Central banks have shifted into stocks and are buying up everything that isn’t bolted to the floor.
That’s the gist of the story that breathlessly appeared in the Financial Times about a week ago and swept across the blogosphere like a Santa Anna brushfire. And there’s some truth to it too, if taken with a large grain of salt. Here’s a clip from the Omfif’s report the FT’s cites in the article:
“A cluster of central banking investors has become major players on world equity markets,” says a report to be published this week by the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum (Omfif), a central bank research and advisory group. The trend “could potentially contribute to overheated asset prices”, it warns.” (Financial Times)
So, there you have it; stocks are rising, central banks are buying stocks like mad, therefore, central banks are driving the market. That’s all there is to it, right?
And we’re not talking chump change here either. According to the Omfif”s press release “global central banks and public sector institutions now account for an eye-watering “$29.1tn worth of investments … in 162 countries.”
Hmm. It’s easy to read that statement and assume that central banks have purchased $29 trillion in stocks, isn’t it? That’s what the folks over at Zero Hedge did. Check out the headline they ran shortly after the story appeared in the FT: “Cluster Of Central Banks” Have Secretly Invested $29 Trillion In The Market” (Zero Hedge)
But that’s not what the press release says, is it? It says “global central banks and public sector institutions”. There’s a big difference between the stocks a bank buys and all the investments in public pension funds, 401Ks, sovereign wealth funds etc. A huge difference. It looks like someone might be engaging in a bit of fear-mongering to get a rise out of readers.
That’s not to downplay the fact that CB’s are distorting prices by playing the market. They are. No one disputes that. Just like no one disputes that central banks should limit their activities to doing their job, which is maintaining price stability. (We’re deliberately omitting “full employment” since the Fed thinks it’s a big joke anyway.) But, hey, everyone knows these guys are a dodgy lot to begin with, so it’s hard to get whipped up into a lather every time they get caught in some new flimflam. Besides CB stock purchases are likely insignificant compared to corporate stock buybacks which are presently just-south of $600 billion per year. CB stock purchases are no where near that, regardless of what you read at Zero Hedge. Check this out in the Wall Street Journal:
“Last year, the corporations in the Russell 3000, a broad U.S. stock index, repurchased $567.6 billion worth of their own shares—a 21% increase over 2012, calculates Rob Leiphart, an analyst at Birinyi Associates, a research firm in Westport, Conn. That brings total buybacks since the beginning of 2005 to $4.21 trillion—or nearly one-fifth of the total value of all U.S. stocks today.” (Will Stock Buybacks Bite Back?, Wall Street Journal)
Yikes. “$4.21 trillion”! Now that’s what you call froth.
Anyway, the reason CBs are buying equities is to hedge their losses on the mountain of low-yielding bonds they purchased in their effort to recapitalize the insolvent banking system. They’re already taking it in the shorts for an estimated $250 billion per year, and when rates start marching upward, (as they inevitably will) they’re going to be bleeding red ink from both eyeballs. That’s why they want to diversify their portfolio; to staunch the hemorrhaging. Even so, the whole matter looks shabby and underhanded, which of course it is. It also calls into question present stock valuations which have been soaring with the zero rates, QE and positive earnings reports, the trifecta which pushes equities into the stratosphere regardless of the shitty condition of the underlying “real” economy. So–just like everyone else–the banks want to get on the winning side of the trade. But what a firestorm they’ve set off with these latest shenanigans! Here’s a sample of the outrage you’ll find on the Internet. This is from a Bill Bonner article titled “Proof the Stock Market Is Being Rigged”:
“We are still reeling.
Yesterday, we reported that central banks are major buyers of stocks…
We hardly know where to begin…
Outraged, we sputter and spit… we search for words… we look for metaphors and narratives… anything that will put this extraordinary situation in the right light…
Ah yes… central banks create new money… it gets passed around the financial community in many ways… and ultimately ends up in the equity markets…
In short, a grand slam of deceit. The World Series of financial catastrophe will follow. But that could be a long way off.” (Proof the Stock Market Is Being Rigged, Bonner and Partners)
“A grand slam of deceit”?
Fair enough. A little hyperbolic, but that’s to be expected, right? But, c’mon now, given the long list of scandals in the last few years–High-Frequency Trading (HFT), “toxic” mortgage-backed securities, Libor, London Whale, Robo-signing, structured finance, Madoff etc etc–it’s hard not to be little blasé about the whole deal, isn’t it? I’m not sure where Bonner’s been, but if you were to ask Joe Blow on the street, whether he thought the “market was rigged or not”, he’d undoubtedly nod his head affirmatively as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. Because it is the most obvious thing in the world. Heidi Moore summed it up pretty well in a recent article at the Gurdian. She said:
“Most Americans don’t think much about the stock market, and that’s just fine with Wall Street. Because once you wake up to how screwed up the stock market really is, the financial industry knows you’re likely to get very nervous and take your money out.
Many are catching on: between 2007 and 2014, investors pulled $345bn from the stock market. E-Trades are down and worries are up, with 73% of Americans still not inclined to buy stocks, five years after the financial crisis…
Let’s get one thing straight: Investor confidence is not the problem. The screwed-up stock market is the problem. It’s time to break down the polite fiction that investing in the stock market is something that sane, rational, sensible people do. It is a high-risk contact sport for your money…
The US stock market depends entirely on the ignorance of regular people who are supposed to just shovel their money into retirement funds and 401(k)s, pay a whopping one-third of your retirement in fees to high-priced managers, and never whisper a complaint.
It’s a wonder that anyone (trusts the market) at all.” (Wall Street and Washington want you to believe the stock market isn’t rigged. Guess what? It still is, Heidi Moore, Guardian)
The market is totally rigged from stem to stern, which is why it is so hard to feign outrage at this latest sign of corruption. It’s just par for the course. What we found more interesting, was the OMFIF’s contention that the experimental monetary policies, the centrals banks initiated to deal with the Financial Crisis, have changed the system to what the author calls “state capitalism”.
“Whether or not this trend is a good thing”, he opines, “may be open to question. What is incontestable is that it has happened”.
While you can’t expect the media to cover something like this, it’s certainly worth mulling over. The fact is, CBs have taken over economic policy altogether. They’re running the whole shooting match. The various congresses and parliaments across the western world now merely act as a rubber stamp for the austerity measures demanded by their corporate bosses. Fiscal policy is a dead letter in the US, Japan, Australia, Canada, UK and the Eurozone. Everywhere the bank cartel has extended it’s grip, fiscal policy has been jettisoned altogether. It’s bailouts and lavish subsidies for the 1 percenters and belt-tightening, shock therapy for everyone else. Isn’t that how it works? State Capitalism isn’t a conspiracy theory. It’s just class warfare taken to the next level. Check this out from Dave Marsh at Marketwatch:
“Central banks’ foreign-exchange reserves have grown unprecedentedly fast, especially in the developing world. The same authorities that are responsible for maintaining financial stability are often the owners of the large funds that add to liquidity in many markets…
Evidence of an increase in equity-buying by central banks and other public-sector investors has emerged from a survey of publicly owned or managed investments compiled by the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum (OMFIF)… There are worries that central banks may be over-stretching themselves by operating in too many areas.
Jens Weidmann, president of Germany’s Bundesbank — spoke yearningly last week of the need for “central banks to shed their role as decision-makers of last resort and, thus, to return to their normal business.”
He said this “would help to preserve the independence of central banks, which is a key precondition to maintaining price stability in the long run.” (Central banks becoming major investors in stock markets, Dave Marsh, Marketwatch)
You might want to read that first part over again to savor what the author is saying. Here it is: “The same authorities that are responsible for maintaining financial stability are often the owners of the large funds that add to liquidity in many markets.”
That’s what you call corruption with a capital “C”. But then the author does a 180 and waxes-on about “preserving the independence of central banks, which is a key precondition to maintaining price stability in the long run.”
Right. The whole independence thing is a big joke. Why would anyone in their right mind bestow such extraordinary powers (“independence”) on a group of voracious, cutthroat bankers who have repeatedly shown that they can’t be trusted?
It’s insanity. This latest outrage just proves that the central bank system needs to be either reformed or terminated. Preferably, terminated.
Thanatos hangs over America, a death-wish based on the inner rotting of conscience predicated on the constant need for supremacy in the world as a test, indeed validation, of the nation’s moral virtue, to be achieved through military power—a greatness no longer assumed and, because of inner decay setting in, cause for fatalistic entropic reaction. Circa 1950: Better dead than red. Circa 2014: Better dead than descend from the pinnacle of global hegemony—and why not bring everyone else with us? Paul Craig Roberts’s article in CounterPunch, Are You Ready For Nuclear War?, (June 3), may perhaps seem unduly alarmist to the uninitiated, but even without Obama-Team national security advisers thoroughly capable of and attuned to such planning, there are indications inhering in Obama’s studied moves aimed toward direct confrontation with Russia and China that carry intentionally the eventuality of a nuclear showdown.
Both on the Pacific Rim and European trips, closely integrated in time and purpose, Obama sounds like—and is scripted to be—the Avenger against a doubting world, not sufficiently appreciative of America the Land of Freedom (subtext throughout, of course, capitalism the sole legitimate world system replicating America’s own political-economic structure and ideological values). Comparing his statements wherever he appeared on those journeys of confidence-building, all to the end of confrontation with China and Russia, respectively, yet tacitly as though enemies-joined-at-the-hip, he sounded like nothing so much as a broken 78 rpm recording, stand shoulder to shoulder, stand shoulder to shoulder, stand shoulder… ad infinitum. Poland, South Korea, Latvia and Lithuania, Philippines—the more the merrier, coupled with checks (the monetary kind) for military hardware, promises of American protection, assurances, backed by military bases, training programs, joint exercises, membership in the extant alliance system (an attack on one is an attack on all), the foregoing packaged with the ascription of Russia and China as expansion-minded and out to do harm to its neighbors (i.e., our “friends and allies”). Chuck Hagel, interviewed on BBC, invoked Article 5 of the NATO treaty, the one for all, all for one provision, stating that “Russia was a threat” to Europe (June 5). Nothing could be clearer.
And then we have Obama in Brussels, same day, demanding of Putin, in a time frame “over the next two, three, four weeks,” complete disengagement—in Peter Baker’s words, from his New York Times article, “With Group of 7 Backing, Obama Gives Russia One-Month Ukraine Deadline, “ (June 5)—from Ukraine, that is, “to reverse its intervention…and help quash a pro-Russian separatist uprising or else…it would face international sanctions far more severe than anything it had endured so far.” Beyond a time frame, actually an ultimatum, Obama stated that “if Russia’s provocations continue, it’s clear from our discussions here that the G-7 nations are ready to impose additional costs on Russia.” No compliance after the time period (“and if he remains on the current course”), watch out Putin, for “we’ve already indicated what kinds of actions that we’re prepared to take.”
G-7 on banners, rostrums, a deliberate flaunting of exclusion, along with D-Day Observance plans to prevent an Obama-Putin head-to-head, calculated further to enhance antagonism, this choreographed trip is a prelude to bolder demands directed to the EU itself to speak with one voice, that of America’s, in viewing Russia as an enemy bent on invasion of the West. Rather than hysteria, the mood favors an incremental rise in tensions, at each step, the concretization of war readiness, naval forces in the Black Sea, a larger US troop presence in Poland, the steady movement eastward to the Russian border of NATO troops, anti-ballistic missile installations ringing Russia, a hostile environment, to say the least, for a peaceful accommodation, one the US and the EU, by their actions, appears not to want.
I am tempted to explain these developments as the psychopathology of capitalism as a system, thanatos the upshot of the desensitization of human feeling when the commodity structure defines the individual as alienated from social relations of equality and justice, in favor of a pervasive solipsism, driven by fear, introjecting the values of ruling groups as compensation for empty lives, turning on one another to rise in the social hierarchy, in the last analysis, killing without compunction, as in Obama’s signature, drone assassination vaporizing a fellow human being so that no reminder of his/her existence remains. But such an explanation is too simple by half; policy trumps psychology, or rather invites a particular mental-set in order to reach fruition. Thanatos is consequence, not cause. Policy is about market penetration, market fundamentalism, market hegemony, to which must be appended the full-scale militarization of political economy, value system, how order is maintained and reinforced.
Mass surveillance in America is less if at all about counterterrorism than about the artificial props which are necessary to keep society from disintegrating in the face of animalistic greed (apologies to animals for the reference), ethnocentric and racial assumptions, the uneven structure of wealth, an underlying repression insinuated into the fabric of status, power, and wealth for purposes of the stabilization of privilege and recognition. America enjoyed world prestige for so long that a decline of any sort is catastrophic. My way or the highway works only so long; as this realization sinks in, America becomes more dangerous. These provocative moves to mount a massive counterrevolution are failing, whether Putin or Xi or both, the counterweight is fast forming its leadership coming from the people themselves with Russia and China the historical vanguard for creating a world system where no single power is able to dominate and unilaterally shape the destinies of humankind.
My New York Times Comment on the Baker article, same date, follows:
I am delighted by Obama’s rhetoric emanating out of Warsaw and Brussels. It confirms my sense of him as global WARMONGER No. 1. His threats, boasts, needling are an accurate reflection of his and the US’s character. We hear rumors now of a veritable cottage industry in Washington of policy wonks working out nuclear first-strike paradigms against Russia and China. Fitting, because the impulse for destruction is present. Obama is far more dangerous with or without preemptive war than any POTUS perhaps ever.
Does saying that make me a red-pinko-commie? No. Until America puts its own house in order, which may well be never again, criticism is justified without necessarily praising those declared to be adversaries and worse.
How square peace with massive domestic surveillance? with the largest military budget in the world? with the use of counterterrorism to violate civil liberties at home, mount unjustified aggression abroad?
Times readers may scream (one yesterday said of my post on Warsaw, Go back to Russia–I’ll donate to your travel)! That’s perfect, the ratcheting up of Reaction, frighteningly similar to McCarthyism–even more pervasive–that I remember in my youth.
As for a Putin-Poroshenko meeting, it will come about soon. As for Obama’s threat of sectoral sanctions, this will backfire, as Germany and France will not go along. It is fitting Obama has Cameron as his new pal–two peas in a pod. Others however will resent the crass bullying. We deserve Obama.
Norman Pollack has written on Populism. His interests are social theory and the structural analysis of capitalism and fascism. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Is Edward Snowden a radical? The dictionary defines a radical as “an advocate of political and social revolution”, the adjective form being “favoring or resulting in extreme or revolutionary changes”. That doesn’t sound like Snowden as far as what has been publicly revealed. In common usage, the term “radical” usually connotes someone or something that goes beyond the generally accepted boundaries of socio-political thought and policies; often used by the Left simply to denote more extreme than, or to the left of, a “liberal”.
In his hour-long interview on NBC, May 28, in Moscow, Snowden never expressed, or even implied, any thought – radical or otherwise – about United States foreign policy or the capitalist economic system under which we live, the two standard areas around which many political discussions in the US revolve. In fact, after reading a great deal by and about Snowden this past year, I have no idea what his views actually are about these matters. To be sure, in the context of the NBC interview, capitalism was not at all relevant, but US foreign policy certainly was.
Snowden was not asked any direct questions about foreign policy, but if I had been in his position I could not have replied to several of the questions without bringing it up. More than once the interview touched upon the question of whether the former NSA contractor’s actions had caused “harm to the United States”. Snowden said that he’s been asking the entire past year to be presented with evidence of such harm and has so far received nothing. I, on the other hand, as a radical, would have used the opportunity to educate the world-wide audience about how the American empire is the greatest threat to the world’s peace, prosperity, and environment; that anything to slow down the monster is to be desired; and that throwing a wrench into NSA’s surveillance gears is eminently worthwhile toward this end; thus, “harm” indeed should be the goal, not something to apologize for.
Edward added that the NSA has been unfairly “demonized” and that the agency is composed of “good people”. I don’t know what to make of this.
When the war on terrorism was discussed in the interview, and the question of whether Snowden’s actions had hurt that effort, he failed to take the opportunity to point out the obvious and absolutely essential fact – that US foreign policy, by its very nature, regularly and routinely creates anti-American terrorists.
When asked what he’d say to President Obama if given a private meeting, Snowden had no response at all to make. I, on the other hand, would say to Mr. Obama: “Mr. President, in your time in office you’ve waged war against seven countries – Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Libya and Syria. This makes me wonder something. With all due respect, sir: What is wrong with you?”
A radical – one genuine and committed – would not let such a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity pass by unused. Contrary to what his fierce critics at home may believe, Edward Snowden is not seriously at war with America, its government or its society. Does he have a real understanding, analysis, or criticism of capitalism or US foreign policy? Does he think about what people could be like under a better social system? Is he, I wonder, even anti-imperialist?
And he certainly is not a conspiracy theorist, or at least keeps it well hidden. He was asked about 9-11 and replied:
The 9/11 commission … when they looked at all the classified intelligence from all the different intelligence agencies, they found that we had all of the information we needed … to detect this plot. We actually had records of the phone calls from the United States and out. The CIA knew who these guys were. The problem was not that we weren’t collecting information, it wasn’t that we didn’t have enough dots, it wasn’t that we didn’t have a haystack, it was that we did not understand the haystack that we had.
Whereas I might have pointed out that the Bush administration may have ignored the information because they wanted something bad – perhaps of unknown badness – to happen in order to give them the justification for all manner of foreign and domestic oppression they wished to carry out. And did. (This scenario of course excludes the other common supposition, that it was an “inside job”, in which case collecting information on the perpetrators would not have been relevant.)
The entire segment concerning 9/11 was left out of the television broadcast of the interview, although some part of it was shown later during a discussion. This kind of omission is of course the sort of thing that feeds conspiracy theorists.
All of the above notwithstanding, I must make it clear that I have great admiration for the young Mr. Snowden, for what he did and for how he expresses himself. He may not be a radical, but he is a hero. His moral courage, nerve, composure, and technical genius are magnificent. I’m sure the NBC interview won him great respect and a large number of new supporters. I, in Edward’s place, would be even more hated by Americans than he is, even if I furthered the radicalization of more of them than he has. However, I of course would never have been invited onto mainstream American television for a long interview in prime time. (Not counting my solitary 15 minutes of fame in 2006 courtesy of Osama bin Laden; a gigantic fluke happening.)
Apropos Snowden’s courage and integrity, it appears that something very important has not been emphasized in media reports: In the interview, he took the Russian government to task for a new law requiring bloggers to register – the same government which holds his very fate in their hands.
Who is more exceptional: The United States or Russia?
I was going to write a commentary about President Obama’s speech to the graduating class at the US Military Academy (West Point) on May 28. When he speaks to a military audience the president is usually at his most nationalistic, jingoist, militaristic, and American-exceptionalist – wall-to-wall platitudes. But this talk was simply TOO nationalistic, jingoist, militaristic, and American-exceptionalist. (“I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being.”) To go through it line by line in order to make my usual wise-ass remarks, would have been just too painful. However, if you’re in a masochistic mood and wish to read it, it can be found here.
Instead I offer you part of a commentary from Mr. Jan Oberg, Danish director of the Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research in Lund, Sweden:
What is conspicuously lacking in the President’s West Point speech?
- Any reasonably accurate appraisal of the world and the role of other nations.
- A sense of humility and respect for allies and other countries in this world.
- Every element of a grand strategy for America for its foreign and security policy and some kind of vision of what a better world would look like. This speech with all its tired, self-aggrandising rhetoric is a thin cover-up for the fact that there is no such vision or overall strategy.
- Some little hint of reforms of existing institutions or new thinking about globalisation and global democratic decision-making.
- Ideas and initiatives – stretched-out hands – to help the world move towards conflict-resolution in crisis areas such as Ukraine, Syria, Libya, China-Japan and Iran. Not a trace of creativity.
Ironically, on May 30 the Wall Street Journal published a long essay by Leon Aron, a Russia scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute in Washington. The essay took Russian president Vladimir Putin to task for claiming that Russia is exceptional. The piece was headed:
“Why Putin Says Russia Is Exceptional”
“Such claims have often heralded aggression abroad and harsh crackdowns at home.”
It states: “To Mr. Putin, in short, Russia was exceptional because it was emphatically not like the modern West – or not, in any event, like his caricature of a corrupt, morally benighted Europe and U.S. This was a bad omen, presaging the foreign policy gambits against Ukraine that now have the whole world guessing about Mr. Putin’s intentions.”
So the Wall Street Journal has no difficulty in ascertaining that a particular world leader sees his country as “exceptional”. And that such a perception can lead that leader or his country to engage in aggression abroad and crackdowns at home. The particular world leader so harshly judged in this manner by the Wall Street Journal is named Vladimir Putin, not Barack Obama. There’s a word for this kind of analysis – It’s called hypocrisy.
“Hypocrisy is anything whatever may deceive the cleverest and most penetrating man, but the least wide-awake of children recognizes it, and is revolted by it, however ingeniously it may be disguised.” – Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoi, (1828-1910) Russian writer
Is hypocrisy a moral failing or a failing of the intellect?
The New Cold War is getting to look more and more like the old one, wherein neither side allows the other to get away with any propaganda point. Just compare any American television network to the Russian station broadcast in the United States – RT (formerly Russia Today). The contrast in coverage of the same news events is remarkable, and the stations attack and make fun of each other by name.
Another, even more important, feature to note is that in Cold War I the United States usually had to consider what the Soviet reaction would be to a planned American intervention in the Third World. This often served as a brake to one extent or another on Washington’s imperial adventures. Thus it was that only weeks after the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, the United States bombed and invaded Panama, inflicting thousands of casualties and widespread destruction, for the flimsiest – bordering on the non-existent – of reasons. The hostile Russian reaction to Washington’s clear involvement in the overthrow of the Ukrainian government in February of this year, followed by Washington’s significant irritation and defensiveness toward the Russian reaction, indicates that this Cold War brake may have a chance of returning. And for this we should be grateful.
After the “communist threat” had disappeared and the foreign policy of the United States continued absolutely unchanged, it meant that the Cold War revisionists had been vindicated – the conflict had not been about containing an evil called “communism”; it had been about American expansion, imperialism and capitalism. If the collapse of the Soviet Union did not result in any reduction in the American military budget, but rather was followed by large increases, it meant that the Cold War – from Washington’s perspective – had not been motivated by a fear of the Russians, but purely by ideology.
Lest we forget: Our present leaders can derive inspiration from other great American leaders.
White House tape recordings, April 25, 1972:
President Nixon: How many did we kill in Laos?
National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger: In the Laotian thing, we killed about ten, fifteen [thousand] …
Nixon: See, the attack in the North [Vietnam] that we have in mind … power plants, whatever’s left – POL [petroleum], the docks … And, I still think we ought to take the dikes out now. Will that drown people?
Kissinger: About two hundred thousand people.
Nixon: No, no, no … I’d rather use the nuclear bomb. Have you got that, Henry?
Kissinger: That, I think, would just be too much.
Nixon: The nuclear bomb, does that bother you? … I just want you to think big, Henry, for Christsakes.
May 2, 1972:
Nixon: America is not defeated. We must not lose in Vietnam. … The surgical operation theory is all right, but I want that place bombed to smithereens. If we draw the sword, we’re gonna bomb those bastards all over the place. Let it fly, let it fly.
“Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business.” – Michael Ledeen, former Defense Department consultant and holder of the Freedom Chair at the American Enterprise Institute
- William Blum, Killing Hope, chapter 50
- Jonah Goldberg, “Baghdad Delenda Est, Part Two”, National Review, April 23, 2002
On Thursday, European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi dropped rates on overnight deposits to minus 0.1% thereby charging commercial banks to keep their money at the ECB. The move, which was applauded by the media as a “historic measure to fight deflation”, is nothing of the kind. Negative rates have been used in both Sweden and Denmark in recent years, but to little effect. The policy will not “get the banks lending again” as the ECB suggests, nor will it ease the high unemployment and slow growth that have plagued the Eurozone for the last six years. In truth, the rate change will have no impact at all. It’s merely public relations stunt designed to create the impression that the ECB is aggressively addressing the crisis for which it is largely responsible. Here’s how the World Socialist Web Site summed it up:
“The move is an expression of the fact that, nearly six years since the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the world economy remains mired in deep crisis, for which the world’s central banks have no solution outside of pumping trillions into banks and financial firms. While trillions are handed out to the banks, workers throughout the continent are told that there is “no money” to pay for pensions, social programs, and healthcare benefits.” (European Central Bank cuts interest rate below zero, WSWS)
Stock traders loved the news that the ECB was going “sub zero”. As we’ve seen before, any indication that the easy money regime is here-to-stay is enough to send equities skyrocketing, which it did. All the main indices notched substantial gains on the day while the SandP 500 surged to a new record of 1,940.
The idea that charging the banks a small fee on overnight deposits will induce them to lend more freely, demonstrates a laughable misunderstanding of how the system really works. Banks don’t need piles of reserves to issue loans. What they need is creditworthy customers and strong demand. But, of course, demand is weak because the ECB has taken steps to keep the EU in a permanent state of Depression through its austerity policies. What this shows, is that the objectives of the class war precede the requirements for a healthy economy. Draghi and his cohorts would rather decimate the welfare state and reduce EU working people to abject poverty, then implement the policies that would generate a strong economic recovery.
But won’t the lower rates lead to more lending, you ask? After all, when the price of money falls, borrowing becomes more attractive, right?
It’s a persuasive theory, but it doesn’t work that way. For example, check out this blurb from Reuters and you’ll see what I mean:
“Lending to companies in the euro zone contracted at the fastest pace on record in November, piling pressure on the European Central Bank to do more to revive the currency bloc’s economy…
“Worryingly, there is still no sign of any trend change in bank lending to euro zone businesses…” said Howard Archer, chief European economist at IHS Economics…
Corporate borrowing in the euro zone overall declined at the fastest pace on record, November’s 3.9 percent drop comparing with a 3.8 percent decline on the year in the previous month.
Bank lending to Italian firms fell at an annual pace of 5.9 percent in November, the sharpest decline in the measure’s 10-year history. That was also true for the euro zone’s smallest economy, Malta, which recorded a 10.4 percent drop….The biggest decline was in Spain, where lending to companies fell 13.5 percent.” (Euro zone corporate lending shrinks at record pace in November, Reuters)
The reason bank lending saw “the sharpest decline in the measure’s 10-year history”, is because the economy is in a depression, and people don’t borrow tons of dough in a depression. They cut back, hunker down and squirrel-away whatever they can. Draghi knows this. He’s just going through the motions to make it look like he cares. It’s all PR. What he really cares about is his constituents, and what they want, is an end of the welfare state.
What’s so irritating about all of this, is that we know how fix the economy. We know how to increase activity. We know how to boost demand, create jobs, and raise GDP. None of this is new.
When the private sector (consumers and businesses) can’t spend for some reason, then the government has to step up and spend like crazy to keep the economy going. The only alternative is to allow consumption to fall sharply, which will push up unemployment, push down GDP and do vast damage to both the economy and financial system. Why would anyone want to do that, especially when all they have to do is increase the budget deficits temporarily while consumers patch their balance sheets and get back on their feet again?
Monetary policy has not and will not fix the economy. How many years are we going to repeat the same mistake before we acknowledge that? The whole presumption that this pointless, circle-jerk policy is designed to do anything other than provide another bailout for underwater, insolvent financial institutions and the crooked bank bondholders who own the whole friggin’ planet is laughable in the extreme. Check this out from Bloomberg:
“In a bid to get credit flowing to parts of the economy that need it, the ECB also opened a 400-billion-euro ($542 billion) liquidity channel tied to bank lending and officials will start work on an asset-purchase plan. While conceding that rates are at the lower bound “for all practical purposes,” he signaled the the ECB is willing to act again.” (Bloomberg)
So that’s what this is really all about, eh? Draghi is just laying the groundwork for a European version of QE?
Yep. Sure is. And that means another $542 billion will go to the chiseler class. Another $542 billion propping up crooked banks by purchasing their unwanted, toxic Asset-Backed Securities. (ABS) Do you think I’m kidding? I’m not. That’s what the money is earmarked for.
The point is, monetary policy alone will not produce a strong, self sustaining recovery, which is a point that Keynes makes in Chapter 12 of “The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money”. Here’s what he says:
“For my own part I am now somewhat skeptical of the success of a merely monetary policy directed towards influencing the rate of interest. I expect to see the State, which is in a position to calculate the marginal efficiency of capital-goods on long views and on the basis of the general social advantage, taking an ever greater responsibility for directly organizing investment; since it seems likely that the fluctuations in the market estimation of the marginal efficiency of different types of capital, calculated on the principles I have described above, will be too great to be offset by any practicable changes in the rate of interest.” (John Maynard Keynes, “The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money”, marxists.org, 2002)
Keynes is just stating the obvious, that during periods of weak demand, the sensible option is for the government to take up the slack by “directly organizing investment”, in other words, spending money to keep the economy running. Doesn’t that seem infinitely more reasonable than the Draghi approach which involves a decade of experimental monetary policy that ends in social upheaval, high unemployment, and political unrest?
And here’s the thing: Keynes “The General Theory” was published in 1936. That’s nearly 80 years ago! This isn’t some new-fangled theory concocted by pointy-head crackpots like Bernanke. This is settled science. Fiscal stimulus works. If the government spends, unemployment will drop. If the government spends, the economy will grow. What else do you need to know?
We’ve been hoeing this same row for 6 years now and the economy is still in the dumps. And, in the EU, it’s even worse. Youth unemployment is above 50 percent in Spain and Greece, GDP stuck at a miserable 0.2 percent, business and consumer lending still shrinking, bond yields on sovereign debt are in the toilet, civil disorder and fascism are on the rise, and with the entire 17-member union is rushing headlong into deflation.
And Draghi thinks that negative rates are going to fix all this and put the economy back on the road to recovery?
In your dreams! The only way out of a mess like this is to spend like a madman, which is what Keynes recommended in his famous statement about bottles stuffed with banknotes. Here’s what he said:
“If the Treasury were to fill old bottles with banknotes, bury them at suitable depths in disused coalmines which are then filled up to the surface with town rubbish, and leave it to private enterprise on well-tried principles of laissez-faire to dig the notes up again… there need be no more unemployment and, with the help of the repercussions, the real income of the community, and its capital wealth also, would probably become a good deal greater than it actually is. It would, indeed, be more sensible to build houses and the like; but if there are political and practical difficulties in the way of this, the above would be better than nothing.” (p. 129)
Okay, so it sounds crazy, but it’s really no different than Bernanke’s “helicopter drop” theory, that is, that –during a severe downturn–the government needs to find a way to stimulate demand. The best way to do that, is to avoid the normal transmission mechanisms (which don’t function properly during a slump) and get money directly into the hands of the people who will spend it quickly and get the economy growing again. It’s all about spending, spending, spending. It doesn’t matter if people buy Ipads or Ant Farms. Just spend, dammit. Spending is activity, activity is growth, growth reduces unemployment, which leads to more investment, more jobs and a virtuous circle.
If it seems to you, dear reader, that Keynes antidote for the ailing economy is more likely to succeed than Draghi’s, then you are certainly right. Massive doses of fiscal stimulus WILL revive the EU economy, lower unemployment, and boost growth. The question is whether that’s a goal the public should really support or not? In other words, is there any point in trying to restore a system which, at its very core, is unstable, self destructive and exploitative? Here’s how Counterpunch economics writer Rob Urie sums it up:
“John Maynard Keynes created a host of economic patch-jobs to save capitalism from more effective solutions. In the pit of the Great Depression FDR implemented programs based on Mr. Keynes’ ideas (which) produced minor relief now deemed by the economic insightful-lite to be a ‘robust’ economic recovery….. But the cause, leveraged (finance) capitalism gone wild, was only temporarily tamped down by regulation while its intrinsic instability was left intact…
Calls for re-regulation, managed capitalism, beg the question: re-regulate what? As demonstrated by history, the system of finance capitalism is intrinsically unstable and economically destabilizing. Under the guise of reviving a functioning financial system a dysfunctional system has been revivified, not revived, and nearly all benefits continue to accrue to a tiny economic elite.” (Financial Crises and Economic Depressions, Rob Urie, CounterPunch)
So, yeah, Keynes’ remedies will work. They’ll definitely get the economy up-and-running again and keep it sputtering-along until the next crisis. But why bother?
Why not just scrap the whole thing and move on to Plan B.
The Robber Barons of the 19th and 20th century had nothing over the elites of today’s globalist transnational financial conglomerates. The Richest Americans, listed in Forbes conceals the real power that controls the economy. Net worth is deficient in gauging dominance in financial commercialism and monetary preeminence. The Top 50 Highest-Paid CEOs as reported by ABC News ties into Michael Hiltzik’s account that CEO-to-worker pay gap is obscene, “The average CEO-to-worker pay ratio in 2012 was about 350 to 1.” Yet the divide in pay does not exemplify the exact lose in a livable standard of living for the ordinary staffer.If corporate multinationals were really about creating actual wealth, the pay of inspirational leadership and senior management talent, that executes the business plan, would be incidental if the employees were sharing in affluence. Those who demand higher minimum wage compensation do not understand how business works. The inordinate wealth divide, cannot and will not be reduced, until genuine economic prosperity is achieved.
Analyze the idiocy of a naive Undergraduate Research Fellow, Brian Chesley in 3 Ways to Reduce the Wealth Gap.
1. Open higher education to everyone.
2. Increase the minimum wage.
3. Increase taxes on the rich.
Such ignorant and illiterate attitudes demonstrate that institutions of higher learning encourage an atmosphere of social collectivism that plays directly into the hands of the new tyrannical tycoons.
The New York Times OP-ED piece by Daniel Altman (an adjunct associate professor of economics at the New York University Stern School of Business and a former member of the New York Times editorial board), proposes a foolish mindset and proposal in To Reduce Inequality, Tax Wealth, Not Income.
“In 1992, the top tenth of the population controlled 20 times the wealth controlled by the bottom half. By 2010, it was 65 times. Our graduated income-tax system redistributes a small amount of money every year but does little to slow the polarization of wealth.”
American household wealth totaled more than $58 trillion in 2010. A flat wealth tax of just 1.5 percent on financial assets and other wealth like housing, cars and business ownership would have been more than enough to replace all the revenue of the income, estate and gift taxes, which amounted to about $833 billion after refunds. Brackets of, say, zero percent up to $500,000 in wealth, 1 percent for wealth between $500,000 and $1 million, and 2 percent for wealth above $1 million would probably have done the trick as well.”
Absent in redistribution of wealth schemes is that the method of authentic free enterprise is never understood. Nor is there ever an effort to reestablish the principles of real business competition. The marketplace of voluntary and mutually beneficial commercial transactions, destroyed by the systemic Corporatocracy model, is the ultimate reason why wealth disparity is so great. The literal legacy of the Robber Barons is the internationalist financial system of central banking that predetermines the outcomes of selective patrons from calculating crony capitalism.
Public companies, once established to develop, produce and sell innovative goods or services are rare in an environment where financial manipulation is the primary vehicle to riches. Equity exchanges, based upon raising capital for industrious and constructive ventures, seldom function for this utilitarian purpose. The global economy, in reality, has perfected an anti-free enterprise filter that stamps out initiative and penalties upstarts that are not part of the cartels.
With the insolvency of the world-banking system an inescapable fact, the prospects for even more concentration of real assets into the hands of the financial elites, posed for the final wealth confiscation, of resources not already in their hands, is upon us.
When the internationalist financial system implodes and business screeches to a halt, a populist movement to clawback century long fraudulent gains of the hidden stashes from the interlocked illuminati families is the only coherent alternative to establish a fiscally sound financial future.
“The 2014 Bilderberg meeting is another example of those “blurred lines” between government, big oil and the financial sector, the three pillars of war. According to some reports, the topics of discussion at this year’s meeting will include the situation in Ukraine and the Russia-NATO relationship, as well as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), an agreement which, according to Stop TTIP, “is in fact a corporate coup that will take us to a ‘corporatocracy’, a corporate-run world.”
The mental confusion that blocks out the way the world fundamentally functions prevents focusing upon any essential debate as to substitute economic parameters for an equitable stake and remuneration for productive contributions to the success of any commercial venture.
The term Robber Barons, should not be substituted for every prosperous risk taker or self-made entrepreneur. The corruption within the cabal economy is rooted in the very nature of the favorable treatment given to participants in the criminal corporatist syndicate.
As Ms. Lévesque correctly describes the methods and operations of this New World Order neo-feudalism, the only structure that offers any prospects for an economic renaissance must target and strip the political influence of the globalists as much as the confiscation of their vast holdings.
Do not be deceived, by communist or socialist newspeak. Sharing the wealth is not the objective. The goal is imposing an unconditionally surrender upon the banksters, which is serious business. Start with the elimination of the Rehypothecation of Collateral. Lawful business has no room for coexistence with derivatives and swaps.Holding the body politic accountable and committed to breaking up the banksters’ monopoly requires compliance regulatory resistance from within the business community. It is just as important as customer and buyer rejection of the corporate induced consumer society. Sadly, most people simply are uninformed about the principles of sound business.
Most CEO’s are not businesspersons, but are globalist enablers and often are outright thieves. The needed business revolution will not be lead by their ilk.
Real competition can never be encouraged until inventive and audacious risk-takers have practical alternatives to fund their enterprises. Only then, will the wealth ratio narrow as affluence, that is more tangible, expands and the fortunes of the oligarchy diminish.
Ever wonder why nobody (except Kareem Serageldin) went to jail for all the crimes committed during the financial bubble that popped in 2008?
If you think back to the 2000-era bubble, lots of people went to jail for the fraud perpetuated at Enron, Tyco, Adelphia, and other firms. Plus, the law back then destroyed a whole accounting firm — Arthur Andersen, you may remember — and 28,000 jobs along with it, in the wake of the bust.
Yet post-2000, firms with far more brazen crimes got off by paying a mere fine.
Its U.S. subsidiary committed, as Taibbi writes, “an astonishing list of crimes — a laundry list that included pretty much every kind of crime a bank can possibly be charged with.”
- Laundering billions of dollars for drug cartels in Mexico and Colombia
- Washing money for terrorist-connected organizations in the Middle East
- Allowing “rogue states” under formal sanctions by the U.S. to move billions freely through the bank
- Helping Russian mobsters wash money under an elaborate traveler’s check scheme
And what was the penalty for all this?
At the time, it was the biggest fine in history. But in context, for a firm that made $22 billion per year, it was not much at all. In fact, looked at in a cold calculating light, the message clearly is: Crime pays.
Note there was no jail time for anybody. Everybody at HSBC got paid. Well, HSBC agreed to partially — partially, mind you – defer (!) bonus payments to its top executives.
Oh, and HSBC had to say it was sorry. “We are profoundly sorry,” said CEO Stuart Gulliver.
But how did we get here?
Matt Taibbi explores the reasons in his book The Divide. Taibbi used to write for Rolling Stone. He was the guy who famously called Goldman Sachs a “great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.” (I wish I had written that line.)
He’s a very good investigative reporter and a fine writer. He’s mellowed out a bit in this book and you won’t find much of the usual Taibbi name-calling and profanity. Taibbi, for good or ill, plays this one straight.
He covers a lot of ground, but the central thesis is one most people will intuitively grasp: If you are rich and powerful, you can get away with almost anything. Rights exist on a sliding scale. And if you are on the bottom, you can do time for loitering.
“The cleaving of the country into two completely different states — one a small archipelago of hyper acquisitive untouchables, the other a vast ghetto of expendables with only theoretical rights — has been in the works a long time.”
But to answer the question posed up top about why nobody’s going to jail, there’s more to the story. You have to go back to a memo written by Eric Holder, the current attorney general, back in 1999, when he was an official in the Clinton White House.
He articulated a concept called “collateral consequences.”
It meant, in essence, that the government could take into account all kinds of factors like job losses and such in deciding whether to press criminal charges against a big company. “If the math isn’t there,” Taibbi writes summing things up, “hold the charges. Seek other forms of justice instead. Fines. Civil sanctions. Cease and desist orders. Deferred prosecutions. There are other ways, Holder wrote, to get the job done.”
In other words, there would never be another Arthur Andersen. Firms had new ways to wiggle out of criminal charges. Hence, we have the monster we have today. Companies too big to jail.
Meanwhile, in other aspects of life, a culture approximating a police state grows apace. Taibbi points to the record levels of incarcerations in the U.S. “Our prison population, in fact, is now the biggest in the history of human civilization,” Taibbi writes. The U.S. has more people behind bars today “than there were at any time in Stalin’s gulags.”
The story here is nasty. He tells the story of private prisons, such as those of Corrections Corp. of America. They get, “depending on whom you believe,” upward of $166 per day from the federal government per inmate. This is four times what it cost back when the government took care of its own detainees.
“The big influx of cash impressed investors on Wall Street,” Taibbi writes. From 2000-2011, CCA’s stock went up 34-fold. Sales went from $300 million to $1.7 billion by 2011. “Overall, the corrections industry is one of the soundest stock/equity bets in the world, with soaring revenues — the industry as a whole pulled in more than $5 billion in America in 2011.”
Needless to say, that didn’t just happen. CCA and others donate generously to politicians. They support anything that might lead to more people spending time in their cells. They particularly like anti-immigrant bills. And Taibbi has harrowing tales about the mistreatment of immigrants in this country. He calls Hispanic immigrants “one of America’s last great cash crops.”
“And someone else wins, too,” Taibbi writes. “Wall Street. Some of the biggest investors in private prison companies are, you guessed it, the too-big-to-fail banks.”
Taibbi writes about an analysis from Zacks that gleefully revels in the lack of economic sensitivity in the business. And then cites a chart with shows a hockey stick increase in the number of incarcerated Americans.
So the country is turning more and more into a dragnet… but only for the poorest. There is no HSBC banker sitting in a CCA cell. It is symbolic of the kind of economy we have today:
“Like too-big-to-fail banking itself, private prisons are an industry that depends not on the unpredictable economy but upon political connections. It’s the perfect kind of business in the oligarchical capitalism age, with guaranteed profits to provide a low-cost public insurance against the vagaries of the market.”
The economy is riddled with corruption like this, a marriage between big business and Big Government. And a recurring theme in this book is the offspring this marriage creates: a relentless, insatiable bureaucratic force that grinds up individuals fed into its maw.
“These bureaucracies accomplish just two things,” Taibbi writes. “They make small piles of money smaller and big piles of money bigger… It just relentlessly creates and punishes losers, who get to sit beneath an ever-narrowing group of winners, who may or may not stay on top for long.”
Legal rights are not absolute. Those with money who can tirelessly throw lawyers and lawsuits and counterlawsuits at any problem can survive almost anything. For the rest, it’s a matter of attrition. And those at the bottom have no chance.
I can’t do justice to all the journalistic fieldwork and stories Taibbi has put in his 416-page book. It is a gripping read and will infuriate you and frighten you, and maybe even make you sad for what’s happened to the “Land of the Free.”
The book does not have a happy ending. The good guys don’t win in the end. But I encourage you give it a read. What it describes is life in these United States. Those of us who cherish liberty have quite a job ahead of us.
Chris Mayer studied finance at the University of Maryland, graduating magna cum laude. He went on to earn his MBA while embarking on a decade-long career in corporate banking. Chris is the editor of Capital and Crisis and Mayer’s Special Situations, a monthly report that unearths unique and unconventional opportunities in smaller-cap stocks. In 2008, Chris authored Invest Like a Dealmaker: Secrets From a Former Banking Insider.
Source: Laissez Faire
Memorial Day is when we commemorate our war dead. Like the Fourth of July, Memorial Day is being turned into a celebration of war.
Those who lose family members and dear friends to war don’t want the deaths to have been in vain. Consequently, wars become glorious deeds performed by noble soldiers fighting for truth, justice, and the American way. Patriotic speeches tell us how much we owe to those who gave their lives so that America could remain free.
The speeches are well-intentioned, but the speeches create a false reality that supports ever more wars. None of America’s wars had anything to do with keeping America free. To the contrary, the wars swept away our civil liberties, making us unfree.
President Lincoln issued an executive order for the arrest and imprisonment of northern newspaper reporters and editors. He shut down 300 northern newspapers and held 14,000 political prisoners. Lincoln arrested war critic US Representative Clement Vallandigham from Ohio and exiled him to the Confederacy. President Woodrow Wilson used WWI to suppress free speech, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt used WWII to intern 120,000 US citizens of Japanese descent on the grounds that race made them suspect. Professor Samuel Walker concluded that President George W. Bush used the “war on terror” for an across the board assault on US civil liberty, making the Bush regime the greatest danger American liberty has ever faced.
Lincoln forever destroyed states’ rights, but the suspension of habeas corpus and free speech that went hand in hand with America’s three largest wars was lifted at war’s end. However, President George W. Bush’s repeal of the Constitution has been expanded by President Obama and codified by Congress and executive orders into law. Far from defending our liberties, our soldiers who died in “the war on terror” died so that the president can indefinitely detain US citizens without due process of law and murder US citizens on suspicion alone without any accountability to law or the Constitution.
The conclusion is unavoidable that America’s wars have not protected our liberty but, instead, destroyed liberty. As Alexander Solzhenitsyn said, “A state of war only serves as an excuse for domestic tyranny.”
Southern secession did pose a threat to Washington’s empire, but not to the American people.Neither the Germans of WWI vintage nor the Germans and Japanese of WWII vintage posed any threat to the US. As historians have made completely clear, Germany did not start WWI and did not go to war for the purpose of territorial expansion. Japan’s ambitions were in Asia. Hitler did not want war with England and France. Hitler’s territorial ambitions were mainly to restore German provinces stripped from Germany as WWI booty in violation of President Wilson’s guarantees. Any other German ambitions were to the East. Neither country had any plans to invade the US. Japan attacked the US fleet at Pearl Harbor hoping to remove an obstacle to its activities in Asia, not as a precursor to an invasion of America.
Certainly the countries ravaged by Bush and Obama in the 21st century–Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Pakistan, and Yemen posed no military threat to the US. Indeed, these were wars used by a tyrannical executive branch to establish the basis of the Stasi State that now exists in the US.
The truth is hard to bear, but the facts are clear. America’s wars have been fought in order to advance Washington’s power, the profits of bankers and armaments industries, and the fortunes of US companies. Marine General Smedley Butler said, “ I served in all commissioned ranks from a second Lieutenant to a Major General. And during that time, I spent most of my time being a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street, and for the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer for capitalism.”
It is more or less impossible to commemorate the war dead without glorifying them, and it is impossible to glorify them without glorifying their wars.
For the entirety of the 21st century the US has been at war, not war against massed armies or threats to American freedom, but wars against civilians, against women, children, and village elders, and wars against our own liberty. Elites with a vested interest in these wars tell us that the wars will have to go on for another 20 to 30 years before we defeat “the terrorist threat.”
This, of course, is nonsense. There was no terrorist threat until Washington began trying to create terrorists by military attacks, justified by lies, on Muslim populations.
Washington succeeded with its war lies to the point that Washington’s audacity and hubris have outgrown Washington’s judgment.
By overthrowing the democratically elected government in Ukraine, Washington has brought the United States into confrontation with Russia. This is a confrontation that could end badly, perhaps for Washington and perhaps for the entire world.
If Gaddafi and Assad would not roll over for Washington, why does Washington think Russia will? Russia is not Libya or Syria. Washington is the bully who having beat up the kindergarden kid, now thinks he can take on the college linebacker.
The Bush and Obama regimes have destroyed America’s reputation with their incessant lies and violence against other peoples. The world sees Washington as the prime threat.
Worldwide polls consistently show that people around the world regard the US and Israel as the two countries that pose the greatest threat to peace. http://www.ibtimes.com/gallup-poll-biggest-threat-world-peace-america-1525008 and
The countries that Washington’s propaganda declares to be “rogue states” and the “axis of evil,” such as Iran and North Korea, are far down the list when the peoples in the world are consulted. It could not be more clear that the world does not believe Washington’s self-serving propaganda. The world sees the US and Israel as the rogue states.
The US and Israel are the only two countries in the world that are in the grip of ideologies. The US is in the grip of the Neoconservative ideology which has declared the US to be the “exceptional, indispensable country” chosen by history to exercise hegemony over all others. This ideology is buttressed by the Brzezinski and Wolfowitz doctrines that are the basis of US foreign policy.
The Israeli government is in the grip of the Zionist ideology that declares a “greater Israel” from the Nile to the Euphrates. Many Israelis themselves do not accept this ideology, but it is the ideology of the “settlers” and those who control the Israeli government.
Ideologies are important causes of war. Just as the Hitlerian ideology of German superiority is mirrored in the Neoconservative ideology of US superiority, the Communist ideology that the working class is superior to the capitalist class is mirrored in the Zionist ideology that Israelis are superior to Palestinians. Zionists have never heard of squatters’ rights and claim that recent Jewish immigrants into Palestine–invaders really–have the right to land occupied by others for millenniums.
Washington’s and Israel’s doctrines of superiority over others do not sit very well with the ”others.” When Obama declared in a speech that Americans are the exceptional people, Russia’s President Putin responded, “God created us all equal.”
To the detriment of its population, the Israeli government has made endless enemies. Israel has effectively isolated itself in the world. Israel’s continued existence depends entirely on the willingness and ability of Washington to protect Israel. This means that Israel’s power is derivative of Washington’s power.
Washington’s power is a different story. As the only economy standing after WWII, the US dollar became the world money. This role for the dollar has given Washington financial hegemony over the world, the main source of Washington’s power. As other countries rise, Washington’s hegemony is imperiled.
To prevent other countries from rising, Washington invokes the Brzezinski and Wolfowitz doctrines. To be brief, the Brzezinski doctrine says that in order to remain the only superpower, Washington must control the Eurasian land mass. Brzezinski is willing for this to occur peacefully by suborning the Russian government into Washington’s empire. ”A loosely confederated Russia . . . a decentralized Russia would be less susceptible to imperial mobilization.” In other words, break up Russia into associations of semi-autonomous states whose politicians can be suborned by Washington’s money.
Brzezinski propounded “a geo-strategy for Eurasia.” In Brzezinski’s strategy, China and “a confederated Russia” are part of a “transcontinental security framework,” managed by Washington in order to perpetuate the role of the US as the world’s only superpower.
I once asked my colleague, Brzezinski, that if everyone was allied with us, who were we organized against? My question surprised him, because I think that Brzezinski remains caught up in Cold War strategy even after the demise of the Soviet Union. In Cold War thinking it was important to have the upper hand or else be at risk of being eliminated as a player. The importance of prevailing became all consuming, and this consuming drive survived the Soviet collapse. Prevailing over others is the only foreign policy that Washington knows.
The mindset that America must prevail set the stage for the Neoconservatives and their 21st century wars, which, with Washington’s overthrow of the democratically elected government of Ukraine, has resulted in a crisis that has brought Washington into direct conflict with Russia.
I know the strategic institutes that serve Washington. I was the occupant of the William E.Simon Chair in Political Economy, Center for Strategic and International Studies, for a dozen years. The idea is prevalent that Washington must prevail over Russia in Ukraine or Washington will lose prestige and its superpower status.
The idea of prevailing always leads to war once one power thinks it has prevailed.
The path to war is reinforced by the Wolfowitz Doctrine. Paul Wolfowitz, the neoconservative intellectual who formulated US military and foreign policy doctrine, wrote among many similar passages:
“Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere [China], that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union. This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defense strategy and requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power.”
In the Wolfowitz Doctrine, any other strong country is defined as a threat and a power hostile to the US regardless of how willing that country is to get along with the US for mutual benefit.
The difference between Brzezinski and the Neoconservatives is that Brzezinski wants to suborn Russia and China by including them in the empire as important elements whose voices would be heard, If only for diplomatic reasons, whereas the Neoconservatives are prepared to rely on military force combined with internal subversion orchestrated with US financed NGOs and even terrorist organizations.
Neither the US nor Israel is embarrassed by their worldwide reputations as the two countries that pose the greatest threat. In fact, both countries are proud to be recognized as the greatest threats. The foreign policy of both countries is devoid of any diplomacy. US and Israeli foreign policy rests on violence alone. Washington tells countries to do as Washington says or be “bombed into the stone age.” Israel declares all Palestinians, even women and children, to be “terrorists,” and proceeds to shoot them down in the streets, claiming that Israel is merely protecting itself against terrorists. Israel, which does not recognize the existence of Palestine as a country, covers up its crimes with the claim that Palestinians do not accept the existence of Israel.
“We don’t need no stinking diplomacy. We got power.”
This is the attitude that guarantees war, and that is where the US is taking the world. The prime minister of Britain, the chancellor of Germany, and the president of France are Washington’s enablers. They provide the cover for Washington. Instead of war crimes, Washington has “coalitions of the willing” and military invasions that bring “democracy and women’s rights” to non-compliant countries.
China gets much the same treatment. A country with four times the US population but a smaller prison population, China is constantly criticized by Washington as an “authoritarian state.” China is accused of human rights abuses while US police brutalize the US population.
The problem for humanity is that Russia and China are not Libya and Iraq. These two countries possess strategic nuclear weapons. Their land mass greatly exceeds that of the US. The US, which was unable to successfully occupy Baghdad or Afghanistan, has no prospect of prevailing against Russia and China in conventional warfare. Washington will push the nuclear button. What else can we expect from a government devoid of morality?
The world has never experienced rogue states comparable to Washington and Israel. Both governments are prepared to murder anyone and everyone. Look at the crisis that Washington has created in Ukraine and the dangers thereof. On May 23, 2014, Russia’s President Putin spoke to the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, a three-day gathering of delegations from 62 countries and CEOs from 146 of the largest Western corporations.
Putin did not speak of the billions of dollars in trade deals that were being formalized. Instead Putin spoke of the crisis that Washington had brought to Russia, and he criticized Europe for being Washington’s vassals for supporting Washington’s propaganda against Russia and Washington’s interference in vital Russian interests.
Putin was diplomatic in his language, but the message that powerful economic interests from the US and Europe received is that it will lead to trouble if Washington and European governments continue to ignore Russia’s concerns and continue to act as if they can interfere in Russia’s vital interests as if Russia did not exist.
The heads of these large corporations will carry this message back to Washington and European capitals. Putin made it clear that the lack of dialogue with Russia could lead to the West making the mistake of putting Ukraine in NATO and establishing missile bases on Russia’s border with Ukraine. Putin has learned that Russia cannot rely on good will from the West, and Putin made it clear, short of issuing a threat, that Western military bases in Ukraine are unacceptable.
Washington will continue to ignore Russia. However, European capitals will have to decide whether Washington is pushing them into conflict with Russia that is against European interests. Thus, Putin is testing European politicians to determine if there is sufficient intelligence and independence in Europe for a rapprochement.
If Washington in its overbearing arrogance and hubris forces Putin to write off the West, the Russian/Chinese strategic alliance, which is forming to counteract Washington’s hostile policy of surrounding both countries with military bases, will harden into preparation for the inevitable war.
The survivors, if any, can thank the Neoconservatives, the Wolfowitz doctrine, and the Brzezinski strategy for the destruction of life on earth.
The American public contains a large number of misinformed people who think they know everything. These people have been programmed by US and Israeli propaganda to equate Islam with political ideology. They believe that Islam, a religion, is instead a militarist doctrine that calls for the overthrow of Western civilization, as if anything remains of Western civilization.
Many believe this propaganda even in the face of complete proof that the Sunnis and Shi’ites hate one another far more than they hate their Western oppressors and occupiers. The US has departed Iraq, but the carnage today is as high or higher than during the US invasion and occupation. The daily death tolls from the Sunni/Shi’ite conflict are extraordinary. A religion this disunited poses no threat to anyone except Islamists themselves. Washington successfully used Islamist disunity to overthrow Gaddafi, and is currently using Islamist disunity in an effort to overthrow the government of Syria. Islamists cannot even unite to defend themselves against Western aggression. There is no prospect of Islamists uniting in order to overthrow the West.
Even if Islam could do so, it would be pointless for Islam to overthrow the West. The West has overthrown itself. In the US the Constitution has been murdered by the Bush and Obama regimes. Nothing remains. As the US is the Constitution, what was once the United States no longer exists. A different entity has taken its place.
Europe died with the European Union, which requires the termination of sovereignty of all member countries. A few unaccountable bureaucrats in Brussels have become superior to the wills of the French, German, British, Italian, Dutch, Spanish, Greek, and Portuguese peoples.
Western civilization is a skeleton. It still stands, barely, but there is no life in it. The blood of liberty has departed. Western peoples look at their governments and see nothing but enemies. Why else has Washington militarized local police forces, equipping them as if they were occupying armies? Why else has Homeland Security, the Department of Agriculture, and even the Postal Service and Social Security Administration ordered billions of rounds of ammunition and even submachine guns? What is this taxpayer-paid-for arsenal for if not to suppress US citizens?
As the prominent trends forecaster Gerald Celente spells out in the current Trends Journal, “uprisings span four corners of the globe.” Throughout Europe angry, desperate and outraged peoples march against EU financial policies that are driving the peoples into the ground. Despite all of Washington’s efforts with its well funded fifth columns known as NGOs to destabilize Russia and China, both the Russian and Chinese governments have far more support from their people than do the US and Europe.
In the 20th century Russia and China learned what tyranny is, and they have rejected it.
In the US tyranny has entered under the guise of the “war on terror,” a hoax used to scare the sheeple into abandoning their civil liberties, thus freeing Washington from accountability to law and permitting Washington to erect a militarist police state. Ever since WWII Washington has used its financial hegemony and the “Soviet threat,” now converted into the “Russian threat,” to absorb Europe into Washington’s empire.
Putin is hoping that the interests of European countries will prevail over subservience to Washington. This is Putin’s current bet. This is the reason Putin remains unprovoked by Washington’s provocations in Ukraine.
If Europe fails Russia, Putin and China will prepare for the war that Washington’s drive for hegemony makes inevitable.
Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. His latest books are, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and How America Was Lost. http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/
So, what do we have here? In Libya, in Syria, and elsewhere the United States has been on the same side as the al-Qaeda types. But not in Ukraine. That’s the good news. The bad news is that in Ukraine the United States is on the same side as the neo-Nazi types, who – taking time off from parading around with their swastika-like symbols and calling for the death of Jews, Russians and Communists – on May 2 burned down a trade-union building in Odessa, killing scores of people and sending hundreds to hospital; many of the victims were beaten or shot when they tried to flee the flames and smoke; ambulances were blocked from reaching the wounded. Try and find an American mainstream media entity that has made a serious attempt to capture the horror.
And how did this latest example of American foreign-policy exceptionalism come to be? One starting point that can be considered is what former Secretary of Defense and CIA Director Robert Gates says in his recently published memoir: “When the Soviet Union was collapsing in late 1991, [Defense Secretary Dick Cheney] wanted to see the dismemberment not only of the Soviet Union and the Russian empire but of Russia itself, so it could never again be a threat to the rest of the world.” That can serve as an early marker for the new cold war while the corpse of the old one was still warm. Soon thereafter, NATO began to surround Russia with military bases, missile sites, and NATO members, while yearning for perhaps the most important part needed to complete the circle – Ukraine.
In February of this year, US State Department officials, undiplomatically, joined anti-government protesters in the capital city of Kiev, handing out encouragement and food, from which emanated the infamous leaked audio tape between the US ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, and the State Department’s Victoria Nuland, former US ambassador to NATO and former State Department spokesperson for Hillary Clinton. Their conversation dealt with who should be running the new Ukraine government after the government of Viktor Yanukovich was overthrown; their most favored for this position being one Arseniy Yatsenuk.
My dear, and recently departed, Washington friend, John Judge, liked to say that if you want to call him a “conspiracy theorist” you have to call others “coincidence theorists”. Thus it was by the most remarkable of coincidences that Arseniy Yatsenuk did indeed become the new prime minister. He could very soon be found in private meetings and public press conferences with the president of the United States and the Secretary-General of NATO, as well as meeting with the soon-to-be new owners of Ukraine, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, preparing to impose their standard financial shock therapy. The current protestors in Ukraine don’t need PHDs in economics to know what this portends. They know about the impoverishment of Greece, Spain, et al. They also despise the new regime for its overthrow of their democratically-elected government, whatever its shortcomings. But the American media obscures these motivations by almost always referring to them simply as “pro-Russian”.
An exception, albeit rather unemphasized, was the April 17 Washington Post which reported from Donetsk that many of the eastern Ukrainians whom the author interviewed said the unrest in their region was driven by fear of “economic hardship” and the IMF austerity plan that will make their lives even harder: “At a most dangerous and delicate time, just as it battles Moscow for hearts and minds across the east, the pro-Western government is set to initiate a shock therapy of economic measures to meet the demands of an emergency bailout from the International Monetary Fund.”
Arseniy Yatsenuk, it should be noted, has something called the Arseniy Yatsenuk Foundation. If you go to the foundation’s website you will see the logos of the foundation’s “partners”. Among these partners we find NATO, the National Endowment for Democracy, the US State Department, Chatham House (Royal Institute of International Affairs in the UK), the German Marshall Fund (a think tank founded by the German government in honor of the US Marshall Plan), as well as a couple of international banks. Is any comment needed?
Getting away with supporting al-Qaeda and Nazi types may be giving US officials the idea that they can say or do anything they want in their foreign policy. In a May 2 press conference, President Obama, referring to Ukraine and the NATO Treaty, said: “We’re united in our unwavering Article 5 commitment to the security of our NATO allies”. (Article 5 states: “The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them … shall be considered an attack against them all.”) Did the president forget that Ukraine is not (yet) a member of NATO? And in the same press conference, the president referred to the “duly elected government in Kyiv (Kiev)”, when in fact it had come to power via a coup and then proceeded to establish a new regime in which the vice-premier, minister of defense, minister of agriculture, and minister of environment, all belonged to far-right neo-Nazi parties.
The pure awfulness of the Ukrainian right-wingers can scarcely be exaggerated. In early March, the leader of Pravy Sektor (Right Sector) called upon his comrades, the infamous Chechnyan terrorists, to carry out further terrorist actions in Russia.
There may be one important difference between the old Cold War and the new one. The American people, as well as the world, can not be as easily brainwashed as they were during the earlier period.
Over the course of a decade, in doing the research for my first books and articles on US foreign policy, one of the oddities to me of the Cold War was how often the Soviet Union seemed to know what the United States was really up to, even if the American people didn’t. Every once in a while in the 1950s to 70s a careful reader would notice a two- or three-inch story in the New York Times on the bottom of some distant inside page, reporting that Pravda or Izvestia had claimed that a recent coup or political assassination in Africa or Asia or Latin America had been the work of the CIA; theTimes might add that a US State Department official had labeled the story as “absurd”. And that was that; no further details were provided; and none were needed, for how many American readers gave it a second thought? It was just more commie propaganda. Who did they think they were fooling? This ignorance/complicity on the part of the mainstream media allowed the United States to get away with all manner of international crimes and mischief.
It was only in the 1980s when I began to do the serious research that resulted in my first book, which later became Killing Hope, that I was able to fill in the details and realize that the United States had indeed masterminded that particular coup or assassination, and many other coups and assassinations, not to mention countless bombings, chemical and biological warfare, perversion of elections, drug dealings, kidnapings, and much more that had not appeared in the American mainstream media or schoolbooks. (And a significant portion of which was apparently unknown to the Soviets as well.)
But there have been countless revelations about US crimes in the past two decades. Many Americans and much of the rest of the planet have become educated. They’re much more skeptical of American proclamations and the fawning media.
President Obama recently declared: “The strong condemnation that it’s received from around the world indicates the degree to which Russia is on the wrong side of history on this.” Marvelous … coming from the man who partners with jihadists and Nazis and has waged war against seven nations. In the past half century is there any country whose foreign policy has received more bitter condemnation than the United States? If the United States is not on the wrong side of history, it may be only in the history books published by the United States.
Barack Obama, like virtually all Americans, likely believes that the Soviet Union, with perhaps the sole exception of the Second World War, was consistently on the wrong side of history in its foreign policy as well as at home. Yet, in a survey conducted by an independent Russian polling center this past January, and reported in the Washington Post in April, 86 percent of respondents older than 55 expressed regret for the Soviet Union’s collapse; 37 percent of those aged 25 to 39 did so. (Similar poll results have been reported regularly since the demise of the Soviet Union. This is fromUSA Today in 1999: “When the Berlin Wall crumbled, East Germans imagined a life of freedom where consumer goods were abundant and hardships would fade. Ten years later, a remarkable 51% say they were happier with communism.”)
Or as the new Russian proverb put it: “Everything the Communists said about Communism was a lie, but everything they said about capitalism turned out to be the truth.”
A week before the above Post report in April the newspaper printed an article about happiness around the world, which contains the following charming lines: “Worldwide polls show that life seems better to older people – except in Russia.” … “Essentially, life under President Vladimir Putin is one continuous downward spiral into despair.” … “What’s going on in Russia is deep unhappiness.” … “In Russia, the only thing to look forward to is death’s sweet embrace.”
No, I don’t think it was meant to be any kind of satire. It appears to be a scientific study, complete with graphs, but it reads like something straight out of the 1950s.
The views Americans hold of themselves and other societies are not necessarily more distorted than the views found amongst people elsewhere in the world, but the Americans’ distortion can lead to much more harm. Most Americans and members of Congress have convinced themselves that the US/NATO encirclement of Russia is benign – we are, after all, the Good Guys – and they don’t understand why Russia can’t see this.
The first Cold War, from Washington’s point of view, was often designated as one of “containment”, referring to the US policy of preventing the spread of communism around the world, trying to blockthe very idea of communism or socialism. There’s still some leftover from that – see Venezuela and Cuba, for example – but the new Cold War can be seen more in terms of a military strategy. Washington thinks in terms of who could pose a barrier to the ever-expanding empire adding to its bases and other military necessities.
Whatever the rationale, it’s imperative that the United States suppress any lingering desire to bring Ukraine (and Georgia) into the NATO alliance. Nothing is more likely to bring large numbers of Russian boots onto the Ukrainian ground than the idea that Washington wants to have NATO troops right on the Russian border and in spitting distance of the country’s historic Black Sea naval base in Crimea.
The myth of Soviet expansionism
One still comes across references in the mainstream media to Russian “expansionism” and “the Soviet empire”, in addition to that old favorite “the evil empire”. These terms stem largely from erstwhile Soviet control of Eastern European states. But was the creation of these satellites following World War II an act of imperialism or expansionism? Or did the decisive impetus lie elsewhere?
Within the space of less than 25 years, Western powers had invaded Russia three times – the two world wars and the “Intervention” of 1918-20 – inflicting some 40 million casualties in the two wars alone. To carry out these invasions, the West had used Eastern Europe as a highway. Should it be any cause for wonder that after World War II the Soviets wanted to close this highway down? In almost any other context, Americans would have no problem in seeing this as an act of self defense. But in the context of the Cold War such thinking could not find a home in mainstream discourse.
The Baltic states of the Soviet Union – Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania – were not part of the highway and were frequently in the news because of their demands for more autonomy from Moscow, a story “natural” for the American media. These articles invariably reminded the reader that the “once independent” Baltic states were invaded in 1939 by the Soviet Union, incorporated as republics of the USSR, and had been “occupied” ever since. Another case of brutal Russian imperialism. Period. History etched in stone.
The three countries, it happens, were part of the Russian empire from 1721 up to the Russian Revolution of 1917, in the midst of World War I. When the war ended in November 1918, and the Germans had been defeated, the victorious Allied nations (US, Great Britain, France, et al.) permitted/encouraged the German forces to remain in the Baltics for a full year to crush the spread of Bolshevism there; this, with ample military assistance from the Allied nations. In each of the three republics, the Germans installed collaborators in power who declared their independence from the new Bolshevik state which, by this time, was so devastated by the World War, the revolution, and the civil war prolonged by the Allies’ intervention, that it had no choice but to accept the fait accompli. The rest of the fledgling Soviet Union had to be saved.
To at least win some propaganda points from this unfortunate state of affairs, the Soviets announced that they were relinquishing the Baltic republics “voluntarily” in line with their principles of anti-imperialism and self-determination. But is should not be surprising that the Soviets continued to regard the Baltics as a rightful part of their nation or that they waited until they were powerful enough to reclaim the territory.
Then we had Afghanistan. Surely this was an imperialist grab. But the Soviet Union had lived next door to Afghanistan for more than 60 years without gobbling it up. And when the Russians invaded in 1979, the key motivation was the United States involvement in a movement, largely Islamic, to topple the Afghan government, which was friendly to Moscow. The Soviets could not have been expected to tolerate a pro-US, anti-communist government on its border any more than the United States could have been expected to tolerate a pro-Soviet, communist government in Mexico.
Moreover, if the rebel movement took power it likely would have set up a fundamentalist Islamic government, which would have been in a position to proselytize the numerous Muslims in the Soviet border republics.
- See RT.com (formerly Russia Today) for many stories, images and videos
- Robert Gates, Duty (2014), p.97
- If this site has gone missing again, a saved version can be found here.
- Voice of Russia radio station, Moscow, April 18, 2014; also see Answer Coalition, “Who’s who in Ukraine’s new [semi-fascist] government”, March 11, 2014
- RT.com, news report March 5, 2014
- CBS News, March 3, 2014
- Washington Post, April 11, 2014
- USA Today (Virginia), Oct. 11, 1999, page 1
- Washington Post print edition, April 2, 2014; online here
No one has ever claimed that the financial markets are a level playing field. Equities, bonds, currencies, options and futures are not arenas that operate by equivalent standards for all parties. Great fortunes were built not by chance, but on superior information, known to the few. Professional traders are not risk gamblers, but operate on the premise of special advantage. Through advance and proprietary techniques that reduce exposure hazards and provide exclusive head start triggers, which virtually guarantee profits, the elite firms dominate Wall Street.
Business Week states in the article, Is High-Frequency Trading Insider Trading?, that
“Classically defined, insider trading means having access to material, non-public information before it reaches the rest of the market; it’s like getting a heads-up about a merger before it’s announced, or maybe a phone call from a Goldman Sachs (GS) board member saying that Warren Buffett is about to invest $5 billion in the bank.”
With the introduction of super computers and Financial Algorithmic Trading, the era of generated trading strategies emerged that fill automatically, when predetermined prices are reached. Some would argue that exchanges were simply applying the latest technology to the time honored system of flipping positions.
Now we live in the High-Frequency matrix, based upon millisecond reactions, which activates on information that is not offered to everyone at the same time. Forbes explains accordingly in High Frequency Insider Trading – And It’s Completely Legal!
“According to a team of Wall Street Journal reporters from an article on June 12, the practice works to the advantage of professional traders. “Economic reports from public universities, trade groups and other nongovernmental organizations can move markets as surely as official data from the U.S. government,” according to the Journal’s team of four reporters: Brody Mullins, Michael Rothfeld, Tom McGinty, Jenny Strasburg. “But unlike government reports, where pains are taken to make certain no one gets them ahead of time, few rules control release of nongovernmental economic reports. Unknown to many investors, selling early access is routine.”
Access to this highly valuable information is the key. And such access comes at a price. Rapid traders pay information companies like Thomson Reuters thousands of dollars each month for a look at such reports, moments before they are widely disseminated. And it’s in those few key seconds, that they make their killing.”
Seemingly, this high-tech access to supercharged information is the newest version of insider information. The following assessment is also from the same Business Week account.
“New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has called HFT “insider trading 2.0″ on a number of occasions. His office is looking into the relationships between traders, brokers and exchanges and asking whether it all needs to be reformed. The FBI spent the last year looking to uncover manipulative trading practices among HFT firms; the federal agency is now asking speed traders to come forward as whistleblowers.”
Chicago is not much different from their Wall Street exchange cousins. Litigation over this practice is referenced in the report, CME Sued For Giving “High-Frequency Traders Peek At Market” Since 2007.
“In a lawsuit that was just filed by lead plaintiff William Charles Braman, seeking class-action status, and filed on behalf of all users of real-time futures market data and futures contracts listed on the CBOT and CME from 2007 to now, the CME is alleged to have sold order information to high-frequency traders ahead of other market participants.
Apparently it took the general public a Michael Lewis book to reread out post from October 2012 in which we showed that an estimated over 30% of CME revenues were made from HFT – in other words from selling proprietary data in direct feeds to high-paying subscribers, that hits collocated servers ahead of the consolidated tape.”
Well, what the layman would see as obvious, influential security lawyers see as neat ambiguity. The Forbes story continues.
“But it is legal, and so is trading on the advance peeks,” the Journal reported. “Even as securities rules bar companies from selective data disclosure, and as authorities vigorously pursue insider trading in all its forms, no law prevents investors from trading on nonpublic information they have legally purchased from other private entities. Trading would be illegal only if the information was passed through a breach of trust, said securities lawyers.”
It should be clear that the financial system is designed to accommodate creative and innovative methods of price manipulation. The defenders of “Crony Capitalism” see such stratagems as a 21th century sophisticated version of robber baron corporatism, in the fine tradition of Jay Gould and James Fisk. Clipping an ensured few cents on billions of transactions is surely a slick system.
Fabricating automatic returns is bad enough, but what is the public risk of producing a real panic when High-Frequency momentum turns into a full propelled blow off?
When a robot computer generates buy or sell orders, the difference between winning and losing is based upon the speed of the information used to place and execute orders. If your algobots taps into info, not available to the entire market, the game is rigged.
Matthew O’Brien in Everything You Need to Know About High-Frequency Trading, makes a valid point.
“Every HFT strategy depends on not only being faster than ordinary investors, but being faster than each other too. Anytime somebody comes up with a new way to cut a few microseconds—that is, a millionth of a second—off of trading time, they have to spend whatever it takes to do it. Otherwise, they’ll lose out to their competitors who do.”
Imagine this disconnect with real economic reality that place trades, with little concern if it is a long or short. Only the speed matters. The conclusion from the Negotium essay Financial Algorithmic Trading, holds true. “Banning the interconnect of proprietary programs that amalgamate directly into the systems on the floor of the exchanges is the only way to prevent the integration of systemic collusion among the 1 and 0 computer programs.”
It should be obvious that the recent putsch and regime change in the Ukraine inspired and backed by the U.S. shadow government, benefits the international banksters. For the average EU resident, only further economic displacement and diminished prospects can be expected from any inclusion of Ukraine into the EU dictatorial structure. Not so, for the corporatists who expects expanded opportunities as Consortium News analyzes agricultural and energy companies recent involvement within the Ukraine.While corporatists want to extend their monopolies, the appeal of joining the EU with privileges of travel, relocation and better employment, has a very high price tag. So what is really behind the cover that the Brussels technocrats like to provide for the heavy hand treatment, which the banksters always demand? Look to the methods of the IMF for part of the answer.
Michel Chossudovsky of Global Research, in the detailed essay Regime Change in Ukraine and the IMF’s Bitter “Economic Medicine”, gives a comprehensive account of the handpicked players that are eager to do the bidding of the IMF.
“Shortly after his instatement, the interim (puppet) prime minister Arseny Yatsenyuk casually dismissed the need to negotiate with the IMF. Prior to the conduct of negotiations pertaining to a draft agreement, Yatsenyuk had already called for an unconditional acceptance of the IMF package: “We have no other choice but to accept the IMF offer”.
He explains the methods of the standard game plan that the IMF uses to impoverish the peasants and steal assets and resources.
“While the privatization program ensures the transfer of State assets into the hands of foreign investors, the IMF program also includes provisions geared towards the destabilization of the country’s privately owned business conglomerates. A concurrent “break up” plan entitled “spin-off” as well as a “bankruptcy program” are often implemented with a view to triggering the liquidation, closing down or restructuring of a large number of nationally owned private and public enterprises.”
In addition, the 21th Century Newswire reports that the US Quietly Snatches the Ukraine’s Gold Reserves and corroborated by the same Prof Chossudovsky, it becomes clear that economic conquest is a prime component behind the staged coup.
“According to reports out of Kiev, the US has quietly transfers 33 tons of Ukrainian gold out of the country and back to vaults in the US. Presumably, this sovereign wealth transfer would be counted as partial “collateral” for a fresh round of IMF, US FED, and ECB paper debt that is currently being organized for dumping into the Ukraine’s economic black hole.”
“Later a returned call from a senior official of the former Ministry of Revenue reported that tonight, on the orders of one of the new leaders of Ukraine, the United States had taken custody of all the gold reserves in Ukraine.”
Finally, economist Michael Hudson in Who In Ukraine Will Benefit From An IMF Bailout?,
“The objective of IMF loans is to deindustrialize the economy. It is to force the economy–meaning the government when you say the economy–the government has to pay the IMF loan by privatizing whatever remains in the public domain. The Westerners want to buy the Ukrainian farmland. They want to buy the public utilities. They want to buy the roads. They want to buy the ports. And all of this is going to be sold at a very low price to the Westerners, and the price that the Westerners pay will be turned over to the Ukrainian government, that then will turn it back to the Ukraine. So whatever the West gives Ukraine will immediately be taken back.”
Watch the informative video, Who In Ukraine Will Benefit From An IMF Bailout?, for the Real News assessment, that clarifies these developments. Now shift to the recent announcement that the EU Signs Association Agreement With Ukraine for a viewpoint reported by Radio Free Europe.
“This deal covers the most existential and most important issues, mainly security and defense cooperation,” Yatsenyukd said. “This deal will establish a joint decision-making body, which is to facilitate the process of real reforms in my country. And this deal meets the aspirations of millions of Ukrainians that want to be a part of the European Union.”
What exactly can the EU offer by way of defense cooperation? Yes, this is the same central banker stooge, who the Wall Street Journal describes as Washington’s Man Yatsenyuk Setting Ukraine Up For Ruin. Without the United States, the EU is a paper tiger. NATO is not an alliance, but a branch of outposts to deploy American troops. How does this phony agreement between the EU and Ukraine help the economic interests of either party?
Such a display of destitution only makes the illegitimate installed Ukraine government look like the vassal state that it has become. Bob Livingston over at Personal Liberty Digest has it correct, “The Ukraine situation is a bankster-orchestrated crisis with the short game more money printing and the end game global governance.”The EU governance aspect is the eventual goal, but the immediate economic dislocation that even the talk of sanctions against Russia has, with the trading partners within the EU, surely will experience real pain. These conditions create the perfect storm for the IMF banksters to apply their vile craft.
Now that the Ukraine is reduced to beggar status, the gang of approved corporatist will feast like vultures upon the remains of fire sale assets. Once again the formula imposed upon Ireland, Spain and certainly Greece, will be used to guarantee the billions in EURO credit that will flow into the secret bank accounts of the new junta.
Capturing the Ukraine is more about geopolitical asset thievery than assimilation into the European Union. However, the EU marketed, as a lawful “community of nations” is nothing more than the political front for the money counterfeiters. Fashioning economic distress is the business of the unholy alliance. NATO, the IMF and the EU serve the shyster and shylock central banking system. Ukraine is just the latest victim.
The once well-respected Guardian has been reduced in recent years into a lame Zionist mouthpiece – a light Jewish Chronicle for Gentiles consumption. Last week, the paper launched an attack on Martin Heidegger, the 20th century’s most influential philosopher.
“Heidegger’s ‘black notebooks’ reveal antisemitism at core of his philosophy” the paper’s headline read. But what does that mean? Was Heidegger really a Jew hater? Did he oppose people for being ethnically or ‘racially’ Jewish or was he, instead, critical of Jewish politics, culture, ideology and spirit?
According to the ‘progressive’ British Guardian, the newly published Black Notebooks reveals that Heidegger saw ‘world Judaism’ as the driver of “dehumanising modernity”.
Needless to mention that we didn’t need a ‘new publication’ to assert that this was Heidegger’s view of Jewish culture and politics. The German thinker, like many of his contemporaries, saw “Jerusalem” as a suppressive and corrupted spiritual, cultural and intellectual influence as opposed to “Athens”, which portrayed in his eyes, the birth of humanism, universalism, aesthetics, ethics and pluralism.
Let’s examine what makes a prominent thinker into an Anti Semite in the eyes of The Guardian. “While distancing himself from the racial theories pursued by Nazi intellectuals, Heidegger argues that Weltjudentum (“world Judaism”) is one of the main drivers of western modernity, which he viewed critically.”
But aren’t we entitled to criticize religion, culture or Ideology? Aren’t we allowed to disapprove of modernity or technology and to try to identify its cultural and ideological roots? For some reason, I can’t recall The Guardian taking Max Weber to task for suggesting that Protestant ethics was the driving force behind Capitalism. Embarrassingly enough, the same Guardian that clumsily and shamelessly smears the greatest continental thinker, provides a platform to a long list of Neocons, pro-war advocates such as Nick Cohen who constantly and relentlessly criticize the so-called ‘Islamo-Fascists’ – a code name for Islamic political culture. I guess that for The Guardian of Judea, it is only Jewish culture, religion and ideology that must remain beyond criticism.
“World Judaism”, Heidegger writes in the notebooks, “is ungraspable everywhere and doesn’t need to get involved in military action while continuing to unfurl its influence, whereas we are left to sacrifice the best blood of the best of our people”. But is the above observation anti Semitic? Can an honest observation be anti Semitic, or shall we say a form of ‘hatred’, or should it be more appropriately tagged as an uncomfortable truth?
Heidegger was a German patriot. As such he knew very well that it was Zionist leadership and German Jewish bankers in America that facilitated the entry of the USA into the first world war (in return in part for the 1917’s Belfour Declaration that promised a national home for Jews in Palestine). In that regard, Heidegger, like his contemporaries, had good reason to believe that Germany was betrayed by its Jewish elite.
When Heidegger published his monumental Being And Time (1927), certainly the 20th century’s most important philosophical text, the Frankfurt School, dominated by Jewish academics, had already been in operation for more than four years, gaining ground in its attempt to subvert German culture in the name of communism. As a German nationalist, Heidegger had more than just one reason to oppose Jewish culture, politics and ideology.
Heidegger was a philosopher as opposed to a politician or an ‘activist’. His understanding of the world was driven by the search for an essential and categorical comprehension. For Heidegger it wasn’t the ‘Jew’ nor was it ethnicity that posed danger, it was an ideology and culture that was set to undermine his Athenian West and its value system as he saw it. Such an approach has nothing to do with racial hatred.
Let’s examine Heidegger’s above statement regarding ‘world Judaism’, its ‘ungraspable’ impact and its unwillingness to ‘sacrifice.’ Heidegger basically suggests that the Jewish elite is launching wars by proxy. At first, this may sound like a vile criticism of Jewish culture and power within politics. But a deeper look into this statement reveals that Heidegger was highly observant. Let’s face it, Heidegger certainly didn’t know about the cabal of Zionist neocons who pushed Britain and the USA into an illegal war in Iraq five decades after his death. Heidegger, most definitely didn’t know about the Jewish Lobby Groups: AIPAC, LFI, CFI and the CRIF. He certainly didn’t know of Bernard Henri Levy or Jewish Chronicle writers David Aaronovitch and Nick Cohen, who have been advocating Zionist immoral interventionist campaigns for years. Furthermore, as Heidegger predicted, not many young Jews followed the Zionised Neocon militant enthusiasm and rushed to join the US Army Special Forces or The Royal Marines. Heidegger somehow foresaw that Jews wouldn’t be overrepresented in the list of dead British and American soldiers that emerged out of this chain of futile conflicts.
When Heidegger writes, “we (the Germans) are left to sacrifice the best blood of the best of our people,” it is Zionist proxy wars he has in his mind – those Zionist wars that are fought by everyone except the Zionists themselves. But how could the philosopher predict the Zionist’s political apparatus so precisely? Was he a prophet?
To philosophize is to dig into the true essence. The philosopher’s quest is a search for the essential meaning, whether it is being, beauty, knowledge, science and so on. Heidegger, the philosopher, saw in Jewish culture something most Jews either fail to see in themselves or conceal very well and for a good reason. It is hardly surprising that The Guardian that has systematically failed to confront the Jewish Lobby and its relentless war advocacy, would denounce the great mind who accurately listed the exact conditions in which such bellicosity takes place.
Tragically, annihilating intelligencia and deep critical thought has become an obsession of the New Left. This may explain the deterioration of the progressive discourse into an intellectual desert. The Guardian, in its current form and under its current leadership, has a major role in that process.
“In another passage”, the Guardian continues, “the philosopher writes that the Jewish people, with their ‘talent for calculation’, were so vehemently opposed to the Nazi’s racial theories because ‘they themselves have lived according to the race principle for longest’”.
But is this really a lie? Not at all. The German philosopher obviously hits the nail on the head. Heidegger, who didn’t approve of the Nazi racist doctrine, properly noted that Nazi racial supremacy was, in fact, Kosher by nature.
It is hardly a secret that Jewish culture is ethno-centric and racially driven. Israel defines itself as the ‘Jewish State’. Far more embarrassing is the fact that Israel’s Jewish opponents also follow the same racially supremacist methodology and, in most cases, operate within ‘Jews only’ political cells (such as JVP, IJAN, Jewish Socialist Group etc.).
Heidegger, was obviously ahead of his time in observing the similarity between Jewish political exclusiveness and Nazi ideology. Does that make Heidegger an anti Semite? Quite the opposite, it affirms that the German philosopher is a timeless precious intellectual asset. Yet, The Guardian doesn’t posses the minimal integrity to admit that Heidegger was actually spot on. Instead, the British paper is desperate to undermine the work of the great philosopher by means of inept and vague association.
By tagging Heidegger as an anti Semite The Guardian basically advises his readers not to read the greatest Germano-Grecophilosopher and certainly not to evaluate the content of his writing. This is ‘Newspeak’ as observed by Orwell, which minimizes the possible content of intellectual exchange by means of ‘correctness’.
It is no secret that the contemporary politically correct observer adheres to the rule that truth better be inoffensive. As such, he or she contributes to the suppression of the truth and the transformation of knowledge into a system of selective concealment. Interestingly, it was Heidegger who was there to turn the floodlight onto ‘concealment’ and the ‘forgetfulness of Being’, something the Guardian has made into an art from.
Heidegger, the truth teller has come to represent everything the Jerusalemite ‘Guardian of Judea’ is there to suppress. I guess that the time is ripe for The Guardian to wake up. It would do well to reinstate its position as The Guardian of the truth rather than The Guardian of Zion. We could use a quality Left paper driven by true humanist and universal concerns, instead of just another ignorant and banal Zionist mouthpiece.
“From the moment the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the United States has relentlessly pursued a strategy of encircling Russia, just as it has with other perceived enemies like China and Iran. It has brought 12 countries in central Europe, all of them formerly allied with Moscow, into the NATO alliance. US military power is now directly on Russia’s borders…This crisis is in part the result of a zero-sum calculation that has shaped US policy toward Moscow since the Cold War: Any loss for Russia is an American victory, and anything positive that happens to, for, or in Russia is bad for the United States. This is an approach that intensifies confrontation, rather than soothing it.”
– Stephen Kinzer, “US a full partner in Ukraine debacle”, Boston Globe
“We have removed all of our heavy weapons from the European part of Russia and put them behind the Urals” and “reduced our Armed Forces by 300,000. We have taken several other steps required by the Adapted Conventional Armed Forces Treaty in Europe (ACAF). But what have we seen in response? Eastern Europe is receiving new weapons, two new military bases are being set up in Romania and in Bulgaria, and there are two new missile launch areas — a radar in Czech republic and missile systems in Poland. And we are asking ourselves the question: what is going on? Russia is disarming unilaterally. But if we disarm unilaterally then we would like to see our partners be willing to do the same thing in Europe. On the contrary, Europe is being pumped full of new weapons systems. And of course we cannot help but be concerned.”
– Russian President Vladimir Putin, Munich Conference on Security Policy, February 2007
The Obama administration’s rationale for supporting the fascist-led coup in Ukraine collapsed on Wednesday when a “hacked” phone call between EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton and Estonian foreign minister Urmas Paet revealed that the snipers who fired on protestors in Maidan Square in Kiev were not aligned with President Viktor Yanukovych, but with the protest leaders themselves. The significance of the discovery cannot be overstated since the Obama team has used the killing of protestors to justify its support for the new imposter government. Now it appears that members of the new government may be implicated in the killing of innocent civilians. This new information could force Obama to withdraw his support for the coup plotters in Kiev, which would derail the administration’s plan to remove Russia from the Crimea and expand NATO into Ukraine. Here’s a short recap of the details from an article in Russia Today:
“Estonian foreign ministry has confirmed the recording of his conversation with EU foreign policy chief is authentic. Urmas Paet said that snipers who shot at protesters and police in Kiev were hired by Maidan leaders.
During the conversation, Paet stressed that “there is now stronger and stronger understanding that behind the snipers, it was not Yanukovich, but it was somebody from the new coalition.”….
The Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs also issued a statement on its website, saying that the recording of the leaked telephone conversation between Paet and Ashton is “authentic.” (“Estonian Foreign Ministry confirms authenticity of leaked call on Kiev snipers“, Russia Today)
To its credit, the UK Guardian published an article reporting the basic facts, but there’s been no coverage by the New York Times, the Washington Post or any of the major TV News networks. America’s elite media are engaged in a coordinated news blackout to keep people from seeing that the Obama administration and their EU collaborators are supporting a group of far-right extremists who were directly involved in the killing of civilians in order to topple a democratically-elected government. Here’s more from the same article:
“…there is a stronger and stronger understanding that behind snipers it was not Yanukovych, it was somebody from the new coalition,” Paet says…the same handwriting, the same type of bullets, and it’s really disturbing that now the new coalition, that they don’t want to investigate what exactly happened.” (“Ukraine crisis: bugged call reveals conspiracy theory about Kiev snipers“, Guardian)
There won’t be an investigation because an investigation would reveal the truth, and the truth would undermine Obama’s plan to install a puppet regime in Kiev. The new government has already shown that it is more than willing to do Washington’s bidding, that is, to impose austerity measures on the working people of Ukraine, to pay off fatcat bondholders in Berlin and Brussels via more extortionist IMF loans, to extend NATO to Russia’s border in contravention of agreements made with Bush the Elder following the fall of the Berlin Wall, and to pursue the crackpot dreams of global hegemony laid out in “The Grand Chessboard” by New World Order fantasist Zbigniew Brzezinski. These are the primary objectives of the present policy which could be upended by the allegations of foul play.
The smoking gun revelations of the hacked phone call came just hours before US officials indicated they were planning to increase their military footprint in Eastern Europe. According to the World Socialist Web Site:
“Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the Pentagon will boost joint training of NATO forces in Poland and step up NATO air patrols in the Baltics…US military officials said they were deploying six F-15 fighter jets and KC-135 transport planes. ….One guided-missile frigate, the USS Taylor, is still in a Black Sea port in Turkey after patrolling the region during the Sochi Olympics…
Turkish officials confirmed that they had given a US Navy warship permission to pass through the Bosphorus straits into the Black Sea, which borders Ukraine.” (“Amid Ukraine crisis, US launches military escalation in Eastern Europe”, World Socialist Web Site)
Also Russia Today reports that: “The guided missile destroyer, the USS Truxton, is heading to the Black Sea, for what the US military said is a “routine” deployment…The ship has a crew of about 300 and is part of an aircraft carrier strike group that left the US in mid-February.” (“US navy confirms missile destroyer USS Truxton approaching the Black Sea”, RT)
“Routine deployment”? So provoking a war with Russia is “routine”? Talk about understatement.
The military escalation occurs in an atmosphere of heightened tension between the two nuclear-armed powers and will certainly add to their mutual distrust. Hagel’s deployment is consistent with a plan for antagonizing Moscow that was proposed just days earlier in the Washington Post by the Obama administration’s ideological godfather, Zbigniew Brzezinski. Here’s a bit of what Brzezinski had to say in the article titled “What is to be done? Putin’s aggression in Ukraine needs a response”:
“…the West should promptly recognize the current government of Ukraine as legitimate. Uncertainty regarding its legal status could tempt Putin to repeat his Crimean charade…
“…the West should convey.. that the Ukrainian army can count on immediate and direct Western aid so as to enhance its defensive capabilities. There should be no doubt left in Putin’s mind that an attack on Ukraine would precipitate a prolonged and costly engagement, and Ukrainians should not fear that they would be left in the lurch.
Meanwhile, NATO forces, consistent with the organization’s contingency planning, should be put on alert. High readiness for some immediate airlift to Europe of U.S. airborne units would be politically and militarily meaningful. If the West wants to avoid a conflict, there should be no ambiguity in the Kremlin as to what might be precipitated by further adventurist use of force in the middle of Europe.” (“What is to be done? Putin’s aggression in Ukraine needs a response”, Washington Post)
“Adventurist”? Dr. Strangelove is calling the Kremlin adventurist when his recommendations would put NATO, the US and Moscow on hairtrigger alert increasing the chances of an error in judgment that could lead to thermonuclear war. Isn’t that the pot calling the kettle black?
But listen to the tone of Brzezinski’s op-ed. In just a few short paragraphs, the author–who many respect as a restrained and brilliant global strategist–refers to Putin as a thug, a Mafia gangster, Mussolini, and Hitler. I imagine if he had another paragraph to work with, he would have added Beelzebub Satan to the list.
This isn’t politics; it’s hysterics. It’s incendiary, jingoistic mumbo-jumbo intended to rouse the public and fan the flames of nationalism. It’s the same kind of self-righteous raving that precipitated the invasion of Iraq.
And what is Brzezinski saying?
Is he saying that events in the Crimea are a threat to US national security? Is he saying that the US should now feel free to apply the Monroe Doctrine everywhere across the planet, sticking our big nose wherever the president sees fit?
The trouble in the Crimea has nothing to do with the United States. We have no dog in this fight. This is about military expansion into Eurasia, this is about pipeline corridors and oil fields, this is about dismantling the Russian Federation and positioning multinational corporations and Wall Street investment banks in Asia for the new century. And, finally, this is an ego-driven crusade by an old man who wants to see his looneybin NWO global hegemony vision enacted before they cart him off on a marble slab. That’s what this is really about; the glorious new world disorder, the dystopian wetdream of thinktank patricians everywhere whose only purpose in life is to initiate wars that other-peoples-sons will have to fight.
Entering Ukraine into the corporate-western alliance is a critical part of Brzezinski’s masterplan. The basic strategy has been underway since the fall of the Berlin Wall when neoliberal carpetbaggers from the US assisted in the looting of the former Soviet state leaving Russia politically broken and economically destitute. Since then, US policy towards Russia has been overtly hostile, making every effort to encircle the oil-rich nation while positioning nuclear missile installations on its perimeter. Now Washington is using its fascist-backed coup in Ukraine to force Moscow to relinquish its grip on a region that is vital to its national security.
Here’s a brief excerpt from an interview with Stephen Cohen, professor of Russian studies and history emeritus at New York University on Monday on PBS Newshour. Cohen helps to clarify what is really going on viv a vis the US and Russia:
“What we’re watching today is the worst kind of history being made, the descent of a new Cold War divide between West and East in Europe, this time not in faraway Berlin, but right on Russia’s borders through Ukraine. That will be instability and the prospect of war for decades to come for our kids and our grandchildren. The official version is that Putin is to blame; he did this. But it simply isn’t true. This began 20 years ago when Clinton began the movement of NATO toward Russia, a movement that’s continued.
…the fundamental issue here is that, three or four years ago, Putin made absolutely clear he had two red lines…One was in the former Soviet republic of Georgia. (Putin would not allow NATO in Georgia) The other was in Ukraine. We crossed both. You got a war in Georgia in 2008, and you have got today in Ukraine because we, the United States and Europe, crossed Putin’s red line.” (PBS News Hour)
There’s no doubt who is to blame for the present conflict in Cohen’s mind. It’s Washington.
So, here we are, between a rock and a hard place: Putin cannot back down on an issue that’s crucial to national security, and Washington is more determined than ever to pull Ukraine into –what Henry Kissinger calls–”a cooperative international system.” (aka–global capitalist rule) That means there’s going to be a war.
On Thursday, Crimea MPs voted unanimously to hold a referendum on whether the region should become a part of Russia or not. The balloting will take place in 10 days although Obama has already said that he will not honor the results. Apparently, other countries need to get the green-light from Washington before they conduct their elections now. This is how ridiculous things have gotten.
In 2008, Brzezinski revealed the real motives behind US aggression in Central Asia in an article that appeared in the Huffington Post that dealt primarily with the dust up in Georgia. (where Putin deployed Russian troops to defend Russian speaking civilians in South Ossetia.) Here’s what Brzezinski had to say:
“The question the international community now confronts is how to respond to a Russia that engages in the blatant use of force with larger imperial designs in mind: to reintegrate the former Soviet space under the Kremlin’s control and to cut Western access to the Caspian Sea and Central Asia by gaining control over the Baku/Ceyhan pipeline that runs through Georgia.
In brief, the stakes are very significant. At stake is access to oil as that resource grows ever more scarce and expensive and how a major power conducts itself in our newly interdependent world, conduct that should be based on accommodation and consensus, not on brute force.
If Georgia is subverted, not only will the West be cut off from the Caspian Sea and Central Asia. We can logically anticipate that Putin, if not resisted, will use the same tactics toward the Ukraine. Putin has already made public threats against Ukraine.” (“Brzezinski: Russia’s invasion of Georgia is Reminiscent of Stalin’s attack on Finland”; Huffington Post)
Huh? It sounds a lot like Brzezinski thinks that oil should be his. Or maybe he thinks it belongs to the western oil giants; is that it?
So we’re not dealing with national security, sovereignty or spheres of influence here. What we’re really talking about is “access to oil.” Not only that, but Brzezinski is being quite blunt in his assertion that “the West” –as he calls it–has a legitimate claim to the resources on other people’s land. Where’d he come up with that one?
In another interview on Kavkacenter.com, in 2008, Brzezinski sounded the same alarm with a slightly different twist. Here’s an excerpt from the article titled ”Russia tends to destabilize Georgia”:
“Brzezinski said the United States witnessed “cases of possible threats by Russia… motivated not by some territorial disputes….but caused by intention to take control over the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline”.
“If Georgia government is destabilized, western access to Baku, Caspian Sea and further will be limited”, said Brzezinski …. he stated that Russia will try to consolidate its monopoly on these markets and will use all existing political and economic levers, including “politically motivated cessation of energy supplies” in Europe and Baltic states.
“Russia actively tends to isolate the Central Asian region from direct access to world economy, especially to energy supplies”, considers the political scientist.” (“Zbigniew Brzezinski: ”Russia tends to destabilize Georgia” kavkacenter.com)
Putin is not isolating anyone and he’s certainly not taking over anyone’s damned pipeline. He’s the president of Russia. He sells oil and makes money, that’s how the system works. It’s called capitalism. But the oil is theirs. The natural gas is theirs. The pipelines are theirs. Not ours. Get over it!
Don’t kid yourself, it’s all about oil. Oil and power. The United States imperial ambitions are thoroughly marinated in oil, access to oil, and control of oil. Without oil, there’s no empire, no dollar hegemony, no overbloated, bullyboy military throwing weaker countries against the wall and extorting tribute. Oil is the coin of the realm, the path to global domination.
Putin has audacity to think that the oil beneath Russian soil belongs to Russia. Washington wants to change his mind about that. And that’s why the situation in Ukraine is so dangerous, because the voracious thirst for oil is pushing us all towards another world war.
Has Russia Invaded Ukraine?
Gerald Celente calls the Western media “presstitutes,” an ingenuous term that I often use. Presstitutes sell themselves to Washington for access and government sources and to keep their jobs. Ever since the corrupt Clinton regime permitted the concentration of the US media, there has been no journalistic independence in the United States except for some Internet sites.
Glenn Greenwald points out the independence that RT, a Russian media organization, permits Abby Martin who denounced Russia’s alleged invasion of Ukraine, compared to the fates of Phil Donahue (MSNBC) and Peter Arnett (NBC), both of whom were fired for expressing opposition to the Bush regime’s illegal attack on Iraq. The fact that Donahue had NBC’s highest rated program did not give him journalistic independence. Anyone who speaks the truth in the American print or TV media or on NPR is immediately fired.
Russia’s RT seems actually to believe and observe the values that Americans profess but do not honor.
I agree with Greenwald. You can read his article here:http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37842.htm Greenwald is entirely admirable. He has intelligence, integrity, and courage. He is one of the brave to whom my just published book,How America Was Lost, is dedicated. As for RT’s Abby Martin, I admire her and have been a guest on her program a number of times.
My criticism of Greenwald and Martin has nothing to do with their integrity or their character. I doubt the claims that Abby Martin grandstanded on “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine” in order to boost her chances of moving into the more lucrative “mainstream media.” My point is quite different. Even Abby Martin and Greenwald, both of whom bring us much light, cannot fully escape Western propaganda.
For example, Martin’s denunciation of Russia for “invading” Ukraine is based on Western propaganda that Russia sent 16,000 troops to occupy Crimea. The fact of the matter is that those 16,000 Russian troops have been in Crimea since the 1990s. Under the Russian-Ukrainian agreement, Russia has the right to base 25,000 troops in Crimea.
Apparently, neither Abby Martin nor Glenn Greenwald, two intelligent and aware people, knew this fact. Washington’s propaganda is so pervasive that two of our best reporters were victimized by it.
As I have written several times in my columns, Washington organized the coup in Ukraine in order to promote its world hegemony by capturing Ukraine for NATO and putting US missile bases on Russia’s border in order to degrade Russia’s nuclear deterrent and force Russia to accept Washington’s hegemony.
Russia has done nothing but respond in a very low-key way to a major strategic threat orchestrated by Washington.
It is not only Martin and Greenwald who have fallen under Washington’s propaganda. They are joined by Patrick J. Buchanan. Pat’s column calling on readers to “resist the war party on Crimea” opens with Washington’s propagandistic claim: “With Vladimir Putin’s dispatch of Russian Troops into Crimea.” http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37847.htm
No such dispatch has occurred. Putin has been granted authority by the Russian Duma to send troops to Ukraine, but Putin has stated publicly that sending troops would be a last resort to protect Crimean Russians from invasions by the ultra-nationalist neo-nazis who stole Washington’s coup and established themselves as the power in Kiev and western Ukraine.
So, here we have three of the smartest and most independent journalists of our time, and all three are under the impression created by Western propaganda that Russia has invaded Ukraine.
It appears that the power of Washington’s propaganda is so great that not even the best and most independent journalists can escape its influence.
What chance does truth have when Abby Martin gets kudos from Glenn Greenwald for denouncing Russia for an alleged “invasion” that has not taken place, and when independent Pat Buchanan opens his column dissenting from the blame-Russia-crowd by accepting that an invasion has taken place?
The entire story that the presstitutes have told about the Ukraine is a propaganda production. The presstitutes told us that the deposed president, Viktor Yanukovych, ordered snipers to shoot protesters. On the basis of these false reports, Washington’s stooges, who comprise the existing non-government in Kiev, have issued arrest orders for Yanukovych and intend for him to be tried in an international court. In an intercepted telephone call between EU foreign affairs minister Catherine Ashton and Estonian foreign affairs minister Urmas Paet who had just returned from Kiev, Paet reports: “There is now stronger and stronger understanding that behind the snipers, it was not Yanukovych, but it was somebody from the new coalition.” Paet goes on to report that “all the evidence shows that the people who were killed by snipers from both sides, among policemen and then people from the streets, that they were the same snipers killing people from both sides . . . and it’s really disturbing that now the new coalition, that they don’t want to investigate what exactly happened.” Ashton, absorbed with EU plans to guide reforms in Ukraine and to prepare the way for the IMF to gain control over economic policy, was not particularly pleased to hear Paet’s report that the killings were an orchestrated provocation. You can listen to the conversation between Paet and Ashton here: http://rt.com/news/ashton-maidan-snipers-estonia-946/
What has happened in Ukraine is that Washington plotted against and overthrew an elected legitimate government and then lost control to neo-nazis who are threatening the large Russian population in southern and eastern Ukraine, provinces that formerly were part of Russia. These threatened Russians have appealed for Russia’s help, and just like the Russians in South Ossetia, they will receive Russia’s help.
The Obama regime and its presstitutes will continue to lie about everything.
Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. His latest books are, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and How America Was Lost. http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/
Source: Paul Craig Roberts
President Obama’s Kansas speech is a remarkable document. In calling for more government controls, more taxation, more collectivism, he has two paragraphs that give the show away. Take a look at them.
there is a certain crowd in Washington who, for the last few decades, have said, let’s respond to this economic challenge with the same old tune. “The market will take care of everything,” they tell us. If we just cut more regulations and cut more taxes–especially for the wealthy–our economy will grow stronger. Sure, they say, there will be winners and losers. But if the winners do really well, then jobs and prosperity will eventually trickle down to everybody else. And, they argue, even if prosperity doesn’t trickle down, well, that’s the price of liberty.
Now, it’s a simple theory. And we have to admit, it’s one that speaks to our rugged individualism and our healthy skepticism of too much government. That’s in America’s DNA. And that theory fits well on a bumper sticker. (Laughter.) But here’s the problem: It doesn’t work. It has never worked. (Applause.) It didn’t work when it was tried in the decade before the Great Depression. It’s not what led to the incredible postwar booms of the ’50s and ’60s. And it didn’t work when we tried it during the last decade. (Applause.) I mean, understand, it’s not as if we haven’t tried this theory.
Though not in Washington, I’m in that “certain crowd” that has been saying for decades that the market will take care of everything. It’s not really a crowd, it’s a tiny group of radicals–radicals for capitalism, in Ayn Rand’s well-turned phrase.
The only thing that the market doesn’t take care of is anti-market acts: acts that initiate physical force. That’s why we need government: to wield retaliatory force to defend individual rights.
Radicals for capitalism would, as the Declaration of Independence says, use government only “to secure these rights”–the rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness. (Yes, I added “property” in there–property rights are inseparable from the other three.)
That’s the political philosophy on which Obama is trying to hang the blame for the recent financial crisis and every other social ill. But ask yourself, are we few radical capitalists in charge? Have radical capitalists been in charge at any time in the last, oh, say 100 years?
I pick 100 years deliberately, because it was exactly 100 years ago that a gigantic anti-capitalist measure was put into effect: the Federal Reserve System. For 100 years, government, not the free market, has controlled money and banking. How’s that worked out? How’s the value of the dollar held up since 1913? Is it worth one-fiftieth of its value then or only one-one-hundredth? You be the judge. How did the dollar hold up over the 100 years before this government take-over of money and banking? It actually gained slightly in value.
Laissez-faire hasn’t existed since the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890. That was the first of a plethora of government crimes against the free market.
Radical capitalists are just beginning to have a slight effect on the Right wing. The overwhelming majority on the Right are eclectic. Which is a nice way of saying inconsistent.
The typical Republican would never, ever say “the market will take care of everything.” He’d say, “the market will take care of most things, and for the other things, we need the regulatory-welfare state.”
They are for individualism–except when they are against it. They are against free markets and individualism not only when they agree with the Left that we must have antitrust laws and the Federal Reserve, but also when they demand immigration controls, government schools, regulatory agencies, Medicare, laws prohibiting abortion, Social Security, “public works” projects, the “social safety net,” laws against insider trading, banking regulation, and the whole system of fiat money.
Obama blames economic woes, some real some manufactured (“inequality”) on a philosophy and policy that was abandoned a century ago. What doesn’t exist is what he says didn’t work.
Obama absurdly suggests that timid, half-hearted, compromisers, like George W. Bush, installed laissez-faire capitalism–on the grounds that they tinkered with one or two regulations (Glass-Steagall) and marginal tax rates–while blanking out the fact that under the Bush administration, government spending ballooned, growing much faster than under Clinton, and 50,000 new regulations were added to the Federal Register.
The philosophy of individualism and the politics of laissez-faire would mean government spending of about one-tenth its present level. It would also mean an end to all regulatory agencies: no SEC, FDA, NLRB, FAA, OSHA, EPA, FTC, ATF, CFTC, FHA, FCC–to name just some of the better known of the 430 agencies listed in the federal register.
Even you, dear reader, are probably wondering how on earth anyone could challenge things like Social Security, government schools, and the FDA. But that’s not the point. The point is: these statist, anti-capitalist programs exist and have existed for about a century. The point is: Obama is pretending that the Progressive Era, the New Deal, and the Great Society were repealed, so that he can blame the financial crisis on capitalism. He’s pretending that George Bush was George Washington.
We radical capitalists say that it was the regulatory-welfare state that imploded in 2008. You may disagree, but let’s argue that out, rather than engaging in the Big Lie that what failed was laissez-faire and individualism.
The question is: in the messy mixture of government controls and remnants of capitalism, which element caused the Great Depression and the recent financial crisis?
By raising that question, we uncover the fundamental: the meaning of capitalism and the meaning of government controls. Capitalism means freedom. Government means force.
Suddenly, the whole issue comes into focus: Obama is saying that freedom leads to poverty and force leads to wealth. He’s saying: “Look, we tried leaving you free to live your own life, and that didn’t work. You have to be forced, you have to have your earnings seized by the state, you have to work under our directions–under penalty of fines or imprisonment. You don’t deserve to be free.”
As a bit of ugly irony, this is precisely what former white slave-owners said after the Civil War: “The black man can’t handle freedom; we have to force him for his own good.” The innovation of the Left is to extend that viewpoint to all races.
Putting the issue as force vs. freedom shows how the shoe is on the other foot regarding what Obama said. Let me re-write it:
there is a certain crowd in Washington who, for the last few decades, have said, let’s respond to this economic challenge with the same old tune. “The government will take care of everything,” they tell us. If we just pile on even more regulations and raise taxes–especially on the wealthy–our economy will grow stronger. Sure, they say, there will be winners and losers. But if the losers are protected by more social programs and a higher minimum wage, if there is more Quantitative Easing by the Fed, then jobs and prosperity will eventually trickle up to everybody else. And, they argue, even if prosperity doesn’t trickle up, well, that’s the price of the social safety net.
Now, it’s a simple theory. And we have to admit, it’s one that speaks to our intellectuals’ collectivism and Paul Krugman’s skepticism about freedom. That’s in Harvard’s DNA. And that theory fits well on a bumper sticker. (Laughter.) But here’s the problem: It doesn’t work. It has never worked. (Applause.) It didn’t work when it was tried in the Soviet Union. It’s not what led to the incredible booms in India and China. And it didn’t work when Europe tried it during over the last decades. (Applause.) I mean, understand, it’s not as if we haven’t tried this statist theory.
How does that sound? That’s blaming an actual, existing condition–government controls and wealth-expropriation–not a condition that ended in the late 19th century.
So which is the path to prosperity and happiness–freedom or force? Remember that force is aimed at preventing you from acting on your rational judgment.
Obama’s real antagonist is Ayn Rand, who made the case that reason is man’s basic means of survival and coercion is anti-reason. Force initiated against free, innocent men is directed at stopping them from acting on their own thinking. It makes them, under threat of fines and imprisonment, act as the government demands rather than as they think their self-interest requires. That’s the whole point of threatening force: to make people act against their own judgment.
The radical, uncompromised, laissez-faire capitalism that Obama pretends was in place in 2008 is exactly what morality demands. Because, as Ayn Rand wrote in 1961: “No man has the right to initiate the use of physical force against others. . . . To claim the right to initiate the use of physical force against another man–the right to compel his agreement by the threat of physical destruction–is to evict oneself automatically from the realm of rights, of morality and of the intellect.”
Obama and his fellow statists have indeed evicted themselves from that realm.
On the 100th Anniversary of World War 1, the Western powers are again sleepwalking into destructive conflict. Hegemonic ambition has Washington interfering in the internal affairs of Ukraine, but developments seem to be moving beyond Washington’s control.
Regime change in Ukraine for a mere $5 billion dollars would be a bargain compared to the massive sums squandered in Iraq ($3,000 billion), Afghanistan ($3,000 billion), Somalia, and Libya, or the money Washington is wasting murdering people with drones in Pakistan and Yemen, or the money Washington has spent supporting al Qaeda in Syria, or the massive sums Washington has wasted surrounding Iran with 40 military bases and several fleets in the Persian Gulf in an effort to terrorize Iran into submission.
So far, in Washington’s attempt at regime change in Ukraine large numbers of Americans are not being killed and maimed. Only Ukrainians are dying, all the better for Washington as the deaths are blamed on the Ukrainian government that the US has targeted for overthrow.
The problem with Washington’s plot to overthrow the elected government of Ukraine and install its minions is twofold: The chosen US puppets have lost control of the protests to armed radical elements with historical links to nazism, and Russia regards an EU/NATO takeover of Ukraine as a strategic threat to Russian independence.
Washington overlooked that the financially viable part of today’s Ukraine consists of historical Russian provinces in the east and south that the Soviet leadership merged into Ukraine in order to dilute the fascist elements in western Ukraine that fought for Adolf Hitler against the Soviet Union. It is these ultra-nationalist elements with nazi roots, not Washington’s chosen puppets, who are now in charge of the armed rebellion in Western Ukraine.
If the democratically elected Ukraine government is overthrown, the eastern and southern parts would rejoin Russia. The western part would be looted by Western bankers and corporations, and the NATO Ukraine bases would be targeted by Russian Iskander missiles.
It would be a defeat for Washington and their gullible Ukrainian dupes to see half of the country return to Russia. To save face, Washington might provoke a great power confrontation, which could be the end of all of us.
My series of articles on the situation in Ukraine resulted in a number of interviews from Canada to Russia, with more scheduled. It also produced emotional rants from people of Ukrainian descent whose delusions are impenetrable by facts. Deranged Russophobes dismissed as propaganda the easily verifiable report of Assistant Secretary of State Nuland’s public address last December, in which she boasted that Washington had spent $5 billion preparing Ukraine to be aligned with Washington’s interests. Protest sympathizers claim that the intercepted telephone call between Nuland and the US Ambassador in Ukraine, in which the two US officials chose the government that would be installed following the coup, is a fake.
One person actually suggested that my position should be aligned with the “sincerity of the Kiev students,” not with the facts.
Some Trekkers and Trekkies were more concerned that I used an improper title for Spock than they were with the prospect of great power confrontation. The point of my article flew off into space and missed planet Earth.
Spock’s mental powers were the best weapon that Starship Enterprise had. Among my graduate school friends, Spock was known as Dr. Spock, because he was the cool, calm, and unemotional member of the crew who could diagnose the problem and save the situation.
There are no Spocks in the US or any Western government and certainly not among the Ukrainian protesters.
I have often wondered if Spock’s Vulcan ancestry was Gene Roddenberry’s way of underlining by contrast the fragility of human reason. In the context of modern military technology, is it possible for life to survive humanity’s penchant for emotion to trump reason and for self-delusion to prevail over factual reality?
Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. His latest books are, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and How America Was Lost. http://www.paulcraigroberts.org
Source: Paul Craig Roberts
The corporate media would have us believe that the nation is in the midst of an economic recovery.
In the shadow of the approaching mid-term elections, the president cites the number of jobs created and speaks optimistically about America’s economic future. The future is indeed bright, but only if you are among the wealthiest one percent of the population.
For instance, since the 2007 recession, the greatest crisis of capitalism in 75 years, corporate profits have risen, CEO salaries and bonuses are at record levels and the stock market is soaring. By contrast, workers’ wages have stagnated for more than four decades, benefits are either few or non-existent, and workers are encumbered with debt that forces them to perform multiple jobs— if they can find them—in order to survive.
Jobs that offer long-term security and a living wage are scarce even for those with university degrees. Adjusted for inflation, today’s workers are worse off than they were in the late 1960s.
Whose economic recovery is this?
According to economic forecaster Gerald Celente, 90 percent of the jobs created in 2013 were part-time, most of them paying low wages and providing no benefits. Student loan debt exceeds $1.1 trillion, a number that surpasses the combined credit card liability of the nation.
These debts cannot be discharged through bankruptcy. The big banks and corporations that finance political campaigns have no such restrictions placed upon them.
Even the unemployment figures are deceiving. According to the latest government data, unemployment is at 6.7 percent. In reality, that number is probably closer to 17 or 18 percent, according to economist Richard Wolff.
The government does not count people whose unemployment benefits have expired or those who have given up looking for work. A cashier working 10 hours a week at Food Lion is counted as fully employed.
We have students, many of them burdened with immense debt, entering a job market that makes it difficult for them to earn a decent living. This is the economic minefield that workers across America must navigate. A little truth might help them find their way and comprehend why this is happening.
One of the many reasons we face such a bleak economic future is the implementation of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs).
In 1992, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was implemented between the governments of the United States, Canada and Mexico. NAFTA was fast-tracked through Congress by President H.W. Bush and signed into law by President Clinton. NAFTA was promoted in the commercial media as an engine for job creation in the United States, an assertion that is contradicted by the facts. According to Wolff, more than 700,000 jobs fled the country as the result of NAFTA, many of them providing middle class incomes and benefits.
Those jobs are never coming back. It is not just the number of jobs created that matter, it is the quality of those jobs that is a predictor of economic success.
Furthermore, the mass movement of U.S. corporations to Mexico wrecked the already struggling Mexican economy, particularly its sustainable, locally-based businesses. The situation initiated a mass migration of immigrant Mexican workers to the U.S. in search of better-paying jobs than were available to them in the homeland. Multinational corporations seeking a source of cheap labor and a climate of deregulation are the primary benefactors. The quantifiable effect that NAFTA has had on the U.S. workers is staggering job loss, reduced wages and increasing economic disparity.
Now, with the backing of corporate lobbyists, yet another FTA—the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)—is being fast-tracked through Congress. Both Democrats and Republicans are enthusiastically backing the legislation.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation describes the process: “The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a secretive, multi-national trade agreement that threatens to extend restrictive intellectual property (IP) laws across the globe and rewrite international rules on its enforcement.” TPP is currently being negotiated between nine to 12 nations.
If enacted, TPP will permit privately-owned corporations to have hegemony over the governments of sovereign nations. For instance, if the state of West Virginia were to ban the use of genetically modified soybeans, Monsanto Corporation could either overturn the decision or extort billions of dollars in remuneration from their projected loss of profits. FTAs belligerently put corporate profits before the legitimate needs of the people and the welfare of the biosphere.
The implications for students and working class people will be profoundly detrimental.
Hundreds of thousands of jobs will flee the country, wages will fall yet again, autonomy will be lost, and the job market will resemble the wreckage of the Hesperus. FTAs are the means by which the power elite are turning the U.S. into a Third World economy.