Andrew Gavin Marshall

Home » Posts tagged 'global economic crisis'

Tag Archives: global economic crisis

Advertisements
Advertisements

Kickstarter Campaign for a Book on the Empire of Economics

Dear Readers,

I have recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to try to raise money to support my efforts to finish the first book of what will likely be a series on ‘Power Politics and the Empire of Economics’.

What I am asking of my readers is not only to consider donating to the project, but more importantly, to share and promote it through social media, by sending it to others who you think may be interested, and to help get the word out in any way you can!

Every bit helps, and a great deal of help is needed if this is to be successful!

I have collected below links to the campaign, as well as a video I made to promote it, and links to the sample introduction chapter that I published online so that potential patrons could read the kind of material that they would be supporting.

About the Project:

This book will tell the stories of the rich and powerful oligarchs and family dynasties who collectively rule our world: the global Mafiocracy, operating behind-the-scenes playing their games of power politics, globalization’s Game of Thrones where rich and influential families play their games, balancing collusion and cooperation with fierce competition to rule the world Empire of Economics.

In 1975, Henry Kissinger told President Ford: “The trick in the world now is to use economics to build a world political structure.”

This book is that story.

A small network of banks and other financial institutions dominate the global economy, its wealth and resources. This small network of corporate power functions as a global financial Mafia, complete with excessive criminal behaviour in laundering drug money, funding terrorists, rigging interest rates and manipulating markets.

Name a nation, and there are rich dynasties that rule behind the scenes. The Rockefellers in the United States, the Rothschilds in France and Britain, the Agnelli family in Italy, the Wallenbergs in Sweden, the Tata family of India and Oppenheimers of South Africa, the Koc and Sabanci families of Turkey, the Gulf Arab monarchs and the rich industrial families of Germany with dark Nazi pasts.

Germany once again rules Europe, with the European Union’s institutions of unelected technocrats undertaking a process of internal colonization as they impose their economic empire upon Greece, Spain, Italy, Ireland, Portugal and Cyprus. Finance ministers and central bankers are the agents of empire, cooperating closely with bankers, oligarchs and dynasties to create a world which best serves their interests.  The global financial Mafia mingles with political leaders at forums and secret meetings like the Bilderberg group, the Trilateral Commission and the World Economic Forum.

From the streets of Athens, to Egypt, Turkey, Brazil, Spain, China, South Africa, Chile, Canada, and in the streets of Ferguson and Baltimore, people are rising up against exploitation, repression and domination.

This book is not simply a collection of stories of the ruling Mafiocracy; it is designed to encourage strategy among popular and revolutionary movements capable of creating something altogether new. It is time to do away with a world ruled by oligarchs, and save the species from itself. But first, we must know our world better.

Help me to complete the first book in a series on ‘Power Politics and the Empire of Economics’. For four years I have been doing my own research, scouring the archives of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, government documents, official reports and corporate strategies, studying the world of power and empire, translating the political language of ‘economics’ into plain and simple English.

I have been published in multiple news sources, online and in print, interviewed by radio and television networks, and now I am asking for your help to raise $10,000 so that I can finish the first book in this series, to expose the Empire for all to see, its strengths as well as the weaknesses left exposed for us to exploit. Let us bring true democracy and an end to Mafiocracy. Help me to write this book, and together, let’s help each other to end the Empire.

Read the sample chapter here!

Read the pdf version here!

Donate today. Thank you.

Andrew Gavin Marshall

Advertisements

Power Politics and the Empire of Economics: An Introduction

Power Politics and the Empire of Economics: An Introduction

G20_-_Cumbre_de_Cannes_-_20011103

By: Andrew Gavin Marshall

27 May 2015

The following is a sample chapter from an upcoming book.

You can download a pdf version here: Power Politics and the Empire of Economics 

The President sat and listened to his closest adviser as they plotted a strategy to maintain Western domination of the world economy. The challenge was immense: divisions between industrial countries were growing as the poor nations of the world were becoming increasingly united in opposition to the Western world order. From Africa, across the Middle East, to Asia and Latin America, the poor (or ‘developing’) countries were calling for the establishment of a ‘New International Economic Order,’ one which would not simply serve the interests of the United States, Western Europe, and the other rich, industrial nations, but the world as a whole. It was on the 24th of May 1975 when President Gerald Ford was meeting with his Secretary of State and National Security Adviser, Henry Kissinger, easily the two most powerful political officials in the world at the time. Kissinger told the President: “The trick in the world now is to use economics to build a world political structure.”[1]

Ford and Kissinger agreed that the United States could not accept a new ‘economic order’ that would undermine American and Western power throughout the world. Uprisings, revolutions and liberation movements across Africa, Asia and beyond had largely thrown off the shackles of European colonial domination, establishing themselves as independent political nation-states with their own interests and objectives. Chief among those goals was for economic independence to follow political independence, to take control of their own resources and economies from the Europeans and Americans, to determine their own economic policies and help to redistribute global wealth along equal and just lines.

The problem for the Western and industrial nations, with the United States at the center, was that formal colonial domination was no longer considered acceptable. In previous decades and centuries, the rich and powerful nations would directly colonize and control foreign societies, establishing puppet governments and protectorates, extracting resources, exploiting labour and expanding their own national power and international prestige. Following the end of World War II, such practices were no longer politically or publicly acceptable. The era of decolonization had taken hold, and the people of the world were failing to remain passive and obedient in the face of great injustices and inequality. War had become a bad word, colonialism was no longer en vogue, and belligerent political bullying by the rich countries increasingly risked a major backlash, threatening to unite the entire world against the West.

A new strategy for global domination had to be constructed. The West could not afford a direct political or ideological confrontation with the developing world, with many top American officials, including Henry Kissinger, acknowledging that if they were to pursue such a strategy they would be isolated and lost, with even the Europeans and Japanese abandoning them. Foreign ministers and heads of state could not appear to be attacking or seeking to dominate the developing world.

It was decided that the war would have to be waged largely in the world of economics and finance, where the conversation would change from that of colonialism and imperialism to the technical details of economic policy. The imperial interests and objectives of the powerful nations that had existed for centuries could no longer be articulated in a direct way. But those same interests and objectives would not vanish. Instead, they would be hidden behind bland, vague and technical rhetoric. The language of economics provides the appearance of impartiality, backed up by pseudo-scientific-sounding studies and ideologies, accessible only to those with the proper training, education and experience, otherwise inaccessible and incomprehensible to the general public. Empire was a thing of the past. In its place rose a new global economy, built by banks not bombs, expanding the reach of corporations not colonies, managing debt not dominions.

The “world political structure” which Kissinger described would not, however, make militaries and foreign ministers and diplomats irrelevant. They would still have a role to play in maintaining and expanding empire, though never calling it by its proper name, instead using words like ‘democracy’, ‘freedom’ and ‘markets’. But the role of such officials would often become secondary to that of the financial and economic diplomats, who would increasingly become the first line of offense in constructing the “world political structure,” the Empire of Economics.

Two days after Kissinger articulated this strategy to President Ford, another meeting was held at the White House with several more high-level cabinet officials. The discussion was a follow-up on the U.S. strategy to construct such a system. Stressing that political diplomats and foreign ministers could not take on the developing world directly, Kissinger told the assembled officials, “it is better to have the Finance Ministers be bastards, that’s where I want it.”[2]

This book is the story of how financial diplomats, politicians, bankers, billionaires, family dynasties and powerful nations have used economics to build a “world political structure,” engaging in a constant game of power politics with and against each other and the rest of the world to construct and maintain their Empire of Economics for the benefit of a small ruling class, the global Mafiocracy: a super-rich, often criminal cartel of global oligarchs and family dynasties.

It is a brutal, vicious world of secret meetings, behind-the-scenes intrigue, financial warfare and coup d’états, economic colonization and debt domination. It is the unforgiving world of empire, an immense concentration of global wealth and power, a parasitic system of world domination built on the impoverishment and exploitation of billions. And it is a world obscured and hidden behind the dry, dull and seemingly empty rhetoric of economics. It is a language in need of translation, a reality in need of elucidation, and an empire in need of opposition.

Power Politics and Empire

It was the largest and most powerful empire the world had ever known. It spanned the globe, across oceans and seas, countries and continents, enveloping much of the known world – and the people throughout it – within the domineering shadows of its political, economic, social, cultural and financial institutions and ideologies. Those who ruled were the wealthy and war-like family dynasties, individual oligarchs, kings of coin, titans of industry, and a religious priesthood of proselytizing propagandists. These rulers would engage in a constant game of ‘power politics’ with and against each other in the quest to gain title, money and influence.

They lie, cheat, steal, kill and conquer; they plant their flags and preach their gospels, serve their interests and those of their unknown (or sometimes) masters. It requires a constant cunning, managing an endless lack of trust for all those around you, fearful that on your way up, others might seek to cut you down. To play the game of power politics in the age of empires is to be pragmatic, strategic and ruthless; it requires no less, but frequently more. It is a practice passed down through families, institutions and ideologies. No, this is not ‘Game of Thrones’, but rather, the Game of Globalization in the Empire of Economics: power politics of the 21st century.

But the game itself has been with humanity as long as empire, and was always seen at the center of the system of power within every empire. Human systems – that is, what we call ‘civilization’ and ‘society’ – are, ultimately, human creations with humans in control. Thus, power – at its center – is always dependent upon the interactions, relationships and emotions of the few individuals and families who rule. When such people get angry or throw a tantrum – because the neighbor boy stole his toy (or Russia annexed Crimea, for example) – wars are waged, and the poor are sent to go murder or be murdered, cities burn to the ground, nations crumble into dust.

The game is not known to many, save for those who play it. The masses are left with simple images, rumours and speculation, if anything at all. A public persona of the more visible rulers must be carefully constructed so as to legitimize their authority. The people must be satisfied to the bare minimum, so that they do not rise up in resentment and fury against the few who live in the most obscene opulence and imperial impunity. If the consent of the population is not maintained, a ruler must seek to control them in other ways, which generally means seeking to crush them, to punish them into submission and subservience. Kill and conquer at home and you can kill and conquer abroad.

Control is based upon a mixture of consent and coercion. The people must be either willing to let the rulers rule, to accept their position in society without question, or they must be made to fear the reach and wrath of the rulers, to be punished and persecuted, segregated and isolated, beaten, raped and murdered. The rulers must be vicious, but appear virtuous. If, however, a choice must be made between acting ruthless and appearing righteous, it is better for the rulers to be wretched and murderous, for the game of power politics is never won by virtue alone, but being vicious can get you far enough without assistance.

Niccolo Machiavelli wrote his book The Prince more than 500 years ago as an examination of power politics and methods through which one can achieve and maintain power within the old warring Italian city-states. Having long served as an adviser and strategist to various rulers, including princes, popes and dynasties, Machiavelli asserted that “it is desirable to be both loved and feared; but it is difficult to be both and, if one of them has to be lacking, it is much safer to be feared than loved.” He explained that this was so because “love is sustained by a bond of gratitude which, because men are excessively self-interested, is broken whenever they see a chance to benefit themselves.” On the other hand, “fear is sustained by a dread of punishment that is always effective.”[3] Machiavelli has long been accused of being a cynic or pessimist in his interpretations of human nature, but this misses the point.

Machiavelli’s work was examining the attitudes, nature and actions of those who wielded significant power, which was always a small minority of the population. Indeed, far from a cynical interpretation, The Prince is rather a pragmatic and accurate interpretation of a deeply cynical world where every institution and individual wielding significant influence engages in a constant game of power politics designed to benefit themselves, maintaining or expanding their own power, often at the expense of others. It is a world where every relationship, title, position and even marriage holds strategic significance. For those individuals and families who rule, every decision must be made as a calculated attempt to preserve and expand their power. If this is not done, they will not remain rulers long, for this is how the game is played and won, and if one does not play by the rules, others will. Thus, the more cunning and ruthless a strategist, the more likely they are to elevate through the hierarchy because they will do what others will not, acting without hesitation to manipulate or crush others in order to rise higher.

It is a game – like that of all empires past – in which the few compete and cooperate with one another in the advancement of their own individual, familial, national or global interests, expanding their empires. It is a game in which the vast majority of humanity are – as they have long been – left to suffer the consequences, fight the wars, drown in debt, poverty, hunger and misery. On occasion, and increasingly often, groups of people – segments of the population – rise up in resistance, riot, revolt or even revolution. This is when the people are able to engage more directly in the game of power politics, because they change the game. Suddenly, all the key players at the top notice the building fury of the masses and so the game itself is put at risk. The key players will almost always – even in spite of their frequent competition and opposition to each other – work together if it means protecting the game itself.

A useful comparison is that of a Mafia crime network, in which the various heads of families may sit at the same table though they often feud with one another, working together to mutual benefit when possible, though occasionally whacking one another off when the competition grows fierce. It is a delicate balancing act of competition and cooperation, but when the criminal network is itself threatened, perhaps through the efforts of an ambitious district attorney or crackdown on organized crime, the various families will seek to unite in their efforts to protect the racket which benefits them all. If they remain divided in the face of growing opposition and potential external threats, they increase the risk that they will be conquered. When the game is threatened, the players must stand together or fall apart.

For successful rulers, the balance of competition and cooperation – vicious and virtuous – is present both in their relationships with other rulers, and with the larger populations. And so the rulers themselves – the oligarchs and dynasties – span both private and public realms: they are presidents and prime ministers, kings, queens and sultans, corporate chiefs, billionaires and bankers, consultants and advisers, academics and intellectuals, technocratic tyrants and plutocratic princelings. Their world is not our world. But it rules, wrecks and ravages our world and the people and life within it. It is a game that steers humanity toward certain extinction resulting from excessive environmental devastation, guided by that ever-present drive within those who have the most for more, more, more.

The game is little more, at its core, than basic gangsterism, its players little more than petty tyrants. Such personalities, egos and interests populate all sectors of society, all institutions, frequently appearing in inter-personal relationships. The more power they have, the greater the repercussions of the game. At the top of the global power structure are the personalities and families of immense wealth, political influence and prestige. With the same basic principles of a Mafia structure, the individuals and institutions that play the game of power politics in the age of globalization – in the Empire of Economics – are perhaps best understood as a global Mafiocracy. It makes no difference whether a nation is ruled by a monarchy, a dictatorship or democracy: the Mafiocracy is ever-present, and ever-expanding in its wretched reach.

The State of Empire

The world is defined and dominated largely by institutions, individuals and ideologies. The institution of the nation-state is perhaps the most obvious example, best represented by the world’s most powerful country, the United States of America. The government of the United States is composed of three separate branches (or institutions): the executive (President and Cabinet), legislative (Congress/Senate) and judiciary (the Supreme Court). The executive leads the government, while the role of the legislative and judiciary is (theoretically) designed to keep a check on executive power, preventing it from accumulating too much authority in one branch, threatening the potential for tyranny.

Since World War II, the executive branch has accumulated increased powers within the U.S. government, with a wide mandate to manage foreign and economic policies specifically, with little oversight and few checks from the legislative and judiciary branches. The executive is composed of a wide array of institutions itself, each with their own specific mandates, interests, and varying degrees of influence. These include the many cabinet departments, such as the Treasury Department, Defense Department (Pentagon), State Department, CIA, National Security Council (NSC), Department of Homeland Security, and many more. In addition, since 1913, the Federal Reserve has functioned as the central bank of the United States, operating with a large degree of independence from the other branches of government, including political independence from the executive branch (apart from the President’s ability to appoint the Chairman and Board of Governors), and no oversight from Congress (though the Fed chairman will occasionally testify to Congress).

Individually and collectively, these government departments and institutions manage hundreds of billions and even trillions of dollars in assets and funds, making them individually larger than most multinational corporations and banks in the world. These departments within the U.S. government are largely responsible for the maintenance and expansion of the American imperial system. Since the time of ancient Nubia and Egypt thousands of years ago, much of the world has been dominated by empires, rising, expanding and collapsing over centuries and millennia, running through ancient Greece, Rome, China, Aztec and Inca, Persian, Ottoman, and in the past five hundred years with the rise and demise of the European empires whose reach expanded the globe. For the most part, imperial systems have been dominated by families, often called royalty, sultanates, emperors or emirs. The essential interest and priority of all empires has been to protect and expand their empire, largely for the benefit of its ruling class or groups, with the imperial family at the center of power.

It is only a phenomenon of the post-World War II period that denial of the existence of empire is commonplace. Through the two World Wars of the 20th century, empires collapsed and faded into history. World War I led to the collapse of the German, Russian, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires. World War II led to the collapse of the Japanese and Nazi empires, and its aftermath resulted in the erosion of European colonial domination, as the British, French, and other European colonial powers had to adjust to a new global order under American hegemony. It was in the post-World War II period that the United States had achieved unprecedented economic and political power. With just over 5 percent of the world’s population, the U.S. controlled roughly half the world’s wealth. Citing this very statistic, the U.S. State Department (responsible for managing diplomacy and foreign policy) published a policy paper in which top officials acknowledged that the global inequality that existed between the U.S. and the rest of the world would lead to “envy and resentment.” The “real task” of the United States was “to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security,” doing away with “the luxury of altruism and world-benefaction.”[4]

Europe was devastated by the war, and the United States occupied the West with the Soviet Union occupying the East of the continent. The European empires were crumbling, and the process of decolonization had begun to take the world by storm, with the U.S. attempting to manage the process on behalf of its Western European allies. In its strategy for world domination, the United States sought to rebuild its former war-time enemies – Germany and Japan – into economic powerhouses, with West Germany acting as the locomotive for European integration (into what is now the European Union) and Japan acting as a counterweight to the spread of Communism in East Asia. Western Europe, Japan and other allies depended upon the United States military to protect their ‘security’ interests around the world, arming favorable dictators, supporting coups, fuelling civil wars, undertaking large occupations and counter-insurgency operations targeting independence, anti-colonial and revolutionary movements around the world.

Despite the imperial realities of this system, there was an overwhelming tendency within the United States and its industrial allies to deny the existence of imperialism altogether. Instead, these nations were merely economically and technologically advanced democracies who sought to protect ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’ around the world in a largely ideological confrontation with the Soviet Union, which presented itself as the image of socialism and communism in a struggle against the capitalist imperial powers of the West. The Soviet Union’s influence was dominant in Eastern Europe, with a few close allies scattered across the Middle East, Africa and Latin America. The United States and its Western allies, however, were the dominant powers across much of the rest of the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Latin America. The only real sense in which the Soviet Union presented a challenge for the United States was in its military and nuclear capabilities. This was the period known as the ‘Cold War’, though despite its confrontational rhetoric dividing East and West, communist states from capitalist democracies, it was largely a struggle waged against the rest of the world, the ‘Third World’, otherwise known as the developing world or ‘Global South’. It was in the poor, colonized nations and regions of the world where the majority of the world’s resources were located, and thus, where the Western imperial powers needed to maintain control.

While the United States rebuilt Germany and Japan into economic locomotives, becoming the second and third richest countries in the world, American economic power experienced a relative decline. This created strong allies for the United States, and while they remained militarily dependent upon their imperial patron, their growing economic power gave them increased leverage. With their increased economic power came increased potential to act independently of the U.S. and other rich nations. Competition between the great powers increased during the same period that newly independent nations of the developing world were increasingly uniting in opposition to a Western-dominated world order.

On May 1, 1974, the vast majority of the world’s nations voted in favour of the U.N. Declaration on the Establishment of a New International Economic Order (NIEO), proclaiming that “the greatest and most significant achievement during the last decades has been the independence from colonial and alien domination of a large number of peoples and nations which has enabled them to become members of the community of free people.” Among the ‘principles’ adopted in forming the NIEO were “equality of States, self-determination of all peoples,” and the outlawing of war, seeking “the broadest co-operation” of all nations of the world in banishing the “prevailing disparities” and securing “prosperity for all.”[5]

Each nation of the world would have the right “to adopt the economic and social system that it deems the most appropriate for its own development,” and establish control over their own natural resources. The people who continued to live under colonial domination, racial oppression and foreign occupation had a right “to achieve their liberation and the regain effective control over their natural resources and economic activities.” In 1974, this would include Israeli-occupied Palestine, South African apartheid, and U.S.-occupied Vietnam. The last line in the document stated that the Declaration should “be one of the most important bases of economic relations between all peoples and all nations.”[6]

But Henry Kissinger had other plans. As Secretary of State and National Security Adviser, Kissinger was the chief imperial strategist in the United States, and remains one of the most influential foreign policy strategists in the nearly four decades since he left office. Kissinger’s “trick” to use economics in building a “world political structure” would largely be pursued through the finance ministries, central banks and international organizations (such as the IMF and World Bank) which are controlled by the rich and powerful nations. In the face of a growing threat, the rich nations banded together in various forums, conferences and diplomatic gatherings, the most notable of which came to be known as the Group of Seven, bringing together the U.S., Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Canada. Through these various institutions and initiatives, a “world political structure” would be incrementally constructed as the Empire of Economics.

A Family Affair

Empires don’t just happen; they are constructed, protected, expanded and destroyed. Empires need imperialists, even if they don’t refer to themselves as such. In the Empire of Economics, the imperialists are a diverse group, including the obvious presidents, prime ministers, chancellors and other heads of state; foreign, military and intelligence officials and ministries; finance ministers, central bankers and the heads of international organizations; the large banks, corporations and institutions that control the world’s wealth and resources, and the powerful individual oligarchs and family dynasties that lie behind these institutions.

As with most empires through history, the central unit of power is often that of a ‘family’, be it royal, financial, corporate or crime. After all, the first institution into which people are born and raised is very often that of the ‘family unit’. Power becomes hereditary, passed down through generations of children raised to take the place of their fathers and mothers in expanding the influence and protecting the legacy of the family. As with any imperial – or dynastic – family structures, they are plagued with rivalries, power struggles, tragedies, divisions and declines. The modern imperial family in the Empire of Economics – emanating from the vast industrial, corporate and banking fortunes established over past centuries – is no exception to the drama and decadence of earlier imperial dynasties.

Every nation has their dynasties, some better known than others. In the United States, over the past century, several names have become synonymous with wealth, power and prestige: Vanderbilt, Carnegie, Morgan, Harriman, Astor and Rockefeller. In 2006, roughly a third of the Fortune 500 companies (that is, the largest corporations in America) were family-run businesses, often performing better than ‘professionally’ managed companies. Among them is one of the largest corporations in the world, Wal-Mart, run and largely owned by the Walton family.[7] In 2010, six of the top ten richest individuals in the United States had inherited wealth, meaning that the richest of the rich in America were not self-made billionaires, but members of wealthy dynasties.[8]

Rich families are often able to preserve their dynastic wealth through a family ‘trust’, which allow the super-rich to provide for future generations of the family largely free of taxes and outside claims. The proliferation of family trusts has led to what one commentator in the New York Times referred to as “an American aristocracy.”[9] Perhaps the most recognizable family trust – and most ‘royal’ of the American dynasties – is that of the Rockefeller family. In the 19th century, John D. Rockefeller amassed a vast fortune monopolizing the oil industry into Standard Oil. In the early 20th century, the company was broken up by the government into multiple smaller companies, some of which are known today as Exxon Mobil and Chevron, among others. The Rockefeller fortune expanded into other industries and banking, and with that came an increased role in founding universities, foundations and think tanks, which were central to the process of generating the institutional and ideological foundations for American imperialism in the 20th century.

The patriarch of the family today, David Rockefeller, is currently in his 100th year. On the occasion of his 90th birthday in 2005, then-President of the World Bank, James Wolfensohn, spoke at the Council on Foreign Relations, where he said, “it’s fair to say that there has been no other single family influence greater than the Rockefeller’s in the whole issue of globalization.”[10]

As of 2014, Rockefeller Financial Services, the family investment company, held over $100 million in investments in several large American and foreign corporations, including JPMorgan Chase, Chevron, Microsoft, Oracle, Merck & Co., TD Bank, and Wells Fargo. Rockefeller Financial also maintains significant holdings in Honeywell International, Capital One Financial Corporation, Google, Exxon Mobil, Comcast, eBay, Wal-Mart, VISA, and Royal Dutch Shell, BP, IBM, McGraw Hill Financial, PepsiCo, McDonald’s, UPS, General Electric, Ford Motor Company, Apple, Intel, Boeing, Pfizer, The Walt Disney Company, Coca-Cola, Halliburton, U.S. Bancorp, Verizon and Goldman Sachs, among many others.[11]

Not only does the Rockefeller family office invest in major banks and corporations (on behalf of the family and its clients), but some major banks have also invested in the family office itself. In 2008, one of France’s largest banks, Société Générale, purchased a 37% stake in Rockefeller & Co. In 2012, that stake was sold to another major financial dynasty, the Rothschilds, who purchased it through RIT Capital Partners, the investment arm of the London branch of the Rothschild family, overseen by Lord Jacob Rothschild. As Barron’s magazine noted at the time, the union of these financial dynasties “should provide some valuable marketing opportunities” in which “new wealth” around the world would want “to tap the joint expertise of these experienced families that have managed to keep their heads down and their assets intact over several generations and right through the upheavals of history.”[12]

The Rothschild banking dynasty, which has its roots in late 18th century Europe, had established several branches of the family spread throughout major European nations and capitals, with two of the most prominent being the London and Paris arms. In 2012, the French and British Rothschild banks were planning to merge their assets into a single entity, under the name of Paris Orléans, headed by David de Rothschild. Upon the announcement of the merger, David de Rothschild explained that its purpose was to “allow the bank to better meet the requirements of globalization… while ensuring my family’s control over the long term.”[13] David, one of the richest Rothschilds today, noted in a 2010 interview with Ha’aretz that as a member of the Rothschild family, “We have an obligation to continue the dynasty.”[14]

The Rothschilds have a long history, marred with tragedies and rivalries so common to historical dynastic clans. In the 1990s, as the French and British branches of the family were increasing their cooperation under the leadership of Baron David de Rothschild and Sir Evelyn de Rothschild, respectively, Sir Evelyn commented that, “The first important strength of the family is unity.” Evelyn viewed Jacob Rothschild – another member of the British family branch – as a potential rival in control over the British bank, N.M. Rothschild, but Jacob went off to found RIT Capital Partners. Jacob’s half-brother, Amschel Rothschild, was pressured by his father to join the family business, despite his lack of interest and talent for it. Shortly after the death of his mother in 1996, Amschel attended a business meeting in Paris, after which he went to his hotel room and hung himself at the age of 41. With his death, a crisis was seen in the future of the family dynasty, which prompted the closer connections between the British and French branches.[15]

Sir Evelyn de Rothschild and his wife, Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild (an American), count two prominent dynasties among their close friends: the Clintons and the British Royal Family. Lynn has long-standing ties to the Clintons, and considers Hillary to be “the woman she most admires,” while Sir Evelyn served as an usher at Queen Elizabeth II’s wedding. The couple spends occasional weekends with the Queen at Windsor Castle, and would also be frequent guests at the White House during the Clinton administration.[16]

In Italy, the Agnelli family – presided over today by the young patriarch, John Elkann – has been considered Italian royalty for the past century. The previous patriarch, Giovanni (‘Gianni’) Agnelli, ruled the family empire from the 1960s until his death in the early 2000s. The Agnelli empire controlled the large auto-company Fiat, as well as managing a wide array of companies and investments “in shipping, oil refining, armaments, banking, insurance, retailing and manufacturing.”[17] When the Soviet leader, Nikita Khrushchev, visited Italy, he singled out Gianni in a room filled with several Italian cabinet ministers and took the patriarch aside. “I want to talk to you,” said Khrushchev, “because you will always be in power.” The Soviet leader signaled to the cabinet ministers, adding, “That lot will never do more than just come and go.”[18] By the late 1990s, the Fiat group was the largest employer in Italy, accounting for roughly 5 percent of the country’s gross national product (GNP), and, when combined with the other family’s holdings, the Agnelli family controlled roughly a quarter of the entire capitalization of the Milan stock market.[19]

The Wallenberg family has dominated banking and industry in Sweden for over 200 years.[20] In the mid-1990s, the New York Times referred to the Wallenbergs as “one of the most powerful business families in the world” and “Sweden’s answer to the Rockefellers.”[21] For the post-war period, the business was under the leadership of Marcus Wallenberg Jr., who died in 1982 and had established “an industrial and financial empire of unprecedented scope,” with the family having controlling or influential shares in half of Sweden’s largest corporations, including Electrolux, L.M. Ericsson, Saab, and the Skandinaviska Enskilda Bank (SEB), one of Sweden’s largest multinational banks. By the mid-1980s, the family’s business empire accounted for roughly 30 percent of Sweden’s gross national product.[22]

By the mid-1990s, the Wallenberg empire controlled companies accounting for 40 percent of the Swedish stock market, just as the fifth generation of the family was taking over the reins. Jacob and his cousin, Marcus Wallenberg, were to take over the business from Jacob’s father, Peter, determined on “making the empire a global one.” The family’s holding company, Investor AB, was valued at $6.4 billion, which was in turn owned by a foundation trust controlled by the Wallenberg family.[23] As The Economist noted in 2006, “There is little that happens in Swedish business that does not involve the Wallenbergs,” with one prominent Swedish hedge fund manager commenting, “They are a bit like royalty.”[24] Jacob Wallenberg told the Financial Times in 2014 that, “I think our family is very strong on tradition, it is very strong on responsibility, it is very strong on nation, and I should say family.”[25]

In Canada, a quiet dynasty rules behind the scenes, with “undeniable” influence on provincial and federal politics, according to former U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Jacobson, who discussed the Desmarais family in a diplomatic cable leaked by Wikileaks.[26] The family’s economic empire goes by the name Power Corporation, based in the French-speaking province of Quebec and the city of Montreal. Through its various subsidiaries and shareholdings, the corporate and financial influence of the family reaches to all significant sectors of corporate Canada, as well as Europe, Asia and the United States.

The family was presided over by Paul Desmarais, Sr. from the time he began the business in the 1950s and 60s until his death in 2013, at which time the family empire was passed on to his two sons, Paul, Jr. and André Desmarais. As the Globe & Mail reported upon the patriarch’s death in 2013, “he knew and influenced, in small ways or large, every Canadian prime minister and Quebec premier over the past five decades.” Desmarais helped Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau open relations with China in the 1970s, and established the Canada China Business Council in 1978. Prime Ministers Brian Mulroney, Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin also maintained very close connections with Desmarais and the Power Corp. empire. Jean Chrétien’s daughter, France Chrétien, even married Paul’s son, André. Paul Martin worked for Desmarais at Power Corp. for 13 years before entering politics, eventually becoming finance minister and Prime Minister. Brian Mulroney, a close friend for nearly five decades, said of Desmarais, “I loved him like a brother… He was one of the most significant players in Canadian economic history.”[27]

The Wall Street Journal referred to Desmarais as “one of Canada’s wealthiest and most powerful businessmen” who “was closely involved in the nation’s politics.” Canada’s current Prime Minister Stephen Harper praised Desmarais for his “leadership, integrity, global vision, and profound attachment to his country.” Among the patriarch’s friends were former U.S. President Bill Clinton and former French President Nicolas Sarkozy.[28]

Asian nations are not to be outdone, with long traditions and new manifestations for family rule with powerful dynasties in the political and economic sphere, as well as a host of monarchs. As The Australian reported in 2014, “the big family business in Asia today is not running companies, but controlling countries,” noting that apart from the obvious in North Korea, many of Asia’s nations were “permeated with political leaderships that keep governance in the family.” The newly installed Chinese President, Xi Jinping, was a ‘princeling’ – a child of the Communist Party founders and bosses – whose father was a former Vice Premier. Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, comes from a prominent political family. His grandfather was a Member of Parliament, his father was a foreign minister, and his mother’s father was a former Prime Minister. The President of Korea, Park Geun-hye, was the daughter of a previous president.[29]

This pattern was repeated in the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, Singapore, Bangladesh, India, and Sri Lanka, their own versions of names like Kennedy, Bush and Clinton in the United States. An associate professor at the University of Queensland, David Martin Jones, commented, “The rise of dynasticism within democracy is little understood, and fits with a loss of popular support for mainstream parties, while these dynastic figures fit with the media/celebrity culture and spin that has undermined politics as a mode of persuasion.”[30]

Japan was, for many years, the world’s second largest economy after the United States. Today, it stands in third place, with China picking up the mantle at second. China began its economic ‘opening’ in 1978 under the leadership of Party leader Deng Xiaoping. As the world’s most populous nation increasingly embraced Western forms of ‘capitalism’, the Communist Party leadership which dominated the country acted as patrons and subsequently profiteers of China’s economic development. The highly efficient mixture of a single-party technocratic dictatorship and state-capitalism led to rapid economic growth and immense riches being accumulated by the nation’s new oligarchy. The princelings have become a rich and powerful class, using their political contacts to study at prestigious schools in Europe and America, taking control of large businesses inside China and rising up the Party apparatus.[31] As Bloomberg reported, in China, “wealth and influence is concentrated in the hands of as few as 14 and as many as several hundred families.”[32]

In Turkey, two families largely dominate the economy, Koc and Sabanci, having reached their third generations with interests in banking, energy, automobiles, retail and other markets. Together, Koc Holding and Sabanci Holding – and their various subsidiaries – “make up more than a quarter of the market capitalization of the Istanbul stock market.” The U.S.-based credit ratings agency, Standard & Poor’s, gave Koc Holding a higher credit rating than Turkey.[33]

In another ‘emerging market’ economy, South Africa, one family reigns supreme: Oppenheimer. Harry F. Oppenheimer, who died in 2000, was known as the “king of diamonds,” with an empire controlling most of South Africa’s diamonds, gold, uranium and copper, “wielding extraordinary power over some of the world’s strategic metals and minerals.” Through a complex web of corporate subsidiaries and shareholdings, the Oppenheimer family controlled the supply of the world’s diamonds through their monopoly of De Beers, which also held “vast holdings in banking, real estate, pulp and paper, bricks and pipe, coal and potash, locomotives and beer.” As head of Anglo American Corporation, Harry Oppenheimer spent twenty-five years as “the most powerful figure in his country’s economy as well as one of the richest men in the world,” noted the New York Times.[34]

India, the world’s largest ‘democracy,’ second most populous country and one of the fastest-growing economies, is yet another example of a family business. Politically, India has long been dominated by the Gandhi and Nehru families, but behind the scenes, the families of old and new industrialists dominate the economy. Among India’s largest and most respected conglomerates is the Tata family, which has run the Tata Group for nearly 150 years. Ratan Tata took over the Tata Group in 1991, with its more than 100 companies operating in everything from steel to software. The Tata family had run the company for over a century, but was based almost entirely in India, which began opening its economy up to the West the same year Ratan took over the company. He turned the Tata Group into a global conglomerate, acquiring major British companies, including Tetley Tea, Jaguar Land Rover and Corus, a steelmaker. Ratan became, in the words of the Financial Times, “a pioneer in the country’s move toward globalization,” and both he and the Group “came to embody India’s own emergence as a world economic player over the course of the past decade.”[35]

Germany, the second largest exporter in the world (after China) and the fourth largest economy in the world (after the U.S., China and Japan) is also no stranger to family dynasties and business empires. According to a 2012 study cited by Forbes, roughly 43% of all German exports in 2011 were accounted for by the country’s 4,400 largest family-owned firms. Many of the large companies that are not directly owned by families are often owned by foundations, which are in turn owned by prominent families.[36] The archetypal head of a German business empire, the Financial Times explained in 2007, is “very wealthy but low-profile and frugal.” In other words, they’re rich, cheap and stay behind the scenes.[37] Some of Germany’s wealthiest families and individuals stay so far out of the spotlight that there are few known photographs of them in existence. Susanne Klatten, daughter of the German industrialist Herbert Quandt, who built the BMW empire, is the 44th richest person in the world, with a very low public profile, even spending parts of her life operating under false names.[38]

One reason for the publicity-shy nature of Germany’s corporate, industrial and financial elite could be due to the fact that many of them date back to Germany’s industrialization and prospered immensely through the Nazi era, where they frequently collaborated with Hitler’s murderous regime. Just as the Japanese industries and families of the imperial age were re-established to manage Japan’s post-war industrialization, so too was German industry rebranded after the Nazi era to lead Germany’s reindustrialization and rapid economic growth. The Quandt family behind BMW had collaborated heavily with Nazi Germany, with one German historian, Joachim Scholtyseck, noting, “The Quandts were linked inseparably with the crimes of the Nazis,” using some 50,000 concentration camp slave laborers at the company’s factories, building weapons for the Nazi war machine. “The family patriarch was part of the regime,” Scholtyseck added. The Quandt family also took over dozens of businesses which were seized from Jewish families.[39]

Since the early 1970s, the Arab dictatorships – virtually all run by political dynasties – have accumulated massive wealth and influence, and have invested that wealth into Western banks and corporations. Saudi Arabia is the best example, but the Gulf monarchs include the families that run the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait. One such individual who has made a name for himself in the world of finance is the Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, who has been referred to as the “Arabian Warren Buffett,” having become one of the largest shareholders in Citicorp by the early 1990s. In 1999, the Economist noted that while the Saudi royals were “secretive, venal and backward,” Prince Alwaleed was “open, intelligent and successful.”[40]

As of 2013, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal was worth an estimated $27 billion, and was the second largest shareholder in the global media conglomerate, News Corp. (after the principal shareholders and owners, the Murdoch family), and is also a stockholder in Apple, TimeWarner, Citigroup, Motorola, Saks, AOL, eBay and EuroDisney, and even owns part of Twitter. Further, the Prince owns several luxury hotels in London, New York and elsewhere, partnering up with major banks and other billionaires like Bill Gates. The Prince has a fleet of some 300 cars, a 280-foot yacht which was originally built for a world famous Saudi arms dealer (Adnan Khashoggi), and a fleet of jets, one of which includes a golden throne. He became the subject of minor scandal when it was reported that at his desert encampment in Saudi Arabia, one of the Prince’s past-times is, literally, “dwarf-tossing.” But the Prince’s defenders were quick to reassure an American audience of “his great beneficence,” noting that dwarves were “outcasts” in the Saudi Kingdom, and so the Prince simply hired them as jesters, providing them with “a work ethic,” which included having them “dive for $100 bills in bonfires.”[41]

Russia and several countries in Eastern Europe (notably Ukraine) are dominated by a handful of oligarchs, who concentrated control of resources and the economy in their hands following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

There are also individual oligarchs all across the world, and if they pass their fortunes on to their children they could establish new financial and corporate dynasties. One example in the United States is Warren Buffett, a billionaire investor who founded Berkshire Hathaway, which is a major shareholder in American Express, Coca-Cola, Exxon Mobil, Goldman Sachs, IBM, Moody’s Corporation, Munich Re, Procter & Gamble, U.S. Bancorp, Wal-Mart and Wells Fargo, among others.[42] Buffet’s friend, fellow billionaire oligarch Bill Gates, is also a major shareholder in Berkshire Hathaway, through his own holding company, Cascade Investment.[43]

These are just a few of the world’s major dynasties and oligarchs in the Empire of Economics, cooperating and competing with one another in what could be interpreted as globalization’s Game of Thrones. Individually, these family dynasties and oligarchs are able to exert significant and varying degrees of control over their respective national economies. Collectively, they wield immense global financial and economic power, largely unknown to outsiders. As banks and corporations became increasingly global in scope and size, so too did the interests of the individuals and families behind many of the world’s major companies. The world’s top banks and corporations, in turn, collectively own each other through shareholdings, as well as much of the rest of the network of global corporations.

The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich published a study in 2011 of the ownership structure of the world’s largest 43,000 multinational corporations. The researchers traced the shareholdings of the companies to a small network ‘core’ of the largest 1,318 corporations, which collectively accounted for roughly 80 percent of the global revenues of the entire sample of 43,000 corporations. Within the ‘core’ is what the researchers called the ‘super-entity’, a grouping of roughly 147 closely knit companies – mostly banks and insurance companies – who own each other and collectively control 40 percent of the entire network of 43,000 companies.[44] Thus, a global economic order in which less than 150 of the world’s top banks and financial institutions control not only each other but a large percentage of the world’s remaining corporations can hardly be said to be a “free market” of competition. In truth, the “super-entity” more closely resembles a cartel, the global financial mafia.

Among the top 50 companies of the ‘super-entity’ (as of 2008), were: Barclays, Capital Group Companies, FMR Corporation, AXA, State Street Corporation, JPMorgan Chase, UBS, Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse, Bank of New York Mellon, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Société Générale, Bank of America, Lloyds TSB, ING Group and BNP Paribas, among others.[45] As of late 2014, the list of top institutions within the super-entity has changed slightly, with some previous banks merging or collapsing as a result of the financial crisis, and with the rise of asset management firms such as BlackRock.

BlackRock is the world’s largest asset management company, with roughly $4 trillion of assets under management, standing as the single largest shareholder in one out of every five corporations in the United States, owning at least 5 percent of almost half of all corporations in the country. As the New York Times noted in 2013, BlackRock has “tremendous influence.”[46] As the Financial Times noted in 2012, when one includes the assets which BlackRock advises on (on top of managing), the total sum that the company monitors amounts to roughly $12 trillion, almost the same size as the entire U.S. economy, putting the company “in an extraordinarily influential position.”[47] Larry Fink, the CEO of BlackRock who started his career as “a prince of Wall Street,” rose to what the Financial Times called “the pinnacle of US finance,” where he “slips in and out of the offices of the world’s financial and political elite with ease.” Fink and BlackRock have extensive influence with the major American and European banks and corporations, as well as sovereign wealth funds in the Arab world and Asia.[48]

Fink turned BlackRock from a virtually unknown entity in 2008 to “a global colossus” with its $13.5 billion purchase of Barclays Global Investors in 2009. Vanity Fair referred to Fink in 2010 as “the leading member of the country’s financial oligarchy.” Throughout the financial crisis, Fink and BlackRock played a role as key adviser to all of Wall Street’s top CEOs, as well as the heads of the Federal Reserve System, Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the U.S. Treasury Department, playing a central role in the major bailouts and mergers that marked the crisis. One senior bank official referred to BlackRock as “almost a shadow government.” Another bank executive commented, “Larry has always wanted to be important… And now that he’s more important than he ever dreamed of, he’s loving it.” Fink also maintained very close ties to the two U.S. Treasury Secretaries who served tenures during the financial crisis, Hank Paulson (former CEO of Goldman Sachs) and Timothy Geithner (former President of the New York Fed), whom Fink referred to as “two of our best Treasury secretaries.”[49]

This interconnected and interdependent network of the global financial mafia is in turn controlled by the shareholdings of individual oligarchs and family dynasties. After all, most mafias are ultimately family businesses, and the world of finance is no exception. But there are other key players as well, including sovereign wealth funds (state-run investment companies), central banks, and other investment vehicles. The use of the term ‘mafia’ or Mafiocracy is not simply rhetorical, as the banks and corporations which sit at the heart of this network – the “super-entity” – are repeatedly caught, fined and slapped on the wrist for excessive criminal behavior, including massive fraud and the formation of illegal cartels designed to manipulate prices and increase profits.

Nowhere is this more obvious than in the financial sector, plagued by multiple scandals since the financial crisis, including the role of banks in creating the crisis in the first place. In addition to that, however, a small network of banks has been found to function as a criminal cartel in manipulating interest rates (specifically, the LIBOR rate) and the foreign exchange (forex) market. In addition, the world’s major banks also reap immense profits (and commit grave crimes) through the laundering of billions of dollars in drug money, terrorist financing and providing other services to organized crime.[50] And this is to say nothing of the economic and financial support that corporations and banks provide for dictators, tyrants, mass murderers, war mongering and state violence, environmental degradation and the physical plundering of the planet for short-term profit.

But the global financial mafia – and the oligarchs and dynasties who sit at its core – cannot wield significant influence without the political legitimacy that comes with state power. Successful financial dynasties (with the Rockefellers as perhaps the best example) establish complex networks of influence, building institutions and supporting ideologies that in turn influence the state and shape the minds and careers of those who rise through it. The Rockefeller family established the University of Chicago and have long been patrons of Harvard. They created philanthropic foundations which provided strategic funding to universities, research centers, think tanks and international forums, having a lasting impact on the shaping of the social sciences (notably Political Science and Economics). The Rockefeller name has made its imprint on some of the most influential American and international think tanks and forums, including the Council on Foreign Relations, the Bilderberg meetings and the Trilateral Commission, which was founded by David Rockefeller in 1973 in an effort to encourage cooperation between the ‘trilateral’ regions of North America, Western Europe and Japan.

The effect of these networks – which are replicated to varying degrees by members of the global financial mafia in their respective nations – was to create a new elite class of technocrats and professionals, strategists and policymakers whose ideologies and interests aligned with that of the Mafiocracy. For dynasties and oligarchs to exert influence over economic and political policies and society at large, they need much more than a large economic share of corporate, banking and stock market capitalization. More than anything, they need access to policymakers: presidents, prime ministers, foreign ministers, finance ministers, central bankers, technocrats and the leaders of international organizations.

In short, they need to engage and integrate actively with the world of economic and financial diplomacy, interacting and building relationships with the policymakers of the rich and powerful nations, those who have the political authority necessary to implement policies that affect the Mafiocracy. Together, policy-makers, technocrats, financial diplomats and the Mafiocracy of oligarchs and dynasties are the central players in the game of global power politics, and are the key architects in the system of global economic and financial governance, the Empire of Economics.

Machiavelli to the Mafiocracy

Dynastic control of corporations and banks, while supporting long-term influence and interests, has obvious downsides, since talent and skills are not hereditary, and thus, there is no guarantee that family members and descendants will be as savvy or effective in their management of the family business. For this reason, many oligarchs and dynasties turn to individuals outside of the family to manage their companies, advise on their wealth management strategies, and run the day-to-day business of the family empire. Such advisers, confidantes and interlocutors exist in the world of financial dynasties well beyond the scope of the family business, but help to manage the family’s social and political interests and relationships as well.

Some five hundred years ago, Niccolo Machiavelli advised Popes, princes and other rulers, writing The Prince as a dedication to the first modern financial dynasty, the Medici family of Florence. If Machiavelli were writing The Prince today, he would likely still dedicate it to the major family dynasties, Rockefeller, Rothschild, Wallenberg or perhaps the Agnelli family of Italy and other modern Medicis. With few exceptions, however, the modern imperial families of finance do not directly control the state or political apparatus as they did in past centuries. So for the Machiavellis of the modern era, they must establish close relationships not simply with the top families, but the top political authorities as well.

They act as ‘friends’ and networking agents to the major dynasties while sitting as advisers and cabinet ministers to the world’s major presidents and prime ministers. They run consulting firms, outsourcing their strategic insight and networks of contacts to the highest bidder. They sit on the boards of corporations, think tanks and foundations, fostering the development of future generations of advisers and strategists, regularly appearing in the media to voice their own “independent” analysis of world events and strategic advice. They are the Machiavellis to the global Mafiocracy, moving in and out of government but always remaining in the upper echelons of the ruling institutions. They attend international conferences, forums, professional and social events. They are essential to the global Mafiocracy, with extensive experience in the highest positions of power, understanding how state power is wielded and shaped, they know the key policy-makers at home and abroad, and are able to open doors with their recognizable names, yielding endless benefits to their dynastic patrons and friends.

Perhaps the most recognizable and “respected” consigliere to the Mafiocracy is none other than Henry Kissinger. A German émigré to the United States in the late 1930s, Kissinger became a noted academic at Harvard University, where he became acquainted with the politics of academic life, preparing him “for world politics.” With the help of his academic mentors, he established a seminar and an academic journal which effectively expanded his network of contacts with other young leaders in government, business, media and finance.[51]

In the mid-1950s, Kissinger was invited to join the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the premier U.S.-based think tank focusing on foreign policy, long considered a type of training ground (or rite of passage) for any top future foreign policy officials in the United States government. The Council, founded in 1921, also happened to be an institution which was dominated by Rockefeller men and money. Kissinger was appointed as a staff director of a study group on nuclear weapons and foreign policy on behalf of the Council, out of which he wrote a book that advocated for “limited nuclear war” with the Soviet Union. From there, Kissinger was appointed as the director of a Special Studies Project run by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. At this time, Kissinger developed a close relationship with Nelson Rockefeller, who would become the young Henry’s patron.[52] Kissinger later recalled first meeting Nelson Rockefeller, noting that he and the other young ‘experts’ who formed a study group under Rockefeller’s patronage were “intoxicated by the proximity of power” and sought to impress Nelson in offering “tactical advice on how to manipulate events.”[53]

Kissinger received tenure at Harvard in 1959, and served as a part-time consultant to Nelson Rockefeller, who became the Governor of New York State in 1959 (a position he would hold until 1973). He did part-time consulting with the Kennedy administration in the early 1960s, and with the Lyndon Johnson administration that followed Kennedy’s assassination. When Richard Nixon became president in 1969, Henry Kissinger joined the administration as National Security Adviser, and took on the additional role as Secretary of State in 1973. When Kissinger joined the Nixon administration, Nelson Rockefeller gave Henry a ‘gift’ of $50,000.[54] When Nixon resigned in disgrace in August of 1974, replaced by Gerald Ford, Kissinger remained as National Security Adviser until 1975 and as Secretary of State until the end of the Ford administration in early 1977. Nelson Rockefeller, who had long sought the presidency, was appointed Vice President in the Ford administration.

During these years, Henry Kissinger was the most influential figure shaping U.S. foreign policy, and he did so with a ruthlessly pragmatic understanding of power and its uses. He oversaw the war in Vietnam, the illegal bombing of Cambodia, killing several million civilians during the Nixon administration alone. In addition to his many war crimes in Indochina (for which he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973), Kissinger supported Pakistan’s genocide in Bangladesh, killing several million, after which he congratulated the dictator of Pakistan for his “delicacy and tact.” He was also central in the CIA coup to overthrow the democratically elected government of Chile in 1973, of which he said, “The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves.” The result was the establishment of a U.S.-supported dictator, Augusto Pinochet, who murdered many thousands and tortured many tens of thousands more.[55]

Kissinger also supported the murderous Argentine military regime which killed tens of thousands, along with the Indonesian dictator, Suharto, in his genocide in East Timor, killing several hundred thousand civilians. He supported the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, and the war against the government of Angola, which ultimately killed millions in southern Africa. These are but a few examples of Kissinger’s influence on foreign policy, resulting in the deaths of many millions of people around the world, in addition to the displacement, torture and suffering of many millions of others. With the blood of so many innocent people on his hands, Kissinger had acquired the status of a highly respected “statesman.”[56]

When Kissinger left the government, he did not lose much influence. He remained a central figure within the foreign policy establishment. The ‘Establishment’, as it was known to many, had consisted of prominent Wall Street bankers and lawyers who effectively monopolized the key foreign-policy positions within the government in the decades leading up to and following World War II. By the 1970s, the ‘Establishment’ had given way to what Leslie Gelb (currently a president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations) called the “foreign policy community,” which functions as “an aristocracy of professionals.” This community consisted of roughly 300 professors, lawyers, businessmen, think tank ‘experts’, foundation officials and journalists (though today it is likely a far greater number). Whereas previous leaders in the foreign policy establishment were primarily bankers who took time off to manage foreign policy, members of the community tend to focus on foreign policy as “a full-time job.” The community had “first infiltrated, then subsumed the older and familiar establishment,” and by the 1970s it was “monopolizing the top foreign and national security posts in any administration.”[57]

Gelb, writing in the New York Times, noted that members of the earlier Establishment “were insiders, who knew the right persons to telephone, meeting quietly, avoiding publicity.” The Community, on the other hand, “operate far more openly,” noting that, “unlike the Rockefellers, they cannot pick up the phone and speak to the President. They talk to the President indirectly, through the articles they write in journals such as Foreign Affairs and Foreign Policy or in the op-ed pages of [the New York Times] and other newspapers, or in testimony to Congressional committees, through attending conferences with high Government officials at the Brookings Institution in Washington or the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.” Citing Kissinger as one of several examples, Gelb wrote that “the professors had moved to the center of power.” The members of the foreign policy community, explained Gelb, “sometimes actually make the decisions, usually define what is to be debated and invariably manage the resulting policies.”[58]

This foreign policy community links together major universities (particularly the Ivy League schools), philanthropic foundations (Rockefeller, Ford, Carnegie), think tanks, international conferences and forums. Among the most important think tanks in the foreign policy community are the Council on Foreign Relations, the Brookings Institution and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), among many others. These think tanks are typically dominated by boards and trustees who are former high level government officials, top corporate executives, bankers, university professors and chancellors, foundation officials, media barons, and of course, individual oligarchs and members of financial dynasties. In addition to major national think tanks, there are a host of international think tanks and forums that bring together the members of the global Mafiocracy with policy-makers and other influential individuals. The three most important and influential of these international forums are the Bilderberg Group, the Trilateral Commission and the World Economic Forum.

The Bilderberg meetings began in 1954 as a conference of high-ranking government officials, bankers, corporate executives, European royalty, media barons, military and intelligence chiefs, academics and think tank officials drawn almost exclusively from North American and Western European nations. The meetings take place once a year, drawing roughly 130 participants who meet for a long weekend in a four-star hotel to engage in off-the-record, secret discussions behind closed doors. The meetings are governed by a Steering Committee of roughly forty individuals who are responsible for inviting other participants from their respective nations. Families such as the Rockefellers, Rothschilds, Agnellis and Wallenbergs have long been represented at Bilderberg meetings.

The Trilateral Commission, which was founded by David Rockefeller, functions as an international think tank and series of conferences uniting the policy-oriented, political, academic, corporate and financial elites of Western Europe, North America and Japan (having expanded since its founding in 1973 to include more Asian nations, notably China and India). David Rockefeller still sits as honorary chairman of the Commission, which consists of roughly 350 members who hold a full membership meeting once yearly, while holding regional meetings separately, of the North America, European and Japanese/Asian groups respectively.

The annual meetings of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, bring together thousands of the world’s top corporate executives, bankers and financiers with leading heads of state, finance and trade ministers, central bankers and policymakers from dozens of the world’s largest economies; the heads of all major international organizations including the IMF, World Bank, World Trade Organization, Bank for International Settlements, UN, OECD and others, as well as hundreds of academics, economists, political scientists, journalists, cultural elites and occasional celebrities.

Henry Kissinger is a regular fixture at these various think tanks, forums and conferences. He currently sits as a trustee and counselor of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a member (and former board member) of the Council on Foreign Relations, a member of the Trilateral Commission, a participant in World Economic Forum meetings, and as a participant (and former Steering Committee member) of the Bilderberg Group.

After he left government in 1977, Kissinger remained an important figure in foreign policy and establishment circles, making hundreds of thousands of dollars per year as an author, lecturer, academic and consultant, notably for NBC and Goldman Sachs.[59] In 1982, Kissinger founded his own consulting firm, Kissinger Associates, which for a fee of roughly $250,000 per year, advises its clients on “strategic planning.” To help with the consultancy, Kissinger brought in his former deputy national security adviser in the Nixon administration, Brent Scowcroft, as well as a former British Foreign Secretary, Lord Carrington.[60]

Kissinger Associates was headquartered on the corner of Park Avenue and 52nd Street in New York City, located in the same office building as the First American Bank of New York and Chase Private Banking International. Among the client list for Kissinger’s firm are several big names, including H.J. Heinz, Arco, American Express, Shearson Lehman, as well as FIAT (Agnelli), Volvo, Fluor Corporation, International Energy Corporation, Midland Bank, and L.M. Ericsson of Sweden (controlled by the Wallenbergs). As the New York Times noted in 1986, “Kissinger and his associates are by all accounts the most successful of this new breed of former senior Government officials who have decided to advise big businesses rather than join them,” noting that Defense Secretaries, State Secretaries and Treasury Secretaries had overseen millions of people and enormous budgets with which most multinational conglomerates cannot compete, and thus, “big business is too small for many of the new generation of Government superstars.”[61]

As Kissinger himself explained, “I think that in the modern world, if you don’t understand the relationship between economics and politics, you cannot be a great statesman. You cannot do it with foreign policy and security knowledge alone.”[62] In 2002, Leslie Gelb, a top official at the Council on Foreign Relations, commented that, “Within the foreign policy world, and among many corporate CEOs, Henry Kissinger carries more weight than any senior individual in the world today.”[63]

Kissinger has long functioned as a glorified errand boy for the ruling global Mafiocracy. Among his close friends and associates are many of the world’s most powerful dynasties, including his original patrons, the Rockefellers, as well as the Agnelli family of Italy, the Rothschilds of Europe, the Oppenheimer family in South Africa, and a whole coterie of ruling elites in China. Sir Evelyn de Rothschild was introduced to his present wife, Lynn Forester, by their “mutual friend” Henry Kissinger at a 1998 meeting of the Bilderberg Group.[64] Of the late patriarch of Italy’s ruling family, Kissinger said that in “the last two decades of his life, no one was closer to me than Gianni Agnelli,” noting that they spoke on the phone roughly twice a week and would visit each other “every month or so.” Kissinger described Agnelli as “the uncrowned king of Italy” and a “powerful personality who was the most influential Italian of his era.”[65] Kissinger even helped to rebuild ties between the diamond and gold empire headed by Harry Oppenheimer and the South African president.[66]

Kissinger has known the many powerful leaders of China over the past four decades, since he led the diplomatic ‘opening’ of U.S. relations with China in the early 1970s. As he officially established relations with Mao Zedong’s China in 1973, David Rockefeller’s Chase Manhattan Bank became the first U.S. bank to get into the country since the Communists came to power in 1949. Chase Manhattan became the “correspondent” for the Bank of China in the United States, for the purposes of financing commerce. The deal was reached following a 10-day visit by Rockefeller to China in the summer of 1973.[67] Some four decades later, China would be the second largest economy in the world, governed by an elite new class of ‘Princelings’ and technocratic tyrants. China’s economic growth has increasingly translated in growing political power in the international arena. But behind the dry, technocratic exterior of Chinese politics lies a brutal world of factional power politics, in-fighting, scandal, corruption and a struggle for control.

China: Globalization’s Gangster State

Following Mao and Zhou Enlai, Deng Xiaoping would become China’s most powerful leader from 1979 until 1989. Henry Kissinger described Mao as “a prophet who was consumed by the objectives he had set,” and Zhou Enlai as a “most skillful diplomat.” But Deng Xiaoping, for Kissinger, was “a greater reformer,” adding, “I certainly met no other Chinese who had the vision and the courage to move China into the international system and… in instituting a market system.”[68]

Deng Xiaoping was first among the ‘Eight Immortals’ of modern China, and principal architect of modern China.[69] The Immortals were those who supported Deng Xiaoping’s leadership of the Communist Party, believing that only by “opening China to the outside world” would they be able to “raise living standards” and avoid “social upheaval that would threaten the Communist Party’s grip on power.” A Bloomberg special report on the influence of the descendants of the Eight Immortals noted that they ultimately “sowed the seeds of one of the biggest challenges to the Party’s authority,” by entrusting major state assets to their children, “many of whom became wealthy.” This marked “the beginning of a new elite class, now known as princelings.” Over the decades, the emergence and growth of the princeling class would increasingly fuel “public anger over unequal accumulation of wealth, unfair access to opportunity and exploitation of privilege – all at odds with the original aims of the communist revolution.”[70]

The Deng Xiaoping era lasted roughly from 1978 until 2012, when the first princeling came to take the highest seat of power in China, with the rise of Xi Jinping. Prior to that, Deng and the Eight Immortals “towered over China,” first through Deng’s rule, and then “through Deng’s hand-chosen successors, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao,” noted a special report in The Diplomat.[71] Deng Xiaoping’s China also saw the rapid rise of the factional backroom power politics that dominate the Chinese Communist Party, and by extension, the government and society. Deng articulated the strategy for China to take in its global rise: “hide your brightness; bide your time.”[72]

The Chinese state has always presented an image of itself to its domestic population and a foreign audience as one of being united with a well-oiled political system. But since the era of Deng, the Party system – which determines who rises to the top positions of power in the country – has been governed not by a visible and public structure, but by “back-room patronage and shadowy negotiations among party elders.” The “problem” with this system, suggested the New York Times in 2012, was that “the power of those elders have diminished with each generation,” noting that then-President and party chief, Hu Jintao, who ruled from 2003 until 2013, was “weaker than his predecessor, Jiang Zemin,” who had ruled China from 1989 until 2002, “who was much weaker than Mr. Deng,” who was paramount from 1978 until his death in the 1990s.[73]

In Chinese factional power politics, the top leaders and former top leaders establish their own networks of patronage, passing benefits and favors to others in exchange for various support, making deals, trades, negotiations and much deeper intrigues. These powerful factions occasionally go to battle with each other, orchestrating all sorts of technocratic coups (the removal of top officials loyal to one boss over the other).[74] The large party factions, headed by their respective party bosses (sitting and former top Chinese leaders) would hold conclaves and secret meetings in which they would negotiate and horse-trade over the appointments to be made to the top ruling body in China, the Politburo Standing Committee.[75]

In 2010, the two main party factions led by then-president Hu Jintao and former president Jiang Zemin decided upon a successor to be president of China, Xi Jinping, with Li Keqiang chosen to be the future prime minister, Hu’s first choice for president.[76] Xi Jinping, who was allied with the Jiang Zemin faction, was ultimately considered to be a compromise candidate between the major faction leaders.[77] Another fast-rising official in the Chinese state apparatus was Bo Xilai, allied with Jiang’s faction, and touted as a possible member of the next Politburo Standing Committee. Bo was viewed by many as “dangerous” and “capable of anything,” creating powerful enemies among top-level Chinese officials.[78]

Bo Xilai was well known both within China and internationally among ruling circles, having risen to the position of party boss in Chongqing City in central China. Under his leadership, Chongqing built strong ties to corporate America and he even won the endorsement of none other than Henry Kissinger, who met with Bo in 2011, after which Kissinger said, “I saw the vision for the future by the Chinese leaders.”[79]

Within a year, Bo Xilai would become the subject of a major scandal which provided a glimpse into the backroom power politics waged by China’s ruling elite and its influential factions and personalities. In a spectacular tale worthy of the palace intrigue of ancient imperial China, Bo went from rising star to serving a life sentence in prison. After making himself a powerful enemy in the form of then-Chinese president Hu Jintao, Bo and his police chief – and long-time confidante – Wang Lijun, became the targets of a quiet corruption investigation designed to prevent his rise to the Politburo Standing Committee.[80]

In January of 2012, Wang Lijun went to his patron, increasingly worried about his own future as the investigation clamped down, hoping to secure the protection of Bo. Instead, Bo decided to toss Wang to the wolves and save himself. Bo fired him from his official post and put a police tail on him. When Wang managed to elude his unwanted entourage, he fled to the American consulate in a nearby city where he asked for asylum, claiming his life was under threat and providing evidence that Bo Xilai’s wife, Gu Kailai, had murdered a British banker (and possible spy) with cyanide in a hotel room a few months before, which he subsequently helped cover up. Suddenly, the quiet backroom attempt to remove Bo as a threat to the Party leadership became a very public scandal revealing the gangster-state nature of China’s power politics.[81]

In a seemingly bizarre twist, the scandal even had repercussions in Canada, as Bo Xilai was “Canada’s closest ally in China’s power structure.” Specifically, Bo had close connections to Canada’s imperial family of finance, the Desmarais family of Montreal, who own Power Corporation. The Desmarais clan had close relations with Bo since the 1970s, when Bo’s father, the Chinese vice premier, Bo Yibo, established a connection with Paul Desmarais, Sr. As Bo’s power within China grew, so too did the market access of the Desmarais economic empire. Through the Desmarais network, Canada’s political elite also established close connections with Bo Xilai. Prime Minister Stephen Harper was one of the last foreign officials to have visited Bo before he was arrested on corruption charges. In fact, André Desmarais, son of Paul, Sr., was accompanied by his father-in-law, former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, on a trip to China on behalf of the Canada China Business Council. A mere eight days after Bo’s wife murdered a British banker in a hotel room in Bo’s fiefdom of Chongqing, Bo Xilai smiled and shook the hands of Desmarais and Chrétien, greeting them “like old friends.”[82]

A Financial Times article from 2014 explained that many top Chinese leaders, including former vice-premier of finance and current Standing Committee member, Wang Qishan, are fans of the Netflix original show, House of Cards. The show depicts a politician (Frank Underwood) and his wife, who, through their back-room deals, secret machinations, lies, deception and even murder, are able to rapidly ascend through the ranks of political power in Washington, D.C., first as a top Congressional official making his way to become Vice President and ultimately, President.[83]

Kurt Campbell, writing in the Financial Times, noted that one possible reason for the popularity of shows like House of Cards among the Chinese leadership was that they may view the portrayal of politics in the show “as quintessentially American – perhaps even an accurate depiction of workings of U.S. government.” It was “widely believed” in China, he wrote, that “beneath the surface, America’s vaunted democracy is rife with injustice and corruption.” Not to be discounted, of course, was that the show also provided a parallel in the scandal surrounding Bo Xilai and his wife, Gu Kailai, with their rapid rise and dramatic downfall from the near-heights of Chinese political power. The scandal was “eerily reminiscent of the dirty political deeds perpetrated by Underwood in his quest for power.” Even U.S. President Barack Obama had commented that he was fascinated with the show, though he “confessed a pang of envy for the ‘efficiency’ with which things get done in the fictional Washington of its creation.”[84]

Indeed, House of Cards more closely resembles the realities of power politics exercised at the highest levels than is reflected in most other television and cinematic productions. While often criticized as being highly ‘cynical’ (much like Machiavelli’s The Prince), the truth is that it is a more accurate interpretation of a deeply cynical power structure. The Netflix show was an American adaptation of an earlier British television miniseries of the same name, which was itself based upon a series of books written by Michael Dobbs, a former adviser to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and chief of staff to the British Conservative Party. Dobbs was once dubbed “Westminster’s baby-faced hit man,” with the British press noting that many of his political enemies said that he was “as calculating and conceited as some of his fictional characters.”[85]

Dobbs, in fact, wrote the original book, House of Cards, following “a blazing row” with Margaret Thatcher, in which she delivered upon him “a verbal hand-bagging” and subsequently fired him. After that, Dobbs sat down to write his book, which was “inspired by the shenanigans he’d seen and been involved in.” In a recent interview, Dobbs told a journalist, “All of the wickedness you see on House of Cards, I’d seen or even been responsible for.”[86] In a 2015 interview with the Wall Street Journal, Dobbs, who is now a member of Britain’s House of Lords, said, “I don’t think it matters whether it’s in Westminster or Washington – it could be in Beijing or Moscow – because it’s the story about passions, ambitions, weaknesses and wickedness, which I think is universal and almost timeless.”[87]

It is a rarity for power to be accurately portrayed in art and cultural media. Its complexities can hardly be summarized in simple and short journalistic prose, and television news stands as an obscene testament to intellectual infantilism in modern society. Some 500 years ago, when Machiavelli was writing about the realities of power in his era, he could get away with a deliberate and direct approach since he was writing during a time where the vast majority of the population was illiterate, where those who would potentially read his text were the wealthy and powerful, those to whom it would be useful.

Over the past several centuries, with the spread of technology, education, mass communication and democracy, the global political world has become far more complex, with more players, interests, rivals and potential problems than ever before. As a corollary, the “passions, ambitions, weaknesses and wickedness” – as Dobbs described it – have become more global, impactful and entrenched. Whereas Machiavelli wrote about warring city-states, today we have competing continents and large economies, the global system of nation-states, banks and corporations. In addition, the public – the populations of nations and regions – have become literate, better educated, with more access to more information than ever before. They have become more active participants in their respective political systems than they were in past centuries and millennia.

At once, the tools of control and conquest are more advanced and efficient than ever, while the ability to exercise and justify the use of power politics and empire-building is at an historic low. The realities of mass culture and communication, largely a product of the 20th century, have changed the rhetoric and presentation of power in the modern world, though not necessarily the realities and priorities of power. The exercise of power has thus increasingly become coupled with and dependent upon the public use of vague, euphemistic, obscure and often incomprehensible language.

It is a language spoken and understood by those who are invested and involved with the world of high-powered politics, in which the key leaders and players must be able to speak publicly and purposefully in an effort to expand their interests, build their empires and play their games, but which also requires enough obscurity and evasion in order to ensure that the mass publics and populations of the world remain in the dark about the realities playing out behind the scenes. “Political language,” wrote George Orwell in a 1946 essay, “is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” In his essay, written two years prior to the publication of his famous book, 1984, Orwell explained some of the many uses of political language, writing:

It is almost universally felt that when we call a country democratic we are praising it: consequently the defenders of every kind of regime claim that it is a democracy, and fear that they might have to stop using that word if it were tied down to any one meaning. Words of this kind are often used in a consciously dishonest way. That is, the person who uses them has his own private definition, but allows his hearer to think he means something quite different.[88]

Orwell suggested that political language was most often used to defend the indefensible, citing examples of maintaining British rule in India, Russian purges, and the use of nuclear bombs in Japan. Such things, he wrote, “can indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face, and which do not square with the professed aims of political parties.” Thus, he noted, “political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness.” When poor villages are bombed by foreign militaries, its residents machine-gunned and murdered, homes destroyed and survivors scattered, this, wrote Orwell, “is called pacification.” Political leaders cannot publicly state that they intend to murder and destroy entire communities and nations all for the benefit of imperial ambitions, so they claim instead that they must pacify the population, to secure ‘order’ and ‘stability’. The term “pacification” is never actually defined, but the policies and effects which occur under the cloaking of that rhetoric provides as clear a definition as one will get. Orwell continued:

The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms… All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred, and schizophrenia… But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought. A bad usage can be spread by tradition and imitation even among people who should and do know better.[89]

Orwell’s essay, Politics and the English Language, is perhaps more relevant today than it was when it was written in 1946. One journalist, Matt Schiavenza, discussed the uses of political language in an article he wrote for The Atlantic discussing modern politics in China. With names of powerful institutions and conferences such as the Politburo Standing Committee, the Plenum and Plenary sessions of the Party Congress which promise a host of undefined ‘reforms’, Shiavenza wrote, “for lovers of clear, concise language, Chinese politics are a nightmare.” But he acknowledged its purpose: “If this language seems vague and boring, well, that’s the point: Chinese politics are designed to attract as little attention as possible.”[90]

The same can and should be said for American, European, Japanese and other modern, advanced political societies. China is an extreme case, but by no means the exception. Chinese politics has a heavily technocratic element, in which ‘experts’ (engineers, economists, academics) frequently rule the political apparatus and manage the public debate, designing and implementing large-scale social engineering projects; reshaping, en masse, the nature and structure of society, defining purpose for the population, steering the direction and managing the many crises that result from the totalitarian domination of 1.3 billion people.

In 2010 alone, China experienced 180,000 protests, riots and mass demonstrations, an average of 500 per day, and this was in the midst of an economic ‘boom’ for the country.[91] In such circumstances it is necessary for the Chinese elite to present an image of themselves not as in-fighting, factional, power-mad, super-rich oligarchs competing for domination, but as highly-qualified ‘experts’ who are able to make decisions and implement policies through ‘consensus’ in the interests of China and its population as a whole. Obviously, this is a fantasy world, behind which is a totalitarian system that controls the media, education, communication, transportation, and with all the necessary tools of violent repression.

Technocracy – that is, rule by experts – establishes the institutional ideology, and communicates through the technical language of Chinese politics. Only other ‘experts’ have the technical skills to understand what is being said and to participate in the process of decision-making. The public is left with obscure generalizations, flashy distractions, empty sound-bites and pre-packaged conclusions. But perhaps even worse than the “nightmare” of Chinese politics and its “vague and boring” language, is that of the global financial structure and economic diplomacy. It is within this world where the ideologies, individuals and institutions of global governance have constructed and advanced the architecture and interests of the global Empire of Economics.

The Language of Empire

The language of economics and finance is designed to be incomprehensible to those who are not ‘experts’ or experienced in the fields of economics and finance. The language reflects an ideology that is heavily institutionalized in modern ‘industrial’ society, obscuring realities behind its vague and undefined terms and concepts. We are presented with a world of trained economists, experts in the economic ‘science’ of society; politicians, presidents, prime ministers, chancellors and other heads of state who speak and decide on important matters; the finance ministers and central bank governors who meet, speak, plan and implement the world’s major economic and financial policies; the heads of acronym-named international organizations and their technocratic administrations; the banks, corporations, institutions and individuals who control most of the wealth, resources, trade and ‘financial markets’; the universities, think tanks and foundations who shape the education and training of future financial diplomats, who define the debate and discussion, who determine the policy-options and objectives; and the journalists and news publications who disseminate the economic and financial ‘news’ of the day, whose primary audience is composed of the diplomats and key players in the world of finance and economics.

It is a world little understood to outsiders, obscure and unknown even to most trained economists. Like their counterparts in political science, economists are ‘educated’ (aka: trained, indoctrinated) so that they know just enough to be active participants and administrators of the political (or economic) system, but not enough to understand its actual structure and purpose, nor question its legitimacy. Mired and focused on the technical details, ‘specialized’ in their education to focus and only understand specific sectors of the economic and financial system, the experts are segregated, knowledge is divided and divisive. With a tunnel vision focus on the technical details, most economists and experts are incapable of seeing the larger, institutional, ideological and indeed, the deeply political nature and realities of the financial and economic system.

The economic and financial system is designed this way, precisely because – much like Chinese politics – behind its technical terms, opaque objectives, and insurmountable institutions lies a world of brutal power politics, national and transnational factional battles between rivals and regions, engineering empire, enforcing state tyranny and violence, undertaking dramatic coup d’états and maintaining dynastic dominance. The world of financial power politics stands at the core of the Empire of Economics.

Economic and financial diplomacy is concerned with the design and construction of the Empire of Economics. Diplomats, by definition, hold political authority. Their job is to represent the interests of their nation, their ministry or government department, their embassies, outposts and ‘missions’. In the realm of economic and financial diplomacy, the key participants and players, those with the most political authority, are the central bankers, finance ministers, treasury secretaries, the leadership of international organizations, trade negotiators, economic advisers and of course, the presidents, prime ministers and chancellors – the heads of state.

Foreign diplomacy and international relations present itself with the public image of a convoluted and never-ending attempt at failing to help others around the world, to advance democracy, freedom, human rights, civilization and the ‘common interest’. But behind the media, the rhetoric of diplomacy, the coded language and confused causes, is an unforgiving world of empire. This world erupts in wars, coups, civil conflicts, dictators taking power or falling from it, bombs, bullets and occupation.

The famed linguist and prolific social critic, Noam Chomsky (one of the most cited intellectuals in history), has accurately described the world of ‘international relations’ between nations as functioning according to ‘Mafia principles.’ For decades, Chomsky has been one of the best known, most articulate and well-researched critics of U.S. and Western foreign policy and empire. He has spoken and written consistently that since World War II, regardless of political party or affiliation, successive presidents and their administrations were guided in their foreign policy by the “godfather principle, straight out of the mafia: that defiance cannot be tolerated.” Countries that defy the United States or its allies must be “punished” before “the contagion spreads.”[92] Chomsky elaborated on the ‘Mafia principle’ of international relations, writing, “The Godfather does not tolerate ‘successful defiance,’ even from a small storekeeper who fails to pay protection money. It is too dangerous. It must therefore be stamped out, and brutally, so that others understand that disobedience is not an option.” This principle has been “a leading doctrine of foreign policy for the US during the period of its global dominance.”[93]

Economic diplomacy has its parallels as the most powerful nations compete and cooperate for influence within the global Empire of Economics, also adhering to ‘Mafia principles’ in the exercise of financial power.

Diplomacy and Design of the “World Political Structure”

The Empire of Economics had been long in the making, but its modern manifestation – the various institutions, ideologies and interests that comprise the global economic and financial system – is largely a product of the 1970s. It was an era of profound monetary (currency) and economic crises and transformations. The global currency system that had existed in managing the monetary and economic relations between nations from the end of World War II was abandoned by the United States in 1971. Thereafter, the world of economic diplomacy was thrown to the center of the storm. Decisions of immense political importance had to be made and a new global monetary and financial system needed to be constructed. This task was handed to the central bankers and finance ministers of the rich and powerful nations of the world, first and foremost, the United States, followed by West Germany, France, Britain, Japan, Italy, Canada, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Nordic nations.

Suddenly, finance ministers and central bankers were pushed to the forefront of advancing the global imperial interests of the rich, powerful nations, at times even eclipsing foreign and state ministers responsible for managing the nation’s foreign policy. It is through the frequent private meetings, international forums, conferences, social events and state visits where the finance ministers, central bankers and other technocrats engage in the very long and incremental process of negotiating the construction and evolution of the global economic and financial system. This was what Kissinger defined as the “trick” to use in creating “a world political structure.”

Banks, financial institutions, corporations and global markets were reaching far beyond the nation-state, becoming transnational in character, objectives and ideology. Political power had to follow financial and corporate power, to provide the political legitimacy necessary to advance the interests of the Mafiocracy. A bank can make a loan, but only powerful nations can force compliance to pay, to demand policies be changed, and to enforce the repercussions of failure. It was in the finance ministries and central banks of the powerful nations where state power and authority was to be exercised in closer coordination with other influential nations, and where they would consult and cooperate with concentrated transnational financial power.

Since the early 1930s, central bankers from the rich and powerful Western nations would meet in secret (usually in Basel, Switzerland) at the headquarters of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), the central bank to the world’s major central banks. These meetings of central bankers take place behind closed doors every two months, in off-the-record conversations, after which no communiqué or press release is issued, no reporters informed. The cooperation of central bankers was in turn supported and enhanced through the establishment of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 1944, which brought in not only central bankers, but also finance ministers from the member nations of the Fund.

Liaquat Ahamed is a widely read and respected author within the economic world, and particularly among financial diplomats. He has worked at the World Bank, with banks, hedge funds, asset managers and is currently on the board of trustees of the Brookings Institution, an influential American think tank. In 2009, he published Lords of Finance about the major Western central bankers during the early 20th century, winning multiple awards, including the 2010 Pulitzer Price for History. In 2014, he published another work, Money and Tough Love: On Tour with the IMF, looking at the history and workings of the International Monetary Fund, interviewing many IMF officials and even attending several meetings and travelling with IMF missions to various nations.

Ahamed noted that from its origins at the end of World War II, the annual meetings of the IMF (usually taking place in September or October), consisted primarily of top financial diplomats from the founding 29 members of the Fund, which “functioned as a sort of conclave of the cardinals of capitalism, intent on rebuilding the Western financial system after thirty years of war and depression.” The annual meetings of the IMF were “grand affairs,” as most of the “financial statesmen of the era had either been bankers at the tail-end of the Gilded Age or, in the case of the British, colonial administrators.” In the late 1950s, the IMF membership had grown to sixty-eight, with several hundred officials showing up to the annual meetings.[94]

The IMF, BIS and other international institutions such as the World Bank, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) would play central roles in the management and expansion of the global Empire of Economics. But a great deal of power was organized often outside of these institutions, by relatively smaller groups of nations who would meet in private as ad hoc groups of finance ministers, central bankers their deputies and other technocrats and international organization officials. Together, as representatives of the rich and powerful nations and institutions, they would seek to forge a consensus between themselves, which they could then extend through the various other (larger) forums and institutions.

The first of these ad hoc groups was known as the Group of Ten (G-10), established in 1962. The G-10 would periodically bring together the central bankers and finance ministers of ten rich nations: Belgium, Canada, France, [West] Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States. Very soon after its establishment, Switzerland was invited, yet it continued to call itself the Group of Ten. Through this forum, these nations would “consult and co-operate on economic, monetary and financial matters.”[95]

Over the first half of the 1970s, a series of committees would be formed to further coordinate policies and strategies among the powerful nations. The Group of Ten agreed to form a special group at the IMF in 1972 known as the Committee of 20 (C-20), bringing together the finance ministers and central bankers from the key constituencies represented on the IMF’s executive board, coming together at the annual and spring meetings of the IMF and World Bank in order to function as a type of steering committee for the Fund, providing strategic direction the Board of Governors.[96]

In 1973, a separate group was formed, known as the Group of Five (G-5), bringing together the finance ministers (and occasionally the central bankers) from the United States, West Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and France.[97] The following year, the IMF’s C-20 was institutionalized as the Interim Committee of the IMF, and would later become known as the International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC), which still exists and meets today. It has a parallel group that provides strategic advice to the World Bank, known as the Joint Development Committee.[98]

A hierarchy of these groups began to emerge, with the richest five countries holding their secretive meetings of the Group of Five, where they would seek to establish a consensus among themselves and subsequently push their agreements through the wider G-10, from where they would then advance their collective interests through the Interim Committee of the IMF. The era of ad-hoc committees to run the world had begun. The IMF’s own publication, Finance & Development, would later describe these groups as “a steering committee for the world economy,” driving the process of global governance.[99] In 1975, the U.S. Treasury Secretary, William E. Simon, wrote to President Ford, “I believe that bringing together finance ministers from time to time in these forums is a useful way of getting decisions on difficult and technically complex financial issues.”[100]

A few months later, Henry Kissinger would explain to President Ford the strategy “to use economics to build a world political structure.” Two days after Kissinger made that statement to the President, a larger meeting was held at the White House which included all of the top financial diplomats and economic advisers in the Ford administration, where the strategy was further discussed. As Kissinger told the other ministers during the meeting, “it is better to have the Finance Ministers be bastards, that’s where I want it.”[101]

Before the end of the year, the Group of Five would meet for the first time at the level of heads of state, holding their inaugural meeting in Rambouillet, France, where Italy was also invited as an additional member. The following year, Canada would be invited to join, thus crowning the annual meeting as the Group of Seven (G7), which continues to meet to this very day, functioning as “an informal Western directorate,” as the New York Times described it in 1975.[102] The ministers and central bankers of the G5 would continue to function as the primary forum for economic coordination until the mid-1980s, when the G7 ministers and central bank governors would officially replace it.

The financial and corporate power that was concentrated in the G-7 nations began to expand across the world, and so too did major economic, financial and debt crises. The powerful nations would then have to come to the rescue of their own banks by providing bailouts for foreign nations who owed the banks money and were too poor to pay. In return for financial ‘aid’, largely channeled through the IMF, the Group of Seven nations would demand strict conditions to be met, including sweeping changes to the economic, political and social structure of the nation getting the bailout. Their economies would be forced to reform to the ‘market system’, benefitting domestic oligarchs and elites, as well as large banks and corporations in the G-7 nations. A financial or debt crisis would manifest as a form of financial warfare, while the bailout programs would function as economic occupations designed to advance the interests of the Empire.

From the early 1980s to the early 2000s, these debt crises spread from Latin America to Africa, Eastern Europe, East Asia, Russia and back to Latin America. The International Monetary Fund functioned like an imperial management facility, controlling entire nations and regions like an occupying power. As early as 1977, the U.S. Treasury Secretary, Michael Blumenthal, wrote to President Jimmy Carter discussing the importance of the IMF, while acknowledging that many nations of the world were complaining about the harsh conditions attached to IMF loans. Blumenthal wrote, “The IMF for years served as a kind of whipping boy,” noting that countries that were in crisis and needed to take drastic measures to solve their financial situations (usually in the form of painful austerity measures) would “often need an external source to blame. The IMF is an ideal candidate and is accustomed to being in that position.” Further, he wrote, “If we didn’t have the IMF, we would have to invent another institution to perform this function.”[103]

In the early 1990s, the IMF was managing ‘programs’ in over 50 countries around the world, which “helps explain why it has long been demonized as an all-powerful, behind-the-scenes puppeteer for the third world,” in the words of the New York Times.[104] In 1992, the Financial Times noted that the fall of the Soviet Union “left the IMF and G7 to rule the world and create a new imperial age,” which “works through a system of indirect rule that has involved the integration of leaders of developing countries into the network of the new ruling class.”[105] When Russia was invited to these special meetings, they would be known as the Group of Eight (G-8), but the G-7 still served as the core of global governance.

In the late 1990s, a new committee was formed, known as the Group of Twenty (G-20), which consisted of the finance ministers and central bankers of the G-7 nations, the European Union and twelve major “emerging market” economies: Russia, China, India, Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, Argentina, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Australia and South Korea.[106] It would not be until the global financial crisis of 2008 that the G-20 would meet at the level of heads of state, when it held its first meeting in Washington, D.C. on November 15.[107] By September of 2009, the G20 had effectively become “the new global economic coordinator” and “steering committee” for the world economy.[108] From 2011 onwards, the G7 would only meet “informally,” with the G20 finance ministers and central bankers gathering prior to the IMF and World Bank spring and annual meetings in order to coordinate strategy and policies.[109]

Despite the dry and uninspiring names of the groupings, the reality is that they function as conclaves of empire, where ministers and governors align in their respective cliques – such as advanced versus emerging market economies – and pursue their individual national and collective interests. The emerging market economies push for greater representation and authority in international organizations such as the IMF, attempting to increase their own power within the apparatus of global governance and empire. Power struggles and financial warfare between nations are left to behind-the-scenes negotiations and discussions, kept largely out of the public eye.

In 2010, the then-chairman of the International Monetary and Financial Committee (formerly the Interim Committee of the IMF) was Youssef Boutros-Ghali, the finance minister of the Egyptian dictatorship, widely respected in financial circles, though much hated among Egyptians as a representation of the dictatorship’s extreme corruption. That year, a currency war had erupted between the rich nations and the emerging market economies, in which countries like China and Brazil were seeking to make their currencies more competitive than Western currencies, thus making their exports cheaper and more attractive. Financial diplomats began to fret about the potential implications of the currency warfare. The issue was to be taken up at the IMFC meeting, though Boutros-Ghali stressed that the subject “will not be on the public agenda” during the IMF meetings. “These are issues that you solve in closed rooms,” he said, and needed “to be handled quietly and in a spirit of cooperation.” Such important issues were not for public discussion, as it could frighten markets and accidentally reveal to the public the true nature of the global economic system. Instead, Boutros-Ghali explained, “It is something that needs quiet discussions, quiet diplomacy to get things moving.”[110]

The “quiet diplomacy” of “closed room” meetings of finance ministers and central bankers is one of the defining characteristics of the modern imperial system. There is no better example of this system today than that of the European Union and its debt crisis, which began in 2010.

Europe Under Empire

One of the most important institutions in Europe is called the ‘Eurogroup’, consisting of the finance ministers of the 19 nations that use the euro as their common currency within the 28-nation European Union. From the time that Europe’s debt crisis began in early 2010, the Eurogroup would hold meetings at least once a month, with top officials from the IMF, the European Commission (the executive body of the EU) and the European Central Bank (ECB) also participating. The Eurogroup was presided over by a president, Jean-Claude Juncker, who also served as the Prime Minister and Finance Minister of Luxembourg.

The Eurogroup functions as a type of board of directors for the eurozone economies, meeting behind closed doors at various locations across Europe where they negotiate and attempt to establish a consensus in managing the debt crisis, forcing countries in crisis (such as Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Italy and Spain) to impose austerity measures, cutting social spending and increasing unemployment and poverty for the benefit of banks and financial markets. The future of the European Union and its 500 million citizens is decided in these “secret meetings” of finance ministers, central bankers and transnational technocrats.[111]

In April of 2011, Jean-Claude Juncker was speaking at a conference of European elites when he said, “Monetary policy is a serious issue. We should discuss this in secret, in the Eurogroup.” Juncker explained that throughout his more than two decades as prime minister of Luxembourg, making him the longest-sitting head of state in the E.U. at the time, he often “had to lie” in order to prevent financial markets from panicking. Just as monetary policy had long been discussed and decided in secret meetings of central bankers, Juncker felt that all major economic decisions should be discussed and agreed upon in the same way. “I’m ready to be insulted as being insufficiently democratic, but I want to be serious,” he explained, “I am for secret, dark debates.”[112] The following month, he lived up to his reputation and became the target of criticism after he lied to the press about a secret meeting of the Eurogroup that was taking place in a Luxembourg castle to discuss a second possible bailout for Greece.[113]

Presented to the public as an essentially economic issue, Europe’s debt crisis is discussed and debated through the use of financial rhetoric and terminology in all its bland and vague varieties: fiscal discipline, structural reform, austerity, labour flexibility, budget and trade deficits, external imbalances, internal adjustments, strict conditionality and deficit reduction strategies. Many of these terms are interchangeable, and while they all provide the appearance of technical expertise and understanding, they have profoundly important meanings and implications.

For example, the main policy pushed on countries in crisis is to demand that they cut all forms of social spending, including health care, education, welfare, social services, firing large amounts of public-sector workers, dismantling government programs and policies which benefit the majority of the population, creating mass unemployment and poverty. This systematic impoverishment of the population is a brutal process that results in mass misery, increased suffering, hunger, disease, skyrocketing suicide rates and social devastation. To describe this process in these terms, however, would be to prevent the policies from ever being implemented. Instead, these policies and programs are described with the following terms: austerity, fiscal discipline, fiscal adjustment, belt-tightening, deficit reduction, balancing the books, and budget consolidation.

The brutality of the European and global economic empires remains hidden behind these bland terms. But the truth is revealed in the countries and on the streets of those nations most affected by the debt crisis, in Greece and Spain, Italy, Ireland and Portugal. Unemployment has soared, particularly among youth, of whom more than 50 percent remained unemployed in Greece and Spain by 2015. Poverty and suffering under the E.U.’s economic colonization programs have prompted social unrest, resistance, riots and rebellions, new social movements, anti-austerity political parties and even the rapid rise of fascism. Germany dominates Europe and its major institutions, as the largest economy on the continent, second-largest exporter in the world after China, and fourth largest economy in the world as a whole (following the U.S., China and Japan). Its economic weight makes it the most powerful nation influencing and directing the apparatus of the European Union, including the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the Eurogroup, with significant influence (especially alongside other rich EU nations) in the IMF and Bank for International Settlements (BIS).

Germany leads a bloc of rich nations within the European Union who are the strongest advocates of “fiscal discipline” and “austerity,” among them the Netherlands, Finland, Luxembourg and Austria, generally referred to as the northern bloc or creditor countries. France, the second-largest economy in the European Union, generally leads a bloc consisting of the ‘southern’ nations, the debtor nations. The rich countries provide the majority of funding to the E.U.’s institutions, and thus wield the greatest influence.

Germany and France were the two most influential countries in constructing the European Union over the course of the previous six decades, with consistent cooperation and support among the Benelux countries (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg), and occasionally the United Kingdom, though its influence has dramatically decreased in recent years. As a result of this process, the rules that were written were done so in such a way as to benefit this ‘core’ group of nations more than any others. Despite the fact that there are 28 nations in the European Union, the collective weight of a core group consisting of a handful of rich nations is able to direct the process of integration and force the other member nations to change their policies and transform their societies.

As financial markets began to punish countries for having high debt levels, plunging them into crisis, the European Union, its key institutions and leaders began to mobilize to provide large ‘bailouts’ to these countries. Big banks, most notably those based in Germany and France, had lent large amounts of money to several nations, including Greece, and wanted their interest payments to be made on time. The banking systems in the rich countries were thus under threat of potentially facing the consequences of their own bad loans. To prevent the banks from having to suffer, the rich nations agreed to establish bailout programs which would be managed by the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). These three institutions, collectively known as the Troika, would provide the money for the bailouts and in turn would set the conditions demanded by the core nations for the bailout countries to implement, namely, austerity and impoverishment. The Troika institutions are entirely unaccountable to voters and publics, representing unelected and anti-democratic technocratic tyrannies, yet they wield unprecedented power over entire populations and societies.

The European Commission functions as the executive branch of the E.U., writing legislation and managing roughly two dozen governmental cabinet departments, headed by individual Commissioners, the most influential and important of which is the Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs. For much of the debt crisis, this individual was Olli Rehn, a Finnish politician who served in that position from 2009 to 2014. Coming from Finland, Rehn was closely aligned with the core group of rich nations and was among the strongest individual proponents of austerity throughout the crisis. The Commission itself was presided over by a President, personified in the former Portuguese Prime Minister, José Manuel Barroso, who served in the role from 2004 to 2014.

The European Central Bank (ECB) manages the monetary policy for the 19 member nations of the eurozone who share a common currency. The ECB is run by a president, a role held from 2003 to 2011 by a Frenchman, Jean-Claude Trichet, a former governor of France’s central bank, the Banque du France. From late 2011 on, the role of president was held by an Italian, Mario Draghi, previously the governor of the Bank of Italy. The ECB is further managed by an Executive Board, consisting of the president, vice president and four other members appointed from different EU countries. In addition, the ECB has a Governing Council made up of the governors of the national central banks of the eurozone economies, collectively comprising what is called the Eurosystem. The German Bundesbank and its president is the most powerful individual central bank in the ECB, often allied with its Dutch, Finnish and Austrian counterparts.[114] Both the Executive Board and Governing Board are responsible for making the major decisions in the central bank’s policies and play a highly influential role in managing the European debt crisis, especially in crisis-hit countries.

Technically speaking, the ECB is an independent institution, meaning that it is given political independence from the nation states of the European Union, serving its mandate as a technocratic institution interested only in a stable monetary policy, free of interference from political leaders. The core countries of the EU, however, wield significant influence on the ECB, and not only through their appointments to the Executive Board and their respective national central banks, but in behind-the-scenes negotiations and secret meetings. As the heads of state of the core eurozone nations frequently formed an allied bloc in their negotiations and management of the European debt crisis, these blocs were reflected inside the ECB and other EU institutions,[115] and Germany remained the most influential of all.[116]

The behind-the-scenes power politics between nations was also reflected in the Eurogroup of finance ministers, where Germany and France would have to negotiate an agreement, with Germany leading the group of countries demanding harsh measures, alongside the Netherlands and Finland.[117] This has allowed Germany, the Netherlands and Finland to have some of the most influential finance ministers in managing the entire process and policies of reform and deeper integration in the European Union.[118] Many of these policies and programs are agreed through the “secret, dark debates” of the Eurogroup meetings, to borrow Jean-Claude Juncker’s phrase.

The German Finance Ministry is located in Berlin, housed in a Nazi-era building which previously served as the headquarters for the Nazi air force, the Luftwaffe, from which Hitler’s second-in-command, Herman Goering, plotted the bombing campaigns across Europe. Today, the same building serves as the main center for managing Germany’s economic empire in the EU and the Troika occupations of crisis countries. The building “is a monument to both the Nazis’ ambition and their taste,” noted Vanity Fair, though the statues of eagles sitting atop large swastikas have been removed.[119]

In late 2011, Europe’s debt crisis was reaching new heights, with financial markets waging a vicious assault against Greece and Italy for their failure to impose brutal austerity measures on their populations. It was at the Old Opera House in Frankfurt, Germany, where a farewell party was being held for Jean-Claude Trichet, president of the ECB, resigning from his post at the end of the month (to be replaced by Mario Draghi). Nearly all of Europe’s key policymakers were present at the party, but as the crisis escalated, a small group of top officials held an “explosive” behind-the-scenes meeting to try to come to an agreement on forming a response. Nicolas Sarkozy squared off against Trichet, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel coming to the central banker’s side. But the real significance of the meeting was that it established the formation of a small ad hoc group of eight individuals at the top of the EU’s power structure who would be able to collectively steer the course of Europe.[120]

They called themselves the ‘Frankfurt Group’, though the media dubbed them Europe’s new ‘Politburo’, reflecting the similar functions of China’s top ruling body. The group consisted of the German Chancellor, French President, the head of the ECB, the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, the Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs, Olli Rehn, the President of the Eurogroup of finance ministers, Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, and the Managing Director of the IMF, former French finance minister Christine Lagarde.[121]

Within the following three weeks, the Frankfurt Group would orchestrate coup d’états in both Greece and Italy, removing democratically-elected prime ministers and political parties from power, replacing them with economists and central bankers, technocratic tyrants whose sole purpose was to impose the brutal austerity measures demanded by banks and financial markets. One of the key battlegrounds in the war waged by the Frankfurt Group was in the lead-up to and during the G20 summit of leaders and ministers at Cannes, France in early November of 2011.[122]

Less than a week before the G20 summit, Greece’s prime minister, George Papandreou, surprised members of his own cabinet and infuriated Europe’s rulers when he decided to hold a referendum asking Greek citizens if they were willing to follow the conditions set by the bailout agreement with the Troika. Sarkozy went “ballistic” and summoned Papandreou to Cannes for a meeting with several officials of the Frankfurt Group in order “to put Papandreou against the wall, in the corner,” in the words of one person present at the meeting. Over the following weeks, the Group would orchestrate the removal of Papandreou from power, replacing him with Lucas Papademos, the former Vice President of the European Central Bank from 2002 to 2010, prior to which he was the governor of the central bank of Greece from 1994, simultaneously sitting as a member of the ECB’s governing council from its creation in 1998 until 2002. European Commission President José Manuel Barroso had played a central role in removing Papandreou from power, operating secretly from hotel rooms with his close aides and without the knowledge of Merkel or Sarkozy.[123]

When the world’s major leaders headed to Cannes in early November for the G20 summit, President Obama was given an inside look into the inner workings of European power politics, even attending a meeting of the Frankfurt Group. The European debt crisis took international headlines and was the main topic of discussion at the summit. The Obama administration, with Timothy Geithner as Treasury Secretary, had for months been working quietly through financial diplomacy to encourage a more comprehensive solution to Europe’s crisis, attempting to balance the interests of global financial markets with those of Germany. Obama told Chancellor Merkel and other leaders, “Our preference is that the ECB should act a bit like the Federal Reserve did,” referring to its role in acting as a “lender of last resort,” providing funds for states or banks that needed quick cash to avoid a crisis.[124]

The ECB’s legal mandate reflected that of its major national backer, the German Bundesbank, the chief architect and prototype of the ECB structure. Holding a far more conservative and ‘hawkish’ approach to monetary policy than most of the world’s other central banks, the mandate stressed that the central bank was not allowed to finance governments, and so instead of acting quickly to bailout governments in need, financial markets wage war against nations in need of funds while EU leaders squabble and negotiate the details of programs that require the countries to restructure their entire societies. The longer the negotiations drag out, the more vicious the assault of financial markets will be. This exacerbates the crisis and weakens the negotiating position of the crisis country, allowing the powerful countries to extract more concessions and impose more demands.

Central bankers frequently refer to the term and concept of “creative destruction,” referring to the role that financial crises play in providing the needed pressure on countries to change their policies and restructure their societies, following the orders of central bankers, finance ministers and other technocrats. Andrew Crockett was the former head of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), the central bank to the world’s central banks, who was one of the most respected international monetary diplomats of his era. Crockett described “creative destruction” as a process of financial instability that “is not only inevitable but also positive.” It forces various governing and social systems “to change and adapt,” destroying old and creating new institutions and structures. This process “has to be allowed to work.”[125] Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan referred to creative destruction as the “partner” of “free-market competition,” noting that where markets go, crises follow.[126]

As financial markets creatively destroyed European countries, the Frankfurt Group held four meetings on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Cannes, with its eight ‘Politburo’ members wearing badges marked ‘Groupe de Francfort’. Obama was invited to one of the meetings where he received a “crash course” in Europe’s ruling structures and processes. One participant in the meeting referred to the American president as “a quick learner.” Obama continued to meet with other European leaders assembled at Cannes, attempting to help forge a response to the crisis. At one point, he pulled Angela Merkel aside just prior to a G20 working session and said, “I guess you guys have to be creative here.”[127]

And they got creative with Italy’s Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, the billionaire media oligarch who was long a thorn in the side of EU leaders, consistently failing to impose the austerity measures demanded by Brussels, Frankfurt and Berlin. Chancellor Merkel had been quietly working behind the scenes for weeks to remove Berlusconi from power.[128] On November 12, Berlusconi was forced to resign and his replacement was Mario Monti, an economist and former European Commissioner.[129] Monti was also a founder and honorary chairman of Bruegel, a Brussels-based international economic think tank. He served on advisory boards to Coca-Cola and Goldman Sachs, was a former Steering Committee member of the Bilderberg Group, and at the time of his appointment as Prime Minister, he was serving as the European Chairman of the Trilateral Commission, the transnational think tank founded by David Rockefeller in 1973. Lucas Papademos, the technocratic prime minister of Greece, was also drawn from among the membership of the Trilateral Commission.

It no doubt helped matters that Mario Monti was “an old family friend” of the Agnelli family, whose young patriarch, John Elkann, was also a Trilateral Commission member. Monti even served on the board of Fiat for some time. After Monti assumed his position as Prime Minister of Italy, he would meet regularly with John Elkann, who lobbied on behalf of Italian industry to promote reforms that benefit large companies.[130] Six months into his technocratic government, John Elkann said that there was “no doubt that Monti becoming prime minister has been positive for Italy.”[131]

Following the Frankfurt Group’s two coups, the Wall Street Journal praised the moves as “exactly the kind of game-changing display of political power euro-zone leaders have promised but failed to deliver since the start of the crisis,” adding that it was “sure to be greeted with similar jubilation in the market.” The “self-appointed Frankfurt Group,” however, lacked legitimacy and was representative of a “democratic deficit” in the European Union.[132] The Financial Times referred to technocrats as “efficient, calculating machines” who might “lack a democratic mandate but they’re fantastically well-regarded in Frankfurt.” The job of the “brilliant but bloodless functionaries” was to push through “unpopular measures” without concern for citizens.[133]

The New York Times referred to the technocratic coups as “the cold reality of 21st-century politics,” in which Greek and Italian citizens “have just watched democratically elected governments toppled by pressure from financiers, European Union bureaucrats and foreign heads of state.” Democracy and national sovereignty might be pleasant concepts, but when it comes to a crisis, “it’s the technocrats who really get to call the shots,” with stability for the euro and the European Union pursued “at the expense of democracy.” Real power in the European Union “would pass permanently to the forces represented by the so-called Frankfurt Group.”[134]

Roger Altman is the chairman of Evercore Partners, a major U.S. investment bank, and a former top U.S. Treasury Department official during the Clinton administration, having served a long career between Wall Street and Washington. Altman also happens to be a member of the Steering Committee of the Bilderberg meetings, as well as writing regular columns in the financial press. In December of 2011, Altman reflected on the events of previous months in an article for the Financial Times, concluding that financial markets were “acting like a global supra-government” which is able to “oust entrenched regimes where normal political processes could not do so,” and “force austerity, banking bail-outs and other major policy changes.”

Their influence “dwarfs” that of institutions like the IMF, and apart from “unusable nuclear weapons,” financial markets “have become the most powerful force on earth.” When their power is “flexed,” he wrote, “the immediate impact on society can be painful,” with growing unemployment and the collapse of governments. Whether the power of financial markets was “healthy” for the world was not important, he suggested, but their power “is permanent.” Altman concluded, “above all, there is no stopping the new policing role of the financial markets. There may be more frequent market crises. We should not rush to conclude that they will end in tears.” At least, not in tears for those who run large banks.[135]

Financial markets, technocrats, central bankers, finance ministers and the top political leaders of the dominant nations have wreaked havoc on Europe. The process of economic colonization of the ‘periphery’ nations of the E.U. has advanced year after year. Nations were repeatedly put under Troika occupation, with policies dictated by technocrats and politicians in Brussels, Frankfurt, Berlin, Paris and Washington. The policies create mass suffering as austerity destroys the countries, impoverishes their populations, while the various ‘structural reforms’ open up the economy to be plundered cheaply by foreign banks and corporations. Commentators in the press, however, began to increasingly warn about Europe’s “democratic deficit” and its crisis of legitimacy in the eyes of its 500 million citizens.[136]

One of the world’s largest banks, JPMorgan Chase, published a report on Europe’s debt crisis in May of 2013, stating that the process of “adjustment” in the eurozone was “about halfway done on average,” and warning that austerity would need to continue “for a very extended period” and that leaders would need to deal with “deep seated” political problems. The bank identified what it viewed as the main problems, embedded in the constitutions and political systems of many of the countries in crisis, including the “constitutional protection of labor rights” and “the right to protest if unwelcome changes are made to the political status quo.”[137]

There was, of course, a reason why the EU’s technocratic, political and financial elite were growing increasingly worried about “democratic legitimacy” and people exercising “the right to protest.” The citizens of Europe, especially the ‘periphery’ nations under various forms of Troika and financial market pressure, had been increasingly involved in social unrest, protests, urban rebellions and the emergence of new, populist, anti-austerity and increasingly revolutionary movements. These processes were not confined to Europe, however, as resistance movements were taking place with increased frequency and ferocity around the world in the wake of the global financial crisis.

The Age of Rage

It was in late 2010 and early 2011 that the world witnessed the start of a new phase of global uprisings, with the Arab Spring erupting and spreading across much of the Middle East and North Africa, leading to the removal of long-time U.S. and European-supported dictators in Tunisia, Egypt, and Yemen, with protests spreading across many more nations, upsetting the established order. The Saudis, along with the other Gulf Arab dynastic dictatorships, led the counter-revolution against the move to democracy, spreading violence, chaos and civil war from Libya to Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and beyond.

In the European Union, the year 2011 also turned out to be a very dramatic one in terms of protests, social unrest and anti-austerity movements. Protests of tens of thousands in Greece would erupt in violent confrontations with the police,[138] as a new anti-austerity movement began spreading across the country, going by the name, ‘I Won’t Pay’ (for someone else’s crisis).[139] As Portugal was strong-armed into a bailout program, the “desperate generation” of youth, inspired by the Arab Spring protests, sparked a new social movement organized via social media, struggling against the “wasted aspirations of a whole generation,” with more than 30 percent of youth unemployed across the country.[140] Even Brussels experienced instances of riot police turning water cannons and tear gas on protesters who were opposing the E.U.’s policies and increased powers.[141]

The protests in Portugal in turn inspired a new protest movement in Spain, where thousands of youth occupied the Puerto del Sol square in Madrid in opposition to the main political parties and austerity. Known as the ‘Indignados’ (the indignant ones), the movement spread across much of the country as unemployment among youth soared to 45 percent.[142] The Guardian noted that, “a youth-led rebellion is spreading across southern Europe.”[143] Thousands of protesters turned up to voice their opposition to the Group of 8 (G-7 plus Russia) summit in May of 2011.[144] At the end of that month, tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets across Europe, from Spain to Germany, France, Greece, Portugal and beyond, answering the call for a “European Revolution” in over one hundred cities across the continent.[145] Spain’s Indignados paved the way for similar movements to be replicated in several other countries, notably including Greece.[146]

In the pages of the Financial Times, Gideon Rachman wrote that “2011 is turning into the year of global indignation,” from the Arab world, to Europe, India, China, Chile and even Israel. “Many of the countries hit by unrest,” he noted, “have explicitly accepted rising inequality as a price worth paying for rapid economic growth.”[147] Protests and social unrest spread across Europe throughout the summer, particularly in Greece and Italy. In September, a protest following the examples set in the Arab world and Europe began in New York City, starting what would later be known as the Occupy Wall Street Movement.[148] The occupation continued through the month, facing increased police repression countered with growing numbers of supporters.[149] At the same time, Greece was facing growing domestic unrest as the Troika auditors were in Athens pressuring the government to meet ‘reform’ targets.[150]

By October of 2011, thousands were on the streets in Portugal,[151] over 700 Occupy Wall Street protesters were arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge,[152] and the Occupy Movement began spreading across the United States to dozens of other cities.[153] Tens of thousands of protesters continued to take to the streets of Athens, where they were met with the oppressive state apparatus in the form of riot police tear gassing Greek citizens.[154] In mid-October, Occupy Wall Street had become international, igniting Occupy protests and encampments across Europe and Canada.[155] On a global day of protest on October 15, there were demonstrations in roughly 951 different cities across 87 different countries.[156] Roughly 150,000 people marched in Rome, thousands marched toward Angela Merkel’s Chancellery office in Berlin, with several thousand more marching on the European Central Bank headquarters in Frankfurt,[157] as Germany experienced protests bringing out roughly 40,000 people in 50 different cities.[158] The German Finance Minister, Wolfgang Schauble, told the media that he was taking the protests “very seriously.”[159]

The Financial Times noted that protesters were “united in their loathing of bankers on both sides of the Atlantic,” and despite their different circumstances, they “find common ground in their outrage at the lack of economic opportunities and their alienation from mainstream politics.” The editorial warned politicians not to ignore the protests, as “failure to address these concerns would risk reinforcing the protesters’ sense of disengagement, transforming their alienation into a dangerous self-fulfilling prophecy.” The demands of most protesters were not “yet a rejection of capitalism,” many were simply expressing that they wanted “a more equitable share” in the benefits of the system. “It is therefore in everyone’s interest,” noted the editorial, “that their energy be directed into making capitalism work better rather than overturning it.”[160]

Martin Wolf in the Financial Times suggested that protesters were “raising some big questions,” but “for this to be the beginning of a new leftwing politics” there must be the emergence of “a credible new ideology.” In discussing the issue of inequality which was raised by the protests, Wolf wrote that while it would be “impossible to define an acceptable level of inequality,” it is ultimately “corrosive if those with wealth are believed to have rigged the game rather than won in honest competition.” Thus, with growing inequality, “the sense that we are equal as citizens weakens” while “democracy is sold to the highest bidder.” Wolf concluded: “The left does not know how to replace the market. But pro-marketeers still need to take the protests seriously. All is not well.”[161]

An Empire Under Threat

In 2012, Dominic Barton, the CEO of McKinsey & Company, the world’s largest consulting firm, wrote and published a small essay entitled, “Capitalism for the Long-Term”. Barton described the world since the global financial crisis began three years earlier, in which dramatic changes in power were taking place between the West and East (with the growth of Asia and the emerging market economies), as “a rise in populist politics and social stresses” combined with “significant strains on global governance systems.” These combinations would likely result in “increased geopolitical rivalries”, “security challenges”, and other “rising tensions.” The most important consequence of the crisis for the corporate oligarchy, however, was “the challenge to capitalism itself.” Barton noted that the crisis had “exacerbated the friction between business and society,” forcing leaders to confront “rising income inequality” and “understandable anger over high unemployment” as well as “a host of other issues.”[162]

A March 2013 report by the large Swiss bank, UBS, referred to social unrest as “a systemic phenomenon” which “is highly uncertain, complex and ambiguous,” warning that “it is highly likely to generate ripple effects into other sectors of the economy and society, possibly leading to the toppling of governments, or even political systems.”[163] A July 2013 report from the French insurance giant, AXA, reflected on protests and urban rebellions erupting in what were previously considered ‘stable’ emerging market nations, such as Turkey and Brazil. AXA’s Investment Managers report noted that many emerging market nations were “currently experiencing a surge in political risk due to social unrest,” the main cause of which “is the rise of the middle class in these countries.”[164]

The World Economic Forum published its report on Global Risks in 2014 just in time for its annual meeting, having prepared the report in collaboration large insurance giants and prestigious universities. The report noted that “the generation coming of age in the 2010s faces high unemployment and precarious job situations, hampering their efforts to build a future and raising the risk of social unrest.”[165] In general, it wrote, “the mentality of this generation is realistic, adaptive and versatile,” and while they are “full of ambition to make the world a better place,” they feel “disconnected from traditional politics and government.”[166]

The report cited a recent global opinion survey of youth which noted that young people “think independently” of past generations, and that this “points to a wider distrust of authorities and institutions.” Having witnessed the response of governments in the wake of the financial crisis, as well as the NSA Internet spying scandals, youth populations are increasingly alienated from authorities. “Anti-austerity movements and other protests give voice to an increasing distrust in current socio-economic and political systems,” said the report, as youth populations accounted for an “important” segment of the population which expressed their “general disappointment” with both “regional and global governance bodies such as the EU and the [IMF].” The report noted that the “digital revolution” had provided youth around the world with “unprecedented access to knowledge and information worldwide,” allowing them “to build abstract networks addressing single issues and place less importance on traditionally organized political parties and leadership.”[167] This youth population represented a “lost generation” who could fuel social unrest, “vulnerable to being sucked into criminal or extremist movements.”[168]

The global Mafiocracy was so concerned with growing unrest, protests and the potential for revolution, that the Rothschild banking dynasty itself organized a special conference on the subject. Hosted by Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild, wife of Sir Evelyn de Rothschild, the ‘Conference on Inclusive Capitalism’ was held in the very exclusive Mansion House in London’s financial district, closed to the public and press. The May 2014 conference was exclusively for the world’s super-rich oligarchs, institutions and dynasties. Some 250 individuals were invited, collectively responsible for managing more than $30 trillion in assets, accounting for roughly one-third of the world’s investable wealth located in one room. As NPR noted, “If money is power, then this is the most powerful group of people ever to focus on income inequality.”[169]

Among the speakers at the Conference were Prince Charles; former President Bill Clinton (a close friend of Jacob and Lynn de Rothschild); Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the IMF; Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England and a top international central banking official; Lionel Barber, an editor at the Financial Times; Dominic Barton of McKinsey & Co., as well as top executives from Honeywell, UBS, BlackRock, The Dow Chemical Company, Unilever, Google, GlaxoSmithKline and Prudential.[170]

“Now is the time to be famous or fortunate,” said the central banker Mark Carney. He told the assembled members of the Mafiocracy, “just as any revolution eats its children, unchecked market fundamentalism can devour the social capital essential for the long-term dynamism of capitalism itself.” In other words, the capitalist system was eating itself. “Capitalism loses its sense of moderation,” said Carney, “when the belief in the power of markets enters the realm of faith.” This kind of religious “radicalism came to dominate economic ideas and became a pattern of social behaviour,” and in the decades leading up to the global financial crisis, “we moved from a market economy to a market society.”[171]

Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the IMF, began her speech by discussing Karl Marx, “who predicted that capitalism, in its excesses, carried the seeds of its own destruction,” as “the accumulation of capital in the hands of a few” would lead “to major conflicts, and cyclical crises.” Lagarde warned that capitalism has increasingly “been associated with high unemployment, rising social tensions, and growing political disillusion.” Among the “main casualties,” she said, “has been trust – in leaders, in institutions, in the free-market system itself,” citing a recent poll which revealed that only one in five people “believed that government or business leaders would tell the truth on an important issue.” This, she explained, “is a wakeup call,” adding, “in a world that is more networked than ever, trust is harder to earn and easier to lose.”[172]

As the global Mafiocracy grows increasingly worried about the potential revolutionary implications of the “lost generation” of youth around the world, struggling to make their parasitic planetary system of Empire legitimate in the eyes of the citizens of the world, the youth are left behind, already written off as “lost.” Youth and young adults are better educated and have more access to information and communication than ever before in human history, yet their prospects for jobs, social elevation and opportunities appear increasingly grim and uneasy. Frustrated and furious youth have been the leading force behind the resistance movements, riots, rebellions and revolutions that have spread across much of the world in the wake of the global financial crisis, from Eastern Europe to the Middle East and North Africa, the European Union, to the streets of Ferguson and Baltimore in the United States.

Western ‘democratic’ society is becoming increasingly closed. It is evolving into a high-tech police and surveillance state. The United States government continues to wage a race war against the minority black population who are treated as an internally colonized population, with high rates of police repression and imprisonment. The political system is visibly ruled by parasites, with all the pomposity of the Roman Senate. The plutocrats have lavish and distant lives, segregated in their obscene wealth and unseen influence. The middle class is a debt-slave class, fueling consumption through credit, now in the slow and painful process of being exsanguinated of their economic vitality and opportunities. Some will rise to the higher ranks, but the rest will be pushed down to where the poor have always been. Increasingly, much larger segments of the American population will find themselves in similar circumstances as their fellow black, Hispanic, Indigenous and immigrant neighbours.

In this environment, the United States still sits at the center of global monetary, financial, economic and corporate power. The U.S. dollar remains the world’s reserve currency, and the country is still the largest economy. Through the process of integrating the increasingly rich and powerful nations of Latin America, the Middle East and Asia into the Empire of Economics, the stakes have become higher and the challenges greater, as the U.S. seeks to maintain its dominant position, and thus its ability to shape the changing global order. With many new players in the game of global power politics, there are more negotiations, consultations, forums for cooperation and frequent confrontations. As the United States and Europe increasingly aggravate Russia by expanding their empire to its border, the threat for economic competition to break out into actual warfare grows.

The human species is in a deeply precarious situation. As the Empire of Economics increasingly benefits the comparatively small global Mafiocracy at the expense of most of the world’s remaining 7 billion people, the economic and military structures of global empire are rapidly accelerating their devastation of the natural environment and ecosystem upon which all life on the planet depends. Human beings are confronted with a profound question: As we soar forward on our current path toward increased poverty, exploitation and environmental destruction, at what point do we begin to more directly question the legitimacy of the existing global system which determines the fate and direction of the species? As we face the increasing possibility of a mass extinction of our species over the coming century, as the democratic facades of modern society crumble and high-tech totalitarian police states rise in their place, there has perhaps never been a time in history where it was more essential for the people of the world to begin to create alternatives to the existing global system.

The concept of a truly global, transformative revolution in the organization of human society, power relations and purpose must be contemplated in a more serious, deliberate effort. This book hopes to encourage this discussion through an expanded understanding of the realities of global power politics, the ruling Mafiocracy and the Empire of Economics. A genuine global revolution is an absolute necessity. But far from promoting a mere ideological or philosophical alternative, this text hopes to encourage a more pragmatic approach to organizing resistance both outside and within the existing global order and its various institutions.

A dual strategy is required in operating outside the global hierarchy, experimenting with creative alternatives constructed from the bottom-up, while simultaneously playing the game of power politics to directly challenge the Empire of Economics in its own arena. Instead of dividing these efforts between those who advocate for revolutionary alternatives and those who encourage reformist initiatives, a more coherent and organized strategy should be invoked, establishing alternative forums, organizations and avenues of cooperation between revolutionaries and reformers. This serves multiple purposes, as it would allow for revolutionary movements to maintain contact and provide direction to reformers and new political parties, instead of leaving them to engage only with the existing power structures, thus increasing the chances that they may be co-opted by the Empire and undermine the efforts of revolutionary groups. Instead, revolutionary movements would be encouraged to co-opt and even control the direction and efforts of reformist groups and political parties.

Strategic thinking and planning should become commonplace among revolutionary movements and efforts. Debate, discussion, coordination and creative construction among opposition groups must increasingly come to replace division, derision, co-optation and ‘creative destruction’. For this to emerge, the initiative must be taken by revolutionary groups to create the organizations and opportunities to engage with each other and reformist groups, to create a space for cooperation and provide the impetus for strategic direction. Just as the Mafiocracy has created forums and institutions through which they engage and influence policy-makers, educational and media structures, so too must revolutionary groups form parallel systems with similar functions, but opposing objectives.

This task can effectively be pursued by the “lost generation” of global youth who can become capable of finding their own way, charting their own path, imagining and creating their own world. It could be a world in which the human species has a higher purpose beyond that of contributing to “economic growth,” with greater prospects beyond that of probable extinction. Nothing less than everything we have and everyone we know is at stake.

What is frightfully clear is that the Empire of Economics does not serve the collective interests of humanity and the planetary system upon which life depends. We must do this ourselves, individually and collectively. The worst that could happen is to try and fail, remaining where we currently stand. The best that could happen is nothing if not unknown and unforeseeable, but altogether possible, if we wish and work to make it so. The future may yet belong to the people of the world, but only if we empower ourselves in the present. So perhaps it is time to become properly acquainted with the unforgiving, brutal realities of power politics, empire and resistance.

Notes

[1] Memorandum of Conversation, 24 May 1975: Foreign Relations of the United States, 1973-1976, Vol. XXXI, Foreign Economic Policy, Document 292:

http://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1969-76v31/d292

[2] Memorandum of Conversation, 26 May 1975: Foreign Relations of the United States, 1973-1976, Vol. XXXI, Foreign Economic Policy, Document 294:
http://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1969-76v31/d294

[3] Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince (Cambridge University Press, 1988), page 59.

[4] Memo by George Kennan, Head of the US State Department Policy Planning Staff. Written February 28, 1948, Declassified June 17, 1974. George Kennan, “Review of Current Trends, U.S. Foreign Policy, Policy Planning Staff, PPS No. 23. Top Secret. Included in the U.S. Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1948, volume 1, part 2 (Washington DC Government Printing Office, 1976), 509-529:

http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Memo_PPS23_by_George_Kennan

[5] General Assembly, “Declaration on the Establishment of a New International Economic Order,” Resolution adopted by the General Assembly, United Nations, Resolution 3201 (S-VI), 1 May 1974:

http://www.un-documents.net/s6r3201.htm

[6] General Assembly, “Declaration on the Establishment of a New International Economic Order,” Resolution adopted by the General Assembly, United Nations, Resolution 3201 (S-VI), 1 May 1974:

http://www.un-documents.net/s6r3201.htm

[7] Charles R. Morris, “Old Money,” New York Times, 29 October 2006:

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/29/books/review/Morris.t.html?pagewanted

[8] Stephen Foley, “Richest dynasties back in the money after crunch,” The Independent, 24 September 2010:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/richest-dynasties-back-in-the-money-after-crunch-2088087.html

[9] Ray D. Madoff, “America Builds an Aristocracy,” New York Times, 11 July 2010:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/12/opinion/12madoff.html

[10] James D. Wolfensohn, Council on Foreign Relations Special Symposium in honor of David Rockefeller’s 90th Birthday, The Council on Foreign Relations, 23 May 2005: http://www.cfr.org/world/council-foreign-relations-special-symposium-honor-david-rockefellers-90th-birthday/p8133

[11] Nasdaq Institutional Portfolios, Rockefeller Financial Services, 31 December 2014: http://www.nasdaq.com/quotes/institutional-portfolio/rockefeller-financial-services-inc-66951;

Holdings Channel, Rockefeller Financial Services, 31 December 2014:

https://www.holdingschannel.com/all/stocks-held-by-rockefeller-financial-services-inc/

[12] Richard C. Morais, “Rock of Ages,” Barron’s Penta, 15 September 2012:

http://online.barrons.com/article/SB50001424053111904881404577609312447134388.html

[13] James Boxell, “Rothschilds eye cross-Channel unity,” Financial Times, 4 April 2012:

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/70388674-7e87-11e1-b009-00144feab49a.html#axzz2kzREcUuP

[14] Eytan Avriel and Guy Rolnik, “Family values,” Ha’aretz, 5 November 2010:

http://www.haaretz.com/weekend/magazine/family-values-1.323094

[15] Youssef M. Ibrahim, “Restoring The House of Rothschild,” New York Times, 27 October 1996:

http://www.nytimes.com/1996/10/27/business/restoring-the-house-of-rothschild.html?pagewanted=all

[16] Jane Stanton Hitchcock, “Portrait of a Lady: Lynn Forester de Rothschild,” Harper’s Bazaar, 12 May 2014:
http://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/features/lynn-forester-de-rothschild-interview-0514

[17] Obituaries, “Giovanni Agnelli,” The Telegraph, 25 January 2003:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/finance-obituaries/1419964/Giovanni-Agnelli.html

[18] Obituaries, “Giovanni Agnelli,” The Telegraph, 25 January 2003:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/finance-obituaries/1419964/Giovanni-Agnelli.html

[19] “Italy Convicts Fiat Chairman; Bars Him From Corporate Posts,” New York Times, 10 April 1997:

http://www.nytimes.com/1997/04/10/business/italy-convicts-fiat-chairman-bars-him-from-corporate-posts.html

[20] Joseph B. Treaster, “Marcus Wallenberg is Dead at 82; Top Swedish Banker-Industrialist,” New York Times, 15 September 1982:

http://www.nytimes.com/1982/09/15/obituaries/marcus-wallenberg-is-dead-at-82-top-swedish-banker-industrialist.html

[21] Stephanie Strom, “In Sweden, a Shy Dynasty Steps Out,” New York Times, 12 May 1996:

http://www.nytimes.com/1996/05/12/business/in-sweden-a-shy-dynasty-steps-out.html?pagewanted=3&pagewanted=all

[22] Barnaby J. Feder, “The Testing of Peter Wallenberg,” New York Times, 13 October 1985:

http://www.nytimes.com/1985/10/13/business/the-testing-of-peter-wallenberg.html?pagewanted=all

[23] Stephanie Strom, “In Sweden, a Shy Dynasty Steps Out,” New York Times, 12 May 1996:

http://www.nytimes.com/1996/05/12/business/in-sweden-a-shy-dynasty-steps-out.html?pagewanted=3&pagewanted=all

[24] “The Wallenbergs: Sweden’s enduring business dynasty,” The Economist, 12 October 2006:

http://www.economist.com/node/8023389

[25] Richard Milne, “Jacob Wallenberg, Investor head with more influence than money,” Financial Times, 29 June 2014:

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/58cf92ee-fd46-11e3-96a9-00144feab7de.html?_i_referer=https://www.google.ca/,#axzz3HJTHkBEd

[26] Kevin Dougherty, “Charest denies WikiLeaks charge,” The Windsor Star, 12 May 2011:

http://www2.canada.com/windsorstar/news/story.html?id=2f81c5ea-44be-4a59-b101-fdacf38f9c4e

[27] Sandra Martin, “Behind the scenes, Paul Desmarais was a force in Canadian politics,” Globe and Mail, 9 October 2013:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/behind-the-scenes-paul-desmarais-was-a-force-in-canadian-politics/article14768860/?page=all

[28] Paul Vieira and Stephen Miller, “Canadian Mogul Paul Desmarais Dead at 86,” Wall Street Journal, 9 October 2013:

http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304500404579125750923537742

[29] Rowan Callick, “Keeping it in the family,” The Australian, 27 February 2014:

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/features/keeping-it-in-the-family/story-e6frg6z6-1226838578644#

[30] Rowan Callick, “Keeping it in the family,” The Australian, 27 February 2014:

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/features/keeping-it-in-the-family/story-e6frg6z6-1226838578644#

[31] Jeremy Page, “Children of the Revolution,” Wall Street Journal, 26 November 2011:

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424053111904491704576572552793150470?mod=WSJ_hpp_RIGHTTopCarousel_1&mg=reno64-wsj

[32] Bloomberg News, “Heirs of Mao’s Comrades Rise as New Capitalist Nobility,” Bloomberg, 26 December 2012:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-12-26/immortals-beget-china-capitalism-from-citic-to-godfather-of-golf.html

[33] “Turkish conglomerates: Too big to fail, but in a good way,” The Economist, 1 February 2014:

http://www.economist.com/news/business/21595463-two-huge-family-firms-koc-and-sabanci-should-weather-turkeys-crisis-too-big-fail

[34] Marilyn Berger, “Harry Oppenheimer, 91, South African Industrialist, Dies,” New York Times, 21 August 2000:
http://www.nytimes.com/2000/08/21/business/harry-oppenheimer-91-south-african-industrialist-dies.html?pagewanted=all

[35] James Crabtree, “Indian pioneers combine profitability and probity,” Financial Times, 2 February 2015:

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/65e2602e-a66a-11e4-9bd3-00144feab7de.html#axzz3XjoejstQ

[36] Frederick E. Allen, “The Family Secret That Makes German Companies So Successful,” Forbes, 14 August 2012:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/frederickallen/2012/08/14/the-family-secret-that-makes-german-companies-so-successful/

[37] Ralph Atkins, “Archetypal family business head is wealthy but frugal,” Financial Times, 16 May 2007:

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/2b3a7a96-0349-11dc-a023-000b5df10621.html#axzz3XjoejstQ

[38] Stephen Evans, “Germany’s super-shy super-rich,” BBC, 28 July 2014:

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-28472884

[39] Fiona Govan, “BMW dynasty breaks silence over Nazi past,” The Telegraph, 29 September 2011:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/history/world-war-two/8796157/BMW-dynasty-breaks-silence-over-Nazi-past.html

[40] “The mystery of the world’s second-richest businessman,” The Economist, 25 February 1999:

http://www.economist.com/node/187913

[41] William D. Cohan, “The Stockholder in the Sand,” Vanity Fair, 21 March 2013:

http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2013/03/myth-prince-alwaleed-bin-talal-saudi

[42] Berkshire Hathaway, Annual Report 2013, Page 16:

http://www.berkshirehathaway.com/2013ar/2013ar.pdf

[43] Jack Witzig and Pamela Roux, “Bill Gates Fattens Wealth Gap Over Slim as Cascade Surges,” Bloomberg, 29 March 2013:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2013-05-29/bill-gates-fattens-wealth-gap-over-slim-as-cascade-surges

[44] Andy Coghlan and Debora MacKenzie, “Revealed – the capitalist network that runs the world,” New Scientist, 24 October 2011:

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21228354.500-revealed–the-capitalist-network-that-runs-the-world.html

[45] Andy Coghlan and Debora MacKenzie, “Revealed – the capitalist network that runs the world,” New Scientist, 24 October 2011:

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21228354.500-revealed–the-capitalist-network-that-runs-the-world.html

[46] Susanne Craig, “The Giant of Shareholders, Quietly Stirring,” New York Times, 18 May 2013:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/19/business/blackrock-a-shareholding-giant-is-quietly-stirring.html?pagewanted=all

[47] Gillian Tett, “‘BlackRock envy’ replaces Goldman allure,” Financial Times, 14 June 2012:

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/c1d6fc24-b63e-11e1-8ad0-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2noNtCpOd

[48] Henny Sender and Dan McCrum, “BlackRock: Ahead of the Street,” Financial Times, 28 November 2012:

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/2a24b71e-37c5-11e2-8edf-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2noNtCpOd

[49] Suzanna Andrews, “Larry Fink’s $12 Trillion Shadow,” Vanity Fair, April 2010:

http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2010/04/fink-201004

[50] Andrew Gavin Marshall, “The Global Banking ‘Super-Entity’ Drug Cartel: The “Free Market” of Finance Capital,” Andrewgavinmarshall.com, 28 October 2012:

https://andrewgavinmarshall.com/2012/10/28/the-global-banking-super-entity-drug-cartel-the-free-market-of-finance-capital/

[51] Theodore Draper, “Little Heinz And Big Henry,” New York Review of Books, 6 September 1992:

https://www.nytimes.com/books/98/12/06/specials/isaacson-kissinger.html

[52] Theodore Draper, “Little Heinz And Big Henry,” New York Review of Books, 6 September 1992:

https://www.nytimes.com/books/98/12/06/specials/isaacson-kissinger.html

[53] Remembrances, Words of Commemoration: Memorial Service for Nelson Rockefeller, 2 February 1979:

http://www.henryakissinger.com/eulogies/020279.html

[54] Judith Miller, “Kissinger Co.,” New York Times, 26 May 1979.

[55] Gerald Caplan, “Toronto welcomes Henry Kissinger, accused war criminal,” Globe & Mail, 3 June 2011:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/munk-debates/toronto-welcomes-henry-kissinger-accused-war-criminal/article4192522/;

Omar Aziz, “The Ivy League’s favorite war criminal: Why the atrocities of Henry Kissinger should be mandatory reading,” Salon, 17 April 2015:

http://www.salon.com/2015/04/17/the_ivy_leagues_favorite_war_criminal_why_the_atrocities_of_henry_kissinger_should_be_mandatory_reading/;

Fred Branfman, “The Top 10 Most Inhuman Henry Kissinger Quotes,” AlterNet, 24 April 2013:

http://www.alternet.org/world/top-10-most-inhuman-henry-kissinger-quotes;

Christopher Hitchens, “Kissinger Declassified,” Vanity Fair, December 2004:

http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2004/12/hitchens200412;

Sean O’Grady, “Henry Kissinger: A diplomatic colossus who is still a key influence in US amid Syria crisis,” The Independent, 13 September 2013:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/profiles/henry-kissinger-a-diplomatic-colossus-who-is-still-a-key-influence-in-us-amid-syria-crisis-8815533.html

[56] Gerald Caplan, “Toronto welcomes Henry Kissinger, accused war criminal,” Globe & Mail, 3 June 2011:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/munk-debates/toronto-welcomes-henry-kissinger-accused-war-criminal/article4192522/;

Omar Aziz, “The Ivy League’s favorite war criminal: Why the atrocities of Henry Kissinger should be mandatory reading,” Salon, 17 April 2015:

http://www.salon.com/2015/04/17/the_ivy_leagues_favorite_war_criminal_why_the_atrocities_of_henry_kissinger_should_be_mandatory_reading/;

Fred Branfman, “The Top 10 Most Inhuman Henry Kissinger Quotes,” AlterNet, 24 April 2013:

http://www.alternet.org/world/top-10-most-inhuman-henry-kissinger-quotes;

Christopher Hitchens, “Kissinger Declassified,” Vanity Fair, December 2004:

http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2004/12/hitchens200412;

Sean O’Grady, “Henry Kissinger: A diplomatic colossus who is still a key influence in US amid Syria crisis,” The Independent, 13 September 2013:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/profiles/henry-kissinger-a-diplomatic-colossus-who-is-still-a-key-influence-in-us-amid-syria-crisis-8815533.html

[57] Leslie H. Gelb, “The New American Establishment is Called the Community,” New York Times, 19 December 1976.

[58] Leslie H. Gelb, “The New American Establishment is Called the Community,” New York Times, 19 December 1976.

[59] Judith Miller, “Kissinger Co.,” New York Times, 26 May 1979.

[60] Lynn Rosellini, “Kissinger and the Art of Staying in the Public Eye,” New York Times, 27 October 1982:

http://www.nytimes.com/1982/10/27/us/kissinger-and-the-art-of-staying-in-the-public-eye.html

[61] Leslie H. Gelb, “Kissinger Means Business,” New York Times, 20 April 1986:

http://www.nytimes.com/1986/04/20/magazine/kissinger-means-business.html?pagewanted=1

[62] Leslie H. Gelb, “Kissinger Means Business,” New York Times, 20 April 1986:

http://www.nytimes.com/1986/04/20/magazine/kissinger-means-business.html?pagewanted=1

[63] James Dao, “Kissinger Returning to Political Stage With 9/11 Post,” New York Times, 28 November 2002:

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/11/28/politics/28HENR.html

[64] Jane Stanton Hitchcock, “Portrait of a Lady: Lynn Forester de Rothschild,” Harper’s Bazaar, 12 May 2014:
http://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/features/lynn-forester-de-rothschild-interview-0514

[65] Henry Kissinger, “Forward for Book on Giovanni Agnelli,” Henry Kissinger Remembrances, 29 August 2007:

http://www.henryakissinger.com/eulogies/082907.html

[66] Joseph Lelyveld, “Oppenheimer of South Africa,” New York Times, 8 May 1983:

http://www.nytimes.com/1983/05/08/magazine/oppenheimer-of-south-africa.html?pagewanted=all

[67] “Chase Agrees to Be Agent for Bank of China in U.S.,” New York Times, 4 July 1973.

[68] Walter Pincus, “Kissinger offers wise words on China,” The Washington Post, 9 October 2012:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/pb/world/national-security/kissinger-offers-wise-words-on-china/2012/10/08/9d27c27c-1210-11e2-855a-c9ee6c045478_story.html

[69] Chloe Whiteaker, et. al., “Mapping China’s Red Nobility,” Bloomberg, 26 December 2012:

http://go.bloomberg.com/multimedia/mapping-chinas-red-nobility/

[70] Bloomberg News, “Heirs of Mao’s Comrades Rise as New Capitalist Nobility,” Bloomberg, 26 December 2012:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-12-26/immortals-beget-china-capitalism-from-citic-to-godfather-of-golf.html

[71] Nathaniel Austin, “China’s New Leadership: Unveiled,” The Diplomat, 16 November 2012:

http://thediplomat.com/2012/11/chinas-new-leadership-unveiled/?allpages=yes

[72] Richard McGregor, “China’s Private Party,” Wall Street Journal, 15 May 2010:

http://online.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748704250104575238590027868792

[73] Edward Wong, “China’s Growth Slows, and Its Political Model Shows Limits,” New York Times, 10 May 2012:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/11/world/asia/chinas-unique-economic-model-gets-new-scrutiny.html?pagewanted=all

[74] Jamil Anderlini, “Xi Jinping’s crackdown on China corruption follows well-worn path,” Financial Times, 4 September 2013:

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/2bc8c1c2-1565-11e3-b519-00144feabdc0.html?siteedition=intl#axzz3J5XMXtHW

[75] Ted Plafker, “Factions Help Drive Modern China History,” New York Times, 24 February 2010:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/25/business/global/25iht-rshanpol.html?pagewanted=all

[76] Michael Wines, “Chinese Promotion Puts Official on Track for Presidency,” New York Times, 18 October 2010:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/19/world/asia/19china.html?pagewanted=all

[77] Jason Dean, “WikiLeaks: Singapore’s Lee Rates China’s Leaders,” Wall Street Journal – China Real Time, 30 November 2010:

http://blogs.wsj.com/chinarealtime/2010/11/30/wikileaks-singapores-lee-rates-chinas-leaders/

[78] Edward Wong and Jonathan Ansfield, “Ex-President of China, Said to Be Ill, Appears in Beijing,” New York Times, 9 October 2011:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/10/world/asia/jiang-zemin-re-emerges-in-china.html

[79] Yawei Liu, “Bo Xilai’s Campaign for the Standing Committee and the Future of Chinese Politicking,” China Brief Volume, (Volume 11, Issue 21, 11 November 2011):

http://www.jamestown.org/single/?tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=38660&no_cache=1#.VTh5iLPF_38

[80] Jonathan Ansfield and Ian Johnson, “Ousted Chinese Leader Is Said to Have Spied on Other Top Officials,” New York Times, 25 April 2012:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/26/world/asia/bo-xilai-said-to-have-spied-on-top-china-officials.html?pagewanted=all

[81] Jamil Anderlini, “Bo Xilai: power, death and politics,” Financial Times, 20 July 2012:

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/2/d67b90f0-d140-11e1-8957-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3ItTg2mWe

[82] Mark Mackinnon and Nathan Vanderklippe, “The inglorious exit of Bo Xilai, Canada’s closest ally in China’s power structure,” Globe and Mail, 25 October 2013:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/the-inglorious-exit-of-bo-xilai-canadas-closest-ally-in-chinas-power-structure/article15097314/?page=all

[83] Kurt Campbell, “Why China’s leaders love to watch ‘House of Cards’,” Financial Times, 9 March 2014:

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/b022158e-a635-11e3-8a2a-00144feab7de.html#axzz3YD2xcmOB

[84] Kurt Campbell, “Why China’s leaders love to watch ‘House of Cards’,” Financial Times, 9 March 2014:

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/b022158e-a635-11e3-8a2a-00144feab7de.html#axzz3YD2xcmOB

[85] Tom Leonard, “Machiavellian? You should meet the wives,” The Telegraph, 19 November 2006:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/fictionreviews/3656616/Machiavellian-You-should-meet-the-wives.html

[86] Paul Casserly, “Paul Casserly: Who does the best F.U?,” The New Zealand Herald, 22 April 2014:

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/entertainment/news/article.cfm?c_id=1501119&objectid=11242154

[87] Alexandra Wolfe, “Michael Dobbs on Politics and ‘House of Cards’,” Wall Street Journal, 27 February 2015:

http://www.wsj.com/articles/michael-dobbs-on-politics-and-house-of-cards-1425060290

[88] George Orwell, “Politics and the English Language,” 1946.

[89] George Orwell, “Politics and the English Language,” 1946.

[90] Matt Schiavenza, “A Chinese President Consolidates His Power,” The Atlantic, 19 November 2013:

http://www.theatlantic.com/china/archive/2013/11/a-chinese-president-consolidates-his-power/281547/?single_page=true

[91] Max Fisher, “How China Stays Stable Despite 500 Protests Every Day,” The Atlantic, 5 January 2012:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/01/how-china-stays-stable-despite-500-protests-every-day/250940/

[92] Seumas Milne, “‘US foreign policy is straight out of the mafia’,” The Guardian, 7 November 2009:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/nov/07/noam-chomsky-us-foreign-policy

[93] Noam Chomsky, “The Unipolar Moment and the Obama Era,” Text of lecture given at Nezahualcoyotl Hall, National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM),

University City, Federal District, Mexico, 21 September 2009:

http://www.chomsky.info/talks/20090921(1).htm

[94] Liaquat Ahamed, Money and Tough Love: On Tour With the IMF (Visual Editions, 2014), pages 48-49.

[95] Press Releases, G10 Publications, Bank for International Settlements:

http://www.bis.org/list/g10publications/index.htm

[96] Editorial Note, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969-1976, Vol. III, Foreign Economic Policy; International Monetary Policy, 1969-1972, Document 237:

https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1969-76v03/d237

[97] Ruben Lamdany and Leonardo Martinez-Diaz, Studies of IMF Governance: A Compendium, Independent Evaluation Office Reports, (IMF, 2009), page 40.

[98] Factsheet, “A Guide to Committees, Groups, and Clubs,” IMF, 27 March 2015:

http://www.imf.org/external/np/exr/facts/groups.htm

[99] James M. Boughton and Colin I. Bradford, Jr., “Global Governance: New Players, New Rules,” Finance & Development (Vol. 44, No. 4, December 2007): http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/fandd/2007/12/boughton.htm

[100] Memorandum From Secretary of the Treasury Simon to President Ford, 18 January 1975: Foreign Relations of the United States, 1973-1976, Vol. XXXI, Foreign Economic Policy, Document 83:

http://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1969-76v31/d83#fnref4

[101] Memorandum of Conversation, 26 May 1975: Foreign Relations of the United States, 1973-1976, Vol. XXXI, Foreign Economic Policy, Document 294:
http://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1969-76v31/d294

[102] “France Said to Bar Canada in Parley,” New York Times, 1 November 1975.

[103] Memorandum From Secretary of the Treasury Blumenthal to President Carter, 22 September 1977. Foreign Relations of the United States, 1977-1980, Vol. III, Foreign Economic Policy, Document 56:

http://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1977-80v03/d56

[104] Steven Greenhouse, “Point Man for the Rescue of the Century,” New York Times, 26 April 1992:

http://www.nytimes.com/1992/04/26/business/point-man-for-the-rescue-of-the-century.html?pagewanted=all

[105] James Morgan, Lead Article, Weekend FT, Financial Times, 25 April 1992.

[106] John Ibbitson and Tara Perkins, “How Canada made the G20 happen,” The Globe & Mail, 18 June 2010:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/how-canada-made-the-g20-happen/article4322767/?page=all

[107] John Ibbitson and Tara Perkins, “How Canada made the G20 happen,” The Globe & Mail, 18 June 2010:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/how-canada-made-the-g20-happen/article4322767/?page=all

[108] Lesley Wroughton, “SNAP ANALYSIS: New world economic order takes shape at G20,” Reuters, 25 September 2009:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2009/09/25/us-g20-imf-snapanalysis-sb-idUSTRE58O1FB20090925

[109] Larry Elliott, “G7 elite group makes way for G20 and emerging nations,” The Guardian, 4 October 2009:

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2009/oct/04/g7-g20-economic-policy

[110] Lesley Wroughton, “Currency tensions require private talks -IMFC chair,” Reuters, 9 October 2010:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2010/10/09/us-imf-currencies-boutros-idUSTRE6974J220101009

[111] Marcus Walker and Charles Forelle, “In Euro’s Hour of Need, Aide Gets ‘Madame Non’ to Say Yes,” Wall Street Journal, 14 April 2011:

http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748704529204576257143299821036

[112] Valentina Pop, “Eurogroup chief: ‘I’m for secret, dark debates’,” EUObserver, 21 April 2011:

https://euobserver.com/economic/32222

[113] Leigh Phillips, “Attacks mount against ‘master of lies’ Juncker,” EUObserver, 10 May 2011:

https://euobserver.com/economic/32294

[114] Brian Blackstone, “Italian Gains Support in Central Bank Race,” Wall Street Journal, 20 April 2011:

http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748704740204576273011324066764

[115] Ralph Atkins, “Messy ECB selection process might just work,” Financial Times, 10 February 2011:

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/f7e255ae-3546-11e0-aa6c-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3R90ABvgZ

[116] Quentin Peel, “Merkel backs Draghi to head ECB,” Financial Times, 11 May 2011:

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/5c56435e-7bbc-11e0-9298-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3R90ABvgZ

[117] Giles Tremlett, “Portugal denies reports that it is under pressure to seek EU aid,” The Guardian, 9 January 2011:

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2011/jan/09/portugal-eu-imf-aid

[118] Tony Barber, “Europe: Four steps to fiscal union,” Financial Times, 11 August 2011:

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/9be75804-c3f7-11e0-b302-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3R90ABvgZ

[119] Michael Lewis, “It’s the Economy, Dummkopf!” Vanity Fair, September 2011:

http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2011/09/europe-201109

[120] Paul Taylor, “Insight: Euro has new politburo but no solution yet,” Reuters, 6 November 2011:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/11/06/us-eurozone-leadership-idUSTRE7A513B20111106

[121] Paul Taylor, “Insight: Euro has new politburo but no solution yet,” Reuters, 6 November 2011:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/11/06/us-eurozone-leadership-idUSTRE7A513B20111106

[122] Peter Spiegel, “How the euro was saved,” Financial Times, 11 May 2014:

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/f6f4d6b4-ca2e-11e3-ac05-00144feabdc0.html?siteedition=uk#axzz34I6iWrke

[123] Peter Spiegel, “How the euro was saved,” Financial Times, 11 May 2014:

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/f6f4d6b4-ca2e-11e3-ac05-00144feabdc0.html?siteedition=uk#axzz34I6iWrke

[124] Peter Spiegel, “How the euro was saved,” Financial Times, 11 May 2014:

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/f6f4d6b4-ca2e-11e3-ac05-00144feabdc0.html?siteedition=uk#axzz34I6iWrke

[125] Andrew Crockett, “Commentary: How Should Financial Market Regulators Respond to the New Challenges of Global Economic Integration?” Speech delivered at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas Economic Symposium Conference, ‘Global Economic Integration: Opportunities and Challenges,’ Jackson Hole, Wyoming, August 24-26, 2000.

[126] Alan Greenspan, “Opening Remarks – Global Economic Integration: Opportunities and Challenges,” Speech delivered at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas Economic Symposium Conference, ‘Global Economic Integration: Opportunities and Challenges,’ Jackson Hole, Wyoming, August 24-26, 2000.

[127] Paul Taylor, “Insight: Euro has new politburo but no solution yet,” Reuters, 6 November 2011:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/11/06/us-eurozone-leadership-idUSTRE7A513B20111106

[128] MARCUS WALKER, CHARLES FORELLE, and STACY MEICHTRY, “Deepening Crisis Over Euro Pits Leader Against Leader,” The Wall Street Journal, 30 December 2011:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203391104577124480046463576.html

[129] Rachel Donadino, “With Clock Ticking, an Economist Accepts a Mandate to Rescue Italy,” The New York Times, 13 November 2011:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/14/world/europe/mario-monti-asked-to-form-a-new-government-in-italy.html

[130] Jennifer Clark, “Special Report: At Italy’s Fiat, young scion steers tough course,” Reuters, 9 November 2012:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/09/us-fiat-elkann-idUSBRE8A80BB20121109

[131] Guy Dinmore, “Time slips by for Monti’s reform,” Financial Times, 29 May 2012:

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/6005a2cc-a9ad-11e1-a6a7-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2zBRouyFL

[132] Simon Nixon, “ECB Can’t Fix Euro Zone’s Governance Crisis,” Wall Street Journal, 14 November 2011:

http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052970204190504577036341026971330

[133] “Europe: rise of the calculating machine,” Financial Times, 9 November 2011:

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/2/000cb4ae-0abc-11e1-b9f6-00144feabdc0.html#axzz358Pqb0Hq

[134] Ross Douthat, “Conspiracies, Coups and Currencies,” New York Times, 19 November 2011:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/20/opinion/sunday/douthat-conspiracies-coups-and-currencies.html

[135] Roger Altman, “We need not fret over omnipotent markets,” Financial Times, 1 December 2011:

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/890161ac-1b69-11e1-85f8-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1fnNHC8YP

[136] Philip Stephens, “A race between growth and populism,” The Financial Times, 30 May 2013:

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/2bb5c128-c79d-11e2-be27-00144feab7de.html#axzz2ZL49BXwm

[137] Europe Economic Research, “The Euro Area Adjustment: About Halfway There,” JPMorgan Chase, 28 May 2013, pages, 1-2, 5, 12-13.

[138] Niki Kitsantonis, “Greek Protest of Austerity Drive Erupts in Violence,” New York Times, 23 February 2011:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/24/world/europe/24greece.html

[139] Kerin Hope, “Greeks adopt ‘won’t pay’ attitude,” Financial Times, 9 March 2011:

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/84839398-4a6d-11e0-82ab-00144feab49a.html?siteedition=intl#axzz23vuU01cM

[140] Peter Wise, “Portugal’s ‘desperate generation’ cries out,” Financial Times, 11 March 2011:

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/95990eb8-4c09-11e0-82df-00144feab49a.html#axzz3SbxWzFYR

[141] Leigh Phillips, “Protests against ‘austerity summit’ turn violent,” EUObserver, 24 March 2011:

https://euobserver.com/economic/32058

[142] “Tahrir Square in Madrid: Spain’s Lost Generation Finds Its Voice,” Spiegel Online, 19 May 2011:

http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/tahrir-square-in-madrid-spain-s-lost-generation-finds-its-voice-a-763581.html

[143] Giles Tremlett and John Hooper, “Protest in the Med: rallies against cuts and corruption spread,” The Guardian, 19 May 2011:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/may/19/protest-med-cuts-corruption-spain

[144] Ivan Watson, “Thousands protest G-8 summit this week,” CNN, 21 May 2011:

http://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/europe/05/21/france.g8.protests/

[145] Jerome Roos, “Protesters take to the streets of 100+ European cities,” RoarMag, 29 May 2011:

http://roarmag.org/2011/05/protesters-take-to-the-streets-of-100-european-cities/

[146] Tracy Rucinski and Angeliki Koutantou, “Spanish “indignants” spark wave of European protests,” Reuters, 30 May 2011:

http://uk.reuters.com/article/2011/05/30/uk-spain-protests-idUKTRE74T2O320110530

[147] Gideon Rachman, “2011, the year of global indignation,” Financial Times, 29 August 2011:

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/36339ee2-cf40-11e0-b6d4-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3TIhO6lPw

[148] Colin Moynihan, “Wall Street Protest Begins, With Demonstrators Blocked,” New York Times – City Room, 17 September 2011:

http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/09/17/wall-street-protest-begins-with-demonstrators-blocked/

[149] Colin Moynihan, “80 Arrested as Financial District Protest Moves North,” New York Times – City Room, 24 September 2011:

http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/09/24/80-arrested-as-financial-district-protest-moves-north/

[150] Harry Papachristou, “Greece faces auditor verdict, fresh aid at stake,” Reuters, 28 September 2011:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/09/28/us-eurozone-idUSTRE78Q1BQ20110928

[151] AFP, “Thousands rally in Portugal to protest austerity plans,” France 24, 1 October 2011:

http://www.france24.com/en/20111001-thousands-rally-protest-austerity-plans-porto-lisbon-portugal-coelho/

[152] Ray Sanchez, “More than 700 arrested in Wall Street protest,” Reuters, 2 October 2011:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/02/us-wallstreet-protests-idUSTRE7900BL20111002

[153] Erik Eckholm and Timothy Williams, “Anti-Wall Street Protests Spreading to Cities Large and Small,” New York Times, 3 October 2011:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/04/us/anti-wall-street-protests-spread-to-other-cities.html

[154] Alkman Granitsas and Stelios Bouras, “Nationwide Strike Follows Latest Round of Greek Cuts,” Wall Street Journal, 6 October 2011:

http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052970203388804576612261343333114

[155] NPR staff and wires, “Occupy Wall Street Inspires Worldwide Protests,” NPR, 15 October 2011:

http://www.npr.org/2011/10/15/141382468/occupy-wall-street-inspires-worldwide-protests

[156] RT, “OWS wrapping the planet,” Russia Today, 15 October 2011:

http://rt.com/news/world-ows-movement-rally-935/

[157] “Occupy Wall Street protest goes global,” Seattle Times, 15 October 2011:

http://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/occupy-wall-street-protest-goes-global/

[158] Daryl Lindsey, “The World from Berlin: ‘The Protests Are an Expression of Bitter Disappointment’,” Spiegel Online, 17 October 2011:

http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/the-world-from-berlin-the-protests-are-an-expression-of-bitter-disappointment-a-792257.html

[159] “Bank Bashing: Europe’s Politicians Side with the Protesters,” Spiegel Online, 17 October 2011:

http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/bank-bashing-europe-s-politicians-side-with-the-protesters-a-792199.html

[160] Editorial, “Capitalism and its global malcontents,” Financial Times, 23 October 2011:

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/660a5192-fbf5-11e0-b1d8-00144feab49a.html?siteedition=intl#axzz3TSpPiScy

[161] Martin Wolf, “The big questions raised by anti-capitalist protests,” Financial Times, 27 October 2011:

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/86d8634a-ff34-11e0-9769-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3TSpPiScy

[162] Dominic Barton, “Capitalism for the Long Term,” McKinsey & Company, Autumn 2012, page 69.

[163] George Magnus, “Social Unrest and Economic Stress: Europe’s Angst, and China’s Fear,” UBS Investment Research, Economic Insights, 20 March 2013, pages 2-3.

[164] Manolis Davradakis, “Emerging Unrest: Looking for a Pattern,” AXA Investment Managers – Research & Investment Strategy, 31 July 2013, page 5.

[165] Insight Report, “Global Risks 2014, Ninth Edition,” World Economic Forum, 2014, pages 9-10.

[166] Insight Report, “Global Risks 2014, Ninth Edition,” World Economic Forum, 2014, page 33.

[167] Insight Report, “Global Risks 2014, Ninth Edition,” World Economic Forum, 2014, page 36.

[168] Insight Report, “Global Risks 2014, Ninth Edition,” World Economic Forum, 2014, page 37.

[169] Ari Shapiro, “World’s Richest People Meet, Muse On How To Spread The Wealth,” NPR, 27 May 2014:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2014/05/27/316317191/worlds-richest-people-meet-muse-on-how-to-spread-the-wealth

[170] ICI, Speakers 2014:
http://www.inc-cap.com/speakers_2014.html

[171] Mark Carney, “Inclusive Capitalism: Creating a Sense of the Systemic,” Speech at the Conference on Inclusive Capitalism, 27 May 2014.

[172] Christine Lagarde, “Economic Inclusion and Financial Integrity,” Address to the Conference on Inclusive Capitalism, 27 May 2014:

http://www.imf.org/external/np/speeches/2014/052714.htm

A Teaser to ‘The Empire of Poverty’: The First Volume of The People’s Book Project

A Teaser to ‘The Empire of Poverty’: The First Volume of The People’s Book Project

By: Andrew Gavin Marshall

slum

The following is a little teaser to some of the ideas, approach and perspective being pursued through the research and writing of the first volume of The People’s Book Project, ‘The Empire of Poverty.’ Please consider donating to the Project to help these efforts come to fruition.

It’s important to try to understand the global economic and financial system – the banks, corporations, central banks, economic policies (and effects) of governments, trade agreements, the creation and value of currencies, the function of the oft-heard ‘markets’ – as daunting as the task may seem. One might think that they need a degree in Economics in order to understand the complexities of the global economy, to comprehend the correct choices and policies which achieve the desired results. One might think that this is true, but it isn’t. The truth is that if most economists understood the global economy, and knew the ‘correct’ choices to make, we wouldn’t be where we currently are.

Economics – both theory and practice – is an illusion. There are no concrete rules on which to base economic thought; there is no ‘gravity’ to its physics. Economics is not science, it’s sophistry; the sleight of hand, the quick and slick tongue, the wave of the wand, the theatrics of the stage set for all to see, and the effects – as destructive as they may be to the real world and all life within it – are largely hidden from view; the illusion keeps the population enraptured in awe, aspiration, and fear.

This is not to say that there cannot be anything real produced or given growth by what we call ‘economics’: there are of course exchanges made, resources used, products created, lives benefitted, and entire societies and peoples changed. The effects are very real. However, they have a disproportionately destructive, oppressive, and dehumanizing effect upon the vast majority of humanity: they bestow upon a tiny fraction unparalleled power, and thus, dehumanization in another form; while creating a comparably minimal buffer of generally satiated and malleable middle classes, educated well-enough to work and survive the horror show that is the global economic order, but consumed by a culture lacking in substance and meaning, and thus, left morally, psychologically, and intellectually lobotomized, physically paralyzed, and thus, once again, dehumanized.

So our global economic order has the effect of generally dehumanizing all who are subject to its whims and whammies; which is to say, almost everyone, everywhere. Those peoples and societies that are not integrated into the global economy tend to be bombed, invaded, overthrown or droned. Those who remain are doomed to slow death: one in seven people on earth live in urban slums[1] – more than the combined populations of Canada, the United States, and the European Union – while the majority of humanity lives in deep poverty, in hunger, and malnutrition; with 18 million people being killed from poverty-related causes every year, including over 9 million children.[2] Every year.

During the Holocaust, approximately six million Jews were killed. Take that number, add 50% to make 9 million, and just think: this is how many children die every year from poverty. Every year a new Holocaust.

These deaths are preventable. Truly. It has been estimated that less than the yearly Pentagon budget would lift the poorest 3 billion people of the world out of extreme poverty. In fact, in the twenty years following the end of the Cold War in 1991, there were roughly 360 million preventable deaths caused by poverty-related issues, more than the combined deaths of all of the wars of the 20th century.[3]

But this is not our priority. Our priority is that banks and corporations make as much profits as possible, because this – by some unknown and unseen magic – will (it is said) benefit everyone else. It is propagated and believed that this system, as it exists, or even with the proper tinkering and toiling, can represent the totality of life and being on this world; to be humanizing, and to represent ‘human nature’ at its best. But if this system were ‘human nature,’ why would it be so dehumanizing? How many organisms grow by destroying that which their existence depends upon? Parasites, cancers and various diseases can kill the host before transferring to another.

We have no other host to go to. Those who sit atop the global structure know this, which is why they express such an interest in finding new planets to escape to (and presumably, plunder and destroy). The billionaires have given up pretending to care for the world’s billions of people suffering, which is why they are looking to space travel, mining asteroids, and searching for hospitable environments elsewhere.[4] Their long-term ‘exit strategy’ is to abandon ship, not to change the direction we currently traverse.

Are we – as a species – a cancer upon the earth? Looking at the big picture, it may often seem that way. But it is in the small moments, the single acts, exchanged emotions, interacting individuals, in the every day life – those moments of joy, love, wonder – in which we find our own personal meaning, in which we discover that humanity – and human nature – can be so much more than destructive, petty, and pestilent behaviour. We are told we are a society of ‘individuals’ – that we are free, democratic and equal. If that were the case: why are we so isolated? We are individuals, yes, in the physical sense: but we are disconnected from the collective, separated from the species as a whole.

We think and act individually, but do so ignorantly, and arrogantly. Our thoughts and feelings are collected and collated by our commanding culture of irrelevance. The immense gift of a human mind – with all of its possibilities and capabilities, both known and unknown – is largely squandered on pop culture, sports, celebrities, consumer items and entertainment. So long as we remain distracted by the ‘celebration of irrelevance’, we are lobotomized of our meaning.

Is this how you see yourself as an individual? As the world you live in? It’s not an appealing thought. So why, then, do we live in a world in which as individuals we may act morally, purposefully, passionately, and proudly; though as a collective species, we are petty, parasitic, power-mad, pathological, and pretty much evil?

Is it ‘human nature’ that our personal values and priorities are not reflected in the collective – institutionalized – expression of humanity? Or, is it that the way in which our society is constructed, the institutions and ideologies, the policies, programs, priorities and effects of the way in which our world is ordered and altered, is inherently counter to ‘human nature’? In other words: is human nature inherently self-destructive; or, is our constructed human ‘society’ (our global social, political and economic order) inherently destructive to human nature? Does human nature pervert the effects we have upon the world, or do the structures of world order – and power – pervert human nature?

It is this vast disconnect between our personal values and the form they take at the global – collective – level of the species, which is ultimately so dehumanizing. Because power is centralized at the top, and for such a tiny fraction of the species – so much so that there has never been a more unequal and vast ‘Empire of Poverty’ in all of human history, the ‘great inequality’ is not of wealth, but of power.

Wealth is an illusion: a manufactured means to power, a collective delusion. Power is central to human nature. Every person needs power: they need autonomy over their own lives, thoughts, feelings, and decisions. It is central to maturity, it is central to leaving adolescence and becoming an adult, and it is central to finding a sense of self-worth. Understanding oneself is to empower oneself. Power is about possibility, personal fulfillment, passion and purpose. It has individual and social representations. It can be seen – or not – in your own life, but also in the world around us.

A pre-requisite for power is freedom. The process of achieving freedom is, itself, empowering. Once (and if) achieved, it is of immense responsibility to use your new power of freedom wisely, for the effects that it may have upon others and the rest of the world are endless. Power is freedom, quite simply, because slavery is the opposite of both freedom and power: it is the most un-free and the most disempowering personal position to be in.

Freedom is power; power is freedom. If we were actually free, we would have significantly more power. But we don’t. We barely have any control over our own individual lives, let alone the world around us. We leave all that to the others, to those with the proper degrees, the ‘expertise,’ the politicians, the pundits, the ‘right’ people… because they’ve obviously done such a great job of it so far. We remain – as a species, and very often as individuals – neutered from the necessities of individual empowerment, subjected instead to the very-often-arbitrary abuses of power over others.

So if we are not free, what are we? Certainly, we are not slaves, for we have no shackles, bear the brunt of no whips, serve no visible masters. We are, perhaps, slaves of another kind. We are financially, reflexively, intellectually, emotionally and hopelessly and very often spiritually enslaved to the system, as it exists. We are slaves to money. We serve the masters of money, with our time, with our labour and efforts, with our interactions, exchanges, interests, intelligence and aspirations. We are slaves to money.

Our society is built and sustained upon it; and our species is being driven to extinction because of it. The cause and effect of money – or more aptly, debt – slavery, is the distribution of power among the species: too few have too much, and too many have too little. This imbalance of power within the species is leading to our self-destruction, our inevitable extinction if we continue along this path.

Money is both the means and very often – the reason – for continuing down this path, for maintaining this imbalance. While very few have all the money, everyone – and everywhere else – has all the debt. This is not the wondrous ‘free market’ capitalist utopia which is incessantly babbled about, but the very real global feudal dystopia, both cause and effect of the power imbalance and money-system. In feudalism, there is no freedom, only serfdom.

Welcome to our global economic order, serf!

Welcome to the Empire of Poverty.

But it’s not hopeless. The truth is both painful, but also full of possibilities. The truth is that we do have the ability to understand the world we live in, to comprehend our global economic order. We don’t need a degree; we just need honesty.

The illusion that is our economic system is built not upon technical knowledge, but rather, technical language, a highly political language, “designed to make lies sound truthful, murder respectable, and to give a feeling of solidity to pure wind,” as George Orwell defined the term. Our inability to communicate honesty, and thus effectively, about our economic – and indeed, political and social – system is an essential mechanism in maintaining that system.

To speak and ‘understand’ this language, at least at a superficial level, usually does require some ‘education’: economists must be trained, so too must political and other social scientists. The artificial separations in their knowledge – (as in, the notion that the economic world exists separate from the political and social world, and thus, must be studied separately) ensures that none who receive a ‘proper education’ achieve a profound understanding of the world. Some may, but they are few and far between, and usually weeded out or co-opted.

Such a ‘proper education’ will allow one to gain enough basic knowledge related to the sector of society in which they aim to explore and advance, and they are given just enough knowledge to do so, but not enough to honestly look at – let alone have the capacity to communicate – the reality of how our global political, social and economic order functions and evolves. They may see problems, make recommendations, propose policies, and they may even do some good, but ultimately – as we still remain on the path toward extinction – they have not, and cannot – do enough.

Few possibilities – few ‘solutions’ – or opportunities, are communicated to the populations that are effected under and by these societies, and by the decisions the few at the top make. People are generally given a small set of options from which to choose, like guessing what’s behind door number one or two, when both are ultimately terrible, and ineffectual (in a positive sense). We put ‘faith’ – however empty – into the hands of politicians, we consume the crap spewed in the media, or we lose ourselves in the vast vacancy that is the ‘substance’ of our culture; a culture of mythology, lies, fantasy, persuasion, punishment, entertainment and manipulation.

Our hope is first in honesty. We can – and must – look honestly at the world for what it is, not what we want or imagine it to be, but what it is. Then, we can – and must – communicate this message, and to do so honestly and directly. This is a human reality, and it must become a part of a collective human knowledge, a shift in understanding, and thus, a change in direction; away from the current-inevitably of extinction, and toward survival. What comes after is for future generations to determine. For now, we must aim to simply survive.

Our goal must first be to begin charting a new path toward survival; this must be the duty of our present living and younger generations, as challenging, demanding and terrifying a responsibility that may be, it is either that, or extinction. And this is not a matter of hundreds or thousands of years away; it could be as soon as decades. If you – like me – are between 18 and 45 – the coming few decades of the world in which you currently live and hope to survive will become increasingly dreadful, destructive, oppressive, and disempowering. We cannot afford to continue kicking the can down the road, delaying – and exacerbating – the inevitable.

There is always hope, not in myths and fantasy, but hidden in reality. In our actions, ideas, in us – as individuals – connecting, interacting, sharing, working and creating together, as collectives, as part of a larger human organism; beginning to act as if we don’t want to self-destruct as a species, creating a new society – a new order – to make the current one obsolete. This is our great challenge. How do we navigate through living within the present existing order, while simultaneously seeking to create a new and alternative order? Moreover, how do we achieve this if it takes nearly all our effort, time and energy to simply survive the present order? To put it as crudely (and honestly) as possible: how the fuck are we supposed to change the world?!

I don’t know the answers. But I think that the best way to get them is to ask honest questions, seek an honest understanding, and to communicate honestly – about ourselves and the world – personally, and globally. This book is my attempt to understand and speak honestly about the world, not to speak in a language that only economists and political scientists or other so-called ‘experts’ can understand, but to speak plainly and directly. This will require me to dedicate some focus in attempting to translate political language into English. I don’t have a degree, and you won’t need one to read this, or to understand it.

The hope, then, that I hold for this book – and the wider book project of which it is apart – is that it presents an accessible and usable collection of knowledge. It is not the book that asks every question, or has ever answer (no books do!), but it is an attempt at taking a different approach to asking and seeking answers to some rather important questions about our world: what is the true nature of our society? How did we get here? Where are we going? Why? And, what can we do to change it?

This is but an introduction to our world, by no means comprehensive or conclusive, simply accessible, honest, and (hopefully) useful.

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.

Notes

[1]       Mike Davis, Planet of Slums (Verso: London, 2007), pages 151-173.

[2]       Thomas Pogge, “Keynote Address: Poverty, Climate Change, and Overpopulation,” Georgia Journal of International and Comparative Law (Vol. 38, 2010), pages 526-534.

[3]       Ibid.

[4]       Dan Vergano, “Billionaires back ambitious space projects,” USA Today, 13 May 2012:

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/tech/science/space/story/2012-04-25/space-exploration-billionaires/54866272/1

Italy in Crisis: The Decline of the Roman Democracy and Rise of the ‘Super Mario’ Technocracy

Italy in Crisis: The Decline of the Roman Democracy and Rise of the ‘Super Mario’ Technocracy

Part 1 of “Italy in Crisis”, a series of excerpts from a chapter in an upcoming book.

By: Andrew Gavin Marshall

The “Super-Marios”: Mario Draghi (left), President of the European Central Bank, and Mario Monti (right), the Technocratic Prime Minister of Italy. [photo credit: Silvia Azzari / Milestone Media / ZUMAPRESS.com]

The European debt crisis continues into its third year, with four government bailouts – of Greece, Ireland, Portugal, and Spain – and having imposed harsh austerity measures upon the people of Europe, forcing them to pay – through reduced standards of living and increased poverty – for the excesses of their political and financial rulers. Italy, as Europe’s third largest economy, with one of the largest debt-to-GDP ratios, plays a central role in the unfolding debt crisis across Europe. Part 1 of this excerpt from a chapter on the economic crisis in my upcoming book covers the “suspension” of democracy in Italy and the imposition of a ‘Technocracy’ – an unelected government led by academics and bankers – with a mandate to punish the people, facilitate the financial elite, and serve the interests of the supranational, unelected, technocratic European Union. Power centralized, power globalizes, power plunders and profits on the punishment and impoverishment of people everywhere. This is the story of Italy’s debt crisis.

This is an unedited, rough draft excerpt from my upcoming book – the Preface to the People’s Book Project – which is due to be finished by the end of the summer, and covers the following subjects: the origins, evolution, and consequences of the global economic crisis; the expansion and effects of global imperialism and war; the elite-driven social engineering project of establishing an institutional structure of ‘global governance’; and the rising resistance of people around the world to this system, as well as the attempts of the imperial powers to co-opt, control, or destroy these socio-political movements – the embodiment of the ‘Global Political Awakening’ – from the Arab Spring, to the anti-austerity movements across Europe, the Indignados in Spain, the Occupy Movement, the Chilean Winter and the Maple Spring in Quebec, among others. This project needs your support: I am attempting to raise $2,500 in donations to support the efforts to finish this book by the end of the summer, with $530 raised so far, and $1,970 left to go. Please donate today!

Bilderberg, Berlusconi, and Italian Austerity

The Italian Finance Minister, Giulio Tremonti had attended the Bilderberg meeting in early June of 2011, alongside other notable Italian participants, including Franco Bernabe, CEO of Telecom Italia (and Vice Chairman of Rothschild Europe); John Elkann, the Chairman of Fiat; Mario Monti, the president of Bocconi university and a former EU Commissioner; and Paolo Scaroni, the CEO of Eni, an oil and gas company and Italy’s largest industrial corporation. The Bilderberg meeting for 2011 took place from June 9-12 in Switzerland, and of course was attended by a host of other major European elites, including: Josef Ackermann, Chairman and CEO of Deutsche Bank; Marcus Agius, Chairman of Barclays Bank; the Swedish Ministers for Foreign Affairs and Trade; Luc Coene, the Governor of the National Bank of Belgium; Frans van Daele, Chief of Staff to the President of the European Council; Werner Faymann, the Federal Chancellor of Austria; Douglas J. Flint, Group Chairman of HSBC Holdings; Neelie Kroes, Vice President of the European Commission; Bernardino Leon Gross, Secretary General of the Spanish Presidency; George Papaconstantinou, the Greek Minister of Finance; Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council; and Jean-Claude Trichet, President of the European Central Bank, among many others.[1]

In July of 2011, Silvio Berlusconi’s government announced a package of austerity measures hoping to calm markets, seeking to reduce the deficit by 40 billion euros. The package, largely designed by finance minister Giulio Tremonti, only attempted to address Italy’s debt, but markets were also concerned about the country’s “ultra-low-growth,” which has been consistent since Berlusconi returned to office in 2001. Once the austerity measures would be signed into law, several opposition politicians were suggesting the formation of a cross-party “technical government” without Berlusconi in office.[2] The Finance Minister Tremonti announced a wave of privatizations. Apparently, the privatizations and various liberalizations were urged into the austerity package by the main opposition party, the Democratic Party (PD), not Berlusconi’s Freedom People Party. The central bank governor of Italy, Mario Draghi, who was poised to become the next President of the European Central Bank (ECB) following the end of the term of Jean-Claude Trichet, warned the Italian government that “it would have to raise taxes or make further spending cuts” if it wanted to calm markets.[3] By July 14, the Italian Senate approved an increased austerity package worth 70 billion euros (or $99 billion), “aimed at convincing investors that the eurozone’s third-largest economy won’t be swept into the debt crisis.” Italy’s bonds (government debt) saw its borrowing rates (interest) hit record highs as investors were not calmed by the proposed austerity measures.[4]

Even as the austerity measures were being passed, market confidence was still lacking, which was largely credited to the fact that a rift emerged between Berlusconi and his Finance Minister Tremonti, who as a Bilderberg attendee, no doubt has the confidence of markets. Berlusconi reportedly viewed Tremonti as a “rival” and has “repeatedly attacked [Tremonti] as a traitor in newspapers owned by the Berlusconi family.”[5] After Tremonti, who was facing his own corruption charges, was caught on camera calling a colleague a “cretin,” Berlusconi told an Italian newspaper, “You know, he thinks he’s a genius and that everyone else is stupid… I put up with him because I’ve known him for a long time and one has to accept the way he is. But he’s the only one who is not a team player.” It was opined, then, that markets reacted to this rift between the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister, as articulated by an official at F&C Investments, who stated that markets view Tremonti as the “steady counterweight to the unpredictable and capricious” Berlusconi.[6]

In July of 2011, Nichi Vendola, a popular leftist opposition political figure in Italy, wrote an article for the Guardian, in which he critiqued the austerity measures imposed by the Berlusconi government. Vendola wrote that, “Italy will not survive this crisis by listening to the very people who got us into it, especially not when they demand that the middle class and poor foot the bill for their failures.” Vendola also put blame on the European managing of the crisis, as “governments now have an obsessive fixation on employing tighter control of budget deficits to satisfy the European stability pact.” Vendola referred to Tremonti’s austerity package as a “social catastrophe,” and that instead, he suggested, what Italy must do “is turn this policy on its head,” noting that, “Italy’s problem is as much about growth as it is debt.” To do this, Vendola wrote, it “will require a new government,” and that, “Italy needs elections, because only a completely new governing class can achieve the political consensus to design and implement a plan to tackle the crisis.” He suggested that the European stability pact would need to be re-negotiated, and concluded: “It does us little good to please the out-of-touch elite of our capitals while the people have to tighten their belts and our youth are robbed of their future.”[7]

Mario Monti, President of Bocconi University and a former European Commissioner, also agreed that Italy needed a new government, though for different reasons (and a different type of government). He wrote an article in a major Italian paper in August of 2011 in which he advocated – as a solution to Italy’s problems – the formation of a “supranational technical government” which would make all the major decisions in order to “remove the structural constraints to growth,” and opined that “an Italy respected and authoritative… would be of great help to Europe.”[8] Vendola wanted a new government to help the people, and Monti wanted a new government to help “Europe” (read: banks and elites). Guess who became the next leader of Italy!?

Berlusconi Bows Down to the Bankers and Punishes the People

In August, Silvio Berlusconi had to approve a new austerity package, the second in less than a month. In a letter which was leaked to the Italian press, it was revealed that Jean-Claude Trichet, the President of the European Central Bank, and Mario Draghi, the President of the Italian Central bank (from 2006 to 2011, who was set to secede Trichet at the ECB in October of 2011), put pressure on Berlusconi to “implement significant austerity measures.” The letter, written by the two central bankers, demanded “pressing action… to restore the confidence of investors.” Dated August 5, 2011, it was issued just days before the ECB announced its new programme to buy Italian bonds (debt), designed to reduce the country’s borrowing costs (interest on future debt). One of the measures mentioned in the letter instructed Berlusconi to take “immediate and bold measures to ensuring the sustainability of public finances,” to achieve a balanced budget in 2013. This was adopted in the subsequent austerity package put forward by Berlusconi in August. The letter also stated that, “it is possible to intervene further in the pension system, making more stringent the eligibility criteria for seniority pensions and rapidly aligning the retirement age of women in the private sector to that established for public employees.” Further, the “borrowing, including commercial debt and expenditures of regional and local governments should be placed under tight control, in line with the principles of the ongoing reform of intergovernmental fiscal relations.”[9]

In economic-speak, the letter asked for privatizations of public services: “Key challenges are to increase competition, particularly in services to improve the quality of public services and to design regulatory and fiscal systems better suited to support firms’ competitiveness and efficiency of the labour market.” This would require three key actions, the first of which was that, “a comprehensive, far-reaching and credible reform strategy, including the full liberalization of local public services and of professional services is needed,” and that, “this should apply particularly to the provision of local services through large-scale privatizations.” The second major step was “a need to further reform the collective wage bargaining system [meaning: undermine unions] allowing firm-level agreements to tailor wages and working conditions to firms’ specific needs and increasing their relevance with respect to other layers of negotiations.” In other words, destroy the unions so that companies can exploit labour to whatever degree they choose. And thirdly, according to Trichet and Draghi, what was needed was a “thorough review of the rules regulating the hiring and dismissal of employees [which] should be adopted in conjunction with the establishment of an unemployment insurance system and a set of active labour market policies capable of easing the reallocation of resources towards the more competitive firms and sectors.”[10]

In other words, labour rights and laws and the rights of workers need to be dismantled so that companies can do as they please. It’s not simply the unions that need to be destroyed, but the laws for worker security in general. Of course, no advice from central bankers would be complete if it didn’t advocate that the government “immediately take measures to ensure a major overhaul of the public administration in order to improve administrative efficiency and business friendliness.” Trichet and Draghi wrote that it was “crucial” that the government take these actions “as soon as possible with decree-laws, followed by parliamentary ratification,” or, in other words: skip the democratic process because it takes too long, rule by decree, something Italy has a “proud” history of. All of this was demanded to be done before the end of September 2011. In an interview with an Italian paper, Trichet admitted that this was not the first time the ECB had sent such letters to governments (such as Greece), saying, “We have sent messages and we do that on a permanent basis, through various means, addressed to individual governments. We do not make them public.”[11]

Indeed, the European Central Bank had demanded austerity measures be implemented by the governments of Greece, Ireland, Portugal, and Italy, and when Berlusconi submitted to the mandate from the central bankers, he complained that it made his administration look like “an occupied government.” A leading liberal MP in Italy, Antonio Di Pietro, said that, “Italy is under the tutelage of the EU, and a country under tutelage is not a free and democratic one.” An Irish MEP (Member of the European Parliament), Paul Murphy, stated that there had been a “massive shift away from democratic accountability since the start of the crisis,” and that: “There needs to be a check on the enormous power of the ECB, which is unelected, and has basically held a government to ransom.” Europe’s largest trade union federation, the European Public Sector Union, “accused the ECB of directing Italian fiscal and labour policy in secret,” which is, of course, true. The Deputy General Secretary of the federation, Jan Willem Goudriaan, said, “Europe cannot be governed through secret letters of bankers, officials or an unaccountable body.” EU officials, from Angela Merkel, Nicolas Sarkozy, to Herman Van Rompuy and Jean-Claude Trichet, have been increasing their calls for an “economic government” of Europe, tightening and deepening fiscal integration and proposing the creation of new council’s and organizations to impose sanctions on countries and “police the austerity measures of governments,” and even the creation of a European finance ministry. Paul Murphy stated that, “All these proposals, discussions about economic government, are about undermining democracy in order to impose a European shock doctrine… EU elites need to remove points of pressure that can be mounted on governments. If the mass of people are opposed to austerity, they can mount pressure on governments to hold that in check. So the only way it can then be imposed s undemocratically.” The head of a Belgian pro-transparency group stated that, “European powers [are] distancing themselves from voters while at the same time [there is] a growing tendency towards building closer relationships with corporate and specifically financial lobbies… These two trends are explosive and can only lead to a loss of legitimacy for the EU institutions.”[12]

Shortly after, on August 12, the Berlusconi government was meeting to approve the new austerity package to meet the ultimatum from the ECB, amounting to a package of “fiscal adjustments” (i.e., spending cuts) of 20 billion euros in 2012 and 25 billion euros in 2013, with the spending cuts and tax increases to be “enacted immediately by decree, but subject to approval by parliament later,” just as Draghi and Trichet instructed. The rapid tax increases did much to damage even long-time supporters of Berlusconi who had promised that he would “never put their hands in the pockets of the Italian people.” Fiscal federalism was the policy of giving the various regions in Italy more control over their finances. With the new austerity package, the governor of Lombardy, Roberto Formigoni, stated, “It seems clear [fiscal] federalism has vanished.”[13]

In mid-September, Berlusconi won final parliamentary approval for the 54 billion euro ($74 billion) austerity package, while police outside the parliament in Rome had to disperse protesters with tear gas. The German Economy Minister Phillip Roesler told a news briefing in Rome that, “The approval of the austerity package sends a signal of stability… I have respect for what Italy has done with its budget adjustment as this will benefit the whole euro area.” The legislation simply made legal the measures that Berlusconi’s government enacted through un-democratic decree the month before, and were formalized in exchange for the European Central Bank bond purchases which helped to reduce Italy’s borrowing costs. Silvio Peruzzo, an economist at the Royal Bank of Scotland, stated that the plan’s passage is a “very welcome step,” but that the slowing global economy still cast doubts on whether Italy could “meet its fiscal targets and will also render additional corrective measures [austerity packages] very likely.” Even with the endorsement and backing of the ECB, said Peruzzo, Italy’s debt remained “under pressure, which is indicative of a well-rooted lack of confidence in Italy and in the European policies to tackle the crisis.” One the plan was approved, said Italian Finance Minister Tremonti on September 10, “If there are things to change in our growth measures we will, and if there are things to add, we will.”[14]

The Economist reported on the new austerity package, noting that while Berlusconi had approved the austerity package in Italy, designed to cut roughly 45.5 billion euros from the deficit by the end of 2013, he almost immediately back-peddled on 7 billion euros worth of spending cuts and tax increases, “notably a tax on high earners that would have hurt his natural supporters,” meaning, rich people. Thus, even as the package went to the Senate in early September, Berlusconi was fine-tuning the details. Thus, noted the Economist, “the markets [were] again registering alarm,” and at the same time, Italy’s largest and most militant trade union federation, the CGIL, called for a one-day strike in opposition to the austerity package, “protesting over a clause making it easier to dismiss workers and, more generally, over a budget that the CGIL’s leader, Susanna Camusso,” referred to as “unjust because it attacks the weakest.” This further worried “the market” and “investors.” The Economist wrote that: “Mr. Berlusconi had consistently failed to react unless bullied. His first emergency budget in July followed a telephone call from the German chancellor, Angela Merkel,” while the second was of course at the prompting of the ECB.[15]

By October of 2011, the austerity measures in Italy had been wreaking havoc, as non-profit organizations lose their funding and had major bureaucratic obstacles put in their way for community projects, such as the Associazione Obiettivo Napoli, which ran two programs working with children in difficulty in Naples since 1998, helping them clean up local communities and provide counseling. As central government funding to town halls had been cut, organizations like Obiettivo Napoli, “which sit uneasily somewhere between education, welfare and rehabilitation budgets, have been the first to suffer.” Pietro Varriale, who works with the organization, commented on further obstacles put in their way: “They’re saying we need a second degree in education science to be able to do this work… It’s crazy. I have 15 years experience in this field, most of the team likewise, and we all have first degrees. A second degree is going to cost people a fortune, really a lot of money, and there’s no help or grant for that kind of thing. We’ve been given till 2013 to conform.” To add to that, the city of Naples simply stopped paying the bills for the organization, which had to then borrow money from a bank, forcing the employees such as Pietro to have to take on jobs working at bars, waiting tables, picking tomatoes and other piecemeal projects while they continue to work with the association being unpaid: “You keep going because of the kids, the relationships you build up.”[16]

Giancarlo Di Maio, a 23-year old university graduate in Naples working at a secondhand bookshop told the Guardian that, “University here is like a car park. You stay there as long as you can, because there’ll be nothing to do when you come out,” referring to the lack of jobs for youth. As he was employed, he explained: “Every morning, I wake up with a smile… How fortunate am I? Because otherwise, the only other work around here is black. The black economy is a huge, monumental issue for Italy.” His friends might make 30 euros for 10 hours working in a bar, or 20 euros for a night waiting tables in a restaurant. Di Maio, who works at a bookshop owned by his father, said that, “I know plenty of people in their 30s, even some in their 40s, still living with their parents… That’s not normal. For me, that’s one of the biggest problem [sic] in Italy – opportunities, any kind of prospects for young people.” When asked about Italian politics, he replied, “We have the worst political class in Europe, no question… Twenty years of Berlusconi, and not a single reform, nothing for the unemployed, nothing to address the economic crisis. Instead we talk about his sex life… we have a political class who do nothing. They don’t have solutions, and even if they did they wouldn’t try to do anything. They just speak air, it’s all they can do. Posturing.” Expressing some hope at the Occupy movement, though lamenting how it turned to violence in Italy, he explained that people were “finally starting to get angry. They are beginning to see that really, we can’t carry on like this. Italy really is sick. We can’t pretend to be the doctor any more; we need curing ourselves.”[17]

The Technocratic Coup

By early October 2011, it was clear that the “markets” were not satisfied with Berlusconi’s efforts at implementing a program of social genocide (fiscal austerity) which was to their liking. Thus, on October 5, the international ratings agency Moody’s cut Italy’s credit rating for the first time in two decades, adding to the downgrading from Standard & Poor’s two weeks prior. The Italian government responded that the actions of the ratings agencies were “politically motivated.” Even Moody’s acknowledged that the political situation within Italy played a part in its decision, including Berlusconi’s sex scandals, and the growing protests against the austerity measures.[18]

The effect of the downgrades is to make Italian bonds (government debt) less attractive to buy (as it is a riskier investment), and thus, Italy would have to pay higher interest rates. As a result of that, as we have seen with Greece, this makes the country’s overall debt larger (as it amounts to borrowing money to pay back borrowed money), except with the higher yields (interest rates), the future payments will be even more costly, likely to create potential for a bailout (again, just taking more debt to pay interest on older debts). All the while, the overall debt to GDP ratio increases, and austerity measures become the “conditions” for receiving bailouts, and the country is essentially taken over by the IMF, the ECB, and the EC (named the “Troika”), as occurred in Greece. This creates a permanent spiral of expanded debt, economic crisis, and social genocide. This is what is often called “market discipline.”

In mid-October, opposition to Berlusconi’s harsh austerity measures from within Italy was increasing, just as “market pressure” and EU-opposition from outside Italy was building against Berlusconi for his austerity measures being perceived as ‘too little, too late.’ Nine members of Berlusconi’s own coalition said the austerity package “unfairly targets the middle class and fails to tackle Italy’s massive tax evasion problem.” Susanna Camusso, the head of Italy’s largest and most militant labour federation, CGIL, said that a strike is the only way to “change the inequity of this package.”[19] During a global “day of rage” partly inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement in the United States and the Indignados movement in Spain, October 15 saw various Occupy and other protests erupt around the world, in 950 cities in 80 different countries. In Italy, Rome saw roughly 200,000 protesters come out into the streets, protesting against the austerity measures, the government, the EU, the ECB and the IMF. The protests erupted into violence as hundreds of those assembled began fighting with riot police, who were using tear gas and water cannons against the protesters, and several hundred erupted in urban rebellion (what is often called “riots”) in which banks were destroyed, they set cars and garbage bins on fire, hurled rocks, bottles, and fireworks at the police who continually charged the crowd. Roughly two dozen demonstrators were injured, with one reported to be put in critical condition, and at least 30 riot police were injured.[20]

As Berlusconi’s own government began to fracture in the face of the austerity package, disagreeing on what and how and if to cut, one of Berlusconi’s main coalition partners, the center-right Northern League, hinted that new elections were a possibility. Considering the popularity of the anti-austerity leftist leader Nichi Vendola, this was perhaps too much to bear. European leaders Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy lost their patience, and in late October, demanded that Berlusconi move forward with the austerity package. In a series of EU summits in late October on handling the economic crisis, discussing specifically the plan to boost the funds of the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), there was concern, reported Der Spiegel, “that the current size of the (recently expanded) fund isn’t sufficient should additional countries, particularly Spain and Italy, be infected with debt contagion.”[21]

Following these meetings, it was made “abundantly clear” to the Italians that their “leadership is no longer taken seriously.” Italian papers and TV shows were overwhelmed with covering the “condescending smile” of Angela Merkel to Berlusconi, and comments made by Sarkozy. Merkel and Sarkozy and other EU leaders told Berlusconi in the talks that he had to present a plan within three days “for reducing Italian debt more quickly than current plans call for.” European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said that Berlusconi had “promised to do so.” The following evening, Berlusconi stated, “No one is in a position to be giving lessons to their partners.” European leaders were frustrated that even the austerity package passed earlier in the summer had not been fully implemented, and the government’s stability was continually threatened over debating each new measure. The European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs, Olli Rhen, said that all the details of the new plan were “unclear.” With the EU summits proposing increasing the EFSF bailout fund from 440 billion euros to 1 trillion, a central feature to the demands of the EU leaders was that countries like Italy impose more stringent austerity measures. As Der Spiegel reported, “A clear Italian commitment to austerity is a key component of that plan.” There was then a good deal of conjecture over the possible departure of Berlusconi. The Italian paper Corriere della Serra reported that Angela Merkel called the Italian President Giorgio Napolitano the previous week “to discuss concerns about Italy’s political leadership.”[22]

In fact, Angela Merkel did make such a phone call to Italy’s president Napolitano in October, violating “an unwritten rule” for Europe’s leaders “not to intervene in one another’s domestic politics.” But this is a new, changing EU, one in which democracy – even the withering façade Western governments maintain – simply no longer matters. Merkel was “gently prodding Italy to change its prime minister, if the incumbent – Silvio Berlusconi – couldn’t change Italy.” The Wall Street Journal reported on the events that led to this incident, explaining that at the annual meeting of the IMF in September, China, Brazil, and the U.S. “berated” Europe for its small bailout fund, and told Europe to borrow “hundreds of billions of euros from the ECB,” something Merkel had long been against, and which was refused by Jens Weidmann of the German central bank, explaining that the bailout fund “was an arm of the governments… and lending to governments was against the ECB’s charter.” On October 19, Sarkozy left his wife who was in labor at a clinic in Paris to fly to Frankfurt to confront Jean-Claude Trichet at a party being held for the President of the ECB to honour him as he prepared to leave the ECB at the end of the month (to be replaced by the president of the Central Bank of Italy, Mario Draghi). Sarkozy argued that the ECB needed to intervene in the bond markets (buying government debt), stating that, “Everything else is too small.” Trichet said that it wasn’t “the ECB’s job to finance governments.”[23]

The ECB had engaged already in certain bond purchases, which “had caused a political backlash in Germany,” and as Trichet said, “I did a bit, and I was massively criticized in Germany.” Merkel, who was present during the shouting match between Trichet and Sarkozy, was frustrated at Sarkozy’s pressure on Trichet, as she had always opposed the ECB printing money to handle the crisis, telling Trichet, “You’re a friend of Germany.” It was the following day, on October 20, that Merkel made her “confidential” phone call to the Italian President in Rome, “the man with authority to name a new prime minister if the incumbent were to lose parliament’s support.” President Napolitano informed Merkel that it was “not reassuring” that Berlusconi had only “recently survived a parliamentary vote of confidence by just one vote.” Merkel then thanked Napolitano for doing what was “within your powers” in promoting reform. Within days, Napolitano began “sounding out Italy’s political parties to test the support for a new government if Mr. Berlusconi couldn’t satisfy Europe and the markets.”[24] It no doubt did not help Berlusconi when he wrote in an Italian paper in late October that the word austerity “isn’t in my vocabulary.”[25]

In early November, at a G20 meeting in Cannes, President Obama and other leaders were “effectively ordering Silvio Berlusconi to accept surveillance of Italy’s austerity measures by the International Monetary Fund,” reported the Guardian. Berlusconi was advised by Merkel, Sarkozy, Herman Van Rompuy and other EU leaders the previous week to come to the G20 with “a specific austerity package,” but due to divisions within his cabinet, Berlusconi “arrived empty-handed.” It was reported that Berlusconi would likely not survive a vote of confidence in the Italian parliament set for the following week. The ECB had been purchasing Italian bonds since August in order to push the yields lower, which dropped to below 5%, but by early November they had been driven up to 6.5%, “levels that make it difficult to pay back debt.” Italian President Napolitano had been holding meetings with party leaders to discuss the possibility of “constructing an interim government if Berlusconi’s collapses.” The G20, which was discussing the possibility of adding $300 billion to the IMF’s bailout fund of $950 billion, and G20 leaders pressured Italy “to sign up to a more specific austerity package or else the US and other countries would not put extra funds into the IMF.”[26]

Just prior to heading to the G20 meeting, Berlusconi had attempted to issue a decree which would pass various austerity measures, “thus bypassing the parliament,” but, reported the EUobserver, he “was held back by [President] Giorgio Napolitano,” as well as the Finance Minister Giulio Tremonti. Instead, Berlusconi was pressured to attempt an amendment to a “law for stability” to be approved the following week, at which time he would likely face a vote of confidence. Enrico Letta, the deputy general secretary of the center-left Democratic Party (PD), the main opposition party, said that, “We think that next week will be a week in parliament where we try to force the situation if Berlusconi does not resign before.”[27]

As Jean-Claude Trichet retired from the ECB at the end of October, and Mario Draghi left the Bank of Italy to take up his new job as President of the ECB, the newly-appointed governor of the Bank of Italy, Ignazio Vasco, said that Italy “needed to take urgent action to boost confidence in the economy and initiate structural reforms,” insisting that the commitments already given to the EU in a “letter of intent” in late October (following Berlusconi being castigated by Merkel and Sarkozy), “must be honoured quickly and consistently.”[28] At the G20 conference, Berlusconi agreed under pressure to have the IMF oversee Italy’s implementation of austerity measures, following late-night talks with G20 leaders. Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission (EC), said that, “Italy had decided on its own initiative to ask the IMF to monitor. I see this as evidence of how important Italy’s commitment to reform is.” The EC would also monitor Italy’s progress, and was set to visit Italy the following week to undertake a more detailed study. One EU source told the Telegraph that, “We need to make sure there is credibility with Italy’s targets – that it is going to meet them. We decided to have the IMF involved on the monitoring, using their own methodology, and the Italians say they can live with that.” The chief financial officer of Commerzbank, Eric Strutz, said that, “The whole stability of Europe depends on whether Italy gets its act together.”[29]

On November 8, Berlusconi suffered a party revolt in parliament which failed to deliver him a majority, and would likely lead to a vote of non-confidence a few days later. Upon this defeat, Berlusconi announced that he would resign as Prime Minister “as soon as parliament passed urgent budget reforms demanded by European leaders.” President Napolitano announced that he would begin consultations on the formation of a new government, and stated that he would prefer a “technocrat or national unity government.” At the same time, the “markets” had pushed Italy’s bond yields (debt interest) to nearly 7%, figures that saw Greece, Ireland, and Portugal getting bailouts. The leader of the main opposition Democratic Party (PD), Pier Luigi Bersani, said, “I ask you, Mr. Prime Minister, with all my strength, to finally take account of the situation… and resign.” Berlusconi and some of his close allies, however, warned that appointing a technocratic government, the option which was said to be favoured by “markets,” would amount to an “undemocratic coup.”[30] Naturally, that’s just what happened.

Writing for the Guardian, John Hooper suggested that one of four scenarios would take place upon the event of Berlusconi’s resignation: one envisions Berlusconi leaving but the right gaining a broader majority, specifically under Umberto Bossi’s Northern League, who was in Berlusconi’s coalition but had advised him to resign, and was pushing for him to be replaced with the next in command in Berlusconi’s party, Angelino Alfano; another scenario envisioned a “grand coalition,” or a “government of national emergency or salvation,” bringing together all the parties; a third scenario had Italy calling an election, urged by both Berlusconi and Bossi; or the fourth option, “a cabinet of technocrats,” which Hooper wrote was “favoured by the markets and the Italian centre left,” which would consist of “a government filled with specialists who could pass the unpalatable legislation needed to revive Italy’s flagging economy without having to worry about re-election.” This happened before in Italy, when Berlusconi’s government fell in 1994, at which time he was replaced by Lamberto Dini, a central banker, who headed a government of “professors, generals and judges.” In this scenario, suggested Hooper, the likely prime minister would be Mario Monti.[31]

Upon Berlusconi’s failure to achieve a minority during the budget vote on November 8, many officials from the financial community began making their observations, such as Jan Randolph, the head of sovereign risk analysis at HIS Global Insight, who said that, “Berlusconi has effectively lost political capital to carry the country through a period of austerity and structural reform,” and that, “Berlusconi will have to resign.” He went on to suggest that it was possible “that a broad National Unity government headed by a respected technocrat like ex-EU commissioner Mario Monti could be formed.”[32]

As Berlusconi officially resigned on the night of November 12, 2011, he left the president’s palace through a side door as a crowd of over 1,000 people outside yelled, “buffoon,” “Mafioso,” and for him to “face trial.” A poll from early November reported that 71% of Italians favoured his resignation, and upon hearing of his official resignation, the crowd erupted in roars of “Halleluja.”[33]

On November 16 of 2011, Mario Monti was appointed as Prime Minister of Italy. Monti accepted the mandate to form a new government, and was expected to appoint technical experts as opposed to politicians to his cabinet. President Napolitano told Italian politicians that, “it is a responsibility we perceive from the entire international community to protect the stability of the single currency as well as the European frame work.” Berlusconi’s political party, the People of Liberty, said it would accept a Monti government for a short while before elections would have to be scheduled, and Berlusconi referred to his resignation as “an act of generosity.”[34]

Mario Monti is an economist and academic who served as European Commissioner for the Internal Market, Services, Customs and Taxation from 1995 to 1999, and European Commissioner for Competition from 1999 to 2004. Monti is founder and Honorary President of Bruegel, a European think tank he launched in 2005, based in Belgium, and which represents the interests of key European elites. Monti has also been a member of the advisory board of the Coca-Cola Company, and was an international advisor to Goldman Sachs, was a former member of the Steering Committee of the Bilderberg Group, having previously attended the meeting in Switzerland in June of 2011, and was European Chairman of the Trilateral Commission until he resigned when he became Prime Minister of Italy.

Monti’s think tank, Bruegel, represents key elite European interests. The Chairman of the Board of Bruegel is Jean-Claude Trichet, the former President of the European Central Bank (ECB) from 2003 to 2011, who is also a member of the board of directors of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), and has joined the boards of a number of major corporations, including EADS. Other board members of Bruegel include: Jose Manuel Campa Fernandez, who was the Spanish Secretary of State for Economic Affairs at the Ministry of Economy and Finance from 2009 to 2011, and has been a consultant for the European Commission, the Bank of Spain, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the Inter-American Development Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank; Anna Ekström, the president of the Swedish Confederation of Professional Associations, Saco, and formerly the Swedish State Secretary for the Ministry of Industry, Employment and Communication; Jan Fisher, Vice President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), former Prime Minister of the Czech Republic; Vittorio Grilli, the Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Economy and Finance of Italy (whom Monti appointed to his technocratic government in November of 2011), and a former Managing Director at Credit Suisse First Boston; Wolfgang Kopf, Vice President at Deutsche Telekom AG; Rainer Münz, head of Research and Development at Erste Group and Senior Fellow at the Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI), former consultant to the European Commission, the OECD, and the World Bank; Jim O’Neill, Chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management; Lars-Hendrik Röller, the Director General of the Economic and Financial Policy Division of the German Federal Chancellery, and is President of the German Economic Association; Dariusz Rosati, former consultant economist at Citibank, former Minister of Foreign Affairs for Poland, former adviser to the President of the European Commission, and was a member of the European Parliament from 2004 to 2009; and Helen Wallace, a British academic expert on European integration.

In October of 2009, Mario Monti was asked by the President of the European Commission Manuel Barroso to draw up a report on how the EU should re-launch its single market. Barroso advised that the report, “should address the growing tide of economic nationalism and outline measures to complete the EU’s currently patchy single market.” Mario Monti was President of the Bocconi University at the time he was asked to write the report.[35] In May of 2010, Monti produced the report and officially handed it in to European Commission President Barroso. The report recommended ways to fight the potential of economic nationalism and to preserve and protect the regional bloc and to advance the process of integration, with Monti arguing that, “There is now a window of opportunity to bring back the political focus of the single market.”[36] The report eventually became the EU’s Single Market Act of 2011.[37]

After becoming the technocratic and unelected Prime Minister of Italy, Monti quickly appointed his new cabinet, of which more than a third of the 17-member cabinet consisted of professors and other technocrats. The cabinet position of Minister of Economic Development, Infrastructure and Transport was given to Corrado Passera, the chief executive of Italy’s largest bank, Intesa Sanpaolo. Passera told the Financial Times upon his appointment as “superminister” that, “If you want to build the wide consensus that is needed, we have to share sacrifices and benefits among all the segments of society with a balanced set of actions and with the right mix of austerity and development programmes.” British hedge fund manager Davide Serra stated, “Monti and Passera are the right guys for the job. They are the dream team.”[38] Upon appointing his new technocratic government, Monti declared: “We feel sure of what we have done and we have received many signals of encouragement from our European partners and the international world. All this will, I trust, translate into a calming of that part of the market difficulty which concerns our country.” On the lack of party representatives in his cabinet, Monti commented, “The absence of political personalities in the government will help rather than hinder a solid base of support for the government in parliament and in the political parties because it will remove one ground for disagreement.”[39]

A former ambassador who worked with Monti when he was an EU Commissioner recalled Mario’s style of governance, stating, “He didn’t have a very Italian way of going about things… His nickname in those days was ‘The Italian Prussian’.” An article in Reuters described Monti as “a convinced free marketeer with close connections to the European and global policy making elite, Monti has always backed a more closely integrated euro zone,” and went on to mention his leadership positions within the Bilderberg Group of “business leaders” and “leading citizens” and the Trilateral Commission, which “brings together the power elites of the United States, Europe and Japan.” Monti’s government would be given roughly 18 months to push through “reforms” and austerity measures, as another election would not be due until 2013. However, as one outgoing minister commented in November of 2011, “The decisions which Monti will take must pass in parliament and I think that with such a heterogeneous majority he will have many problems. I believe this solution will lead to many problems.”[40]

Monti of course received abundant praise from Europe’s leaders on becoming the new unelected technocratic Prime Minister of Italy. An article by Tony Barber in the Financial Times explained that Italian party politics was simply too problematic, as: “Even a centre-left government with a mandate from the voters would find it hard to maintain the unity and resolution required to implement the unpopular austerity measures and structural economic reforms demanded by Germany, France, the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.” And with the prospect of labour resistance from workers and pensioners, “it is easy to see why Europe’s leaders were eager for Mr Monti to inherit the premiership.” Thus, wrote Barber, “technocracy has an irresistible appeal.”[41] Mario Monti  himself had acknowledged that “irresistible appeal” in August of 2011, when he wrote an article in a major Italian paper advocating the formation of a “supranational technical government” which would make all the major decisions in order to “remove the structural constraints to growth,” and opined that “an Italy respected and authoritative… would be of great help to Europe.”[42] And as it turned out, a great help to Monti.

In early December of 2011, after forming his cabinet and being approved by Italy’s lower chamber of Parliament with a rare majority, Mario Monti received the endorsement of Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy, declaring their “absolute trust” in Monti and in “his structural changes” to his governing of Italy. Monti, upon assuming power, warned Italians in a speech that, “It is not going to be easy, sacrifice will be required.” As Monti’s “technocratic government” is full of appointments from the ruling class, including bankers and other executives, many in Italy were raising concerns that this suggested an inherent conflict of interest in his government, as those who helped create the crisis are brought in to solve it, a highly political government, despite all the claims of an apolitical ‘technocracy’ (technocracies are always political entities, but instead of pushing party ideologies, they push ultra-elite ideologies in the management and maintenance of society). Monti replied that, “There is no conflict of interests… The fact that many of us have played a role in the institutions before doesn’t mean that we will not be totally transparent.” And with that note, Monti appointed Carlo Malinconic as undersecretary for publishing affairs, after having previously served as president of the Italian Federation of Publishing and Newspapers.[43]

Writing in the journal of the Council on Foreign Relations, Foreign Affairs, Jonathan Hopkin, a professor of comparative politics at the London School of Economics, commented that the replacement of Berlusconi with Monti “marks a new stage in the European financial crisis,” in which “the crisis now seems to be wiping out democratically elected governments.” Largely under pressure from bond markets, “Italian politicians have opted to hand power to technocrats, expecting that they will somehow enjoy greater legitimacy as they impose painful measures on an angry population.” Hopkin stated: “This will not work.”[44]

In early November, as democratically-elected governments in Greece and Italy were replaced with unelected and unaccountable technocratic governments, essentially run by and for the European Union and global banks, Tony Barber, writing in the Financial Times, suggested that this is but one of several responses to the economic crisis. Specifically, this response “involves the surgical removal of elected leaders in Greece and Italy and their replacement with technocratic experts, trusted within the EU to pass economic reforms deemed appropriate by policymakers in Berlin, the bloc’s top paymaster, and at EU headquarters in Brussels.” Barber referred to the “sidelining of elected politicians in the continent that exported democracy to the world” as a “momentous development.” In short, “eurozone policymakers have decided to suspend politics as normal in two countries because they judge it to be a mortal threat to Europe’s monetary union.” Thus, these policymakers “have ruled that European unity, a project more than 50 years in the making, is of such overriding importance that politicians accountable to the people must give way to unelected experts who can keep the show on the road.” In Greece, the government was put under the technocratic leadership of Lucas Papademos, a former vice president of the European Central Bank, and upon accepting his appointment, stated: “I am confident that the country’s participation in the eurozone is a guarantee of monetary stability.” In Italy, Mario Monti came to power, a technocrat who “is revered in Brussels as one of the most effective commissioners for competition and the internal market that the EU has known.” One prominent Italian banker commented: “We need a strong national unity government for one to one and a half years to do what the politicians haven’t had the courage to do.”[45]

Running the ECB can be such a ‘Draghi’

In late October of 2011, at a gala event to mark the end of Jean-Claude Trichet’s eight years as president of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi, the governor of the Bank of Italy, who was selected to take over for Trichet at the start of November, was “working the room” of high-powered European elites, including Angeal Merkel, and IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde. Between 1984 and 1990, Draghi was the Italian Executive Director at the World Bank, and in 1991, he became the director general of the Italian Treasury until 2001. Between 2002 and 2005, Draghi was the Vice Chairman and Managing Director of Goldman Sachs International, thereafter becoming the governor of the Bank of Italy from 2006 until 2011, also putting him on the Governing Board of the European Central Bank and the Bank for International Settlements (BIS). Draghi is not simply one of the individuals who has been most responsible for handling and managing the economic crisis, but he also played an important role in causing it. As Vice Chairman of Goldman Sachs, and in Italy at the Treasury and the central bank, “Draghi was a proponent of nations and other institutions like pension funds using derivatives to more efficiently manage their liabilities.” This means that Draghi advised that governments should essentially hide their debts in the derivatives market, where they would not be viewed as liabilities, but rather, transactions. These “transactions” were very popular in Greece and Italy, and had a great deal to do with accumulating and hiding the massive debts of these countries.[46]

When Draghi led the Italian Treasury in the 1990s, he “oversaw one of the largest European privatization efforts ever and paved the way for Italy’s entry into the euro,” earning him the nickname, “Super Mario.” Italy liberalized its financial markets, allowing for massive speculation, derivatives, and other banking excesses, and he privatized roughly 15% of Italy’s economy. While Italian governments came and went during this period, Draghi always remained. While both Draghi and Goldman Sachs said that “Super Mario” did not have anything to do with the especially controversial Greece-Goldman Sachs transactions, one Goldman Sachs executive in Europe, “who was not authorized to speak publicly,” told the New York Times that, “Mr. Draghi had discussed similar initiatives with other European governments.” When asked about his involvement at Goldman Sachs, Draghi once replied, “I was not in charge of selling stuff to the governments… In fact, I worked in the private sector even though Goldman Sachs expected me to work in the public sector when I was hired.” However, in a paper which Draghi wrote in 2002 just a couple months after being hired by Goldman Sachs, at which his job description was “to win investment banking business from European governments,” Draghi argued in favour of governments using derivatives “to stabilize tax revenue and avoid the sudden accumulation of debt,” which the New York Times politely described as “faithful to the spirit” of the Goldman-Greece deal.[47]

In an interview with the Financial Times in December of 2011, European Central Bank president Mario Draghi reflected upon the financial crisis and the actions taken to manage it. He explained that the ECB’s long-term refinancing operation (a half-trillion euro bank bailout) was not designed to give banks an incentive to buy government bonds from the “periphery” nations, but rather, that, “the objective is to ease the funding pressures that banks are experiencing,” and that the banks “will then decide what the best use of these funds is.” Draghi stated that, “we don’t know exactly” what banks were doing with the money, but that, “the important thing was to relax the funding pressures.” Draghi reiterated that the banks “will decide in total independence what they want to do.”[48]

It’s interesting to note that when governments get bailouts, they are told what and how to spend the money, and are forced to impose austerity measures that destroy the social fabric and punish the populations of their countries, and then, of course, have to pay back the money at exorbitant interest rates; but when banks get a half-trillion euro bailout, the banks will “decide what the best use” of the money is, and where it goes is not important, it’s only important to “relax” the pressure on the banks, who will repay the debt over a long-term period (3 years) with extremely low interest (averaging 1%). So people get pressure, and banks get pressure “relaxed.”

Draghi told the Financial Times that what is needed most is to “restore confidence,” and for this, there are four answers. The first one “lies with national economic policies, because this crisis and this loss of confidence started from budgets that had got completely out of control.” The second answer, explained Draghi, “is that we have to restore fiscal discipline to the euro area,” which means to impose austerity, “and this is in a sense what last week’s EU summit started [in mid-December 2011], with the redesign of the fiscal compact.” The third answer “is to have a firewall in place which is fully equipped and operational,” meaning a massive bailout fund, which “was meant to be provided by the EFSF.” The fourth answer, according to Draghi, is for countries “to undergo significant structural reforms that would revamp growth,” implying things like liberalization, privatization, and further deregulaiton. When Draghi was asked about the critics of the fiscal compact who suggest that it amounts to a “stagnation and austerity union,” Draghi replied that, “they are right and wrong at the same time.” Draghi repeated the mantra of pro-austerity voices, who always suggest with no historical evidence to support, that there is “no trade-off between fiscal austerity, and growth and competitiveness.” However, Draghi contended, “I would not dispute that fiscal consolidation [austerity] leads to a contraction in the short run.” The correspondent with the Financial Times asked: “But these austerity programmes are very harsh. Don’t [you] think that some countries are really in effect in a debtor’s prison?” Draghi replied: “Do you see any alternative?”[49]

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal in February, Mario Draghi warned European countries “that there is no escape from tough austerity measures and that the continent’s traditional social contract is obsolete.” Draghi said that Europe’s social model was “already gone,” and that the only way to return to “long-term prosperity” was “continuing economic shocks [that] would force countries into structural changes in labor markets and other aspects of the economy.” As European people were suffering through the increased austerity measures, Draghi warned that, “Backtracking on fiscal targets would elicit an immediate reaction by the market.” This of course implies that the market has the ‘right’ to determine the fate of Europe’s people. For Draghi, “austerity, coupled with structural change, is the only option for economic renewal.” The European Commission, headed by Jose Manuel Barroso, agreed with Draghi, stating that despite forecasting a deepened recession brought on by austerity measures, governments “should be ready to meet budgetary targets.” Simon Johnson, the former chief economist of the IMF, said that Draghi was “just sugarcoating the message.” Johnson explained: “A lot of this structural reform talk is illusory at best in the short run… but it’s a better story than saying you’re going to have a terrible 10 years.”[50]

In the interview, Draghi commented on the “positive changes” which had been taking place in the previous few months: “There is greater stability in financial markets. Many government shave taken decisions on both fiscal consolidation and structural reforms. We have a fiscal compact where the European governments are starting to release national sovereignty for the common intent of being together.” When Draghi was asked what his view was “of these austerity policies in the larger strategy right now, forcing austerity at all costs,” Draghi replied: “There was no alternative to fiscal consolidation, and we should not deny that this is contractionary in the short term.” Then, he added, it was necessary to promote growth, “and that’s why structural reforms are so important.” The interviewer asked Draghi what the “most important structural reforms” were for Europe at that time. Draghi replied:

In Europe first is the product and services market reform. And the second is the labour market reform which takes different shapes in different countries. In some of them one has to make labour markets more flexible and also fairer than they are today [in other words: more easily exploited]. In these countries there is a dual labour market: highly flexible for the young part of the population where labour contracts are three-month, six-month contracts that may be renewed for years. The same market is highly inflexible for the protected part of the popuation where salaries follows seniority rather than productivity. In a sense labour markets at the present time are unfair in such a setting because they put all the weight of flexibility on the young part of the population.[51]

When central bankers and politicians and others talk about “labour flexibility,” what they really mean is “worker insecurity.” This was bluntly stated by Alan Greenspan back when he was Governor of the Board of the Federal Reserve System, when in testimony before the US Senate in 1997, he discussed how America’s “favorable” economy was constructed. Greenspan discussed how wage increases for workers did not keep pace with inflation, which was, he explained, “mainly the consequence of greater worker insecurity.” He elaborated: “the willingness of workers in recent years to trade off smaller increases in wages for greater job security seems to be reasonably well documented.” Greenspan credited the creation of “worker insecurity” with technological changes, corporate restructuring and downsizing, as well as “domestic deregulation.”[52] The New York Times reported on this, stating that Greenspan described “job insecurity” as “a powerful recent force in the American economy,” and that Greenspan, “clearly elevated this insecurity to major status in central bank policy.” How does worker insecurity influence central bank policy? The article explained: “Workers have been too worried about keeping their jobs to push for higher wages… and this has been sufficient to hold down inflation without the added restraint of higher interest rates.” However, Greenspan warned that even though job insecurity continues to rise, once “workers become accustomed to their new level of uncertainty, their confidence may revive and the upward pressure on wages resume.”[53]

In his interview with the Wall Street Journal, Mario Draghi was asked if “Europe will become less of the social model that has defined it,” to which Draghi replied: “The European social model has already gone.” Draghi, repeating the mantra of so many in power, stated that, “there is no feasible trade-off between” austerity and growth: “Fiscal consolidation is unavoidable in the present set up, and it buys time needed for the structural reforms. Backtracking on fiscal targets would elicit an immediate reaction by the market.” In terms of “progress” – as Draghi defines it – throughout the crisis, he praised the fiscal compact treaty as “a major political achievement because it’s the first step towards a fiscal union. It’s a treaty whereby countries release national sovereignty in order to accept common fiscal rules that are especially binding, and accept monitoring and accept to have these rules in their primary legislation so they are not easy to change. So that’s a beginning.”[54]

In further testimony in 2000, Alan Greenspan again addressed the issue of “worker insecurity,” which he stipulated was the “consequence of rapid economic and technological change,” which in turn created a “fear of potential job skill obsolescence.” Greenspan stated that, “more workers currently report they are fearful of losing their jobs than similar surveys found in 1991 at the bottom of the last recession,” and that, “greater workers insecurities are creating political pressures to reduce fierce global competition that has emerged in the wake of our 1990s technology boom.” While Greenspan admitted that “protectionist policies” would “temporarily reduce some worker anxieties,” he felt this was a bad idea, as “over the longer run such actions would slow innovation and impede the rise in living standards.” Greenspan elaborated:

Protectionism might enable a worker in a declining industry to hold onto his job longer. But would it not be better for that worker to seek a new career in a more viable industry at age 35 than hang on until age 50, when job opportunities would be far scarcer and when the lifetime benefits of additional education and training would be necessarily smaller?.. These years of extraordinary innovation are enhancing the standard of living for a large majority of Americans. We should be thankful for that and persevere in policies that enlarge the scope for competition and innovation and thereby foster greater opportunities for everyone.[55]

This is called “labour market flexibility.” Of course, as Greenspan was full of praise for the fact that “job insecurity” is a necessary factor in “enhancing the standard of living for a large majority of Americans,” which “fosters greater opportunities for everyone,” what he really meant was that it benefits a tiny minority and creates better opportunities for exploitation. Ironically, this wonderful “boom” in the economy turned out to be a bubble, and it popped within a year of his giving this speech, and then of course, he resorted to building up the housing bubble thereafter… and we know how that went: more worker insecurity, more labour market flexibility, and thus, more benefits to a tiny minority and more opportunities for exploitation and profits. Isn’t the “free market” wonderful?

In April of 2012, Mario Draghi advised the eurozone to adopt a “growth compact” in order to boost economic prospects as he “scaled back his hopes for an early economic rebound,” stating that the eurozone bloc was “probably in the most difficult phases” in which the austerity measures were “starting to reverberate its contractionary effects,” he told the European Parliament. Austerity had, according to Draghi, “taken a larger than expected toll.” A “growth pact” was promoted by the front-runner in the French presidential elections, Francois Hollande, who would go on to win the May 6 elections against Sarkozy. Hollande had called for a “new Europe” stressing “solidarity, progress and protection,” warning against a North-South split in the EU countries. Angela Merkel also approved of Draghi’s call for a “growth pact,” agreeing that austerity was not “the whole answer” to the crisis, but insisted that growth would be “in the form of structural reforms,” which implies liberalization and privatization. She added: “We need growth in the form of sustainable initiatives, not simply economic stimulus programmes that just increase government debt.” While acknowledging the “economic weakness” created by the austerity packages across Europe, Draghi continued to say that, “Europe’s leaders should stay the course on fiscal consolidation.”[56]

European leaders were quick to endorse the calls from Draghi for a “growth pact” for Europe, including Angela Merkel in Germany, and France’s new Socialist president, Fancois Hollande, as well as EC President José Manuel Barroso. Following Draghi’s suggestion, Barroso stated that, “Growth is the key, growth is the answer.” Francois Hollande commented in references to Draghi’s proposal, “He doesn’t necessarily have the same measures in mind as me to foster growth,” as Draghi’s position was closer to that of Angela Merkel, who viewed the pact as consisting of “structural reforms,” not a stimulus which would “again increase national debt.” An analyst at the Cutch bank ING said: “For the ECB, a growth compact does not mean more fiscal stimulus,” which is, of course, only reserved for banks, not people. Instead, stated the analyst, Carsten Brzeski, it entails “structural reforms with a vision.”[57]

In May, this vision was publicly endorsed by Jorg Asmussen, the governor of the Bundesbank (the German central bank), and a member of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank, and was just previously the deputy finance minister of Germany. In a speech on May 21, Asmussen stated that, “we need both” austerity and growth, but that: “Talking about more growth does not mean moving away from the fiscal policy strategy pursued so far. It is not a matter of boosting growth over the next one to two quarters with credit-financed spending programmes, but of increasing potential growth. No one is against growth. The crucial and rather difficult question to answer is how, in ageing societies, to increase potential growth.” As to the question of ‘how’, Asmussen suggested three main components: product market reforms, labour market reforms, and financing of reforms. Product market reforms could include, according to Asmussen, “the completion of the internal market for services… [as] 70% of the EU’s GDP comes from services, but only 20% of services are provided on a cross-border basis.” As for labour market reforms, Asmussen suggested they should be “inspired by the Agenda 2010 programme in Germany,” and that, ultimately: “labour mobility needs to be increased in the euro area (the theory says, we remember, that an optimal currency area requires full mobility of labour). Mobility could be increased through broader recognition of qualifications within Europe, greater portability of pension rights, language courses and a European network of job centres.”[58] The Agenda 2010 programme was, explained Der Spiegel, “a series of labor market and social welfare reforms introduced by former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder that completely restructured Germany’s welfare state,” which included, “easing job dismissal protections, lowering bureaucratic hurdles for starting businesses, setting a higher retirement age and lowering non-wage labor costs,” all of which are “typical examples of structural reforms.”[59]

The Crisis Continues…

And so the European debt crisis continues, and so the austerity measures continue to punish the populations of Europe, and so Italy remains at the forefront of a growing global power grab: a ‘Technocratic Revolution’ in which even the trappings of formal democracy are pushed aside in favour of a government subservient to unelected councils of supranational institutions and global financial interests. In Par 2 of this excerpt on the Italian debt crisis, we examine the austerity programs and structural adjustments undertaken by the technocratic government of Mario Monti.

Andrew Gavin Marshall is an independent researcher and writer based in Montreal, Canada, writing on a number of social, political, economic, and historical issues. He is also Project Manager of The People’s Book Project. He also hosts a weekly podcast show, “Empire, Power, and People,” on BoilingFrogsPost.com.

Please donate to The People’s Book Project to help this book be finished by the end of summer:

Notes

[1]            Bilderberg Meetings, Participants, 2011:

http://www.bilderbergmeetings.org/participants_2011.html

[2]            John Hooper, “Italy’s politicians rally round to prevent market’s slide,” The Guardian, 12 July 2011:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/jul/12/italy-rallies-financial-meltdown-austerity

[3]            Phillip Inman and John Hooper, “Italy hopes privatisations will calm markets,” The Guardian, 13 July 2011:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/jul/13/italy-hopes-privatisations-will-end-run-on-shares

[4]            AP, “Italian Senate passes key austerity package,” The Independent, 14 July 2011:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/italian-senate-passes-key-austerity-package-2313765.html

[5]            Rachel Donadio, “Italy to Adopt Austerity Plan to Fend Off a Debt Crisis,” The New York Times, 14 July 2011:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/15/world/europe/15italy.html

[6]            Emma Rowley, “Silvio Berlusconi v. Giulio Tremonti: a clash that spooked the markets,” The Telegraph, 14 July 2011:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/8637058/Silvio-Berlusconi-v.-Giulio-Tremonti-a-clash-that-spooked-the-markets.html

[7]            Nichi Vendola, “Italian debt: Austerity economics? That’s dead wrong for us,” The Guardian, 14 July 2011:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jul/14/italian-debt-austerity-berlusconi

[8]            Mario Monti, “Il podestà forestiero,” Corriere della Sera, 7 August 2011, [original in Italian, translation provided by Google Translate]:

http://www.corriere.it/editoriali/11_agosto_07/monti-podesta_1a5c6670-c0c4-11e0-a989-deff7adce857.shtml

[9]            Central Banking Newsdesk, “Leaked letter reveals ECB austerity demands on Italy,” Central Banking, 29 September 2011:

http://www.centralbanking.com/central-banking/news/2113272/leaked-letter-reveals-ecb-austerity-demands-italy

[10]            Ibid.

[11]            Ibid.

[12]            Leigh Phillips, “ECB austerity drive raises fears for democratic accountability in Europe,” The Guardian, 22 August 2011:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/aug/22/debt-crisis-europe

[13]            John Hooper, “Italy’s government meets to approve new austerity package,” The Guardian, 12 August 2011:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/aug/12/berlusconi-italy-austerity-cuts-protest

[14]            Lorenzo Totaro, “Berlusconi’s Austerity Package Wins Final Approval in Italian Parliament,” Bloomberg, 14 September 2011:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-09-14/berlusconi-s-austerity-package-wins-final-approval-in-italian-parliament.html

[15]            “Italy’s Austerity Budget – Needed: A New Broom,” The Economist, 10 September 2011:

http://www.economist.com/node/21528674

[16]            Jon Henley, “Austerity in Italy: cuts compound bureaucratic obstacles,” The Guardian, 18 October 2011:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/blog/2011/oct/18/austerity-italy-cuts-bureaucratic-obstacles

[17]            Jon Henley, “Europe on the breadline: hopelessness and Berlusconi,” The Guardian, 18 October 2011:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/blog/2011/oct/18/jon-henley-breadline-europ-hopelessness-berlusconi

[18]            Bruno Mascitelli, “As Moody’s trashes Italy, voters can’t count on Berlusconi,” The Conversation, 5 October 2011:

http://theconversation.edu.au/as-moodys-trashes-italy-voters-cant-count-on-berlusconi-3486

[19]            The Canadian Press, “Italy Debt Crisis: Berlusconi Austerity Package Sets Up Showdown With Labour,” The Huffington Post, 14 October 2011:

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2011/08/14/italy-austerity-showdown_n_926389.html

[20]            Reuters, “Violent protests in Italian capital,” The Irish Times, 15 October 2011:

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2011/1015/breaking23.html;

Antonio Padellaro, “Come previsto,” Il Fatto Quotidiano, 16 October 2011, (original in Italian, translation courtesy of Google Translate):

http://www.ilfattoquotidiano.it/2011/10/16/come-previsto/164205/;

“Rome counts cost of violence after global protests,” BBC News, 16 October 2011:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-15326561;

Alessandra Rizzo and Meera Selva, “Rioters hijack Rome protests; police fire tear gas,” The Denver Post, 16 October 2011:

http://www.denverpost.com/nationworld/ci_19123516

[21]            Spiegel Online, “German Parliament Expected To Hold Full Vote on EFSF,” Der Spiegel, 24 October 2011:

http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/controversial-leveraging-plan-german-parliament-expected-to-hold-full-vote-on-efsf-a-793656.html

[22]            Hans-Jürgen Schlamp, “Berlusconi’s Government Wobbles in Face of EU Pressure,” Der Spiegel, 25 October 2011:

http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/crumbling-coalition-berlusconi-s-government-wobbles-in-face-of-eu-pressure-a-793884.html

[23]            MARCUS WALKER, CHARLES FORELLE, and STACY MEICHTRY, “Deepening Crisis Over Euro Pits Leader Against Leader,” The Wall Street Journal, 30 December 2011:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203391104577124480046463576.html

[24]            Ibid.

[25]            Armorel Kenna, “Austerity ‘Isn’t in My Vocabulary,’ Berlusconi Tells Il Foglio,” Bloomberg, 29 October 2011:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-10-29/austerity-isn-t-in-my-vocabulary-berlusconi-tells-il-foglio.html

[26]            Patrick Wintour and Larry Elliott, “G20 leaders press Italy to accept IMF checks on cuts programme,” The Guardian, 4 November 2011:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/nov/04/g20-italy-imf-checks-cuts

[27]            Philip Ebels, “Berlusconi heads to G20 amid mutiny at home,” EUObserver, 3 November 2011:

http://euobserver.com/9/114156

[28]            Nick Squires, “Eurozone crisis: Italian coalition fails to reach austerity deal,” The Telegraph, 3 November 2011:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/italy/8866954/PIC-AND-PUB-PLEASE-Eurozone-crisis-Italian-coalition-fails-to-reach-austerity-deal.html

[29]            Emily Gosden, “Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi agrees to IMF oversight of austerity measures,” The Telegraph, 4 November 2011:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/8869346/Italian-Prime-Minister-Silvio-Berlusconi-agrees-to-IMF-oversight-of-austerity-measures.html

[30]            Barry Moody and James Mackenzie, “Berlusconi to resign after parliamentary setback,” Reuters, 8 November 2011:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/11/08/us-italy-idUSTRE7A72NG20111108

[31]            John Hooper, “What happens if Berlusconi resigns?” The Guardian, 8 November 2011:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/nov/08/italy-after-berlusconi-scenarios

[32]            Graeme Wearden and Alex Hawkes, “Eurozone debt crisis: Berlusconi to resign after austerity budget passed,” The Guardian, 8 November 2011:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/blog/2011/nov/08/berlusconi-debt-greece#block-35

[33]            “The end of Berlusconi: Hallelujah,” The Economist, 13 November 2011:

http://www.economist.com/blogs/newsbook/2011/11/end-berlusconi

[34]            Rachel Donadino, “With Clock Ticking, an Economist Accepts a Mandate to Rescue Italy,” The New York Times, 13 November 2011:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/14/world/europe/mario-monti-asked-to-form-a-new-government-in-italy.html

[35]            Andrew Willis, “Mario Monti to draw up single market report,” EUObserver, 21 October 2009:

http://euobserver.com/19/28856

[36]            “EU must put single market ‘back on stage’, says Monti,” EurActiv, 11 May 2010:

http://www.euractiv.com/priorities/eu-put-single-market-back-stage-news-494013

[37]            “Twelve projects for the 2012 Single Market: together for new growth,” The European Commission, 13 April 2011:

http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/11/469

[38]            Rachel Sanderson, “‘Superminister’ emerges from Italy’s business elite,” The Financial Times, 16 November 2011:

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/22c46df8-1060-11e1-8010-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1yY37v49b

[39]            John Hooper, “Mario Monti appoints technocrats to steer Italy out of economic crisis,” The Guardian, 16 November 2011:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/nov/16/mario-monti-technocratic-cabinet-italy

[40]            James Mackenzie, “”Italian Prussian” Monti enters political storm,” Reuters, 13 November 2011:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/11/13/italy-monti-idUSL5E7MD0DO20111113

[41]            Tony Barber, “Why Europe’s leaders welcome Monti,” The Financial Times, 23 November 2011:

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/ce6f96cc-15bb-11e1-8db8-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1yY37v49b

[42]            Mario Monti, “Il podestà forestiero,” Corriere della Sera, 7 August 2011, [original in Italian, translation provided by Google Translate]:

http://www.corriere.it/editoriali/11_agosto_07/monti-podesta_1a5c6670-c0c4-11e0-a989-deff7adce857.shtml

[43]            Viola Caon, “Mario Monti’s Italian technocracy reveals its true political colours,” The Guardian, 6 December 2011:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/dec/06/mario-monti-technocracy-europe

[44]            Jonathan Hopkin, “How Italy’s Democracy Leads to Financial Crisis,” Foreign Affairs 21 November 2011:

http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/136688/jonathan-hopkin/how-italys-democracy-leads-to-financial-crisis

[45]            Tony Barber, “Eurozone turmoil: Enter the technocrats,” The Financial Times, 11 November 2011:

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/93c5cb36-0c92-11e1-a45b-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1z1dPgKJf

[46]            Landon Thomas Jr. and Jack Ewing, “Can Super Mario Save the Day for Europe?” The New York Times, 29 October 2011:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/30/business/mario-draghi-into-the-eye-of-europes-financial-storm.html?pagewanted=all

[47]            Ibid.

[48]            Lionel Barber and Ralph Atkins, “FT interview transcript: Mario Draghi,” The Financial Times, 18 December 2011:

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/25d553ec-2972-11e1-a066-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1yY37v49b

[49]            Ibid.

[50]            Brian Blackstone, Matthew Karnitsching and Robert Thomson, “Europe’s Banker Talks Tough,” The Wall Street Journal, 24 February 2012:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203960804577241221244896782.html

[51]            Brian Blackstone, Matthew Karnitschnig and Robert Thomson, “Q&A: ECB President Mario Draghi,” The Wall Street Journal, 23 February 2012:

http://blogs.wsj.com/eurocrisis/2012/02/23/qa-ecb-president-mario-draghi/

[52]            Alan Greenspan, “Testimony of Chairman Alan Greenspan: The Federal Reserve’s semiannual monetary policy report,” Before the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, U.S. Senate, February 26, 1997:

http://www.federalreserve.gov/boarddocs/hh/1997/february/testimony.htm

[53]            Louis Uchitelle, “Job Insecurity of Workers Is a Big Factor in Fed Policy,” The New York Times, 27 February 1997:

http://www.nytimes.com/1997/02/27/business/job-insecurity-of-workers-is-a-big-factor-in-fed-policy.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm

[54]            Brian Blackstone, Matthew Karnitschnig and Robert Thomson, “Q&A: ECB President Mario Draghi,” The Wall Street Journal, 23 February 2012:

http://blogs.wsj.com/eurocrisis/2012/02/23/qa-ecb-president-mario-draghi/

[55]            Alan Greenspan, “Remarks by Chairman Alan Greenspan: The revolution in information technology,” Before the Boston College Conference on the New Economy, Boston, Massachusetts, March 6, 2000:

http://www.federalreserve.gov/boarddocs/speeches/2000/20000306.htm

[56]            Ralph Atkins, Hugh Carnegy, and Quentin Peel, “Draghi calls for Europe ‘growth compact’,” The Financial Times, 25 April 2012:

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/fc894164-8ead-11e1-ac13-00144feab49a.html#axzz1yY37v49b

[57]            Stefan Kaiser, “Austerity Backlash Unites European Leaders,” Spiegel Online, 17 April 2012:

http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/european-austerity-backlash-leaders-back-draghi-s-growth-pact-a-830185.html

[58]            Jörg Asmussen, “WELT-Währungskonferenz,” Berlin, 21 May 2012:

http://www.ecb.int/press/key/date/2012/html/sp120521.en.html

[59]            Stefan Kaiser, “Austerity Backlash Unites European Leaders,” Spiegel Online, 17 April 2012:

http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/european-austerity-backlash-leaders-back-draghi-s-growth-pact-a-830185.html

The Great Global Debt Depression: It’s All Greek To Me

The Great Global Debt Depression: It’s All Greek To Me

July 15, 2011

Introduction

In late June of 2011, the Greek government passed another round of austerity measures, ostensibly aimed at getting Greece “back on track” to economic progress, but in reality, implementing a systematic program of ‘social genocide’ in the name of servicing an endless and illegitimate debt to foreign banks. Right on cue, protests and riots broke out in Athens against the draconian measures, and the state moved in to do what states do best: oppress the people with riot police, tear gas and bashing batons, leaving roughly 300 people injured.

Is Greece simply a case of a country full of lazy people who spent beyond their means and are now paying for their own decadence? Or, is there something much larger at stake – and at play – here? Greece is, in fact, a microcosm of the global economy: mired in excessive debt, economically ruined, increasingly politically repressive and socially explosive. This report takes a look at the case of the Greek debt crisis specifically, and places it within a wider global context. The conclusion is clear: what happens in Greece will happen here.

This report examines the Greek crisis, as well as the larger global economic crisis, including the origins of the housing bubble, the bailouts, the banks, and the major actors and institutions which will come to dominate the stage over the next decade in what will play out as ‘The Great Global Debt Depression.’

An Olympian Debt

With the global economic crisis rampaging throughout the world in 2008, Greece experienced major protests and riots at government reactions to the crisis. The unpopularity of the government led to an election in which a Socialist government came to power in October of 2009 under the premise of promising an injection of 3 billion euros in order to revive the Greek economy.[1] When the government came to power, they inherited a debt that was double that which the previous government had disclosed. This prompted Greece’s entry into a major debt crisis, as the debt was roughly 127% of Greece’s GDP in 2009, and thus, the costs of borrowing rose exponentially.

In April of 2010, Greece had to seek a bailout by the EU and the IMF in order to pay the interest on its debt. However, by taking such a bailout from the EU and IMF, Greece ultimately incurred a larger long-term debt, as the money from these institutions simply added to the overall debt, and thus, actually increased eventual interest payments on that debt. Thus, we see the true nature of debt: a financial form of slavery. Debt is designed in such a way that, like a fly caught in a spider’s web, the more it struggles, the more entangled it gets; the more it struggles to break free, the more it arouses the attention of the spider, which quickly moves in to strike its prey – paralyzed – with its venom, so that it may wrap the fly in its silk and eat it alive. Debt is the silk, the people are the fly, and the spider is the large financial institutions – from the banks to the IMF. The nature of debt is that one is never meant to be able to escape it. Hence, the “solution” for Greece’s debt problem – according to those who decide policy – is for Greece to acquire more debt. Of course, this new debt is used to pay the interest on the old debt (note: it is not used to pay OFF the old debt, just the interest on it). However, the effect this has is that it increases the over-all debt of the nation, which leads to higher interest payments and thus a greater cost of borrowing. This, ultimately, leads to a need to continue borrowing in order to pay off the higher interest payments, and thus, the cycle continues. For all the “bail outs” and aims at addressing Greece’s debt, this prescription inevitably results in greater debt levels than those which induced the debt crisis in the first place.

So why is this the prescription?

Not only does this prescription incur more debt to pay interest on old debt, but the process of borrowing and “consolidating” debt has devastating social and political consequences. For example, in the case of Greece, in order to receive loans from the IMF and EU, Greece was forced to impose “fiscal austerity measures.” This blatantly ambiguous economic nomenclature of “fiscal austerity” is in fact more accurately described in real human terms as “social genocide.” Why is this so?

‘Fiscal Austerity’ means that the state – in this case, Greece – must engage in “fiscal consolidation.” In economic parlance, this implies that the state must cut spending and increase taxes in order to “service” its debt by reducing its annual deficit. Thus, the ‘conditions’ for receiving a loan demand “fiscal austerity” measures being implemented by the debtor nation. This is supposedly a way for the lender to ensure that their loans are met with appropriate measures to deal with the debt. The objective, purportedly, is to reduce expenditure (spending) and increase revenue (income), allowing for more money to pay off the debt. However, as with most economic concepts, the reality is far different than the theoretical implications of “fiscal austerity.”

In fact, ‘fiscal austerity’ is a state-implemented program of social destruction, or ‘social genocide’. Such austerity measures include cutting social spending, which means no more health care, education, social services, welfare, pensions, etc. This directly implies a massive wave of layoffs from the public sector, as those who worked in health care, education, social services, etc., have their jobs eliminated. This, naturally, creates a massive growth in poverty rates, with the jobless and homeless rates climbing dramatically. Simultaneously, of course, taxes are raised drastically, so that in a social situation in which the middle and lower classes are increasingly impoverished, they are then over-taxed. This creates a further drain of wealth, and consumption levels go down, further driving production levels downward, and (local) private businesses cannot compete with foreign multinational conglomerates, and so businesses close and more lay-offs take place. After all, without a market for consumption, there is no demand for production. In a country such as Greece, where the percentage of people in the employ of the state is roughly 25%, these measures are particularly devastating.

Naturally, in such situations, the masses of people – those who are doomed to suffer most – are left greatly impoverished and the middle classes essentially vanish, and are absorbed into the lower class. As social services vanish when they are needed most, life expectancy rates decrease. With few jobs and massive unemployment, many are left to choose between buying food or medicine, if those are even options. Crime rates naturally increase in such situations, as desperate conditions breed desperate actions. This creates, especially among the educated youth who graduate into a jobless market, a ‘poverty of expectations,’ having grown up with particular expectations of what they would have in terms of opportunities, which then vanish quite suddenly. This results in enormous social stress, and often, social unrest: protests, riots, rebellion, and even revolution in extreme circumstances. These are exactly the conditions that led to the uprising in Egypt.

The reflexive action of states, therefore, is to move in to repress – most often quite violently – protests and demonstrations. The aim here is to break the will of the people. Thus, the more violent and brutal the repression, the more likely it is that the people may succumb to the state and consent – even if passively – to their social conditions. However, as the state becomes more repressive, this often breeds a more reactive and radical resistance. When the state oppresses 500 people one day, 5,000 may show up the next. This requires, from the view of the state, an exponentially increased rate of oppression. The risk in this strategy is that the state may overstep itself and the people may become massively mobilized and intensely radicalized and overthrow – or at least overcome – the power of the state. In such situations, the political leadership is often either urged by a foreign power to leave (such as in the case of Egypt’s Mubarak), or flees of their own will (such as in Argentina), in order to prevent a true revolution from taking place. So, while the strategy holds enormous risk, it is often employed because it also contains possible reward: that the state may succeed in destroying the will of the people to resist, and they may subside to the will of the state and thereby consent to their new conditions of social genocide.

Social genocide is a slow, drawn-out and incremental process. Its effects are felt by poor children first, as they are those who need health care and social services more than any other, and are left hungry and unable to go to school or work. They are the ‘forgotten’ of society, and they suffer deeply as such. The reverberations, however, echo throughout the whole of society. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer, while the middle class is absorbed into poverty.

The rich get richer because through economic crises, they consolidate their businesses and receive tax breaks and incentives from the state (as well as often direct infusions of cash investments – bailouts – from the state), purportedly to increase private capital and production. This aspect of “fiscal austerity” is undertaken in the wider context of what is referred to as “Structural Adjustment.”

This term refers to the loans from the World Bank and IMF that began in the late 1970s and early 1980s in their lending to ‘Third World’ nations in the midst of the 1980s debt crisis. Referred to as “Structural Adjustment Programs,” (SAPs) any nation wanting a loan from the World Bank or IMF needed to sign a SAP, which set out a long list of ‘conditionalities’ for the loan. These conditions included, principally, “fiscal austerity measures” – cutting social spending and raising taxes – but also a variety of other measures: liberalization of markets (eliminating any trade barriers, subsidies, tariffs, etc.), supposedly to encourage foreign investment which it was theorized would increase revenue to pay off the debt and revive the economy; privatization (privatizing all state-owned industries), in order to cut state spending and encourage foreign direct investment (FDI), which again – in theory – would create revenue and reduce debt; currency devaluation (which would make foreign dollars buy more for less), again, under the aegis of encouraging investment by making it cheaper for foreign companies to buy assets within the country.

However, the effects that these ‘structural adjustment programs’ had were devastating. Liberalizing markets would eliminate subsidies and protections which were desperately needed in order for these ‘developing’ nations to compete with the industrialized powers of America and Europe (who, in a twisted irony, heavily subsidize their agriculture in order to make it cheaper to foreign markets). For example, a small country in Africa which was dependent upon a particular agricultural export had heavily subsidized this commodity, (which keeps the price low and thus increases its demand as an exported commodity), then was ordered by the IMF and World Bank to eliminate the subsidy. The effect was that foreign agricultural imports, say from the United States or Europe, were cheaper not only in the international market, but also in the nation’s domestic market. Thus, grains imported from America would be cheaper than those grown in neighbouring fields. The effect this had in an increasingly-impoverished nation was that they would become dependent upon foreign imports for food and agriculture (as well as other commodities), while the domestic industries would suffer and be bought out by foreign multinational corporations, thus increasing poverty, as many of these nations were heavily dependent upon their agricultural sectors as they were often still largely rural societies in some respects. This would accelerate urbanization and urban poverty, as people leave the countryside and head to the cities looking for work, where there was none.

Privatization, for its part, would eliminate state-owned industries, which in many developing nations of the post-World War II era, were the major employers of the population. Thus, massive unemployment would result. As foreign multinational corporations – largely American or European – would come in and buy up the domestic industries, they would often cooperate with the dominant domestic corporations and banks – or create domestic subsidiaries of their own – and consolidate the markets and industries. Thus, the effect would be to strengthen a domestic elite and entrench an oligarchy in the nation. The rich would get richer, profiting off of their cooperation and integration with the international economic system, and they would then come to rely ever-more on the state for protection from the masses.

The devaluation of currencies would, while making commodities and investments cheaper for foreign multinationals and banks, simultaneously make it so that for the domestic population, it would require more money to buy less products than before. This is called inflation, and is particularly brutal in the case of buying food and fuel. For a population whose wages are frozen (as a requirement of ‘fiscal austerity’), their income (for those that have an income) does not adjust to the rate of inflation, hence, they make the same dollar amount even though the dollar is worth much less than before. The result is that their income purchases much less than it used to, increasing poverty.

This is ‘Structural Adjustment.’ This is ‘fiscal austerity.’ This is social genocide.

Debt and Derivatives

Greece has a total debt of roughly 330 billion euros (or U.S. $473 billion).[2] So how did this debt get out of control? As it turned out, major U.S. banks, specifically J.P. Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs, “helped the Greek government to mask the true extent of its deficit with the help of a derivatives deal that legally circumvented the EU Maastricht deficit rules.” The deficit rules in place would slap major fines on euro member states that exceeded the limit for the budget deficit of 3% of GDP (gross domestic product), and that the total government debt must not exceed 60% of GDP.  Greece hid its debt through “creative accounting,” and in some cases, even left out huge military expenditures. While the Greek government pursued its “creative accounting” methods, it got more help from Wall Street starting in 2002, in which “various investment banks offered complex financial products with which governments could push part of their liabilities into the future.” Put simply, with the help of Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase, Greece was able to hide its debt in the future by transferring it into derivatives. A large deal was signed with Goldman Sachs in 2002 involving derivatives, specifically, cross-currency swaps, “in which government debt issued in dollars and yen was swapped for euro debt for a certain period — to be exchanged back into the original currencies at a later date.” The banks helped Greece devise a cross-currency swap scheme in which they used fictional exchange rates, allowing Greece to swap currencies and debt for an additional credit of $1 billion. Disguised as a ‘swap,’ this credit did not show up in the government’s debt statistics. As one German derivatives dealer has stated, “The Maastricht rules can be circumvented quite legally through swaps.”[3]

In the same way that homeowners take out a second mortgage to pay off their credit card debt, Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase and other U.S. banks helped push government debt far into the future through the derivatives market. This was done in Greece, Italy, and likely several other euro-zone countries as well. In several dozen deals in Europe, “banks provided cash upfront in return for government payments in the future, with those liabilities then left off the books.” Because the deals are not listed as loans, they are not listed as debt (liabilities), and so the true debt of Greece and other euro-zone countries was and likely to a large degree remains hidden. Greece effectively mortgaged its airports and highways to the major banks in order to get cash up-front and keep the loans off the books, classifying them as transactions.[4]

Further, while Goldman Sachs was helping Greece hide its debt from the official statistics, it was also hedging its bets through buying insurance on Greek debt as well as using other derivatives trades to protect itself against a potential Greek default on its debt. So while Goldman Sachs engaged in long-term trades with Greek debt (meaning Greece would owe Goldman Sachs a great deal down the line), the firm simultaneously was betting against Greek debt in the short-term, profiting from the Greek debt crisis that it helped create.[5]

This is not an unusual tactic for the company to engage in. As a two-year Senate investigation into Goldman Sachs revealed in April of 2011, “Goldman Sachs Group Inc. profited from the financial crisis by betting billions against the subprime mortgage market, then deceived investors and Congress about the firm’s conduct.”[6] In 2007, as the housing crisis was gaining momentum, Goldman Sachs executives sent emails to each other explaining that they were making “some serious money” by betting against the housing market, a giant bubble which they and other Wall Street firms had helped create. So while the bank had a large exposure (risk) in the housing market, by holding significant derivatives in trading mortgages (mortgage-backed securities, collateralized debt obligations, credit default swaps, etc.), the same bank also used the derivatives market to bet against the housing market as it crashed – a type of self-fulfilling prophecy – which further drove the market down (as speculation does), and thus, Goldman Sachs profited from the crisis it created and made worse.[7]

The derivatives market is a very important feature not only in the housing bubble and bust of 2008, but also in the current Greek crisis, and will remain an important facet of the unfolding global debt crisis. The current global derivatives market was developed in the 1990s. Derivatives are referred to as “complex financial instruments” in which they are traded between two parties and their value is derived (hence: “deriv-ative”) from some other entity, be it a commodity, stock, debt, currency or mortgage, to name a few. There are several types of derivatives. One example is a ‘put option,’ which is betting that a particular stock, commodity or other asset will fall in price over the short term; that way, those who purchase put options will profit from the fall in prices of the asset bet on.

Who Built the Bubble?

One of the most common derivatives is a credit default swap (CDS). These ‘financial instruments’ were developed by JP Morgan Chase in 1994 as a sort of insurance policy. The aim, as JP Morgan at the time had tens of billions of dollars on the books as loans to corporations and foreign governments, was to trade the debt to a third party (who would take on the risk), and would then receive payments from the bank; thus, JP Morgan would be able to remove the risk from its books, freeing up its reserves to make more loans. JP Morgan was the first bank to make it big on credit default swaps, opening the first credit default swaps desk in New York in 1997, “a division that would eventually earn the name ‘the Morgan Mafia’ for the number of former members who went on to senior positions at global banks and hedge funds.” The credit default swaps played a large part in the housing boom:

As the Federal Reserve cut interest rates and Americans started buying homes in record numbers, mortgage-backed securities became the hot new investment. Mortgages were pooled together, and sliced and diced into bonds that were bought by just about every financial institution imaginable: investment banks, commercial banks, hedge funds, pension funds. For many of those mortgage-backed securities, credit default swaps were taken out to protect against default.[8]

Of course, there were a great many players in the financial crisis: bankers, economists, politicians, regulators, etc. The confusion of the situation has allowed all those who are culpable to point the finger at one another and place blame on each other. For example, Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorganChase, referred to the government-chartered mortgage lending companies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as “the biggest disasters of all time,” blaming them for encouraging the banks to make the bad loans in the first place.[9] Of course, he had an ulterior motive in removing blame from himself and the other banks.

There is, however, some truth to his contention, but the situation is more complex. Fannie Mae was created in 1938 after the Great Depression to provide local banks with federal money in order to finance home mortgages with an aim to increase home ownership. In 1968, Fannie Mae was transformed into a publicly held corporation, and in 1970, the government created Freddie Mac to compete with Fannie Mae in providing home mortgages. In 1992, President George H.W. Bush signed the Housing and Community Development Act of 1992, which included amendments to the charters of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, stating that they “have an affirmative obligation to facilitate the financing of affordable housing for low- and moderate-income families.”[10]

In 1992, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) subsequently became the ‘regulator’ of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. In 1995, Bill Clinton’s HUD “agreed to let Fannie and Freddie get affordable-housing credit for buying subprime securities that included loans to low-income borrowers.”[11] In 1996, HUD “gave Fannie and Freddie an explicit target — 42% of their mortgage financing had to go to borrowers with income below the median in their area.”[12] In a 1999 article in the New York Times, it was reported that, “the Fannie Mae Corporation is easing the credit requirements on loans that it will purchase from banks and other lenders.” The action, reported the Times, “will encourage those banks to extend home mortgages to individuals whose credit is generally not good enough to qualify for conventional loans.” It began in 1999 as a pilot program involving 24 banks in 15 markets (including New York), and had hoped to make it nationwide by Spring 2000. The article went on:

Fannie Mae, the nation’s biggest underwriter of home mortgages, has been under increasing pressure from the Clinton Administration to expand mortgage loans among low and moderate income people and felt pressure from stock holders to maintain its phenomenal growth in profits.

In addition, banks, thrift institutions and mortgage companies have been pressing Fannie Mae to help them make more loans to so-called subprime borrowers. These borrowers whose incomes, credit ratings and savings are not good enough to qualify for conventional loans, can only get loans from finance companies that charge much higher interest rates — anywhere from three to four percentage points higher than conventional loans.[13]

The loans going to low-income households increased the rate given to African Americans, as in the conventional loan market, black borrowers accounted for 5% of loans, whereas in the subprime market, they accounted for 18% of loans. The article itself warned that Fannie Mae “may run into trouble in an economic downturn, prompting a government rescue.”[14] In 2000, as housing prices increased, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), under Bill Clinton, continued to encourage loans to low-income borrowers.

Just in time, the Federal Reserve (the central bank of the United States) dramatically lowered interest rates and kept them artificially low in order to encourage the lending by mortgage lenders and banks, and to encourage borrowing by low-income individuals and families, essentially lulling them into a false sense of security. This ‘easy money’ flowing from the Federal Reserve’s low interest rates and printing press (as the Fed is responsible for the amount of money pumped into the U.S. economy), oiled the wheels of the mortgage lenders and the banks that were making bad loans to high-risk individuals. In the 1990s, the Federal Reserve under Chairman Alan Greenspan had created the dot-com bubble, which burst (as all bubbles do), and subsequently, in order to avoid a deep recession, Greenspan and the Federal Reserve actively inflated the housing bubble. So, with the dot-com bubble bursting in 2000 (brought to you by Alan Greenspan and the Federal Reserve), Greenspan’s Fed then cut interest rates to historic lows and began pumping out money in order to prevent a downward spiral of the economy, which would later prove to be inevitable. This also encouraged rabid speculation in the derivatives market, in particular by hedge funds, managing money from banks, who engaged in high-risk trades taking advantage of the uniquely low interest rates in order to purchase derivatives which provide more long-term gains, further fuelling a massive speculative bubble.[15]

Transcripts from a 2004 meeting of Federal Reserve officials revealed a debate about whether there was an inflating housing bubble, at which Greenspan stated that dissent should be kept secret so that the debate does not reach a wider audience (i.e., the ‘public’). As he stated, “We run the risk, by laying out the pros and cons of a particular argument, of inducing people to join in on the debate, and in this regard it is possible to lose control of a process that only we fully understand.”[16] In 2005, the Fed officials were openly acknowledging the existence of a bubble, but continued with their policies all the same.[17] In 2005, Alan Greenspan left the Fed to be replaced by Ben Bernanke, who that year told Congress that there was no housing bubble, and that the increases in hosuing prices “largely reflect strong economic fundamentals.”[18]

The bubble was fuelled in a number of ways. The Federal Reserve kept the interest rates at historic lows, which encouraged both lending and borrowing. The Fed also pumped large amounts of money into the economy for the purpose of lending and borrowing. The government-sponsored mortgage companies of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae encouraged the banks to make bad loans to high-risk individuals (and provided significant funds to do so). The banks, all too happy to make bad loans to high-risk borrowers, then used the derivatives market they created to profit off of those loans (and further inflate the bubble), through trading primarily Credit Default Swaps (CDS). As the Fed’s long-term interest rates were kept artificially low, the banks speculated through the derivatives market that the housing market would continue to grow apace, and massive amounts of speculative money flowed into the housing bubble, which itself further increased confidence of banks and mortgage companies to lend, as well as individuals to borrow. Of course, the reality was that the individuals were high-risk for a reason: because they couldn’t afford to pay. Thus, it was an inevitable result that this massive and ever-increasing bubble built on nothing but bank-created and government-sponsored ‘faith’ was destined to burst.

Of course, when the bubble burst, the major banks were in a unique position to profit immensely from the collapse through speculation, and then, of course, repossess everyone’s homes. In order for financial speculation to be such a menace in the global economy as it is today, the Clinton administration took the bold steps necessary to eradicate the barriers to such destructive financial practices and facilitate the rapid and unregulated growth of the derivatives market. This was termed the “financialization” of the U.S. economy, and de facto, much of the global economy.

The Glass-Steagall Act was put in place by FDR in 1933 in order to establish a barrier between investment banks and commercial banks and to prevent them from engaging in rabid speculative practices (a major factor which created the Great Depression). However, in 1987, the Federal Reserve Board voted to ease many regulations under the act, 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.” Alan Greenspan, in 1987, “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.”[19]

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.”[20]

[In] the late 1990s, with the stock market surging to unimaginable heights, large banks [were] 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.[21]

The principal adherents for the repeal of Glass-Steagle were Alan Greenspan, as well as Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin (who had been with Goldman Sachs for 26 years prior to entering the Treasury), and Deputy Treasury Secretary Larry Summers (who was previously the Chief Economist of the World Bank). After largely orchestrating the removal of Glass-Steagle, Rubin went on to become an executive at Citigroup and is currently the Co-Chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations; while Summers went on to become President of Harvard University and later, served as Director of the White House National Economic Council for the first couple years of the Obama administration. Larry Summers had sparked controversy when he was Chief Economist of the World Bank, and in 1991, signed a memo in which he endorsed toxic waste dumping in poor African countries, stating, “A given amount of health-impairing pollution should be done in the country with the lowest cost, which will be the country with the lowest wages,” and further, “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.”[22] The “impeccable logic” Summers referred to was the notion that in countries with the lowest life expectancy, dumping toxic waste is intelligent, because statistically speaking, the population of the country is more likely to die before the long-term health impacts of the toxic waste take effect. Put more bluntly: the poor should be the first to die.

The most prestigious (and arguably most powerful) financial institution in the world is the Bank for International Settlements (BIS). One might say it’s the most powerful institution you never heard of, since it is rarely discussed, even more rarely studied, and barely understood at all. It is, essentially, a global central bank for the world’s central banks, and de facto acts as an independent global banking supervisory body, establishing agreements for the practices of central banks and private banks. In 2004, the BIS established the Basel II accords to manage capital risk by banks. Basel II was “intended to keep banks safe by requiring them to match the size of their capital cushion to the riskiness of their loans and securities. The higher the odds of default, the less they can lend.” However, as the regulations were being implemented in 2008 in the midst of the financial crisis, it lessened the ability of banks to lend, and thus, deepened the financial crisis itself.[23] The BIS, formed in 1930 in the wake of the Great Depression, was created in order 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.” As historian Carroll Quigley wrote:

[T]he powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able  to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent private meetings and conferences. The apex of the system was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basle, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world’s central banks which were themselves private corporations.[24]

In 2007, the BIS released its annual report warning that the world was on the verge of another Great Depression, as “years of loose monetary policy has fuelled a dangerous credit bubble, leaving the global economy more vulnerable to another 1930s-style slump than generally understood.” Among the worrying signs cited by the BIS were “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.” The BIS hinted at the U.S. Federal Reserve when it warned that, “central banks were starting to doubt the wisdom of letting asset bubbles build up on the assumption that they could safely be ‘cleaned up’ afterwards.”[25]

In 2008, the outgoing Chief Economist of the BIS, William White, authored the annual report of the BIS in which he again warned that, “The current market turmoil is without precedent in the postwar period. With a significant risk of recession in the US, compounded by sharply rising inflation in many countries, fears are building that the global economy might be at some kind of tipping point.” In 2007, warned the BIS, global banks had $37 trillion of loans, equaling roughly 70% of global GDP, and that countries were already so indebted that monetization (printing money) could simply sow the seeds of a future crisis.[26]

Bailout the Bankers, Punish the People

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. Advertising the bailout as a $700 billion program, the fine print revealed a more accurate description, saying that $700 billion could be lent out “at any one time.” As Chris Martenson wrote:

This means that $700 billion is NOT the cost of this dangerous legislation, it is only the amount that can be outstanding at any one time.  After, say, $100 billion of bad mortgages are disposed of, another $100 billion can be bought.  In short, these four little words assure that there is NO LIMIT to the potential size of this bailout. This means that $700 billion is a rolling amount, not a ceiling.

So what happens when you have vague language and an unlimited budget?  Fraud and self-dealing.  Mark my words, this is the largest looting operation ever in the history of the US, and it’s all spelled out right in this delightfully brief document that is about to be rammed through a scared Congress and made into law.[27]

Further, as the bailout agreement stipulated, it essentially hands the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Treasury total control over the nation’s finances in what has been termed a “financial coup d’état” as all actions and decisions by the Fed and the Treasury Secretary may be done in secret and are not able to be reviewed by Congress or any other administrative or legal agency.[28] Passed in the last months of the Bush administration, the Obama administration further implemented the bailout (and added a stimulus package on top of it).

The banks got a massive bailout of untold trillions, and they were simultaneously consolidating the industry and merging with one another. In 2008, with the collapse of Bear Stearns, JP Morgan Chase bought the failed bank with funds in an agreement organized by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, whose President at the time was Timothy Geithner (who would go on to become Obama’s Treasury Secretary, managing the major bailout program). As JPMorganChase was the ultimate benefactor of the Bear Stearns purchase by the NYFed, it is perhaps no small coincidence that Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorganChase, was on the board of the New York Fed, a privately-owned bank, of which JPMorganChase is itself a major shareholder. JPMorganChase later absorbed Washington Mutual, one of the nation’s largest banks prior to the crisis; Bank of America bought Merrill Lynch; Wells Fargo bought Wachovia; and a host of other mergers and acquisitions took place. Thus, the “too big to fail” banks became much bigger and more dangerous than ever before.

Among the many recipients of bailout funds (officially referred to as the Troubled Asset Relief Program – TARP), were Fannie Mae, AIG (insurance), Freddie Mac, General Motors, Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and hundreds of others.[29] As the Federal Reserve dished out trillions of dollars in bailouts to banks, many European banks even became recipients of American taxpayer-funded bailouts, including Barclays, UBS, the Royal Bank of Scotland, and Société Générale, among many others.[30] The Federal Reserve bailout of American insurance giant AIG was actually a stealth bailout of foreign banks, as the money went through AIG to the major European banks that had significant risks with AIG, including Société Générale of France, UBS of Belgium, Barclays of the U.K., and Deutsche Bank of Germany.[31] In total, the multi-billion dollar bailout of AIG in 2008 benefited roughly 87 banks and financial institutions, 43 of which were foreign, primarily located in France and Germany, but also in the U.K., Canada, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Switzerland, and on the domestic side much of the funds went to Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, and Bank of America.[32]

Neil Barofsky, who was until recently, the special inspector general for the TARP bailout program – the individual responsible for attempting to engage in oversight of a secret bailout program – wrote an article for the New York Times upon his resignation from the position in March of 2011, in which he stated that he “strongly disagrees” that the program was successful, saying that:

billions of dollars in taxpayer money allowed institutions that were on the brink of collapse not only to survive but even to flourish. These banks now enjoy record profits and the seemingly permanent competitive advantage that accompanies being deemed “too big to fail.”[33]

In June of 2009, as governments around the world were implementing stimulus packages and bailouts to save the banks and ‘rescue’ their economies, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) issued a new round of warnings about the state of the global economy. Among them, the BIS warned that, “governments and central banks must not let up in their efforts to revive the global banking system, even if public opinion turns against them,” and that the BIS felt that there had only been “limited progress” in reviving the banking system. The BIS continued:

Instead of implementing policies designed to clean up banks’ balance sheets, some rescue plans have pushed banks to maintain their lending practices of the past, or even increase domestic credit where it’s not warranted… The lack of progress threatens to prolong the crisis and delay the recovery because a dysfunctional financial system reduces the ability of monetary and fiscal actions to stimulate the economy… without a solid banking system underpinning financial markets, stimulus measures won’t be able to gain traction, and may only lead to a temporary pickup in growth.[34]

Further, the BIS warned, “A fleeting recovery could well make matters worse,” as “further government support for banks is absolutely necessary, but will become unpopular if the public sees a recovery in hand. And authorities may get distracted with sustaining credit, asset prices and demand rather than focusing on fixing bank balance sheets.” The BIS concluded that all the various measures to revive the global economy leave an “open question” as to whether or not they will be successful, and specifically, “as governments bulk up their deficits to spend their way out of the crisis, they need to be careful that their lack of restraint doesn’t come back to bite them.” As the annual report warned, “Getting public finances in order will therefore be the main task of policy makers for years to come.”[35]

The BIS further warned that, “there’s a risk central banks will raise interest rates and withdraw emergency liquidity too late, triggering inflation,” as history shows policy-makers “have a tendency to be late, tightening financial conditions slowly for fear of doing it prematurely or too severely.” As Bloomberg reported:

Central banks around the globe have lowered borrowing costs to record lows and injected billions of dollars into the financial system to counter the worst recession since World War II. While some policy makers have stressed the need to withdraw the emergency measures as soon as the economy improves, the Federal Reserve, Bank of England, and European Central Bank are still in the process of implementing asset-purchase programs designed to unblock credit markets and revive growth.

“The big and justifiable worry is that, before it can be reversed, the dramatic easing in monetary policy will translate into growth in the broader monetary and credit aggregates,” the BIS said. That will “lead to inflation that feeds inflation expectations or it may fuel yet another asset-price bubble, sowing the seeds of the next financial boom-bust cycle.”[36]

The BIS report stated that the unprecedented policies of central banks “may be insufficient to put the economy on the path to recovery,” stressing that there was a “significant risk” that the monetary and fiscal stimulus of governments will only lead to “a temporary pickup in growth, followed by a protracted stagnation.”[37]

William White, the former Chief Economist of the BIS, warned in September of 2009 that, “the world has not tackled the problems at the heart of the economic downturn and is likely to slip back into recession,” and he “also warned that government actions to help the economy in the short run may be sowing the seeds for future crises.” White, who accurately predicted the global financial crisis in 2008, stated that we are “almost certainly” going into a double-dip recession and “would not be in the slightest bit surprised” if we were to go into a protracted stagnation. He added: “The only thing that would really surprise me is a rapid and sustainable recovery from the position we’re in.” White, a Canadian economist who ran the economic department at the BIS from 1995 until 2008, had “warned of dangerous imbalances in the global financial system as far back as 2003 and – breaking a great taboo in central banking circles at the time – he dared to challenge Alan Greenspan, then chairman of the Federal Reserve, over his policy of persistent cheap money.” As the Financial Times reported in 2009:

Worldwide, central banks have pumped thousands of billions [i.e., trillions] of dollars of new money into the financial system over the past two years in an effort to prevent a depression. Meanwhile, governments have gone to similar extremes, taking on vast sums of debt to prop up industries from banking to car making.

These measures may already be inflating a bubble in asset prices, from equities to commodities, [White] said, and there was a small risk that inflation would get out of control over the medium term if central banks miss-time their “exist strategies”.

Meanwhile, the underlying problems in the global economy, such as unsustainable trade imbalances between the US, Europe and Asia, had not been resolved, he said.[38]

William White further warned that, “we now have a set of banks that are even bigger – and more dangerous – than ever before.” Simon Johnson, former Chief Economist of the IMF, also warned that the finance industry had effectively captured the US government and that “recovery will fail unless we break the financial oligarchy that is blocking essential reform.”[39]

In 2009, the BIS warned that the market for derivatives still poses “major systemic risks” to the financial system, standing at a total value of $426 trillion (more than the worth of the entire global economy combined) and that, “the use of derivatives by hedge funds and the like can create large, hidden exposures.”[40] In 2010, one independent observer estimated the derivatives market was at roughly $700 trillion.[41] The Bank for International Settlements estimated the market value at $600 trillion in December 2010.[42] In June of 2011, the BIS warned that, “the world’s top 14 derivatives dealers may need extra cash to handle a surge in transaction clearing, especially in choppy markets,” as “world leaders have agreed that chunks of the $600 trillion off-exchange derivatives market must be standardized and cleared by the end of 2012 to broaden transparency and curb risk.” The major institutions that the BIS identified as in need of more funds to handle their derivatives exposure are Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, Barclays Capital, BNP Paribas, Citi, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, RBS, Société Générale, UBS, and Wells Fargo Bank.[43]

In January of 2011, Barofsky, while still Special Inspector General of the TARP bailout program, issued a report which warned that future bailouts of major banks could be “a necessity,” and that, “the government still had not developed objective criteria to measure the amount of systemic risk posed by giant financial companies.”[44] In an interview with NPR, Barofsky stated:

The problem is that the notion of too big to fail – these large financial institutions that were just too big to allow them to go under – since the 2008 bailouts, they’ve only gotten bigger and bigger, more concentrated, larger in size. And what’s really discouraging is that if you look at how the market treats them, it treats them as if they’re going to get a government bailout, which destroys market discipline and really puts us in a very dangerous place.[45]

In June of 2011, Barofsky stated in an interview with Dan Rather that the next crisis may cost $5 trillion, and told Rather, “You should be scared, I’m scared,” and that a coming crisis is inevitable.[46]

Even though the bailouts have already cost the U.S. taxpayers several trillion dollars (which they will pay for through the decimation of their living standards), the IMF in October of 2010 warned that within the coming 24 months (up to Fall 2012), global banks face a $4 trillion refinancing crisis, and that, “governments will have to inject fresh equity into banks – particularly in Spain, Germany and the US – as well as prop up their funding structures by extending emergency support.” The IMF Global Financial Stability Report stated that, “the global financial system is still in a period of significant uncertainty and remains the Achilles’ heel of the economic recovery.” This is especially significant considering that the debts that banks needed to write off between 2007 and 2010 sat at $2.2 trillion, and that benchmark hadn’t even been achieved. Thus, with nearly double that amount needing to be written off in an even shorter time span, it would seem inevitable that the banks will need a massive bailout as “nearly $4 trillion of bank debt will need to be rolled over in the next 24 months.” Further, warned the IMF, “Planned exit strategies from unconventional monetary and financial support may need to be delayed until the situation is more robust, especially in Europe… With the situation still fragile, some of the public support that has been given to banks in recent years will have to be continued.”[47]

In other words, “exit strategies,” meaning harsh draconian austerity measures may need to be delayed in order to give enough time to undertake bailouts of major banks. After all, engineering trillion dollar bailouts of large financial institutions which created a massive global crisis is hard to do at the same time as punishing an entire population through destruction of their living standards and general impoverishment in order to pay off the debt already incurred by governments (which through bailouts essentially ‘buy’ the bad debts of the banks, and hand the taxpayers the bill).

So while many say that the banks need another bailout, one must question whether the first bailout was necessary, as it simply allowed the banks to get bigger, take more risks, and essentially get a government guarantee of future bailouts (not to mention, the massive fraud and illegalities that took place through the bailout mechanism). However, several top economists and financial experts have pointed out that the “too big to fail” banks are actually the largest threat to the economy, and that they are more accurately “too big to exist,” explaining that recovery cannot take place unless they are broken up. Nobel Prize winning economist and former Chief Economist of the World Bank, Joseph Stiglitz, along with former Chief Economist of the IMF, Simon Johnson, both warned Congress that propping up the banks is preventing recovery from taking place. Even the President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas stated that, “policymakers must allow troubled firms to fail rather than propping them up.”[48]

The true aim of the bailouts was to prevent the major banks of the world (all of which are insolvent – unable to pay debts) from collapsing under the weight of their own hubris, and to effectively employ the largest transfer of wealth in human history from major nations (taxpayers) to the bankers and their shareholders. The true cost of the bailouts, a far cry from the IMF’s statement of a couple trillion dollars, was in the tens of trillions. The Federal Reserve itself bailed out the financial industry for over $9 trillion, with $2 trillion going to Merrill-Lynch (which was subsequently acquired by Bank of America), $2 trillion going to Morgan Stanley, $2 trillion going to Citigroup, and less than $1 trillion each for Bear Stearns (which was acquired by JPMorgan Chase), Bank of America, and Goldman Sachs. These details were released by the Federal Reserve and cover 21,000 separate transactions between December 2007 and July of 2010.[49]

The Federal Reserve also undertook a massive bailout of foreign central banks. During the financial crisis, the Fed established a lending program of shipping US dollars overseas through the European Central Bank, the Bank of England, and the Swiss National Bank (among others), and “the central banks, in turn, lent the dollars out to banks in their home countries in need of dollar funding.”[50] The overall bailouts, including those not undertaken by the Fed specifically, but government-implemented, reach roughly $19 trillion, with $17.5 trillion of that going to Wall Street.[51] No surprise there, considering that Neil Barofsky had warned in July of 2009 that the bailout could cost taxpayers as much as $23.7 trillion dollars.[52]

The Federal Reserve Represents the Banks

In February of 2010, the Federal Reserve announced that it would be investigating the role of U.S. banks in Greece’s debt crisis.[53] However, the Washington Post article which reported on the Fed’s ‘investigation’ failed to mention the ‘slight’ conflicts of interest, which essentially have the fox guarding the hen house. What am I referring to? The Federal Reserve System is a quasi-governmental entity, with a national Board of Governors based in Washington, D.C., with the Chairman appointed by the President. Alan Greenspan, one of the longest-serving Federal Reserve Chairmen in its history, was asked in a 2007 interview, “What is the proper relationship – what should be the proper relationship between a Chairman of the Fed and the President of the United States?” Greenspan replied:

Well, first of all, the Federal Reserve is an independent agency, and that means basically that there is no other agency of government which can over-rule actions that we take. So long as that is in place and there is no evidence that the administration, or the Congress, or anybody else is requesting that we do things other than what we think is the appropriate thing, then what the relationships are don’t frankly matter.[54]

Not only is the Federal Reserve unaccountable to the American government, and thereby, the American people, but it is directly accountable to and in fact, owned by the major American and global banks. Thus, the notion that it would ‘investigate’ the illicit activities of banks like Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan Chase is laughable at best, and is more likely to resemble a criminal cover-up as opposed to an ‘independent investigation.’

The Federal Reserve System is made up of 12 regional Federal Reserve banks, which are themselves private banks, owned by shareholders, which are made up of the principle banks in their region, who ‘select’ a president to represent them and their interests. The most powerful of these banks, unsurprisingly, is the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, which represents the powerful banks of Wall Street. The current Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, was previously President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, where he organized the specific bailouts of AIG and JP Morgan’s purchase of Bear Stearns. The current president of the New York Fed is William Dudley, who previously was a partner and managing director at Goldman Sachs, and is also currently a member of the board if directors of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS). The current chairman of the board of the New York Fed is Lee Bollinger, President of Columbia University, who is also on the board of directors of the Washington Post Company. Until recently, Jeffrey R. Immelt was on the board of directors of the New York Fed, while serving as CEO of General Electric. However, he was more recently appointed by President Obama to head his Economic Recovery Advisory Board, replacing former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker. Another current member of the board of directors of the New York Fed include Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO of JP Morgan Chase.

Not only are the major banks represented at the Fed, but so too are the major corporations, as evidenced by the recent board membership of the CEO of General Electric (which incidentally received significant funds from the bailouts organized by the Fed). However, the Fed also has a number of advisory groups, such as the Community Affairs Advisory Council, which was formed in 2009 and, according to the New York Fed’s website, “meets three times a year at the New York Fed to share ground-level intelligence on conditions in low- and moderate-income (LMI) communities.” The members include individuals from senior positions at Bank of America and Goldman Sachs.[55]

The Economic Advisory Panel is “a group of distinguished economists from academia and the private sector [who] meet twice a year with the New York Fed president to discuss the current state of the economy and to present their views on monetary policy.” Among the institutions represented through individual membership are: Harvard University, Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank, Columbia University, American International group (AIG), New York University, Carnegie Mellon University, University of Chicago, and the Peter G. Peterson Institute for International Economics.[56]

Perhaps one of the most important advisory groups is the International Advisory Committee, “established in 1987 under the sponsorship of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to review and discuss major issues of public policy concern with respect to principal national and international capital markets.” The members include: Lloyd C. Blankfein, Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs; William J. Brodsky, Chairman and CEO of the Chicago Board Options Exchange (derivatives); Stephen K. Green, Chairman of HSBC; Marie-Josée Kravis, Senior Fellow and Member of the Board of Trustees of the Hudson Institute (and longtime Bilderberg member); Sallie L. Krawcheck, President of Global Wealth and Investment Management at Bank of America; Michel J.D. Pebereau, Chairman of the Board of BNP Paribas; and Kurt F. Viermetz, retired Vice Chairman of J.P. Morgan.[57]

Another group, the Fedwire Securities Customer Advisory Group, consists of individuals from senior positions at JP Morgan Chase, Citibank, The Bank of New York Mellon, Fannie Mae, Northern Trust, State Street Bank and Trust Company, Freddie Mac, Federal Home Loan Banks, the Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation, and the Assistant Commissioner of the U.S. Department of the Treasury.[58] It is then made painfully clear whose interests the Federal Reserve – and specifically the Federal Reserve Bank of New York – serve. An article from Bloomberg in January of 2010 analyzed the information that was revealed in a Senate hearing regarding the secret bailout of AIG by the New York Fed, which “described a secretive group deploying billions of dollars to favored banks, operating with little oversight by the public or elected officials.” As the author of the article wrote, “It’s as though the New York Fed was a black-ops outfit for the nation’s central bank.”[59]

Who Benefits from the Greek Bailout?

Greece has a total debt of roughly 330 billion euros (or U.S. $473 billion).[60] In the lead-up to the Greek bailout orchestrated by the IMF and European Union in 2010, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) released information regarding who exactly was in need of a bailout. With the bailout largely organized by France and Germany (as the dominant EU powers), who would be providing the majority of funds for the bailout itself (subsequently charged to their taxpayers), the BIS revealed that German and French banks carry a combined exposure of $119 billion to Greek borrowers specifically, and more than $900 billion to Greece, Spain, Portugal and Ireland combined. The French and German banks account for roughly half of all European banks’ exposure to those euro-zone countries, meaning that the combined exposure of European banks to those four nations is over $1.8 trillion, nearly half of which is with Spain alone. Thus, in the eyes of the elites and the institutions which serve them (such as the EU and IMF), a bailout is necessary because if Greece were to default on its debt, “investors may question whether French and German banks could withstand the potential losses, sparking a panic that could reverberate throughout the financial system.”[61]

In late February of 2010, Greece replaced the head of the Greek debt management agency with Petros Christodoulou. His job was “to procure favorable loans in the financial markets so that Athens can at least pay off its old debts with new debt.” His career went along an interesting path, to say the least, as he studied finance in Athens and Columbia University in New York, and went on to hold senior executive positions at several financial institutions, such as Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, and just prior to heading the Public Debt Management Agency (PDMA), he was treasurer at the National Bank of Greece.[62] Before his 12-year stint at the National Bank of Greece, the largest commercial bank in Greece, he headed the derivatives desk at JP Morgan.[63]

In March of 2010, Greece passed a draconian austerity package in order to qualify for a bailout from the IMF and EU, as they had demanded. In April, Greece officially applied for an emergency loan, and in May of 2010, the EU and the IMF agreed to a $146 billion loan after Greece unveiled a new round of austerity measures (spending cuts and tax hikes). While Greece had already imposed austerity measures in March to even be considered for receivership of a loan, the EU and IMF demanded that they impose new and harsher austerity measures as a condition of the loan (just as the IMF and World Bank forced the ‘Third World’ nations to impose ‘Structural Adjustment Programs’ as a condition of loans). As the Los Angeles Times wrote at the time:

In Greece, workers have been mounting furious protests against the prospect of drastic government cuts. Officials are bracing for a general strike Wednesday over the new austerity plan, which includes higher fuel, tobacco, alcohol and sales taxes, cuts in military spending and the elimination of two months’ annual bonus pay for civil servants. Axing the bonus is a particularly fraught move in a country where as many as one in four workers is employed by the state.[64]

The EU was set to provide 80 billion euros of the 110 billion euro total, and the IMF was to provide the remaining 30 billion euros.[65] Greece was broke, credit ratings agencies (CRAs) were downgrading Greece’s credit worthiness (making it harder and more expensive for Greece to borrow), banks were speculating against Greece’s ability to repay its debt in the derivatives market, and the EU and IMF were forcing the country to increase taxes and cut spending, impoverishing and punishing its population for the bad debts of bankers and politicians. However, in one area, spending continued.

While France and Germany were urging Greece to cut its spending on social services and public sector employees (who account for 25% of the workforce), they were bullying Greece behind the scenes to confirm billions of euros in arms deals from France and Germany, including submarines, a fleet of warships, helicopters and war planes. One Euro-MP alleged that Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy blackmailed the Greek Prime Minister by making the Franco-German contributions to the bailout dependent upon the arms deals going through, which was signed by the previous Greek Prime Minister. Sarkozy apparently told the Greek Prime Minister Papandreou, “We’re going to raise the money to help you, but you are going to have to continue to pay the arms contracts that we have with you.” The arms deals run into the billions, with 2.5 billion euros simply for French frigates.[66] Greece is in fact the largest purchaser of arms (as a percentage of GDP) in the European Union, and was planning to make more purchases:

Greece has said it needs 40 fighter jets, and both Germany and France are vying for the contract: Germany wants Greece to buy Eurofighter planes — made by a consortium of German, Italian, Spanish and British companies — while France is eager to sell Athens its Rafale fighter aircraft, produced by Dassault.

Germany is Greece’s largest supplier of arms, according to a report published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute in March, with Athens receiving 35 percent of the weapons it bought last year from there. Germany sent 13 percent of its arms exports to Greece, making Greece the second largest recipient behind Turkey, SIPRI said.[67]

Thus, France and Germany insist upon French and German arms manufacturers making money at the expense of the standard of living of the Greek people. Financially extorting Greece to purchase weapons and military equipment while demanding the country make spending cuts in all other areas (while increasing the taxes on the population) reveals the true hypocrisy of the whole endeavour, and the nature of who is really being ‘bailed out.’

As Greece was risking default in April of 2010, the derivatives market saw a surge in the trading of Credit Default Swaps (CDS) on Greece, Portugal, and Spain, which increased the expectations of a default, and acts as a self-fulfilling prophecy in making the debt more severe and access to funding more difficult.[68] Thus, the very banks that are owed the debt payments by Greece bet against Greece’s ability to repay its debt (to them), and thus make it more difficult and urgent for Greece to receive funds. In late April of 2010, Standard & Poor’s (a major credit ratings agency – CRA) downgraded Greece’s credit rating to “junk status,” and cut the rating of Portugal as well, plunging both those nations into deeper crisis.[69] Thus, just at a time when the countries were in greater need of funds than before, the credit ratings agencies made it harder for them to borrow by making them less attractive to lenders and investors. Investors wait for the ratings given by CRAs before they make investment decisions or provide credit, and thus they “wield enormous clout in the financial markets.” There are only three major CRAs, Standard & Poor’s (S&P), Moody’s, and Fitch. In relation to the S&P downgrading on Greece’s rating, the Guardian reported:

S&P has effectively said it views Greece as a much riskier place to invest, which increases the interest rate investors will charge the Greek government to borrow money on the open market. But S&P is also implying that the risk of Greece defaulting on its loans has increased, a frightening prospect for bondholders and European politicians.[70]

CRAs also have major conflicts of interest, since they are companies in their own right, and receive funding and share leadership with individuals and corporations who they are responsible for applying credit-worthiness to. For example, Standard and Poor’s leadership includes individuals who have previously worked for JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank, the Bank of New York, and a host of other corporations.[71] Further, S&P is owned by The McGraw-Hill Companies. The executives of McGraw-Hill include individuals past or presently associated with: PepsiCo, General Electric, McKinsey & Co., among others.[72] The Board of Directors includes: Pedro Aspe, Co-Chairman of Evercore Partners, former Mexican Finance Minister and director of the Carnegie Corporation; Sir Winfried Bischoff, the Chairman of Lloyds Banking Group, former Chairman of Citigroup, former Chairman of Schroders; Douglas N. Daft, former Chairman and CEO of the Coca-Cola Company, a director of Wal-Mart, and is also a member of the European Advisory Council for N.M. Rothschild & Sons Limited; William D. Green, Chairman of Accenture; Hilda Ochoa-Brillembourg, President and Chief Executive Officer of Strategic Investment Group, formerly at the World Bank, a director of General Mills and the Atlantic Council, and is an Advisory Board member of the Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard University; Sir Michael Rake, Chairman of British Telecom, and is on the board of Barclays; Edward B. Rust, Jr., Chairman and CEO of State Farm Insurance Companies; among many others.[73]

Moody’s is another of the major Credit Ratings Agencies. Its board of directors includes individuals past or presently affiliated with: Citigroup, the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Barclays, Freddie Mac, ING Group, the Dutch National Bank, and Pfizer, among many others.[74] The Executive team at Moody’s includes individuals past or presently affiliated with: Citigroup, Bank of America, Dow Jones & Company, U.S. Trust Company, Bankers Trust Company, American Express, and Lehman Brothers, among many others.[75]

Fitch Ratings, the last of the big three CRAs, is owned by the Fitch Group, which is itself a subsidiary of a French company, Fimalac. The Chairman and CEO is Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière, who is a member of the Consultative Committee of the Bank of France, and is also on the boards of Renault, L’Oréal, Groupe Casino, Gilbert Coullier Productions, Cassina, and Canal Plus. The board of directors includes Véronique Morali, who is also a member of the board of Coca-Cola, and is a member of the management board of La Compagnie Financière Edmond de Rothschild, a private bank belonging to the Rothschild family. The board includes individuals past or presently affiliated with: Barclays, Lazard Frères & Co, JP Morgan, Bank of France, and HSBC, among many others.[76]

So clearly, with the immense number of bankers present on the boards of the CRAs, they know whose interest they serve. The fact that they are responsible not only for rating banks and other corporations (of which the conflict of interest is obvious), but that they rate the credit-worthiness of nations is also evident of a conflict, as these are nations who owe the banks large sums of money. Thus, lowering their ratings makes them more desperate for loans (and makes the loans more expensive), since the nation is a less attractive investment, loans will be given with higher interest rates, which means more future revenues for the banks and other lenders. As the credit ratings are downgraded, the urgency to pay interest on debt is more severe, as the nation risks losing more investments and capital when it needs it most. To get a better credit rating, it must pay its debt obligations to the foreign banks. Thus, through Credit Ratings Agencies, the banks are able to help strengthen a system of financial extortion, made all the more severe through the use of derivatives speculation which often follows (or even precedes) the downgraded ratings.

So while Greece received the bailout in order to pay interest to the banks (primarily French and German) which own the Greek debt, the country simply took on more debt (in the form of the bailout loan) for which they will have to pay future interest fees. Of course, this would also imply future bailouts and thus, continued and expanded austerity measures. This is not simply a Greek crisis, this is indeed a European and in fact, a global debt crisis in the making.

The Great Global Debt Depression

In March of 2010, prior to Greece receiving its first bailout, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) warned that, “sovereign debt is already starting to cross the danger threshold in the United States, Japan, Britain, and most of Western Europe, threatening to set off a bond crisis at the heart of the global economy.” In a special report on ‘sovereign debt’ written by the new chief economist of the BIS, Stephen Cecchetti, the BIS warned that, “The aftermath of the financial crisis is poised to bring a simmering fiscal problem in industrial economies to the boiling point,” and further: “Drastic austerity measures will be needed to head off a compound interest spiral, if it is not already too late for some.” In reference to the way in which Credit Ratings Agencies and banks have turned against Greece in ‘the market’, the report warned:

The question is when markets will start putting pressure on governments, not if. When will investors start demanding a much higher compensation [interest rate] for holding increasingly large amounts of public debt? In some countries, unstable debt dynamics — in which higher debt levels lead to higher interest rates, which then lead to even higher debt levels — are already clearly on the horizon.[77]

Further, the report stated that official debt figures in Western nations are incredibly misleading, as they fail to take into account future liabilities largely arising from increased pensions and health care costs, as “rapidly ageing populations present a number of countries with the prospect of enormous future costs that are not wholly recognised in current budget projections. The size of these future obligations is anybody’s guess.”[78]

In all the countries surveyed, the debt levels were assessed as a percentage of GDP. For example, Greece, which was at the time of the report’s publication, at risk of a default on its debt, had government debt at 123% of GDP. In contrast, other nations which currently are doing better (or seemingly so), in terms of market treatment, had much higher debt levels in 2010: Italy had a government debt of 127% of GDP and Japan had a monumental debt of 197% of GDP. Meanwhile, for all the lecturing France and Germany have done to Greece over its debt problem, France had a debt level of 92% of its GDP, and Germany at 82%, with the levels expected to rise to 99% and 85% in 2011, respectively. The U.K. had a debt level of 83% in 2010, expected to rise to 94% in 2011; and the United States had a debt level of 92% in 2010, expected to rise to 100% in 2011. Other nations included in the tally were: Austria with 78% in 2010, 82% in 2011; Ireland at 81% in 2010 and 93% in 2011; the Netherlands at 77% in 2010 and 82% in 2011; Portugal at 91% in 2010 and 97% in 2011; and Spain at 68% in 2010 and 74% in 2011.[79]

Further, the BIS paper warned that debt levels are likely to continue to dramatically increase, as, “in many countries, employment and growth are unlikely to return to their pre-crisis levels in the foreseeable future. As a result, unemployment and other benefits will need to be paid for several years, and high levels of public investment might also have to be maintained.”[80] The report goes on:

Seeing that the status quo is untenable, countries are embarking on fiscal consolidation plans [austerity measures]. In the United States, the aim is to bring the total federal budget deficit down from 11% to 4% of GDP by 2015. In the United Kingdom, the consolidation plan envisages reducing budget deficits by 1.3 percentage points of GDP each year from 2010 to 2013.[81]

However, the paper went on, the austerity measures and “consolidations along the lines currently being discussed will not be sufficient to ensure that debt levels remain within reasonable bounds over the next several decades.” Thus, the BIS suggested that, “An alternative to traditional spending cuts and revenue increases is to change the promises that are as yet unmet. Here, that means embarking on the politically treacherous task of cutting future age-related liabilities.”[82] In short, the BIS was recommending to end pensions and other forms of social services significantly or altogether; hence, referring to the task as “politically treacherous.” The BIS recommended “an aggressive adjustment path” in order to “bring debt levels down to their 2007 levels.”[83] The challenges for central banks, the BIS warned, was that it could spur long-term increases in inflation expectations, and that the uncertainty of “fiscal consolidation” (see: fiscal austerity measures) make it difficult to determine when to raise interest rates appropriately. Inflation acts as a ‘hidden tax’, forcing people to pay more for less, particularly in the costs of food and fuel. Raising interest rates at such a time “would not work, as an increase in interest rates would lead to higher interest payments on public debt, leading to higher debt,” and thus, potentially higher inflation.[84]

In April of 2010, the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) warned that the Greek crisis was spreading “like Ebola,” and that the crisis was “threatening the stability of the financial system.”[85] In early 2010, the World Economic Forum (WEF) warned that there was a “significant chance” of a second major financial crisis, “and similar odds of a full-scale sovereign fiscal crisis.” The report identified the U.K. and U.S. as having “among the highest debt burdens.”[86]

Nouriel Roubini, a top American economist who accurately predicted the financial crisis of 2008, wrote in 2010 that, “unless advanced economies begin to put their fiscal houses in order, investors and rating agencies will likely turn from friends to foes.” Due to the financial crisis, the stimulus spending, and the massive bailouts to the financial sector, major economies had taken on massive debt burdens, and, warned Roubini, faced a major sovereign debt crisis, not relegated to the euro-zone periphery of Greece, Portugal, Spain, and Ireland, but even the core countries of France and Germany, and all the way to Japan and the United States, and that the “U.S. and Japan might be among the last to face investor aversion.” Thus, concluded Roubini, developed nations “will therefore need to begin fiscal consolidation as soon as 2011-12 by generating primary surpluses, which can be accomplished through a combination of gradual tax hikes and spending cuts.”[87]

In February of 2010, Niall Ferguson, economic historian, Bilderberg member, and official biographer of the Rothschild family, wrote an article for the Financial Times in which he warned that a “Greek crisis” was “coming to America.” Ferguson wrote that far from remaining in the peripheral eurozone nations, the current crisis “is a fiscal crisis of the western world. Its ramifications are far more profound than most investors currently appreciate.” Ferguson wrote that the crisis will spread throughout the world, and that the notion of the U.S. as a “safe haven” for investors is a fantasy, even though the “day of reckoning” is still far away.[88]

In December of 2010, Citigroup’s chief economist warned that, “We could have several sovereign states and banks going under,” and that both Portugal and Spain will need bailouts.[89] In late 2010, Mark Schofield, head of interest rate strategy at Citigroup, “said that a debt overhaul with similarities to the ‘Brady Bond’ solution to the 1980s crisis in Latin America was being extensively discussed in the markets.”[90] This would of course imply a similar response to that which took place during the 1980s debt crisis, in which Western nations and institutions reorganized the debts of ‘Third World’ nations that defaulted on their massive debts, and thus they were economically enslaved to the Western world thereafter.

In January of 2011, the IMF instructed major economies around the world, including Brazil, Japan, and the United States, “to implement deficit cutting plans or risk a repeat of the sovereign debt crisis that has engulfed Greece and Ireland.” At the same time, the Credit Ratings Agency Standard and Poor’s cut Japan’s long-term sovereign debt rating for the first time since 2002. As the Guardian reported:

The IMF said Japan, America, Brazil and many other indebted countries should agree targets for bringing borrowing under control. In an updated analysis on global debt and deficits, it said the pace of deficit reduction across the advanced economies was likely to slow this year, mainly because the US and Japan are preparing to increase their borrowing.[91]

Ireland was recently gripped with a major debt crisis. In 2009, Ireland was officially in an economic depression, and as one commentator asked in the Financial Times, “So will this be known as the Depression of the early 21st century?”[92] With the government of Ireland bailing out its banks in crisis, and descending into its own sovereign debt crisis, the European Union’s newly created European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) and the IMF agreed to a bailout of Ireland for roughly $136 billion in November of 2010. However, as to be expected, the IMF and the European Central Bank (ECB) stated that the bailout “would be provided under ‘strong policy conditionality’, on the basis of a programme negotiated with the Irish authorities by the [European] Commission and the IMF, in liaison with the ECB.”[93] As part of the bailout, austerity measures were to imposed upon the Irish people, with spending cuts put in place as well as tax increases for the people (but not for corporations).[94]

As a Deutsche Bank executive stated in April of 2011, “the Global Sovereign crisis is probably still in the early stages and is likely to run through most of this decade, and we will be looking at the US for a possible denouement to the unfolding Sovereign issues still to play out globally.”[95]

Debt Crisis or Banking Crisis: Whose Debt is it Anyway?

As of April 2009, EU governments had bailed out their banks to the tune of $4 trillion.[96] In February of 2009, the Telegraph ran an article entitled, “European banks may need 16.3 trillion pound bail-out,” as revealed by a secret European Commission document. However, the figure was so terrifying that the title of the article was quickly changed, and all mention of the number itself was removed from the actual article; yet, a Google search under the original title still brings up the Telegraph report, but when the link is clicked, it is headlined under its new name, “European bank bail-out could push EU into crisis.” To put it into perspective, however, a 16.3 trillion pound bailout is roughly equal to $34.5 trillion. As the secret report stated, “Estimates of total expected asset write-downs suggest that the budgetary costs – actual and contingent – of asset relief could be very large both in absolute terms and relative to GDP in member states.” In other words, the bad debts of the banks require bailouts so enormous that it could threaten the fiscal positions of major nations to do so. However, the report further stated, “It is essential that government support through asset relief should not be on a scale that raises concern about over-indebtedness or financing problems.”[97] In July of 2009, Neil Barofsky, the Special Inspector General for the U.S. bailout (TARP) program, warned that U.S. taxpayers could potentially be on the hook for $24 trillion.[98] Now, while this figure remains unconfirmed, other figures have placed the total cost of the bailout at $19 trillion, with over $17 trillion of that going directly to Wall Street.[99]

In November of 2009, Moody’s reported that global banks face a maturing debt of $10 trillion by 2015, $7 trillion of which will be due by the end of 2012.[100] In April of 2011, the IMF published a report warning that, “Debt-laden banks are the biggest threat to global financial stability and they must refinance a $3.6 trillion ‘wall of maturing debt’ which comes due in the next two years.” The report was specifically referring to European banks, and the report elaborated, “these bank funding needs coincide with higher sovereign refinancing requirements, heightening competition for scarce funding resources.”[101]

The real truth is that the true crisis is “an international banking crisis.”[102] Global banks are insolvent. For over a decade, they inflated massive asset bubbles (such as the housing market) through issuing bad loans to high-risk individuals; they also issued bad loans to nations and helped them hide their real debt in the derivatives market; and all the while they speculated in the derivatives market to both inflate the bubbles and hide the debt, and subsequently to profit off of the collapse of the bubble and sovereign debt crisis. The derivatives market stands at a whopping $600 trillion, with $28 trillion of that inflating the credit default swaps market, the specific market for sovereign debt speculation.[103]

With the onset of the global financial crisis in 2008, major nations moved to bailout these massive banks, thereby keeping them afloat and making them bigger and more dangerous than ever, when they should have simply allowed them to fail and collapse under their own hubris. The effect of the bailouts was to transfer tens of trillions of dollars in bad debts of the banks to the public coffers of nations: private debt became public debt, private liabilities became public liabilities, and thus, the risk was transferred from millionaire and billionaire bankers to the taxpayers. This is often called ‘corporate socialism’ (or ‘economic fascism’) as it privatizes profits and socializes risk. However, the bailouts did not ‘buy’ all the bad debts of banks, as they were specifically focused on the debts related to the housing market. The banks, still insolvent even after the bailouts, hold tens of trillions in bad debts in other asset bubbles such as the commercial real estate bubble (which is arguably larger than the housing bubble[104]), as well as derivatives, and now sovereign debt.

Global financial institutions – such as the IMF – and the major political powers – such as the U.S. and E.U. – continue to serve the interests of bankers over people. Thus, with the onset of the sovereign debt crisis, no one is questioning the legitimacy of the debt, but rather, they are forcing entire nations and populations to impoverish themselves and deconstruct their society in order to get more debt to pay the interest on old – illegitimate – debts to banks which are insolvent and profiting off of their countries plunging into crises. Like a snake wrapping around its victim, the more you struggle, the tighter becomes its hold; with every breath you take, its coils wrap closer and tighter, still. The world is ensnarled in the snake-like grip of global bankers, as they demand that the people of the world pay for their mistakes, their predatory practices, and their own failures.

Greece Gets Another Bailout… for the Bankers

In March of 2011, Moody’s downgraded Greece’s credit rating to a lower rating than that of Egypt, which had recently experienced an uprising which led to the resignation of long-time Egyptian dictator, Hosni Mubarak. The move by Moody’s “prompted investors to dump the debt of other struggling European economies.”[105] In June of 2011, Greece was given the lowest credit rating ever by Standard & Poor’s, saying that Greece is “increasingly likely” to face a debt restructuring and be the first sovereign default in the euro-zone’s history. The S&P specified, “Risks for the implementation of Greece’s EU/IMF borrowing program are rising, given Greece’s increased financing needs and ongoing internal political disagreements surrounding the policy conditions required.” At the same time, the Greek Treasury was attempting to sell $1.8 billion of treasury bills (selling Greek debt) in order to continue meeting financial needs. However, the downgrade by S&P made the treasury bills far less attractive an investment, and thus, pushed Greece into an even deeper crisis. At the same time, credit default swaps surged to record highs on Greece, Portugal, and Ireland. Simultaneously, Greece was seeking a second bailout, and thus, the lower rating would make any potential loans (which would carry extra risk due to the low credit rating) come attached with much higher interest rates, ensuring a continuation of future fiscal and debt crises for the country. In short, the lower credit rating plunged the country into a deeper crisis, though analysts at JP Morgan and other banks stated that the credit ratings agencies were actually following behind the market, as the major banks had already been betting against Greece’s ability to repay its debt (to them, no doubt).[106]

In June, the EU and IMF concluded a harsh audit of Greece’s finances as a condition for getting a further tranche of its previous bailout loan, with Greece “pledging further reforms and a privatisation drive that has put local unions on the warpath again.” The Greek Ministry “said it had discussed with auditors a four-year programme to reduce the Greek public deficit and its debt of some 350 billion euros ($504 billion) through further reform and sweeping, controversial privatizations,” which the IMF, the European Central Bank (ECB) and the EU made “a condition of further aid.” Greece was seeking a further 70 billion euro bailout, and the country announced the implementation of further austerity measures:

It has also pledged to hold a 50-billion-euro sale of state assets including the near-monopoly telecom and electricity operators, the country’s two main ports and one of its best-capitalised banks, Hellenic Postbank.[107]

With major protests, strikes, and riots erupting in Greece against the draconian austerity measures, the economic and social crisis was more deeply enmeshed in a domestic political crisis. The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) published a list of those countries and banks which were the most heavily exposed to Greek debt. The total lending exposure to Greece by 24 nations was over $145 billion, with the exposure of European banks at $136 billion, and non-European banks at nearly $9.5 billion. France had an exposure of $56.7 billion, Germany of $33.9 billion, Italy of $4 billion, Japan of $1.6 billion, the U.K. of $14 billion, the U.S. of $7.3 billion, and Spain at $974 million. Thus, these were the countries with the most to lose in the event of a Greek default.[108]

However, the overall exposure includes lending not only to the country (sovereign debt), but industries, banks, and individuals. France’s overall exposure was highest with $56.7 billion, however, in terms of exposure to sovereign debt specifically, France had an exposure of $15 billion. While Germany had a lower overall exposure at $33.9 billion, German lenders were the most exposed to sovereign debt at $22.7 billion. French banks had a higher overall exposure because $39.6 billion of the $56.7 billion total was loaned to companies and households.[109]

In mid-June 2011, Moody’s warned that it might cut the credit ratings of France’s three largest banks due to their holdings of Greek debt, and placed “BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole and Société Générale on review for a possible downgrade.”[110]

In June, it was reported that the IMF exerted strong pressure on Germany to give Greece another bailout, threatening to trigger a sovereign default if Germany did not agree to a bailout. As reported in the Guardian: “The fund warned the Germans in recent weeks that it would withhold urgently needed funds and trigger a Greek sovereign default unless Berlin stopped delaying and pledged firmly that it would come to Greece’s rescue.”[111] As part of the new bailout, there would be “unprecedented outside intervention in the Greek economy, including international involvement in tax collection and privatisation of state assets, in exchange for new bail-out loans for Athens.” Further, there would be conditions in the package that would provide incentives for holders of Greek debt (i.e., European banks) to voluntarily extend Greece’s repayment period, by “rolling over” the debt into future bonds (i.e., pushing the debt further down the road), and of course, the package would also include a new round of austerity measures. Much of the funding is expected to come from the sale of state assets, with the IMF and EU providing roughly $43 billion extra.[112]

The major lenders were seen to have a role in the latest Greek bailout, with French banks agreeing to a possible roll-over of Greek debt, meaning that the banks would be extending the maturity of some of their holdings of Greek debt, and that “banks would reinvest most of the proceeds of their holdings of Greek debt maturing between now and 2014 back into new long-term Greek securities.”[113] German banks also agreed to roll over 3.2 billion euros of Greek debt falling due up to and including 2014.[114]

In late June, the Greek government approved another harsh austerity package, prompting more massive protests, strikes, and riots. The second bailout package has been running into significant problems, largely to do with its stipulations for private sector involvement, creating many conflicts between those parties which must agree to the bailout. The ultimate bailout package, expected to be in the range of 80 to 90 billion euros, might not be agreed upon until September. Meanwhile, hedge funds have been speculating in the derivatives market seeking to make financial gains throughout the unfolding crisis.[115]

The Crisis Spreads Through Europe

Portugal descended into a major debt crisis in 2011. In March, the country’s parliament rejected a new austerity package to deal with its debt, and “the market” reacted by moving against the country, as “sovereign bond yields soared to new highs,” with Fitch Ratings downgrading Portugal’s credit rating and Moody’s downgraded the rating of several Spanish banks, which are heavily exposed to Portuguese debt.[116] In April of 2011, Portugal sought the assistance of the EU and IMF and requested a bailout of roughly 80 billion euros. As a condition for such a bailout, Portugal would be forced to impose harsh austerity measures in a ‘Structural Adjustment’ package which “will include structural reforms, spending cuts, a stabilisation programme for the country’s financial sector and ambitious privatisation plans.”[117] As such prospects increase for Portugal’s neighbour Spain, which is considered both “too big to fail” and “too big to bail,” Spain’s government has imposed several rounds of harsh austerity measures.[118]

In May, an agreement was reached to bailout Portugal by the EU and IMF worth roughly $111 billion. As part of the agreement, Portugal had to implement the austerity measures that its parliament had rejected in March, cutting spending (including pensions), while roughly 12 billion euros (or $17.8 billion) of the 78 billion euro bailout would go to banks.[119] In July, Moody’s slashed Portugal’s credit rating to “junk status,” and European bank shares fell sharply, as they are heavily exposed to Portuguese debt. Moody’s warned that Portugal may need a second bailout (just like Greece), which pushed Portugal’s borrowing costs further up, plunging the country and Europe as a whole deeper into a debt crisis.[120]

In July, Moody’s downgraded Portugal’s debt to junk status, increasing fears that Spain and Italy will be targeted next. The downgrade also came with a warning that Portugal may, like Greece, need a second bailout, which pushed European stock markets down, “adding to the woes of Ireland, Spain and Italy as traders dumped their bonds, forcing their interest rates up.”[121] In July, Moody’s downgraded Ireland’s rating to “junk status,” putting it in the same category as Greece and Portugal, and further exacerbating the economic crisis there, and fuelling fears about Spain and Italy.[122]

Italy, with $2.6 trillion in outstanding debt, was plunged into a deep crisis in early July, and began to edge toward a potential need for a bailout.[123] French banks have an exposure of $392.6 billion in Italian debt (both public and private), which is more than double of the German exposure to Italy.[124] Amid the increased fears over Italy’s debt, its borrowing costs soared (plunging it even deeper into crisis). Italy’s government announced the intention to impose an austerity plan to cut 40 billion euros out of its budget.[125] Mario Draghi, governor of the Bank of Italy, endorsed the austerity package, calling it “an important step.” Mario Draghi is incidentally set to take over the position of President of the European Central Bank in November, when Jean-Claude Trichet steps down.[126]

Spanish banks reportedly had an exposure of 100 billion euros in Portuguese debt, meaning that a bailout for Portugal is in fact a bailout for Spanish banks.[127] UK banks were sitting on roughly 100 billion pounds (roughly $150 billion) of exposure to Greek, Portuguese, and Spanish debt, as of April 2010.[128] It was reported in April of 2011 that British banks had an exposure of roughly 33.7 billion euros to Portugal, comparing favourably with French and German exposure, unlike in Ireland, where British banks have the largest exposure of all foreign banks. Though, in total, European banks hold roughly $266 billion in exposure to Portuguese debt.[129]

As the Bank for International Settlements reported in March of 2011, the total exposure by foreign banks to what is referred to as Europe’s ‘PIGS’ (Portugal, Ireland, Greece, and Spain) is roughly $2.5 trillion. Germany has the largest exposure, at $569 billion, the U.K. is next with $431 billion, and France is in third with $380 billion. The British banks have an exposure of $225 billion in Ireland and $152 billion in Spain.[130]

With Italy in crisis, European banks are even more exposed, as their net exposure to Italian sovereign debt (not to be confused with total debt exposure, public and private) is more than their exposure to Greece, Portugal, Ireland, and Spain combined. Exposure to those four nations is roughly $226 billion, while European banks’ exposure to Italy’s sovereign debt is $262 billion, making the threat of a bailout or a potential default all the more pronounced.[131]

The European Central Bank (ECB) itself, through purchasing of government bonds from Europe’s weakest economies, reportedly has an exposure of 444 billion euros (or $630 billion) to Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece, and Spain (the PIIGS). As one think tank reported on the figures, “There is a hidden – and potentially huge – cost of the euro zone crisis to taxpayers buried in the ECB’s books.”[132]

Banking on a Depression

In late June of 2011, the BIS “urged Europe to end its dithering and find a permanent solution to the sovereign debt crisis,” and wrote in its annual report: “For well over a year, European policy makers have been scrambling to put together short-term fixes for the hardest-hit countries while debating how to design a viable and credible long-term solution,” adding, “they need to finish the job, once and for all.” Further, the BIS warned, “Governments that put off addressing their fiscal problems run a risk of being punished both suddenly and harshly.”[133]

The BIS further warned that inflation needs to be fought by central banks raising their interest rates, thus making money more expensive, and that “with the scope for rapid growth closing, monetary policy should be quickly brought back to normal and countries should act urgently to close budget deficits.” The recommendation by the BIS was for both emerging market economies (such as China, India, Brazil, etc.) and advanced industrialized economies (Europe, United States), and the BIS “warned policymakers not to expect a normal recovery because much of the pre-crisis growth had been unsustainable and capacity will have been destroyed for ever, particularly in finance and construction.” As the Financial Times reported:

Rising food, energy and other commodity prices underscored the need for central banks around the world to begin raising interest rates, perhaps even more rapidly than they brought them down, said the BIS in its report. “Highly accommodative monetary policies are fast becoming a threat to price stability,” it concluded.

The fact that interest rates have been so low for so long also introduces new risks into the world’s financial system even though these policies were put in train initially by a desire to reduce risk, the report added.

“The persistence of very low interest rates in major advanced economies delays the necessary balance sheet adjustments of households and financial institutions,” the BIS said.[134]

In other words, according to the BIS, it’s time to tighten the grip. Raising interest rates will mean that loans and debt become more expensive for governments, corporations, banks, and individuals. The stated aim of this, according to the BIS, is to reduce inflationary pressure, where money is printed easily and crosses borders easily with near-zero interest rates, making it cheap. The free flow of money (low interest rates) allowed the housing bubble (and other bubbles, such as the commercial real estate bubble) to grow and inflate. Low interest rates are designed to encourage investment and lending, but of course, the major banks that got the bailout money did not increase lending, they increased their executive’s bonuses. Thus, low interest rates were designed to encourage economic growth, which is why they were kept low following the onset of the economic crisis. However, with the major bailouts and stimulus packages, unprecedented amounts of money were pumped into the economy, and as such, the value of the currency being printed goes down (the more there is, the less valuable it becomes). This causes inflation (which acts as a hidden tax on the consumer), because it means that it requires more of the currency to buy less. The prices of food and fuel in particular increase, which is largely detrimental to the middle class consumer, whose wages do not increase with inflation. Thus, they make less when they need to spend more to buy less.

The BIS warned in June of 2010 that the record low interest rates “aimed at spurring economic growth, were keeping households and banks from reducing the huge debts that led to the credit crunch.” Its 2010 annual report warned: “Keeping interest rates near zero for too long, with abundant liquidity, leads to distortions and creates risks for the financial and monetary stability.”[135] Even in its 2009 annual report, the BIS said it feared that central banks would raise their interest rates too late, which would ultimately lead to inflation anyway. As the report stated, keeping the rates low would “lead to inflation that feeds inflation expectations or it may fuel yet another asset-price bubble, sowing the seeds of the next financial boom-bust cycle.”[136]

The hesitation to raise interest rates comes from the fact that there has been no economic ‘recovery,’ and thus, raising rates would lead to a protracted stagnation, or a double-dip recession, or perhaps more bluntly, a very deep depression. The raising of interest rates in an attempt to reduce inflation could potentially be irrelevant, as the increased rates would prompt higher interest payments on debts, forcing governments to print more money (or get more bailouts or loans) in order to make their payments, and thus, more money being pumped into the economy would further exacerbate inflation, itself. Already, the Chinese central bank (which is a member of the BIS) raised its interest rates, with India having increased interest rates over the year as well.[137] The European Central Bank also raised its interest rates in July, for the second time this year, to 1.5%, and may be expected to raise it further by the end of the year.[138] The BIS annual report for 2011 stated:

All financial crises, especially those generated by a credit-fuelled property price boom, leave long-lasting wreckage. But we must guard against policies that would slow the inevitable adjustment. The sooner that advanced economies abandon the leverage-led growth that precipitated the Great Recession, the sooner they will shed the destabilising debt accumulated during the last decade and return to sustainable growth. The time for public and private consolidation is now… We should make no mistake here: the market turbulence surrounding the fiscal crises in Greece, Ireland and Portugal would pale beside the devastation that would follow a loss of investor confidence in the sovereign debt of a major economy.[139]

Whether inflation, high interest rates, or a more-deadly combination of both, the average person suffers most. Inflation hits home as wages remain stagnant or are cut (under ‘fiscal austerity measures’), while costs for consumer goods (such as food and fuel) increase. Increased interest rates drain the remaining resources of consumers, who are largely debt-ridden, and will have to make increased payments on their debts. Such a scenario for an individual debtor (say, a middle class consumer), is likely to play out in a scenario similar to Greece: either they go further into debt to pay interest on old debt (like paying off one credit card with another), thus increasing their future liabilities (kicking the can down the road); or, they default and declare bankruptcy, and come under the tutelage of bank supervision, losing all their assets. In a combination of both inflation and high interest rates, the middle class will become totally impoverished, as they are already a class based entirely on debt.

The Plutonomy

A 2005 report from Citigroup coined the term “plutonomy,” to describe countries “where economic growth is powered by and largely consumed by the wealthy few,” and specifically identified the U.K., Canada, Australia, and the United States as plutonomies. Keeping in mind that the report was published three years before the onset of the financial crisis in 2008, the Citigroup report stated that, “asset booms, a rising profit share and favourable treatment by market-friendly governments have allowed the rich to prosper and become a greater share of the economy in the plutonomy countries,” and that, “the rich are in great shape, financially.”[140] As the Federal Reserve reported, “the nation’s top 1% of households own more than half the nation’s stocks,” and “they also control more than $16 trillion in wealth — more than the bottom 90%.” The term ‘Plutonomy’ is specifically used to “describe a country that is defined by massive income and wealth inequality,” and that they have three basic characteristics, according to the Citigroup report:

1. They are all created by “disruptive technology-driven productivity gains, creative financial innovation, capitalist friendly cooperative governments, immigrants… the rule of law and patenting inventions. Often these wealth waves involve great complexity exploited best by the rich and educated of the time.”

2. There is no “average” consumer in Plutonomies. There is only the rich “and everyone else.” The rich account for a disproportionate chunk of the economy, while the non-rich account for “surprisingly small bites of the national pie.” [Citigroup strategist Ajay] Kapur estimates that in 2005, the richest 20% may have been responsible for 60% of total spending.

3. Plutonomies are likely to grow in the future, fed by capitalist-friendly governments, more technology-driven productivity and globalization.[141]

Kapur, who authored the Citigroup report, stated that there were also risks to the Plutonomy, “including war, inflation, financial crises, the end of the technological revolution and populist political pressure,” yet, “the rich are likely to keep getting even richer, and enjoy an even greater share of the wealth pie over the coming years.”[142]

More recently, Moody’s Analytics reported that, “the top 5 percent of American earners are responsible for 35 percent of consumer spending, while the bottom 80 percent engage in only 39.5 percent of consumer outlays,” while “the top 10 percent of earners received 50 percent of all income, while they accounted for only 22 percent of spending.” Much of their money disappeared into the speculative booms, especially the housing boom.[143]

In February of 2011, Ajay Kapur, the author of the Citigroup report who is now with Deutsche Bank, gave an interview in which he explained that, “the world economy is even more dependent on the spending and consumption of the rich,” and that, “Plutonomist consumption is almost 10 times as volatile that of the average consumer.” He further explained that increased debt levels are a sign of plutonomies:

We have an economy today where a large fraction of the population doesn’t pay federal income taxes and, because of demand for entitlements, we have a system of massive representation without taxation. On the other hand, you have plutonomists who protect their turf and the taxation amounts are not enough to pay for everyone’s demand. So I’ve come to the conclusion that budget deficits are biased toward getting bigger and bigger. Budget deficits are going to become a manifestation of a plutonomy.[144]

The plutonomy is largely characterized by a lack of a consuming and vibrant middle class. This is a trend that has been accelerating for several decades, particularly in North America and Britain, where the middle class population is heavily indebted. The middle class has existed as a consumer class, keeping the lower class submissive, and keeping the upper class secure and wealthy by consuming their products, produced with the labour of the lower class. As a Bank of America-Merrill report noted in 2009, the middle class “is over-leveraged.” The report stated, “the consumer debt problem in the economy really is a debt problem for the middle class. The need to work off a chunk of that debt will sap middle-class families’ spending power for perhaps years to come.” Further:

By contrast, the upper 10% of income earners face a much smaller debt burden relative to income and net worth. Those people should have ample spending power to help fuel an economic recovery.

Using 2007 data from the Federal Reserve, BofA Merrill defines the middle class as people in the 40%-to-90% income percentiles. It defines lower-income folks as those in the zero to 40% income percentiles, and the wealthy as those in the top 10%.

Lower-income families account for 40% of the population but just 12% of total consumption, BofA Merrill estimates. The middle class is 50% of the population and nearly as large a share of consumption, at 46%.

That leaves the wealthy to account for a hefty 42% of consumption.

In terms of their debt burdens, neither lower-income families nor the wealthy are constrained the way the middle class is constrained, the report asserts.[145]

The report further asserted that, “the middle-class has suffered more than the wealthy from the housing crash because middle-class families tended to rely more on their homes to build savings through rising equity. Also, the wealthy naturally had a much larger and more diverse portfolio of assets — stocks, bonds, etc.”[146]

In short, when the day comes where the rest of the industrialized world falls into the same trap as Greece, the middle class will be pushed down into the lower class, and a global socio-economic plutonomy will emerge. The middle class cannot survive the perfect storm of fiscal austerity, increased interest rates, inflation and ‘Structural Adjustment.’ We are entering a global age of austerity, where our political leaders commit social genocide for the benefit of the global banks, and at the behest of the institutions that represent them. The IMF and other supranational institutions increase their own powers and authority in order to punish and impoverish large populations. What has been done to the ‘Third World’ – the ‘Global South’ – over the past several decades is now being done to us, in the industrialized North.

In Conclusion

In the face of this massive global social, political, and economic crisis, the reaction of the world’s elite is to further centralize power structures on a global scale, to further remove power from the rest of humanity and move it upwards to a tiny elite. This not only creates massive disparity and inequality, but it establishes the conditions for an incredibly radicalized, restless, and angry world population. As such, the centralized global power structures that elites seek to strengthen and build anew will ultimately be authoritarian, oppressive, and dehumanizing. This is so because the social unrest resulting from this massive global impoverishment will make the apparatus of oppression necessary in order to secure and maintain those very power structures. In short, if the elite do not become oppressive and totalitarian, they will lose their grip on power in the face of massive global social unrest. This will require brutal wars of domination abroad, and ruthless techno-social systems of oppression at home.

The people of the world are faced with a great challenge, unlike any other faced in all of human history. The only way out is realizing that the struggle of one is the struggle of all: freedom for all, or freedom for none. Of course, a true global resistance is a long way down the road. There still remain diverse disputes and ideological differences which maintain disunity. The challenge, then, is to find the common ground for all people, and to move forward despite ideological or other differences, and to work together to find a solution. This is no small challenge.

We will likely see the proliferation of many new ideologies and indeed even a ‘global philosophical revolution’ of sorts, which may seek to unite humanity under the banner of a new human understanding. Such a philosophy would run counter to the elite-driven philosophy focused on power-centralization and global domination, and would – in order to be legitimate – draw from a great many philosophical, theoretical and even spiritual disciplines and beliefs. As such, it is perhaps important to not revert to old – tried and tested – ideological doctrines as the one and only “solution.” For example, there are growing nationalist movements in reaction to the elite-driven doctrine of ‘globalism’, notably in the United States. For a true step forward, we must remain open to and in fact encourage a proliferation of new ideas instead of reverting to the old; to learn from both the failures and successes of old ideas, instead of holding on to a myth of ‘what was’, such as the ‘idea’ of a wonderful, prosperous America for all. This era never truly existed in America’s history, yet the myth remains strong, and is a fundamental driving force behind the resurgent nationalist movement. As such, for many in the anti-globalist movement, criticism of nationalism is instantly thrown into the camp of support for globalism, not allowing room for a critique of both. This is a dangerous situation – ideologically and politically – as true change can only come from self-reflection and understanding. There needs to be room left for new ideas, otherwise we will simply revert to repeating old mistakes.

Indeed, we are entering perhaps the most important historic era in the human story thus far. The notion that there will not be new ideas, philosophies, ideologies and beliefs runs counter to the historical fact that times of social upheaval and rapid political transformation often give rise to new ideas and philosophies. This time around, the world is globalizing, not only in terms of power structures, but also in terms of ideational structures. In this sense, while the elite have never had such an opportunity to impose control over all of humanity, all of humanity has never had such an opportunity to effect an exchange of ideas and information among each other, and thus, solidify a common philosophical solidarity, and ultimately, re-take control of the world, itself.

Andrew Gavin Marshall is an independent researcher and writer based in Montreal, Canada, writing on a number of social, political, economic, and historical issues. He is co-editor of the book, “The Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the XXI Century.” His website is http://www.andrewgavinmarshall.com

Notes

[1]            Ed Harris, Greece turns to Socialists to fight economic crisis, London Evening Standard: 5 October 2009:

http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23752278-greece-turns-to-socialists-to-fight-economic-crisis.do

[2]            LANDON THOMAS Jr., In Greece, Some See a New Lehman, The New York Times, 12 June 2011:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/13/business/global/13euro.html

[3]            Beat Balzli, How Goldman Sachs Helped Greece to Mask its True Debt, Spiegel Online, 8 February 2010:

http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/0,1518,676634,00.html

[4]            LOUISE STORY, LANDON THOMAS Jr. and NELSON D. SCHWARTZ, Wall St. Helped to Mask Debt Fueling Europe’s Crisis, The New York Times, 13 February 2010:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/14/business/global/14debt.html

[5]            John Carney, Goldman Sachs Shorted Greek Debt After It Arranged Those Shady Swaps, Business Insider, 15 February 2010:

http://www.businessinsider.com/goldman-sachs-shorted-greek-debt-after-it-arranged-those-shady-swaps-2010-2

[6]            Jim Puzzanghera and Nathaniel Popper, Senate panel concludes Goldman Sachs profited from financial crisis, Los Angeles Times, 14 April 2011:

http://articles.latimes.com/2011/apr/14/business/la-fi-crisis-probe-20110414

[7]            Louise Story and Sewell Chan, E-mails suggest Goldman profited in housing collapse, San Francisco Chronicle, 25 April 2010:

http://articles.sfgate.com/2010-04-25/news/20865082_1_goldman-sachs-e-mail-messages-betting

[8]            Matthew Philips, The Monster That Ate Wall Street, Newsweek, 27 September 2008: http://www.newsweek.com/2008/09/26/the-monster-that-ate-wall-street.html

[9]            Bloomberg, Fannie, Freddie ‘biggest disasters’ says JPMorgan Chase chief, The Economic Times, 18 February 2011:

http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2011-02-18/news/28615139_1_fannie-and-freddie-jamie-dimon-financial-crisis-inquiry-commission

[10]            Cornell, 4501 Congressional Findings, Title 12, Chapter 46, Cornell University Law School:

http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/12/usc_sec_12_00004501—-000-.html

[11]            Carol D. Leonnig, How HUD Mortgage Policy Fed The Crisis, The Washington Post, 10 June 2008:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/06/09/AR2008060902626.html

[12]            RUSSELL ROBERTS, How Government Stoked the Mania, The Wall Street Journal, 3 October 2008:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122298982558700341.html

[13]            STEVEN A. HOLMES, Fannie Mae Eases Credit To Aid Mortgage Lending, The New York Times, 30 September 1999:

http://www.nytimes.com/1999/09/30/business/fannie-mae-eases-credit-to-aid-mortgage-lending.html

[14]            Ibid.

[15]            Tom Abate, Housing, hedge funds spur bubble worries / Some experts fear low interest rates may have pumped too much cash into global markets, San Francisco Chronicle, 22 May 2005:

http://articles.sfgate.com/2005-05-22/business/17374185_1_asset-prices-interest-rates-central-bankers

[16]            Ryan Grim, Greenspan Wanted Housing-Bubble Dissent Kept Secret, Huffington Post, 3 May 2010:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/05/03/greenspan-wanted-housing_n_560965.html

[17]            Craig Torres, Fed Officials Saw Housing Bubble in 2005, Didn’t Alter Policy, Bloomberg, 14 January 2011:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-01-14/fed-saw-housing-bubble-in-2005-failed-to-alter-policy-of-rate-increases.html

[18]            Nell Henderson, Bernanke: There’s No Housing Bubble to Go Bust, The Washington Post, 27 October 2005:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/10/26/AR2005102602255.html

[19]            PBS, The Long Demise of Glass-Steagall. Frontline:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/wallstreet/weill/demise.html

[20]            Ibid.

[21]            Robert Buzzanco, Bring Back Glass-Steagall? History News Network: October 21, 2008:

http://hnn.us/articles/55548.html

[22]            NYT, Furor on Memo At World Bank, The New York Times, 7 February 1992:

http://www.nytimes.com/1992/02/07/business/furor-on-memo-at-world-bank.html

[23]            Peter Coy, How New Global Banking Rules Could Deepen the U.S. Crisis, Business Week, 17 April 2008:

http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/08_17/b4081083014665.htm

[24]            Carroll Quigley, Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time (New York: Macmillan Company, 1966), pages 324-325.

[25]            Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, BIS warns of Great Depression dangers from credit spree, The Telegraph, 25 June 2007:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/2811081/BIS-warns-of-Great-Depression-dangers-from-credit-spree.html

[26]            Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, BIS slams central banks, warns of worse crunch to come, The Telegraph, 30 June 2008:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/markets/2792450/BIS-slams-central-banks-warns-of-worse-crunch-to-come.html

[27]            Chris Martenson, What the latest bailout plan means. ChrisMartenson.com: September 21, 2008:

http://www.chrismartenson.com/blog/what-latest-bailout-plan-means/5149

[28]            Larisa Alexandrovna, Welcome to the final stages of the coup. Huffington Post: September 29, 2008:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/larisa-alexandrovna/welcome-to-the-final-stag_b_127990.html

[29]            Bailout Recipients, ProPublica:

http://projects.propublica.org/bailout/list/index

[30]            Robin Harding and Tom Braithwaite and Francesco Guerrera, European banks took big slice of Fed aid, The Financial Times, 1 December 2010:

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/4dd95e42-fd6d-11df-a049-00144feab49a.html#axzz1R9fhQUVh

[31]            MARY WILLIAMS WALSH, A.I.G. Lists Banks It Paid With U.S. Bailout Funds, The New York Times, 15 March 2009:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/16/business/16rescue.html

[32]            Surojit Chatterjee, TARP funds benefited foreign banks more, says oversight panel, International Business Times, 12 August 2010:

http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/43012/20100812/tarp-funds-benefited-foreign-banks-more-says-oversight-panel.htm

[33]            Neil Barofsky, Where the Bailout Went Wrong, The New York Times, 31 March 2011:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/30/opinion/30barofsky.html

[34]            HEATHER SCOFFIELD, Financial repairs must continue: central banks, The Globe and Mail, 29 June 2009:

http://v1.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20090629.wcentralbanks0629/BNStory/HEATHER+SCOFFIELD/

[35]            Ibid.

[36]            Simone Meier, BIS Sees Risk Central Banks Will Raise Interest Rates Too Late, Bloomberg, 29 June 2009:

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=aOnSy9jXFKaY

[37]            Ibid.

[38]            Robert Cookson and Sundeep Tucker, Economist warns of double-dip recession, The Financial Times, 14 September 2009:

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/e6dd31f0-a133-11de-a88d-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1R9fhQUVh

[39]            Robert Cookson and Victor Mallet, Societal soul-searching casts shadow over big banks, The Financial Times, 18 September 2009:

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/7721033c-a3ea-11de-9fed-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1R9fhQUVh

[40]            Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Derivatives still pose huge risk, says BIS, The Telegraph, 13 September 2009:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/banksandfinance/6184496/Derivatives-still-pose-huge-risk-says-BIS.html

[41]            KATY BURNE, Derivatives-Trading Tally: $700 Trillion (or So), The Wall Street Journal, 6 December 2010:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703471904576003400646739990.html

[42]            Global OTC derivatives, The Economist, 31 May 2011:

http://www.economist.com/blogs/dailychart/2011/05/derivatives_trade?fsrc=rss

[43]            Huw Jones, BIS-Banks may need more cash to clear derivatives, Reuters, 5 June 2011:

http://uk.reuters.com/article/2011/06/05/bis-clearing-idUKLDE7510HJ20110605

[44]            EDWARD WYATT, Report Says Excessive Risk Remains After Bank Bailout, The New York Times, 13 January 2011:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/14/business/14tarp.html

[45]            Interview by Steve Inskeep, Barofsky: More Bank Bailouts Are Inevitable, NPR, 27 January 2011:

http://www.npr.org/2011/01/27/133264711/Troubled-Asset-Relief-Program-Update

[46]            Dan Rather, Barofsky, Dan Rather Reports, 7 June 2011:

http://www.hd.net/blogs/2011/06/barofsky-more-bailouts/

[47]            Philip Aldrick, Banks’ $4 trillion debts are ‘Achilles’ heel of the economic recovery’, warns IMF, The Telegraph, 5 October 2010:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/8043800/Banks-4-trillion-debts-are-Achilles-heel-of-the-economic-recovery-warns-IMF.html

[48]            Colin Barr, Let big banks fail, bailout skeptics say, CNN Money, 21 April 2009:

http://money.cnn.com/2009/04/21/news/too.big.fortune/index.htm?postversion=2009042112

[49]            Chris Isidore, Fed made $9 trillion in emergency overnight loans, CNN Money, 1 December 2010:

http://money.cnn.com/2010/12/01/news/economy/fed_reserve_data_release/index.htm

[50]            Jon Hilsenrath, A Closer Look at Europe and the Fed’s Central Bank Swap Program, The Wall Street Journal, 7 May 2010:

http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2010/05/07/a-closer-look-at-europe-and-the-feds-central-bank-swap-program/

[51]            Matthew Philips, Tracking the $19 Trillion Bailout Funds, Newsweek, 22 September 2009:

http://www.newsweek.com/blogs/wealth-of-nations/2009/09/22/tracking-the-19-trillion-bailout-funds.html

[52]            Dawn Kopecki and Catherine Dodge, U.S. Rescue May Reach $23.7 Trillion, Barofsky Says (Update3), Bloomberg, 20 July 2009:

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=aY0tX8UysIaM

[53]            Neil Irwin and Zachary A. Goldfarb, Probe: Did big U.S. banks contribute to the financial crisis in Greece?, The Washington Post, 26 February 2010:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/02/25/AR2010022502183.html

[54]            Greenspan Examines Federal Reserve, Mortgage Crunch, PBS Newshour, 18 September 2007:

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/business/july-dec07/greenspan_09-18.html

[55]            NYFed, Community Affairs Advisory Council, Federal Reserve Bank of New York:

http://www.newyorkfed.org/aboutthefed/ag_community_affairs.html

[56]            NYFed, Economic Advisory Panel, Federal Reserve Bank of New York:

http://www.newyorkfed.org/aboutthefed/ag_economic.html

[57]            NYFed, International Advisory Committee, Federal Reserve Bank of New York:

http://www.newyorkfed.org/aboutthefed/ag_international.html

[58]            NYFed, Fedwire Securities Customer Advisory Group, Federal Reserve Bank of New York:

http://www.newyorkfed.org/aboutthefed/ag_fedwire_securities_customer.html

[59]            David Reilly, Secret Banking Cabal Emerges From AIG Shadows, Bloomberg, 28 January 2010:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-01-28/secret-banking-cabal-emerges-from-aig-shadows-david-reilly.html

[60]            LANDON THOMAS Jr., In Greece, Some See a New Lehman, The New York Times, 12 June 2011:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/13/business/global/13euro.html

[61]            VANESSA FUHRMANS and SEBASTIAN MOFFETT, Exposure to Greece Weighs On French, German Banks, The Wall Street Journal, 17 February 2010:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703798904575069712153415820.html

[62]            Manfred Ertel, The 300 Billion Euro Man, Spiegel Online, 31 March 2010:

http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/0,1518,686604,00.html

[63]            Kerin Hope, Head of Greek debt office replaced, The Financial Times, 19 February 2010:

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/964dca2c-1d45-11df-b12e-00144feab49a,s01=2.html#axzz1RRT1aNfQ

[64]            Henry Chu, European countries, IMF offer Greece $146 billion in loans, The Los Angeles Times, 3 May 2010:

http://articles.latimes.com/2010/may/03/world/la-fg-greece-bailout-20100503

[65]            Gabi Thesing and Flavia Krause-Jackson, Greece Faces `Unprecedented’ Cuts as $159B Rescue Nears, Bloomberg, 2 May 2010:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-05-02/greece-faces-unprecedented-cuts-as-159b-rescue-nears.html

[66]            AFP, France, Germany Forced Greece to Buy Arms: MEP, Defense News, 7 May 2010:

http://www.defensenews.com/story.php?i=4616433

[67]            AP, Despite crisis Greece continues weapons purchases, Jerusalem Post, 28 May 2010:

http://www.jpost.com/International/Article.aspx?id=176792

[68]            Abigail Moses, Greek Contagion Concern Spurs European Sovereign Default Risk to Record, Bloomberg, 26 April 2010:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-04-26/greek-contagion-concern-spurs-european-sovereign-default-risk-to-record.html

[69]            Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, ECB may have to turn to ‘nuclear option’ to prevent Southern European debt collapse, The Telegraph, 27 April 2010:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/7640783/ECB-may-have-to-turn-to-nuclear-option-to-prevent-Southern-European-debt-collapse.html

[70]            Richard Wachman, Greece debt crisis: the role of credit rating agencies, The Guardian, 28 April 2010:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/apr/28/greece-debt-crisis-standard-poor-credit-agencies

[71]            S&P, Management Profiles:

http://www.standardandpoors.com/about-sp/management-profiles/en/us

[72]            McGraw-Hill Companies, Executive Profiles:

http://www.mcgraw-hill.com/site/about-us/executive-profiles

[73]            S&P, Board of Directors:

http://investor.mcgraw-hill.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=96562&p=irol-govboard

[74]            Moody’s, Board of Directors:

http://ir.moodys.com/governance.cfm

[75]            Moody’s, Management Team:

http://ir.moodys.com/management.cfm

[76]            Fimalac, Board of Directors:

http://www.fimalac.com/board-of-directors.html

[77]            Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Sovereign debt crisis at ‘boiling point’, warns Bank for International Settlements, The Telegraph, 8 April 2010:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/7564748/Sovereign-debt-crisis-at-boiling-point-warns-Bank-for-International-Settlements.html

[78]            Ibid.

[79]            Stephen G Cecchetti, M S Mohanty and Fabrizio Zampolli, The Future of Public Debt: Prospects and Implications, BIS Working Papers, No 300, March 2010, page 3.

[80]            Ibid, page 4.

[81]            Ibid, page 9.

[82]            Ibid.

[83]            Ibid, page 12.

[84]            Ibid, page 14.

[85]            Greek debt crisis spreading ‘like Ebola’ and Europe must act now, OECD warns, The Telegraph, 28 April 2010:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/7644709/Greek-debt-crisis-spreading-like-Ebola-and-Europe-must-act-now-OECD-warns.html

[86]            Edmund Conway, ‘Significant chance’ of second financial crisis, warns World Economic Forum, The Telegraph, 14 January 2010:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financetopics/davos/6990433/Significant-chance-of-second-financial-crisis-warns-World-Economic-Forum.html

[87]            Nouriel Roubini and Arpitha Bykere, The Coming Sovereign Debt Crisis, Forbes, 14 January 2010:

http://www.forbes.com/2010/01/13/sovereign-debt-crisis-opinions-colummnists-nouriel-roubini-arpitha-bykere.html

[88]            Niall Ferguson, A Greek crisis is coming to America, Financial Times, 10 February 2010:

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/f90bca10-1679-11df-bf44-00144feab49a.html#axzz1RpfP4VNB

[89]            Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Citigroup warns of fresh wave of bank failures in Europe, The Telegraph, 21 December 2010:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/8217859/Citigroup-warns-of-fresh-wave-of-bank-failures-in-Europe.html

[90]            Sam Fleming and Leo Lewis, Latin American-style cure for euro-zone debt crisis looms, The Australian Business Times, 22 December 2010:

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/world/latin-american-style-cure-for-euro-zone-debt-crisis-looms/story-e6frg90o-1225974805041

[91]            Phillip Inman, IMF warns of new sovereign debt crisis for largest economies, The Guardian, 27 January 2011:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/jan/27/imf-sovereign-debt-crisis-warning

[92]            Wolfgang Münchau, Our lethargic leaders must work together on the crisis, The Financial Times, 8 February 2009:

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/3d51f3ce-f601-11dd-a9ed-0000779fd2ac.html#axzz1RpfP4VNB

[93]            Plan will have policy conditions – ECB, RTE News, 21 November 2010:

http://www.rte.ie/news/2010/1121/imf2-business.html

[94]            Republic of Ireland confirms EU financial rescue deal, BBC News, 22 November 2010:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-11807730
[95]            Joe Weisenthal, Deutsche Bank: The Global Sovereign Debt Crisis Will Last The Entire Decade, And The US Will Cap It Off, Business Insider, 19 April 2011:

http://www.businessinsider.com/deutsche-bank-on-the-sovereign-debt-crisis-cycle-2011-4

[96]            Elitsa Vucheva, European Bank Bailout Total: $4 Trillion, Bloomberg Businessweek, 10 April 2009:

http://www.businessweek.com/globalbiz/content/apr2009/gb20090410_254738.htm?chan=globalbiz_europe+index+page_top+stories

[97]            Bruno Waterfield, European bank bail-out could push EU into crisis, The Telegraph, 11 February 2009:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/4590512/European-banks-may-need-16.3-trillion-bail-out-EC-dcoument-warns.html

[98]            AP, Watchdog sees huge U.S. bill for banks bailout, MSNBC, 20 July 2009:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32010841/ns/business-us_business/t/watchdog-sees-huge-us-bill-banks-bailout/

[99]            Matthew Philips, Tracking the $19 Trillion Bailout Funds, Newsweek, 22 September 2009:

http://www.newsweek.com/blogs/wealth-of-nations/2009/09/22/tracking-the-19-trillion-bailout-funds.html

[100]            Lee Jones, Banks will owe £6 trillion by 2015 as debt matures, Money Marketing, 10 November 2009:

http://www.moneymarketing.co.uk/investments/news/banks-will-owe-%C2%A36-trillion-by-2015-as-debt-matures/1001908.article

[101]            Agencies, Banks facing $3.6 trillion ‘wall of maturing debt’, IMF Global Financial Stability Report says, The Telegraph, 13 April 2011:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/8448169/Banks-facing-3.6-trillion-wall-of-maturing-debt-IMF-Global-Financial-Stability-Report-says.html

[102]            IRWIN STELZER, Global Banking Is What’s Really in Crisis, The Wall Street Journal, 27 June 2011:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304314404576409410834139324.html

[103]            John O’Donnell and Luke Baker, EU hits banks with credit default swap probe, Reuters, 29 April 2011:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/04/29/us-eu-antitrust-cds-idUSTRE73S3J020110429

[104]            CNBC, Commercial Real Estate Is Next Bubble to Burst: Tishman, CNBC News, 21 September 2009:

http://www.cnbc.com/id/32952174/Commercial_Real_Estate_Is_Next_Bubble_to_Burst_Tishman

[105]            Richard Blackden, Greek debt price soars as Moody’s cuts credit rating below Egypt, The Telegraph, 7 March 2011:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/8366707/Greek-debt-price-soars-as-Moodys-cuts-credit-rating-below-Egypt.html

[106]            Jennifer Ryan and Gabi Thesing, Greece Branded With World’s Lowest Credit Rating by S&P on Default Threat, Bloomberg, 13 June 2011:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-06-13/greece-s-long-term-rating-cut-to-ccc-by-s-p-on-outlook-for-restructuring.html

[107]            AFP, Athens concludes EU-IMF audit: finance ministry, MSN News, 3 June 2011:

http://news.ph.msn.com/business/article.aspx?cp-documentid=4903548

[108]            The countries most exposed to Greek debt, The Telegraph, 15 June 2011:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/8578337/The-countries-most-exposed-to-Greek-debt.html

[109]            Boris Groendahl, German Banks Top French on $23 Billion Greek Debt, BIS Says, Bloomberg Businessweek, 6 June 2011:

http://www.businessweek.com/news/2011-06-06/german-banks-top-french-on-23-billion-greek-debt-bis-says.html

[110]            Megan Murphy, Kerin Hope, Jennifer Thompson and James Wilson, Greek contagion fears spread to other EU banks, The Financial Times, 15 June 2011:

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/ac918946-975a-11e0-9c9d-00144feab49a,s01=1.html#axzz1RpfP4VNB

[111]            Ian Traynor, Hardline IMF forced Germany to guarantee Greek bailout, The Guardian, 17 June 2011:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/jun/16/imf-forced-germany-to-guarantee-greek-bailout

[112]            Peter Spiegel, Quentin Peel and Ralph Atkins, Greece set for severe bail-out conditions, The Financial Times, 29 May 2011:

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/eb91ba84-8a27-11e0-beff-00144feab49a.html#axzz1NnKIRZX9

[113]            MATTHEW SALTMARSH, French Banks Ready to Help Greek Bailout, The New York Times, 27 June 2011:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/28/business/global/28iht-euro.html

[114]            Quentin Peel and Daniel Schäfer, German banks support Greek debt rollover, The Financial Times, 30 June 2011:

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/d0112512-a32f-11e0-8d6d-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1RpfP4VNB

[115]            JULIE CRESWELL, Hedge Funds Seeking Gains in Greek Crisis, The New York Times, 3 July 2011:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/04/business/04bets.html

[116]            Louise Armitstead, Portugal debt crisis: David Cameron holds crisis talks with EU leaders, The Telegraph, 24 March 2011:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/8404645/Portugal-debt-crisis-David-Cameron-holds-crisis-talks-with-EU-leaders.html

[117]            AP, Portugal ‘needs £70bn bailout’, The Independent, 8 April 2011:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/portugal-needs-70bn-bailout-2265130.html

[118]            Henry Chu, Europe scrambles to rescue Portugal from debt crisis, Los Angeles Times, 8 April 2011:

http://articles.latimes.com/2011/apr/08/world/la-fg-portugal-debt-20110408

[119]            James G. Neuger and Anabela Reis, Portugal’s $111 Billion Bailout Approved as EU Prods Greece to Sell Assets, Bloomberg, 17 May 2011:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-05-16/portugal-bailout-approved-as-eu-prods-greece-to-sell-assets.html

[120]            Julia Kollewe, Portugal downgrade hits European bank shares, The Guardian, 6 July 2011:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/jul/06/portugal-downgrade-european-bank-shares

[121]            LIZ ALDERMAN and JACK EWING, Europeans Caution Ratings Agencies After the Downgrade of Portugal’s Debt, The New York Times, 6 July 2011:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/07/business/global/07euro.html

[122]            Elysse Morgan, Ireland downgrade fuels Italy, Spain fears, ABC News, 13 July 2011:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-07-13/ireland-downgrade-fuels-italy-spain-fears/2793156?section=business

[123]            John Glover, Italy Is Two Percentage Points From Bailout as Yields Rise, Evolution Says, Bloomberg, 11 July 2011:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-07-11/italy-is-2-percentage-points-from-a-bailout-as-yields-rise-evolution-says.html

[124]            Fabio Benedetti-Valentini, Italian Debt Risk Puts France’s BNP Paribas, Credit Agricole on Frontline, Blomberg, 13 July 2011:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-07-12/france-s-bnp-credit-agricole-on-frontline-with-italian-risk.html

[125]            Jeffrey Donovan, Italy Sells 6.75 Billion Euros of Treasury Bills as Borrowing Costs Climb, Bloomberg, 12 July 2011:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-07-12/italy-s-borrowing-costs-soar-at-6-75-billion-euro-bill-sale-on-contagion.html

[126]            Guy Dinmore and Giulia Segreti, Draghi backs Italian austerity plan, The Financial Times, 13 July 2011:

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/d114be22-ad2c-11e0-a24e-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1RpfP4VNB

[127]            Harry Wilson, Spanish banks have €100bn exposure to Portugal, The Telegraph, 8 April 2011:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/8435903/Spanish-banks-have-100bn-exposure-to-Portugal.html

[128]            Jill Treanor, Debt crisis: UK banks sitting on £100bn exposure to Greece, Spain and Portugal, The Guardian, 28 April 2010:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/apr/28/debt-turmoil-bank-crisis-fears

[129]            Harry Wilson, UK bank exposure to Portugal is less than peers, The Telegraph, 8 April 2011:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/banksandfinance/8436114/UK-bank-exposure-to-Portugal-is-less-than-peers.html

[130]            Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Banks have £1.6 trillion exposure to ailing quartet of Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain, The Telegraph, 14 March 2011:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/banksandfinance/8379302/Banks-have-1.6-trillion-exposure-to-ailing-quartet-of-Greece-Ireland-Portugal-and-Spain.html

[131]            Patrick Jenkins and Megan Murphy, Bank contagion fear resurfaces in the Eurozone, The Financial Times, 12 July 2011:

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/f3efcbe2-aca7-11e0-a2f3-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1RpfP4VNB

[132]            CNBC, ECB Firefight Leaves It Exposed to Greek Shock, The Financial Times, 7 June 2011:

http://www.cnbc.com/id/43304981/ECB_Firefight_Leaves_It_Exposed_to_Greek_Shock

[133]            Jeff Black, BIS Urges Europe to End Its Debate, Resolve Debt Crisis ‘Once and for All’, Bloomberg, 26 June 2011:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-06-26/bis-urges-europe-to-end-debate-and-resolve-debt-crisis-once-and-for-all-.html

[134]            Norma Cohen and Chris Giles, Central banks urged to raise rates, The Financial Times, 26 June 2011:

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/481e5106-a01f-11e0-a115-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1RpfP4VNB

[135]            Elena Moya, Low interest rates risk relapse into recession, BIS warns, The Guardian, 28 June 2010:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/jun/28/raise-interest-rates-avoid-recession

[136]            Simone Meier, BIS Sees Risk Central Banks Will Raise Interest Rates Too Late, Bloomberg, 29 June 2009:

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=aOnSy9jXFKaY

[137]            Aaron Back, Beijing Raises Interest Rates Again, The Wall Street Journal, 7 July 2011:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303544604576429393824293666.html

[138]            Julia Kollewe, ECB raises interest rates despite debt crisis, The Guardian, 7 July 2011:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/jul/07/ebc-raise-interest-rates-debt-crisis

[139]            Jill Treanor, International banking regulator calls for rates to be raised worldwide, The Guardian, 26 June 2011:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/jun/26/international-banking-regulator-rates

[140]            We’re living in a plutonomy, The Telegraph, 2 April 2006:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/2935809/Were-living-in-a-plutonomy.html

[141]            Robert Frank, Plutonomics, The Wall Street Journal, 8 January 2007:

http://blogs.wsj.com/wealth/2007/01/08/plutonomics/

[142]            Ibid.

[143]            Michael Lind, Is America a plutonomy? Salon, 5 October 2010:

http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/feature/2010/10/05/lind_america_plutonomy

[144]            Gus Lubin, Deutsche Bank Says The ‘Global Plutonomy’ Is Stronger Than Ever, And That Means 10X More Volatility, Business Insider, 17 February 2011:

http://www.businessinsider.com/ajay-kapur-plutonomy-2011-2

[145]            Tom Petruno, ‘The consumer isn’t overleveraged — the middle class is’, Los Angeles Times, 14 August 2009:

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/money_co/2009/08/the-well-heeled-might-be-able-to-save-the-us-economy-from-a-long-period-of-dismal-consumer-spending—-if-only-we-dont.html

[146]            Ibid.

VIDEO: Will China’s Yuan Overtake US Dollar?

US President Barack Obama is hosting China’s President Hu Jintao to discuss their economic co-dependence, currency and trade. Does this mean the US is losing ground to China’s new found success?

 

From Global Depression to Global Governance

From Global Depression to Global Governance
The role of the corporate elites’ secretive global think tanks
Global Research, October 19, 2010

The following is the text of Andrew Gavin Marshall’s presentation at the book launch of The Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the XXI Century”, Michel Chossudovsky and Andrew Gavin Marshall (Editors). September 29, 2010, Montreal, Canada.

We now stand at the edge of the global financial abyss of a ‘Great Global Debt Depression,’ where nations, mired in extreme debt, are beginning to implement ‘fiscal austerity’ measures to reduce their deficits, which will ultimately result in systematic global social genocide, as the middle classes vanish and the social foundations upon which our nations rest are swept away. How did we get here? Who brought us here? Where is this road leading? These are questions I will briefly attempt to answer.

At the heart of the global political economy is the central banking system. Central banks are responsible for printing a nation’s currency and setting interest rates, thus determining the value of the currency. This should no doubt be the prerogative of a national government, however, central banks are of a particularly deceptive nature, in which while being imbued with governmental authority, they are in fact privately owned by the world’s major global banks, and are thus profit-seeking institutions. How do central banks make a profit? The answer is simple: how do all banks make a profit? Interest on debt. Loans are made, interest rates are set, and profits are made. It is a system of debt, imperial economics at its finest.

In the United States, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Federal Reserve Act in 1913, creating the Federal Reserve System, with the Board located in Washington, appointed by the President, but where true power rested in the 12 regional banks, most notably among them, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The regional Fed banks were private banks, owned in shares by the major banks in each region, which elected the board members to represent them, and who would then share power with the Federal Reserve Board in Washington.

In the early 1920s, the Council on Foreign Relations was formed in the United States as the premier foreign policy think tank, dominated by powerful banking interests. In 1930, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) was created to manage German reparations payments, but it also had another role, which was much less known, but much more significant. It was to act as a “coordinator of the operations of central banks around the world.” Essentially, it is the central bank for the world’s central banks, whose operations are kept ‘strictly confidential.’ As historian Carroll Quigley wrote:

“The powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent private meetings and conferences. The apex of the system was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world’s central banks which were themselves private corporations.”

In 1954, the Bilderberg Group was formed as a secretive global think tank, comprising intellectual, financial, corporate, political, military and media elites from Western Europe and North America, with prominent bankers such as David Rockefeller, as well as European royalty, such as the Dutch royal family, who are the largest shareholders in Royal Dutch Shell, whose CEO attends every meeting. This group of roughly 130 elites meets every year in secret to discuss and debate global affairs, and to set general goals and undertake broad agendas at various meetings. The group was initially formed to promote European integration. The 1956 meeting discussed European integration and a common currency. In fact, the current Chairman of the Bilderberg Group told European media last year that the euro was debated at the Bilderberg Group.

In 1973, David Rockefeller, Chairman and CEO of Chase Manhattan Bank, Chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations and a member of the Steering Committee of the Blderberg Group, formed the Trilateral Commission with CFR academic Zbigniew Brzezinski.  That same year, the oil price shocks created a wealth of oil money, which was discussed at that years Bilderberg meeting 5 months prior to the oil shocks, and the money was funneled through western banks, which loaned it to ‘third world’ nations desperately in need of loans to finance industrialization.

When Jimmy Carter became President in 1977, he appointed over two dozen members of the Trilateral Commission into his cabinet, including himself, and of course, Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was his National Security Adviser. In 1979, Carter appointed David Rockefeller’s former aide and friend, Paul Volcker, who had held various positions at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the U.S. Treasury Department, and who also happened to be a member of the Trilateral Commission, as Chairman of the Federal Reserve. When another oil shock took place in 1979, Volcker decided to raise interest rates from 2% in the late 70s, to 18% in the early 80s. The effect this had was that the countries of the developing world suddenly had to pay enormous interest on their loans, and in 1982, Mexico announced it could no longer afford to pay its interest, and it defaulted on its debt, which set off the 1980s debt crisis – collapsing nations in debt across Latin America, Africa and parts of Asia.

It was the IMF and the World Bank came to the ‘assistance’ of the Third World with their ‘structural adjustment programs’, which forced countries seeking assistance to privatize all state owned industries and resources, devalue their currencies, liberalize their economies, dismantle health, education and social services; ultimately resulting in the re-colonization of the ‘Third World’ as Western corporations and banks bought all their assets and resources, and ultimately created the conditions of social genocide, with the spread of mass poverty, and the emergence of corrupt national elites who were subservient to the interests of Western elites. The people in these nations would protest, riot and rebel, and the states would clamp down with the police and military.

In the West, corporations and banks saw rapid, record-breaking profits. This was the era in which the term ‘globalization’ emerged. While profits soared, wages for people in the West did not. Thus, to consume in an economy in which prices were rising, people had to go into debt. This is why this era marked the rise of credit cards fueling consumption, and the middle class became a class based entirely on debt.

In the 1990s, the ‘new world order’ was born, with America ruling the global economy, free trade agreements began integrating regional and global markets for the benefit of global banks and corporations, and speculation dominated the economy.

The global economic crisis arose as a result of decades of global imperialism – known recently as ‘globalization’ – and the reckless growth of– speculation, derivatives and an explosion of debt. As the economic crisis spread, nations of the world, particularly the United States, bailed out the major banks (which should have been made to fail and crumble under their own corruption and greed), and now the West has essentially privatized profits for the banks, and socialized the risk. In other words, the nations bought the debt from the banks, and now the people have to pay for it. The people, however, are immersed in their own personal debt to such degrees that today, the average Canadian is $39,000 in debt, and students are graduating into a jobless market with tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars of student debt that they will never repay. Hence, we are now faced with a global debt crisis.

To manage the economic crisis, the G20 was established as the major international forum for cooperation among the 20 major economies of the world, including the major developing – or emerging – economies, such as India, Brazil, South Africa and China. At the onset of the financial crisis, China and Russia’s central banks began calling for the establishment of a global currency to replace the U.S. dollar as the world reserve currency. This proposal was backed by the UN and the IMF. It should be noted, however, that the Chinese and Russian central banks cooperate with the Western central banks through the Bank for International Settlements – which the President of the European Central Bank, Jean-Claude Trichet, recently said was the principle forum for “governance of central bank cooperation” and that the G20 is “the prime group for global economic governance.” In 2009, the IMF stated that the BIS “is the central and the oldest focal point for coordination of global governance arrangements.” The President of the European Union, appointed to the position after attending a Bilderberg meeting, declared 2009 as the “first year of global governance.” The 2009 Bilderberg meeting reported on the desire to create a global treasury, or global central bank, to manage the world economy. In 2009, prior to the Bilderberg meeting in fact, the G20 set in motion plans to make the IMF a global central bank of sorts, issuing and even printing its own currency – called Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) – which is valued against a basket of currencies. In May of 2010, the IMF Managing Director stated that “crisis is an opportunity,” and while Special Drawing Rights are a step in the right direction, ultimately what is needed is “a new global currency issued by a global central bank, with robust governance and institutional features.” Thus, we see the emergence of a process towards the formation of a global central bank and a global currency, totally unaccountable to any nation or people, and totally controlled by global banking interests.

In 2010, Greece was plunged into a debt crisis, a crisis which is now spreading across Europe, to the U.K. and eventually to Japan and the United States. If we look at Greece, we see the nature of the global debt crisis. The debt is owed to major European and American banks. To pay the interest on the debt, Greece had to get a loan from the European Central Bank and the IMF, which forced the country to impose ‘fiscal austerity’ measures as a condition for the loans, pressuring Greece to commit social genocide. Meanwhile, the major banks of America and Europe speculate against the Greek debt, further plunging the country into economic and social crisis. The loan is granted, to pay the interest, yet simply has the effect of adding to the overall debt, as a new loan is new debt. Thus, Greece is caught in the same debt trap that re-colonized the Third World.

At the recent G20 meeting in Toronto, the major nations of the world agreed to impose fiscal austerity – or in other words, commit social genocide – within their nations, in a veritable global structural adjustment program. So now we will see the beginnings of the Great Global Debt Depression, in which major western and global nations cut social spending, create mass unemployment by dismantling health, education, and social services. Further, state infrastructure – such as roads, bridges, airports, ports, railways, prisons, hospitals, electric transmission lines and water – will be privatized, so that global corporations and banks will own the entirely of national assets. Simultaneously, of course, taxes will be raised dramatically to levels never before seen. The BIS said that interest rates should rise at the same time, meaning that interest payments on debt will dramatically increase at both the national and individual level, forcing governments to turn to the IMF for loans – likely in the form of its new global reserve currency – to simply pay the interest, and will thus be absorbing more debt. Simultaneously, of course, the middle class will in effect have its debts called in, and since the middle class exists only as an illusion, the illusion will vanish.

Already, towns, cities, and states across America are resorting to drastic actions to reduce their debts, such as closing fire stations, scaling back trash collection, turning off street lights, ending bus services and public transportation, cutting back on library hours or closing them altogether, school districts cutting down the school day, week or year. Simultaneously, this is occurring with a dramatic increase in the rate of privatizations or “public-private partnerships” in which even libraries are being privatized.

No wonder then, that this month, the Managing Director of the IMF warned that America and Europe, in the midst of the worst jobs crisis since the Great Depression, face an “explosion of social unrest.” Just yesterday, Europe experienced a wave of mass protests and social unrest in opposition to ‘austerity measures’, with a general strike in Spain involving millions of people, and a march on the EU headquarters in Brussels of nearly 100,000 people. As social unrest spreads, governments will likely react – as we saw in the case of the G20 in Toronto – with oppressive police state measures. Here, we see the true relevance of the emergence of ‘Homeland Security States’, designed not to protect people from terrorists, but to protect the powerful from the people.

So while things have never seemed quite so bleak, there is a dim and growing beacon of hope, in what Zbigniew Brzezinski has termed as the greatest threat to elite interests everywhere – the ‘global political awakening’. The global political awakening is representative of the fact that for the first time in all of human history, mankind is politically awakened and stirring, activated and aware, and that generally – as Zbigniew Brzezinski explains – generally is aware of global inequalities, exploitation, and disrespect. This awakening is largely the result of the information revolution – thus revealing the contradictory nature of the globalization project – as while it globalizes power and oppression, so too does it globalize awareness and opposition. This awakening is the greatest threat to entrenched elite interests everywhere. The awakening, while having taken root in the global south – already long subjected to exploitation and devastation – is now stirring in the west, and will grow as the economy crumbles. As the middle classes realize their consumption was an illusion of wealth, they will seek answers and demand true change, not the Wall Street packaged ‘brand-name’ change of Obama Inc., but true, inspired, and empowering change.

In 1967, Martin Luther King delivered a speech in which he spoke out against the Vietnam War and the American empire, and he stated that, “It seems as if we are on the wrong side of a world revolution.”  So now it seems to me that the time has come for that to change.