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Austerity Revisited: How Global Financiers Rigged the Bank Bailouts of the 1980s
By: Andrew Gavin Marshall
Originally posted at Occupy.com
20 May 2014
In the first part of this Global Power Project series, I examined the origins and early evolution of the International Monetary Conference, an annual meeting (to be held June 1-3 in Munich) of several hundred of the world’s most influential bankers who gather in secrecy with the finance ministers, regulators and central bankers of the world’s most powerful nations. The second part looked at the role of the IMC in the lead-up to the 1980s debt crisis. Now, in Part 3, we examine the role the IMC played throughout that debt crisis which began in August of 1982.
At the 1982 International Monetary Conference, bankers noted that they had been cutting back extensively on loans to developing countries, with some leading bankers warning that the lending cut-backs could result in “aggravating the problems of countries already in economic difficulties and threatening to throw them into default” – which is exactly what happened a couple of months after that’s year’s conference.
A. W. Clausen, former CEO of Bank of America, spoke at the IMC in 1982 as then-president of the World Bank, and told the assembled bankers it was “an honour to be the first President of the World Bank to address the International Monetary Conference,” noting that, “themes of partnership and interdependence have repeatedly been at the center of our IMC meetings.” It was the subject Clausen wanted to address, “the tightening interdependence between the developed and the developing nations,” announcing “a new era of partnership between the World Bank and international commercial banks for helping the economies of the developing countries.”
Clausen told the bankers that “in order to develop a closer partnership with you, we intend to expand the International Finance Corporation [the investment arm of the World Bank] to explore the possibility of a multilateral insurance scheme for private investment, and to develop new mechanisms for attracting commercial bank co-financing.”
He also noted that the “fundamental objective of the World Bank” was “to help raise the standard of living of people, especially poor people, in the developing countries,” and argued that “people in developing countries will benefit from a closer partnership between the World Bank and international commercial banks.” Clausen was speaking roughly three months before Mexico announced its debt repayment problems, sparking the debt crisis, though he acknowledged that the developing world was experiencing a “balance-of-payments disequilibrium and debt-servicing difficulties.”
In addition, Clausen noted that the affiliate organization of the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation, had a special purpose which was “to encourage productive private enterprises in developing nations” whose loans do not have to be guaranteed by governments, and which can take equity (or shareholdings) in corporations. Clausen noted that together with the IMF and the General Agreement of Tariffs and Trade (GATT), the World Bank “has helped to build an interdependent global economy,” adding: “International commercial banking depends on the relatively integrated, dynamic, and peaceful world economy that these official institutions have nurtured.”
Thus, he suggested, “we should now develop the complementarity between the World Bank and international commercial banks into a closer relationship of collaboration,” and recommended “greater collaboration between [the] IFC and commercial banks,” which “has great potential for stimulating commercial investment in the developing countries.” All of the initiatives Clausen proposed revolved around the basic objective of increasing “the collaboration of the international banking community” with the World Bank, in order “to assist poor nations to better manage their economies through the establishment of economic policies that are conducive to economic growth and development” and thus “bringing them fully into the global economy.”
The Debt Crisis
In the first full year of the international debt crisis that tore Latin America and other developing countries into financial ruin – with entire populations pushed overnight into poverty through austerity measures that were demanded by the IMF and the global banks, in return for additional loans and debt rescheduling – the more than 200 global bankers at the International Monetary Conference met in Belgium where they were “treated like royalty,” met at the airport by “special hostesses” and were then chauffeured in Mercedes limousines to the Hyatt Regency Hotel.
The bankers attended a cocktail party at the Palais d’Egmont and hosted the King of Belgium for an afternoon lunch. It was in this “fairy-tale atmosphere,” as the New York Times described it, that the world’s top bankers met with government officials and central bankers and enjoyed “the luxury of thinking about the grand problems of world finance, unfettered by the real world’s concerns.”
The bankers at the 1983 conference agreed that the major debtor countries, in particular Brazil and Mexico, would need time to reshape their economies, with estimates ranging from three to seven or eight years of austerity, and various “structural reforms” designed to enforce neoliberal economic policies upon those entire populations. James Wolfensohn, a former partner at Salomon Brothers who started his own consultancy (and later went on to become President of the World Bank), delivered a popular speech at the IMC recommending that there could be no one solution to the debt crisis, but that each country would have to be handled on a case-by-case basis.
The banker William S. Ogden, a former vice chairman of Chase Manhattan, presented another popular speech at the IMC in which he explained that what was needed to resolve the debt crisis was “sustained world economic growth, avoidance of protectionism, increased government aid to the third world and more disciplined economic policies among the developing countries.” In other words, harsh austerity measures.
That very same year, Ogden was in the midst of creating a unique organization of international banks and bankers to represent their collective interests as a global community in the face of the debt crisis. That organization came to be known as the Institute of International Finance, itself the subject of a previous set of exposés in the Global Power Project.
At the 1984 meeting of the International Monetary Conference (IMC), a special meeting occurred among some of the top banks that held a large percentage of Mexico’s debt. They participated in a “closed meeting” with major central bankers and finance officials, including representatives of the IMF, who recommended that the banks lower their interest rates on loans to Mexico in order to reduce pressure on the country. Walter B. Wriston, chairman of Citicorp, who had previously opposed any concessions to the impoverished nations in crisis, at this point appeared willing to adhere to some reductions in interest rates for Mexico.
The closed meeting was also attended by Willard C. Butcher, Jr., the chairman of Chase Manhattan; John F. McGillicuddy, chairman of Manufacturers Hanover Trust Company; Lewis T. Preston, chairman of J.P. Morgan & Company; Walter V. Shipley, chairman of Chemical Bank; Wilfried Guth, managing director of Deutsche Bank; Guido R. Hanselmann, executive board member of Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS), and Sir Jeremy Morse, chairman of Lloyds Bank of London.
The following day, the international banks announced that they would agree to negotiate a long-term debt solution for Mexico. Included in the decision as well was the IMF managing director, Jacques de Larosiere; the chairman of the Federal Reserve, Paul Volcker; and a special representative of the banks, Citibank Vice Chairman William R. Rhodes, who announced the decision to negotiate on behalf of the banks and who was personally responsible for chairing multiple “bank advisory committees” that negotiated debt rescheduling with various countries in Latin America.
Three years later, in 1987, Mexico was still caught in a painful crisis and the world’s bankers were still meeting for the IMC in luxurious surroundings, partaking in opulent social events to discuss the issue of world debt problems. The more than 200 bankers at the meeting expressed their frustration with the problems of the global monetary system, the instability of the floating exchange rate system, and currency crises. William Butcher, that year’s chairman of the IMC, warned that the global monetary system would not “correct itself” and instead the search for a new and more stable system “must be intensified.”
The most popular speech at the IMC that year was delivered by Japan’s vice minister of finance for international affairs, Toyoo Gyohten, who proposed the establishment of “some international mechanism” which would be responsible for managing international monetary crises, and would be required “to have at least several hundred billion dollars in order to influence the financial markets.”
At the next year’s meeting of the IMC, then-Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan, spoke to the assembled bankers, explaining that further declines in the U.S. Dollar would not help American exports. His comments led to a rise in the Dollar, “greeted positively in the financial markets,” and stock and bond prices rose on Wall Street. The heads of the central banks of other major industrial nations, such as West Germany and Britain, were also present at the conference where collectively the central bankers “reiterated the need to keep inflation down as a way to continue worldwide economic growth” – a position met with great approval by the bankers present at the meeting.
At the 1989 meeting of the IMC, many of Mexico’s largest international lenders attended a special meeting after which they announced a $5.5 billion “aid” package (aka bailout) for Mexico in cooperation between Japanese banks, the IMF and the World Bank. But the so-called “aid packages” handed out by Western banks and international organizations to the crisis-hit developing nations were, in fact, bailouts for the major banks: the funds were given to the countries explicitly to pay the interest that they owed to the banks, while at the same time forcing those governments to implement strict austerity measures and other economic reforms.
William R. Rhodes, Citibank’s main official responsible for debt rescheduling agreements, was present at the meeting, which was also attended by Angel Gurria, the chief debt negotiator for Mexico. Rhodes stated that the meeting at the IMC “set the stage for rapid progress.” In the final part of the Global Power Project series on the International Monetary Conference, I examine the continued relevance of the IMC from 1989 to the present – including the bankers who composed its leadership, as well as a review of leaked documents pertaining to the 2013 meeting of the IMC in Shanghai.
Andrew Gavin Marshall is a 27-year-old researcher and writer based in Montreal, Canada. He is project manager of The People’s Book Project, chair of the geopolitics division of The Hampton Institute, research director for Occupy.com’s Global Power Project and the World of Resistance (WoR) Report, and hosts a weekly podcast show with BoilingFrogsPost.
Global Power Project: The Group of Thirty, Financial Crisis Kingpins
By: Andrew Gavin Marshall
25 February 2014
The following article was originally posted on 18 December 2013 at Occupy.com
Following parts one, two and three of the Global Power Project’s Group of Thirty series, this fourth and final instalment focuses on a few of the G30 members who have played outsized roles both in creating and managing various financial crises, providing a window on to the ideas, institutions and individuals who help steer this powerful global group.
The Assassin of Argentina
Prior to 2008, one of the most notable examples of a highly destructive financial crisis took place in Argentina which, heavily in debt, faced a large default and was brutally punished by financial markets and the speculative assault of global finance, otherwise known as “capital flight.” Less known in the story of Argentina’s 1998 to 2002 economic catastrophe was the significant role played by just one man: Domingo Cavallo.
A longtime member of the Group of Thirty, Cavallo formerly served both as Governor of the Central Bank and Minister of Economy in Argentina. He has been referred to by Pulitzer Prize-winning economic researcher Daniel Yergin as “one of the most influential figures in recasting the relationship of state and marketplace in Latin America.”
Between 1976 and 1983, Argentina, ruled by a ruthless military dictatorship, was marred by excessive human rights abuses and persecution of intellectuals and dissidents during the so-called “Dirty War” in which as many as 30,000 people were killed or disappeared . The terror was reminiscent of nearby Chile, where a coup that brought dictator Augusto Pinochet to power in 1973, with the help of the CIA, provided a petri-dish experiment in the implementation of neoliberal “reforms.” It was Chile’s dictatorship that set the example, and Argentina’s soon followed.
In a 2002 interview, Domingo Cavallo noted that, “The experience of Chile during the ’80s was very instructive, I think, for most Latin American economies, and many politicians in Latin America, because Chile was successful by opening up and trying to expand their exports and in general their foreign trade and getting more integrated into the world economy… And of course we used, particularly here in Argentina, the experience of Chile to go ahead with our own reforms.”
Asked about the association between economic “reforms” in Chile and the ruthless dictatorship that implemented them, Cavallo explained, “There were discussions on the feasibility of implementing market reforms in a democracy. But in 1990… the first democratic president after Pinochet maintained the reforms and also tried to improve on them [and] it was demonstrated that itwould be possible to implement similar reforms under a democratic regime.”
What specific reforms was Cavallo referring to? Under Argentina’s military dictatorship, Cavallo served for one year as Governor of the Central Bank in 1982, where he was responsible for implementing a state bailout of corporations and banks. After, Cavallo returned to academic life. But all that changed with the election of Carlos Menem in 1989, who served as president until 1999. In 1991, Menem appointed Cavallo as Minister for Economy, a position he held until 1996.
Cavallo led the neoliberal restructuring of Argentina: pegging the Argentine peso to the U.S. dollar, trying to reduce inflation, undertaking massive privatizations while opening up the economy to “free trade,” and deregulating financial markets. The New York Times in 1996 heaped praise on Cavallo for his “constructive” role in leading the economy “back to vitality and international respectability,” despite the fact that his reforms “brought high unemployment and painful reductions in social programs.”
Another NYT article credited Cavallo for the “stability” brought to Argentina through his “economic miracle,” while noting, without irony, that Cavallo’s miracle had “left million of Argentines… without a safety net” and with record-high unemployment, the emergence of urban slums, abandoned street children, over-crowded food banks, homeless shelters in churches, and even some people who were forced to eat cats in desperation. The “miracle” was so great, in fact, that despite all of the so-called stability it facilitated, President Menem ultimately dismissed Cavallo to the jubilation of tens of thousands of protesters in the streets. Though the people were pleased, financial markets expressed their disapproval .
With multiple economic and financial crises erupting around the world and in neighboring nations, Argentina, which pegged its currency to the U.S. dollar, found it could no longer compete. The touted neoliberal reforms were taking a toll as the country plunged into recession. Menem was replaced in 1999 by President Fernando De la Rua, who quickly sought support from the IMF to help repay the country’s debts owed to foreign – largely American – banks.
But Cavallo wasn’t out. In 2001, he was re-appointed as the country’s Minister of Economy just in time to receive emergency powers enabling him handle the country’s ongoing financial crisis that he helped to create . At that point, financial markets felt Argentina could not be trusted to repay its debt and the IMF refused to provide further loans, on the basis that the country had not implemented enough neoliberal reforms to meet its demands. The economy crashed and the “much-hated” Cavallo had to resign, as did the President, who fled by helicopter from the Casa Rosada as Argentines protested en masse .
Even the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco noted in 2002 that there was “some truth” to the view that “Argentina’s debt position would have been sustainable if only market uncertainty had not triggered a crisis.” But, it added, had Argentina made the effort asked of it to reduce its debt, it could have avoided “potentially destabilizing shifts in market sentiment.”
The role played by former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan in creating the conditions that led to the 2008 global financial meltdown is known to many. What is less known is that Greenspan, too, is a former member of the Group of Thirty. Greenspan did not work alone, of course, in his efforts to deregulate the financial system and spur the growth of the derivatives markets, which laid the groundwork for the worst financial crisis in modern times. Larry Summers, who then served as deputy secretary and later Secretary of Treasury under Bill Clinton, was also very helpful in this regard. Summers, too, is a current member of the Group of Thirty.
Currently serving as President Emeritus and as a professor at Harvard University, Summers was the former director of President Obama’s National Economic Council from 2009 to 2011. Previously, he was President of Harvard (2001 to 2009) and, prior to his positions during the Clinton administration he was Chief Economist at the World Bank (1991 to 1993). Currently, Summers is a member not only of the G30 but of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission, and he was also a member of the Steering Committee of the Bilderberg Group.
While Chief Economist at the World Bank, Summers signed an infamous 1991 memo in which it was suggested that rich countries should dump their toxic waste and pollutants in the poorest African nations — because by the time the toxins spurred the growth of cancer in the local population, they would already statistically be dead due to already high mortality rates. The memo noted : “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.”
When Summers later went to work for the Clinton administration under Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, he along with Rubin and Fed Chairman Greenspan formed the “Three Marketeers,” as Time referred to them, dedicated to “inventing a 21st century financial system” where they placed their “faith [in] financial markets.”
In the final two years of the Clinton presidency, Summers served as the Treasury Secretary alongside his deputy and protégé, Timothy Geithner, another member of the G30 who would go on to make a mark on the financial crisis — largely by convincing President Obama to bail out the Wall Street banks that crashed the economy, with zero penalty to them. Under the Obama administration, Summers served for nearly two years as Chair of the National Economic Council and was a highly influential policymaker . In 2009, he had spoken at the highly influential ultra-conservative think tank, the Peterson Institute for International Economics, where he explained the administration’s approach to the economic recovery, noting that , “Our approach sought to go as much as possible with the grain of the market” as opposed to regulating markets.
When Summers left the Obama administration in late 2010, he returned to Wall Street and made a fortune working for the hedge fund D. E. Shaw & Co. and Citigroup. This past summer, he was considered Obama’s favorite pick to replace Ben Bernanke as Fed Chairman, but faced such stiff opposition within the Democratic Party that he withdrew his name, leaving Janet Yellen – the Vice Chair of the Fed and herself a former member of the Group of Thirty – to step in .
What we see, in this analysis of the Group of Thirty, are the connections between those in positions of power to respond to and manage economic and financial crises, and those in positions of power who created such crises. Naturally, as well, the G30’s membership includes numerous bankers who, as fortune had it, shared handsomely in the profits of those crises. Put simply, the G30 can be thought above all as an exclusive club of financial crisis kingpins. And it is a club, no doubt, that will continue to play a significant and not altogether helpful role in global financial management for years to come — or until something is done to stop them.
Andrew Gavin Marshall is a 26-year-old researcher and writer based in Montreal, Canada. He is project manager of The People’s Book Project , chair of the geopolitics division of The Hampton Institute, research director for Occupy.com’s Global Power Project and the World of Resistance (WoR) Report, and hosts a weekly podcast show with BoilingFrogsPost .
Debt Dynamite Dominoes: The Coming Financial Catastrophe
Assessing the Illusion of Recovery
Global Research, February 22, 2010
Understanding the Nature of the Global Economic Crisis
The people have been lulled into a false sense of safety under the ruse of a perceived “economic recovery.” Unfortunately, what the majority of people think does not make it so, especially when the people making the key decisions think and act to the contrary. The sovereign debt crises that have been unfolding in the past couple years and more recently in Greece, are canaries in the coal mine for the rest of Western “civilization.” The crisis threatens to spread to Spain, Portugal and Ireland; like dominoes, one country after another will collapse into a debt and currency crisis, all the way to America.
In October 2008, the mainstream media and politicians of the Western world were warning of an impending depression if actions were not taken to quickly prevent this. The problem was that this crisis had been a long-time coming, and what’s worse, is that the actions governments took did not address any of the core, systemic issues and problems with the global economy; they merely set out to save the banking industry from collapse. To do this, governments around the world implemented massive “stimulus” and “bailout” packages, plunging their countries deeper into debt to save the banks from themselves, while charging it to people of the world.
Then an uproar of stock market speculation followed, as money was pumped into the stocks, but not the real economy. This recovery has been nothing but a complete and utter illusion, and within the next two years, the illusion will likely come to a complete collapse.
The governments gave the banks a blank check, charged it to the public, and now it’s time to pay; through drastic tax increases, social spending cuts, privatization of state industries and services, dismantling of any protective tariffs and trade regulations, and raising interest rates. The effect that this will have is to rapidly accelerate, both in the speed and volume, the unemployment rate, globally. The stock market would crash to record lows, where governments would be forced to freeze them altogether.
When the crisis is over, the middle classes of the western world will have been liquidated of their economic, political and social status. The global economy will have gone through the greatest consolidation of industry and banking in world history leading to a system in which only a few corporations and banks control the global economy and its resources; governments will have lost that right. The people of the western world will be treated by the financial oligarchs as they have treated the ‘global South’ and in particular, Africa; they will remove our social structures and foundations so that we become entirely subservient to their dominance over the economic and political structures of our society.
This is where we stand today, and is the road on which we travel.
The western world has been plundered into poverty, a process long underway, but with the unfolding of the crisis, will be rapidly accelerated. As our societies collapse in on themselves, the governments will protect the banks and multinationals. When the people go out into the streets, as they invariably do and will, the government will not come to their aid, but will come with police and military forces to crush the protests and oppress the people. The social foundations will collapse with the economy, and the state will clamp down to prevent the people from constructing a new one.
The road to recovery is far from here. When the crisis has come to an end, the world we know will have changed dramatically. No one ever grows up in the world they were born into; everything is always changing. Now is no exception. The only difference is, that we are about to go through the most rapid changes the world has seen thus far.
Assessing the Illusion of Recovery
In August of 2009, I wrote an article, Entering the Greatest Depression in History, in which I analyzed how there is a deep systemic crisis in the Capitalist system in which we have gone through merely one burst bubble thus far, the housing bubble, but there remains a great many others.
There remains as a significantly larger threat than the housing collapse, a commercial real estate bubble. As the Deutsche Bank CEO said in May of 2009, “It’s either the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning.”
Of even greater significance is what has been termed the “bailout bubble” in which governments have superficially inflated the economies through massive debt-inducing bailout packages. As of July of 2009, the government watchdog and investigator of the US bailout program stated that the U.S. may have put itself at risk of up to $23.7 trillion dollars.
In October of 2009, approximately one year following the “great panic” of 2008, I wrote an article titled, The Economic Recovery is an Illusion, in which I analyzed what the most prestigious and powerful financial institution in the world, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), had to say about the crisis and “recovery.”
The BIS, as well as its former chief economist, who had both correctly predicted the crisis that unfolded in 2008, were warning of a future crisis in the global economy, citing the fact that none of the key issues and structural problems with the economy had been changed, and that government bailouts may do more harm than good in the long run.
William White, former Chief Economist of the BIS, warned:
Crying Wolf or Castigating Cassandra?
While people were being lulled into a false sense of security, prominent voices warning of the harsh bite of reality to come were, instead of being listened to, berated and pushed aside by the mainstream media. Gerald Celente, who accurately predicted the economic crisis of 2008 and who had been warning of a much larger crisis to come, had been accused by the mainstream media of pushing “pessimism porn.” Celente’s response has been that he isn’t pushing “pessimism porn,” but that he refuses to push “optimism opium” of which the mainstream media does so outstandingly.
So, are these voices of criticism merely “crying wolf” or is it that the media is out to “castigate Cassandra”? Cassandra, in Greek mythology, was the daughter of King Priam and Queen Hecuba of Troy, who was granted by the God Apollo the gift of prophecy. She prophesied and warned the Trojans of the Trojan Horse, the death of Agamemnon and the destruction of Troy. When she warned the Trojans, they simply cast her aside as “mad” and did not heed her warnings.
While those who warn of a future economic crisis may not have been granted the gift of prophecy from Apollo, they certainly have the ability of comprehension.
So what do the Cassandras of the world have to say today? Should we listen?
Empire and Economics
To understand the global economic crisis, we must understand the global causes of the economic crisis. We must first determine how we got to the initial crisis, from there, we can critically assess how governments responded to the outbreak of the crisis, and thus, we can determine where we currently stand, and where we are likely headed.
Africa and much of the developing world was released from the socio-political-economic restraints of the European empires throughout the 1950s and into the 60s. Africans began to try to take their nations into their own hands. At the end of World War II, the United States was the greatest power in the world. It had command of the United Nations, the World Bank and the IMF, as well as setting up the NATO military alliance. The US dollar reigned supreme, and its value was tied to gold.
In 1954, Western European elites worked together to form an international think tank called the Bilderberg Group, which would seek to link the political economies of Western Europe and North America. Every year, roughly 130 of the most powerful people in academia, media, military, industry, banking, and politics would meet to debate and discuss key issues related to the expansion of Western hegemony over the world and the re-shaping of world order. They undertook, as one of their key agendas, the formation of the European Union and the Euro currency unit.
In 1971, Nixon abandoned the dollar’s link to gold, which meant that the dollar no longer had a fixed exchange rate, but would change according to the whims and choices of the Federal Reserve (the central bank of the United States). One key individual that was responsible for this choice was the third highest official in the U.S. Treasury Department at the time, Paul Volcker.
Volcker got his start as a staff economist at the New York Federal Reserve Bank in the early 50s. After five years there, “David Rockefeller’s Chase Bank lured him away.” So in 1957, Volcker went to work at Chase, where Rockefeller “recruited him as his special assistant on a congressional commission on money and credit in America and for help, later, on an advisory commission to the Treasury Department.” In the early 60s, Volcker went to work in the Treasury Department, and returned to Chase in 1965 “as an aide to Rockefeller, this time as vice president dealing with international business.” With Nixon entering the White House, Volcker got the third highest job in the Treasury Department. This put him at the center of the decision making process behind the dissolution of the Bretton Woods agreement by abandoning the dollar’s link to gold in 1971.
In 1973, David Rockefeller, the then-Chairman of Chase Manhattan Bank and President of the Council on Foreign Relations, created the Trilateral Commission, which sought to expand upon the Bilderberg Group. It was an international think tank, which would include elites from Western Europe, North America, and Japan, and was to align a “trilateral” political economic partnership between these regions. It was to further the interests and hegemony of the Western controlled world order.
That same year, the Petri-dish experiment of neoliberalism was undertaken in Chile. While a leftist government was coming to power in Chile, threatening the economic interests of not only David Rockefeller’s bank, but a number of American corporations, David Rockefeller set up meetings between Henry Kissinger, Nixon’s National Security Adviser, and a number of leading corporate industrialists. Kissinger in turn, set up meetings between these individuals and the CIA chief and Nixon himself. Within a short while, the CIA had begun an operation to topple the government of Chile.
On September 11, 1973, a Chilean General, with the help of the CIA, overthrew the government of Chile and installed a military dictatorship that killed thousands. The day following the coup, a plan for an economic restructuring of Chile was on the president’s desk. The economic advisers from the University of Chicago, where the ideas of Milton Freidman poured out, designed the restructuring of Chile along neoliberal lines.
Neoliberalism was thus born in violence.
In 1973, a global oil crisis hit the world. This was the result of the Yom Kippur War, which took place in the Middle East in 1973. However, much more covertly, it was an American strategem. Right when the US dropped the dollar’s peg to gold, the State Department had quietly begun pressuring Saudi Arabia and other OPEC nations to increase the price of oil. At the 1973 Bilderberg meeting, held six months before the oil price rises, a 400% increase in the price of oil was discussed. The discussion was over what to do with the large influx of what would come to be called “petrodollars,” the oil revenues of the OPEC nations.
Henry Kissinger worked behind the scenes in 1973 to ensure a war would take place in the Middle East, which happened in October. Then, the OPEC nations drastically increased the price of oil. Many newly industrializing nations of the developing world, free from the shackles of overt political and economic imperialism, suddenly faced a problem: oil is the lifeblood of an industrial society and it is imperative in the process of development and industrialization. If they were to continue to develop and industrialize, they would need the money to afford to do so.
Concurrently, the oil producing nations of the world were awash with petrodollars, bringing in record surpluses. However, to make a profit, the money would need to be invested. This is where the Western banking system came to the scene. With the loss of the dollar’s link to cold, the US currency could flow around the world at a much faster rate. The price of oil was tied to the price of the US dollar, and so oil was traded in US dollars. OPEC nations thus invested their oil money into Western banks, which in turn, would “recycle” that money by loaning it to the developing nations of the world in need of financing industrialization. It seemed like a win-win situation: the oil nations make money, invest it in the West, which loans it to the South, to be able to develop and build “western” societies.
However, all things do not end as fairy tales, especially when those in power are threatened. An industrialized and developed ‘Global South’ (Latin America, Africa, and parts of Asia) would not be a good thing for the established Western elites. If they wanted to maintain their hegemony over the world, they must prevent the rise of potential rivals, especially in regions so rich in natural resources and the global supplies of energy.
It was at this time that the United States initiated talks with China. The “opening” of China was to be a Western project of expanding Western capital into China. China will be allowed to rise only so much as the West allows it. The Chinese elite were happy to oblige with the prospect of their own growth in political and economic power. India and Brazil also followed suit, but to a smaller degree than that of China. China and India were to brought within the framework of the Trilateral partnership, and in time, both China and India would have officials attending meetings of the Trilateral Commission.
So money flowed around the world, primarily in the form of the US dollar. Foreign central banks would buy US Treasuries (debts) as an investment, which would also show faith in the strength of the US dollar and economy. The hegemony of the US dollar reached around the world.
The Hegemony of Neoliberalism
In 1977, however, a new US administration came to power under the Presidency of Jimmy Carter, who was himself a member of the Trilateral Commission. With his administration, came another roughly two-dozen members of the Trilateral Commission to fill key positions within his government. In 1973, Paul Volcker, the rising star through Chase Manhattan and the Treasury Department became a member of the Trilateral Commission. In 1975, he was made President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the most powerful of the 12 regional Fed banks. In 1979, Jimmy Carter gave the job of Treasury Secretary to the former Governor of the Federal Reserve System, and in turn, David Rockefeller recommended Jimmy Carter appoint Paul Volcker as Governor of the Federal Reserve Board, which Carter quickly did.
In 1979, the price of oil skyrocketed again. This time, Paul Volcker at the Fed was to take a different approach. His response was to drastically increase interest rates. Interest rates went from 2% in the late 70s to 18% in the early 1980s. The effect this had was that the US economy went into recession, and greatly reduced its imports from developing nations. A the same time, developing nations, who had taken on heavy debt burdens to finance industrialization, suddenly found themselves having to pay 18% interest payments on their loans. The idea that they could borrow heavily to build an industrial society, which would in turn pay off their loans, had suddenly come to a halt. As the US dollar had spread around the world in the forms of petrodollars and loans, the decisions that the Fed made would affect the entire world. In 1982, Mexico announced that it could no longer service its debt, and defaulted on its loans. This marked the spread of the 1980s debt crisis, which spread throughout Latin America and across the continent of Africa.
Suddenly, much of the developing world was plunged into crisis. Thus, the IMF and World Bank entered the scene with their newly developed “Structural Adjustment Programs” (SAPs), which would encompass a country in need signing an agreement, the SAP, which would provide the country with a loan from the IMF, as well as “development” projects by the World Bank. In turn, the country would have to undergo a neoliberal restructuring of its country.
Neoliberalism spread out of America and Britain in the 1980s; through their financial empires and instruments – including the World Bank and IMF – they spread the neoliberal ideology around the globe. Countries that resisted neoliberalism were subjected to “regime change”. This would occur through financial manipulation, via currency speculation or the hegemonic monetary policies of the Western nations, primarily the United States; economic sanctions, via the United Nations or simply done on a bilateral basis; covert regime change, through “colour revolutions” or coups, assassinations; and sometimes overt military campaigns and war.
The neoliberal ideology consisted in what has often been termed “free market fundamentalism.” This would entail a massive wave of privatization, in which state assets and industries are privatized in order to become economically “more productive and efficient.” This would have the social effect of leading to the firing of entire areas of the public sector, especially health and education as well as any specially protected national industries, which for many poor nations meant vital natural resources.
Then, the market would be “liberalized” which meant that restrictions and impediments to foreign investments in the nation would diminish by reducing or eliminating trade barriers and tariffs (taxes), and thus foreign capital (Western corporations and banks) would be able to invest in the country easily, while national industries that grow and “compete” would be able to more easily invest in other nations and industries around the world. The Central Bank of the nation would then keep interest rates artificially low, to allow for the easier movement of money in and out of the country. The effect of this would be that foreign multinational corporations and international banks would be able to easily buy up the privatized industries, and thus, buy up the national economy. Simultaneously major national industries may be allowed to grow and work with the global banks and corporations. This would essentially oligopolize the national economy, and bring it within the sphere of influence of the “global economy” controlled by and for the Western elites.
The European empires had imposed upon Africa and many other colonized peoples around the world a system of ‘indirect rule’, in which local governance structures were restructured and reorganized into a system where the local population is governed by locals, but for the western colonial powers. Thus, a local elite is created, and they enrich themselves through the colonial system, so they have no interest in challenging the colonial powers, but instead seek to protect their own interests, which happen to be the interests of the empire.
In the era of globalization, the leaders of the ‘Third World’ have been co-opted and their societies reorganized by and for the interests of the globalized elites. This is a system of indirect rule, and the local elites becoming ‘indirect globalists’; they have been brought within the global system and structures of empire.
Following a Structural Adjustment Program, masses of people would be left unemployed; the prices of essential commodities such as food and fuel would increase, sometimes by hundreds of percentiles, while the currency lost its value. Poverty would spread and entire sectors of the economy would be shut down. In the “developing” world of Asia, Latin America and Africa, these policies were especially damaging. With no social safety nets to fall into, the people would go hungry; the public state was dismantled.
When it came to Africa, the continent so rapidly de-industrialized throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s that poverty increased by incredible degrees. With that, conflict would spread. In the 1990s, as the harsh effects of neoliberal policies were easily and quickly seen on the African continent, the main notion pushed through academia, the media, and policy circles was that the state of Africa was due to the “mismanagement” by Africans. The blame was put solely on the national governments. While national political and economic elites did become complicit in the problems, the problems were imposed from beyond the continent, not from within.
Thus, in the 1990s, the notion of “good governance” became prominent. This was the idea that in return for loans and “help” from the IMF and World Bank, nations would need to undertake reforms not only of the economic sector, but also to create the conditions of what the west perceived as “good governance.” However, in neoliberal parlance, “good governance” implies “minimal governance”, and governments still had to dismantle their public sectors. They simply had to begin applying the illusion of democracy, through the holding of elections and allowing for the formation of a civil society. “Freedom” however, was still to maintain simply an economic concept, in that the nation would be “free” for Western capital to enter into.
While massive poverty and violence spread across the continent, people were given the “gift” of elections. They would elect one leader, who would then be locked into an already pre-determined economic and political structure. The political leaders would enrich themselves at the expense of others, and then be thrown out at the next election, or simply fix the elections. This would continue, back and forth, all the while no real change would be allowed to take place. Western imposed “democracy” had thus failed.
An article in a 2002 edition of International Affairs, the journal of the Royal Institute of International Affairs (the British counter-part to the Council on Foreign Relations), wrote that:
The authors then explained that NGOs have a peculiar evolution in Africa:
The authors examined how with the spread of neoliberalism, the notion of a “minimalist state” spread across the world and across Africa. Thus, they explain, the IMF and World Bank “became the new commanders of post-colonial economies.” However, these efforts were not imposed without resistance, as, “Between 1976 and 1992 there were 146 protests against IMF-supported austerity measures [SAPs] in 39 countries around the world.” Usually, however, governments responded with brute force, violently oppressing demonstrations. However, the widespread opposition to these “reforms” needed to be addressed by major organizations and “aid” agencies in re-evaluating their approach to ‘development’:
The outcome of these deliberations was the ‘good governance’ agenda in the 1990s and the decision to co-opt NGOs and other civil society organizations to a repackaged programme of welfare provision, a social initiative that could be more accurately described as a programme of social control.
The result was to implement the notion of ‘pluralism’ in the form of ‘multipartyism’, which only ended up in bringing “into the public domain the seething divisions between sections of the ruling class competing for control of the state.” As for the ‘welfare initiatives’, the bilateral and multilateral aid agencies set aside significant funds for addressing the “social dimensions of adjustment,” which would “minimize the more glaring inequalities that their policies perpetuated.” This is where the growth of NGOs in Africa rapidly accelerated.
Africa had again, become firmly enraptured in the cold grip of imperialism. Conflicts in Africa would be stirred up by imperial foreign powers, often using ethnic divides to turn the people against each other, using the political leaders of African nations as vassals submissive to Western hegemony. War and conflict would spread, and with it, so too would Western capital and the multinational corporation.
Building a ‘New’ Economy
While the developing world fell under the heavy sword of Western neoliberal hegemony, the Western industrialized societies experienced a rapid growth of their own economic strength. It was the Western banks and multinational corporations that spread into and took control of the economies of Africa, Latin America, Asia, and with the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
Russia opened itself up to Western finance, and the IMF and World Bank swept in and imposed neoliberal restructuring, which led to a collapse of the Russian economy, and enrichment of a few billionaire oligarchs who own the Russian economy, and who are intricately connected with Western economic interests; again, ‘indirect globalists’.
As the Western financial and commercial sectors took control of the vast majority of the world’s resources and productive industries, amassing incredible profits, they needed new avenues in which to invest. Out of this need for a new road to capital accumulation (making money), the US Federal Reserve stepped in to help out.
The Federal Reserve in the 1990s began to ease interest rates lower and lower to again allow for the easier spread of money. This was the era of ‘globalization,’ where proclamations of a “New World Order” emerged. Regional trading blocs and “free trade” agreements spread rapidly, as world systems of political and economic structure increasingly grew out of the national structure and into a supra-national form. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was implemented in an “economic constitution for North America” as Reagan referred to it.
Regionalism had emerged as the next major phase in the construction of the New World Order, with the European Union being at the forefront. The world economy was ‘globalized’ and so too, would the political structure follow, on both regional and global levels. The World Trade Organization (WTO) was formed to maintain and enshrine global neoliberal constitution for trade. All through this time, a truly global ruling class emerged, the Transnational Capitalist Class (TCC), or global elite, which constituted a singular international class.
However, as the wealth and power of elites grew, everyone else suffered. The middle class had been subjected to a quiet dismantling. In the Western developed nations, industries and factories closed down, relocating to cheap Third World countries to exploit their labour, then sell the products in the Western world cheaply. Our living standards in the West began to fall, but because we could buy products for cheaper, no one seemed to complain. We continued to consume, and we used credit and debt to do so. The middle class existed only in theory, but was in fact, beholden to the shackles of debt.
The Clinton administration used ‘globalization’ as its grand strategy throughout the 1990s, facilitating the decline of productive capital (as in, money that flows into production of goods and services), and implemented the rise finance capital (money made on money). Thus, financial speculation became one of the key tools of economic expansion. This is what was termed the “financialization” of the economy. To allow this to occur, the Clinton administration actively worked to deregulate the banking sector. The Glass-Steagle Act, put in place by FDR in 1933 to prevent commercial banks from merging with investment banks and engaging in speculation, (which in large part caused the Great Depression), was slowly dismantled through the coordinated efforts of America’s largest banks, the Federal Reserve, and the US Treasury Department.
Thus, a massive wave of consolidation took place, as large banks ate smaller banks, corporations merged, where banks and corporations stopped being American or European and became truly global. Some of the key individuals that took part in the dismantling of Glass-Steagle and the expansion of ‘financialization’ were Alan Greenspan at the Federal Reserve and Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers at the Treasury Department, now key officials in Obama’s economic team.
This era saw the rise of ‘derivatives’ which are ‘complex financial instruments’ that essentially act as short-term insurance policies, betting and speculating that an asset price or commodity would go up or go down in value, allowing money to be made on whether stocks or prices go up or down. However, it wasn’t called ‘insurance’ because ‘insurance’ has to be regulated. Thus, it was referred to as derivatives trade, and organizations called Hedge Funds entered the picture in managing the global trade in derivatives.
The stock market would go up as speculation on future profits drove stocks higher and higher, inflating a massive bubble in what was termed a ‘virtual economy.’ The Federal Reserve facilitated this, as it had previously done in the lead-up to the Great Depression, by keeping interest rates artificially low, and allowing for easy-flowing money into the financial sector. The Federal Reserve thus inflated the ‘dot-com’ bubble of the technology sector. When this bubble burst, the Federal Reserve, with Allen Greenspan at the helm, created the “housing bubble.”
The Federal Reserve maintained low interest rates and actively encouraged and facilitated the flow of money into the housing sector. Banks were given free reign and actually encouraged to make loans to high-risk individuals who would never be able to pay back their debt. Again, the middle class existed only in the myth of the ‘free market’.
Concurrently, throughout the 1990s and into the early 2000s, the role of speculation as a financial instrument of war became apparent. Within the neoliberal global economy, money could flow easily into and out of countries. Thus, when confidence weakens in the prospect of one nation’s economy, there can be a case of ‘capital flight’ where foreign investors sell their assets in that nation’s currency and remove their capital from that country. This results in an inevitable collapse of the nations economy.
This happened to Mexico in 1994, in the midst of joining NAFTA, where international investors speculated against the Mexican peso, betting that it would collapse; they cashed in their pesos for dollars, which devalued the peso and collapsed the Mexican economy. This was followed by the East Asian financial crisis in 1997, where throughout the 1990s, Western capital had penetrated East Asian economies speculating in real estate and the stock markets. However, this resulted in over-investment, as the real economy, (production, manufacturing, etc.) could not keep up with speculative capital. Thus, Western capital feared a crisis, and began speculating against the national currencies of East Asian economies, which triggered devaluation and a financial panic as capital fled from East Asia into Western banking sectors. The economies collapsed and then the IMF came in to ‘restructure’ them accordingly. The same strategy was undertaken with Russia in 1998, and Argentina in 2001.
Throughout the 2000s, the housing bubble was inflated beyond measure, and around the middle of the decade, when the indicators emerged of a crisis in the housing market a commercial real estate bubble was formed. This bubble has yet to burst.
The 2007-2008 Financial Crisis
In 2007, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), the most prestigious financial institution in the world and the central bank to the world’s central banks, issued a warning that the world is on the verge of another Great Depression, “citing mass issuance of new-fangled credit instruments, soaring levels of household debt, extreme appetite for risk shown by investors, and entrenched imbalances in the world currency system.”
As the housing bubble began to collapse, the commodity bubble was inflated, where money went increasingly into speculation, the stock market, and the price of commodities soared, such as with the massive increases in the price of oil between 2007 and 2008. In September of 2007, a medium-sized British Bank called Northern Rock, a major partaker in the loans of bad mortgages which turned out to be worthless, sought help from the Bank of England, which led to a run on the bank and investor panic. In February of 2008, the British government bought and nationalized Northern Rock.
In March of 2008, Bear Stearns, an American bank that had been a heavy lender in the mortgage real estate market, went into crisis. On March 14, 2008, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York worked with J.P. Morgan Chase (whose CEO is a board member of the NY Fed) to provide Bear Stearns with an emergency loan. However, they quickly changed their mind, and the CEO of JP Morgan Chase, working with the President of the New York Fed, Timothy Geithner, and the Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson (former CEO of Goldman Sachs), forced Bear Stearns to sell itself to JP Morgan Chase for $2 a share, which had previously traded at $172 a share in January of 2007. The merger was paid for by the Federal Reserve of New York, and charged to the US taxpayer.
In June of 2008, the BIS again warned of an impending Great Depression.
In September of 2008, the US government took over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two major home mortgage corporations. The same month, the global bank Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy, giving the signal that no one is safe and that the entire economy was on the verge of collapse. Lehman was a major dealer in the US Treasury Securities market and was heavily invested in home mortgages. Lehman filed for bankruptcy on September 15, 2008, marking the largest bankruptcy in US history. A wave of bank consolidation spread across the United States and internationally. The big banks became much bigger as Bank of America swallowed Merrill Lynch, JP Morgan ate Washington Mutual, and Wells Fargo took over Wachovia.
In November of 2008, the US government bailed out the largest insurance company in the world, AIG. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York, with Timothy Geithner at the helm:
As Bloomberg reported, since the New York Fed is quasi-governmental, as in, it is given government authority, but not subject to government oversight, and is owned by the banks that make up its board (such as JP Morgan Chase), “It’s as though the New York Fed was a black-ops outfit for the nation’s central bank.”
In the fall of 2008, the Bush administration sought to implement a bailout package for the economy, designed to save the US banking system. The leaders of the nation went into rabid fear mongering. The President warned:
The head of the Federal Reserve Board, Ben Bernanke, as well as Treasury Secretary Paulson, in late September warned of “recession, layoffs and lost homes if Congress doesn’t quickly approve the Bush administration’s emergency $700 billion financial bailout plan.” Seven months prior, in February of 2008, prior to the collapse of Bear Stearns, both Bernanke and Paulson said “the nation will avoid falling into recession.” In September of 2008, Paulson was saying that people “should be scared.”
The bailout package was made into a massive financial scam, which would plunge the United States into unprecedented levels of debt, while pumping incredible amounts of money into major global banks.
The public was told, as was the Congress, that the bailout was worth $700 billion dollars. However, this was extremely misleading, and a closer reading of the fine print would reveal much more, in that $700 billion is the amount that could be spent “at any one time.” As Chris Martenson wrote:
Further, the proposed bill would “raise the nation’s debt ceiling to $11.315 trillion from $10.615 trillion,” and that the actions taken as a result of the passage of the bill would not be subject to investigation by the nation’s court system, as it would “bar courts from reviewing actions taken under its authority”:
Larisa Alexandrovna, writing with the Huffington Post, warned that the passage of the bailout bill will be the final nails in the coffin of the fascist coup over America, in the form of financial fascists:
At the same time, the US Federal Reserve was bailing out foreign banks of hundreds of billions of dollars, “that are desperate for dollars and can’t access America’s frozen credit markets – a move co-ordinated with central banks in Japan, the Eurozone, Switzerland, Canada and here in the UK.” The moves would have been coordinated through the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) in Basle, Switzerland. As Politico reported, “foreign-based banks with big U.S. operations could qualify for the Treasury Department’s mortgage bailout.” A Treasury Fact Sheet released by the US Department of Treasury stated that:
So, the bailout package would not only allow for the rescue of American banks, but any banks internationally, whether public or private, if the Treasury Secretary deemed it “necessary”, and that none of the Secretary’s decisions could be reviewed or subjected to oversight of any kind. Further, it would mean that the Treasury Secretary would have a blank check, but simply wouldn’t be able to hand out more than $700 billion “at any one time.” In short, the bailout is in fact, a coup d’état by the banks over the government.
Many Congressmen were told that if they failed to pass the bailout package, they were threatened with martial law. Sure enough, Congress passed the bill, and the financial coup had been a profound success.
No wonder then, in early 2009, one Congressman reported that the banks “are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. And they frankly own the place.” Another Congressman said that “The banks run the place,” and explained, “I will tell you what the problem is – they give three times more money than the next biggest group. It’s huge the amount of money they put into politics.”
The Collapse of Iceland
On October 9th, 2008, the government of Iceland took control of the nation’s largest bank, nationalizing it, and halted trading on the Icelandic stock market. Within a single week, “the vast majority of Iceland’s once-proud banking sector has been nationalized.” In early October, it was reported that:
An article in BusinessWeek explained:
This was the grueling situation that faced the government at the time of the global economic crisis. The causes, however, were not Icelandic; they were international. Iceland owed “more than $60 billion overseas, about six times the value of its annual economic output. As a professor at London School of Economics said, ‘No Western country in peacetime has crashed so quickly and so badly’.”
What went wrong?
Iceland followed the path of neoliberalism, deregulated banking and financial sectors and aided in the spread and ease of flow for international capital. When times got tough, Iceland went into crisis, as the Observer reported in early October 2008:
In 2007, the UN had awarded Iceland the “best country to live in”:
As the third of Iceland’s large banks was in trouble, following the government takeover of the previous two, the UK responded by freezing Icelandic assets in the UK. Kaupthing, the last of the three banks standing in early October, had many assets in the UK.
On October 7th, Iceland’s Central Bank governor told the media, “We will not pay for irresponsible debtors and…not for banks who have behaved irresponsibly.” The following day, UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling, claimed that, “The Icelandic government, believe it or not, have told me yesterday they have no intention of honoring their obligations here,” although, Arni Mathiesen, the Icelandic minister of finance, said, “nothing in this telephone conversation can support the conclusion that Iceland would not honor its obligation.”
On October 10, 2008, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown said, “We are freezing the assets of Icelandic companies in the United Kingdom where we can. We will take further action against the Icelandic authorities wherever that is necessary to recover money.” Thus:
The UK had more than £840m invested in Icelandic banks, and they were moving in to save their investments, which just so happened to help spur on the collapse of the Icelandic economy.
On October 24, 2008, an agreement between Iceland and the IMF was signed. In late November, the IMF approved a loan to Iceland of $2.1 billion, with an additional $3 billion in loans from Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Russia, and Poland. Why the agreement to the loan took so long, was because the UK pressured the IMF to delay the loan “until a dispute over the compensation Iceland owes savers in Icesave, one of its collapsed banks, is resolved.”
In January of 2009, the entire Icelandic government was “formally dissolved” as the government collapsed when the Prime Minister and his entire cabinet resigned. This put the opposition part in charge of an interim government. In July of 2009, the new government formally applied for European Union membership, however, “Icelanders have traditionally been skeptical of the benefits of full EU membership, fearing that they would lose some of their independence as a small state within a larger political entity.”
In August of 2009, Iceland’s parliament passed a bill “to repay Britain and the Netherlands more than $5 billion lost in Icelandic deposit accounts”:
Iceland is now in the service of the IMF and its international creditors. The small independent nation that for so long had prided itself on a strong economy and strong sense of independence had been brought to its knees.
In mid-January of 2010, the IMF and Sweden together delayed their loans to Iceland, due to Iceland’s “failure to reach a £2.3bn compensation deal with Britain and the Netherlands over its collapsed Icesave accounts.” Sweden, the UK and the IMF were blackmailing Iceland to save UK assets in return for loans.
In February of 2010, it was reported that the EU would begin negotiations with Iceland to secure Icelandic membership in the EU by 2012. However, Iceland’s “aspirations are now tied partially to a dispute with the Netherlands and Britain over $5 billion in debts lost in the country’s banking collapse in late 2008.”
Iceland stood as a sign of what was to come. The sovereign debt crisis that brought Iceland to its knees had new targets on the horizon.
Dubai Hit By Financial Storm
In February of 2009, the Guardian reported that, “A six-year boom that turned sand dunes into a glittering metropolis, creating the world’s tallest building, its biggest shopping mall and, some say, a shrine to unbridled capitalism, is grinding to a halt,” as Dubai, one of six states that form the United Arab Emirates (UAE), went into crisis. Further, “the real estate bubble that propelled the frenetic expansion of Dubai on the back of borrowed cash and speculative investment, has burst.”
Months later, in November of 2009, Dubai was plunged into a debt crisis, prompting fears of sparking a double-dip recession and the next wave of the financial crisis. As the Guardian reported:
The neighboring oil-rich state of Abu Dhabi, however, came to the rescue of Dubai with a $10 billion bailout package, leading the Foreign Minister of the UAE to declare Dubai’s financial crisis as over.
In mid-February of 2010, however, renewed fears of a debt crisis in Dubai resurfaced; Morgan Stanley reported that, “the cost to insure against a Dubai default [in mid-February] shot up to the level it was at during the peak of the city-state’s debt crisis in November.” These fears resurfaced as:
Again, the aims that governments seek in the unfolding debt crisis is not to save their people from a collapsing economy and inflated currency, but to save the ‘interests’ of their major banks and corporations within each collapsing economy.
A Sovereign Debt Crisis Hits Greece
In October of 2009, a new Socialist government came to power in Greece on the promise of injecting 3 billion euros to reinvigorate the Greek economy. Greece had suffered particularly hard during the economic crisis; it experienced riots and protests. In December of 2009, Greece said it would not default on its debt, but the government added, “Salaried workers will not pay for this situation: we will not proceed with wage freezes or cuts. We did not come to power to tear down the social state.” As Ambrose Evans-Pritchard wrote for the Telegraph in December of 2009:
Evans-Pritchard wrote that the crisis in Greece had much to do with the European Monetary Union (EMU), which created the Euro, and made all member states subject to the decisions of the European Central Bank, as “Interest rates were too low for Greece, Portugal, Spain, and Ireland, causing them all to be engulfed in a destructive property and wage boom.” Further:
Greece’s debt had soared, by early December 2009, to a spiraling 300-billion euros, as its “financial woes have also weighed on the euro currency, whose long-term value depends on member countries keeping their finances in order.” Further, Ireland, Spain and Portugal were all facing problems with their debt. As it turned out, the previous Greek government had been cooking the books, and when the new government came to power, it inherited twice the federal deficit it had anticipated.
In February of 2010, the New York Times revealed that:
Even back in 2001, when Greece joined the Euro-bloc, Goldman Sachs helped the country “quietly borrow billions” in a deal “hidden from public view because it was treated as a currency trade rather than a loan, [and] helped Athens to meet Europe’s deficit rules while continuing to spend beyond its means.” Further, “Greece owes the world $300 billion, and major banks are on the hook for much of that debt. A default would reverberate around the globe.” Both Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase had undertaken similar efforts in Italy and other countries in Europe as well.
In early February, EU nations led by France and Germany met to discuss a rescue package for Greece, likely with the help of the European Central Bank and possibly the IMF. The issue had plunged the Eurozone into a crisis, as confidence in the Euro fell across the board, and “Germans have become so disillusioned with the euro, many will not accept notes produced outside their homeland.”
Germany was expected to bail out the Greek economy, much to the dismay of the German people. As one German politician stated, “We cannot expect the citizens, whose taxes are already too high, to go along with supporting the erroneous financial and budget policy of other states of the eurozone.” One economist warned that the collapse of Greece could lead to a collapse of the Euro:
However, the Lisbon Treaty had been passed over 2009, which put into effect a European Constitution, giving Brussels enormous powers over its member states. As the Telegraph reported on February 16, 2010, the EU stripped Greece of its right to vote at a crucial meeting to take place in March:
It would appear that the EU is in a troubling position. If they allow the IMF to rescue Greece, it would be a blow to the faith in the Euro currency, whereas if they bailout Greece, it will encourage internal pressures within European countries to abandon the Euro.
In early February, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard wrote in the Telegraph that, “The Greek debt crisis has spread to Spain and Portugal in a dangerous escalation as global markets test whether Europe is willing to shore up monetary union with muscle rather than mere words”:
Fear began to spread in regards to a growing sovereign debt crisis, stretching across Greece, Spain and Portugal, and likely much wider and larger than that.
A Global Debt Crisis
In 2007, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), “the world’s most prestigious financial body,” warned of a coming great depression, and stated that while in a crisis, central banks may cut interest rates (which they subsequently did). However, as the BIS pointed out, while cutting interest rates may help, in the long run it has the effect of “sowing the seeds for more serious problems further ahead.”
In the summer of 2008, prior to the apex of the 2008 financial crisis in September and October, the BIS again warned of the inherent dangers of a new Great Depression. As Ambrose Evans-Pritchard wrote, “the ultimate bank of central bankers” warned that central banks, such as the Federal Reserve, would not find it so easy to “clean up” the messes they had made in asset-price bubbles.
The BIS report stated that, “It is not impossible that the unwinding of the credit bubble could, after a temporary period of higher inflation, culminate in a deflation that might be hard to manage, all the more so given the high debt levels.” As Evans-Pritchard explained, “this amounts to a warning that monetary overkill by the Fed, the Bank of England, and above all the European Central Bank could prove dangerous at this juncture.” The BIS report warned that, “Global banks – with loans of $37 trillion in 2007, or 70pc of world GDP – are still in the eye of the storm.” Ultimately, the actions of central banks were designed “to put off the day of reckoning,” not to prevent it.
Seeing how the BIS is not simply a casual observer, but is in fact the most important financial institution in the world, as it is where the world’s central bankers meet and, in secret, decide monetary policy for the world. As central banks have acted as the architects of the financial crisis, the BIS warning of a Great Depression is not simply a case of Cassandra prophesying the Trojan Horse, but is a case where she prophesied the horse, then opened the gates of Troy and pulled the horse in.
It was within this context that the governments of the world took on massive amounts of debt and bailed out the financial sectors from their accumulated risk by buying their bad debts.
In late June of 2009, several months following Western governments implementing bailouts and stimulus packages, the world was in the euphoria of “recovery.” At this time, however, the Bank for International Settlements released another report warning against such complacency in believing in the “recovery.” The BIS warned of only “limited progress” in fixing the financial system. The article is worth quoting at length:
The BIS had thus endorsed the bailout and stimulus packages, which is no surprise, considering that the BIS is owned by the central banks of the world, which in turn are owned by the major global banks that were “bailed out” by the governments. However, the BIS warned that these rescue efforts, “while necessary” for the banks, will likely have deleterious effects for national governments.
The BIS warned that, “there’s a risk central banks will raise interest rates and withdraw emergency liquidity too late, triggering inflation”:
Of enormous significance was the warning from the BIS that, “fiscal stimulus packages may provide no more than a temporary boost to growth, and be followed by an extended period of economic stagnation.” As the Australian reported in late June:
Further, major western countries such as Australia “faced the possibility of a run on the currency, which would force interest rates to rise,” and “Particularly in smaller and more open economies, pressure on the currency could force central banks to follow a tighter policy than would be warranted by domestic economic conditions.” Not surprisingly, the BIS stated that, “government guarantees and asset insurance have exposed taxpayers to potentially large losses,” through the bailouts and stimulus packages, and “stimulus programs will drive up real interest rates and inflation expectations,” as inflation “would intensify as the downturn abated.”
In May of 2009, Simon Johnson, former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), warned that Britain faces a major struggle in the next phase of the economic crisis:
However, as dire as things look for Britain, “The UK is likely to be joined by other countries as the full scale of the downturn becomes apparent and more financial skeletons are pulled from the sub-prime closet.”
In September of 2009, the former Chief Economist of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), William White, who had accurately predicted the previous crisis, warned that, “The world has not tackled the problems at the heart of the economic downturn and is likely to slip back into recession.” He “also warned that government actions to help the economy in the short run may be sowing the seeds for future crises.” An article in the Financial Times elaborated:
In late September of 2009, the General Manager of the BIS warned governments against complacency, saying that, “the market rebound should not be misinterpreted,” and that, “The profile of the recovery is not clear.”
In September, the Financial Times further reported that William White, former Chief Economist at the BIS, also “argued that after two years of government support for the financial system, we now have a set of banks that are even bigger – and more dangerous – than ever before,” which also, “has been argued by Simon Johnson, former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund,” who “says that the finance industry has in effect captured the US government,” and pointedly stated: “recovery will fail unless we break the financial oligarchy that is blocking essential reform.”
In mid-September, the BIS released a warning about the global financial system, as “The global market for derivatives rebounded to $426 trillion in the second quarter [of 2009] as risk appetite returned, but the system remains unstable and prone to crises.” The derivatives rose by 16% “mostly due to a surge in futures and options contracts on three-month interest rates.” In other words, speculation is back in full force as bailout money to banks in turn fed speculative practices that have not been subjected to reform or regulation. Thus, the problems that created the previous crisis are still present and growing:
In late November of 2009, Morgan Stanley warned that, “Britain risks becoming the first country in the G10 bloc of major economies to risk capital flight and a full-blown debt crisis over coming months.” The Bank of England may have to raise interest rates “before it is ready — risking a double-dip recession, and an incipient compound-debt spiral.” Further:
As Ambrose Evans-Pritchard wrote for the Telegraph, this “is a reminder that countries merely bought time during the crisis by resorting to fiscal stimulus and shunting private losses onto public books,” and, while he endorsed the stimulus packages claiming it was “necessary,” he admitted that the stimulus packages “have not resolved the underlying debt problem. They have storied up a second set of difficulties by degrading sovereign debt across much of the world.” Morgan Stanley said another surprise in 2010 could be a surge in the dollar. However, this would be due to capital flight out of Europe as its economies crumble under their debt burdens and capital seeks a “safe haven” in the US dollar.
In December of 2009, the Wall Street Journal reported on the warnings of some of the nation’s top economists, who feared that following a financial crisis such as the one experienced in the previous two years, “there’s typically a wave of sovereign default crises.” As economist Kenneth Rogoff explained, “If you want to know what’s next on the menu, that’s a good bet,” as “Spiraling government debts around the world, from Washington to Berlin to Tokyo, could set the scene for years of financial troubles.” Apart from the obvious example of Greece, other countries are at risk, as the author of the article wrote:
Rogoff predicted that, “We’re going to be raising taxes sky high,” and that, “we’re probably going to see a lot of inflation, eventually. We will have to. It’s the easiest way to reduce the value of those liabilities in real terms.” Rogoff stated, “The way rich countries default is through inflation.” Further, “even U.S. municipal bonds won’t be safe from trouble. California could be among those facing a default crisis.” Rogoff elaborated, “It wouldn’t surprise me to see the Federal Reserve buying California debt at some point, or some form of bailout.”
The bailouts, particularly that of the United States, handed a blank check to the world’s largest banks. As another favour, the US government put those same banks in charge of ‘reform’ and ‘regulation’ of the banking industry. Naturally, no reform or regulation took place. Thus, the money given to banks by the government can be used in financial speculation. As the sovereign debt crisis unfolds and spreads around the globe, the major international banks will be able to create enormous wealth in speculation, rapidly pulling their money out of one nation in debt crisis, precipitating a collapse, and moving to another, until all the dominoes have fallen, and the banks stand larger, wealthier, and more powerful than any nation or institution on earth (assuming they already aren’t). This is why the bankers were so eager to undertake a financial coup of the United States, to ensure that no actual reform took place, that they could loot the nation of all it has, and profit off of its eventual collapse and the collapse of the global economy. The banks have been saved! Now everyone else must pay.
Edmund Conway, the Economics Editor of the Telegraph, reported in early January of 2010, that throughout the year:
In other words, the ‘recovery’ is an illusion. In mid-January of 2010, the World Economic Forum released a report in which it warned that, “There is now more than a one-in-five chance of another asset price bubble implosion costing the world more than £1 trillion, and similar odds of a full-scale sovereign fiscal crisis.” The report warned of a simultaneous second financial crisis coupled with a major fiscal crisis as countries default on their debts. The report “also warned of the possibility of China’s economy overheating and, instead of helping support global economic growth, preventing a fully-fledged recovery from developing.” Further:
Nouriel Roubini, one of America’s top economists who predicted the financial crisis, wrote an article in Forbes in January of 2010 explaining that, “the severe recession, combined with a financial crisis during 2008-09, worsened the fiscal positions of developed countries due to stimulus spending, lower tax revenues and support to the financial sector.” He warned that the debt burden of major economies, including the US, Japan and Britain, would likely increase. With this, investors will become wary of the sustainability of fiscal markets and will begin to withdraw from debt markets, long considered “safe havens.” Further:
As interest rates rise, which they will have to in a tightening of monetary policy, (which up until now have been kept artificially low so as to encourage the spread of liquidity around the world), interest payments on the debt will increase dramatically. Roubini warned:
Governments will thus need to drastically increase taxes and cut spending. Essentially, this will amount to a global “Structural Adjustment Program” (SAP) in the developed, industrialized nations of the West.
Where SAPs imposed upon ‘Third World’ debtor nations would provide a loan in return for the dismantling of the public state, higher taxes, growing unemployment, total privatization of state industries and deregulation of trade and investment, the loans provided by the IMF and World Bank would ultimately benefit Western multinational corporations and banks. This is what the Western world now faces: we bailed out the banks, and now we must pay for it, through massive unemployment, increased taxes, and the dismantling of the public sphere.
In February of 2010, Niall Ferguson, a prominent British economic historian, wrote an article for the Financial Times entitled, “A Greek Crisis Coming to America.” He starts by explaining that, “It began in Athens. It is spreading to Lisbon and Madrid. But it would be a grave mistake to assume that the sovereign debt crisis that is unfolding will remain confined to the weaker eurozone economies.” He explained that this is not a crisis confined to one region, “It is a fiscal crisis of the western world,” and “Its ramifications are far more profound than most investors currently appreciate.” Ferguson writes that, “the problem is essentially the same from Iceland to Ireland to Britain to the US. It just comes in widely differing sizes,” and the US is no small risk:
Ferguson points out that, “The long-run projections of the Congressional Budget Office suggest that the US will never again run a balanced budget. That’s right, never.” Ferguson explains that debt will hurt major economies:
In late February of 2010, the warning signs were flashing red that interest rates were going to have to rise, taxes increase, and the burden of debt would need to be addressed.
China Begins to Dump US Treasuries
US Treasuries are US government debt that is issued by the US Treasury Department, which are bought by foreign governments as an investment. It is a show of faith in the US economy to buy their debt (i.e., Treasuries). In buying a US Treasury, you are lending money to the US government for a certain period of time.
However, as the United States has taken on excessive debt loads to save the banks from crisis, the prospect of buying US Treasuries has become less appealing, and the threat that they are an unsafe investment is ever-growing. In February of 2009, Hilary Clinton urged China to continue buying US Treasuries in order to finance Obama’s stimulus package. As an article in Bloomberg pointed out:
The following month, the Chinese central bank announced that they would continue buying US Treasuries.
However, in February of 2009, Warren Buffet, one of the world’s richest individuals, warned against buying US Treasuries:
In September of 2009, an article on CNN reported of the dangers if China were to start dumping US Treasuries, which “could cause longer-term interest rates to shoot up since bond prices and yields move in opposite directions,” as a weakening US currency could lead to inflation, which would in turn, reduce the value and worth of China’s holdings in US Treasuries.
It has become a waiting game; an economic catch-22: China holds US debt (Treasuries) which allows the US to spend to “save the economy” (or more accurately, the banks), but all the spending has plunged the US into such abysmal debt from which it will never be able to emerge. The result is that inflation will likely occur, with a possibility of hyperinflation, thus reducing the value of the US currency. China’s economy is entirely dependent upon the US as a consumer economy, while the US is dependent upon China as a buyer and holder of US debt. Both countries are delaying the inevitable. If China doesn’t want to hold worthless investments (US debt) it must stop buying US Treasuries, and then international faith in the US currency would begin to fall, forcing interest rates to rise, which could even precipitate a speculative assault against the US dollar. At the same time, a collapsing US currency and economy would not help China’s economy, which would tumble with it. So, it has become a waiting game.
In February of 2010, the Financial Times reported that China had begun in December of 2009, the process of dumping US Treasuries, and thus falling behind Japan as the largest holder of US debt, selling approximately $38.8 billion of US Treasuries, as “Foreign demand for US Treasury bonds fell by a record amount”:
So, China has given the US a vote of non-confidence. This is evident of the slippery-slide down the road to a collapse of the US economy, and possibly, the US dollar, itself.
Is a Debt Crisis Coming to America?
All the warning signs are there: America is in dire straights when it comes to its total debt, proper actions have not been taken to reform the monetary or financial systems, the same problems remain prevalent, and the bailout and stimulus packages have further exposed the United States to astronomical debt levels. While the dollar will likely continue to go up as confidence in the Eurozone economies tumbles, this is not because the dollar is a good investment, but because the dollar is simply a better investment (for now) than the Euro, which isn’t saying much.
The Chinese moves to begin dumping US Treasuries is a signal that the issue of American debt has already weighed in on the functions and movements of the global financial system. While the day of reckoning may be months if not years away, it is coming nonetheless.
On February 15, it was reported that the Federal Reserve, having pumped $2.2 trillion into the economy, “must start pulling that money back.” As the Fed reportedly bought roughly $2 trillion in bad assets, it is now debating “how and when to sell those assets.” As the Korea Times reported, “The problem: Do it too quickly and the Fed might cut off or curtail the recovery. Wait too long and risk setting off a punishing round of inflation.”
In mid-February, there were reports of dissent within the Federal Reserve System, as Thomas Hoenig, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, warned that, “The US must fix its growing debt problems or risk a new financial crisis.” He explained, “that rising debt was infringing on the central bank’s ability to fulfill its goals of maintaining price stability and long-term economic growth.” In January, he was the lone voice at a Fed meeting that said interest rates should not remain near zero for an “extended period.” He said the worst case scenario would be for the US government to have to again ask the Fed to print more money, and instead suggested that, “the administration must find ways to cut spending and generate revenue,” admitting that it would be a “painful and politically inconvenient” process.
However, these reports are largely disingenuous, as it has placed focus on a superficial debt level. The United States, even prior to the onset of the economic crisis in 2007 and 2008, had long been a reckless spender. The cost of maintaining an empire is astronomical and beyond the actual means of any nation. Historically, the collapse of empires has as much or more to do with a collapse in their currency and fiscal system than their military defeat or collapse in war. Also important to note is that these processes are not mutually exclusive, but are, in fact, intricately interconnected.
As empires decline, the world order is increasingly marred in economic crises and international conflict. As the crisis in the economy worsens, international conflict and wars spread. As I have amply documented elsewhere, the United States, since the end of World War II, has been the global hegemon: maintaining the largest military force in the world, and not shying away from using it, as well as running the global monetary system. Since the 1970s, the US dollar has acted as a world reserve currency. Following the collapse of the USSR, the grand imperial strategy of America was to dominate Eurasia and control the world militarily and economically.
Throughout the years of the Bush administration, the imperial strategy was given immense new life under the guise of the “war on terror.” Under this banner, the United States declared war on the world and all who oppose its hegemony. All the while, the administration colluded with the big banks and the Federal Reserve to artificially maintain the economic system. In the latter years of the Bush administration, this illusion began to come tumbling down. Never before in history has such a large nation wages multiple major theatre wars around the world without the public at home being fiscally restrained in some manner, either through higher taxes or interest rates. In fact, it was quite the opposite. The trillion dollar wars plunged the United States deeper into debt.
By 2007, the year that Northern Rock collapsed in the UK, signaling the start of the collapse of 2008, the total debt – domestic, commercial and consumer debt – of the United States stood at a shocking $51 trillion.
As if this debt burden was not enough, considering it would be impossible to ever pay back, the past two years has seen the most expansive and rapid debt expansion ever seen in world history – in the form of stimulus and bailout packages around the world. In July of 2009, it was reported that, “U.S. taxpayers may be on the hook for as much as $23.7 trillion to bolster the economy and bail out financial companies, said Neil Barofsky, special inspector general for the Treasury’s Troubled Asset Relief Program.”
That is worth noting once again: the “bailout” bill implemented under Bush, and fully supported and sponsored by President-elect Obama, has possibly bailed out the financial sector of up to $23.7 trillion. How could this be? After all, the public was told that the “bailout” was $700 billion.
In fact, the fine print in the bailout bill revealed that $700 billion was not a ceiling, as in, $700 billion was not the maximum amount of money that could be injected into the banks; it was the maximum that could be injected into the financial system “at any one time.” Thus, it became a “rolling amount.” It essentially created a back-door loophole for the major global banks, both domestic and foreign, to plunder the nation and loot it entirely. There was no limit to the money banks could get from the Fed. And none of the actions would be subject to review or oversight by Congress or the Judiciary, i.e., the people.
This is why, as Obama became President in late January of 2009, his administration fully implemented the financial coup over the United States. The man who had been responsible for orchestrating the bailout of AIG, the buyout of Bear Stearns as a gift for JP Morgan Chase, and had been elected to run the Federal Reserve Bank of New York by the major global banks in New York (chief among them, JP Morgan Chase), had suddenly become Treasury Secretary under Obama. The Fed, and thus, the banks were now put directly in charge of the looting.
Obama then took on a team of economic advisers that made any astute economic observer flinch in terror. The titans of economic crisis and catastrophe had become the fox in charge of the chicken coop. Those who were instrumental in creating and constructing the economic crises of the previous decades and building the instruments and infrastructure that led to the current crisis, were with Obama, brought in to “solve” the crisis they created. Paul Volcker, former Chairman of the Federal Reserve and architect of the 1980s debt crisis, was now a top economic adviser to Obama. As well as this, Lawrence Summers joined Obama’s economic team, who had previously been instrumental in Bill Clinton’s Treasury Department in dismantling all banking regulations and creating the market for speculation and derivatives which directly led to the current crisis.
In short, the financial oligarchy is in absolute control of the United States government. Concurrently, the military structure of the American empire has firmly established its grip over foreign policy, as America’s wars are expanded into Pakistan, Yemen, and potentially Iran.
Make no mistake, a crisis is coming to America, it is only a question of when, and how severe.
Imperial Decline and the Rise of the New World Order
The decline of the American empire, an inevitable result of its half-century of exerting its political and economic hegemony around the world, is not an isolated event in the global political economy. The US declines concurrently with the rise of what is termed the “New World Order.”
America has been used by powerful western banking and corporate interests as an engine of empire, expanding their influence across the globe. Banks have no armies, so they must control nations; banks have no products, so they must control industries; banks have only money, and interest earned on it. Thus, they must ensure that industry and governments alike borrow money en masse to the point where they are so indebted, they can never emerge. As a result, governments and industries become subservient to the banking interests. Banks achieved this masterful feat through the construction of the global central banking system.
Bankers took control first of Great Britain through the Bank of England, building up the massive might of the British Empire, and spread into the rest of Europe, creating central banks in the major European empires. In the 20th Century, the central bankers took control of the United States through the creation of the Federal Reserve in 1913, prior to the outbreak of World War I.
Following World War I, a restructuring of the world order was undertaken. In part, these actions paved the way to the Great Depression, which struck in 1929. The Great Depression was created as a result of the major banks engaging in speculation, which was actively encouraged and financed by the Federal Reserve and other major central banks.
As a result of the Great Depression, a new institution was formed, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), based in Basle, Switzerland. As historian Carroll Quigley explained, the BIS was formed to “remedy the decline of London as the world’s financial center by providing a mechanism by which a world with three chief financial centers in London, New York, and Paris could still operate as one.” He explained:
The new order that is being constructed is not one in which there is another single global power, as many commentators suggest China may become, but rather that a multi-polar world order is constructed, in which the global political economy is restructured into a global governance structure: in short, the new world order is to be marked by the construction of a world government.
This is the context in which the solutions to the global economic crisis are being implemented. In April of 2009, the G20 set into motion the plans to form a global currency, which would presumably replace the US dollar as the world reserve currency. This new currency would either be operated through the IMF or the BIS, and would be a reserve currency whose value is determined as a basket of currencies (such as the dollar, yen, euro, etc), which would play off of one another, and whose value would be fixed to the global currency.
This process is being implemented, through long-term planning, simultaneously as we see the further emergence of regional currencies, as not only the Euro, but plans and discussions for other regional currencies are underway in North America, South America, the Gulf states, Africa and East Asia.
A 1988 article in the Economist foretold of a coming global currency by 2018, in which the author wrote that countries would have to give up monetary and economic sovereignty, however:
To create a global currency, and thus a global system of economic governance, the world would have to be plunged into economic and currency crises to force governments to take the necessary actions in moving towards a global currency.
From 1998 onwards, there have been several calls for the formation of a global central bank, and in the midst of the global economic crisis of 2008, renewed calls and actual actions and efforts undertaken by the G20 have sped up the development of a “global Fed” and world currency. A global central bank is being offered as a solution to prevent a future global economic crisis from occurring.
In March of 2008, closely following the collapse of Bear Stearns, a major financial firm released a report stating that, “Financial firms face a ‘new world order’,” and that major banks would become much larger through mergers and acquisitions. There would be a new world order of banking consolidation.
In November of 2008, The National, a prominent United Arab Emirate newspaper, reported on Baron David de Rothschild accompanying Prime Minister Gordon Brown on a visit to the Middle East, although not as a “part of the official party” accompanying Brown. Following an interview with the Baron, it was reported that, “Rothschild shares most people’s view that there is a new world order. In his opinion, banks will deleverage and there will be a new form of global governance.”
In February of 2009, the Times Online reported that a “New world order in banking [is] necessary,” and that, “It is increasingly evident that the world needs a new banking system and that it should not bear much resemblance to the one that has failed so spectacularly.” However, what the article fails to point out is that the ‘new world order in banking’ is to be constructed by the bankers.
This process is going hand-in-hand with the formation of a new world order in global political structures, following the economic trends. As regionalism was spurred by economic initiatives, such as regional trading blocs and currency groupings, the political structure of a regional government followed closely behind. Europe was the first to undertake this initiative, with the formation of a European trading bloc, which became an economic union and eventually a currency union, and which, as a result of the recently passed Lisbon Treaty, is being formally established into a political union.
The new world order consists of the formation of regional governance structures, which are themselves submissive to a global governance structure, both economically and politically.
In the construction of a ‘New World Order’, the capitalist system is under intense reform. Capitalism has, since its inception, altered its nature and forms. In the midst of the current global economic crisis, the construction of the ‘New Capitalism’ is based upon the ‘China model’; that is, ‘Totalitarian Capitalism’.
Governments will no longer stand behind the ‘public relations’ – propagandized illusion of ‘protecting the people’. When an economy collapses, the governments throw away their public obligations, and act for the interests of their private owners. Governments will come to the aid of the powerful banks and corporations, not the people, as “The bourgeoisie resorts to fascism less in response to disturbances in the street than in response to disturbances in their own economic system.” During a large economic crisis:
Those who proclaim the actions of western governments ‘socialist’ are misled, as the ‘solutions’ are of a different nature. Daniel Guerin wrote in Fascism and Big Business about the nature of the fascist economies of Italy and Germany in the lead up to World War II. Guerin wrote of the actions of Italian and German governments to bail out big businesses and banks in an economic crisis:
Fascist economic policy:
The bureaucracy of the fascist state becomes much more powerful in directing the economy, and is advised by the ‘capitalist magnates’, who “become the economic high command – no longer concealed, as previously, but official – of the state. Permanent contact is established between them and the bureaucratic apparatus. They dictate, and the bureaucracy executes.” This is exactly the nature of the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve, most especially since the Obama administration took office.
In November of 2008, the National Intelligence Council (NIC) issued a report in collaboration between all sixteen US intelligence agencies and major international foundations and think tanks, in which they assessed and analyzed general trends in the world until 2025. When it reported on trends in ‘democratization’, discussing the spread and nature of democracy in the world, the report warned:
The warning from Daniel Guerin is vital to understanding this trend: “The bourgeoisie resorts to fascism less in response to disturbances in the street than in response to disturbances in their own economic system.” Totalitarianism is on the rise, as David Lyon wrote:
In 2007, the British Defense Ministry released a report in which they analyzed future trends in the world. It stated in regards to social problems, “The middle classes could become a revolutionary class, taking the role envisaged for the proletariat by Marx.” Interestingly:
The general trend has thus become the reformation of the capitalist system into a system based upon the ‘China model’ of totalitarian capitalism. The capitalist class fear potential revolutionary sentiment among the middle and lower classes of the world. Obama was a well-packaged Wall Street product, sold to the American people and the people of the world on the promise of ‘Hope’ and ‘Change.’ Obama was put in place to pacify resistance.
Prior to Obama becoming President, the American people were becoming united in their opposition against not only the Bush administration, but Congress and the government in general. Both the president and Congress were equally hated; the people were uniting. Since Obama became President, the people have been turned against one another: ‘conservatives’ blame the ‘liberals’ and ‘socialists’ for all the problems, pointing fingers at Obama (who is nothing more than a figurehead), while those on the left point at the Republicans and ‘conservatives’ and Bush, placing all the blame on them. The right defends the Republicans; the left defends Obama. The people have been divided, arguably more so than at any time in recent history.
In dividing the people against each other, those in power have been able to quell resistance against them, and have continued to loot and plunder the nation and people, while using its military might to loot and plunder foreign nations and people. Obama is not to provide hope and change for the American people; his purpose was to provide the illusion of ‘change’ and provide ‘hope’ to the elites in preventing a purposeful and powerful opposition or rebellion among the people. Meanwhile, the government has been preparing for the potentiality of great social and civil unrest following a future collapse or crisis. Instead of coming to the aid of the people, the government is preparing to control and oppress the people.
Could Martial Law Come to America?
Processes undertaken in the American political establishment in previous decades, and rapidly accelerated under the Bush administration and carried on by the Obama administration, have set the course for the imposition of a military government in America. Readily armed with an oppressive state apparatus and backed by the heavy surveillance state apparatus, the ‘Homeland Security’ state is about controlling the population, not protecting them.
In January of 2006, KBR, a subsidiary of the then-Vice President Cheney’s former corporation, Halliburton, received a contract from the Department of Homeland Security:
Put simply, the contract is to develop a system of ‘internment camps’ inside the United States to be used in times of ‘emergency’. Further, as Peter Dale Scott revealed in his book, The Road to 9/11:
As Scott previously wrote, “the contract evoked ominous memories of Oliver North’s controversial Rex-84 ‘readiness exercise’ in 1984. This called for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to round up and detain 400,000 imaginary ‘refugees,’ in the context of ‘uncontrolled population movements’ over the Mexican border into the United States.” However, it was to be a cover for the rounding up of ‘subversives’ and ‘dissenters’. Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the ‘Pentagon papers’ in 1971, stated that, “Almost certainly this [new contract] is preparation for a roundup after the next 9/11 for Mid-Easterners, Muslims and possibly dissenters.”
In February of 2008, an article in the San Francisco Chronicle, co-authored by a former US Congressman, reported that, “Beginning in 1999, the government has entered into a series of single-bid contracts with Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR) to build detention camps at undisclosed locations within the United States. The government has also contracted with several companies to build thousands of railcars, some reportedly equipped with shackles, ostensibly to transport detainees.”
Further, in February of 2008, the Vancouver Sun reported that:
Commenting on the Military Commissions Act of 2006, Yale law and political science professor Bruce Ackerman wrote in the Los Angeles Times that the legislation “authorizes the president to seize American citizens as enemy combatants, even if they have never left the United States. And once thrown into military prison, they cannot expect a trial by their peers or any other of the normal protections of the Bill of Rights.” Further, it states that the legislation “grants the president enormous power over citizens and legal residents. They can be designated as enemy combatants if they have contributed money to a Middle Eastern charity, and they can be held indefinitely in a military prison.” Not only that, but, “ordinary Americans would be required to defend themselves before a military tribunal without the constitutional guarantees provided in criminal trials.” Startlingly, “Legal residents who aren’t citizens are treated even more harshly. The bill entirely cuts off their access to federal habeas corpus, leaving them at the mercy of the president’s suspicions.”
Senator Patrick Leahey made a statement on February 2007 in which he discussed the John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007, saying:
He added that, “posse comitatus [is] the legal doctrine that bars the use of the military for law enforcement directed at the American people here at home.” The Bill is an amendment to the Insurrection Act, of which Leahey further commented:
On May 9, 2007, the White House issued a press release about the National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD) 51, also known as the “National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive.” This directive:
The document defines “catastrophic emergency” as, “any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions.” It explains “Continuity of Government” (COG), as “a coordinated effort within the Federal Government’s executive branch to ensure that National Essential Functions continue to be performed during a Catastrophic Emergency.” [emphasis added]
The directive states that, “The President shall lead the activities of the Federal Government for ensuring constitutional government. In order to advise and assist the President in that function, the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism (APHS/CT) is hereby designated as the National Continuity Coordinator.”
Essentially, in time of a “catastrophic emergency”, the President takes over total control of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government in order to secure “continuity”. In essence, the Presidency would become an “Executive Dictatorship”.
In late September of 2008, in the midst of the financial crisis, the Army Times, an official media outlet of the Pentagon, reported that, “Helping ‘people at home’ may become a permanent part of the active Army,” as the 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team, having spent years patrolling Iraq, are now “training for the same mission — with a twist — at home.” Further:
None of the authorizations, bills, executive orders, or contracts related to the declaration of marital law and suspension of democracy in the event of an ‘emergency’ have been repealed by the Obama administration.
In fact, as the New York Times revealed in July 2009, the Obama administration has decidedly left in place the Bush administration decisions regarding the government response to a national emergency in ‘Continuity of Government’ (COG) plans in establishing a ‘shadow government’:
The Obama administration announced that their continuity plans were ‘settled’ and they “drew no distance between their own policies and those left behind by the Bush administration.” In July of 2009, it was also reported on moves by the Obama administration to implement a system of ‘preventive detention’. With this, any semblance of democratic accountability and freedom have been utterly gutted and disemboweled; the Republic is officially dead:
Society, and with it, any remaining ‘democracy’ is being closed down. In this economic crisis, as Daniel Guerin warned decades ago, the financial oligarchy have chosen to ‘throw democracy overboard’, and have opted for the other option: totalitarian capitalism; fascism.
The current crisis is not merely a failure of the US housing bubble, that is but a symptom of a much wider and far-reaching problem. The nations of the world are mired in exorbitant debt loads, as the sovereign debt crisis spreads across the globe, entire economies will crumble, and currencies will collapse while the banks consolidate and grow. The result will be to properly implement and construct the apparatus of a global government structure. A central facet of this is the formation of a global central bank and a global currency.
The people of the world have been lulled into a false sense of security and complacency, living under the illusion of an economic recovery. The fact remains: it is only an illusion, and eventually, it will come tumbling down. The people have been conned into handing their governments over to the banks, and the banks have been looting and pillaging the treasuries and wealth of nations, and all the while, and making the people pay for it.
There never was a story of more woe, than that of human kind, and their monied foe.
Truly, the people of the world do need a new world order, but not one determined and constructed by and for those who have created the past failed world orders. It must be a world order directed and determined by the people of the world, not the powerful. But to do this, the people must take back the power.
The way to achieving a stable economy is along the path of peace. War and economic crises play off of one another, and are systematically linked. Imperialism is the driver of this system, and behind it, the banking establishment as the financier.
Peace is the only way forward, in both political and economic realms. Peace is the pre-requisite for social sustainability and for a truly great civilization.
The people of the world must pursue and work for peace and justice on a global scale: economically, politically, socially, scientifically, artistically, and personally. It’s asking a lot, but it’s our only option. We need to have ‘hope’, a word often strewn around with little intent to the point where it has come to represent failed expectations. We need hope in ourselves, in our ability to throw off the shackles that bind us and in our diversity and creativity construct a new world that will benefit all.
No one knows what this world would look like, or how exactly to get there, least of all myself. What we do know is what it doesn’t look like, and what road to steer clear of. The time has come to retake our rightful place as the commanders of our own lives. It must be freedom for all, or freedom for none. This is our world, and we have been given the gift of the human mind and critical thought, which no other living being can rightfully boast; what a shame it would be to waste it.
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Forging a “New World Order” Under a One World Government
Global Power and Global Government: Part 4
Global Research, August 13, 2009
This article is Part 4 in the series, “Global Power and Global Government,” published by Global Research.
Part 1: Global Power and Global Government: Evolution and Revolution of the Central Banking System
The 1990s saw the emergence of what was called the New World Order. This was a term that emerged in the early 1990s to describe a more unipolar world, addressing the collapse of the Soviet Union and the newfound role of the United States as the sole and unchallenged global power. The New World Order was meant to represent a new phase in the global political economy in which world authority rested in one place, and for the time, that place was to be the United States.
This era saw the continual expansion and formation of regional blocs, with the formation of the European Union, the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the creation of the WTO. The World Trade Organization was officially formed in 1995, as the successor to the General Agreements on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which was formed in 1944 at the Bretton-Woods Conference. The WTO manages the international liberal trading order.
The first Director-General of the WTO was Peter D. Sutherland, who was previously the director general of GATT, former Attorney General of Ireland, and currently is Chairman of British Petroleum and Goldman Sachs International, as well as being special representative of the United Nations secretary-general for migrations. He is also a member of the board of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group, the Foundation Board of the World Economic Forum, goodwill ambassador to the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation, is a member of the Bilderberg Group, and is European Chairman of the Trilateral Commission, and he was presented with the Robert Schuman Medal for his work on European Integration and the David Rockefeller Award of the Trilateral Commission. Clearly, the WTO was an organ of the western banking elite to be used as a tool in expanding and institutionalizing their control over world trade.
The European Superstate
In 1992, the Maastricht Treaty was signed, which officially formed the European Union in 1993. In 1994, the European Monetary Institute (EMI) was formed, with the European Central Bank (ECB) being formed in 1998, and the single European currency, the Euro, debuting in 1999. In 2004, the European Constitution was to be signed by all 25-member states of the EU, which was a treaty to establish a constitution for the entire European Union.
The Constitution was a move towards creating a European superstate, creating an EU foreign minister, and with it, coordinated foreign policy, with the EU taking over the seat of Britain on the UN Security Council, representing all EU member states, forcing the nations to “actively and unreservedly” follow an EU foreign policy; set out the framework to create an EU defence policy, as an appendage to or separate from NATO; the creation of a European Justice system, with the EU defining “minimum standards in defining offences and setting sentences,” and creates common asylum and immigration policy; and it would also hand over to the EU the power to “ensure co-ordination of economic and employment policies”; and EU law would supercede all law of the member states, thus making the member nations relative to mere provinces within a centralized federal government system.
Vaclav Klaus, President of the Czech Republic, had stated that he feared that the concept of a stronger and more centralized European Union, as “the developments in the E.U. are really dangerous with regard to moving out of a free society and moving more and more toward masterminding control and regulation,” and that, “We [the Czech Republic] spent a half-century under communist eyes. We are more sensitive than some other West Europeans. We feel things, we see things, we touch things that we don’t like. For us, the European Union reminds us of COMECON [Moscow’s organization for economic control of the Soviet bloc].” He elaborated saying that the similarity with COMECON is not ideologically based, but in its structure, “The decisions are made not in your own country. For us who lived through the communist era, this is an issue.”
The Constitution was largely written up by Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, former President of the French Republic from 1974 to 1981. Giscard d’Estaing also happens to be a member of the Bilderberg Group, the Trilateral Commission, and is also a close friend of Henry Kissinger, having co-authored papers with him. In 2005, French and Dutch voters answered the referendums in their countries, in which they rejected the EU Constitution, which required total unanimity in order to pass.
In 2007, a move was undertaken to introduce what was called the Lisbon Treaty, to be approved by all member-states. Giscard d’Estaing wrote an article for the Independent in which he stated that, “The difference between the original Constitution and the present Lisbon Treaty is one of approach, rather than content.” He described the process of creating the Lisbon Treaty: “It was the legal experts for the European Council who were charged with drafting the new text. They have not made any new suggestions. They have taken the original draft constitution, blown it apart into separate elements, and have then attached them, one by one, to existing treaties. The Treaty of Lisbon is thus a catalogue of amendments. It is unpenetrable for the public.” The main difference was that the word “constitution” was removed and banished from the text.
The Telegraph reported that though the Treaty dropped the word “constitution,” it remained the same in “giving the EU the trappings of a global power and cutting national sovereignty.” It contained plans to create an EU President, who “will serve a two and half year term but unlike democratic heads of state he or she will be chosen by Europe’s leaders not by voters” and “will take over key international negotiations from national heads of government.” The Constitution’s “Foreign Minister” becomes the “High Representative,” who “will run a powerful EU diplomatic service and will be more important on the global and European stage than national foreign ministers.” It sets out to create an “Interior Ministry” which will “centralise databases holding fingerprints and DNA,” and “make EU legislation on new police and surveillance powers.” The ability for EU nations to use vetoes will end, and the Treaty “includes a clause hardwiring an EU “legal personality” and ascendancy over national courts.”
One country in Europe has it written into its constitution that it requires a referendum on treaties, and that country is Ireland. In June of 2008, the Irish went to vote on the Treaty of Lisbon, after weeks and months of being badgered by EU politicians and Eurocrats explaining that the Irish “owe” Europe a “Yes” vote because of the benefits the EU had bestowed upon Ireland. History will show, however, that the Irish don’t take kindly to being bossed around and patronized, so when they went to the polls, “No” was on their lips and on their ballots. The Irish thus rejected the Lisbon Treaty.
North American Integration
The Canada-US Free Trade Agreement of 1989, was signed by President George HW Bush and Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. The FTA had devastating consequences for the people of Canada and the United States, while enriching the corporate and political elite. For example, GDP growth decreased, unemployment increased the most since the Great Depression, and meanwhile, Brian Mulroney entered the corporate world, of which he now sits as a board member of Barrick Gold Corporation, as well as sitting on the International Advisory Board of the Council on Foreign Relations, of which David Rockefeller remains on as Honorary Chairman.
In 1990, the private sector lobbying groups and think tanks began the promotion of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to expand the Canada-US Free Trade Agreement to include Mexico. NAFTA was signed by then Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, US President George H.W. Bush and Mexican President Carlos Salinas, in 1993, and went into effect in 1994. It was negotiated during a time in which Mexico was undergoing liberal economic reforms, so NAFTA had the effect of cementing those reforms in an “economic constitution for North America.”
David Rockefeller played a role in the push for NAFTA. In 1965, he had founded the Council for Latin America (CLA), which, as he wrote in a 1966 article in Foreign Affairs, was to mobilize private enterprise throughout the hemisphere “to stimulate and support economic integration.” The CLA, David wrote, “provides an effective channel of cooperation between businessmen in the United States and their counterparts in the countries to the south. It also offers a means of continuing communication and consultation with the White House, the State Department and other agencies of our government.”
The CLA later changed its name to the Council of the Americas (CoA) and maintains a very close relationship with the Americas Society, founded at the same time as the CLA, of which David Rockefeller remains to this day as Chairman of both organizations. As David wrote in his autobiography, Memoirs, in the lead up to NAFTA, the Council of the Americas sponsored a Forum of the Americas, which was attended by President George H.W. Bush, which resulted in the call for a “Western Hemisphere free trade area.”
In 1993, David Rockefeller wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal, in the run up to NAFTA, in which he advocated for the signing of NAFTA as essential, describing it as a vital step on the road to fulfilling his life long work, and that, “Everything is in place — after 500 years — to build a true “new world” in the Western Hemisphere,” and further, that “I truly don’t think that “criminal” would be too strong a word to describe an action on our part, such as rejecting Nafta, that would so seriously jeopardize all the good that has been done — and remains to be done.”
In 1994, Mexico entered into a financial crisis, often referred to as the Mexican peso crisis. The 1980s debt crisis, instigated by the Federal Reserve’s interest rate hikes on international loans, caused Mexico to default on its loans. The IMF had to enter the scene with its newly created Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) and reform Mexico’s economy along neoliberal economic policies.
In the late 1980s, “the United States accounted for 73 percent of Mexico’s foreign trade,” and when NAFTA came into effect in 1994, it “immediately opened US and Canadian markets to 84 percent of Mexican exports.” Mexico even became a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO). The peso crisis, which began at the end of 1994, with the ascension of Mexican President Zedillo, went into 1995, and the US organized a bailout worth $52 billion. The bailout did not help the Mexican economy, as it was simply funneled into paying back loans to banks, primarily American banks, and the “crisis in 1995 was declared [by the IMF to be] over as soon as the banks and international lenders started to get repaid; but five years after the crisis, workers were just getting back to where they were beforehand.”
In 2002, Robert Pastor, Director of the Center for North American Studies at the American University in Washington, D.C., prepared a report that he presented to the Trilateral Commission meeting of that same year. The report, A North American Community: A Modest Proposal to the Trilateral Commission, advocated a continuation of the policy of “deep integration” in North America, recommending, “a continental plan for infrastructure and transportation, a plan for harmonizing regulatory policies, a customs union, [and] a common currency.” The report advocated the formation of a North American Community and Pastor wrote that, “a majority of the public in all three countries is prepared to join a larger North American country.”
In 2003, prior to Paul Martin becoming Prime Minister of Canada, the Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE), formerly the BCNI, published on their website, a press release in which they, “urged Paul Martin to take the lead in forging a new vision for North America.” Thomas d’Aquino, CEO of the Council, “urged that Mr. Martin champion the idea of a yearly summit of the leaders of Canada, Mexico and the United States in order to give common economic, social and security issues the priority they deserve in a continental, hemispheric and global context.” Among the signatories to this statement were all the Vice Chairmen of the CCCE, including David Emerson, who would go on to join Martin’s Cabinet.
The CCCE then launched the North American Security and Prosperity Initiative, advocating “redefining borders, maximizing regulatory efficiencies, negotiation of a comprehensive resource security pact, reinvigorating the North American defence alliance, and creating a new institutional framework.”
The Independent Task Force on the Future of North America was then launched in 2005, composed of an alliance and joint project between the CCCE in Canada, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in the United States, and the Mexican Council on Foreign Relations in Mexico. A press release was given on March 14, 2005, in which it said, “The chairs and vice-chairs of the Independent Task Force on the Future of North America today issued a statement calling for a North American economic and security community by 2010.”
On March 23, 2005, a mere nine days following the Task Force press release, the leaders of Canada, the US, and Mexico, (Paul Martin, George W. Bush, and Vicente Fox, respectively), announced “the establishment of the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America,” which constituted a course of “action into a North American framework to confront security and economic challenges.”
Within two months, the Independent Task Force on the Future of North America released their final report, Building a North American Community, proposing the continuation of “deep integration” into the formation of a North American Community, that “applauds the announced ‘Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America,’ but proposes a more ambitious vision of a new community by 2010 and specific recommendations on how to achieve it.”
At the 2006 meeting of the SPP, the creation of a new group was announced, called the North American Competitiveness Council (NACC), made up of corporate leaders from all three countries who produce an annual report and advise the three governments on how to implement the SPP process of “deep integration”. The Secretariat in Canada is the CCCE, and the Secretariat of the group in the US is made up of the US Chamber of Commerce and the Council of the Americas. The Council of the Americas was founded by David Rockefeller, of which he is still Honourary Chairman, and other board members include individuals from J.P. Morgan, Merck, McDonald’s, Ford, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, General Electric, Chevron, Shell, IBM, ConocoPhillips, Citigroup, Microsoft, Pfizer, Wal-Mart, Exxon, General Motors, Merrill Lynch, Credit Suisse and the US Department of Treasury.
The process of integration is still underway, and the formation of a North American Community is not far off, only to be followed by a North American Union, modeled on the structure of the European Union, with talk of a North American currency being formed in the future, which was even proposed by Canada’s former Governor of the Bank of Canada.
The New World Order in Theory
In a 1997 article of Foreign Affairs, the journal of the Council on Foreign Relations, Anne-Marie Slaughter discussed the theoretical foundations of the New World Order. Building on George HW Bush’s proclamation of a New World Order in 1991, Slaughter wrote that many saw this as “the promise of 1945 fulfilled, a world in which international institutions, led by the United Nations, guaranteed international peace and security with the active support of the world’s major powers.” However, this concept, she explained, was largely infeasible, as “It requires a centralized rule-making authority, a hierarchy of institutions, and universal membership.” Instead, she explains the emergence of what she called a “new medievalism” as opposed to liberal internationalism. “Where liberal internationalists see a need for international rules and institutions to solve states’ problems, the new medievalists proclaim the end of the nation-state,” where “The result is not world government, but global governance. If government denotes the formal exercise of power by established institutions, governance denotes cooperative problem- solving by a changing and often uncertain cast.”
However, Slaughter challenges the assumptions of both the liberal internationalists and the new medievalists, and states that, “The state is not disappearing, it is disaggregating into its separate, functionally distinct parts. These parts—courts, regulatory agencies, executives, and even legislatures—are networking with their counterparts abroad, creating a dense web of relations that constitutes a new, transgovernmental order,” and that, “transgovernmentalism is rapidly becoming the most widespread and effective mode of international governance.” Slaughter was Dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University from 2002-2009, is currently Director of Policy Planning for the United States Department of State, and has previously served on the board of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Reconstructing Class Structure Under a World Government
Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney, a former executive with Goldman Sachs, stated in his speech at the International Economic Forum of the Americas, that, “Globalized product, capital, and labour markets lie at the heart of the New World Order to which we should aspire. However, the next wave of globalization needs to be more firmly grounded and its participants more responsible,” and that, “Within our economies, major stock adjustments in inventories, labour, and capital will be required.” It is worth quoting him at length in saying:
Although global demand and trade levels appear to be approaching bottom, and inventory and labour adjustments have already been substantial, there is still more to come. Unemployment will likely rise further across the G-7, with the sharpest increases still to come in those economies with the least-flexible labour markets. Uncertainty over the employment outlook will weigh on consumption in most major economies for some time. The capital stock adjustment process will take longer, and global investment growth is likely to remain negative well into 2010. This will serve as a significant drag on global growth and can be expected to reduce potential growth in most major economies. [Emphasis added]
In terms of labour adjustments within the New World Order, there are some important and vital factors to take into account. Primary among these concerns is the notion of transnational classes. Capitalism largely functions through class divides, with the ruling class owning the means of production, which, as a class, is subject to its own hierarchy over which those that control and issue currencies preside.
In Western, industrialized nations, there has been a large middle class which thrives on consumption, enriching the upper class bourgeoisie, while the lower class, (or proletariat in Marxist terms), consists of the labour class. In non-western, industrialized nations, generally referred to as the “Third World”, “developing world” or the “Global South” (consisting of Latin America, Africa, and parts of Asia), there is a greater divide in terms in class lines, where there is a ruling class, and a labour class, largely remaining vacant of a vast, educated middle class. Class structures vary from country to country and region to region.
However, in the past several decades, the reality of class structures has been undergoing drastic changes, and with this, the structure of labour has changed. In the past few decades, a concurrent class restructuring has been taking place, in which the middle classes of the world descend into debt bondage while the upper classes of the world have began a process of transnationalizing. What we have witnessed and are witnessing with recent events, is the transnationalization of class structures, and with that, labour forces.
A fascinating theoretical school of thought within the field of Global Political Economy is that of Social Constructivism. Social Constructivists argue that, “The social and political world, including the world of international relations, is not a physical entity or material object that is outside human consciousness. Consequently, the study of international relations must focus on the ideas and beliefs that inform the actors on the international scene as well as the shared understandings between them.” Expanding upon this idea:
The international system is not something ‘out there’ like the solar system. It does not exist on its own. It exists only as an intersubjective awareness among people; in that sense the system is constituted by ideas, not by material forces. It is a human invention or creation not of a physical or material kind but of a purely intellectual and ideational kind. It is a set of ideas, a body of thought, a system of norms, which has been arranged by certain people at a particular time and place.
Examples of socially constructed structures within the global political economy are national borders, as they have no physical line, but are rather formed by a shared understanding between various actors as to where the border is. The nation itself is a social construct, as it has no physical, over-arching form, but is made up of a litany of shared values, ideas, concepts, institutions, beliefs and symbols. Thus, “If the thoughts and ideas that enter into the existence of international relations change, then the system itself will change as well, because the system consists in thoughts and ideas. That is the insight behind the oft-repeated phrase by constructivist Alexander Wendt: ‘anarchy is what states make of it’.”
Class Structure and Social Constructivism
William I. Robinson and Jerry Harris write in Science & Society Journal, that, “One process central to capitalist globalization is transnational class formation, which has proceeded in step with the internationalization of capital and the global integration of national productive structures. Given the transnational integration of national economies, the mobility of capital and the global fragmentation and decentralization of accumulation circuits, class formation is progressively less tied to territoriality.” They argued that a Transnational Capitalist Class (TCC) has emerged, “and that this TCC is a global ruling class. It is a ruling class because it controls the levers of an emergent transnational state apparatus and of global decision making.” This class has no borders, and is composed of the technocratic, media, corporate, banking, social and political elite of the world.
As Jackson and Sorenson point out in relation to social constructivist theory, “If ‘anarchy is what states make of it’ there is nothing inevitable or unchangeable about world politics,” and that, “The existing system is a creation of states and if states change their conceptions of who they are, what their interests are, what they want, etc. then the situation will change accordingly.” As an example, they stated that states could decide “to reduce their sovereignty or even to give up their sovereignty. If that happened there would no longer be an international anarchy as we know it. Instead, there would be a brave new, non-anarchical world – perhaps one in which states were subordinate to a world government.”
As Robinson and Harris explain in their essay, with the rise of the Transnational Capitalist Class (TCC), there is also a rise in the apparatus of a Transnational State (TNS), which is “an emerging network that comprises transformed and externally integrated national states, together with the supranational economic and political forums; it has not yet acquired any centralized institutional form.” Among the economic apparatus of the TNS we see the IMF, World Bank, WTO and regional banks. On the political side we see the Group of 7, Group of 22, United Nations, OECD, and the European Union. This was further accelerated with the Trilateral Commission, “which brought together transnationalized fractions of the business, political, and intellectual elite in North America, Europe, and Japan.” Further, the World Economic Forum has made up an important part of this class, and, I might add, the Bilderberg Group. Robinson and Harris point out that, “Studies on building a global economy and transnational management structures flowed out of think tanks, university centers, and policy planning institutes in core countries.”
The TNS apparatus has been a vital principle of organization and socialization for the transnational class, “as have world class universities, transnationally oriented think tanks, the leading bourgeois foundations, such as Harvard’s School of International Business, the Ford [and Rockefeller] and the Carnegie Foundations, [and] policy planning groups such as the Council on Foreign Relations.” These “elite planning groups are important forums for integrating class groups, developing new initiatives, collective strategies, policies and projects of class rule, and forging consensus and a political culture around these projects.”
Robinson and Harris identify the World Economic Forum as “the most comprehensive transnational planning body of the TCC and the quintessential example of a truly global network binding together the TCC in a transnational civil society.” I would take issue with this, and instead propose the Bilderberg Group, of which they make no mention in their article, as THE quintessential transnational planning body of the TCC, as it is composed of the elite of the elite, totally removed from public scrutiny, and acts as “a secretive global think-tank” of the world’s 130 most powerful individuals.
Many Bilderberg critics will claim that the group acts as a “secret world government” or as the organization “that makes all the key decisions for the world.” However, this is not the case. Bilderberg is simply the most influential planning body, sitting atop a grand hierarchy of various planning bodies and institutions, and is itself a key part of the apparatus of the formation of a Transnational State, but is not, in and of itself, a “world government.” It is a global think tank, which holds the concept of a “world government” in high regard and often works to achieve these ends, but it should not be confused with being the end it seeks.
The economic crisis is perhaps the greatest “opportunity” ever given to the TCC in re-shaping the world order according to their designs, ideals and goals. Through destruction, comes creation; and for these high-placed individuals within the TCC, destruction is itself a form of creation.
In terms of reshaping labour and class structures, the economic crisis provides the ground on which a new global class structure will be built. A major problem for the Transnational Capitalist Class and the formation of a Transnational State, or world government, is the lack of continuity in class structures and labour markets throughout the world. A transnational ruling class, or “Superclass” as David Rothkopf referred to it in his book of the same name (and is, himself, a member of the Superclass), has emerged. It has no borders, yet has built a general continuity and consensus of goals among its members, albeit there are differences and conflicts within the class, but they are based upon the means of achieving the stated ends, rather than on the ends itself. There is not dissent within the ruling class on the aims of achieving a world governing body; the dissent is in how to achieve this, and in terms of what kind of structure, theoretical and philosophical leanings, and political orientation such a government would have.
To achieve these ends, however, all classes must be transnationalized, not simply the ruling class. The ruling class is the first class to be transnationalized, because transnationalization was the goal of the ruling classes based in the powerful Western European nations, (and later in the United States), that started the process of transnationalization or internationalization. Now that there is an established “Superclass” of a transnational composition, the other classes must follow suit. The middle class is targeted for elimination in this sense, because most of the world has no middle class, and to fully integrate and internationalize a middle class, this would require industrialization and development in places such as Africa, and certain places in Asia and Latin America, and would represent a massive threat to the Superclass, as it would be a valve through which much of their wealth and power would escape them. Their goal is not to lose their wealth and power to a transnational middle class, but rather to extinguish the notion of a middle class, and transnationalize a lower, uneducated, labour oriented class, through which they will secure ultimate wealth and power.
The economic crisis serves these ends, as whatever remaining wealth the middle class holds is in the process of being eliminated, and as the crisis progresses, or rather, regresses, and accelerates, the middle classes of the world will suffer, while a great percentage of lower classes of the world, poverty-stricken even prior to the crisis, will suffer the greatest, most probably leading to a massive reduction in population levels, particularly in the “developed” or “Third World” states.
Many would take issue with such a thesis as being an objective of the Transnational Capitalist Class, as capitalism needs a large population, specifically a middle class population, in order to have a market of consumers for their products. Though this is true with how we presently understand the capitalist system and structure, we must also take note that capitalism, itself, is always changing and redefining itself. Through a social constructivist perspective, which I would argue, is very apt in this analysis, such a notion is not inconceivable, as if the capitalist class were to redefine capitalism itself, capitalism itself would change.
It must be addressed that there would be a great many individuals within the TCC or Superclass (Rothkopf estimates the number at 6,000 individuals within the ruling class), who would take issue with eliminating their base for profit making, however, as a total restructuring of the capitalist system and global political economy as a whole is undertaken, the TCC itself is not immune to such drastic and rapid changes itself. In fact, it would be unimaginable to think that it would remain as it currently is.
Rothkopf explains that with 6,000 members of the Superclass, that equals roughly one member of the superclass for every 1 million people in the world. As the composition, class structures, and numbers of the world population drastically alter over the next years and decades, so too will the superclass itself. It too, will be subject to a “cleansing” so to speak, in which the big players will collapse and consolidate many of the smaller players.
The Monetary Structure of a Global Government
A Global Currency
Following the April 2009 G20 Summit, leaders issued a communiqué which set the groundwork for the creation of a global currency to replace the US dollar as the world reserve currency. The communiqué stated that, “We have agreed to support a general SDR allocation which will inject $250bn (£170bn) into the world economy and increase global liquidity.” SDRs, or Special Drawing Rights, are “a synthetic paper currency issued by the International Monetary Fund.” As the Telegraph reported, “the G20 leaders have activated the IMF’s power to create money and begin global “quantitative easing”. In doing so, they are putting a de facto world currency into play. It is outside the control of any sovereign body. Conspiracy theorists will love it.”
In 1988, the Economist featured an article called “Get Ready for the Phoenix,” which said, “THIRTY years from now, Americans, Japanese, Europeans, and people in many other rich countries and some relatively poor ones will probably be paying for their shopping with the same currency. Prices will be quoted not in dollars, yen or D-marks but in, let’s say, the phoenix. The phoenix will be favoured by companies and shoppers because it will be more convenient than today’s national currencies, which by then will seem a quaint cause of much disruption to economic life in the late twentieth century.” The article, written in the wake of the 1987 stock market crash, stated that, “Several more big exchange-rate upsets, a few more stockmarket crashes and probably a slump or two will be needed before politicians are willing to face squarely up to that choice. This points to a muddled sequence of emergency followed by patch-up followed by emergency, stretching out far beyond 2018-except for two things. As time passes, the damage caused by currency instability is gradually going to mount; and the very trends that will make it mount are making the utopia of monetary union feasible.”[emphasis added]
Paul Volcker, former Governor of the Federal Reserve System, said in 2000, that, “If we are to have a truly global economy, a single world currency makes sense,” and a member of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank reaffirmed Volcker’s comment, stating that, “we might one day have a single world currency. Maybe European integration, in the same way as any other regional integration, could be seen as a step towards the ideal situation of a fully integrated world. If and when this world will see the light of day is impossible to say. However, what I can say is that this vision seems as impossible now to most of us as a European monetary union seemed 50 years ago, when the process of European integration started.”
A Central Bank of the World
Jeffrey Garten has written several articles calling for the creation of a global central bank, or a “global fed.” Garten was former Dean of the Yale School of Management, former Undersecretary of Commerce for International Trade in the Clinton administration, previously served on the White House Council on International Economic Policy under the Nixon administration and on the policy planning staffs of Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and Cyrus Vance of the Ford and Carter administrations, former Managing Director at Lehman Brothers, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
In 1998, he wrote an article for the New York Times stating that the world “needs a global central bank,” and that, “An independent central bank with responsibility for maintaining global financial stability is the only way out. No one else can do what is needed: inject more money into the system to spur growth, reduce the sky-high debts of emerging markets, and oversee the operations of shaky financial institutions. A global central bank could provide more money to the world economy when it is rapidly losing steam.”
Following the outbreak of the current financial crisis, Garten wrote an article for the Financial Times in which he called for the “establishment of a Global Monetary Authority to oversee markets that have become borderless.” In October of 2008, he wrote an article for Newsweek stating that, “leaders should begin laying the groundwork for establishing a global central bank.” He explained that, “There was a time when the U.S. Federal Reserve played this role [as governing financial authority of the world], as the prime financial institution of the world’s most powerful economy, overseeing the one global currency. But with the growth of capital markets, the rise of currencies like the euro and the emergence of powerful players such as China, the shift of wealth to Asia and the Persian Gulf and, of course, the deep-seated problems in the American economy itself, the Fed no longer has the capability to lead single-handedly.”
Building upon the model of the European Union, the world is being divided into large continental regional blocs, with regional monetary systems and governments. This will make up the managed blocs of a global government, and mark a significant process in the “hard road to world order,” as Richard N. Gardner called it, in which national sovereignty is eroded piece by piece. Regionalism marks the current phase of the move to the formation of a global government. Friedrich List critiqued liberal cosmopolitanism, stating that economic integration had never preceded political integration, however the elites have and are successfully challenging this notion. In the New World Order, economic integration is preceding political integration into a world governance structure.
The European Union began as a series of free trade agreements, became a monetary union, and is in the process of being formed into a single continental superstate. North American integration began with a series of free trade agreements, defense and security agreements, and is in the process of moving towards monetary and bureaucratic integration into a North American Community. A Union and North American superstate are not far in the distance. A North American currency is openly discussed and proposed by leading think tanks, billionaire investors, as well as the Governor of the Bank of Canada. The likely name of such a currency is the Amero.
Meanwhile, globally, markets are heavily integrating. In 2007, it was reported that the European Union and the United States were beginning the process of transatlantic economic integration. In 2008, it was announced that, “Canadian and European officials say they plan to begin negotiating a massive agreement to integrate Canada’s economy with the 27 nations of the European Union,” under “deep economic integration negotiations,” and “The proposed pact would far exceed the scope of older agreements such as NAFTA.” This, essentially, is a means of integrating with the North American Community before the Community is officially formed; an act of pre-emptive integration.
In 2007, the Council on Foreign Relations journal, Foreign Affairs, ran an article titled, “The End of National Currency.” Discussing the volatility of national currencies, the article stated that, “The right course is not to return to a mythical past of monetary sovereignty, with governments controlling local interest and exchange rates in blissful ignorance of the rest of the world. Governments must let go of the fatal notion that nationhood requires them to make and control the money used in their territory. National currencies and global markets simply do not mix; together they make a deadly brew of currency crises and geopolitical tension and create ready pretexts for damaging protectionism. In order to globalize safely, countries should abandon monetary nationalism and abolish unwanted currencies, the source of much of today’s instability.”
Further, “Monetary nationalism is simply incompatible with globalization. It has always been, even if this has only become apparent since the 1970s, when all the world’s governments rendered their currencies intrinsically worthless.” The author states that, “Since economic development outside the process of globalization is no longer possible, countries should abandon monetary nationalism. Governments should replace national currencies with the dollar or the euro or, in the case of Asia, collaborate to produce a new multinational currency over a comparably large and economically diversified area.”
In 2008, the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) was formed, “a regional body aimed at boosting economic and political integration in the region,” which will “seek a common currency as part of the region’s integration efforts,” as well as a common central bank.
The Gulf Cooperation Council, a regional bloc of Arab Middle Eastern governments, is pursuing economic integration in the form of a common central bank and a common currency. Similarly, there has been much discussion of an Asian Monetary Union and East Asian economic integration, specifically being touted as a solution to the prevention of future economic crises in East Asia like that which hit it in 1997. Integration would be modeled upon the East Asian regional block of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), and in 2008, “ASEAN bank deputy governors and financial deputy ministers have met in Vietnam’s central Da Nang city, discussing issues on the financial and monetary integration and cooperation in the region.” Further, Africa is being organized as a regional bloc under the African Union, and is also pursuing regional economic integration, and has even set the agenda for the creation of a continental African central bank and the formation of a single African currency.
In 2006, the Bank for International Settlements “suggested ditching many national currencies in favour of a small number of formal currency blocks based on the dollar, euro and renminbi or yen.”
Constructing the Political Structure of a Global Government
Strobe Talbott, Deputy Secretary of State in the Clinton administration from 1994 to 2001, is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission and is currently President of the Brookings Institution, a prominent US think tank. In 1992, before becoming Deputy Secretary of State, he wrote an article for Time Magazine originally titled, “The Birth of the Global Nation,” which has now, in the Time Magazine archives, been renamed “America Abroad.” In the article, he states that within the next 100 years, “nationhood as we know it will be obsolete; all states will recognize a single, global authority. A phrase briefly fashionable in the mid-20th century — “citizen of the world” — will have assumed real meaning by the end of the 21st.”
Interestingly, Talbott endorses the social constructivist perspective of nation-states and international order, stating that, “All countries are basically social arrangements, accommodations to changing circumstances. No matter how permanent and even sacred they may seem at any one time, in fact they are all artificial and temporary. Through the ages, there has been an overall trend toward larger units claiming sovereignty and, paradoxically, a gradual diminution of how much true sovereignty any one country actually has.”
He explained that empires “were a powerful force for obliterating natural and demographic barriers and forging connections among far-flung parts of the world,” and following that, “Empire eventually yielded to the nation-state,” and that, “The main goal driving the process of political expansion and consolidation was conquest. The big absorbed the small, the strong the weak. National might made international right. Such a world was in a more or less constant state of war.” Talbott states that, “perhaps national sovereignty wasn’t such a great idea after all.”
He continued, saying that, “it has taken the events in our own wondrous and terrible century to clinch the case for world government. With the advent of electricity, radio and air travel, the planet has become smaller than ever, its commercial life freer, its nations more interdependent and its conflicts bloodier.” Further, “Each world war inspired the creation of an international organization, the League of Nations in the 1920s and the United Nations in the ’40s.” He explained, “The plot thickened with the heavy-breathing arrival on the scene of a new species of ideology — expansionist totalitarianism — as perpetrated by the Nazis and the Soviets. It threatened the very idea of democracy and divided the world. [Thus] The advocacy of any kind of world government became highly suspect.” However, as Talbott points out, Soviet expansion led the way for NATO expansion, and “The cold war also saw the European Community pioneer the kind of regional cohesion that may pave the way for globalism.”
On top of that, “the free world formed multilateral financial institutions that depend on member states’ willingness to give up a degree of sovereignty. The International Monetary Fund can virtually dictate fiscal policies, even including how much tax a government should levy on its citizens. The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade regulates how much duty a nation can charge on imports. These organizations can be seen as the protoministries of trade, finance and development for a united world.” In addressing crises, Talbott wrote that, “Globalization has also contributed to the spread of terrorism, drug trafficking, AIDS and environmental degradation. But because those threats are more than any one nation can cope with on its own, they constitute an incentive for international cooperation.” Thus, out of crisis, comes opportunity; out of chaos comes order.
In prescribing a solution, Talbott postulates that, “The best mechanism for democracy, whether at the level of the multinational state or that of the planet as a whole, is not an all-powerful Leviathan or centralized superstate, but a federation, a union of separate states that allocate certain powers to a central government while retaining many others for themselves.”
In a 1974 issue of Foreign Affairs, Richard N. Gardner wrote about the formation of the New World Order. Gardner, a former American ambassador to the United Nations, Italy and Spain, is also a member of the Trilateral Commission. In his article, The Hard Road to World Order, Gardner wrote that, “The quest for a world structure that secures peace, advances human rights and provides the conditions for economic progress—for what is loosely called world order—has never seemed more frustrating but at the same time strangely hopeful.” He explained that, “few people retain much confidence in the more ambitious strategies for world order that bad wide backing a generation ago—‘world federalism,’ ‘charter review,’ and “world peace through world law’.” Further, “The same considerations suggest the doubtful utility of bolding a [UN] Charter review conference.”
Gardner wrote, “If instant world government, Charter review, and a greatly strengthened International Court do not provide the answers, what hope for progress is there? The answer will not satisfy those who seek simple solutions to complex problems, but it comes down essentially to this: The hope for the foreseeable future lies, not in building up a few ambitious central institutions of universal membership and general jurisdiction as was envisaged at the end of the last war, but rather in the much more decentralized, disorderly and pragmatic process of inventing or adapting institutions of limited jurisdiction and selected membership to deal with specific problems on a case-by-case basis, as the necessity for cooperation is perceived by the relevant nations.”
He then stated, “In short, the “house of world order” will have to be built from the bottom up rather than from the top down. It will look like a great “booming, buzzing confusion,” to use William James’ famous description of reality, but an end run around national sovereignty, eroding it piece by piece, will accomplish much more than the old-fashioned frontal assault.”
In the 2001 issue of Foreign Affairs, Richard Falk and Andrew Strauss wrote an article titled, “Toward Global Parliament.” They wrote that, “International governance is no longer limited to such traditional fare as defining international borders, protecting diplomats, and proscribing the use of force. Many issues of global policy that directly affect citizens are now being shaped by the international system. Workers can lose their jobs as a result of decisions made at the WTO or within regional trade regimes.” In 2006, a UN report stated that, “the nation-state is an old-fashioned concept that has no role to play in a modern globalised world.”
Further, “As with citizen groups, elite business participation in the international system is becoming institutionalized. The best example is the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. In the 1980s, the WEF transformed itself from an organization devoted to humdrum management issues into a dynamic political forum. Once a year, a thousand of the world s most powerful business executives get together with another thousand of the world’s senior policymakers to participate in a week of roundtables and presentations. The WEF also provides ongoing arenas for discussion and recommendations on shaping global policy.” They continue in explaining that, “The Davos assembly and overlapping networks of corporate elites, such as the International Chamber of Commerce, have been successful in shaping compatible global policies. Their success has come in the expansion of international trade regimes, the modest regulation of capital markets, the dominance of neoliberal market philosophy, and the supportive collaboration of most governments, especially those of rich countries.”
In explaining the purpose of a global parliament, essentially to address the “democratic deficit” created by international organizations, the authors wrote that, “Some business leaders would certainly oppose a global parliament because it would broaden popular decision-making and likely press for transnational regulations. But others are coming to believe that the democratic deficit must be closed by some sort of stakeholder accommodation. After all, many members of the managerial class who were initially hostile to such reform came to realize that the New Deal—or its social-democratic equivalent in Europe—was necessary to save capitalism. Many business leaders today similarly agree that democratization is necessary to make globalization politically acceptable throughout the world.” Essentially, its purpose would be to give globalization “grassroots acceptance and legitimacy.”
David Rothkopf, a scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, former Deputy Undersecretary of Commerce for International Trade in the Clinton administration, former managing director of Kissinger and Associates, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, recently wrote a book titled, Superclass: The Global Power Elite and the World They are Making. As a member of that “superclass,” his writing should provide a necessary insight into the construction of this “New World Order.” He states that, “In a world of global movements and threats that don’t present their passports at national borders, it is no longer possible for a nation-state acting alone to fulfill its portion of the social contract.” He wrote that, “progress will continue to be made,” however, it will be challenging, because it “undercuts many national and local power structures and cultural concepts that have foundations deep in the bedrock of human civilization, namely the notion of sovereignty.” He further wrote that, “Mechanisms of global governance are more achievable in today’s environment,” and that these mechanisms “are often creative with temporary solutions to urgent problems that cannot wait for the world to embrace a bigger and more controversial idea like real global government.”
Jacques Attali, founder and former President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and economic adviser to French President Nicholas Sarkozy, interviewed on EuroNews, said that, “either we’re heading towards a world government or we’re going to put national issues first.” The interviewer stated that the idea of world government will frighten many people, to which Attali responded, “Indeed, that’s only to be expected, because it seems like a fantasy. But there is already global authority in many areas,” and that, “even if it’s hard to think of a European government at the moment, which is there, but very weak, Europe can at least press on its experience to the world. If they’re not capable of creating an economic framework along side a political framework, then they’re never going to do it on a global scale. And then the world economic model will break up, and we’ll be back to the Great Depression.”
In December of 2008, the Financial Times published an article titled, “And Now for A World Government,” in which the author, former Bilderberg attendee, Gideon Rachman, wrote that, “for the first time in my life, I think the formation of some sort of world government is plausible,” and that, “A ‘world government’ would involve much more than co-operation between nations. It would be an entity with state-like characteristics, backed by a body of laws. The European Union has already set up a continental government for 27 countries, which could be a model. The EU has a supreme court, a currency, thousands of pages of law, a large civil service and the ability to deploy military force.”
He stated that, “it is increasingly clear that the most difficult issues facing national governments are international in nature: there is global warming, a global financial crisis and a ‘global war on terror’.” He wrote that the European model could “go global” and that a world government “could be done,” as “The financial crisis and climate change are pushing national governments towards global solutions, even in countries such as China and the US that are traditionally fierce guardians of national sovereignty.” He quoted an adviser to French President Nicolas Sarkozy as saying, “Global governance is just a euphemism for global government,” and that the “core of the international financial crisis is that we have global financial markets and no global rule of law.” However, Rachman states that any push towards a global government “will be a painful, slow process.” He then states that a key problem in this push can be explained with an example from the EU, which “has suffered a series of humiliating defeats in referendums, when plans for ‘ever closer union’ have been referred to the voters. In general, the Union has progressed fastest when far-reaching deals have been agreed by technocrats and politicians – and then pushed through without direct reference to the voters. International governance tends to be effective, only when it is anti-democratic. [Emphasis added]”
In November of 2008, the United States National Intelligence Council (NIC), the US intelligence community’s “center for midterm and long-term strategic thinking,” released a report that it produced in collaboration with numerous think tanks, consulting firms, academic institutions and hundreds of other experts, among them are the Atlantic Council of the United States, the Wilson Center, RAND Corporation, the Brookings Institution, American Enterprise Institute, Texas A&M University, the Council on Foreign Relations and Chatham House in London.
Outlining the global trends that the world will be going through up to the year 2025, the report states that the financial crisis “will require long-term efforts to establish a new international system.” It suggests that as the “China-model” for development becomes increasingly attractive, there may be a “decline in democratization” for emerging economies, authoritarian regimes, and “weak democracies frustrated by years of economic underperformance.” Further, the dollar will cease to be the global reserve currency, as there would likely be a “move away from the dollar.”
Further, the dollar will become “something of a first among equals in a basket of currencies by 2025. This could occur suddenly in the wake of a crisis, or gradually with global rebalancing.” The report elaborates on the construction of a new international system, stating that, “By 2025, nation-states will no longer be the only – and often not the most important – actors on the world stage and the ‘international system’ will have morphed to accommodate the new reality. But the transformation will be incomplete and uneven.” Further, it would be “unlikely to see an overarching, comprehensive, unitary approach to global governance. Current trends suggest that global governance in 2025 will be a patchwork of overlapping, often ad hoc and fragmented efforts, with shifting coalitions of member nations, international organizations, social movements, NGOs, philanthropic foundations, and companies.” It also notes that, “Most of the pressing transnational problems – including climate change, regulation of globalized financial markets, migration, failing states, crime networks, etc. – are unlikely to be effectively resolved by the actions of individual nation-states. The need for effective global governance will increase faster than existing mechanisms can respond.”
The report discusses regionalism, and stated that, “Asian regionalism would have global implications, possibly sparking or reinforcing a trend toward three trade and financial clusters that could become quasi-blocs (North America, Europe, and East Asia).” These blocs “would have implications for the ability to achieve future global World Trade Organization agreements and regional clusters could compete in the setting of trans-regional product standards for IT, biotech, nanotech, intellectual property rights, and other ‘new economy’ products.”
In discussing democracy and democratization, the report stated that, “advances are likely to slow and globalization will subject many recently democratized countries to increasing social and economic pressures that could undermine liberal institutions.” This is largely because “the better economic performance of many authoritarian governments could sow doubts among some about democracy as the best form of government. The surveys we consulted indicated that many East Asians put greater emphasis on good management, including increasing standards of livings, than democracy.” Further, “even in many well-established democracies, surveys show growing frustration with the current workings of democratic government and questioning among elites over the ability of democratic governments to take the bold actions necessary to deal rapidly and effectively with the growing number of transnational challenges.” In other words, “well established democracies,” such as those in Western Europe and North America, will, through successive crises (climate, finance, war), erode and replace their democratic systems of government with totalitarian structures that are able to “take the bold actions necessary” to deal with “transnational challenges.”
David Rockefeller wrote in his book, Memoirs, that, “For more than a century ideological extremists at either end of the political spectrum have seized upon well-publicized incidents such as my encounter with Castro to attack the Rockefeller family for the inordinate influence they claim we wield over American political and economic institutions. Some even believe we are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as ‘internationalists’ and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure–one world, if you will. If that’s the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it.” (Empahsis added) 
The Global Economic Crisis in Context
The current global economic crisis has its roots not in the Bush administration, which is linear and diluted thinking at best, but in the systematic nature of the global capitalist system. Crisis is not separate from capital; crisis is capitalist expansion. In addressing the foundations of the economic crisis, neo-Marxist theory can help explain much of the actions and functions that led to the crisis.
In 2006, Walden Bello wrote an article for Third World Quarterly, in which he explained that, “The crisis of globalisation and over-accumulation is one of the three central crises that are currently eroding US hegemony. The other two are the over-extension of US military power and the crisis of legitimacy of liberal democracy.” He explained that, “Monetary manipulation, via the high interest rate regime initiated by Federal Reserve Chief Paul Volcker in the late 1980s, while directed at fighting inflation, was also geared strategically at channeling global savings to the USA to fuel economic expansion. One key consequence of this momentous move was the Third World debt crisis of the early 1980s, which ended the boom of the economies of the South and led to their resubordination to the Northern capitalist centres.”
The economic foundations of the current crisis were laid in the “Clinton globalist project.” As Bello explained, “The administration embraced globalisation as its ‘Grand Strategy’—that is, its fundamental foreign policy posture towards the world.” Further, “The dominant position of the USA allowed the liberal faction of the US capitalist class to act as a leading edge of a transnational ruling elite in the process of formation—a transnational elite alliance that could act to promote the comprehensive interest of the international capitalist class.”
Bello then explained that, “the dominant dynamic of global capitalism during the Clinton period—one that was the source of its strength as well as its Achilles’ Heel—was not the movement of productive capital but the gyrations of finance capital.” The dominance of finance capital was “a result of the declining profitability of industry brought about by the crisis of overproduction. By 1997 profits in US industry had stopped growing. Financial speculation, or what one might conceptualise as the squeezing of value from already created value, became the most dynamic source of profitability.” This was termed “financialization,” and it had many components that composed its structure and led way for its dominance. Among these were the “Elimination of restrictions dating back to the 1930s that had created a Chinese Wall between investment banking and commercial banking in the USA opened up a new era of rapid consolidation in the US financial sector.”
Specifically, this is in reference to the repealing of the Glass-Steagall Act, put in place in 1933 in response to the actions that created the Great Depression, which undertook banking reforms, specifically those designed to limit speculation. In 1987, the Federal Reserve Board voted to ease regulations under Glass-Steagall, after hearing “proposals from Citicorp, J.P. Morgan and Bankers Trust advocating the loosening of Glass-Steagall restrictions to allow banks to handle several underwriting businesses, including commercial paper, municipal revenue bonds, and mortgage-backed securities.” And, “In August 1987, Alan Greenspan — formerly a director of J.P. Morgan and a proponent of banking deregulation – [became] chairman of the Federal Reserve Board.” In 1989, “the Fed Board approve[d] an application by J.P. Morgan, Chase Manhattan, Bankers Trust, and Citicorp to expand the Glass-Steagall loophole to include dealing in debt and equity securities in addition to municipal securities and commercial paper.” In 1990, “J.P. Morgan [became] the first bank to receive permission from the Federal Reserve to underwrite securities.”
In 1998, the House of Representatives passed “legislation by a vote of 214 to 213 that allow[ed] for the merging of banks, securities firms, and insurance companies into huge financial conglomerates.” And in 1999, “After 12 attempts in 25 years, Congress finally repeal[ed] Glass-Steagall, rewarding financial companies for more than 20 years and $300 million worth of lobbying efforts.”
It was in “the late 1990s, with the stock market surging to unimaginable heights, large banks merging with and swallowing up smaller banks, and a huge increase in banks having transnational branches, Wall Street and its many friends in congress wanted to eliminate the regulations that had been intended to protect investors and stabilize the financial system. Hence the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999 repealed key parts of Glass-Steagall and the Bank Holding Act and allowed commercial and investment banks to merge, to offer home mortgage loans, sell securities and stocks, and offer insurance.”
One of the architects of the repeal of Glass-Steagall was Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin. Rubin spent 26 years with Goldman Sachs before entering the Treasury. Robert Rubin worked closely with Alan Greenspan to oppose the regulation of derivatives, and was backed up by his Deputy Treasury Secretary, Lawrence Summers. Rubin, upon leaving the Treasury, went to work as an executive with Citigroup. Robert Rubin is currently the Co-Chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations. Lawrence Summers was a former Chief Economist for the World Bank before being Deputy Treasury Secretary in the Clinton administration. He then became President of Harvard University, and is now Director of the White House National Economic Council in the Obama administration. The current Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, was former President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and is also a Robert Rubin protégé.
The Clinton years saw the rise of derivatives, which are financial instruments (or contracts), the prices of which are derived from one or more underlying assets, indexes, or other items. The value of a derivative changes as the value of the underlying asset changes. They are used to hedge risks but also as instruments of speculation. Derivatives, “which monetised and traded risk in the exchange of a whole range of commodities,” are a key factor that led to the economic crisis.
Another cause of the crisis was “The creation of massive consumer credit to fuel consumption, with much of the source of this capital coming from foreign investors,” which “created a dangerous gap between the consumers’ debt and their income, opening up the possibility of consumer collapse or default that would carry away both consumers and their creditors.” Further, the stock market’s role in driving growth played a part in paving the way for a financial crisis. “Stock market activity drove, in particular, the so-called technology sector, creating a condition of ‘virtual capitalism’ whose dynamics were based on the expectation of future profitability rather than on current performance, which was the iron rule in the ‘real economy’.”
The Federal Reserve, under Alan Greenspan, initially created the dot-com bubble, providing liquidity for speculation into the stock market and “virtual capitalism,” and when that dot-com bubble burst, as all bubbles do, Greenspan and the Fed created the housing bubble by cutting interests rates and offering more Adjustable Rate Mortgages (AMRs), with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac encouraging banks to make the high-risk loans.
Speculation had proven itself to be a powerful weapon of finance capital. In the 1990s, this was first exemplified by “a speculative attack on the peso that had investors in panic cashing their pesos for dollars, leading to the devaluation and collapse of the Mexican economy in 1994,” and later in “East Asia in 1997. One hundred billion dollars in speculative capital flooded into the region between 1994 and 1997 as countries liberalised their capital accounts.” This speculative money flowed into real estate and the stock market, which resulted in over-investment, and “Smelling crisis in the air, hedge funds and other speculators targeted the Thai baht, Korean won and other currencies, triggering a massive financial panic that led to the drastic devaluation of these currencies and laid low Asia’s tiger economies. In a few short weeks in the summer of 1997 some $100 billion rushed out of the Asian economies, leading to a drastic reversal of the sizzling growth that had marked those economies in the preceding decade. In less than a month, some 21 million Indonesians and one million Thais found themselves thrust under the poverty line.” This was known as the East Asian Financial Crisis.
This crisis “helped precipitate the Russian financial crisis in 1998, as well as financial troubles in Brazil and Argentina that contributed to the spectacular unraveling of Argentina’s economy in 2001 and 2002, when the economy that had distinguished itself as the most faithful follower of the IMF’s prescriptions of trade and financial liberalisation found itself forced to declare a default on $100 billion of its $140 billion external debt.”
The current crisis is not over. The parallels between the current crisis and the Great Depression are frightening. This trend of building speculative bubbles is reminiscent of the 1920s stock market speculation-driven bubble; built by the Federal Reserve, which eased interest rates, provided liquidity to the banks and actively encouraged speculation. Bubbles that were created then burst.
In 1932, Congressman Louis T. McFadden stated before the Congress that the Federal Reserve banks are not government agencies, but “are private credit monopolies which prey upon the people of the United States for the benefit of themselves and their foreign customers; foreign and domestic speculators and swindlers; and rich and predatory money lenders.” Following the creation of the Fed in 1913, Congressman Charles A. Lindbergh said, “From now on, depressions will be scientifically created.” Indeed, he was right. The current crisis, likely leading to a Great Depression, is being used as the primary means through which a global government is being constructed.
In 2007, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown called for a new world order in reforming the UN, World Bank, IMF and G7. When the bank Bear Stearns collapsed, due to its heavy participation in the mortgage securities market, the Federal Reserve purchased the bank for JP Morgan Chase, whose CEO sits on the board of the New York Federal Reserve Bank. Shortly after this action, a major financial firm released a report saying that banks face a “new world order” of “consolidation and acquisitions.”
In October of 2008, Gordon Brown said that we “must have a new Bretton Woods – building a new international financial architecture for the years ahead.” He continued in saying that, “we must now reform the international financial system around the agreed principles of transparency, integrity, responsibility, good housekeeping and co-operation across borders.” An article in the Telegraph reported that Gordon Brown would want “to see the IMF reformed to become a ‘global central bank’ closely monitoring the international economy and financial system.” In an op-ed for the Washington Post, Gordon Brown wrote that the “new Bretton Woods” should build upon the concept of “global governance.” There were also calls for a “global economic policeman,” perhaps in the form of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS). In November of 2008, it was reported that Baron David de Rothschild “shares most people’s view that there is a new world order. In his opinion, banks will deleverage and there will be a new form of global governance.”
Out of the ashes of the financial crisis, a new world order will emerge in constructing a global government.
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