As the world explodes in violence, war, riots, and uprisings, it is challenging to step back and examine the bigger picture. With airliners being shot down over the Ukraine, missiles flying between Israel and Gaza, ongoing civil war in Syria, Iraq falling apart as ISIS gains ground, dictatorship crackdown in Egypt, Turkey on the verge of revolution, Iran gaining control of Iraq, Saudi Arabia fomenting violence, Africa dissolving into chaos, South America imploding and sending their children across our purposely porous southern border, Mexico under the control of drug lords, China experiencing a slow motion real estate collapse, Japan experiencing their third decade of Keynesian failure, facing a demographic nightmare scenario while being slowly poisoned by radiation, and Chinese-Japanese relations moving towards World War II levels, it is easy to get lost in the day to day minutia of history in the making.
Why is this happening at this point in history? Why is the average American economically worse off today than they were at the height of the economic crisis in 2009? Why is the Cold War returning with a vengeance? Why is the Federal Reserve still employing emergency monetary policies when we are supposedly five years into a recovery and the stock market has attained record highs? Why do the ECB and European politicians continue to paper over the insolvency of their banks and governments? Why did the U.S. support the ouster of a dictator we supported for decades in Egypt and then support the elevation of a new dictator after we didn’t like the policies of the democratically elected president? Why did the U.S. eliminate the leader of Libya and allow the country to descend into anarchy and civil war? Why did the U.S. fund and provoke a revolutionary overthrow of a democratically elected leader in the Ukraine? Why did the U.S. fund and arm Al Qaeda associated rebels in Syria who are now fighting our supposed allies in Iraq? Why has the U.S. been occupying Afghanistan for the last thirteen years with the result being a Taliban that is stronger than ever? Why are the BRIC countries forming a monetary union to challenge USD domination? Why is the U.S. attempting to provoke Russia into a conflict with NATO?
Why is the U.S. government collecting every electronic communication made by every American? Why is the U.S. government spying on world leader allies? Why is the U.S. government providing military equipment to local police forces? Why is the U.S. military conducting training exercises within U.S. cities? Why is the U.S. government attempting to restrict Second Amendment rights? Why is the U.S. government attempting to control and lockdown the internet? Why has the U.S. government chosen to treat the Fourth Amendment as if it is obsolete? Why is the national debt still rising by $750 billion per year ($2 billion per day) if the economy is back to normal? Why have 12 million working age Americans left the workforce since the economic recovery began? How could the unemployment rate be back at 2008 levels when there are 14 million more working age Americans and the same number employed as in 2008? Why are there 13 million more people on food stamps today than there were at the start of the economic recovery in 2009? Why have home prices risen by 25% since 2012 when mortgage applications have been at fourteen year lows? Why are Wall Street profits and bonuses at record highs while the real median household income stagnates at 1998 levels?
Why do 98% of incumbent politicians get re-elected when congressional approval levels are lower than whale shit? Why are oil prices four times higher than they were in 2003 if the U.S. is supposedly on the verge of energy independence? Why do the corporate controlled mainstream media choose to entertain and regurgitate government propaganda rather than inform, investigate and seek the truth? Why do corporations and shadowy billionaires control the politicians, media, judges, and financial system in their ravenous quest for more riches? Why has the public allowed a privately owned bank to control our currency and inflate away 96% of its value in 100 years? Why have American parents allowed their children to be programmed and dumbed down by government run public schools? Why have Americans allowed themselves to be lured into debt in an effort to appear wealthy and successful? Why have Americans permitted their brains to atrophy through massive doses of social media, reality TV, iGadget addiction, and a cultural environment of techno-narcissism? Why have Americans lost their desire to read, think critically, question authority, act responsibly, defer gratification, and care about future generations? Why have Americans sacrificed their freedoms, liberties and rights for the false expectation of safety and security? Why will we pay dearly for our delusional, materialistic, debt financed idiocy? – Because we never learn the lessons of history.
There are so many questions and no truthful answers forthcoming from those who pass for leaders in this increasingly totalitarian world. Our willful ignorance, apathy, hubris and arrogance will have consequences. Just because it hasn’t happened yet, doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen. The cyclicality of history guarantees a further deepening of this Crisis. The world has evolved from totalitarian hegemony to republican liberty and regressed back to totalitarianism throughout the centuries. Anyone honestly assessing the current state of the world and our country would unequivocally conclude we have regressed back towards a totalitarian regime where a small cabal of powerful oligarchs believes they can control and manipulate the masses in their gluttonous desire for treasure. Aldous Huxley foretold all the indicators of a world descending into totalitarianism due to overpopulation, propaganda, brainwashing, consumerism, and dumbing down of a distracted populace in his 1958 reassessment of his 1931 novel Brave New World.
Is There a Limit?
“At the rate of increase prevailing between the birth of Christ and the death of Queen Elizabeth I, it took sixteen centuries for the population of the earth to double. At the present rate it will double in less than half a century. And this fantastically rapid doubling of our numbers will be taking place on a planet whose most desirable and productive areas are already densely populated, whose soils are being eroded by the frantic efforts of bad farmers to raise more food, and whose easily available mineral capital is being squandered with the reckless extravagance of a drunken sailor getting rid of his accumulated pay.” –Aldous Huxley – Brave New World Revisited – 1958
Demographics are easy to extrapolate and arrive at an accurate prediction, as long as the existing conditions and trends remain relatively constant. Huxley was accurate in his doubling prediction. The world population was 2.9 billion in 1958. It only took 39 years to double again to 5.8 billion in 1997. It has grown by 24% in the last 17 years to the current level of 7.2 billion. According to United Nations projections, world population is projected to reach 9.6 billion in 2050. The fact that it would take approximately 70 years for the world’s population to double from the 1997 level reveals a slowing growth rate, as the death rate in many developed countries surpasses their birth rate. The population of the U.S. grew from 175 million in 1958 to 320 million today, an 83% increase in 56 years.
The rapid population growth over the last century from approximately 1.8 billion in 1914, despite two horrific world wars, is attributable to cheap, easy to access oil and advances in medical technology made possible by access to cheap oil. The projection of 9.6 billion in 2050 is based upon an assumption the world’s energy, food and water resources can sustain that many people, no world wars kill a few hundred million people, no incurable diseases spread across the globe and there is no catastrophic geologic, climate, or planetary events. I’ll take the under on the 9.6 billion.
Anyone viewing the increasingly violent world situation without bias can already see the strain that overpopulation has created. Today, six countries contain half the world’s population.
A cursory examination of population trends around the world provides a frightening glimpse into a totalitarian future marked by vicious resource wars, violent upheaval and starvation for millions. India, a country one third the size of the United States, has four times the population of the United States. A vast swath of the population lives in poverty and squalor. India contains the largest concentration (25%) of people living below the World Bank’s international poverty line of $1.25 per day. According to the U.N. India is expected to add 400 million people to its cities by 2050. Its capital city Delhi already ranks as the second largest in the world, with 25 million inhabitants. The city has more than doubled in size since 1990. The assumptions in these U.N. projections are flawed. Without rapidly expanding economic growth, capital formation and energy resources, the ability to employ, house, feed, clothe, transport, and sustain 400 million more people will be impossible. Disease, starvation, civil unrest, war and a totalitarian government would be the result. With its mortal enemy Pakistan, already the sixth most populated country in the world, jamming 182 million people into an area one quarter the size of India and one twelfth the size of the U.S. and growing faster than India, war over resources and space will be inevitable. And both countries have nuclear arms.
More than half the globe’s inhabitants now live in urban areas, with China, India and Nigeria forecast to see the most urban growth over the next 30 years. Twenty-four years ago, there were 10 megacities with populations pushing above the 10 million mark. Today, there are 28 megacities with areas of developing nations seeing faster growth: 16 in Asia, 4 in Latin America, 3 in Africa, 3 in Europe and 2 in North America. The world is expected to have 41 sprawling megacities over the next few decades with developing nations representing the majority of that growth. Today, Tokyo, with 38 million people, is the largest in the world, followed by New Delhi, Jakarta, Seoul, Shanghai, Beijing, Manila, and Karachi – all exceeding 20 million people.
To highlight the rapid population growth of the developing world, the New York metropolitan area containing 18 million people was ranked as the third largest urban area in the world in 1990. Today it is ranked ninth and is expected to be ranked fourteenth by 2030. The U.S. had the fewest births since 1998 last year at 3.95 million. We also had the highest recorded deaths in history at 2.54 million. The fertility rate for 20- to 24-year-olds is now 83.1 births per 1,000 women, a record low. That combination created a gap in births over deaths that is the lowest it has been in 35 years.
This is the plight of the developed world (U.S., Europe, Japan) and even China (due to one child policy). According to the U.N. report, the population of developed regions will remain largely unchanged at around 1.3 billion from now until 2050. In contrast, the 49 least developed countries are projected to double in size from around 900 million people in 2013 to 1.8 billion in 2050. The rapid growth of desperately poor third world countries like Nigeria, Afghanistan, Niger, Congo, Ethiopia, and Uganda will create tremendous strain on their economic, political, social, and infrastructural systems. Nigeria’s population is projected to surpass the U.S. by 2050. Japan, Europe and Russia are in demographic death spirals. China is neutral, and the U.S. is expected to grow by another 89 million people. I wonder how many of them the BLS will classify as not in the labor force.
What are the implications to mankind of the world adding another billion people in the next twelve years, primarily in the poorest countries of Asia, Africa and South America? What does the world think of the U.S., which constitutes 4.4% of the world’s population, but consumes 20% of the world’s oil production and 24% of the world’s food? Will there be consequences to having the 85 richest people on earth accumulating as much wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion, with 1.2 billion surviving on less than $1.25 per day? Can a planet with finite amount of easily accessible financially viable extractable resources support an ever increasing number of people? Is there a limit to growth? I believe these questions will be answered in the next fifteen years as the dire consequences play out in civil strife, resource wars, totalitarian regimes, and societal collapse. Fourth Turning Crisis cycles always sweep away the existing social order and replace it with something new. It could be better or far worse.
Impact of Over-Population
“The problem of rapidly increasing numbers in relation to natural resources, to social stability and to the well-being of individuals — this is now the central problem of mankind; and it will remain the central problem certainly for another century, and perhaps for several centuries thereafter. Unsolved, that problem will render insoluble all our other problems. Worse still, it will create conditions in which individual freedom and the social decencies of the democratic way of life will become impossible, almost unthinkable. Not all dictatorships arise in the same way. There are many roads to Brave New World; but perhaps the straightest and the broadest of them is the road we are traveling today, the road that leads through gigantic numbers and accelerating increases.” – Aldous Huxley – Brave New World Revisited – 1958
The turmoil roiling the world today is a function of Huxley’s supposition that over-population pushes societies towards centralization and ultimately totalitarianism. The relentless growth in the world’s population, not matched by growth in energy resources, water, food, and living space, results in increasing tension, anger, economic decline, government dependency, war and ultimately totalitarianism. Huxley believed politicians and governments would increasingly resort to propaganda and misinformation to mislead citizens as the problems worsened and freedoms were revoked. Could this recent statement by our commander and chief of propaganda have made Edward Bernays and Joseph Goebbels any prouder?
“The world is less violent than it has ever been. It is healthier than it has ever been. It is more tolerant than it has ever been. It is better fed then it’s ever been. It is more educated than it’s ever been.”
I’m sure the people living in Gaza, the Ukraine, Libya, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Thailand, Turkey, Africa and American urban ghettos would concur with Obama’s less violent than ever mantra. Disease (Cholera, Malaria, Hepatitis, Aids, Tuberculosis, Ebola, Plague, SARS) and malnutrition beset third world countries, while the U.S. obesity epidemic caused by consumption of corporate processed food peddled to the masses through diabolical marketing methods enriches the mega-corporate food companies, as well as the corporate sick care complex. Religious wars and culture wars rage across the world as intolerance for others beliefs reaches all-time highs. After three decades of government controlled public education they have succeeded in dumbing down the masses through social engineering, propaganda, and promoting equality over excellence. Obama should stop trying to think and stick to what he does best – golf and fundraising. After reading his drivel, I’m reminded of a far more pertinent quote from Huxley:
“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”
The chart below details the fact that 12% of the world’s population in countries producing 9% of the world’s oil are currently in a state of war. The violence, war, and civil unrest roiling the Ukraine, Syria, Egypt, Libya, Iraq, and Afghanistan are a direct result of U.S. meddling, instigation, and provocation. The U.S. government funds dictators (Hussein, Mubarak, Assad, Gaddafi) until they no longer serve their interests, engineer the overthrow of democratically elected leaders in countries (Iran, Egypt, Ukraine) that don’t toe the line, and dole out billions in military aid and arms to countries around the world in an effort to make them do our dirty work and enrich the military industrial complex. The true motivation behind most of the violence, intrigue and war is the U.S. need to maintain the U.S. petro-dollar hegemony and to control the flow of oil and natural gas throughout the world. The ruling oligarchy’s power, influence, and wealth are dependent upon dictating currency valuations and flow of oil and gas from foreign fiefdoms.
In Huxley’s 1931 Brave New World fable the world’s population is maintained at an optimum level (just under 2 billion) calculated by those in control. This is done through technology and biological manipulation. Procreation through sexual intercourse is prohibited. Creation of the desired number of people in each class is scientifically determined and the classes are conditioned from birth to fulfill their roles in society. When Huxley reassessed his novel in 1958’s Brave New World Revisited he didn’t argue for an optimum level of population. He simply hypothesized a close correlation between too many people, multiplying too rapidly, and the formulation of authoritarian philosophies and rise of totalitarian systems of government.
The introduction of penicillin, DDT, and clean water into even the poorest countries on the planet had the effect of rapidly decreasing death rates around the globe. Meanwhile, birth rates continued to increase due to religious, social and cultural taboos surrounding birth control and the illiteracy and ignorance of those in the poorest regions of the world. The ultimate result has been an explosion in population growth in the developing world, least able to sustain that growth. Huxley just uses common sense in concluding that as an ever growing population presses more heavily upon accessible resources, the economic position of the society undergoing this ordeal becomes ever more precarious.
It essentially comes down to the laws of economics. Most of the developing world is economic basket cases. They cannot produce food, consumer goods, housing, schools, infrastructure, teachers, managers, scientists or educated workers at the same rate as their population growth. Therefore, it is impossible to improve the wretched conditions of the vast majority, as they wallow in squalor. Unless a country can produce more than it consumes, it cannot generate the surplus capital needed to invest in machinery, agricultural production, manufacturing facilities, and education. The rapidly growing population sinks further into poverty and despair. Huxley grasps the nefarious implications for freedom and liberty as over-population wreaks havoc around the globe:
“Whenever the economic life of a nation becomes precarious, the central government is forced to assume additional responsibilities for the general welfare. It must work out elaborate plans for dealing with a critical situation; it must impose ever greater restrictions upon the activities of its subjects; and if, as is very likely, worsening economic conditions result in political unrest, or open rebellion, the central government must intervene to preserve public order and its own authority. More and more power is thus concentrated in the hands of the executives and their bureaucratic managers.”– Aldous Huxley – Brave New World Revisited – 1958
Despots, dictators, and power hungry presidents arise in an atmosphere of fear, scarce resources, hopelessness, and misery. As the power of the central government grows the freedoms, liberties and rights of the people are diminished and ultimately relinquished.
Source: The Millennium Report
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.
President Barack Obama’s commencement address at West Point on May 28 managed to displease pretty much everyone in the nation’s commentariat. Before making an overall assessment of its significance, it is necessary to examine the validity and implications of Obama’s individual statements.
“[B]y most measures America has rarely been stronger relative to the rest of the world. Those who argue otherwise – who suggest that America is in decline or has seen its global leadership slip away – are either misreading history or engaged in partisan politics.”
This key assertion, made at the beginning of the President’s address, does not stand to empirical scrutiny. In economic terms, America was far stronger vis-à-vis the rest of the world in 1945 than she is today. In more recent times, U.S. share of world GDP peaked in 1985 with just under 33 percent of global GDP (nominal). Between 2004 and 2014, United States’ share of global gross domestic product (GDP) adjusted for purchasing power parity (PPP) has fallen from 22.5 percent to 18.5 percent, and it is expected to continue falling. By the end of this year China will overtake the United States in gross domestic product, which had originally been projected to happen by the end of this decade. Analysts concede will gradually shift the ability to confer advantages or disadvantages on other countries – in other words, power – in China’s favor.
In military terms, while America enjoyed the nuclear monopoly in 1945-49, her period of undisputed unipolar dominance was between 1991 (the collapse of the USSR) and 2008 (Russia’s counterattack in South Ossetia). Although the Pentagon budget will drop from $600 billion this year to $500 billion in 2015, it will continue to account for over a third of the global total. The unsatisfactory outcomes in Iraq and Afghanistan and dented America’s image of military invincibility. As the Economist commented on May 3, “The yawning gap between Uncle Sam and his potential foes seems bound to shrink.” The prevailing view among most critical analysts is that over the past decade the U.S. has suffered military reverses, and now faces severe global competition.
As for the “global leadership,” it is unclear what exactly Obama had in mind. Russia and China are creating a powerful Eurasian counterweight to what they rightly perceive as Washington’s continuing bid for the global hegemony. India’s new prime minister is a potential partner at best, and certainly loath to acknowledge America’s “leadership.” In the Islamic world, Obama’s attempts at appeasement – which started with the Cairo speech in 2009 – have not worked: The U.S. is now even more unpopular in the Muslim world than it was under George W. Bush. America is heartily disliked even in Turkey and Jordan, presumably our allies, not least because of the continuing drone strikes. American influence in Latin America is weaker now than at any time since Theodore Roosevelt, as manifested in the unanimous rejection of Washington’s efforts to effect a regime change in Venezuela. Members of the American elite class are hard pressed to name a single country with which the U.S. has better relations today than five years ago. The NSA global spying network has infuriated even some otherwise reliable American friends in Western Europe. Most “Old Europeans” are remarkably resistant to U.S. pressure to agree to serious sanctions against Russia.
On balance it appears that Barack Obama is the one misreading history and engaging in partisan politics.
“Meanwhile, our economy remains the most dynamic on Earth, our businesses the most innovative.”
In reality, by most value-neutral parameters the American economy is chronically weak and insolvent:
- Far from growing, the economy contracted in the first three months of this year at the annualized rate of one per cent, and it is unclear where future growth would come from. Gross domestic income is also falling sharply, for the first time in years.
- There are fewer workers, they are less efficient than a decade ago, and new employment is mostly in low-paying part-time jobs. Labor force participation (the percentage of Americans at work) is low, at levels not seen since the stagnant economy of the 1970s. One-fifth of 80 million American families do not have a single employed member.
- Government dependence has reached epidemic levels: the number of Americans getting money or benefits from the federal government exceeds the number of full-time workers in the private sector by more than 60 million. Welfare spending and entitlement payments account for 69 percent of the federal budget.
- One-third of all American households are living hand-to-mouth, one paycheck from poverty. The median annual income is 7.5 percent lower than in January 2008.
- The inflation-adjusted S&P500 is back to where it was in 2007. The single biggest buyer of stocks are the companies of the S&P500 itself. At $4 trillion, stock buybacks account for one-fifth of the total stock market value. The biggest buyback in market history added zero productive value to the companies concerned.
- The mountain of debt is nearing $17.5 trillion. The drivers of growing deficits and debt in the future are unfunded entitlement programs that are designed to transfer resources from working people to retirees. When the government pension and health care commitments which are missing from official budget figures are accounted for, the total national debt is nearly $95 trillion, more than seven times the published figure.
- The dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency is almost over. Russia and China have joined forces in “de-dollarization” of their mutual transactions and are looking for a more productive and safe use for their monetary reserves. Their recent gas deal is the beginning of the end for the petrodollar. Eventually Washington will have to choose between an outright default and hyperinflation, and the rest of the world is waking up to that fact.
Some “dynamism,” some “innovation”…
“America continues to attract striving immigrants.”
Obama’s statement is correct. It does not illustrate America’s alleged strength as was his intent, however; it underscores this country’s major weakness. Illegal immigration is spiraling out of control, the Border Patrol is overwhelmed. If the influx continues at current high levels, the U.S. population will increase to almost half a billion in 2060 – more than a 50 percent increase. New immigrants – mostly from the Third World, unskilled, uneducated, and a net drain on American resources – and their descendants will account for over one hundred million of that increase. On current form, English-speaking Americans of European origin will become a minority in their own country four decades from now. They will inhabit an increasingly overpopulated, polluted, lumpenproleterized, permanently impoverished country. America unfortunately does continue “to attract striving immigrants,” mostly illegal ones and of poor quality. This is far greater threat to the survival of the United States in a historically or culturally recognizable form than terrorism or any conceivable alliance of foreign powers. Barack Obama does not understand this, or does not care, or – just as likely – cherishes the prospect.
“The values of our founding inspire leaders in parliaments and new movements in public squares around the globe.”
By “public squares” Obama was probably alluding to Kiev’s Maidan. Indeed, it has propelled some “new movements” to global prominence, such as the Svoboda party and the Right Sector. The Founding Fathers would be horrified to learn that, in the opinion of the President of the United States, their values have inspired Messrs. Tyahnybok, Yarosh, and other blood-soaked heirs to Stepan Bandera. This is on par with Senator Joseph Lieberman saying, “The United States of America and the Kosovo Liberation Army stand for the same values and principles. Fighting for the KLA is fighting for human rights and American values.”
“And when a typhoon hits the Philippines, or schoolgirls are kidnapped in Nigeria, or masked men occupy a building in Ukraine, it is America that the world looks to for help.”
Obama is mixing apples (natural disasters) and pears (man-made ones). The problem of Islamic terrorism in Nigeria was exacerbated by the refusal of the Department of State under Hillary Clinton to place Boko Haram (“Secular Education is Sinful”) on the list of foreign terrorist organizations in 2011, despite the urging of the Justice Department, the FBI, the CIA, and over a dozen Senators and Congressmen. The de facto protection thus given to Boko Haram has enabled it to morph into a state-within-the-state with an estimated 300,000 followers.
It would be ironic if “the world” were to look to America for help in Ukraine (which in any event it does not), since the course of crisis there has been, overwhelmingly, of Washington’s own making, as manifested in Victoria Nuland’s famous phone call to Ambassador Pyatt. The new Drang nach Ostenmakes sense from the point of view of the liberal globalist-neoconservative duopoly: there is no better way to ensure U.S. dominance along the European rimland in perpetuity than drawing Europe back into NATO (i.e. U.S.) security orbit in general and subverting the Russo-German rapprochement in particular. The “masked men” in buildings are a direct consequence of American meddling.
“So the United States is and remains the one indispensable nation. That has been true for the century past, and it will be true for the century to come.”
It has never been true, it is not true now, and it never will be true. Madeleine Albright’s famous dictum was an arrogant statement by an immigrant ignorant of American history and a sign of her well-attested instability. It was reiterated in Bill Clinton’s 1996 speech, where he explained why he intervened, disastrously, in Bosnia: “The fact is America remains the indispensable nation. There are times when America, and only America, can make a difference between war and peace, between freedom and repression, between hope and fear.” That Obama has chosen to recycle such rubbish is a sign of intellectual and moral bankruptcy. “Indispensable” to whom, exactly? It is unimaginable for the leader of any other country in the world – Vladimir Putin, say, or Xi Jinping – to advance such a claim. It is tasteless at best and psychotically grandomaniac at worst, a latter day “Manifest Destiny” on steroids. The problem is that such hubristic delusions easily translate into non-negotiable foreign policy objectives. Resisting the will of the “indispensable nation” is ipso facto evil: Susan Rice’s condemnation of Chinese and Russian vetoes of the U.S.-supported UN Security Council resolution on Syria as “disgusting,” “shameful” and “unforgivable” comes to mind.
“Russia’s aggression towards former Soviet states unnerves capitals in Europe while China’s economic rise and military reach worries its neighbors.”
Quite apart from the genesis of the crisis in Ukraine, to which “Russia’s aggression” hardly applies, Obama’s use of the term “former Soviet states,” plural, implies that in his opinion Ukraine is not the only “victim of Russia’s aggression.” Presumably he means Georgia, the only “former Soviet state” with which Russia has had a conflict since the collapse of the Soviet Union. If so, and there is no other explanation for his turn of his phrase, Obama has a dangerously flawed understanding of the August 2008 Georgian crisis.
Georgian then-President Mikheil Saakashvili’s order to attack South Ossetia’s capital, Tskhinvali, was a breathtakingly audacious challenge to Russia, to which she was bound to react forcefully. That response was promptly exploited, for the first time since Gorbachev, by the American mainstream media machine and the foreign-policy community in Washington to paint Russia as a rogue power that is not only dangerous but intrinsically malignant. The vehemence of that rhetoric exceeded anything ever said or written about jihad, before or after September 11. To be fair, Saakashvili was led to believe that he was tacitly authorized to act as he did. President George W. Bush had treated Georgia as a “strategic partner” ever since the Western-engineered “Rose Revolution” five years earlier, and in early 2008 he strongly advocated NATO membership for Georgia. Washington had repeatedly supported Georgia’s “sovereignty and territorial integrity,” which implied the right to use force to bring South Ossetia and Abkhazia to heel, just as it is supporting “resolute action” in Donetsk and Lugansk today. Saakashvili may be forgiven for imagining that the United States would have bailed him out if things went badly. It is noteworthy that he was not disabused of such notions. The calculus in Washington appears to have been based on a win-win scenario, not dissimilar to the current Ukrainian strategy. Had Georgian troops occupied South Ossetia in a blitzkrieg operation modeled after Croatia’s “Operation Storm,” while the Russians remained hesitant or ineffective, Moscow would have suffered a major strategic and (more importantly) psychological defeat after almost four years of sustained strategic recovery. If Russia intervened, however, she would be duly demonized and the U.S. would push for NATO consolidation with new vigor. “Old” Europeans – the Germans especially – would be pressed to abandon their détente with Moscow. A resentful Georgia would become chronically anti-Russian, thus ensuring a long-term American presence in the region.
In the event, like the Ukrainian army today, the Georgian army performed so poorly that a military fait accompli was out of its reach. Excesses against Ossetian civilians – just like the shelling of schools in Slavyansk today – made the “victim of aggression” narrative hard to sell, Obama’s “aggression” rhetoric notwithstanding.
“The question we face… is not whether America will lead but how we will lead, not just to secure our peace and prosperity but also extend peace and prosperity around the globe.”
It is unclear how, if at all, America will secure her own “peace and prosperity” in the years and decades to come, let alone how she can extend it “around the globe.” If this is a statement of Obama’s grand strategy, it is flawed in principle and unfeasible in detail. In this statement there is not a hint of an overall blueprint for action that matches our country’s resources to her vital interests. A sound grand strategy enables a state to deploy its political, military, economic, and moral resources in a balanced and proportionate manner, in order to protect and enhance its security and promote its well-being, never mind “the globe.” In Obama’s universe, however, there are no brains behind “indispensable,” heavy-handed diplomacy and military power. Obama creates a false dilemma (“the question we face”) unsupported by facts. China, India, Russia, the Muslim world and Latin America do not want to be “led,” quite the contrary. Old Europe is reluctant at best. Subsaharan Africa is an irrelevant mess. The question we face is not global leadership, but national survival.
“Regional aggression that goes unchecked, whether in southern Ukraine or the South China Sea or anywhere else in the world, will ultimately impact our allies, and could draw in our military. We can’t ignore what happens beyond our boundaries.”
This simultaneous dig at Russia and China reflects a hubristic world view that is unmatched by conflict-management resources. A sane American relationship with Moscow demands acceptance that Russia has legitimate interests in her “near-abroad.” Obama’ four-nation tour of East Asia last Aprilescalated existing U.S. military commitments to the region, created some new ones, deeply irritated China, and emboldened American allies and clients to play hardball with Beijing. Obama does not understand that it is extremely dangerous for a great power to alienate two of its nearest rivals simultaneously. The crisis in Ukraine is going on, but the situation in Asia is potentially more volatile. Dealing with both theaters from the position of presumed strength and trying to dictate the outcomes is perilous, as many would-be hegemons (Philip II, Louis XIV, Napoleon, Kaiser Wilhelm, Hitler), blinded by arrogance, have learned to their peril. Obama has continued the hegemonist habit of instigating crises at different spots around the world, even though the resources are scarce and the strategy is fundamentally faulty. An overtly anti-U.S. alliance between Russia and China is now in the making. U.S. overreach led to the emergence of a de facto alliance in the Eurasian Heartland, embodied in the gas deal signed in Shanghai. Russia and China are not natural allies and they may have divergent long-term interests, especially in Central Asia, but they are on the same page when it comes to resisting U.S. hegemony, pardon, “leadership.” In the early 1970’s Dr. Henry Kissinger wisely understood the benefits of an opening to Beijing as a means of pressuring Moscow on the Cold War’s central front. Back then the USSR was far more powerful than the People’s Republic. Today, by contrast, China is much more economically and demographically powerful than Russia, and for the United States the optimal strategy would dictate being on good terms with the weaker party in the triangle. America does not have a policymaker of Kissinger’s stature today, who would understand the potential of a long-term understanding with Moscow as a tool of curtailing Chinese ambitions along the Pacific Rim.
“America must always lead on the world stage. If we don’t, no one else will. The military that you have joined is, and always will be, the backbone of that leadership.”
The notion that “the world stage” demands a “leader” is flawed. It is at fundamental odds with the balance-of-power paradigm, which has historically secured the longest periods of peace and unprecedented prosperity to the civilized world. Today’s world is being multipolarized, whether Obama the Exceptionalist likes that or not. The very idea of the self-awarded “world leadership” would appear absurd in the days of Bismarck or Metternich. Washington has neither the resources nor the minds for such a role, even if it were called for.
“The United States will use military force, unilaterally if necessary, when our core interests demand it — when our people are threatened; when our livelihoods are at stake; when the security of our allies is in danger.”
None of the above applied in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, or Libya… but enough of Obama. There was more rhetoric at West Point, including an ode to American exceptionalism and further references to America’s global leadership, but it just as tedious, vacuous and intellectually wanting as the first ten minutes of his address.
Overall, it is evident that the United States in Barack Obama’s final term has not given up the hegemonist habit of instigating crises at different spots around the world, even though the management resources are scarce and the strategy is fundamentally faulty. An overtly anti-U.S. alliance between Russia and China is now in the making. It will be a belated equivalent of the Franco-Russian alliance of 1893 – the predictable result of an earlier great power, Wilhelm’s Kaiserreich, basing its strategy on hubristic overestimation of its capabilities. U.S. overreach has led to the emergence of a de facto alliance in the Eurasian Heartland, embodied in last month’s energy agreement signed in Shanghai. Russia and China are not natural allies and they may have divergent long-term interests, especially in Central Asia, but they are on the same page when it comes to resisting U.S. hegemony.
In the early 1970’s Dr. Henry Kissinger wisely understood the benefits of an opening to Beijing as a means of pressuring Moscow on the Cold War’s central front. Back then the USSR was far more powerful than the People’s Republic. Today, by contrast, China is much more economically and demographically powerful than Russia, and for the United States the optimal strategy would dictate being on good terms with the weaker party in the triangle. It is unfortunate that America does not have a policymaker of Kissinger’s stature today, who would understand the potential of a long-term understanding with Moscow as a tool of curtailing Chinese ambitions along the Pacific Rim.
Judging by the West Point address, for the remaining two and a half years of Obama’s term U.S.-initiated global confrontations will continue as before. Instead of de-escalating the bloody mess to which she has made a hefty contribution, Victoria Nuland will continue encouraging her blood-soaked protégés in Kiev to seek a military end-game in the East. Instead of calming the South China Sea, Washington will continue encouraging its clients to be impertinent. And Putin and Xi will draw their conclusions: that they do have a powerful common enemy, a rogue regime not amenable to reason or rational calculus.
It cannot be otherwise, considering the Obama Administration’s 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance, which is but a rehash of the strategic assumptions of the Bush era. In Obama’s words from two years ago, our “enduring national interest” is to maintain the unparalleled U.S. military superiority, “ready for the full range of contingencies and threats” amid “a complex and growing array of security challenges across the globe.” The Guidance itself asserts that the task of the United States is to “confront and defeat aggression anywhere in the world.” This is not a grand strategy but a blueprint for disaster—especially when combined with the interventionists’ urge to “confront and defeat” not only aggression as such but also “aggression” resulting from internal conflicts irrelevant to the American interest (Syria, Ukraine) and putative threats to regional stability (Iran).
Obama is a more reluctant interventionist than McCain or Romney would have been, but he, too, does not recognize the limits of American power and does not correlate that power with this country’s security and prosperity. He fails to balance military and nonmilitary, short and long-term capabilities. He rejects the fact that the world is becoming multipolar again, while the relative power of the United States is in steady decline. Obama’s absence of a viable grand strategy produces policies that are disjointed, nonsensical, and self-defeating. He is prone, no less than his predecessor, to equate any stated political objective in some faraway land with America’s vital interests, without ever offering a coherent definition of those “vital” interests.
On both sides of the duopoly, the ideology of American exceptionalism and the doctrine of global dominance reign supreme. At a time of domestic economic weakness and cultural decline, foreign policy based on the American interest requires prudence, restraint, and a rational link between ends and means. Abroad, it demands disengagement from distant countries of which we know little; at home, a sane immigration policy.
It will not happen.
How corrupt has America become? It has become as corrupt as globalism itself, a byproduct in international greed, where the gutting of good paying jobs has relegated the United States to being nothing more than a third rate country with a first rate war machine. An essential aspect to what we regard as the American economy today is its reliance on fraud and corruption, from the banking sector to corporations exporting and outsourcing good jobs with the help of a political class that is not only fraudulent but treasonous to the extreme, they are driving America towards an abyss that it will not come back from.
Waging international war for resources under false pretenses is a globalists wet dream, and under the cloak of the nefarious “war on terror,” multinational defense and security firms have made trillions of dollars over the last decade. They destroy so they can rebuild, and all the human collateral damage is just an unsightly part of doing business.
Another perverse aspect to globalism is massive illegal immigration under the disreputable banner of multiculturalism, for some shady businesses in America the profit margins can increase exponentially by hiring illegal workers over Americans.
Corporations hire illegal workers to keep wages low, and benefits to an absolute minimum. Americans are shunned for unquestioning cheep labor, and governments allow and foster this fraud to the detriment of many Americans. Some Americans, if you can still call them Americans, profit greatly in this perverse atmosphere of fraud. The Federal government consistently places the interests of illegal aliens and businesses who hire them over and above American workers and the ‘rule of law’.
A case in point is Oklahoma, specifically Tulsa, Oklahoma, which has become a hotbed of greed and corruption. Tulsa is what some call a sanctuary city, where tens of thousands of illegal workers are in jobs that Americans are obviously not occupying. This ugly fact is good for some corporations and businesses, expanding their profits by paying undocumented workers low wages with no real benefits. What does it cost the American tax payers when these illegal workers have babies and use the medical industry with false identities, who foots the medical bills? It defiantly is not businesses or the governments.
Another case in point is a company called Name Brand Clothing; based in Tulsa, it has stores in six states, the company sells salvage clothing at 75 percent off retail and it prefers to hire illegal workers instead of Americans. It is the proverbial ‘poster child’ for corporate greed and corruption in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Why does it hire illegal workers? Well, first of all, it is about greed, making some people rich at the expense of everyone else. The managers at Name Brand Clothing generate outrageous bonuses by essentially suppressing wages on all hourly paid employees year after year. They choose illegal workers because illegal’s do not complain about being stuck on minimum wage for years on end with no real medical benefits and no paid holidays.
The owners and managers of Name Brand Clothing knowingly and willingly submit false identifications and Social Security Numbers to the IRS and to the Oklahoma Tax Commission, which is of course contrary to both federal and state laws. They have been doing this for over a decade, and they can commit these criminal acts because Federal and State governments are currently as corrupt and dishonest as companies like Name Brand Clothing.
Veracity Voice interviewed a long time worker at Name Brands Clothing for an inside examination into the workings of corporate greed and corruption that currently plagues corporate America.
We are protecting the person’s identity because the person is still currently employed by the company. We will refer to that person as the ‘Employee’.
Veracity Voice: How long have you been working for Name Brands?
Employee: I rather not say exactly since I still work for them, lets just say that I have been employed at Name Brands for about 10 years, give or take a couple of years.
Veracity Voice: What do you do there?
Employee: Again, I rather not say exactly, lets just say I worked in the head office, and have seen the corruption first hand.
Veracity Voice: Why have you decided to speak out at this time, and not before?
Employee: Actually I did in a way speak about this before; I wrote a letter to the Sheriff’s department, and the FBI about 4 years ago. I also wrote letters too FOX 23 and Channel Six News, concerning the outlandish fraud and corruption happening at Name Brands, and absolutely nothing came of it. It seems that it is not PC to talk about this issue in Tulsa; the mainstream media won’t touch it. That is why I am talking with Veracity Voice; the only outlet whistleblowers have today in America is in the alternative media.
Veracity Voice: Are you saying that the mainstream media is covering it up?
Employee: In a way they are by not reporting all the law breaking going around Tulsa as far as hiring illegal workers by businesses, they certainly seem to be part of the club, and will not rock the boat.
Veracity Voice: What Club?
Employee: Corrupt businesses, Local, State and Federal governments that allow the criminal behavior, the police departments that will not enforce the law and mainstream media that will not report any of it. It is one big corrupt club.
Veracity Voice: What kind of fraud and corruption have you seen at Name Brands?
Employee: Well, you can compare the greed and corruption at Name Brands along the lines of what’s happening in Wall Street and the financial system, some people are profiting greatly through outright fraud and thievery at the expense of everyone else, and government is engaged in helping the criminality.
At Name Brands, the fraud is done by submitting false ID’s and Social Security Numbers (SSN) to the IRS. I’ve seen with my own eyes management turn away American workers seeking work then turn around and hire illegals. The main reason they do this, Is because the illegals are content to work for minimum wage with no real benefits. Essentially, they keep everyone’s wages stagnant except for management.
Veracity Voice: What do you mean except for management?
Employee: The lower the costs for running the business, the higher the bonuses for management, its classic corporate greed. Management at Name Brands make large sums of money in the form of bonuses while all other workers do not receive real medical benefits or paid holidays except for two, Thanksgiving and Christmas, and those two paid holidays are highly conditional.
Veracity Voice: Highly conditional?
Employee: Yes, two weeks prior to Thanksgiving and Christmas if an employee is late for work for any reason Name Brands will not pay you for the holiday.
Veracity Voice: You’re kidding right?
Employee: No, unfortunately I’m not kidding. At Name Brands it’s a culture of nepotism and greed, like the saying goes “there is no honor among thieves” there is no honesty, no real integrity, just godless corruption. There is one woman, who has worked for the company for 17 years, and she has only received one 5 cent raise not counting minimum wage increases. It’s outright disgusting how they treat workers.
Veracity Voice: Why does she stay?
Employee: Well, some people have problems, and finding other employment can be difficult.
Veracity Voice: What kind of problems?
Employee: All sorts of problems like emotional and mental problems, in some cases drug problems, other cases workers being ex-convicts, finding employment can be difficult. Like some parasite, companies like Name Brands like to take advantage of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in society, that’s why they like illegals; they can thieve from them without any complaint, protected by corrupt governments. Most self-respecting Americans will not work for a company that treats hourly workers like trash.
Veracity Voice: Let’s get back to the fraud, how many illegals are they employing?
Employee: At TPC which is Name Brands production center in North Tulsa, they usually have around 80 illegals working there, and at their store in South Tulsa there are about 10.
Veracity Voice: That many?
Employee: Yes, it’s absolutely incredulous and in your face. It is both frustrating and depressing at the same time to see this traitorous conduct on a daily basis. It is time for Americans to take a stand against these globalists that are profiting through corruption.
Veracity Voice: Who are the people that run Name Brands Clothing in Tulsa?
Employee: As far as I know, Rusty Gaddy is the CEO, Jim Stevenson and Jim Breese are VP’s. At TPC there is Reid Lewellin and Jason Garman, both managers, and Brent Daily is the manager at the Tulsa Store, they all commit fraud on a daily bases. They do not care for America or Americans, all they care about is increasing their bonuses at the expense of everyone else, and what really bothers me is that the governments, both at the local and federal level engage in the same fraud, they do absolutely nothing about it. The Federal government knows very well that Name Brands has for well over a decade submitted thousands of false ID’s and SSN’s. This is criminal behavior at both the local and Federal level when the government chooses not to enforce its own laws.
Veracity Voice: What do you think should be done with these people?
Employee: These people are more than thieving fraudsters, they are traitors to the country and its people, so I say arrest Rusty Gaddy, arrest Jim Breese, arrest Jason Garman and Reid Lewellin, and arrest all of the crooks that run the criminal enterprise called Name Brands Clothing. These people are also very cowardly, if they find out that any employee is against their corruption they will slander him or her with false accusations, they will make up stuff to make that employee look bad. The two most egregious slanderers at Name Brands are Jason Garman and Jim Breese, they will slander and harass you to the point of desperation, and people will quit their jobs because of the continual harassment.
Veracity Voice: Job harassment is a crime.
Employee: Yes, and they get away with that too.
Veracity Voice: Talk a little bit about the one man that has used more than one ID to work at Name Brands.
Employee: Ya, he has three different aliases. I do not know which one is his real name, all I know is that Name Brands went out and got him a new fake ID, when they found out that the old ID the man was using belonged to a another man.
Veracity Voice: Where did they get the fake ID?
Employee: I do not know for sure, I heard that they went to some website run by the Federal government, and it provided Name Brands with a fake ID.
Veracity Voice: What do you think should be done with companies that choose to break the law as a regular part of doing business?
Employee: Again, arrest and prosecute the criminals, if law enforcement will not do their jobs, then Americans need to start fighting back by boycotting corporations like Name Brands that fragrantly and openly break the law. I mean these people act like it’s the turn of the 20th century or something; these anti-American globalists – at the end of the day that’s what these people really are – Name Brands conducts business like multinationals that run sweatshops all over the third world. They help create the culture of illegal behavior, by giving employment to illegals, which allows the illegals to stay in the city, drive vehicles without drivers licenses and insurance, use emergency Heath Services at taxpayer cost, they currently function ‘above the law’ and all accountability. Real Americans need to stand up against these criminals before they completely destroy this country.
Veracity Voice: Many in the business sector and in the political establishment will argue that the illegals fill jobs that Americans will not do, this reasoning is also pushed by the mainstream media, what do you say to this reasoning?
Employee: I think it is a false argument, I’ve seen with my own eyes Name Brands turn away Americans willing to work, in some cases desperate for a job, they are turned away in favor of hiring illegals. So, that kind of reasoning is nothing more than an illusion.
Veracity Voice: Some will charge you with racism for holding these views, how do you respond to this kind of slander?
Employee: It has been my experience that those that accuse people of being racist are in fact racists themselves. They falsely accuse others of being racist so they could push their nefarious agenda by smearing the reputations of those that are opposed to their mendacity and corruption. The charge of racism holds no water in the case of illegal immigration.
Veracity Voice: Why don’t you look for another job?
Employee: I am its not easy finding work these days. And if I quit, I probably will not be able to collect unemployment benefits if I can’t find a job.
Veracity Voice: Why?
Employee: Because Name Brands will fight against your right to obtain unemployment insurance, its company policy. They will send their managers to testify against your eligibility for unemployment benefits, and they will without any hesitation, lie and malign anyone applying for the benefits.
Veracity Voice: They have done this before, entered false information against former employees to the Unemployment Bureau?
Employee: Yes, many times, and they get away with that too, companies like Name Brands function ‘above the law,’ and it must stop now.
Veracity Voice: Thank you for your time.
Employee: You’re welcome.
The massive unrestrained flux in illegal immigration has changed the demographics of Tulsa, forcing many businesses to provide bilingual services, including city and state government services at great cost to the taxpayer. It is the ongoing balkanization of the city where east Tulsa is now known as little Mexico, a criminal and negative phenomenon that is currently occurring in many cities across the nation.
“I liken the economy to a car on a flat road that has no momentum. When you take your foot off the gas, the car just stops moving.” — Stephanie Pomboy, Interview Barron’s
If you follow the stock market, you probably think the economy is sizzling. But if bonds are your thing, then you probably think we’re still in recession.
So which is the better gauge of what’s going on in the real economy; stocks or bonds?
The bond market is more accurate. And recently, long-term yields have been dropping like a stone which is not a good sign for the economy. Investors seem to think that slow growth and low inflation are here to stay, and they could be right. According to Bloomberg, “Falling yields on longer-term Treasuries historically reflect periods of lackluster growth. Since 1960, they have predicted seven of the last eight recessions when 10-year yields fell below 3-month bill rates.” As of today, the benchmark 10-year UST is a dismal 2.44 percent.
The reason investors have been piling back into Treasuries is because is the labor market is weak and there’s no sign of inflation anywhere. When wages stagnate and incomes drop–as they have since the slump ended– then there’s no upward pressure on prices because everyone is making less dough, so there’s less demand, less growth and, hence, less inflation. Of course, Obama could have fixed the situation by holding off on slashing the deficits or by increasing the amount of stimulus in his fiscal package. That would have circulated more money into the economy boosting employment and revving up growth. But that would have put the economy back on its feet again which was not what he wanted. What he wanted was to grind working people into the ground by keeping the economy on life-support while his chiseling Wall Street buddies made out like bandits on the latest stock market bubble. The Wall Street Journal explains what’s going on:
“Bond yields are – once again – plunging worldwide. The reason for this revived buying among fixed-income investors is that central banks are – once again – signaling their intent to ease monetary conditions in yet another bid to kick-start sluggish economies and forestall a downward spiral in prices, or deflation. The prospect that central banks will continue to inject money into the world’s bond markets…has acted as a green light for the world’s bond buyers.”
So investors think the Fed will have to taper the “Taper” and start buying more government paper. But why?
Because they have no choice. Many of the usual buyers of US Treasuries have cut back on their monthly purchases or stopped buying altogether. That means that rates will have to rise to attract more buyers unless the Fed makes up the difference. Check out this blurb from Barron’s interview with Stephanie Pomboy:
“Foreigners are buying about $10 billion a month of Treasuries. This compares with deficit financing needs for the U.S. government of roughly $40 billion a month, based on this year’s deficit. So the Fed needs to pick up roughly $30 billion a month in slack. When the Fed slashed its buying to $25 billion, effective this month, it for the first time opened up a demand deficit for Treasuries. If they continue to taper, that gap will expand, and things could get bumpy in the Treasury market. Rates won’t go up five basis points before the Fed would start talking about more QE.” (Barrons Interview Posits Weak US Economy, Barron’s)
It’ll get bumpy alright, real bumpy. Higher rates will send housing and stocks into freefall. The Fed will have no choice but to step in to stop the bleeding.
The economy is already suffering from chronic lack of demand. Add higher rates to the mix, and cost-conscious consumers are going to cut back on everything from auto loans to nights-on-the-town. Yellen’s not going to let that happen. She’s going to come up with some cockamamie excuse for buying more USTs and hope-like-hell that wages and incomes rebound so she can start tapering again.
This illustrates the conceptual flaw in Central Bank policy. QE and zero rates are supposed to reduce the price of money, thereby enticing consumers to take out loans and spend like crazy. That, in turn, is supposed to generate more activity and stronger growth. But there’s a slight glitch to this theory, that is, consumers aren’t the brain-dead lab rats the Fed thinks they are. Most people don’t base their spending decisions on price alone. Sometimes, for example, it doesn’t make sense to borrow money no matter how cheap it is. The average working stiff doesn’t give a rip if he can get a loan at 3.5 percent when his credit card is already maxed out and the only job he can find is working graveyard at Jack in the Box. That guy doesn’t need more debt, he needs a decent paying job. Here’s how the managing partner of MBMG Group, Paul Gambles explained the phenom in an interview on CNBC:
“People and businesses are not inclined to borrow money during a downturn purely because it is made cheaper to do so. Consumers also need a feeling of job security and confidence in the economy before taking on additional borrowing commitments.” (Washington’s blog via Zero Hedge)
Bingo. Of course, the members of the Fed know that this whole “cheap money” thing is bogus, but they keep reiterating the same blather so they can keep the wampum flowing to their crooked friends on Wall Street. It’s worth noting that: since the end of the recession, “one-third of all income increases in this country went to just 16,000 households, 95 percent of it went to the top 1 percent, and the bottom 90 percent’s incomes fell, and they fell by 15 percent.”
In other words, the Fed knows exactly how QE works, (and who benefits) and it has nothing to do with extending credit to working people. That’s malarkey. It’s all about providing limitless liquidity for financial speculators so they can send stocks into the stratosphere and rake in record profits. Here’s a blurb from a piece by Zero Hedge that helps to illustrate what’s going on:
“According to the most recent CapitalIQ data, the single biggest buyer of stocks in the first quarter were none other than the companies of the S&P500 itself, which cumulatively repurchased a whopping $160 billion of their own stock in the first quarter!
Should the Q1 pace of buybacks persist into Q2 which has just one month left before it too enters the history books, the LTM period as of June 30, 2014 will be the greatest annual buyback tally in market history.” (Here Is The Mystery, And Completely Indiscriminate, Buyer Of Stocks In The First Quarter, Zero Hedge)
Why are companies buying shares of their own stock, you ask, when buybacks add no productive value to a company at all?
It’s because it gooses stock prices which makes shareholders happy. It’s a complete scam. And it’s a huge scam, too. Currently, total stock buybacks represent a whopping $4 trillion or 20 percent of the total stock market value. Just think of the walloping prices are going to take when these same shareholders decide it’s time to bail out? Look out below!
Now get a load of this clip from Action Forex:
“Disappointment over the pace of economic growth explains at least some of the downturn in yields. The U.S. economy very likely contracted in the first quarter of the year, perhaps by as much as 1.0% annualized … Even with a strong bounce back in the second quarter … – the average pace of growth in the first half of the year will be a tepid 2.0%, about the pace it’s been since the end of the recession…
The retrenchment in yields also reflects events abroad … However, there is perhaps another reason for the decline in yields that is more pernicious. There is the realization that even after the recovery has run its course, economic growth is likely to be slower than it has been in the past. Slower growth means that as the fed funds rate eventually moves off the floor, it will not go back to the 5.25% it was prior to the Great Recession or even the 4.0% it averaged over the quarter of a decade prior. Expectations of “lower forever”…increasingly appear to be built into longer-term interest rates.” (A year in the bond market, Action Forex)
Did you catch that part about “lower forever”?
What the author means is that the economy has reset at a lower level of activity and will not return to normal. This is an admission that the managers of the system have no intention of fixing what’s wrong; cleaning up the banks, writing down the debts, regulating the system, increasing workers buying power (boosting demand) or providing sustained fiscal stimulus until unemployment and growth are back where they should be. Instead, basic macro has been replaced with public relations, that is, a swindle that’s spearheaded by faux-liberal icons Krugman and Summers who are pushing the “secular stagnation” folderol which is just a lame excuse for maintaining the status quo plus a few anemic add-ons, like infrastructure projects. Big whoop. It’s all a fig leaf for maintaining the same wealth shifting monetary policies that are in place today.
So this is it? Are we really doomed to a future of high unemployment and slow growth?
The IMF seems to think so. Here’s an excerpt from an article by Nick Beams which gives a rundown on a recent IMF report that was ignored by the media. The article is titled “No end to economic breakdown”:
“Almost six years after the eruption of the global financial crisis, the International Monetary Fund has effectively ruled out any return to the economic growth rates that preceded September 2008.
Two major chapters of the IMF’s World Economic Outlook … provide a gloomy assessment of the state of the world economy. In the advanced economies, investment is falling as a proportion of gross domestic product (GDP), while in the “emerging markets,” there is no prospect for growth rates to return to pre-2007 levels.
The IMF notes that real interest rates have been declining since the 1980s and are “now in slightly negative territory.” But this has failed to boost productive investment. On the contrary, what it calls “scars” from the global financial crisis “have resulted in a sharp and persistent decline in investment in advanced economies.” Between 2008 and 2013, there was a two-and-a-half percentage point decline in the investment to GDP ratio in these countries. The report adds that ratios “in many advanced economies are unlikely to recover to pre-crisis levels in the next five years.”
This conclusion is of immense significance given the critical role of investment in the functioning of the capitalist economy … Investment…is the key driving force of capitalist economic growth … But if investment stagnates or declines, the circle turns vicious. This is what is now taking place.” IMF report: No end to economic breakdown (april), wsws
So no return to normal, after all. The American people are now facing a long period of high unemployment and slow growth that will shrink the middle class and change the country in ways we can hardly imagine. It’s unavoidable. It’s the policy.
NOTE: As this piece was going to press, the Wall Street Journal announced that “revised” First Quarter GDP contracted at a 0.6% annual rate. So while stocks have been setting records almost daily due to the massive injections of money from the Fed, the economy is steadily sliding towards recession.
On the surface, the economic atmosphere of the U.S. has appeared rather calm and uneventful. Stocks are up, employment isn’t great but jobs aren’t collapsing into the void (at least not openly), and the U.S. dollar seems to be going strong. Peel away the thin veneer, however, and a different financial horror show is revealed.
U.S. stocks have enjoyed unprecedented crash protection due to a steady infusion of fiat money from the Federal Reserve known as quantitative easing. With the advent of the “taper”, QE is now swiftly coming to a close (as is evident in the overall reduction in treasury market purchases), and is slated to end by this fall, if not sooner.
Employment has been boosted only in statistical presentation, and not in reality. The Labor Department’s creative accounting of job numbers omits numerous factors, the most important being the issue of long term unemployed. Millions of people who have been jobless for so long they no longer qualify for benefits are being removed from the rolls. This quiet catastrophe has the side bonus of making it appear as though unemployment is going down.
U.S. Treasury bonds, and by extension the dollar, have also stayed afloat due to the river of stimulus being introduced by the Federal Reserve. That same river, through QE, is now drying up.
In my article The Final Swindle Of Private American Wealth Has Begun, I outline the data which leads me to believe that the Fed taper is a deliberate action in preparation for an impending market collapse. The effectiveness of QE stimulus has a shelf-life, and that shelf life has come to an end. With debt monetization no longer a useful tool in propping up the ailing U.S. economy, central bankers are publicly stepping back. Why? If a collapse occurs while stimulus is in full swing, the Fed immediately takes full blame for the calamity, while being forced to admit that central banking as a concept serves absolutely no meaningful purpose.
My research over many years has led me to conclude that a collapse of the American system is not only expected by international financiers, but is in fact being engineered by them. The Fed is an entity created by globalists for globalists. These people have no loyalties to any one country or culture. Their only loyalties are to themselves and their private organizations.
While many people assume that the stimulus measures of the Fed are driven by a desire to save our economy and currency, I see instead a concerted program of destabilization which ismeant to bring about the eventual demise of our nation’s fiscal infrastructure. What some might call “kicking the can down the road,” I call deliberately stretching the country thin over time, so that any indirect crisis can be used as a trigger event to bring the ceiling crashing down.
In the past several months, the Fed taper of QE and subsequently U.S. bond buying has coincided with steep declines in purchases by China, a dump of one-fifth of holdings by Russia, and an overall decline in new purchases of U.S. dollars for FOREX reserves.
With the Ukraine crisis now escalating to fever pitch, BRIC nations are openly discussing the probability of “de-dollarization” in international summits, and the ultimate dumping of the dollaras the world reserve currency.
The U.S. is in desperate need of a benefactor to purchase its ever rising debt and keep the system running. Strangely, a buyer with apparently bottomless pockets has arrived to pick up the slack that the Fed and the BRICS are leaving behind. But, who is this buyer?
At first glance, it appears to be the tiny nation of Belgium.
While foreign investment in the U.S. has sharply declined since March, Belgium has quickly become the third largest buyer of Treasury bonds, just behind China and Japan, purchasing more than $200 billion in securities in the past five months, adding to a total stash of around $340 billion. This development is rather bewildering, primarily because Belgium’s GDP as of 2012 was a miniscule $483 billion, meaning, Belgium has spent nearly the entirety of its yearly GDP on our debt.
Clearly, this is impossible, and someone, somewhere, is using Belgium as a proxy in order to prop up the U.S. But who?
Recently, a company based in Belgium called Euroclear has come forward claiming to be the culprit behind the massive purchases of American debt. Euroclear, though, is not a direct buyer. Instead, the bank is a facilitator, using what it calls a “collateral highway” to allow central banks and international banks to move vast amounts of securities around the world faster than ever before.
Euroclear claims to be an administrator for more than $24 trillion in worldwide assets and transactions, but these transactions are not initiated by the company itself. Euroclear is a middleman used by our secret buyer to quickly move U.S. Treasuries into various accounts without ever being identified. So the question remains, who is the true buyer?
My investigation into Euroclear found some interesting facts. Euroclear has financial relationships with more than 90 percent of the world’s central banks and was once partly owned and run by 120 of the largest financial institutions back when it was called the “Euroclear System”. The organization was consolidated and operated by none other than JP Morgan Bank in 1972. In 2000, Euroclear was officially incorporated and became its own entity. However, one must remember, once a JP Morgan bank, always a JP Morgan bank.
Another interesting fact – Euroclear also has a strong relationship with the Russian government and is a primary broker for Russian debt to foreign investors. This once again proves my ongoing point that Russia is tied to the global banking cabal as much as the United States. The East vs. West paradigm is a sham of the highest order.
Euroclear’s ties to the banking elite are obvious; however, we are still no closer to discovering the specific groups or institution responsible for buying up U.S. debt. I think that the use of Euroclear and Belgium may be a key in understanding this mystery.
Belgium is the political center of the EU, with more politicians, diplomats and lobbyists than Washington D.C. It is also, despite its size and economic weakness, a member of an exclusive economic club called the “Group Of Ten” (G10).
The G10 nations have all agreed to participate in a “General Arrangement to Borrow” (GAB) launched in 1962 by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The GAB is designed as an ever cycling fund which members pay into. In times of emergency, members can ask the IMF’s permission for a release of funds. If the IMF agrees, it then injects capital through Treasury purchases and SDR allocations. Essentially, the IMF takes our money, then gives it back to us in times of desperation (with strings attached). A similar program called ‘New Arrangements To Borrow’ (NAB) involves 38 member countries. This fund was boosted to approximately 370 billion SDR (or $575 billion dollars U.S.) as the derivatives crisis struck markets in 2008-2009. Without a full and independent audit of the IMF, however, it is impossible to know the exact funds it has at its disposal, or how many SDR’s it has created.
It should be noted the Bank of International Settlements is also an overseer of the G10. If you want to learn more about the darker nature of globalist groups like the IMF and the BIS, read my articles, Russia Is Dominated By Global Banks, Too, and False East/West Paradigm Hides The Rise Of Global Currency.
The following article from Harpers titled “Ruling The World Of Money,” was published in 1983 and boasts about the secrecy and “ingenuity” of the Bank Of International Settlements, an unaccountable body of financiers that dominates the very course of economic life around the world.
It is my belief that Belgium, as a member of the G10 and the GAB/NAB agreements, is being used as a proxy by the BIS and the IMF to purchase U.S. debt, but at a high price. I believe that the banking elite are hiding behind their middleman, Euroclear, because they do not want their purchases of Treasuries revealed too soon. I believe that the IMF in particular is accumulating U.S. debt to be used later as leverage to absorb the dollar and finalize the rise of their SDR currency basket as the world reserve standard.
Imagine what would happen if all foreign creditors abandoned U.S. debt purchases because the dollar was no longer seen as viable as a world reserve currency. Imagine that the Fed’s efforts to stimulate through fiat printing became useless in propping up Treasuries, serving only to devalue the domestic buying power of our currency. Imagine that the IMF swoops in as the lender of last resort; the only entity willing to service our debt and keep the system running. Imagine what kind of concessions America would have to make to a global loan shark like the IMF.
Keep in mind, the plan to replace the dollar is not mere “theory”. In fact, IMF head Christine Lagarde has openly called for a “global financial system” to take over in the place of the current dollar based system.
The Bretton Woods System, established in 1944, was used by the United Nations and participating governments to form international rules of economic conduct, including fixed rates for currencies and establishing the dollar as the monetary backbone. The IMF was created during this shift towards globalization as the BIS slithered into the background after its business dealings with the Nazis were exposed. It was the G10, backed by the IMF, that then signed the Smithsonian Agreement in 1971 which ended the Bretton Woods system of fixed currencies, as well as any remnants of the gold standard. This led to the floated currency system we have today, as well as the slow poison of monetary inflation which has now destroyed more than 98 percent of the dollar’s purchasing power.
I believe the next and final step in the banker program is to reestablish a new Bretton Woods style system in the wake of an engineered catastrophe. That is to say, we are about to go full circle. Perhaps Ukraine will be the cover event, or tensions in the South China Sea. Just as Bretton Woods was unveiled during World War II, Bretton Woods redux may be unveiled during World War III. In either case, the false East/West paradigm is the most useful ploy the elites have to bring about a controlled decline of the dollar.
The new system will reintroduce the concept of fixed currencies, but this time, all currencies will be fixed or “pegged” to the value of the SDR global basket. The IMF holds a global SDR summit every five years, and the next meeting is set for the beginning of 2015.
If the Chinese yuan is brought into the SDR basket next year, if the BRICS enter into a conjured economic war with the West, and if the dollar is toppled as the world reserve, there will be nothing left in terms of fiscal structure in the way of a global currency system. If the public does not remove the globalist edifice by force, the IMF and the BIS will then achieve their dream – the complete dissolution of economic sovereignty, and the acceptance by the masses of global financial governance. The elites don’t want to hide behind the curtain anymore. They want recognition. They want to be worshiped. And, it all begins with the secret buyout of America, the implosion of our debt markets, and the annihilation of our way of life.
Source: Brandon Smith | Alt-Market
Imagine: you are dressed up for a night on Broadway, but your neighbours are involved in a vicious quarrel, and you have to gun up and deal with the trouble instead of enjoying a show, and a dinner, and perhaps a date. This was Putin’s position regarding the Ukrainian turmoil.
The Russians have readjusted their sights, but they do not intend to bring their troops into the two rebel republics, unless dramatic developments should force them.
It is not much fun to be in Kiev these days. The revolutionary excitement is over, and hopes for new faces, the end of corruption and economic improvement have withered. The Maidan street revolt and the subsequent coup just reshuffled the same marked deck of cards, forever rotating in power.
The new acting President has been an acting prime minister, and a KGB (called “SBU” in Ukrainian) supremo. The new acting prime minister has been a foreign minister. The oligarch most likely to be “elected” President in a few days has been a foreign minister, the head of the state bank, and personal treasurer of two coups, in 2004 (installing Yushchenko) and in 2014 (installing himself). His main competitor, Mme Timoshenko, served as a prime minister for years, until electoral defeat in 2010.
These people had brought Ukraine to its present abject state. In 1991, the Ukraine was richer than Russia, today it is three times poorer because of these people’s mismanagement and theft. Now they plan an old trick: to take loans in Ukraine’s name, pocket the cash and leave the country indebted. They sell state assets to Western companies and ask for NATO to come in and protect the investment.
They play a hard game, brass knuckles and all. The Black Guard, a new SS-like armed force of the neo-nazi Right Sector, prowls the land. They arrest or kill dissidents, activists, journalists. Hundreds of American soldiers, belonging to the “private” company Academi (formerly Blackwater) are spread out in Novorossia, the pro-Russian provinces in the East and South-East. IMF–dictated reforms slashed pensions by half and doubled the housing rents. In the market, US Army rations took the place of local food.
The new Kiev regime had dropped the last pretence of democracy by expelling the Communists from the parliament. This should endear them to the US even more. Expel Communists, apply for NATO, condemn Russia, arrange a gay parade and you may do anything at all, even fry dozens of citizens alive. And so they did.
The harshest repressions were unleashed on industrial Novorossia, as its working class loathes the whole lot of oligarchs and ultra-nationalists. After the blazing inferno of Odessa and a wanton shooting on the streets of Melitopol the two rebellious provinces of Donetsk and Lugansk took up arms and declared their independence from the Kiev regime. They came under fire, but did not surrender. The other six Russian-speaking industrial provinces of Novorossia were quickly cowed. Dnepropetrovsk and Odessa were terrorised by personal army of Mr Kolomoysky; Kharkov was misled by its tricky governor.
Russia did not interfere and did not support the rebellion, to the great distress of Russian nationalists in Ukraine and Russia who mutter about “betrayal”. So much for the warlike rhetoric of McCain and Brzezinski.
Putin’s respect for others’ sovereignty is exasperating. I understand this sounds like a joke, — you hear so much about Putin as a “new Hitler”. As a matter of fact, Putin had legal training before joining the Secret Service. He is a stickler for international law. His Russia has interfered with other states much less than France or England, let alone the US. I asked his senior adviser, Mr Alexei Pushkov, why Russia did not try to influence Ukrainian minds while Kiev buzzed with American and European officials. “We think it is wrong to interfere”, he replied like a good Sunday schoolboy. It is rather likely Putin’s advisors misjudged public sentiment. « The majority of Novorossia’s population does not like the new Kiev regime, but being politically passive and conservative, will submit to its rule”, they estimated. “The rebels are a small bunch of firebrands without mass support, and they can’t be relied upon”, was their view. Accordingly, Putin advised the rebels to postpone the referendum indefinitely, a polite way of saying “drop it”.
They disregarded his request with considerable sang froid and convincingly voted en masse for secession from a collapsing Ukraine. The turnout was much higher than expected, the support for the move near total. As I was told by a Kremlin insider, this development was not foreseen by Putin’s advisers.
Perhaps the advisors had read it right, but three developments had changed the voters’ minds and had sent this placid people to the barricades and the voting booths:
1. The first one was the fiery holocaust of Odessa, where the peaceful and carelessly unarmed demonstrating workers were suddenly attacked by regime’s thugs (the Ukrainian equivalent of Mubarak’s shabab) and corralled into the Trade Unions Headquarters. The building was set on fire, and the far-right pro-regime Black Guard positioned snipers to efficiently pick off would-be escapees. Some fifty, mainly elderly, Russian-speaking workers were burned alive or shot as they rushed for the windows and the doors. This dreadful event was turned into an occasion of merriment and joy by Ukrainian nationalists who referred to their slain compatriots as “fried beetles”. (It is being said that this auto-da-fé was organised by the shock troops of Jewish oligarch and strongman Kolomoysky, who coveted the port of Odessa. Despite his cuddly bear appearance, he is pugnacious and violent person, who offered ten thousand dollars for a captive Russian, dead or alive, and proposed a cool million dollars for the head of Mr Tsarev, a Member of Parliament from Donetsk.)
2. The second was the Mariupol attack on May 9, 2014. This day is commemorated as V-day in Russia and Ukraine (while the West celebrates it on May 8). The Kiev regime forbade all V-day celebrations. In Mariupol, the Black Guard attacked the peaceful and weaponless town, burning down the police headquarters and killing local policemen who had refused to suppress the festive march. Afterwards, Black Guard thugs unleashed armoured vehicles on the streets, killing citizens and destroying property.
The West did not voice any protest; Nuland and Merkel weren’t horrified by this mass murder, as they were by Yanukovich’s timid attempts to control crowds.
The people of these two provinces felt abandoned; they understood that nobody was going to protect and save them but themselves, and went off to vote.
3. The third development was, bizarrely, the Eurovision jury choice of Austrian transvestite Conchita Wurst for a winner of its song contest.
The sound-minded Novorossians decided they want no part of such a Europe.
Actually, the people of Europe do not want it either:
It transpired that the majority of British viewers preferred a Polish duo, Donatan & Cleo, with its We Are Slavic. Donatan is half Russian, and has courted controversy in the past extolling the virtues of pan-Slavism and the achievements of the Red Army, says the Independent.
The politically correct judges of the jury preferred to “celebrate tolerance”, the dominant paradigm imposed upon Europe.
This is the second transvestite to win this very political contest; the first one was Israeli singer Dana International.
Such obsession with re-gendering did not go down well with Russians and/or Ukrainians.
The Russians have readjusted their sights, but they do not intend to bring their troops into the two rebel republics, unless dramatic developments should force them.
Imagine: you are dressed up for a night on Broadway, but your neighbours are involved in a vicious quarrel, and you have to gun up and deal with the trouble instead of enjoying a show, and a dinner, and perhaps a date. This was Putin’s position regarding the Ukrainian turmoil.
A few months ago, Russia had made a huge effort to become, and to be seen as, a very civilized European state of the first magnitude. This was the message of the Sochi Olympic games: to re-brand, even re-invent Russia, just as Peter the Great once had, as part of the First World; an amazing country of strong European tradition, of Leo Tolstoy and Malevich, of Tchaikovsky and Diaghilev, the land of arts, of daring social reform, of technical achievements, of modernity and beyond — the Russia of Natasha Rostova riding a Sikorsky ‘copter. Putin spent $60 billion to broadcast this image.
The old fox Henry Kissinger wisely said:
Putin spent $60 billion on the Olympics. They had opening and closing ceremonies, trying to show Russia as a normal progressive state. So it isn’t possible that he, three days later, would voluntarily start an assault on Ukraine. There is no doubt that… at all times he wanted Ukraine in a subordinate position. And at all times, every senior Russian that I’ve ever met, including dissidents like Solzhenitsyn and Brodsky, looked at Ukraine as part of the Russian heritage. But I don’t think he had planned to bring it to a head now.
However, Washington hawks decided to do whatever it takes to keep Russia out in the cold. They were afraid of this image of “a normal progressive state” as such Russia would render NATO irrelevant and undermine European dependence on the US. They were adamant about retaining their hegemony, shattered as it was by the Syrian confrontation. They attacked Russian positions in the Ukraine and arranged a violent coup, installing a viciously anti-Russian regime supported by football fans and neo-Nazis, paid for by Jewish oligarchs and American taxpayers. The victors banned the Russian language and prepared to void treaties with Russia regarding its Crimean naval base at Sebastopol on the Black Sea. This base was to become a great new NATO base, controlling the Black Sea and threatening Russia.
Putin had to deal quickly and so he did, by accepting the Crimean people’s request to join Russian Federation. This dealt with the immediate problem of the base, but the problem of Ukraine remained.
The Ukraine is not a foreign entity to Russians, it is the western half of Russia. It was artificially separated from the rest in 1991, at the collapse of the USSR. The people of the two parts are interconnected by family, culture and blood ties; their economies are intricately connected. While a separate viable Ukrainian state is a possibility, an “independent” Ukrainian state hostile to Russia is not viable and can’t be tolerated by any Russian ruler. And this for military as well as for cultural reasons: if Hitler had begun the war against Russia from its present border, he would have taken Stalingrad in two days and would have destroyed Russia in a week.
A more pro-active Russian ruler would have sent troops to Kiev a long time ago. Thus did Czar Alexis when the Poles, Cossacks and Tatars argued for it in 17th century. So also did Czar Peter the Great, when the Swedes occupied it in the 18th century. So did Lenin, when the Germans set up the Protectorate of Ukraine (he called its establishment “the obscene peace”). So did Stalin, when the Germans occupied the Ukraine in 1941.
Putin still hopes to settle the problem by peaceful means, relying upon the popular support of the Ukrainian people. Actually, before the Crimean takeover, the majority of Ukrainians (and near all Novorossians) overwhelmingly supported some sort of union with Russia. Otherwise, the Kiev coup would not have been necessary. The forced Crimean takeover seriously undermined Russian appeal. The people of Ukraine did not like it. This was foreseen by the Kremlin, but they had to accept Crimea for a few reasons. Firstly, a loss of Sevastopol naval base to NATO was a too horrible of an alternative to contemplate. Secondly, the Russian people would not understand if Putin were to refuse the suit of the Crimeans.
The Washington hawks still hope to force Putin to intervene militarily, as it would give them the opportunity to isolate Russia, turn it into a monster pariah state, beef up defence spending and set Europe and Russia against each other. They do not care about Ukraine and Ukrainians, but use them as pretext to attain geopolitical goals.
The Europeans would like to fleece Ukraine; to import its men as “illegal” workers and its women as prostitutes, to strip assets, to colonise. They did it with Moldova, a little sister of Ukraine, the most miserable ex-Soviet Republic. As for Russia, the EU would not mind taking it down a notch, so they would not act so grandly. But the EU is not fervent about it. Hence, the difference in attitudes.
Putin would prefer to continue with his modernisation of Russia. The country needs it badly. The infrastructure lags twenty or thirty years behind the West. Tired by this backwardness, young Russians often prefer to move to the West, and this brain drain causes much damage to Russia while enriching the West. Even Google is a result of this brain drain, for Sergey Brin is a Russian immigrant as well. So are hundreds of thousands of Russian scientists and artists manning every Western lab, theatre and orchestra. Political liberalisation is not enough: the young people want good roads, good schools and a quality of life comparable to the West. This is what Putin intends to deliver.
He is doing a fine job of it. Moscow now has free bikes and Wi-Fi in the parks like every Western European city. Trains have been upgraded. Hundreds of thousands of apartments are being built, even more than during the Soviet era. Salaries and pensions have increased seven-to-tenfold in the past decade. Russia is still shabby, but it is on the right track. Putin wants to continue this modernisation.
As for the Ukraine and other ex-Soviet states, Putin would prefer they retain their independence, be friendly and work at a leisurely pace towards integration a la the European Union.
He does not dream of a new empire. He would reject such a proposal, as it would delay his modernisation plans.
If the beastly neocons would not have forced his hand by expelling the legitimate president of Ukraine and installing their puppets, the world might have enjoyed a long spell of peace.
But then the western military alliance under the US leadership would fall into abeyance, US military industries would lose out, and US hegemony would evaporate. Peace is not good for the US military and hegemony-creating media machine. So dreams of peace in our lifetime are likely to remain just dreams.
What will Putin do?
Putin will try to avoid sending in troops as long as possible. He will have to protect the two splinter provinces, but this can be done with remote support, the way the US supports the rebels in Syria, without ‘boots on the ground’. Unless serious bloodshed on a large scale should occur, Russian troops will just stand by, staring down the Black Guard and other pro-regime forces.
Putin will try to find an arrangement with the West for sharing authority, influence and economic involvement in the failed state. This can be done through federalisation, or by means of coalition government, or even partition. The Russian-speaking provinces of Novorossia are those of Kharkov (industry), Nikolayev (ship-building), Odessa (harbour), Donetsk and Lugansk (mines and industry), Dnepropetrovsk (missiles and high-tech), Zaporozhe (steel), Kherson (water for Crimea and ship-building), all of them established, built and populated by Russians. They could secede from Ukraine and form an independent Novorossia, a mid-sized state, but still bigger than some neighbouring states. This state could join the Union State of Russia and Belarus, and/or the Customs Union led by Russia. The rump Ukraine could manage as it sees fit until it decides whether or not to join its Slavic sisters in the East. Such a set up would produce two rather cohesive and homogeneous states.
Another possibility (much less likely at this moment) is a three-way division of the failed Ukraine: Novorossia, Ukraine proper, and Galicia&Volyn. In such a case, Novorossia would be strongly pro-Russian, Ukraine would be neutral, and Galicia strongly pro-Western.
The EU could accept this, but the US probably would not agree to any power-sharing in the Ukraine. In the ensuing tug-of-war, one of two winners will emerge. If Europe and the US drift apart, Russia wins. If Russia accepts a pro-Western positioning of practically all of Ukraine, the US wins. The tug-of-war could snap and cause all-out war, with many participants and a possible use of nuclear weapons. This is a game of chicken; the one with stronger nerves and less imagination will remain on the track.
Pro and Contra
It is too early to predict who will win in the forthcoming confrontation. For the Russian president, it is extremely tempting to take all of Ukraine or at least Novorossia, but it is not an easy task, and one likely to cause much hostility from the Western powers. With Ukraine incorporated, Russian recovery from 1991 would be completed, its strength doubled, its security ensured and a grave danger removed. Russia would become great again. People would venerate Putin as Gatherer of Russian Lands.
However, Russian efforts to appear as a modern peaceful progressive state would have been wasted; it would be seen as an aggressor and expelled from international bodies. Sanctions will bite; high tech imports may be banned, as in the Soviet days. The Russian elites are reluctant to jeopardize their good life. The Russian military just recently began its modernization and is not keen to fight yet, perhaps not for another ten years.
But if they feel cornered, if NATO moves into Eastern Ukraine, they will fight all the same.
Some Russian politicians and observers believe that Ukraine is a basket case; its problems would be too expensive to fix. This assessment has a ‘sour grapes’ aftertaste, but it is widespread. An interesting new voice on the web, The Saker, promotes this view. “Let the EU and the US provide for the Ukrainians, they will come back to Mother Russia when hungry”, he says. The problem is, they will not be allowed to reconsider. The junta did not seize power violently in order to lose it at the ballot box.
Besides, Ukraine is not in such bad shape as some people claim. Yes, it would cost trillions to turn it into a Germany or France, but that’s not necessary. Ukraine can reach the Russian level of development very quickly –- in union with Russia. Under the EC-IMF-NATO, Ukraine will become a basket case, if it’s not already. The same is true for all East European ex-Soviet states: they can modestly prosper with Russia, as Belarus and Finland do, or suffer depopulation, unemployment, poverty with Europe and NATO and against Russia, vide Latvia, Hungary, Moldova, Georgia. It is in Ukrainian interests to join Russia in some framework; Ukrainians understand that; for this reason they will not be allowed to have democratic elections.
Simmering Novorossia has a potential to change the game. If Russian troops don’t come in, Novorossian rebels may beat off the Kiev offensive and embark on a counter-offensive to regain the whole of the country, despite Putin’s pacifying entreaties. Then, in a full-blown civil war, the Ukraine will hammer out its destiny.
On a personal level, Putin faces a hard choice. Russian nationalists will not forgive him if he surrenders Ukraine without a fight. The US and EU threaten the very life of the Russian president, as their sanctions are hurting Putin’s close associates, encouraging them to get rid of or even assassinate the President and improve their relations with the mighty West. War may come at any time, as it came twice during the last century – though Russia tried to avoid it both times. Putin wants to postpone it, at the very least, but not at any price.
His is not an easy choice. As Russia procrastinates, as the US doubles the risks, the world draws nearer to the nuclear abyss. Who will chicken out?
(Language editing by Ken Freeland)
Abenomics has been great for stock speculators and corporate bigwigs, but for everyone else, not so much. The fact is–despite all the media hype and monetary fireworks–Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s three-pronged strategy to end 20 years of deflation has been a total bust. But don’t take my word for it, check out this clip from Reuters and see for yourself:
“In the fourth quarter of last year, Japan’s economy grew at an annual rate of just 0.7 percent, revised figures show, slower than the initial estimate of 1.0 percent on weaker business investment and consumption….” (Japan fourth-quarter growth, external balance suffer blow in test for Abenomics, Reuters)
See? Japan’s economy is dead as a doornail. No sign of life at all. What more proof do you need than that?
And Abenomics won’t end deflation either. That’s another fiction. The weaker yen is just going to force working people and retirees on fixed income to reduce their consumption which will intensify the slump. Heck, even the IMF has figured that one out. Take a look at this clip from one of their recent pieces:
“The average Japanese worker has been dipping into his savings to finance consumption growth. But there’s a limit to how far he can do this. The savings rate as a percent of disposable income has declined from around 5 percent a decade ago to close to zero today, leaving little further room for spending from savings….Looking forward, real wages are set to come under even greater pressure this year and next with higher underlying inflation and successive increases in the consumption-tax rate.” (Abenomics—Time for a Push from Higher Wages, IMF-direct)
It sounds to me like the IMF is telling old Shinzo that his plan sucks, doesn’t it?
Whoever thought that dumping trillions of dollars into the financial system would end deflation had a couple screws loose. That’s not how it works. The Fed loaded up on $4 trillion in financial assets and inflation is still hovering at a measly 1 percent. So if the theory doesn’t work in the US, why would it work in Japan?
It won’t. The way to generate inflation is by circulating money in the economy and increasing the velocity. That means full employment and higher wages. That means fiscal stimulus and redistributive taxation. That means fixing the damn economy. But Abe’s not going to do that because it doesn’t jibe with his class war strategy which is what drives the current policy. Now check this out from Roger Arnold at The Street:
“The essential policy tools of Abenomics are massive monetary and fiscal stimulus aimed at forcing the yen lower, which should cause exports to rise and domestic production to increase, leading to increased domestic job production and consumption: the virtuous cycle. In the process, Japan also increased sovereign debt, which must be serviced by the government. The servicing of that debt is supposed to come from an increase in tax receipts to be made available by the increased domestic production and consumption.
But it isn’t working.
The failure of Abenomics to stimulate economic activity and raise tax receipts enough to pay for the stimulus is now causing the government to double back on these programs with a counter-cyclical consumer tax increase of about 3%, which will be implemented in April. In other words, Abenomics is making the real economic and fiscal situations in Japan worse, not better. They are digging a bigger sovereign debt hole and accelerating the trajectory toward insolvency…Investors would be wise to avoid Japan altogether now, and probably permanently.” (Arnold: Abenomics’ Failure Is the Global Canary, The Street)
That’s probably good advice, although I think Japan’s implosion will take much longer than Arnold seems to believe. But that’s beside the point. What matters is the that policy doesn’t work. The economy isn’t growing, personal consumption is weak, the trade deficit, the current account deficit and the national debt are all ballooning at the same time, and the Japanese people are growing more pessimistic. And on top of it all, a 3 percent sales tax is set to kick in at the beginning of April which is going to send the economy stumbling back into recession. (Abe pushed through the tax hike to placate his right-wing constituents even though the risks to the economy were obvious.)
So, it’s all bad, unless you’re high-flying stock trader or a money-grubbing corporate CEO, that is. Then things have never been better. Get a load of this in the Wall Street Journal:
“While Japan Inc. may be whistling a happy tune on the back of robust profit growth and a weaker yen thanks to the pro-business agenda of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a key survey released Wednesday shows that consumers aren’t in a similar Abenomics-induced state of rapture.
The Cabinet Office’s monthly Consumer Confidence Index contracted for the third straight month in February to 38.2. That’s the worst reading since Mr. Abe entered office in January 2013 and the lowest since September 2011. Respondents were even more pessimistic than during Mr. Abe’s year-long term as prime minister between September 2006 and September 2007…
Even though recent data showed the basic earnings of workers in the world’s third-largest economy rose for the first time in almost two years in January, respondents in the February survey were less optimistic about their income growth, the value of their assets, and their overall livelihood than they were a month earlier.
The downbeat reading prompted the government to downgrade its assessment, saying it is “on a weak note.” (Japanese Consumer Pessimism Hits New High Under Abe, WSJ)
To say the Japanese are depressed, would be an understatement. Your average Joe is “even more pessimistic” than he was when Abe stepped down in 2007 and the economy was on the brink of rigor mortis. Does that sound like the “Happy Days are here again” blabber you’ve been reading in the media or hearing from liberal pundits like the madcap Dr. Krugman?
Also, according to a Cabinet Office survey that appeared in the Japan Times on Saturday, only 22 percent of respondents “think the economy is headed in the right direction”, while 76 percent are worried about the impact the consumption tax will have on the economy.
How’s that for a ringing endorsement of Abe’s Kamikazenomics? The only people who still believe in Abe’s song and dance are the ivory tower set at Princeton and Yale. Everyone else has thrown in the towel.
Abenomics is a public relations scam designed to shift more payola to voracious stock speculators and their thieving corporate counterparts. It’s a fraud wrapped in a lie. That’s all there is to it. But there are victims, that’s for dang-sure. Just check out this article in Bloomberg and you’ll see what I mean:
“Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe looks set to drive an indicator of economic hardship to a 33-year high by increasing taxes and prices amid stagnant wages. The misery index, which adds the jobless rate to the level of inflation, will climb to 7 percentage points in the three months starting April 1 when Japan raises its sales levy to 8 percent from 5 percent, based on the median estimates of economists in Bloomberg News surveys of unemployment and consumer prices. That would be the highest level for the measure since June 1981 when Japan was emerging out of depression after the oil shocks in the 1970s.
Bank of Japan monetary stimulus designed to spur economic growth and achieve 2 percent inflation has weakened the yen by 6.8 percent in the past 12 months, eroding the value of wages to a record low. Abe, the son of an ex-foreign minister who grew up in a house with servants, is under fire from the opposition party after the cost of living surged to a five-year high.
“Inflation is really tough,” said Kiyoshi Ishigane, a senior strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Asset Management Co., which oversees more than $77 billion. “Those who speak favorably about inflation might have been born in wealthy families and never experienced the hardship that inflation brought.” (Misery Index Rising to 33-Year High on Abenomics: Japan Credit, Bloomberg)
The Misery Index is peaking and all you hear in the US is a bunch of baloney about glorious Abenomics and the miraculous effect of money printing. What a joke. People are hurting big-time in Japan, and shifty Shinzo is only adding to their pain with his monetary Hara-kiri. It’s madness. Wages dropped for 19 months in a row before they got a “one-off” bump-up last month of 0.1 percent, which is a big nothingburger. The overall trend is down, down, down. On top of that, roughly 35 percent of Japan’s workforce is part-time employment; no pension, no bennies, no job security, no nothing. Things slow down, and you get booted down the stairwell with not as much as a “Goodbye, Charlie!” They probably don’t even bother with the perfunctory pink slip. Just grab your lunchbox, and “out you go.”
So how does Abe figure he’s going to generate inflation when workers are flat on their backs and don’t have enough scratch to buy the widgets that Japan Inc produces?
The whole thing is a non starter, which is why I think this “fighting deflation” trope is a big freaking smokescreen to hide what’s really going on, which is a massive transfer of wealth to the investor class via asset inflation. That’s what’s really happening, right? Abenomics is just a way to produce fat returns during extended periods of slow growth and deepening stagnation. The big boys figured out how to overcome the very conditions that they created with their unbounded avarice. I guess they figure that, just because everyone else has to suffer through a goddamn Depression, doesn’t mean they have to too.
You got to hand it to these guys, they think of everything.
“I never thought I’d live to see the day when the US State Department whitewashed the neo-Nazi views and heritage of a gang of thugs who had seized power in a violent coup d’état. In Iraq, Libya, and Syria, US policymakers empowered radical Islamists of one sort or another. That was bad enough. Today, however, in Ukraine they are empowering the heirs of Adolf Hitler. How is this not a scandal?”
–Justin Raimondo, From Iraq to Ukraine: A Pattern of Disaster
The Obama administration suffered its worst foreign policy defeat in 5 years on Sunday when the people of Crimea voted overwhelmingly to reject Washington’s Nazi-backed junta government in Kiev and join the Russian Federation. The balloting, in which more than 93 percent of voters “approved splitting off and joining Russia” reflects the strong ethnic, cultural and historic ties its people share with Moscow as well as the understandable fear that being “liberated” by the US could lead to grinding third world poverty and widespread mayhem the likes of which are manifest in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria.
The Obama administration rejected the nearly-unanimous referendum opining that they would not accept the results and would push for economic sanctions on Russia as early as Monday. In response, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that the referendum “complied with international law” and that he would honor the will of the people. Putin, who was attending the Paralympic games in Sochi, has wisely stayed above the fray throughout the crisis brushing off the hysterical accusations and threats issued almost daily by President Obama or his vaudevillian sidekick John Kerry, the most incompetent buffoon to ever serve as US Secretary of State. Between Obama, Kerry and the irascible John McCain, who traipses from one media venue to the next spouting his cold war fulminations like an old man shooing kids off the front lawn, the US has made a spectacular hash of things leaving US foreign policy in a shambles. The Crimea fiasco shows that while Team Obama may be chock-full of fantasists, spin-doctors and crystal-gazing globalists it is sadly lacking in geopolitical pragmatists with a solid grasp of the way the world works. Obama has been no match for Putin who has tromped him at every turn. Here’s a clip from an article by the Associated Press:
“Moscow… called on Ukraine to become a federal state as a way of resolving the polarization between Ukraine’s western regions — which favor closer ties with the 28-nation EU — and its eastern areas, which have long ties to Russia.
In a statement Monday, Russia’s Foreign Ministry urged Ukraine’s parliament to call a constitutional assembly that could draft a new constitution to make the country federal, handing more power to its regions. It also said country should adopt a “neutral political and military status,” a demand reflecting Moscow’s concern about the prospect of Ukraine joining NATO.” (Crimea declares independence, seizes property, AP)
So, this is how Putin intends to play the game, eh; by using basic democratic institutions to block Washington from implementing its plan to deploy NATO and US missile bases in Ukraine? It sounds like a smart move to me.
Once again, Putin has made every effort to downplay his role in deciding policy so as not to embarrass the bungling Obama claque who seem determined to make themselves look foolish and impotent at every opportunity. Here’s how analyst Michael Scheuer summed up Putin’s behavior in an article at the Ron Paul website:
“The difference in the Ukraine intervention from others the West has conducted is that the terminally adolescent political leaders who run the West have run smack dab into a decisive, realistic, and nationalistic adult, in the person of Vladimir Putin, and they do not know what to do. They are learning that the Ukraine is not Libya or Egypt in that Putin will not to let the West make of Ukraine — or at least of Crimea — the same unholy mess its earlier unwarranted interventions made of Egypt and Libya. Putin has a very clear view of Russia’s genuine national interests, and reliable access to the Crimean base of the Black Sea fleet is one of them, it has been for centuries, and it will remain so in the future…
U.S. and Western leaders should be lining up to thank Vladimir Putin for a painful but thorough lesson in how the adult leader of a nation protects his country’s genuine national interests.” (Russia Annexing Crimea is the Cost of US/EU intervention in Ukraine, Michael Scheuer, Ron Paul Institute)
Putin realizes that derailing Washington’s strategy to control the Crimea will have serious consequences. He must now prepare for the typical litany of asymmetrical attacks including covert operations, special ops, arming Tatar jihadis to incite violence in Crimea, US-backed NGOs fomenting unrest in Moscow, etc etc, as well as stepped up US military and logistical support for Kiev’s thriving fascist element which has already morphed into the imposter-government’s security apparatus, a scary remake of Hitler’s Gestapo. Here’s the rundown from the World Socialist Web Site:
“On Thursday, the Ukrainian parliament voted to establish a 60,000-strong National Guard recruited from “activists” in the anti-Russian protests and from military academies. The force will be overseen by the new security chief, Andriy Parubiy, a founder in the early 1990s of the neo-Nazi Social-National Party of Ukraine. His deputy, Dmytro Yarosh, is the leader of the paramilitary Right Sector. It is the Ukrainian equivalent of Hitler’s storm troopers.
In addition to aiding the West in its provocations against Moscow, the main responsibility of these elements will be to carry through a social onslaught against the Ukrainian working class at the behest of international capital…” (What the Western-backed regime is planning for Ukrainian workers, World Socialist Web Site)
And here’s a bit more from the same article on the radical austerity program the IMF is planning to impose on Ukraine in order to shrink the government, reduce pensions, cut social services, and leave the country in a permanent state of Depression:
“Behind incessant rhetorical invocations of a “democratic revolution,” Ukraine’s newly-installed government of former bankers, fascists and oligarchs is preparing draconian austerity measures.
The plans being drawn up are openly described as the “Greek model,” i.e., the programme of savage cuts imposed on Greece by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European Union (EU) that has caused Greece’s economy to collapse by nearly 25 percent in five years and produced a massive growth in unemployment and poverty…” (“What the Western-backed regime is planning for Ukrainian workers, World Socialist Web Site)
So, Putin definitely has his work cut out for himself. Fortunately, he appears to be getting sound advice from his political and military advisors who have avoided pointless grandstanding, gamesmanship or incendiary rhetoric the likes of which erupt from the White House and State Department on a daily basis.
Despite the fact that the Kremlin does not want to see Washington “lose face”, sometimes events make that impossible, as the astute political analysts at Moon of Alabama pointed out on Sunday. Here’s a blurb from a post at MoA that shows how Washington has essentially capitulated to Moscow and accepted its basic framework for resolving the crisis while trying to dupe the public into thinking the policy was their idea. Here’s the excerpt:
“There was another phone call today between Secretary of State Kerry and the Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov. The call came after a strategy meeting on Ukraine in the White House. During the call Kerry agreed to Russian demands for a federalization of the Ukraine in which the federal states will have a strong autonomy against a central government in a Finlandized Ukraine. Putin had offered this “off-ramp” from the escalation and Obama has taken it. The Russian announcement:
(Reuters) – “Lavrov, Kerry agree to work on constitutional reform in Ukraine: Russian ministry…
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry agreed on Sunday to seek a solution to crisis in Ukraine by pushing for constitutional reforms there, the Russian foreign ministry said.
It did not go into details on the kind of reforms needed except to say they should come “in a generally acceptable form and while taking into the account the interests of all regions of Ukraine”.
“Sergei Viktorovich Lavrov and John Kerry agreed to continue work to find a resolution on Ukraine through a speedy launch of constitutional reform with the support of international community,” the ministry said in a statement.” (Ukraine: U.S. Takes Off-Ramp, Agrees To Russian Demands, Moon of Alabama)
Can you believe it? The goofy Obama team wants the public to believe that the whole “constitutional reform”-thing was their idea so people don’t notice that the clunker administration and President Featherweight have run up the white flag and headed for the hills. This is classic Barack “lead from behind” Obama trying to make a full-blown retreat look like a victory.
“The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good.” – Harold Pinter, Nobel Acceptance Speech
“Obama is just a willing executioner. From the ruling class’s point of view, he’s the perfect figurehead because his mere appearance confuses and disarms so many. He seems to have spent his whole life trying to get chosen to play Judas. And that’s all there is in his resume.” -bevin, Comments line, Moon of Alabama
According to a newly-released Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, Barack Obama’s job-approval ratings have dipped to a new low of 41 percent with a full 54 percent of respondents saying they “disapproved” of the job he’s doing. Obama’s handling of the economy, health care and foreign policy were particular areas of concern for most respondents. On health care, Obama is seen as having strengthened the for-profit insurance industry with little benefit for ordinary working people. The survey also showed “the lowest-ever approval” for the president’s handling of foreign policy. And, on the economy, the results were even more shocking; a full 57% of the people polled “believe the U.S. is still in a recession” while “65 percent think the country is on the wrong track”. Widespread disappointment in Obama’s performance has weakened his support among blacks, Hispanics and women, traditionally, the most loyal groups in the Party’s base.
There’s no doubt that Obama has been hurt by the anemic recovery or by focusing on deficit reduction instead of job creation. High unemployment, flat wages and shrinking incomes have weighed heavily on expectations, which has put a damper on consumption and growth. Gallup’s Economic Confidence index now shows a “sharp decline in the outlook for the future” …”with some 57 percent of the respondents saying things are getting worse, not better.”
Indeed, things have gotten worse under Obama, much worse, which is why many of his most ardent supporters are falling off the bandwagon. And the disappointment is not limited to economic policy either. Recent surveys confirm what most people already know, that the public is tired of the interventions, the provocations, the meddling and the endless wars. The American people are increasingly isolationist and want the government to disengage from foreign conflicts. Here’s an excerpt from a recent survey by PEW that sums up the mood of the country:
“For the first time since 1964, more than half (52%) agree that the U.S. should “mind its own business internationally and let other countries get along the best they can on their own;” 38% disagree, according to a survey conducted Oct.-Nov. 2013. Similarly, 80% agree with the statement, “We should not think so much in international terms but concentrate more on our own national problems and building up our strength and prosperity here at home.” (U.S. Foreign Policy: Key Data Points from Pew Research, PEW Research Center)
The PEW poll merely expands on the findings in other surveys like this from the LA Times:
“Two thirds of Americans questioned in a recent poll said the 12-year war fought in Afghanistan…hasn’t been worth the price paid in lives and dollars…
The survey conducted for the media by Langer Research Associates of New York found that disillusionment with the U.S.-led war was expressed by a majority of all political leanings. Overall, 66% of respondents said the war hasn’t been worth it. Those who identified themselves as liberals were most unhappy with the military investment: 78% said the war was a mistake.” (Poll: Two thirds of Americans say Afghan war not worth fighting, LA Times)
The same is true of Iraq. The war wasn’t worth fighting. Check this out on ABC News:
“Ten years after U.S. airstrikes on Baghdad punctuated the start of the Iraq war, nearly six in 10 Americans say the war was not worth fighting – a judgment shared by majorities steadily since initial success gave way to years of continued conflict.
Nearly as many in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll say the same about the war in Afghanistan. And while criticisms of both wars are down from their peaks, the intensity of sentiment remains high, with strong critics far outweighing strong supporters.” (A Decade on, Most are Critical of the U.S.-Led War in Iraq, ABC News)
And that brings us to today and the looming prospect of a war with Russia over developments in the Crimea. Here’s what people are thinking according to a survey in the Washington Post:
“A new poll suggests Americans have very little appetite for any real involvement in the crisis in Ukraine. Only 29 percent of Americans would like for the Obama administration to take a ‘firm stand’ against Russia’s incursion into its neighbor, according to the Pew Research Center poll, while nearly twice as many — 56 percent — prefer the United States not to get too involved in Ukraine.
The poll reflects a war-weary American public that is still very reticent to get involved in international conflicts. The American people were similarly opposed to military intervention in Syria last year, despite President Obama calling for the use of force and seeking congressional approval for action.” (Few Americans want ‘firm stand’ against Russia in Ukraine, Washington Post)
Of course, Obama doesn’t care the American people want. He’s going to do what he signed-on to do; crack down on civil liberties, strangle the economy, and spread war across the planet. As far as the warmongering goes–he’s doing an even better job than Bush. Don’t believe me? Just check out this clip from the International Business Times:
“In their annual End of Year poll, researchers for WIN and Gallup International surveyed more than 66,000 people across 65 nations and found that 24 percent of all respondents answered that the United States “is the greatest threat to peace in the world today.” Pakistan and China fell significantly behind the United States on the poll, with 8 and 6 percent, respectively.” (In Gallup Poll, The Biggest Threat To World Peace Is… America?, IBT)
There you have it, the Obama presidency in a nutshell: “The United States is the greatest threat to peace in the world today.” Keep in mind, this survey wasn’t taken during the Bush years. Oh no. This is all Obama’s doing, every bit of it.
Let’s summarize: The majority of Americans think Obama is doing a lousy job. They think the economy stinks, and they think their financial situation is getting worse. They also think the country is on the wrong track, that America is a threat to world peace, and that they don’t want anymore goddamned wars.
Check, check, check, check and check.
So, what do you think the Obama administration’s reaction to this public outpouring has been?
I’ll tell you what it’s been. They’re happy. That’s right, they’re happy. Despite the plunging poll numbers and dwindling public support, the Obama team feels vindicated by the fact that they’re not as widely reviled as the Bush administration. That’s their benchmark: Bush. And they could be on to something too, after all, who would have thought that a president could repeal habeas corpus, destroy the economy, launch wars and coups like they’re going out of style, vaporize hundreds of innocent people in drone attacks, intensify surveillance on every man, woman and child in the United States, and claim the right to assassinate US citizens without due process, without inciting millions of enraged Americans to grab their pitchforks and head to Washington?
That’s what would have happened if Bush was still in office, right? But Obama gets a “pass”. Why? Because he’s an articulate, charismatic black man who the vast majority of Dems still admire. Can you believe it?
Obama represents everything these people profess to hate–war, drone attacks, Gitmo, austerity, Wall Street (no prosecutions), indefinite detention, executive privilege (to assassinate) etc–and yet they still put the man on a pedestal. Which is why we think that Obama is the greatest public relations invention of all-time; a beaming, exuberant, galvanic paragon who embodies all the laudatory characteristics of leadership and who–at the same time– is able to carry out the most despicable, inhuman acts without the slightest hesitation or remorse. He is man who feels nothing towards his fellow human beings, neither empathy, compassion, or mercy. What matters to Obama is that he faithfully follow the script that’s been written for him by his miscreant handlers, that odious amalgam of cutthroat corporatists, bank mandarins and loafing ivy league silver-spooners who make up America’s iniquitous Kleptocracy. The best description of Obama I’ve ever read was in the comments section of a foreign policy blogsite called Moon of Alabama by a blogger named “bevin”. Here’s what he said:
“I think that Obama is completely empty of scruples…just a willing executioner. From the ruling class’s point of view he is the perfect figurehead because his mere appearance confuses and disarms so many. He seems to have spent his whole life trying to get chosen to play Judas. And that is all there is in his resume…
They present him as negligent, never responsible, never intentionally connected to an evil act, never drawn into the acts of duplicity by a conscious intent. This is the false image, the disinformation projected about who he is…
It strikes me that Obama is all those things. And that this is the core of the evil in him- that he is without conscience or principle, just an ordinary butcher going about his business, fulfilling the terms of his employment, doing what he was asked to do…
You see him as focused and intentional.
I see him as someone who will sign a stack of death warrants without reading them, or thinking about them again. Remember just after November 2008, waiting to take office, how the Israelis attacked Gaza, obviously to show him who is boss? Didn’t you sense that even they were surprised at the insouciance with which he watched those extraordinary massacres pass before his eyes?
He didn’t care. And he was, at last, relieved of the chore of pretending that he did care about such things.
That’s really what he likes about being President: he can relax while the killing goes on, he doesn’t need to pretend it bothers him, he doesn’t need to pass any kind of moral judgment.
Remember when he asked his step-father “Have you ever killed men?”
The reply he got was “Only men who were weak.”
He has adhered to that moral standard ever since.” (bevin, Moon of Alabama)
That perfectly summarizes the man; an empty gourd who never had any intention of fulfilling his promises, who has utter disdain for the fools that voted for him, and who finds it as easy to kill a man, his family and his kids, as to swat a fly on his forearm. As bevin notes Obama “is a pure confidence man and a sociopath.”
And now the sociopath has focused his attention on Ukraine where he’s determined to draw Russia into a conflict over the Crimea even though Moscow has assisted the US in the War on Terror, removed its heavy weapons from the Western part of Russia, reduced its conventional military by 300,000 troops, and fulfilled all its obligations under the Adapted Conventional Armed Forces Treaty in Europe (ACAF).
Moscow has done everything that was asked of it. And what has Washington done in return. Here’s how Valentin Mândrăşescu, Editor of The Voice of Russia’s Reality Check, sums it up on the Testosterone Pit website:
“Washington has defaulted on all of its key agreements made with USSR/Russia during the last 30 years. Gorbachev was promised that Eastern Europe would not be taken into NATO. Country by country became part of NATO and Yugoslavia was dismantled despite Russia’s objections. The US acted as the winner of the Cold War and guided its policies by the famous principle of “Vae victis!” Woe to the vanquished!” (Valentin Mândrăşescu, Editor of The Voice of Russia’s Reality Check, From now on, No compromises are possible with Russia, Testosterone Pit)
Since the breakup of the Soviet Union, the US has surrounded Russia with military bases, trained troops in Georgia that were eventually used to fight Russia in South Ossetia, instigated numerous color-coded revolutions in former Soviet states, and started to deploy a missile defense system in Eastern Europe that will give Washington first-strike nuclear weapons capability that will destroy “the strategic equilibrium in the world” and force Putin to resume the arms race.
That’s how Washington makes friends; by stomping their face into the pavement every chance it gets. Sound familiar?
On Wednesday, Obama met with Ukraine’s imposter prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, at the White House in a attempt to lend credibility to the coup leader’s Nazi-strew government. Obama used the White House event to applaud the putsch and to promise support for the aggressively anti-Kremlin government. Shortly after Obama finished his statement, blogsites released copies of a resolution that was issued by the European Parliament just 15 months earlier condemning the groups which are now part of the US-backed Ukrainian government. Here’s a blurb from the text of that resolution:
“The European Parliament…Is concerned about the rising nationalistic sentiment in Ukraine, expressed in support for the Svoboda Party, which, as a result, is one of the two new parties to enter the Verkhovna Rada; recalls that racist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic views go against the EU’s fundamental values and principles and therefore appeals to pro-democratic parties in the Verkhovna Rada not to associate with, endorse or form coalitions with this party.” (Moon of Alabama)
How do you like that? So the European Parliament saw the danger of these groups and denounced them before they had a change of heart and realized that these died-in-the-wool, neo-Nazi, jackboot-thugs might be able to help them advance their foreign policy objectives. Now the EU nations are lining up behind Obama who’s doing his level-best to provoke Putin so he can push NATO to Russia’s borders, take control of critical pipeline corridors and vital resources, and install weapons systems on Russia’s perimeter. These are the administration’s goals despite the threat they pose to democracy, security, and regional stability, not to mention the possibility of a third world war.
Bottom line: You don’t get to be “the greatest threat to world peace” without really applying yourself.
Obama wants to prove he’s up to the task. Regrettably, we think he is.
“When they come for my gun, they will have to pry it out of my cold, dead hands,” is a common refrain I often hear from the Neo-Cons when there is a threat, credible or otherwise, that the U.S. government is going to take their firearms.
And, when I hear this crazy talk, I agree with them openly. “You are right. They will pry your gun from your cold dead hands,” which I often follow with the question, “And where will that leave you except face down in a pool of your own blood [in] the middle of the street, just another dead fool resisting the State?”
This is not a question they are comfortable with, if only because the intent of their saber-rattling was to imply they would fight to keep their weapons, and win.
Nice fantasy. It’s not happening.
If the federal government decides to disarm the public, and when the increasingly-militarized rolls down your street after a not-so-subtle request that you kindly turn over your firearms and ammunition “for the common good,” it will be nothing less than suicide by cop to do anything other than what you are told.
The militarization of U.S. police forces is ongoing and escalating. Many cities and towns now own tanks, armored personnel carriers, even attack helicopters, and almost all are outfitted with military weapons not available to the general public.
And, it is not just your hometown cops who are getting new boy-toys. The military itself is buying up weaponry not just for use in the current or next scheduled war, but to deal with the likes of you, citizens who don’t seem to understand that the Bill of Rights has been overruled, and that specifically includes, but is not limited to, the right to protest and engage in civil disobedience.
Also ignored (as if it didn’t even exist) is the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 which generally bars the military from law enforcement activities within the United States.
According to Public Intelligence:
“…for the last two years, the President’s Budget Submissions for the Department of Defense have included purchases of a significant amount of combat equipment, including armored vehicles, helicopters and even artillery, under an obscure section of the FY2008 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the purposes of ‘homeland defense missions, domestic emergency responses, and providing military support to civil authorities.’ Items purchased under the section include combat vehicles, tanks, helicopters, artillery, mortar systems, missiles, small arms and communications equipment. Justifications for the budget items indicate that many of the purchases are part of routine resupply and maintenance, yet in each case the procurement is cited as being ‘necessary for use by the active and reserve components of the Armed Forces for homeland defense missions, domestic emergency responses, and providing military support to civil authorities’ under section 1815 of the FY 2008 NDAA.”
And, they are not just arming cops and weekend warriors for domestic purposes. Active duty Marines are now being trained for law enforcement operations all over the world (of which the U.S. remains a part) specifically to deal with civil uprisings, and the U.S. government knows that civil uprisings are coming to a town near you just as soon as the fantasy of a healing economy is shattered, the U.S. dollar fails, and unemployment goes to 30%+ in real numbers.
And, to you tough-talking Neo-Cons with your AR-15 rifles and a few thousand rounds of ammo, here is the reality: they will take your guns, and no, all your Second Amendment bluster aside, you are not going to do anything about it. You are not going to take on a platoon of Marines with state-of-the-art automatic weapons and the best body armor you cannot buy protected by armed personnel carriers and attack helicopters unless you choose to die that day — for nothing. You will either be in the country or out, and if you are in, you will stay in and you will comply.
That is your choice… for the moment.
Source: Laissez Faire
The stakes are high in the Ukraine: after the coup, as Crimea and Donbas asserted their right to self determination, American and Russian troops entered Ukrainian territory, both under cover.
The American soldiers are “military advisors”, ostensibly members of Blackwater private army (renamed Academi); a few hundred of them patrol Kiev while others try to suppress the revolt in Donetsk. Officially, they were invited by the new West-installed regime. They are the spearhead of the US invasion attempting to prop up the regime and break down all resistance. They have already bloodied their hands in Donetsk.
Besides, the Pentagon has doubled the number of US fighter jets on a NATO air patrol mission in the Baltics; the US air carrier entered the Black Sea, some US Marines reportedly landed in Lvov “as a part of pre-planned manoeuvres”.
The Russian soldiers ostensibly belong to the Russian Fleet, legally stationed in Crimea. They were in Crimea before the coup, in accordance with the Russian-Ukrainian treaty (like the US 5th fleet in Kuwait), but their presence was probably beefed up. Additional Russian troops were invited in by deposed but legitimately elected President Yanukovych (compare this with the US landing on Haiti in support of the deposed President Aristide ). They help the local pro-Russian militia maintain order, and no one gets killed in the process. In addition, Russia brought its troops on alert and returned a few warships to the Black Sea.
It is only the Russian presence which is described as an “invasion” by the Western media, while the American one is hardly mentioned. ”We have a moral duty to stick our nose in your business in your backyard a world away from our homeland. It’s for your own good”, wrote an ironic American blogger.
Moscow woke up to trouble in Ukraine after its preoccupation, nay obsession, with the Winter Olympic games had somewhat abated, — when people began to say that “Putin won the games and lost the Ukraine”. Indeed, while Putin watched sports in Sochi, the Brown Revolution succeeded in Ukraine. A great European country the size of France, the biggest republic of the former USSR (save Russia), was taken over by a coalition of Ukrainian ultra-nationalists and (mainly Jewish) oligarchs. The legitimate president was forced to flee for his very life. Members of Parliament were manhandled, and in some cases their children were taken hostage to ensure their vote, as their houses were visited by gunmen. The putsch was completed. The West recognised the new government; Russia refused to recognise it, but continued to deal with it on a day -to-day basis. However the real story is now developing in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine, a story of resistance to the pro-Western takeover.
The economic situation of Ukraine is dreadful. They are where Russia was in the 1990s, before Putin – in Ukraine the Nineties never ended. For years the country was ripped off by the oligarchs who siphoned off profits to Western banks, bringing it to the very edge of the abyss. To avoid default and collapse, the Ukraine was to receive a Russian loan of 15 billion euros without preconditions, but then came the coup. Now the junta’s prime minister will be happy to receive a mere one billion dollars from the US via IMF. (Europeans have promised more, but in a few years’ time…) He already accepted the conditions of the IMF, which will mean austerity, unemployment and debt bondage. Probably this was the raison d’être for the coup. IMF and US loans are a major source of profit for the financial community, and they are used to enslave debtor countries, asPerkins explained at length.
The oligarchs who financed the Maidan operation divided the spoils: the most generous supporter, multi-billionaire Igor “Benya” Kolomoysky, received the great Russian-speaking city of Dnepropetrovsk in fief. He was not required to give up his Israeli passport. His brethren oligarchs took other Russian-speaking industrial cities, including Kharkov and Donetsk, the Ukrainian Chicago or Liverpool. Kolomoysky is not just an ‘oligarch of Jewish origin’: he is an active member of the Jewish community, a supporter of Israel and a donor of many synagogues, one of them the biggest in Europe. He had no problem supporting the neo-Nazis, even those whose entry to the US had been banned because of their declared antisemitism. That is why the appeals to Jewish consciousness against the Brown putsch demonstrably failed.
Now came the nationalists’ crusade against Russian-speakers (ethnic Russians and Russian-speaking Ukrainians – the distinction is moot), chiefly industrial workers of East and South of the country. The Kiev regime banned the Communist Party and the Regions’ Party (the biggest party of the country, mainly supported by the Russian-speaking workers). The regime’s first decree banned the Russian language from schools, radio and TV, and forbade all official use of Russian. The Minister of Culture called Russian-speakers “imbeciles” and proposed to jail them for using the banned tongue in public places. Another decree threatened every holder of dual Russian/Ukrainian nationality with a ten-years jail sentence, unless he gives up the Russian one right away.
Not empty words, these threats: The storm-troopers of the Right Sector, the leading fighting force of the New Order, went around the country terrorising officials, taking over government buildings, beating up citizens, destroying Lenin’s statues, smashing memorials of the Second World War and otherwise enforcing their rule A video showed a Right Sector fighter mistreating the city attorney while police looked other way. They began to hunt down riot policemen who supported the ex-president, and they burned down a synagogue or two. They tortured a governor, and lynched some technicians they found in the former ruling party’s headquarters. They started to take over the Orthodox churches of the Russian rite, intending to transfer them to their own Greek-Catholic Church.
The instructions of US State Dept.’s Victoria Nuland were followed through: the Ukraine had had the government she prescribed in the famous telephone conversation with the US Ambassador. Amazingly, while she notoriously gave “fuck” to the EU, she did not give a fuck about the Russian view of Ukraine’s immediate future.
Russia was not involved in Ukrainian developments: Putin did not want to be accused of meddling in Ukrainian internal affairs, even when the US and EU envoys assisted and directed the rebels. The people of Russia would applaud him if he were to send his tanks to Kiev to regain the whole of Ukraine, as they consider it an integral part of Russia. But Putin is not a Russian nationalist, not a man of Imperial designs. Though he would like the Ukraine to be friendly to Russia, annexing it, in whole or in part, has never been his ambition. It would be too expensive even for wealthy Russia: the average income in the Ukraine is just half of the Russian one, and tits infrastructure is in a shambles. (Compare to the very costly West German takeover of the GDR.) It would not be easy, either, for every Ukrainian government in the past twenty years has drenched the people with anti-Russian sentiment. But involvement was forced upon Putin:
Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians voted with their feet and fled to Russia, asking for asylum. Two hundred thousand refugees checked in during the weekend. The only free piece of land in the whole republic was the city of Sevastopol, the object of a French and British siege in 1852 and of a German siege in 1941, and the home base of the Russian Black Sea fleet. This heroic city did not surrender to the Kiev emissaries, though even here some local deputies were ready to submit. And at that last moment, the people began their resistance. The awful success of the putsch was the beginning of its undoing. The pendulum of Ukraine, forever swinging between East and West, began its return movement.
The people of Crimea rose, dismissed their compromise-seeking officials and elected a new leader, Mr Sergey Aksyonov. The new leadership assumed power, took over Crimea and asked for Russian troops to save them from the impending attack by the Kiev storm troopers. It does not seem to have been necessary at this stage: there were plenty of Crimeans ready to defend their land from the Brown invaders, there were Cossack volunteers and there is the Russian Navy stationed in Crimea by treaty. Its Marines would probably be able to help the Crimeans in case of trouble. The Crimeans, with some Russian help, manned the road blocks on the narrow isthmus that connects Crimea to the mainland.
The parliament of Crimea voted to join Russia, but this vote should be confirmed by a poll on March 16 to determine Crimea’s future — whether it will revert to Russia or remain an autonomous republic within the Ukraine. From my conversation with locals, it seems that they would prefer to join the Russian Federation they left on Khrushchev’s orders only a half century ago. Given the Russian-language issue and the consanguinity, this makes sense: Ukraine is broke, Russia is solvent and ready to assume its protection. Ukraine can’t pay salaries and pensions, Russia had promised to do so. Kiev was taking away the lion’s share of income generated in Crimea by Russian tourists; now the profits will remain in the peninsula and presumably help repair the rundown infrastructure. Real estate would likely rise drastically in price, optimistic natives surmise, and this view is shared by Russian businessmen. They already say that Crimea will beat out Sochi in a few years’ time, as drab old stuff will be replaced by Russian Imperial chic.
Perhaps Putin would prefer the Crimea gain independence, like Kosovo, or even remain under a token Ukrainian sovereignty, as Taiwan is still nominally part of China. It could become a showcase pro-Russian Ukraine to allow other Ukrainians to see what they’re missing, as West Berlin was for the East Germans during the Cold War. Regaining Crimea would be nice, but not at the price of having a consolidated and hostile Ukraine for a neighbour. Still Putin will probably have no choice but to accept the people’s decision.
There was an attempt to play the Crimean Tatars against the Russians; apparently it failed. Though the majlis, their self-appointed organisation, supports Kiev, the elders spoke up for neutrality. There are persistent rumours that the colourful Chechen leader Mr Kadyrov, a staunch supporter of Mr Putin, had sent his squads to the Tatars to strong-arm them into dropping their objections to Crimea’s switch to Russia. At the beginning, the Tatars supported Kiev, and even tried to prevent the pro-Russian takeover. But these wise people are born survivors, they know when to adjust their attitudes, and there is no doubt they will manage just fine.
Russian Nazis, as anti-Putin as Ukrainian Nazis, are divided: some support a “Russian Crimea” whilst others prefer pro-European Kiev. They are bad as enemies, but even worse as friends: the supportive Nazis try to wedge between Russians and Ukrainians and Tatars, and they hate to see that Kadyrov’s Chechnya actually helps Russian plans, for they are anti-Chechen and try to convince people that Russia is better off without Chechens, a warlike Muslim tribe.
As Crimea defied orders from Kiev, it became a beacon for other regions of the Ukraine. Donbas, the coal and steel region, raised Russian banners and declared its desire for self-determination, “like Crimea”. They do want to join a Russian-led Customs Union; it is not clear whether they would prefer independence, autonomy or something else, but they, too, scheduled a poll – for March 30. There were big demonstrations against the Kiev regime in Odessa, Dnepropetrovsk, Kharkov and other Russian-speaking cities. Practically everywhere, the deputies seek accommodation with Kiev and look for a way to make some profit, but the people do not agree. They are furious and do not accept the junta.
The Kiev regime does not accept their quest for freedom. A popularly-elected Mayor of Donetsk was kidnapped by the Ukrainian security forces and taken to Kiev. There are now violent demonstrations in the city.
The Ukrainian navy in the Black Sea switched its allegiance from Kiev to Crimea, and they were followed by some units of the air force with dozens of fighter jets and ground troops. Troops loyal to Kiev were blocked off by the Crimeans, but there was no violence in this peaceful transfer of power.
The junta appointed an oligarch to rule Donbas, Mr Sergey Taruta, but he had difficulty assuming power as the local people did not want him, and with good reason: Taruta had bought the major Polish port of Gdansk and brought it to bankruptcy. It seems he is better at siphoning capital away than in running serious business. Ominously, Mr Taruta brought with him some unidentified, heavily armed security personnel, reportedly guns-for-hire from Blackwater (a.k.a. Academi) fresh from Iraq and Afghanistan. He will need a lot more of them if he wants to take Donbas by force.
In Kharkov, the biggest Eastern city, erstwhile capital of Soviet Ukraine, local people ejected the raiding force of the Right Sector from government offices, but police joined with the oligarchs. While the fake revolution took place in Kiev under the tutelage of US and EC envoys, the real revolution is taking place now, and its future is far from certain.
The Ukraine hasn’t got much of an army, as the oligarchs stole everything ever assigned to the military. The Kiev regime does not rely on its army anyway. Their attempt to draft able-bodied men failed immediately as hardly anybody answered the call. They still intend to squash the revolution. Another three hundred Blackwater mercenaries landed Wednesday in Kiev airport. The Kiev regime applied for NATO help and expressed its readiness to allow US missiles to be stationed in the Ukraine. Missiles in the Ukraine (as now stationed in Poland, also too close for Russian comfort) would probably cross Russia’s red line, just as Russian missiles in Cuba crossed America’s red line in 1962. Retired Israeli intelligence chief Yaakov Kedmi, an expert on Russia, said that in his view the Russians just can’t allow that, at any price, even if this means all-out war.
Putin asked the upper house of the Russian parliament for permission to deploy Russian troops if needed, and the parliament unanimously approved his request. They will probably be deployed in order to defend the workers in case of attack by a Right Sector beefed up by Blackwater mercenaries. Humanitarian catastrophe, large-scale disturbances, the flow of refugees or the arrival of NATO troops could also force Putin’s hand, even against his will.
The President in exile
President Yanukovych will be historically viewed as a weak, tragic figure, and he deserves a better pen with a more leisured pace than mine. He tried his best to avoid casualties, though he faced a full-scale revolt led by very violent Brown storm-troopers. And still he was blamed for killing some eighty people, protesters and policemen.
Some of the victims were killed by the Right Sector as they stormed the ruling party offices. The politicians left the building well in advance, but the secretarial staff remained behind — many women, janitors and suchlike. An engineer named Vladimir Zakharov went to the besieging rebels and asked them to let the women out. They killed him on the spot with their bats. Another man was burned alive.
But the majority of casualties were victims of sniper fire, also blamed on Yanukovych. The Kiev regime even asked the Hague tribunal to indict the President as they had President Milosevic. But now, a telephone conversation between EC representative Catherine Ashton and Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet reveals that the EC emissaries were aware that dozens of victims of sniper fire at the Maidan were killed by Maidan rebel supporters, and not by police or by President Yanukovych, as they claimed. Urmas Paet acknowledged the veracity of this conversation at a press conference, and called for an independent enquiry. It turned out that the rebel snipers shot and killed policemen and Maidan protesters alike, in order to shed blood and blame it on the President.
This appears to be a staple feature of the US-arranged revolutions. Snipers killing both protesters and police were reported in Moscow’s 1991 and 1993 revolutions, as well as in many other cases. Some sources claim that famed Israeli snipers were employed on such occasions, which is plausible in view of Mr Kolomoysky’s Israeli connection. A personal friend of Mr Kolomoysky, prominent member of the then-opposition, Parliamentarian and present head of administration Sergey Pashinsky was stopped by police as he removed a sniper’s rifle with a silencer from the scene of murder. This discovery was briefly reported in the New York Times, but later removed. This revelation eliminates (or at least seriously undermines) the case against the President. Probably it will be disappear down the memory hole and be totally forgotten, as were the Seymour Hersh revelations about Syria’s sarin attack.
Another revelation was made by President Putin at his press-conference of March 4, 2014. He said that he convinced (read: forced) President Yanukovych to sign his agreement of February 21, 2014 with the opposition, as Western ministers had demanded. By this agreement, or actually capitulation act, the Ukrainian President agreed to all the demands of the Brown rebels, including speedy elections for the Parliament and President. However, the agreement did not help: the rebels tried to kill Yanukovych that same night as he travelled to Kharkov.
Putin expressed amazement that they were not satisfied with the agreement and proceeded with the coup anyway. The reason was provided by Right Sector goons: they said that their gunmen will be stationed by every election booth and that they would count the vote. Naturally, the agreement did not allow for that, and the junta had every reason to doubt their ability to win honest elections.
It appears Yanukovych hoped to establish a new power base in Kharkov, where a large assembly of deputies from East and South of Ukraine was called in advance. The assembly, says Mr Kolomoysky, was asked to assume powers and support the President, but the deputies refused. That is why President Yanukovych, with great difficulty, escaped to Russia. His landing in Rostov made quite an impression on people as his plane was accompanied by fighter jets.
Yanukovych tried to contact President Putin, but the Russian president did not want to leave the impression that he wants to force Yanukovych on the people of Ukraine, and refused to meet or to speak with him directly. Perhaps Putin had no time to waste on such a weak figure, but he publicly recognised him anyway as the legitimate President of the Ukraine. This made sense, as President Yanukovych requested Russian troops to bring peace to his country. He still may make a comeback – as the president of a Free Ukraine, if such should ever be formed in some part of the country, – or as the protagonist of an opera.
English language editing by Ken Freeland.
Scoundrel media editors find new ways to embarrass themselves. They mock legitimate news and opinion.
They suppress it. They violate fundamental journalistic standards doing so.
They suck up to power. They support monied interests. They deplore popular ones. They endorse Western aggression. They do it repeatedly.
They blame victims for horrific US crimes committed against them. They condemn Putin for responsibly defending the safety and security of endangered Russian nationals.
Thank heavens he’s around. He’s the one world leader challenging the damn fool in the White House responsibly.
He’s our best hope for world peace. He deserves worldwide support. His best efforts may not be enough.
Neocons infest Washington. They threaten everyone. The damn fool in the White House risks starting WW III.
His damn fool Secretary of State John Kerry said “we’re now discussing all of the options.”
He outrageously accused Russia of “aggression.” No nation commits it more often against more nonbelligerent nations than America.
It wages one lawless war after another. It ravages and destroys countries doing so. Kerry is an unindicted war criminal. So is the damn fool in the White House.
They threaten world peace. They risk potential armageddon. Media scoundrels cheerlead what demands condemnation.
They denounce what demands praise. When America goes to war or plans one, they march in lockstep. They do it disgracefully.
New York Times editors stand out. They masquerade as legitimate journalists. They feature managed news misinformation rubbish.
They endorsed Ukrainian putschists. They ousted a democratically elected government. They did so with well-planned US help.
Stop NATO’s Rick Rozoff called their coup the most overt one since Mussolini’s 1922 march on Rome. It’s no exaggeration. Nothing in recent memory matches their brazenness.
Times editors are mindless of mob rule governance. Fanatical putschists run things. They scare hell out of everyone paying attention.
Times editors turn a blind eye. Journalism the way it’s supposed to be is verboten. On March 2, they headlined “Russia’s Aggression.”
They outrageously accused Putin of “exploit(ing) the Ukrainian crisis to seize control of Crimea (as well as) any other power grab he may be hatching.”
They ludicrously claimed “an immediate threat to Ukrainian Russians is empty.” Crimean self-defense volunteers already put down an attempt by Kiev infiltrators to seize government buildings.
Times editors ignore what refutes their arguments. They lied claiming Ukrainians in Crimea are endangered.
They have nothing to fear from responsible governance. Democrats in charge prioritize public safety.
Times editors wrongfully accused ousted President Viktor Yanukovych of coup plotter killings.
They murdered civilians in cold blood. They gunned down Kiev security forces. They did so in Independence Square.
Neo-Nazi snipers fired from rooftops. They operated from windows in nearby buildings. Everything that happened was well choreographed in advance.
Washington’s dirty hands manipulated things. Obama bears full responsibility. He partnered with fascist thugs. He’s got another imperial trophy.
Keeping it is another matter entirely. Ukrainians nationwide won’t likely tolerate what’s planned for them. Perhaps real revolutionary fervor will erupt.
Times editors are consistent. They’re on the wrong side of history. They ignore facts. They bury them.
They make stuff up. They lie for power. They do it to defend the indefensible.
They lied claiming Putin wants “control over Crimea.” He wants to “humiliate Ukraine,” they said.
They want Obama, NATO and EU leaders challenging Putin “if (he) escalates his intervention in Ukraine.”
He supports its sovereign independence. He opposes Washington’s direct role in replacing democratic Ukrainian governance with mob rule fascists. Don’t expect Times editors to explain.
Neocon Washington Post editors want more direct US intervention. They support ousting Syria’s Assad forcibly. They endorse fascists usurping power in Ukraine.
They headlined “President Obama’s foreign policy is based on fantasy.” They bashed Assad, China’s Xi Jinping and Putin.
They want Obama confronting them more aggressively. If he “doesn’t make the case for global engagement, no one else” will for him, they said.
They claimed “the tide of democracy in the world” is “retrenching.” They ignored Washington’s direct role in subverting it at home and abroad.
In previous editorials, they barely stopped short of urging direct US intervention. They support Ukrainian fascists retaining power.
David Ignatius is one of many WaPo neocon columnists. He has longstanding close US intelligence ties. He’s no journalist. He’s a propagandist.
He openly favors arming anti-Assad death squads. He reports what Washington bullies want stressed.
Inconvenient facts are dismissed. Lies, damn lies and misinformation substitute. On March 2, he headlined “Putin’s error in Ukraine is the kind that leads to catastrophe.”
He lied claiming he “invad(ed) Crimea.” He did no such thing. He’ll deploy military forces to protect Russian nationals if needed. Any responsible leader would do the same thing.
Ignatius turned facts on their head. He claimed “former Soviet satellites” are “prosperous” EU members.
He ignored deepening poverty, unemployment and deprivation throughout its member states.
He ludicrously claimed countries making up the former Yugoslavia “emerged as strong democracies.” Pro-Western puppet governments run them.
He blamed Yanukovych for fascist street thug crimes. They “courageous(ly) braved the cold and police brutality to protest,” he said.
They committed cold-blooded murder. They ousted Ukraine’s democratically elected government. They rule by brutal force. Don’t expect Ignatius to explain.
He ludicrously envisions “a cascading chain of error that brings Russian troops deeper into Ukraine and sets the stage for civil war.”
Putin wants it avoided. He’s going all-out for stability and security. Fascist coup plotters will bear full responsibility if internal conflict erupts.
Ignatius is militantly hawkish. Obama “would be wise to seek to deter Russian aggression without specifying too clearly what the US ladder of escalation might be,” he urged.
His commentary excluded what’s most important for readers to know. Truth was systematically suppressed.
Wall Street Journal editors match the worst of outrageous opinion writers. Rupert Murdoch rules apply. On March 2, they headlined “Putin Declares War.”
They lied saying he “seized Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula by force (and) now has his sights on the rest of his Slavic neighbor.”
“(B)razen aggression,” they screamed. War threatens Europe’s heartland “for the first time since the end of the Cold War,” they claimed.
Post-WW II, it never once did until now. Washington’s orchestrated coup ups the stakes. Obama threatens world peace.
Putin is the world’s best chance to preserve it. Whether he’s able deter possible US aggression remains to be seen.
Journal editors turned truth on its head. It’s hard imagining more convoluted rubbish. They accused Putin of “moving to carve up Ukraineâ¤|”
They claim “a popular democratic uprising” toppled Yanukovych. They ignored a US-orchestrated fascist coup d’etat.
They called Russia’s parliament “rubber-stamp.” They lied accusing its members of “approv(ing) military intervention anywhere in Ukraine, which is nothing less than a declaration of war.”
They called Obama’s full responsibility for crisis conditions in Ukraine “made entirely in Moscow.”
Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are world class diplomats. They’re democrats. They’re polar opposite Western fascists.
They’re worthy Nobel Peace Prize nominees. They’re more deserving than any other world leaders.
Nobel Committee members have their own system. They honor war criminals. Peacemakers needn’t apply.
Journal editors write what responsible ones wouldn’t touch. They claimed Putin seeks “entrench(ed) authoritarianism in client states.”
He wants them “prevent(ed) from joining free Europe,” they said. Freedoms in Western dominated areas are fast disappearing.
Neoliberal harshness is official policy. Ordinary people are ruthlessly exploited. Don’t expect Journal editors to explain.
They lied claiming Russia’s upper house Federation Council “approved (a) declaration of war.”
They lied again calling Kiev’s coup d’etat parliament democratic. They quoted Obama lying. He called Moscow’s legitimate defense of Russian nationals a “breach of international law.”
Journal editors urge aggressive anti-Russian measures. They want their officials targeted. They want Sixth Fleet warships patrolling Black waters close to Crimea.
Imagine their howls if Russian naval vessels entered the Gulf of Mexico. Imagine likely Washington countermeasures.
They want other NATO countries confronting Moscow. “Mr. Obama and the West must act,” they said. They must do more “than merely threaten…”
They absurdly called Ukraine “a casualty of Mr. Obama’s failure to enforce his ‘red line’ on Syria.”
“Ukrainians can’t be left alone to face Russia, and the Kremlin’s annexation of Crimea can’t be allowed to stand,” they said.
They called Putin “the leading edge of what could quickly become a new world disorder.”
Journal editors and commentators specialize in reinventing history. Their rubbish doesn’t wash. They consistently turn truth on its head.
They suppress what readers most need to know. They disgrace themselves in the process.
A previous article quoted former Chicago columnist Mike Royko (1932 – 1997) saying: “No respectable fish would (want to) be wrapped in” a Murdoch paper. It’s more than ever true now.
Ongoing crisis conditions persist. War winds threaten to become gale force. Potential East/West conflict is real.
Obama bears full responsibility if it erupts. Bellowing scoundrel media liars share it.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
There’s good propaganda and bad propaganda. Bad propaganda is generally crude, amateurish Judy Miller “mobile weapons lab-type” nonsense that figures that people are so stupid they’ll believe anything that appears in “the paper of record.” Good propaganda, on the other hand, uses factual, sometimes documented material in a coordinated campaign with the other major media to cobble-together a narrative that is credible, but false.
The so called Fed’s transcripts, which were released last week, fall into the latter category. The transcripts (1,865 pages) reveal the details of 14 emergency meetings of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) in 2008, when the financial crisis was at its peak and the Fed braintrust was deliberating on how best to prevent a full-blown meltdown. But while the conversations between the members are accurately recorded, they don’t tell the gist of the story or provide the context that’s needed to grasp the bigger picture. Instead, they’re used to portray the members of the Fed as affable, well-meaning bunglers who did the best they could in ‘very trying circumstances’. While this is effective propaganda, it’s basically a lie, mainly because it diverts attention from the Fed’s role in crashing the financial system, preventing the remedies that were needed from being implemented (nationalizing the giant Wall Street banks), and coercing Congress into approving gigantic, economy-killing bailouts which shifted trillions of dollars to insolvent financial institutions that should have been euthanized.
What I’m saying is that the Fed’s transcripts are, perhaps, the greatest propaganda coup of our time. They take advantage of the fact that people simply forget a lot of what happened during the crisis and, as a result, absolve the Fed of any accountability for what is likely the crime of the century. It’s an accomplishment that PR-pioneer Edward Bernays would have applauded. After all, it was Bernays who argued that the sheeple need to be constantly bamboozled to keep them in line. Here’s a clip from his magnum opus “Propaganda”:
“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.”
Sound familiar? My guess is that Bernays’ maxim probably features prominently in editors offices across the country where “manufacturing consent” is Job 1 and where no story so trivial that it can’t be spun in a way that serves the financial interests of the MSM’s constituents. (Should I say “clients”?) The Fed’s transcripts are just a particularly egregious example. Just look at the coverage in the New York Times and judge for yourself. Here’s an excerpt from an article titled “Fed Misread Crisis in 2008, Records Show”:
“The hundreds of pages of transcripts, based on recordings made at the time, reveal the ignorance of Fed officials about economic conditions during the climactic months of the financial crisis. Officials repeatedly fretted about overstimulating the economy, only to realize time and again that they needed to redouble efforts to contain the crisis.” (“Fed Misread Crisis in 2008, Records Show”, New York Times)
This quote is so misleading on so many levels it’s hard to know where to begin.
First of all, the New York Times is the ideological wellspring of elite propaganda in the US. They set the tone and the others follow. That’s the way the system works. So it always pays to go to the source and try to figure out what really lies behind the words, that is, the motive behind the smokescreen of half-truths, distortions, and lies. How is the Times trying to bend perceptions and steer the public in their corporate-friendly direction, that’s the question. In this case, the Times wants its readers to believe that the Fed members “misread the crisis”; that they were ‘behind the curve’ and stressed-out, but–dad-gum-it–they were trying their level-best to make things work out for everybody.
How believable is that? Not very believable at all.
Keep in mind, the crisis had been going on for a full year before the discussions in these transcripts took place, so it’s not like the members were plopped in a room the day before Lehman blew up and had to decide what to do. No. They had plenty of time to figure out the lay of the land, get their bearings and do what was in the best interests of the country. Here’s more from the Times:
”My initial takeaway from these voluminous transcripts is that they paint a disturbing picture of a central bank that was in the dark about each looming disaster throughout 2008. That meant that the nation’s top bank regulators were unprepared to deal with the consequences of each new event.”
Have you ever read such nonsense in your life? Of course, the Fed knew what was going on. How could they NOT know? Their buddies on Wall Street were taking it in the stern sheets every time their dingy asset pile was downgraded which was every damn day. It was costing them a bundle which means they were probably on the phone 24-7 to (Treasury Secretary) Henry Paulson whining for help. “You gotta give us a hand here, Hank. The whole Street is going toes-up. Please.”
Here’s more from the NYT:
“Some Fed officials have argued that the Fed was blind in 2008 because it relied, like everyone else, on a standard set of economic indicators. As late as August 2008, “there were no clear signs that many financial firms were about to fail catastrophically,” Mr. Bullard said in a November presentation in Arkansas that the St. Louis Fed recirculated on Friday. “There was a reasonable case that the U.S. could continue to ‘muddle through.’ (“Fed Misread Crisis in 2008, Records Show”, New York Times)
There’s that same refrain again, “Blind”, “In the dark”, “Behind the curve”, “Misread the crisis”.
Notice how the Times only invokes terminology that implies the Fed is blameless. But it’s all baloney. Everyone knew what was going on. Check out this excerpt from a post by Nouriel Roubini that was written nearly a full year before Lehman failed:
“The United States has now effectively entered into a serious and painful recession. The debate is not anymore on whether the economy will experience a soft landing or a hard landing; it is rather on how hard the hard landing recession will be. The factors that make the recession inevitable include the nation’s worst-ever housing recession, which is still getting worse; a severe liquidity and credit crunch in financial markets that is getting worse than when it started last summer; high oil and gasoline prices; falling capital spending by the corporate sector; a slackening labor market where few jobs are being created and the unemployment rate is sharply up; and shopped-out, savings-less and debt-burdened American consumers who — thanks to falling home prices — can no longer use their homes as ATM machines to allow them to spend more than their income. As private consumption in the US is over 70% of GDP the US consumer now retrenching and cutting spending ensures that a recession is now underway.
On top of this recession there are now serious risks of a systemic financial crisis in the US as the financial losses are spreading from subprime to near prime and prime mortgages, consumer debt (credit cards, auto loans, student loans), commercial real estate loans, leveraged loans and postponed/restructured/canceled LBO and, soon enough, sharply rising default rates on corporate bonds that will lead to a second round of large losses in credit default swaps. The total of all of these financial losses could be above $1 trillion thus triggering a massive credit crunch and a systemic financial sector crisis.” ( Nouriel Roubini Global EconoMonitor)
Roubini didn’t have some secret source for data that wasn’t available to the Fed. The financial system was collapsing and it had been collapsing for a full year. Everyone who followed the markets knew it. Hell, the Fed had already opened its Discount Window and the Term Auction Facility (TAF) in 2007 to prop up the ailing banks–something they’d never done before– so they certainly knew the system was cratering. So, why’s the Times prattling this silly fairytale that “the Fed was in the dark” in 2008?
I’ll tell you why: It’s because this whole transcript business is a big, freaking whitewash to absolve the shysters at the Fed of any legal accountability, that’s why. That’s why they’re stitching together this comical fable that the Fed was simply an innocent victim of circumstances beyond its control. And that’s why they want to focus attention on the members of the FOMC quibbling over meaningless technicalities –like non-existent inflation or interest rates–so people think they’re just kind-hearted buffoons who bumbled-along as best as they could. It’s all designed to deflect blame.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying these conversations didn’t happen. They did, at least I think they did. I just think that the revisionist media is being employed to spin the facts in a way that minimizes the culpability of the central bank in its dodgy, collaborationist engineering of the bailouts. (You don’t hear the Times talking about Hank Paulson’s 50 or 60 phone calls to G-Sax headquarters in the week before Lehman kicked the bucket, do you? But, that’s where a real reporter would look for the truth.)
The purpose of the NYT article is to create plausible deniability for the perpetrators of the biggest ripoff in world history, a ripoff which continues to this very day since the same policies are in place, the same thieving fraudsters are being protected from prosecution, and the same boundless chasm of private debt is being concealed through accounting flim-flam to prevent losses to the insatiable bondholders who have the country by the balls and who set policy on everything from capital requirements on complex derivatives to toppling democratically-elected governments in Ukraine. These are the big money guys behind the vacillating-hologram poseurs like Obama and Bernanke, who are nothing more than kowtowing sock puppets who jump whenever they’re told. Here’s more bunkum from the Gray Lady:
”By early March, the Fed was moving to replace investors as a source of funding for Wall Street.
Financial firms, particularly in the mortgage business, were beginning to fail because they could not borrow money. Investors had lost confidence in their ability to predict which loans would be repaid. Countrywide Financial, the nation’s largest mortgage lender, sold itself for a relative pittance to Bank of America. Bear Stearns, one of the largest packagers and sellers of mortgage-backed securities, was teetering toward collapse.
On March 7, the Fed offered companies up to $200 billion in funding. Three days later, Mr. Bernanke secured the Fed policy-making committee’s approval to double that amount to $400 billion, telling his colleagues, “We live in a very special time.”
Finally, on March 16, the Fed effectively removed any limit on Wall Street funding even as it arranged the Bear Stearns rescue.” (“Fed Misread Crisis in 2008, Records Show”, New York Times)
This part deserves a little more explanation. The author says “the Fed was moving to replace investors as a source of funding for Wall Street.” Uh, yeah; because the whole flimsy house of cards came crashing down when investors figured out Wall Street was peddling toxic assets. So the money dried up. No one buys crap assets after they find out they’re crap; it’s a simple fact of life. The Times makes this sound like this was some kind of unavoidable natural disaster, like an earthquake or a tornado. It wasn’t. It was a crime, a crime for which no one has been indicted or sent to prison. That might have been worth mentioning, don’t you think?
More from the NYT: “…on March 16, the Fed effectively removed any limit on Wall Street funding even as it arranged the Bear Stearns rescue.”
Yipee! Free money for all the crooks who blew up the financial system and plunged the economy into recession. The Fed assumed blatantly-illegal powers it was never provided under its charter and used them to reward the people who were responsible for the crash, namely, the Fed’s moneybags constituents on Wall Street. It was a straightforward transfer of wealth to the Bank Mafia. Don’t you think the author should have mentioned something about that, just for the sake of context, maybe?
Again, the Times wants us to believe that the men who made these extraordinary decisions were just ordinary guys like you and me trying to muddle through a rough patch doing the best they could.
Right. I mean, c’mon, this is some pretty impressive propaganda, don’t you think? It takes a real talent to come up with this stuff, which is why most of these NYT guys probably got their sheepskin at Harvard or Yale, the establishment’s petri-dish for serial liars.
By September 2008, Bernanke and Paulson knew the game was over. The crisis had been raging for more than a year and the nation’s biggest banks were broke. (Bernanke even admitted as much in testimony before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission in 2011 when he said “only one ….out of maybe the 13 of the most important financial institutions in the United States…was not at serious risk of failure within a period of a week or two.” He knew the banks were busted, and so did Paulson.) Their only chance to save their buddies was a Hail Mary pass in the form of Lehman Brothers. In other words, they had to create a “Financial 9-11″, a big enough crisis to blackmail congress into $700 no-strings-attached bailout called the TARP. And it worked too. They pushed Lehman to its death, scared the bejesus out of congress, and walked away with 700 billion smackers for their shifty gangster friends on Wall Street. Chalk up one for Hank and Bennie.
The only good thing to emerge from the Fed’s transcripts is that it proves that the people who’ve been saying all along that Lehman was deliberately snuffed-out in order to swindle money out of congress were right. Here’s how economist Dean Baker summed it up the other day on his blog:
“Gretchen Morgensen (NYT financial reporter) picks up an important point in the Fed transcripts from 2008. The discussion around the decision to allow Lehman to go bankrupt makes it very clear that it was a decision. In other words the Fed did not rescue Lehman because it chose not to.
This is important because the key regulators involved in this decision, Ben Bernanke, Hank Paulson, and Timothy Geithner, have been allowed to rewrite history and claim that they didn’t rescue Lehman because they lacked the legal authority to rescue it. This is transparent tripe, which should be evident to any knowledgeable observer.” (“The Decision to Let Lehman Fail”, Dean Baker, CEPR)
Here’s the quote from Morgenson’s piece to which Baker is alluding:
“In public statements since that time, the Fed has maintained that the government didn’t have the tools to save Lehman. These documents appear to tell a different story. Some comments made at the Sept. 16 meeting, directly after Lehman filed for bankruptcy, indicate that letting Lehman fail was more of a policy decision than a passive one.” (“A New Light on Regulators in the Dark”, Gretchen Morgenson, New York Times)
Ah ha! So it was a planned demolition after all. At least that’s settled.
Here’s something else you’ll want to know: It was always within Bernanke’s power to stop the bank run and end to the panic, but if he relieved the pressure in the markets too soon (he figured), then Congress wouldn’t cave in to his demands and approve the TARP. Because, at the time, a solid majority of Republicans and Democrats in congress were adamantly opposed to the TARP and even voted it down on the first ballot. Here’s a clip from a speech by, Rep Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) in September 2008 which sums up the grassroots opposition to the bailouts:
“The $700 bailout bill is being driven by fear not fact. This is too much money, in too short of time, going to too few people, while too many questions remain unanswered. Why aren’t we having hearings…Why aren’t we considering any other alternatives other than giving $700 billion to Wall Street? Why aren’t we passing new laws to stop the speculation which triggered this? Why aren’t we putting up new regulatory structures to protect the investors? Why aren’t we directly helping homeowners with their debt burdens? Why aren’t we helping American families faced with bankruptcy? Isn’t time for fundamental change to our debt-based monetary system so we can free ourselves from the manipulation of the Federal Reserve and the banks? Is this the US Congress or the Board of Directors of Goldman Sachs?”
But despite overwhelming public resistance, the TARP was pushed through and Wall Street prevailed. mainly by sabotaging the democratic process the way they always do when it doesn’t suit their objectives.)
Of course, as we said earlier, Bernanke never really needed the money from TARP to stop the panic anyway. (Not one penny of the $700 bil was used to shore up the money markets or commercial paper markets where the bank run took place.) All Bernanke needed to do was to provide backstops for those two markets and, Voila, the problem was solved. Here’s Dean Baker with the details:
“Bernanke deliberately misled Congress to help pass the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). He told them that the commercial paper market was shutting down, raising the prospect that most of corporate America would be unable to get the short-term credit needed to meet its payroll and pay other bills. Bernanke neglected to mention that he could singlehandedly keep the commercial paper market operating by setting up a special Fed lending facility for this purpose. He announced the establishment of a lending facility to buy commercial paper the weekend after Congress approved TARP.” (“Ben Bernanke; Wall Street’s Servant”, Dean Baker, Guardian)
So, there you have it. The American people were fleeced in broad daylight by the same dissembling cutthroats the NYT is now trying to characterize as well-meaning bunglers who were just trying to save the country from another Great Depression.
I could be wrong, but I think we’ve reached Peak Propaganda on this one.
(Note: By “good” propaganda, I mean “effective” propaganda. From an ethical point of view, propaganda can never be good because its objective is to intentionally mislead people…..which is bad.)
Many benefit programs have gone high tech with debit cards and J.P. Morgan Chase and others are making a pretty penny charging users fees. What is there to be done?
The Agricultural Act of 2014, signed into law by President Obama last Friday, includes $8 billion in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) over the next decade. One way the bill proposes to accomplish these savings is by reducing food stamp fraud. When the new farm bill is enacted, many of America’s hardest working families will experience cuts in services and have trouble putting food on their family’s table. But there will be major gains for an industry that most Americans might not expect: banking.
Banks reap hefty profits helping governments make payments to individuals, business that only got better when agencies switch from making payments on paper—checks and vouchers—to electronic benefits transfer (EBT) cards. EBT cards look and work like debit cards, and by 2002, had entirely replaced the stamp booklets that gave the food stamp program its name. SNAP is the most well-known program delivered via EBT, but they also carry payments for Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF); Women, Infants and Children (WIC); childcare subsidies; state general assistance; and many other programs. EBT use is widespread, from the corner store to the supercenter. According to a 2012 USDA report, SNAP funds, averaging $133 per family member per month, can be spent at more than 246,000 authorized stores, farmers’ markets, farms, and meal providers nationwide.
Not only are the operating costs of delivering benefits by EBT lower—no paper checks to cut, envelopes to stuff, or postage to pay—but electronic forms of payment allow banks to multiply opportunities for revenue generation. Banks hold contracts with federal, state, and municipal agencies to provide EBT cards and services, collect interest on federal reserve money held for government programs (though not on SNAP funds), charge transaction fees for merchant use of bank technology and infrastructure, and levy penalties on users for EBT card loss, out-of-network use, and balance inquiries. Banks make money distributing government benefits if the economy is bad, because more people sign up for assistance; they make money if the economy is good, because rising interest rates mean more profit on the money they hold to distribute to beneficiaries.
Distributing government benefits is a lucrative industry. According to theGovernment Accountability Institute, J.P. Morgan Chase, which currently controls EBT contracts in 21 states, Guam, and the Virgin Islands, made more than half a billion dollars between 2004 and 2012 providing government benefits to U.S. citizens. In New York alone, J.P. Morgan Electronic Financial Services (EFS) holds a nine-year, $177 million EBT services contract with the State Office of Temporary and Disability Services (OTDA). New York currently pays $0.95 per month for each its 1.7 million SNAP cases. In addition, J.P. Morgan EFS collects penalties and fees from benefit recipients: $5 to replace a lost EBT card, $0.40 for each balance inquiry, $0.50 each time their cards are declined for insufficient funds, and $1.50 per withdrawal if they use ATMs to get cash more than once a month. While information about profit margins on EBT contracts is neither collected at the national level nor released by banks, EBT is a significant growth area for big banks. Last year, the Federal Reserve Payments Study reported that the number of EBT transactions more than doubled since 2006.
Electronic benefits delivery is such a rewarding business that banks seem to fear only two things: policy changes and bad publicity. The publicity problems of EBT programs became obvious over the last three months of 2103 when three major EBT system failure scandals erupted. The threat of policy change is perhaps less visible. New regulations could take distribution of these benefits out of the hands of for-profit banks, limit the fees they are able to collect, or mandate a switch from EBT cards to different kinds of electronic funds transfer with fewer opportunities for generating revenue, such as direct deposit. But banks have nothing to fear in the new Agricultural Act; it’s only good news for the finance sector.
The new farm bill lowers benefit levels somewhat, exempts new categories of people—college students, ex-felons, and lottery winners—from SNAP eligibility, and prohibits advertising to increase enrollment of eligible individuals, like radio and television campaign launched by the USDA in 2004. But the bill’s sponsor, Representative Frank Lucas (R-OK), and other members of the House Committee on Agriculture seem to trust that detecting and preventing fraud will accomplish much of the hoped-for savings. The new Act includes numerous fraud-fighting provisions, including those that:
- Require merchants to maintain unique terminal identification numbers for point of sale machines, further restrict the kinds of food that can be bought with SNAP, and bar manual sales of food items without bar codes;
- Improve procedures and technologies to facilitate state-to-state and state-to-federal information sharing;
- Invite federal-state collaborative pilot projects to “identify, investigate, and reduce fraud” by merchants; and
- Set aside $40 million to help the USDA store information, such as food purchase data from chain stores and loyalty card companies, and data-mine it, by linking store sales and EBT transaction data at the household level to uncover purchasing patterns, for example.
In short, the SNAP fraud provisions will increase the ability of state and federal agencies to track who bought what food, where, and for how much. A vast amount of information on the purchases of millions of U.S. citizens will be collected by state agencies and private entities, stored by the USDA, and data-mined for patterns of EBT use that indicate fraud.
Why will this intensified focus on fraud work out so well for banks? First, banks innovate and control the most cutting-edge technologies that detect and prevent fraud in electronic funds transfer. The financial sector employs armies of computer programmers, IT specialists, and software engineers, and banks hold dozens of patents on biometric technology, data-mining systems, and payment tracking software. State and federal agencies can develop fraud-fighting code and procedures themselves, but many lack sufficient capacity and choose instead to contract with banks. Florida, for example, piloted an eight-month EBT abuse detection project in 2012 that was staffed by both J.P. Morgan and state employees, as Peter Schweizer reported in The Daily Beast. The anti-fraud provisions of the farm bill, thus, provide a significant opportunity for more, and more lucrative, contracts for banks.
Second, fraud in food stamps, despite public perceptions, is already low, and getting from very little fraud to zero fraud is prohibitively expensive. This is especially true for trafficking—the trading of SNAP benefits for cash—the most common form of SNAP fraud. Merchants and recipients must work together to traffic SNAP benefits. Recipients approach a merchant, who might offer 50 cents on the dollar to convert food stamps to cash. The merchant runs the EBT card, hands over cash, and then reports sales for reimbursement by the Treasury. Current fraud detection and prevention focuses on suspicious patterns—merchants who claim lots of even-dollar sales, recipients who spend all of their SNAP benefits in the first week of the month—but traffickers have adjusted quickly, learning to input odd dollar amounts and to spread requests for reimbursement over time.
The USDA estimates that the amount of SNAP benefits being trafficked has been reduced by 145 percent since 1993. According to a March 2011 Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) report, for the period of 2006-2008, trafficking diverted about 1 cent of each benefit dollar. Trafficking is difficult to detect and prevent, because retailers and recipients who commit fraud adapt as fast as banks, states, and the USDA can develop new data-mining and investigative procedures. This fraud-detection arms race is expensive and time-consuming for government agencies and contractors, and adds cumbersome limits and procedures for users—both merchants and recipients—most of whom aren’t committing fraud.
What cost are we willing to bear to reduce SNAP fraud to less than a penny per dollar? Federal and state government agencies invest astronomical sums in high-tech tools to address a financially negligible problem. For comparison’s sake, while we lose $330 million a year to SNAP trafficking, Ashlea Ebeling of Forbesestimates that the U.S. government loses $40 to $70 billion a year to offshore tax evasion. Nevertheless, in 2012, the FNS conducted 4,396 undercover investigations of retail grocers suspected of fraud, at an undisclosed cost to taxpayers, identifying violations in about 40 percent of cases. In 2011, Alabama’s RFP for EBT services strongly encouraged potential vendors to “recommend the use of new and innovative technologies” to “improve detection and prevention of fraud” and integrate biometrics in their proposals for the state’s SNAP program. The five-year Alabama contract, worth $51 million, went to Xerox, the same company that denied SNAP users in 17 states access to food for several hours when they shut down their EBT system without any warning last October.
Third, only three firms handle the majority of EBT contracts with states and U.S. territories: J.P. Morgan EFS (23 contracts); Xerox State and Local Solutions, Inc. (17 contracts); and eFunds Corporation, a subsidiary of FIS Global (11 contracts). On February 10, J.P. Morgan confirmed that it plans to sell its prepaid card business, including U.S. Public Sector and EBT programs, after suffering a serious data breach on debit cards used at Target stores and facing inquiries from Connecticut and New York about its lack of sufficient privacy safeguards and high card fees. This may leave even fewer players in the mix, and that’s a bad thing, according to Michele Simon, author of the report, “Food Stamps, Follow the Money: Are Corporations Profiting From Hungry Americans?”, who provided a copy of the New York/J.P. Morgan EBT contract for this story. When so few firms control such significant market share, it implies limited competition and excessive market power. Simon suggests, in fact, that the recent changes to SNAP represent a large, mostly overlooked corporate subsidy. “The real policy challenge in SNAP is not fraud. It is the fact that we have an $80 billion a year program that does not solve hunger, and certainly does not provide good nutrition, but instead is a boon for banks, big box retailers, and junk food companies.”
If banks are secret winners, the losers are pretty clear: taxpayers, particularly those who receive nutritional support through the SNAP program. That’s one in seven Americans at this moment, and 52 percent of all Americans at some point in their lifetimes, according to Mark Rank, author of One Nation, Underprivileged: Why American Poverty Affects Us All. Put simply, the Agricultural Act of 2014 takes money from a program that serves the majority of Americans and gives it to banks and high-tech companies.
But it does something else. These provisions improve a system meant to collect information on the food purchases of more than half of the U.S. population, and fund the development of increasingly sophisticated technology to sift and analyze it. In the same year that we expressed shock and outrage that the NSA is collecting meta-information on our cellphone calls and Google searches, why are we acquiescing, even welcoming, a sophisticated new program to collect American consumer information? Do we really want the federal and state governments data-mining our grocery lists?
We need a solution that contains bank profits and prevents this kind of mass surveillance. The answer’s simple: stop trying to predict fraud, eliminate complicated rules about what can and cannot be bought with food stamps, and switch to direct deposit.
A key challenge of this solution is connecting benefits recipients with affordable bank accounts, because for-profit banks are not particularly interested in low-balance, high-transaction customers. But, according to Aleta Sprague, policy analyst in the Asset Building Program at the New America Foundation, strategies that focus on eliminating barriers to bank accounts will provide significant benefits for poor and working Americans. Connecting benefits recipients to the financial mainstream poses real challenges to both the public assistance system and current financial practices, but there are intriguing experiments already underway. In Washington state, for example, a collaboration of the Department of Commerce and Burst for Prosperity is connecting households on public assistance with affordable banking services and requiring that no-fee accounts be included in future EBT provider contracts.
“Instead of seeking to monitor and regulate every purchase a low-income consumer makes,” says Sprague, “we should recognize and capitalize on the potential of the public assistance system to serve as a mechanism for financial inclusion. That way, rather than constructing the safety net around distrust of the poor, we would leverage the system to increase families’ financial autonomy and capabilities.”
Direct deposit is more efficient, cheaper, and requires less administrative oversight. That’s why the IRS, Social Security, and Unemployment Insurance encourage us to use it. What direct deposit would not allow is paternalistic rules about how public assistance beneficiaries choose to use their resources to best support their families. Treating SNAP recipients like the reasonable, hard-working adults they are is not only simpler and less expensive; it is most just.
“Speculators may do no harm as bubbles on a steady stream of enterprise. But the position is serious when enterprise becomes the bubble on a whirlpool of speculation. When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done.” – John Maynard Keynes, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money
It’s too bad Keynes isn’t around today to see how the toxic combo of financial engineering, central bank liquidity and fraud have transformed the world’s biggest economy into a hobbled, crisis-prone invalid that’s unable to grow without giant doses of zero-rate heroin and mega-leverage crack-cocaine. This is exactly what the British economist warned about more than half a century ago in his magnum opus, “The General Theory…”, that you can’t build a vital, prosperous economy on the ripoff, Ponzi scams of Wall Street charlatans, mountebanks and swindlers. It can’t be done. And, yet– here we are again– in the middle of another historic asset-price bubble conceived and engineered by the bubbleheaded crackpots at the Federal Reserve. Go figure?
Just take a look at housing, which is at the end of an astonishing 18-month run that was entirely precipitated by what?
Consumer confidence, bigger incomes, credit expansion, growing revenues, pent-up demand?
No, no, no, no and no. Economic fundamentals played no part in the so called housing rebound. In fact–as everyone knows–the economy stinks as bad today as it did 4 years ago when the government number-crunchers announced the end of the recession. The reason prices have been rising is because of the Fed’s loosy-goosey monetary policy (fake rates and QE), inventory suppression, bogus gov mortgage modification programs, and unprecedented speculation. (mainly Private Equity and investors groups) Those are the four legs of the stool propping up housing. Only now it looks like a couple of those legs are in the process of being sawed off which is going to put downward pressure on sales and prices. Take a look at this from DS News:
“A majority of experts surveyed by Zillow and Pulsenomics expect large-scale investors will pull out of the housing market in the next few years…
Out of 110 economists, real estate experts, and investment strategists surveyed in Zillow’s latest Home Value Index, 57 percent said they think institutional investors will work to sell the majority of homes in their portfolios “in the next three to five years.” These investors are largely credited with propping up housing during its recession, helping to keep sales volumes from plummeting too far.
While their withdrawal will most certainly affect today’s still-fragile market—79 percent of those surveyed said the impact would be “significant or somewhat significant” should investor activity curtail this year.”
Experts Predict Level Playing Field as Investors Withdraw, DS News
This is what we were afraid of from the very beginning, that the big PE firms would pack-it-in and move on once they’d made a killing, which they have, since prices soared 12 percent in one year. Now they want to get out while they getting is good, which means that–in some of the hotter markets where investors represented upwards of 50 percent of all purchases–there will have to be a new source of demand. Unfortunately, the demand for housing has never been weaker.
Sales are down, purchase applications are down, and the country’s homeownership rate has slipped to levels not seen since 1995, 18 years ago. The Fed’s $1 trillion purchase of mortgage backed securities (MBS) and zero rates have done nothing to stimulate “organic” consumer demand. Zilch. No “trickle down” at all. All the policy has done is generate a temporary surge of speculation that’s distorted prices and created conditions for another big bust. Get a load of this article from Housing Perspectives:
“Although household growth is the major driver of housing demand, getting an accurate picture of recent trends in this measure is difficult…In its recent release, the HVS reported annual household growth of just 448,800 in 2013. This represents a 48 percent drop in household growth relative to that from 2012 and marked the lowest annual household growth measure since 2008, in the depths of the Great Recession (Figure 1).
Source: US Census Bureau, Housing Vacancy Survey
Repeat: “…a 48 percent drop in household growth relative to that from 2012 and marked the lowest annual household growth measure since 2008, in the depths of the Great Recession.”
Do you really think there are enough firsttime homebuyers in out there in Mortgageland to fill that gap?
In your dreams! Keep in mind, that a lot of firsttime homebuyers are collage grads who want to start a family and put down roots. Regrettably, nearly half of those potential buyers have been scrubbed from the list due to their burgeoning student loans which now exceed $1 trillion. These kids will probably never own a home, let-alone have a positive impact on sales in 2014. Ain’t gonna happen.
Maybe this is why the banks are suddenly speeding up their foreclosure filings, because they want to offload more of their distressed inventory before prices fall. Is that it? Check out this article on Housingwire:
“Monthly foreclosure filings — including default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions — reversed course and increased 8% to 124,419 in January from December, according to the latest report from RealtyTrac.
This marks the 40th consecutive month where foreclosure activity declined on an annual basis, with filings down 18% from January…
As a whole, 57,259 U.S. properties started the foreclosure process for the first time in January, rising 10% from December…
…this month’s foreclosure starts increased from a year ago in 22 states, including Maryland (up 126%), Connecticut (up 82%), New Jersey (up 79%), California (up 57%), and Pennsylvania (up 39%).
Scheduled foreclosure auctions jumped 13% in January compared to the previous month.”RealtyTrac: Monthly foreclosure filings reverse course, rise 8%, Housingwire
Like most articles on housing, you have to sift through the bullshit to figure out what’s really going on, but it’s worth the effort. The banks have been dragging their feet for 40 months now, slowing down the foreclosure process (and adding to the shadow supply of distressed homes.) in order to push up prices hoping to ignite another boom. Now–after 3 and a half years of blatant collusion–they’ve done a 180 and started speeding up foreclosures. Why?
It’s because they agree with the above-mentioned “110 economists, real estate experts, and investment strategists” who think that “institutional investors” are going to call-it-quits and move on to greener pastures. That’s going to push down prices, which means they’re going to lose money. So they want to get ahead of the curve and dump more houses on the market before the stampede. That way, they lose less money.
Keep in mind, the banks are up-to-their-eyeballs in distressed inventory. Even conservative estimates of shadow backlog puts the figure of 90-day delinquent or worse, above 3 million homes. But if you review the gloomier prognostications, the sum could easily exceed 6 million homes, enough to suck the entire bleeding banking system into a black hole of insolvency. There was an interesting article on the topic in Bloomberg last week. It seems that, “bond king” Jeffrey Gundlach has been warning mortgage-backed security purchasers that they should to pay more attention to underlying collateral in MBSs (vacant homes, that is) which have been “rotting away” for “six years” or more. Here’s a clip from the article:
“The housing market is softer than people think,” Mr. Gundlach said, pointing to a slowdown in mortgage refinancing, shares of homebuilders that have dropped 13% since reaching a high in May, and the time it’s taking to liquidate defaulted loans…
About 32% of seriously delinquent borrowers, those at least 90 days late, haven’t made a payment in more than four years, up 7% from the beginning of 2012, according to Fitch analyst Sean Nelson.
“These timelines could still increase for another year or so,” Mr. Nelson said, leading to even higher losses because of added legal and tax costs, and a greater potential for properties to deteriorate.”
Gundlach Counting Rotting Homes Makes Subprime Bear, Bloomberg
Let me get this straight: The number of “seriously delinquent borrowers” has actually gone up in the last year? Not only that, but many of these people “haven’t made a payment in more than four years”?
That’s a mighty fine recovery you got there, Mr. Bernanke. Sheesh.
Keep in mind, the backlog of unwanted homes could be a lot bigger than most people think. Way bigger. I was reading an article by Keith Jurow the other day, (“The Coming Mortgage Delinquency Disaster”, Keith Jurow, dshort.com) that paints a pretty grim picture of what is really going on behind the faux inventory numbers. Jurow–who has done extensive research on pre-foreclosure notice filings in New York state– says: “The number of monthly foreclosure filings in Suffolk County on Long Island …(were) more than 180,000 (while) fewer than 1,000 foreclosure filings had been served each month in (the last 4 years). By this calculation, Jurow figures that there should have been 1,192,000 foreclosures in New York state while the actual percentage of homes that have been repossessed remains in the single digits. (Read the whole article here.)
Chew on that for a minute. So, that’s a total of 180,000 homeowners who would have faced foreclosure under normal conditions, while less than 48,000 have actually been foreclosed. That’s 132,000 fewer foreclosures than there should have been IN JUST ONE COUNTY IN ONE STATE ALONE.”
The reason the prodigious shadow stockpile continues to balloon is quite simple, as Jurow points out in his piece: “Servicers do not foreclose on seriously delinquent borrowers throughout the entire NYC metro area. Completed foreclosures have actually declined rather dramatically throughout the nation in the past two years. The difference is that in the NYC metro, the servicers have not been foreclosing since the spring of 2009.”
So, there you have it; the banks haven’t been foreclosing because it hasn’t been in their interest to foreclose. Foreclosure sales push down prices which batters balance sheets and scares shareholders. Who wants that? So the game goes on. Only now, the dynamic is changing. Skittish investors are eyeing the exits, QE is winding down, and housing prices have peaked. The recovery has reached its zenith, which is why the bankers want get off on the top floor before the elevator begins its bumpy descent.
People who are thinking about buying a house in the near future, should watch developments in the market closely and proceed with extreme caution. No one wants to get burned in another bank swindle.