well described by the “experts” at Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security October last. As I wrote in February the “cause” of the present global calamity is deniable. There will never be an admission nor unimpeachable “broken vial” or saliva-saturated handkerchief to prove the author(s) of the contagion known as novel corona virus or COVID-2019. The “cause” cannot be the point of departure.

    It is necessary to recognise first of all that this is not a medical problem! Moreover we must recognise that the institutions that have positioned themselves since October as authorities are not medical experts nor is their central mission — despite nomenclature — human health and well-being. The US CDC and the WHO bureaucracies are extensions of the Western corporate and state intelligence apparatus. One must understand that “health security” in practice and in the language used is just a mutation of “national security”. It is a part of what US doctrine calls “full spectrum dominance”.4

    Why do I say that? I have no privileged information. However, if one reads the official biographies of the key persons in the WHO, for instance, detailed with handling the novel corona event, one will find that they are all directly concerned with vaccination/ inoculation. This is their career path. This is hierarchical militarised science at its worst.

    Vaccination/ inoculation is an industrial-chemical value chain; in other words, it is the biological warfare equivalent to the career path for those who serve in the armed forces and develop other weapons systems. Vaccination/ inoculation has nothing to do with public health, per se. Rather public health is the battlefield/ battlespace in which population control operations are conducted — since 2020 globally.

    For over 30 years in Europe, and as permanent policy in the US, what the US regime calls “socialised medicine” has been vigorously attacked. The most aggravated form now pursued is so-called “individualised medicine”: an approach which aims to use genetic engineering to restrict any kind of medical treatment by creating disease-treatment combinations which can only be used exclusively for one individual. It does not take much fantasy, just a little legal knowledge, to understand that the individual caught in the grips of such a medical model will be entirely dependent upon the intellectual property held by the disease-treatment delivery firm. This would end the threat of every pharmaceutical company’s horror — expiry of the patent and cheap generics.

    As a result of this international corporate onslaught — supported overtly and covertly — public hospitals, state health services, statutory health insurers, GPs and other medical practitioners bound to the state-sponsored/ managed remuneration systems have been deliberately and maliciously destroyed or handicapped beyond the capacity to do more than issue prescriptions and administer injections. Nurses and physicians who chose medicine not for maximum profits but because they felt committed to the profession of healing the sick have been driven into bankruptcy or unemployment. Those from the professional classes who have only sought the best income for the least effort have prospered, albeit only if they became full merchants rather than physicians.

    Hospitals have been privatised both as a means of undermining social services, per se, and on the pretext of solving municipal and state indebtedness foisted upon governments by criminal banking cartels infesting the finance ministries and the central banks. Since cartels are not taxed realistically but as if they were ordinary enterprises, there has been a “purification” of the economy, just like under the Weimar and NS regimes. In addition to an inadequate tax base, the other income sources of the State have been depleted by sales — privatisation of assets that generated rents and user fees. Now all that income accrues to the bondholders in whose hands the State and its citizens are now in thrall.

    This is obviously just a sketch. Whoever has done their homework over the years and read the public sources and listened carefully to what is said and watched what was done, cannot take any statements made by the EU, the governments in the member-states, or in the US seriously. Even if the dragon corona were slain by the St. Georges and Georginas, we would still be stuck with their malicious policies of the past thirty years. If tomorrow every alleged corona patient were healed — like the sudden recovery of everyone in Saramago’s Blindness — we would have the same insipid parasitical and militarised full spectrum dominance of our demolished public healthcare infrastructure!5

    That is definitely very different from the situation in which China finds itself. Over the past 70 years, the Chinese and the Chinese Communist Party have worked against all odds to put 20% of the world’s population in a condition which the US regime has spent all its energy denying, even to its own working people. There are lots of long-noses who will say — oh, but what about human rights, etc… Those folks ought to ask about the human rights of the Blacks, Mexicans, Asians and poor whites who have been systematically deprived of rights like housing, jobs, healthcare, pensions, relief from police brutality, freedom to express their views and defend themselves at the workplace etc. Those folks ought to ask why the US, for example, has the largest prison population in the world? But that too is beyond the scope of this comment.

    Thinking, caring, human beings have to stop their senseless panicking and blind obedience to whatever messages they receive in their solipsistic social media. We have to recognise that this is not a pandemic but a political crisis. The crisis is not medical, it is mental!

    Since the first governments in Europe decided to follow siege methods and to police the population, quite accidentally preventing public demonstrations or any meetings of popular organisations, the very effective propaganda already described has led people to forget very important questions:

    • Who decides in our society what the acceptable relationship between health risks and overall social risks: economic, political, sociability, etc. is? And what measures are appropriate to take this relationship into account?
    • Who defines what the objectives of any health prevention policy are?
    • When has enough been done? Who decides that?
    • What kind of public social, health and economic policy is to be pursued now and after this calamity?

    Under the present conditions the vast majority of the population on the European peninsula and in North America have surrendered their political and social capacity to the national security state, to soldiers dressed in surgical gowns, wearing stethoscopes or masks like pre-schoolers. The “white” EU leaders of the North; e.g., Macron and Merkel, have made it quite clear that their “brown” brothers and sisters will only get aid if they refrain from working with China and Russia and are willing to pledge even more of their income streams to the banks for which Brussels, Berlin, Paris, Vienna, The Hague, and Helsinki most happily work. It should be clear to all that the token financial relief fed now is symbolic and divisive.

    It is symbolic because these grants; e.g., up to EUR 9,000 for small businesses in Germany, feign an active response while the purification of small and medium sized enterprises continues.6 Selective awards now will divide the victims of the ludicrous large-scale closures into those who got some subsidy and those who will get nothing but unemployment. The psychological tactic will divide those who believe they are worthy from those who deserve to fail. It is also symbolic because every member-state knows that they cannot monetise their aid. They will have to finance it within the Maastricht regulations administered through Brussels on behalf of those who own the West’s central banks.7 That means that any further aid—and massive aid will be necessary Europe-wide—can only be financed by more privatisation and a conversion to what Macron advocates—tax farming via Brussels. Two hundred years ago the owners of the British East India Company destroyed India by the same crimes.8

    In August 1914, what Barbara Tuchmann so prosaically called the “guns of August” began to fire.9 What Pauwel later called The Great Class War began — it was to be over by Christmas.10 By 1921, some fifty million were dead, almost as many as Event 201 assumed in its little plan game. A century of organising the labouring classes ended in the West. Not the scarcity of labour was the problem, but the scarcity of life itself among labourers was the result.

    We find ourselves a herd of deer, caught in the blinding headlamps of the great armoured car racing down the road, having shot out all the streetlamps with its top-mounted MG. Not one is able to drive them across the road and away from the crushing steel plate under which their bones and flesh will be melded into the slowly cooling tar of one hot summer’s day.

    1. Gerald Colby-Zilg.  DuPont Dynasty: Behind the Nylon Curtain, 1974.
    2. Cold war ideology, formulated by Bernard Baruch, Walter Lippmann, and Winston Churchill leads most attention to Kennan’s article in Foreign Affairs about the Soviet threat. His more sincere work comprised the papers leading to the draft of NSC 68.
    3. T.P. Wilkinson. Rethinking Anglo-American Empire, Dissident Voice,  October 21st, 2017; To the Halls of Montezuma, from the Shores of Tripoli:  Donald Trump as “Anti-Wilson“, February 6th, 2017.
    4. “The cumulative effect of dominance in the air, land, maritime, and space domains and information environment, which includes cyberspace, that permits the conduct of joint operations without effective opposition or prohibitive interference.“ See also Joint Vision 2020, US Department of Defence, although this doctrine was pronounced much earlier with the so-called Global War on Terror and derived from the Project for the New American Century.
    5. Jose Saramago, Blindness, (1995). To see the entire problem as presciently as Saramago did the sequel Seeing (2006) is a must.
    6. Franz Neumann, Behemoth, Part 2 (1942) details the economic policy of Germany from Weimar through the NS era. “Purification” in the German edition “auskämmen” was the strategy of Germany’s cartels together with the quasi-governmental industry and commerce chambers to prohibit workers from running small craft and trade shops. These small businesses helped many who were hit by the depression to survive wage and hour cuts and maintain union organisation in heavy industry. When they were prohibited by withdrawal of their business licenses on “efficiency” grounds, then they joined the unemployed — allowing industrial cartels to more aggressively lower wages and increase hours. This policy has been pursued by the German tax administration for years now by means of discriminatory auditing and refusal to defer tax assessments—while granting large corporations tax holidays.
    7. For those that do not recall, the Maastricht regime prohibits member-states from public borrowing in excess of limits set by the European Commission (in fact, the banks that control it). Within the euro, the European Central Bank decides how much money—in euros—may be circulated at under what conditions. All governments are prohibited from issuing their own debt to cover their public expenditure—they must cover public expenditure by floating debt on the private capital markets (also controlled by said banks). Any similarity between the heads or senior officials of major European central banks or finance ministers and alumni of either Goldman Sachs or Rothschild Group is merely coincidental.
    8. Nick Robbins. The Corporation that Changed the World: How the East India Company Shaped the Modern Multinational, 2006.
    9. Barbara Tuchmann. The Guns of August, 1962.
    10. T.P. Wilkinson. “Romanticism and War”: Contextualising a Theory of Interpretation, Dissident Voice, September 15, 2016.

    Trillions in Disaster Relief for Corporations and Banks, Spare Change for the People, Hospitals, Small Businesses, State and Local Governments

    Our doctors and nurses are being thoroughly mobilized and worked to limit… Many cases receive no attention at all.

    — Acting Governor Calvin Coolidge, Massachusetts, 9/25/1918

    Some things never change. When it come to the unhappy conjunction between corporate capitalism, greed and pandemic — be it 1918 or 2020 the U.S. response to a health emergency is underwhelming. On March 26, 2020 with over 3.3 million Americans out of work and applying for unemployment, wondering how they are going to pay their rent, the mortgage, their credit cards bills and student loans, the Senate has unanimously passed a bailout bill giving corporations access to trillions of dollars with no strings attached. This is Round 2 of the corporate enrichment program masquerading as pandemic relief for the people.

    Round 1 occurred in 2008 when Obama rescued the banks from a disaster caused by their own greed and incompetence and nearly 10 million innocent Americans lost their homes to foreclosure. Obama’s plan distributed virtually free money with no oversight to the banks. Via stock buybacks, hefty bonuses and huge shareholder dividends, they became “too big to fail.” The jobs they had paid lip service to creating never materialized.

    Twelve years later, with the Republicans in charge, the same fleecing of the American people is underway. The media-hyped relief bill advertised as a $2.2 trillion stimulus for desperate Americans is actually an opportunity for corporations and banks to loot the treasury. Larry Kudlow, Trump’s chief economic adviser, made no bones about it in a press conference on Fox News — “The total package here comes to $6 trillion. $2 trillion direct assistance, roughly $4 trillion in federal reserve lending power.” Economic jargon be damned, that $4 trillion in federal reserve lending power is a multi-trillion-dollar basketful of goodies for tycoons that run the biggest U.S. banks and corporations. And that may not be the end of the raid on the public purse. Several respected economists predict that $4 trillion will eventually morph into $6 or $8 trillion.

    “An abomination beyond comprehension” — that how one former TV host and progressive activist, Dylan Ratigan described it. As it was in (2008) and is now (2020), we are seeing an upward distribution of wealth handed over to corporations and banks while real pandemic relief for suffering Americans, for a disintegrating public health system, short-of-cash cities and states and desperate small businesses is dribbled out of a much smaller pie.

    The enormity of the corporate bail out is breathtaking. Trump and his cronies in the administration and Congress (including most Democrats) are applying a huge band aid to the self-inflicted harm that twelve years of corporate buybacks and investor dividends have wrought. Many corporations are so strapped for cash that even a few weeks of lost economic activity threatens their viability. That’s why the foreclosure king Steve Mnuchin, who if there were any justice for the wealthy in the U.S. would be occupying a jail cell rather than a cushy seat as the Treasury Secretary and his homeboys at the Fed cooked up a scheme to store $4.3 trillion at the Federal Reserve, a made-to-order ATM that large corporations and banks can access with almost no strings attached. To make sure their greed and irresponsibility put them in the hole again, the ever-obliging Fed will soak up any losses using your tax dollars.

    The game is rigged. They can’t lose but you can. After your one-time means-tested relief check comes in, after the paltry enlargement of your unemployment check, what then? You won’t be sitting pretty feasting on $4 trillion of zero interest loans which if history is any guide will quietly be forgiven down the road. What about the twenty-seven million small business which create two-thirds of new jobs in the U.S? Their share of the relief package is a measly $300 billion and they are persona non grata at the Federal Reserve trough where trillions are parked. Their only recourse is to squeeze money out of that dysfunctional agency known as the SBA (Small Business Administration) which will control the disbursement of the $300 billion. Many small businesses unable to keep their businesses afloat will eventually become sitting ducks for large corporations with trillions in bailout money. Here’s Jim Cramer, host of a CNBC show and a long-time cheerleader of corporate welfare, inadvertently (we presume) letting the cat out of the bag:

    If we come out of this sooner, then other, small businesses can open. If we come out of this later, there are going to be three retailers in this country. There’s going to be Amazon. There’s going to be Walmart. And there’s going to be Costco. Can you imagine what it means for this country to just have three retailers?

    Surely progressive leaders in the House and Senate discerned the grotesquely unfair allotment of resources in this ironically-named Cares Act. Not Bernie Sanders who, after a little grandstanding rhetoric— “I am very, very, very concerned about 500-billion-dollars that will go out to the corporate world without…the accountability or transparency that is needed. We do not need at this moment in history a massive amount of corporate welfare to large profitable corporations…” voted yes.

    If Bernie had bothered to read the bill, he would have seen the not $500 billion, but $4 trillion worth of pork larding a mere $2 trillion dollars of real pandemic relief. Maybe he fears losing his senatorial privileges if he does anything more than spout moralistic aphorisms He had plenty of company as clueless as he was. The entire Senate lined up to do the bidding of the lords of the universe. That included those self-described progressive senators who were either too craven, too corrupt or too cowardly to use their leverage (the bill required 60 votes) to block the bill as written and demand changes that would prioritize the needs of hospitals, local and state governments, small businesses and the American people. Instead they followed the Pied Piper-in-chief and his loyal band of Republican co-conspirators into the swampy waters of corporate plunder and voted Yes.

    In the House the fix was solidly in. Choosing the cowards way out, representatives settled for a voice vote to avoid going on the record. Only one representative even bothered to register a (small) protest after which amazingly she voted for the bill.

    Hospital workers do not have protective equipment. We don’t have the necessary ventilators…. What did the Senate majority fight for? One of the largest corporate bailouts, with as few strings as possible, in American history—shameful. The option that we have is to either let [families] suffer with nothing or to allow this greed of billions of dollars, which will be leveraged into trillions of dollars, to contribute to the largest income-inequality gap in our future… (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortes)

    Of course, it wasn’t meant to and didn’t change a single vote of this bunch of corporate tools. Small comfort to know that Trump and Congress didn’t get the whole enchilada. The original bill contained a provision to keep their dirty dealings secret for six months. That provision was later removed.

    What a fall from grace. A country shut down, becoming the epicenter of the world’s confirmed coronavirus cases, Americans dying from gross shortages of life-saving equipment — ventilators, ICU beds, and test kits. Lack of protective equipment Incapacitating or killing healthcare workers by the dozens. This is not the time to equate pandemic relief with a trillion-dollar payday for corporations and banks. Too many Americans are scared and hurting and dying. Remember that when you decide this Fall who will represent you in Congress and try to pick the best from what is guaranteed to be a bad lot.

    “Can I Keep You Safe? Your Future Is Uncertain”: Climate And The Fate Of Humanity

    In the face of the coronavirus pandemic, the most immediate objective is to slow its spread, minimise the death toll and help people through the crisis.  But, despite government promises to support citizens who are now losing their jobs and income, the underlying establishment concern will be as it always has been: to preserve the global inequitable system of wealth and power.

    Private interests, including airlines, fossil fuel industries and sinister-sounding ‘businesses crucial to national security‘, have been busy lobbying governments for taxfunder-paid bailouts. Notoriously, Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic even asked its employees to take eight weeks of unpaid leave, while hundreds of thousands in the UK are struggling to access benefits after becoming unemployed.

    Governments are now channelling money into the economy in amounts that have not been seen since the Second World War. However, there have been calls to ensure that public rescue packages should only be agreed if major changes are made to the economy, including significant public ownership of business. There should also be legal and financial consequences for socially irresponsible or criminal corporate behaviour. Surely this all makes sense and would have massive public approval?

    So far, the omens are not good. Last week, the US approved a $2 trillion ‘financial stimulus package’ largely intended to prop up the corporate economy. Zach Carter, a senior reporter at HuffPost, warned that:

    It is not an economic rescue package, but a sentence of unprecedented economic inequality and corporate control over our politics that will resonate for a generation.

    It represents a transfer of wealth and power to the super rich from the rest of us, with the support of both political parties ― a damning statement about the condition of American democracy.

    In particular, as we will see below, many voices are rightly urging political leaders around the world not to abuse public funds by bailing out corporations that are complicit in climate breakdown. Instead, the priority should be to stimulate the vitally-needed transition to a truly green economy.

    ‘An Unraveling Of Our Planet’s Entire Life Support Systems’

    The previous global economic crisis and financial meltdown of 2007-2009 only led to a temporary dip in carbon emissions. Vested interests moved quickly at that time to ensure that there would be no long-term shift to a low-carbon future.  In the US alone, $700 billion in public money was given as an initial bailout in 2008 to the very banks who were responsible for the crisis. But public funds were funnelled into the financial system for years afterwards, rising to almost $5 trillion by 2015.

    Kyla Tienhaara, an environment and economy researcher at Queen’s University, Ontario, notes of oil, gas and coal corporations after the 2008 crash:

    The fossil fuel lobby ensured that carbon capture and storage projects sucked up a significant amount of green stimulus funds, but not a lot of carbon dioxide.

    With academic understatement, she warns now that:

    Bailouts to the fossil fuel industry and airlines would be monumentally counterproductive.

    Daniel Kammen, a professor of energy at the University of California at Berkeley, uses stronger wording:

    It would be insane to reflate the fossil economy as it was.

    Basav Sen, who directs the Climate Policy Project at the US-based Institute for Policy Studies, is clear:

    We’re facing down not just a pandemic and a global economic meltdown, but an unraveling of our planet’s entire life support systems.

    He adds:

    A healthy future for oil and gas inevitably means a bleak future for most humans and for ecosystems. At precisely the time that scientists say we should be phasing out oil and gas production, a bailout to this destructive industry is a giant step backwards.

    Mary Robinson, the former Irish president who served twice as UN climate envoy, warns:

    ‘Money has poured into the fossil fuel industry since the Paris agreement [of 2015]. That can’t continue.

    The figures involved are almost beyond comprehension. A new study by an alliance of US-based environmental groups reveals that the world’s largest investment banks have pumped more than £2.2 trillion into climate-wrecking fossil fuels. US bank JP Morgan has been the biggest offender, responsible for over £220 billion in oil, gas and coal projects.

    It was economists at JP Morgan who issued a stark warning last month that the climate crisis threatens the very survival of humanity. Inevitably, there was no sign from the investment bank that it would respond with the only obvious sane move: the immediate cessation of all its fossil fuel funding. Instead, the bank was at pains to point out that the alarming study came from a team that was ‘wholly independent from the company as a whole’.

    Does anything more clearly sum up the madness of a global economy fuelled by climate-wrecking industry and Big Money? Not even the imminent threat of human extinction is enough to divert the current profit-driven course towards the abyss.

    Civilisation’s demise would be the ultimate crash resulting from a deeply unjust corporate-driven global system of finance and economics.  Even now, at this terminally late stage of human existence, BBC News can only tangentially hint at the grim reality, with bland headlines such as:

    Climate change: The rich are to blame, international study finds.

    Roger Harrabin, the grandly-titled BBC ‘environment analyst’, wrote that:

    The rich are primarily to blame for the global climate crisis, a study by the University of Leeds of 86 countries claims.

    Note the BBC newspeak: ‘claims’; not ‘reports’ or ‘concludes’. The BBC article continued in typically anodyne fashion:

    The wealthiest tenth of people consume about 20 times more energy overall than the bottom ten, wherever they live.’The researchers warn that:

    unless there’s a significant policy change, household energy consumption could double from 2011 levels by 2050.

    2050? Three decades away? We simply do not have that much time. The United Nations insisted two years ago that humanity has only until 2030 to make the radical and drastic carbon cuts necessary to prevent merely the worst impacts of global warming.

    For obvious reasons, there is no sustained critical reporting in ‘mainstream’ media about the destructive nature of the global system of profit maximisation and endless ‘economic growth’. As we have long observed, you simply cannot expect the corporate media to report the truth about the corporate world.

    Battered By Propaganda

    A core problem for society is that we have been battered by a system of propaganda that tells us repeatedly – or simply takes as a given – that capitalism, despite a few ‘failures’ or ‘flaws’, has been primarily responsible for huge progress in the human condition since the Industrial Revolution. However, as economic anthropologist Jason Hickel correctly observes, we should reject this ‘fairytale’ promulgated by big business, political leaders and state-corporate media.

    In reality, it has been people at the bottom of the pile – working for centuries to extend the voting franchise, setting up trade unions, improving healthcare and education – who have been primarily responsible for advancements in living standards. These grassroots factors, says Hickel, ‘are the forces that matter’.

    Even Noam Chomsky, the world’s most renowned dissident, only ever appears rarely in the ‘mainstream’ to critique the ruling inequitable economic system and the charade that passes for ‘democracy’. Ideologically correct-thinking editors and journalists in the major news media, selected by a system that rewards obedience to power, are unlikely to offend their employers by promoting ‘extreme’ views like Chomsky’s:

    What our leaders are good at, and have been very good at for the last 40 years, is pouring money into the pockets of the rich and the corporate executives while everything else crashes.

    Meanwhile, climate scientists continue to wave their arms frantically about climate breakdown, trying in vain to make governments and business divert from their disastrous course towards human extinction. A new study of human-caused emissions of methane from the extraction and use of fossil fuels may have been ‘severely underestimated’. Emissions are likely 25-40 per cent even higher than previously thought.

    Inevitably, climate records continue to tumble. Researchers are now warning that the polar ice caps are melting six times faster than in the 1990s:

    The ice loss from Greenland and Antarctica is tracking the worst-case climate warming scenario set out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

    Is it any wonder, after decades of ignored ‘wake-up calls’, that climate scientists are venting their feelings of powerlessness and despair? Joe Duggan, a science communicator at Australian National University, has been running a six-year project collating such responses from climate researchers.

    One scientist, Professor Katrin Meissner of the University of New South Wales, Sydney, told Duggan that:

    I feel powerless and, to a certain extent, guilty. I feel like I have failed my duty as a citizen and as a mother because I was not able to communicate the urgency of the situation well enough to trigger meaningful action in time.

    What we are doing right now is an uncontrolled, risky experiment with the planet we live on.

    Dr Jennie Mallela, of Australian National University, commented:

    So how do I feel? Frustrated, angry that our science is ignored by politicians, scared for my husband [a bushfire fighter] and all the others who are on the frontline fighting these fires and trying to help.

    But mostly I feel devastated for my son, and his generation, who will have to heal this planet and live with the mass environmental destruction we have caused.

    Environmental scientist Alexandra Jellicoe recently published a beautiful and heartfelt open letter to her young children:

    Can I keep you safe? Your future is uncertain. Can I prepare you for that? […] I am brokenhearted. What is a mother if she cannot keep her child safe?

    She continued:

    I imagine sometimes what I would like to do to keep you safe in this terrifying world we have created. I imagine an army of compassionate people fully informed of the risks who live freely enough to disrupt the fossil fuel economy. We would hijack the media and create urgent public awareness campaigns…

    The hardest work, I imagine, would be to create a world that is kinder, less competitive and more equal. Philanthropy and aid are not solutions for the world’s poorest but the symptoms of a broken global economy. My army and I would rage at the injustice of it all, driven forward in the knowledge that these things must be addressed to keep you safe.

    In short:

    We are at a cross-roads now. You have two futures and I am powerless to influence which finds you.

    As individuals, it may sometimes feel that we are powerless. But the brighter, safer, saner future can still be attained, if we remember that together we have more power than the destructive forces driving us towards extinction.

    The Decade Of Transformation Is Here: Remaking The Economy For The People

    The pandemic, economic collapse and the government’s response to them are going to not only determine the 2020 election but define the future for this decade and beyond. People are seeing the failure of the US healthcare nonsystem and the economy. The government was able to provide trillions for big business and Wall Street without asking the usual, “Where will we get the money?” However, the rescue bill recently passed by Congress provides a fraction of what most people need to get through this period. Once again, a pandemic will reshape the course of history.

    Last week, we wrote about the failings of the healthcare system and the need for a universal, publicly-funded system. This week, we focus on the need to change the US economic system. The economic crisis in the United States is breaking all records. The class war that has existed for decades is being magnified and sharpened. The failings of financialized, neoliberal capitalism is being brought into focus at a time when people in the United States have greater support for socializing the economy than in recent times.

    This Thursday, there was a record 3.3 million applications for unemployment, an increase of three million from the previous week, but on the same day, there was a record rise in the stock market. This contradiction shows the divide between the economic insecurity of the people and investors profiting from the crisis. The 11.4 percent increase in the stock market on Thursday was the largest increase since 1933 while the record rise in unemployment was 40 percent higher than ever recorded. Projections are for 30 percent unemployment this quarter, which is five percent higher than the worst of the Great Depression.

    The response to the economic crisis reveals who the government represents. While people’s economic insecurity grew, the government acted to primarily benefit the wealthiest. This realization should spur an uprising like the United States has never seen before. Perhaps the most dangerous to the ruling class is their incompetence has been exposed. As Glen Ford writes, “The capitalist ‘crisis of legitimacy’ may have passed the point of no return, as the Corporate State proves daily that it cannot perform the basic function of protecting the lives of its citizens.”

    Disaster Aid: Crumbs For The People, Trillions For The Wealthiest

    Congress unanimously passed a $1.6 trillion coronavirus disaster aid bill this week. This is almost equal to the 2009 Recovery Act and the 2008 Wall Street rescue combined. Democrat’s votes were essential to passing the bill so they could have demanded whatever they wanted. This bill shows the bi-partisan priority for big business.

    The bill is too little too late for people who have lost their jobs and for small businesses that have been forced to close. The law includes a one-time $1,200 payment to most people. This payment will arrive after rent and other debt payments are due for a US population with record debt. Congress does not understand the economic realities of people in the United States. Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz explained what was needed saying, “The answer is we need no evictions, no foreclosures on all properties, and the government should guarantee pay.” In addition, credit card companies should also put “a stay on interest on all debt.”

    When COVID-19 first began, we pointed out that the US healthcare system was not prepared to respond and showed the problems of putting profits before health. The COVID-19 rescue bill did not pay for coronavirus testing or treatment. Millions of people who lose their jobs will lose their health insurance, demonstrating why healthcare should not be tied to employment. Adding to health problems, the law did not increase the SNAP food program for the poor.

    Roughly one-third of the funding goes to direct payments to people, unemployment insurance for four months, hospitals, veterans’ care, and public transit. Two-thirds go to government and corporations. Adam Levitin describes the law as “robbing taxpayers to bail out the rich.”

    Congress allotted at least $454 billion to support big business in addition to $46 billion for specific industries, especially airlines. Some of these funds will also bail out the fossil fuel industry. According to the way the Federal Reserve operates, they will be allowed to spend ten times the amount Congress allocated to support big business, $4.5 trillion. Jack Rasmus writes that the Federal Reserve had already “allocated no less than $6.2 Trillion so far to bail out the banks and investors.” He summarizes the disparity: “Meanwhile Congress provides one-fourth that, and only one-third of that one fourth, for the Main St., workers, and middle-class families.”

    Trump shows the disdain government has for the people and its favoritism for big business and investors as he objected to paying for 80,000 life-saving ventilators because they cost $1 billion while the government provides trillions to big business and investors. Governors and hospitals are issuing dire warnings of what is to come, but the federal government is not listening.

    Economic Collapse Shows The Need For Transformational Change

    The economic collapse is still unfolding. The US is already in a deep recession that is likely to be worse than the 2008 financial crisis and could develop into a greater depression if the COVID-19 economic shutdown lasts a long time.

    Already, the crises, the government’s support for Wall Street and its failure to protect the 99% are creating louder demands for system change. We need to put forward a bold agenda and agitate around it to demand economic security for all. As Margaret Kimberly writes, we are entering a period of revolutionary change because we know returning to normal is “the opposite of what we need.” Or as Vijay Prashad says, “Normal was the problem.”

    While the urgent health and economic crises dominate, the climate crisis also continues. The climate crisis already required replacing the fossil fuel era with a clean and sustainable energy economy and remaking multiple sectors of the economy such as construction, transportation, agriculture, and infrastructure. Now, out of these crises, a new sustainable economic democracy can be born where people control finance, inequality is minimized and workers are empowered, along with creating public programs that meet the necessities of the people and protect the planet.

    The US Constitution gives the government the power to create money; Article I, Section 8 says: “The Congress shall have power … to coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin.” Congress needs to take back that power so the government can create debt-free money. Currently, the Federal Reserve, which was created by Congress in 1913, is the privately-owned US central bank that produces money and sets interest rates. It puts the interests of the big banks first. The Fed can be altered, nationalized or even dismantled by Congress. Its functions could be put into the Department of the Treasury.

    Monetary actions need to be transparent and designed to serve the necessities of the people and the planet. Money should be spent by the government into the economy to meet those needs while preventing inflation and deflation. In this way, the government would have the funds needed to transform to a green energy economy, rebuild infrastructure, provide education from pre-school through college without tuition, create the healthcare infrastructure we need for universal healthcare and more.  In addition, through a network of state and local public banks, people would be able to get cost-only mortgages and loans to meet their needs.

    Moving money creation into the federal government would place it within the constitutional system of checks and balances where the people have a voice to ensure it works for the whole society, not only for the bankers and the privileged. This could end the parasitic private banking system and replace it with a democratic public system designed for the people’s needs as Mexico is doing.

    Globalization must be reconsidered. Corporate globalization with trade agreements that favor corporate power is a root cause of this global pandemic. We need trade that puts people and the planet first and encourages local production of goods. This includes remaking agriculture to support smaller farms and urban farming using organic and regenerative techniques that increase the nutritional value of foods and sequester carbon.

    What we need instead is popular globalization – developing solidarity and reciprocity between people around the world. We can learn from each other, collaborate and provide mutual aid in times of crisis as Cuba and other countries are doing now.

    As businesses are bailed out by the government, they could be required to protect and empower workers. Workers’ rights have been shrinking since the 1950s as unions have become smaller and more allied with business interests. The right to collective bargaining needs to be included as a requirement for receiving government funds. For large public corporations, workers should be given a board seat, indeed the government should be given a board seat and an equity share in any corporation that is bailed out. For smaller businesses, as they reopen, it is an opportunity to restructure so worker ownership and workers sharing in the profits become the norm.

    The US needs to build the economy from the bottom up. The era of trickle-down economics that has existed since the early 80s has failed most people in the United States. The government needs to create a full-employment economy with the government as the employer of last resort. The American Society of Civil Engineers gives US infrastructure a grade of D+ requiring a $2 trillion dollar investment that would create millions of jobs. The Green New Deal would create 30 million jobs over ten years according to the detailed plan put forward by the Green Party’s Howie Hawkins.

    The coronavirus disaster aid includes a payment to every person in the US earning under $70,000. While the one-time $1,200 check is grossly insufficient, it demonstrates the possibility of a universal basic income. This would lift people out of poverty and protect them from the coming age of robots and artificial intelligence that will impact millions of existing jobs. The evidence is growing that a basic income works. A World Bank analysis of 19 studies found that cash transfers have been demonstrated to improve education and health outcomes and alleviate poverty

    The United States economy is in a debt crisis that demands quantitative easing for the people. Personal, corporate and government debt is at a record high. While the economic collapse is being blamed on the coronavirus, the reality is that the pandemic was a trigger that led to a recession that was already coming. The US needs to correct those fundamentals — massive debt, a wealth divide, inadequate income, poverty — as part of restarting the economy. Just as the Fed has bought debts to relieve businesses of debt burden, it can do the same for the personal debts of people. We should start by ending the crisis of student debt, which is preventing two generations from participating in the economy. While we make post-high school vocational and college education tuition-free, we should not leave behind the generations suffering from high-priced education.

    Rise-Up and Demand Change

    To create change, people must demand it. Even before the coronavirus collapse, people were demanding an end to inequality, worker rights, climate justice, and improved Medicare for all, among other issues. In the last two years, the United States has seen record numbers of striking workers. The climate movement is blocking pipelines and infrastructure and shutting down cities. Protests against inequality and debt resistance have existed since the occupy movement.

    Now, with the economic collapse, protests are increasing. It’s Going Down reports: “with millions of people now wondering how they are going to make ends meet and pay rent, let alone survive the current epidemic, a new wave of struggles is breaking out across the social terrain. Prisoners and detention center detainees are launching hunger strikes as those on the outside demand that they be released, tenants are currently pushing for a rent strike starting on April 1st, the houseless are taking over vacant homes in Los Angeles, and workers have launched a series of wildcat strikers, sick-outs, and job actions in response to being forced onto the front lines of the pandemic like lambs to the slaughter.”

    Workers at the Fiat Chrysler Windsor Assembly Plant walked off the job over concerns about the spread of coronavirus. Pittsburgh garbage collectors refused to pick up trash because their health was not being protected. Chipotle employees walked off the job and publicly protested the company for allegedly penalizing workers who call in sick. Perdue employees in Georgia walked off their jobs on a production line over a wage dispute and management asked workers to put in extra hours without a pay increase during the pandemic. Some Whole Foods workers announced a collective action in the form of a “sick out,” with workers using their sick days in order to strike. In Italy, wildcat strikes erupted to demand that plants be closed for the duration of the virus. Postal workers in London took strike actions due to the risks of the virus.

    The pandemic requires creativity in protest. Technology allows us to educate and organize online, as well as to protest, petition, email, and call. There have also been car marches, public transport drivers have refused to monitor tickets, collective messages have been sent from balconies and windows. People are showing they can be innovative to get our message across to decision-makers. We can also build community and strengthen bonds with mutual aid.

    If the ownership class continues its call to re-open the economy despite the health risks, the potential of a general strike can become a reality. When Trump called for returning to work the hashtags #GeneralStrike and #GeneralStrike2020— calling on workers everywhere to walk off the job — began trending on Twitter. Rather than a strike against one corporation, people would strike across multiple businesses and could also include a rent and mortgage strike as well as a debt strike. The coronavirus has shown that essential workers are among the lowest-paid workers and that they make the economy function. We also understand that if people refuse to pay their debts or rent, the financial system will collapse. Understanding those realities gives a new understanding of the power of the people.

    A general strike, as Rosa Luxembourg described it in 1906, is not ‘one isolated action” but a rallying call for a campaign of “class struggle lasting for years, perhaps for decades.” A general strike could take many forms, including a global day of action. Before the current crises, we saw the decade of the 2020s as a decade of potential transformational change because on multiple fronts movements were growing and demanding responses to an array of crises. Now, the triggers for the economic collapse could also be the trigger for transformational revolt.

    We are all in this together. We are all connected and share a common humanity. If we act in solidarity during this time of crisis and in this decade of transformation, we can create the future we want to see for ourselves and future generations.

    Why Assume There Will Be a 2020 Election?

    The upcoming American elections are just around the corner and everyone is wondering if the new president will be named Trump, Biden, Sanders or none of the above.

    I can hear the incredulous reader exclaim: Wait, what does “none of the above” mean?? It’s certainly going to be one of those three, isn’t it??

    It is often too easy to lose sight of the forest for the trees and in the opinion-packed world of endless talking head commentaries, every leaf and branch is scrutinized by professional opinionators so closely that many forget that the entire forest is on fire. As I’ve written extensively here and here and here, the reality is that the western financial system is careening towards a crash much worse than anything the world saw in 1929, and the deep state trying to manage this wreck from above would love nothing more than to impose a fascist dictatorship onto a frightened population.

    Trump, Sanders and Tulsi: Not Good Fascists

    The only reason why so much effort has been expended on attempting to paint Trump, Sanders and Tulsi as “Russian agents” has been the simple fact that neither one of the three individuals would make very willing puppets who would play along with a fascist dictatorship in America under those foreseeable crisis conditions. For all their problems and differences, right wing neocons and left wing Malthusian technocrats despise Trump, Sanders and Tulsi for the crime that they are actual patriotic human beings who genuinely care about their nation. Unlike technocrats or neocons, actual human beings occupying political office may be inclined to spoil a good crisis in order to pass reforms that actually protect the people and revoke the power structures of the shadow government.

    So I ask again: What if the oncoming crisis results in a 2020 choice of “none of the above”? What if there is no 2020 choice “offered” democratically to the American public at all? It isn’t like this sort of thing has never happened in American history.

    In order to best understand this danger and also gain insight into how it might be circumvented, I suggest revisiting the 1932-1934 efforts by the international deep state to impose a fascist dictatorship upon Americans and even overthrow the elected government of Franklin Roosevelt with a JP Morgan-funded military coup d’état.

    The Fascist Economic Miracle Solution of 1932

    1932-1934 was a period of history that saw the world torn down into a deep depression which the people of Europe and America were told by their media, could only be solved by the “economic miracle solution” of a new system of governance known as “fascism”.

    This “fascist economic solution” took hold in Europe with the quick rise of Nazism, Franco and Mussolini’s Corporatism as well what later became Vichy France. In English Canada, the League for Social Reconstruction was ready to take power in 1932 and French-speaking Canada was quickly embracing the Nazi-inspired political party of Adrien Arcand. The British governing class, led by the royal family, were fully backing Nazism, and Sir Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists was rising faster than ever. All of these movements came in different flavors but were united under a cold utilitarian philosophy of government, a devout love for eugenics (the racist “science” of population control) and addiction to City of London/Wall Street money.

    In the United States, however, things weren’t going as smoothly.

    The Rise of Franklin Roosevelt

    Even though the financial elite of Wall Street had pulled the plug on the system four years earlier, the population had still not been broken sufficiently to accept fascism as the solution which Time magazine told them it was. Instead, the people voted for one of the few anti-fascist presidential candidates available in 1932 when Franklin Roosevelt was elected under the theme of taking the money lenders out of power and restoring the constitution.

    In his March 4, 1933 inaugural address FDR stated:

    Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts and minds of men. True they have tried, but their efforts have been cast in the pattern of an outworn tradition. Faced by failure of credit they have proposed only the lending of more money. Stripped of the lure of profit by which to induce our people to follow their false leadership, they have resorted to exhortations, pleading tearfully for restored confidence. They know only the rules of a generation of self-seekers. They have no vision, and when there is no vision the people perish. The money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths. The measure of the restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit.

    During FDR’s famous 100 Days, an all-out war was declared on the “economic royalists” that had taken over the nation. Audits and investigations were conducted on the banks in the form of the Pecora Commission, and the biggest financial houses which had spent billions on fascist parties of Europe were broken up while speculation was reined in under Glass-Steagall. Meanwhile a new form of banking was unveiled more in alignment with America’s constitutional traditions in the form of productive credit and long term public works which created real jobs and increased the national productive powers of labor.

    Many people remain totally ignorant that even before his March 4, 1933 inauguration, Franklin Roosevelt narrowly avoided an assassination attempt in Florida which saw five people struck by bullets and the mayor of Chicago dying of his wounds three weeks later. Within days of the mayor’s death, the assassin Giuseppe Zingara was speedily labelled a “lone gunman” and executed without any serious investigation into his freemasonic connections. This, however, was just a pre-cursor for an even greater battle which Wall Street financiers would launch in order to overthrow the presidency later that year. This effort would only be stopped by the courageous intervention of a patriotic marine named Smedley Darlington Butler.

    Who was General Butler?

    Born in 1881 to a family of patriotic Quakers, Smedley Butler quickly rose through the ranks of the military becoming the most decorated military figure of U.S. History- a record he holds to this day with multiple medals of honor, an Army distinguished service medal and Marine Corps Bruvet medal (to name just a few).

    By the end of the British-orchestrated meat grinder known as WWI, the General had become an activist patriot giving speeches across America in denunciation of the private financiers steering America’s war-driven economy. Speaking to veterans in August 1933, the general said:

    I have spent 33 years being a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer for capitalism… I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1916. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City [Bank] boys to collect revenue in. I helped rape half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street… In China, I helped see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested… I had a swell racket. I was rewarded with honors, medals, and promotions. I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was operate a racket in three cities. The Marines operated on three continents…

    In spite of his outspoken criticism of crony capitalism, Wall Street’s elite simply presumed all men had their price, and Butler was probably just indignant because he was never given a big enough piece of pie.

    The Wall Street Putsch is Launched

    These financiers needed someone like Butler to channel the rage of the striking veterans of WWI across America who had been fighting for the bonus pay promised them years earlier but which didn’t exist due to the 1929 collapse. A force of hundreds of thousands of disgruntled seasoned soldiers was exactly what was needed to overthrow Roosevelt, but leadership was sorely lacking, and General Butler was their man for the job. He was a war hero who was seen as honest and loved by the veterans. He was perfect.

    Under the guiding hand of JP Morgan’s Grayson Prevost Murphy, two representatives of the American Legion (Commander Bill Doyle and bond salesman Gerald MacGuire) approached Butler in July 1933 for the job of rallying the Legion’s veterans and began dropping hints of a larger coup plot. Butler became suspicious, but continued playing along with the plan to see how far this went up the ladder of power (1).

    Over the course of the next several months, Butler discovered that America’s financial elite centered around John Pierpont Morgan Jr., the Harrimans, the Melons, Warburgs, Rockefellers and Duponts were at the heart of the plot. These men used their agents such as Gerald MacGuire, a Morgan-affiliated bond salesman, Democratic Party controllers John W. Davis and Thomas Lamont (both occupying directorships in the House of Morgan), Robert Sterling Clark (heir to the Singer sewing machine fortune), Grayson Prevost Murphy and Harriman Family investment banker Prescott Bush. All of these characters had become well known “investors” in European fascism, owned the biggest media platforms including Fortune and Time Magazine (both of which promoted Mussolini extensively for years), and controlled the levers of industry.

    Luckily, the 1932-1934 Pecora Commission exposed these forces publicly as the architects of the great depression, making their ability to acquire popular support and sympathy more than a little difficult.

    Outlining his Committee’s findings Pecora had written publicly: “Undoubtedly, this small group of highly placed financiers, controlling the very springs of economic activity, holds more real power than any similar group in the U.S.A.”

    Butler Blows the Whistle

    When the time was right, Butler blew the whistle by approaching the Special Committee on Un-American Activities (the McCormack-Dickstein Committee) which began an investigation on November 20, 1934. Unlike the Committee on Un-American Activities which made its reputation destroying patriotic lives under the communist witch hunt of McCarthyism, this earlier version was aligned to FDR and dedicated solely to identifying Nazi activity in America.

    At first sceptical of the general’s claims, the committee soon  substantiated everything over the course of  a month long investigation and made their findings public to FDR and congress on December 29, 1934. An invaluable part of the hearings were the testimonies of journalist Paul Comly French whom Butler recruited to act as the general’s intermediary with the bankers.

    Butler told the committee that MacGuire stated it “wouldn’t take any constitutional change to authorize another cabinet official, somebody to take over the details of the office—to take them off the President’s shoulders” and that “we’d do with him what Mussolini did to the King of Italy”.

    When French asked MacGuire how the coup would help solve unemployment, MacGuire responded: “We need a fascist government to save the nation from the Communists… It was the plan that Hitler had used in putting all of the unemployed in labor camps or barracks—enforced labor. That would solve it overnight.”

    Although the full transcripts were not made public, Butler did get the message to the population by giving his story to as many journalists as possible and recorded a message to the people in 1935 which should be listened to in full.

    The Aftermath of the Exposure

    This exposure, alongside the Pecora Commission findings, and earlier failed assassination attempt gave FDR the ammunition he needed to force America’s deep state into submission (at least for a while). As I outlined in my recent paper, FDR’s fight to stop a central bankers’ dictatorship started from the earliest days of his presidency to his dying breath on April 14, 1945.

    Incredibly, after the sanitized and redacted 1934 report was published, the committee was disbanded (to be reformed later under a fascist mandate), and the thousands of pages of transcripts were buried for years- only officially made public in the 21st century- the contents of which can be found here with censored testimony in red.

    The coup plotters lost no time forming a new organization on August 22, 1934 called the American Liberty League which spent the next decade sabotaging FDR’s New Deal. This group made every effort to promote an American alliance with Axis powers (until 1941’s Pearl Harbor attack), widely financed eugenics, and after FDR died, acted as the driving force behind the McCarthyite police state in America during the Cold War. This organization also gave birth to such think tanks as the American Enterprise Association, Heritage Foundation and CATO institute which incrementally made Austrian school economics a part of the American right. Anyone wishing to understand what created the Frankenstein Monster called “neo-conservativism” during the last 60 years would not get very far without understanding the role of the American Liberty League and its hell spawn.

    Today, a new systemic meltdown of a $1.5 quadrillion derivatives bubble has similarities to the 1929 crash and other similarities to the 1923 hyperinflation of Weimar. While the coronavirus may or may not be used to trigger this new blowout, one thing is certain: a new fascist coup should be taken more seriously than ever.

    So rather than stressing about who might be on the 2020 ballot, it is wiser to ask the question: Where are the General Butlers today?

    • First published at Strategic Culture Foundation

    Socialism at Its Finest after Fed’s Bazooka Fails

    In what is being called the worst financial crisis since 1929, the US stock market has lost a third of its value in the space of a month, wiping out all of its gains of the last three years. When the Federal Reserve tried to ride to the rescue, it only succeeded in making matters worse. The government then pulled out all the stops. To our staunchly capitalist leaders, socialism is suddenly looking good.  

    The financial crisis began in late February, when the World Health Organization announced that it was time to prepare for a global pandemic. The Russia-Saudi oil price war added fuel to the flames, causing all three Wall Street indices to fall more than 7 percent on March 9. It was called Black Monday, the worst drop since the Great Recession in 2008; but it would get worse. 

    On March 12, the Fed announced new capital injections totaling an unprecedented $1.5 trillion in the repo market, where banks now borrow to stay afloat. The market responded by driving stocks 8% lower.

    On Sunday, March 15, the Fed emptied its bazooka by lowering the fed funds rate nearly to zero and announcing that it would be purchasing $700 billion in assets, including federal securities of all maturities, restarting its quantitative easing program. It also eliminated bank reserve requirements and slashed Interest on Excess Reserves (the interest it pays to banks for parking their cash at the Fed) to 0.10%. The result was to cause the stock market to open on Monday nearly 10% lower. Rather than projecting confidence, the Fed’s measures were generating panic.

    As financial analyst George Gammon observes, the Fed’s massive $1.5 trillion in expanded repo operations had few takers. Why? He says the shortage in the repo market was not in “liquidity” (money available to lend) but in “pristine collateral” (the securities that must be put up for the loans). Pristine collateral consists mainly of short-term Treasury bills. The Fed can inject as much liquidity as it likes, but it cannot create T-bills, something only the Treasury can do. That means the government (which is already $23 trillion in debt) must add yet more debt to its balance sheet in order to rescue the repo market that now funds the banks.

    The Fed’s tools alone are obviously incapable of stemming the bloodletting from the forced shutdown of businesses across the country. Fed chair Jerome Powell admitted as much at his March 15 press conference, stating, “[W]e don’t have the tools to reach individuals and particularly small businesses and other businesses and people who may be out of work …. We do think fiscal response is critical.” “Fiscal policy” means the administration and Congress must step up to the plate.

    What about using the Fed’s “nuclear option” – a “helicopter drop” of money to support people directly? A March 16 article in Axios quoted former Fed senior economist Claudia Sahm:

    The political ramifications of the Fed essentially printing money and giving it to people – there are ways to do it, but the problem is if the Fed does this and Congress still has not passed anything … that would mean the Fed has stepped in and done something that Congress didn’t want to do. If they did helicopter money without congressional approval, Congress could, and rightly so, end the Fed.

    The government must act first, before the Fed can use its money-printing machine to benefit the people and the economy directly.

    The Fed, Congress and the Administration Need to Work as a Team 

    On March 13, President Trump did act, declaring a national emergency that opened access to as much as $50 billion “for states and territories and localities in our shared fight against this disease.” The Dow Jones Industrial Average responded by ending the day up nearly 2,000 points, or 9.4 percent.

    The same day, Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard proposed a universal basic income of $1,000 per month for every American for the duration of the crisis. She said, “Too much attention has been focused here in Washington on bailing out Wall Street banks and corporate industries as people are making the same old tired argument of how trickle-down economics will eventually help the American people.” Meanwhile the American taxpayer “gets left holding the bag, struggling and getting no help during a time of crisis.” H.R. 897, her bill for an emergency UBI, she said was the most simple, direct form of assistance to help weather the storm.

    Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, who made a universal basic income the basis of his platform, would go further and continue the monthly payments after the coronavirus threat was over.

    CNBC financial analyst Jim Cramer also had expansive ideas. He said on March 12:

    How about a $500 billion Treasury issue … [at] almost no interest cost, to make sure that when people are sick they don’t have to go to work, and companies that are in trouble because of that can still make their payroll. How about a credit line backstopped by … the Federal Reserve. I know the Federal Reserve is going to say they can’t do that, Congress is going to say they can’t do that, everyone is going to say what they said in 2007, they can’t do that, they can’t do that — until they did it. … [W]e heard all that in 2007 and they ended up doing everything.

    And that looks like what will happen this time around. On March 18, as the stock market continued to plummet, the administration released an outline for a $1 trillion stimulus bill, including $500 billion in direct payments to Americans, along with bailouts and loans for the airline industry, small businesses, and other “critical” sectors of the U.S. economy.

    But the details needed to be hammered out, and even that whopping package buoyed the markets only briefly. In the bond market, yields shot up and values went down, on fears that the flood of government bonds needed to finance this giant stimulus would cause bond values to plummet and the government’s funding costs to shoot up.

    Extraordinary Measures for Extraordinary Times

    There is a way around that problem. To avoid driving the federal debt into the stratosphere, the Treasury could borrow directly from the central bank interest-free, with an agreement that the debt would remain on the Fed’s books indefinitely. That approach has been tested in Japan, where it has not generated price inflation as austerity hawks have insisted it would. The Bank of Japan has purchased nearly 50 percent of the government’s debt, yet consumer price inflation remains below the BOJ’s 2 percent target.

    Virtually all money today is simply “monetized” debt – debt turned by banks into something that can be spent in the marketplace – and the ultimate backstop for this sleight of hand is the central bank and the government, which means the taxpayers. To equalize our very unequal system, the central bank and the government need to work together. The Fed needs to be “de-privatized” – turned into a public utility that serves the taxpayers and the economy. As Eric Striker observed in The Unz Review on March 13:

    The US government’s lack of direct control over the nation’s central bank and the plutocratic nature of our weak state means that common sense solutions are off the table. Why doesn’t the state buy up majority shares in large corporations (or outright nationalize them, as happened with the short successful experiment with General Motors in 2009) and use the $1.5 trillion at low interest to develop American industrial independence?

    Interestingly, that too could be on the table in these extraordinary times. Bloomberg reported on March 19 that Larry Kudlow, the White House’s top economic adviser, says the administration may ask for an equity stake (an ownership interest) in corporations that want coronavirus aid from taxpayers. Kudlow noted that when this was done with General Motors in 2008, it turned out to be a good deal for the federal government.

    While traditionally considered “anti-capitalist,” the government taking an ownership interest in bailed out companies may be the only way the proposed bailouts will get approval. There is little sentiment today for the sort of no-strings-attached “socialism for the rich” that the taxpayers shouldered in 2008 without reaping the benefits. Bloomberg quotes Jeffrey Gundlach, chief executive officer at DoubleLine Capital:

    I don’t think government bailouts of over-leveraged companies that got over-leveraged by share buybacks at all-time highs, enriching executives and hedge fund investors, will sit well with the American people.

    The Bloomberg article concludes with a quote from another chief investment officer, Chris Zaccarelli of Independent Advisor Alliance:

    I like how [the administration is] thinking a little bit outside of the box. Something big and bold like that could potentially be what turns the market around ….

    Long-term Solutions

    Rather than just a stake in the profits, the government could think a bit further outside the box and turn insolvent airlines, oil companies, and banks into public utilities. It could require them to serve the people and the economy rather than just maximizing the short-term profits of their shareholders.

    Concerning the banks, the Fed could do as the People’s Bank of China is doing in this crisis. The state-run PBoC is giving regional banks $79 billion in stimulus money, but it is on condition that they lend it to small and medium enterprises and forgive late payments, so that economic damage is reversed and production can recover quickly.

    Another model worth studying is that of Germany, which also has a strong public banking system. As part of a package for coronavirus aid that the German finance minister calls its “big bazooka,” the government is offering immediate access to loans up to €500,000 for small businesses through its public bank, the KfW (Kreditanstalt fuer Wiederaufbau), administered through the publicly-owned Sparkassen and other local banks. The loans are being made available at an interest rate as low as 1%, with interest only for the first two years.

    Contrast that to the aid package President Trump announced last week, which will authorize the Small Business Administration to offer business loans. After a lengthy process of approval by state authorities, the loans can be obtained at an interest rate of 3.75% – nearly 4 times the KfW rate. German and Chinese public banks are able to offer rock-bottom interest rates because they have cut out private middlemen and are not driven by the insatiable demand for shareholder profits. They can lend countercyclically to avoid booms and busts while supporting the economy as a whole.

    The U.S., too, could create a network of publicly-owned banks backed by the central bank, which could lend into their communities at below-market rates. And this is the time to do it. Times of crisis are when change happens. When the Covid-19 scare has passed, we will have a different government, a different economy and a different financial system. We need to make sure that what we get is an upgrade that works for everyone.