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Who are the Architects of Economic Collapse?
Will an Obama Administration Reverse the Tide?
By Michel Chossudovsky
Global Research, November 9, 2008
Most Serious Economic Crisis in Modern History
The October 2008 financial meltdown is not the result of a cyclical economic phenomenon. It is the deliberate result of
This is the most serious economic crisis in World history.
The "bailout" proposed by the
The levels of indebtedness have skyrocketed. Industrial corporations are driven into bankruptcy, taken over by the global financial institutions. Credit, namely the supply of loanable funds, which constitutes the lifeline of production and investment, is controlled by a handful of financial conglomerates.
With the "bailout", the public debt has spiraled.
"The Bailout": The
Ironically, the Wall Street banks --which are the recipients of the bailout money-- are also the brokers and underwriters of the
In a bitter twist, the banks are the recipients of a 700+ billion dollar handout and at the same time they act as creditors of the
We are dealing with an absurd circular relationship: To finance the bailout,
Federal, State and municipal governments are increasingly in a straightjacket, under the tight control of the global financial conglomerates. Increasingly, the creditors call the shots on government reform.
The bailout is conducive to the consolidation and centralization of banking power, which in turn backlashes on real economic activity, leading to a string of bankruptcies and mass unemployment.
Will an Obama Administration Reverse the Tide?
The financial crisis is the outcome of a deregulated financial architecture.
Obama has stated unequivocally his resolve to address the policy failures of the Bush administration and "democratize" the
"Let us remember that if this financial crisis taught us anything, it’s that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while
The Democrats casually blame the Bush administration for the October financial meltdown.
Obama says that he will be introducing an entirely different policy agenda which responds to the interests of
"Tomorrow, you can turn the page on policies that put the greed and irresponsibility of Wall Street before the hard work and sacrifice of men and women all across
Is Obama committed to "taming Wall Street" and "disarming financial markets"?
Ironically, it was under the
The 1999 Financial Services Modernization Act (FSMA) was conducive to the the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933. A pillar of President Roosevelt’s "New Deal", the Glass-Steagall Act was put in place in response to the climate of corruption, financial manipulation and "insider trading" which resulted in more than 5,000 bank failures in the years following the
Bill Clinton signs into law the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Financial Services Modernization Act, November 12, 1999
Under the 1999 Financial Services Modernization Act, effective control over the entire US financial services industry (including insurance companies, pension funds, securities companies, etc.) had been transferred to a handful of financial conglomerates and their associated hedge funds.
The Engineers of Financial Disaster
Who are the architects of this debacle?
In a bitter irony, the engineers of financial disaster are now being considered by President-Elect Barack Obama's Transition Team for the position Treasury Secretary:
Paul Volker was chairman of the Federal Reserve Board in the l980s during the Reagan era. He played a central role in implementing the first stage of financial deregulation, which was conducive to mass bankruptcies, mergers and acquisitions, leading up to the 1987 financial crisis.
Timothy Geithner is CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, which is the most powerful private financial institution in
Jon Corzine is currently governor of New Jersey, former CEO of Goldman Sachs.
At the time of writing, Obama's favorite is Larry Summers, front-runner for the position of Treasury Secretary.
Harvard University Economics Professor Lawrence Summers served as Chief Economist for the World Bank (1991–1993). He contributed to shaping the macro-economic reforms imposed on numerous indebted developing countries. The social and economic impact of these reforms under the IMF-World Bank sponsored structural adjustment program (SAP) were devastating, resulting in mass poverty.
Larry Summer's stint at the World Bank coincided with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the imposition of the IMF-World Bank's deadly " economic medicine" on Eastern Europe, the former Soviet republics and the Balkans.
In 1993, Summers moved to the
The bailout agreements negotiated with these three countries were coordinated through Summers office at the Treasury in liaison with the Federal Reserve Bank of
Larry Summers became Treasury Secretary in July 1999. He is a protégé of David Rockefeller. He was among the main architects of the infamous Financial Services Modernization Act, which provided legitimacy to inside trading and outright financial manipulation.
"Putting the Fox in Charge of the Chicken Coop"
Summers is currently a Consultant to Goldman Sachs and managing director of a Hedge fund, the D.E. Shaw Group, As a Hedge Fund manager, his contacts at the Treasury and on Wall Street provide him with valuable inside information on the movement of financial markets.
Putting a Hedge Fund manager (with links to the Wall Street financial establishment) in charge of the Treasury is tantamount to putting the fox in charge of the chicken coop.
Summers, Geithner, Corzine, Volker, Fischer, Phil Gramm, Bernanke, Hank Paulson, Rubin, not to mention Alan Greenspan, al al. are buddies; they play golf together; they have links to the Council on Foreign Relations and the Bilderberg; they act concurrently in accordance with the interests of Wall Street; they meet behind closed doors; they are on the same wave length; they are Democrats and Republicans.
While they may disagree on some issues, they are firmly committed to the
The economic reasoning underlying neoliberal economic discourse is often cynical and contemptuous. In this regard,
DATE: December 12, 1991 TO: Distribution FR:
"'Dirty' Industries: Just between you and me, shouldn't the World Bank be encouraging MORE migration of the dirty industries to the Less Developed Countries? I can think of three reasons:
1) The measurements of the costs of health impairing pollution depends on the foregone earnings from increased morbidity and mortality.... From this point of view a given amount of health impairing pollution should be done in the country with the lowest cost, which will be the country with the lowest wages. I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that.
2) The costs of pollution are likely to be non-linear as the initial increments of pollution probably have very low cost. I've always though that under-populated countries in Africa are vastly UNDER-polluted, their air quality is probably vastly inefficiently low compared to
3) The demand for a clean environment for aesthetic and health reasons is likely to have very high income elasticity. [the demand increases when income levels increase]. The concern over an agent that causes a one in a million change in the odds of prostrate cancer is obviously going to be much higher in a country where people survive to get prostrate cancer than in a country where under 5 mortality is is 200 per thousand.... "
Summers stance on the export of pollution to developing countries had a marked impact on
In 1994, "virtually every country in the world broke with Mr. Summers' Harvard-trained "economic logic" ruminations about dumping rich countries' poisons on their poorer neighbors, and agreed to ban the export of hazardous wastes from OECD to non-OECD [developing] countries under the Basel Convention. Five years later, the
The 1997 Asian Crisis: Dress Rehearsal for Things to Come
In the course of 1997, currency speculation instrumented by major financial institutions directed against
While the Asian bailout agreements were formally negotiated with the IMF, the major Wall Street commercial banks (including Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup and J. P. Morgan) as well as the "big five" merchant banks (Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, Morgan Stanley and Salomon Smith Barney) were "consulted" on the clauses to be included in the Asian bail-out agreements. [Note: These are 1997 denominations of major financial institutions]
[In 1997] "Messrs. Summers and Geithner worked to persuade Mr. Rubin to support financial aid to
What happened in Korea under advice from Deputy Treasury Secretary Summers et al, had nothing to do with "financial aid".
The country was literally ransacked. Undersecretary of the Treasury David Lipton was sent to
A new finance minister, who happened to be former IMF and World Bank official, was appointed and immediately rushed off to Washington for "consultations" with his former IMF colleague Deputy Managing Director Stanley Fischer.
"The Korean Legislature had met in emergency sessions on December 23. The final decision concerning the 57 billion dollar deal took place the following day, on Christmas Eve December 24th, after office hours in
The coffers of
"Strong economic medicine" is the prescription of the
Economist. (See IMF, World Bank Reforms Leave Poor Behind, Bank Economist Finds, Bloomberg, November 7, 2000)
What we dealing with is an entire " old boys network" of officials and advisers at the Treasury, the Federal Reserve, the IMF, World Bank, the
Whoever is chosen by Obama's Transition team will belong to the
The 1999 Financial Services Modernization Act
What happened in October 1999 is crucial. In the wake of lengthy negotiations behind closed doors, in the Wall Street boardrooms, in which Larry Summers played a central role, the regulatory restraints on Wall Street’s powerful banking conglomerates were revoked "with a stroke of the pen".
Larry Summers worked closely with Senator Phil Gramm (1985-2002),chairman of the Senate Banking committee, who was the legislative architect of the the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Financial Services Modernization Act, signed into law on November 12, 1999.
In December 2000 at the very end of the
"The act, he declared, would ensure that neither the sec nor the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (cftc) got into the business of regulating newfangled financial products called swaps—and would thus "protect financial institutions from overregulation" and "position our financial services industries to be world leaders into the new century." (See David Corn, Foreclosure Phil, Mother Jones, July August 2008)
Phil Gramm was McCain's first choice for Secretary of the Treasury.
Under the FSMA new rules – ratified by the
A "global financial supermarket" had been created, setting the stage for a massive concentration of financial power. One of the key figures behind this project was Secretary of the Treasury Larry Summers, in liaison with David Rockefeller. Summers described the FSMA as "the legislative foundation of the financial system of the 21th century". That legislative foundation is among the main causes of the 2008 financial meltdown.
There can be no meaningful solution to the crisis, unless there is a major reform in the financial architecture, implying inter alia the freezing of speculative trade and the "disarming of financial markets". The project of disarming financial markets was first proposed by John Maynard Keynes in the 1940s as a means to the establishment of a multipolar international monetary system. (See J.M. Keynes, Activities 1940-1944, Shaping the Post-War World: The Clearing Union, The Collected Writings of John Maynard Keynes, Royal Economic Society, Macmillan and Cambridge University Press, Vol. XXV, London 1980, p. 57).
Where are Obama's "
The President-elect is appointing the architects of financial deregulation.
Meaningful financial reform cannot be adopted by officials appointed by Wall Street and who act on behalf of Wall Street.
Those who set the financial system ablaze in 1999, have been called back to turn out the fire.
The proposed "solution" to the crisis under the "bailout" is the cause of further economic collapse.
There are no policy solutions on the horizon.
The banking conglomerates call the shots. They decide on the composition of the Obama Cabinet. They also decide on the agenda of the
The Wall Street blueprint has already been discussed behind closed doors: the hidden agenda is to establish a unipolar international monetary system, dominated by
Neoliberalism with a "Human Face"
There is no indication that Obama will break his ties to his Wall Street sponsors, who largely funded his election campaign.
Goldman Sachs, J. P. Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Bill Gates' Microsoft are among his main campaign contributors. Warren Buffett, among the the world's richest individuals, not only supported Barak Obama's election campaign, he is a member of his transition team, which plays a key role deciding the composition of Obama's cabinet.
Unless there is a major upheaval in the system of political appointments to key positions, an alternative Obama economic agenda geared towards poverty alleviation and employment creation is highly unlikely.
What we are witnessing is continuity.
Obama provides a " human face" to the status quo. This human face serves to mislead Americans on the nature of the economic and political process.
The neoliberal economic reforms remain intact.
The substance of these reforms including the "bailout" of
The Globalization of Poverty and the
by Michel Chossudovsky
In this new and expanded edition of Chossudovsky’s international best-seller, the author outlines the contours of a New World Order which feeds on human poverty and the destruction of the environment, generates social apartheid, encourages racism and ethnic strife and undermines the rights of women. The result as his detailed examples from all parts of the world show so convincingly, is a globalization of poverty.
This book is a skilful combination of lucid explanation and cogently argued critique of the fundamental directions in which our world is moving financially and economically. In this new enlarged edition –which includes ten new chapters and a new introduction-- the author reviews the causes and consequences of famine in Sub-Saharan Africa, the dramatic meltdown of financial markets, the demise of State social programs and the devastation resulting from corporate downsizing and trade liberalisation.
Michel Chossudovsky is Professor of Economics at the University of Ottawa and Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), which hosts the critically acclaimed website www.globalresearch.ca . He is a contributor to the Encyclopedia Britannica. His writings have been translated into more than 20 languages.
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