Saturday, October 11, 2008

World financial crisis: Lesson from Islamic economics

By M. Fahim Khan,

No doubt, riba (interest, usuary) and maysir (gambling, speculative activities similar to gambling) are the major factors leading to the current financial crisis. Islam's prohibition of Riba and Maysir along with Islamic values and morals, and recognizing others' interest in one's economic fortunes, if adhered to, could not have lead the world to the present day financial crisis. Keeping individuals and Society free form financial and economic crises can clearly be seen as one of the objectives of such institutions.

The question, however, is how to do this now? Where to go from where we are now? Even if we can declare that taking and charging of interest in banking operations is prohibited, the question remains; what is the alternative? Current practice of Islamic banking has not provided any convincing alternative. With the Tawarruq made Shari'a compatible, the results can not be expected much different from those of interest based banking system.

Through this forum, I like to draw the attention of all concerned about the need to investigate into the institutional framework of financial system that prevailed in the Islamic societies before they were colonized by the West. The contemporary financial system came into existence when the Muslim societies had already been colonized and their institutions demolished or diluted. The modern financial system developed without taking any lessons from the Muslim civilization.

It is curious to note that almost all branches of modern knowledge admit the contributions of Islamic civilization often referred to "medieval ages" towards their discipline, except science of Economics and Finance which does not recognize any contribution made by Islamic civilization in this field. Even Schumpeter, writing history of economic thought totally ignores the long history of economic successes in the era of Islamic civilization. It was the period when the poverty was non existent. Basic needs of every one were met. No one was "poor" enough to look forward to receive charity. Worldwide famine type situations were intelligently and successfully dealt with. There is no evidence of financial and economic crisis in the long history spread over about 1000 years.

It is now the time that visionary economists and financial gurus look back and investigate into the institutional set in the economy of medieval ages to find solution for the current crisis. Those familiar with the economy of medieval ages do know that its financial system was not a banking-based system. Its system was either market (of goods and services) based system or it was based on Qardh Hasan (benevolent loans, normally understood as charities). Financing needs in the market were met through trade contracts. Sale contracts with deferred payments and sale contracts with advance payments met the financing needs through the market without needing financial intermediation. "Know thy client" is more relevant for market based financial system and hence the issues of adverse selection, moral hazard and transaction cost were minimized. The financing needs that market could not or did not want to meet, were met by the institutions of Qardh Hasan, Zakah and Awqaf promoted by Islamic teachings. The issue of moral hazard, adverse selection and transaction did not occur even in these institutions. The need for developing financial intermediaries never arose despite economic growth and development.

It is not the place to discuss the details of such a system to meet the financing needs of a modern economy. Once the concept is acceptable, the details can be worked out. The point is that market itself is a better place to generate a financial system to suit its own needs. If markets are functioning well and institutions are in place to give support and protection for the market to provide financing as part of the contract of the sale and purchase of goods and services and if there are institutions to meet the social needs not met by market, there will be no need to develop banks to provide a financial system on interest basis. Even now, several businesses large and small, wholesale and retail, are doing the business by providing financing while selling/purchasing goods and services, without letting their customers go through the banking system to get the financing. They do not have to explicitly refer to interest calculations when providing financing for their sales and purchases. Every thing is built-in within the price.

The concept of Forward Sale as give by Islam (known as Bai' Salam) is wonderful guide to develop a market of Futures contract without tempting the traders and producers in the market to go into gambling or gambling type "speculation". (For more detailed discussion on this, see my paper on "Islamic Futures and their Market" published by Islamic Research and Training Institute and is downloadable free from their website). Modern finance does not recognise the financial system prevailing in medieval ages because it did not borrow anything from there. Occasionally, somewhere we may find a reference to forward contracts of the medieval ages. But there is hardly any attempt to understand the nature and economics of those forward contracts in comparison with the forward and future commodity contracts of today. The financial gurus may find a lot in the economic and financial system that was in practice when Islamic civilization was on top of the world.

For drawing lessons from the Islamic financial system as prevalent in the so called medieval ages, what is needed to be done is to reform the market of goods and services in a way that allows the market to develop its own financial instruments to suit the financing needs of the society. Infrastructural institutions are required to be developed to promote and protect the financing provided by the market of goods and services as part of its sales and purchases, rather than promoting and protecting the banking institutions to finance gambling and speculation.

A bank-free but market-based financial system is the key to have crisis-free financial and economic system. The developed world can take lead in introducing market-based financial system and show the way to the developing world too, how to get out of the trap of banking based financial system.

Banking-based financial system has long been losing its credibility in the eyes of financial gurus. To Frederic Mishikin, it is a puzzle, "What makes banks so important?" when there are better and less complicated options available in the market to raise financing (including loans). See his book The Economics of Money, Banking and Financial System.

The World Bank report on Institutions, 2000 identifies two types of financial system. Market based financial system and banking based financial system. Germany has been mentioned to be having a more market based financial system compared to other countries in the West and now, probably, it is Germany which is in a better shape among the G-7, in this time of worst financial crisis.

It is in the interest of both the Islamic economists and conventional economists to look into the Islamic economic system which has been in practice for a very long time. Islamic Civilization gave a lot to the modern world to develop physical and natural sciences. Let us see if there is anything for the science of economics and finance to borrow from there in the interest of the wellbeing of man on earth. I particularly invite those working in the framework of New Institutional Economics (NIE) to take it up as a commitment to their own discipline. Let us think of an economy at least free of commercial banking. To start with, let us see how an economy would shape up if there were no commercial banks and there were no short term borrowing and lending on interest through financial intermediaries.

M. Fahim Khan is the President of Islamic Society for Institutional Economics [www.i-sie.org]

~ TwoCircles.net ~

 

Berlusconi: 'There is talk of suspending the markets'

Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi on Friday cited rumors that stock markets might be suspended in response to the financial meltdown but cautioned that no world leader has been raising that hypothesis.

Earlier, Berlusconi told a news conference in Naples that world leaders might consider such a suspension, but later told reporters that he was actually referring to rumors that he had heard on radio.

"They are rumors that are in the newspapers," the premier was quoted as saying by the Italian news agency Apcom.

"Maybe I made a mistake to say it, but I thought you also knew" it was only a rumor, Berlusconi was quoted as telling the reporters.

The premier told the news conference that EU leaders might hold a summit on the crisis Sunday in Paris and that leaders from the Group of Eight also were considering a summit in the coming days.

The solutions to the crisis will have to be "global and innovative," Berlusconi said. "There is talk of suspending the markets" while international financial rules are "rewritten."

~ more... ~

 

Justice Department scandal almost buried by financial crisis

By Marylou Johanek
 
At any other time, what happened in the U.S. Justice Department last week would have been big news. At any other time, when internal reports by Justice Department call for more investigation into a case of unethical, if not criminal, conduct on the part of lawmakers and the White House, the administration would have a lot of explaining to do.

But the Bush Administration got lucky. As its Treasury and Federal Reserve chiefs warned that the sky was falling and the economic crash and continuing tumult on Wall Street made them seem prophetic, the Justice Department released a nearly 400-page scalding indictment of the administration over the controversial firings of several U.S. attorneys in 2006.

It was an overlooked bombshell in breaking news cycles preoccupied with financial crisis, rescue plans, presidential politics, and a vice presidential debate.

But what the Justice Department's exhaustive investigation and blistering report concluded about the enormous damage done to the department through improper politicization is far more troubling than even Sarah Palin in disjointed attack mode.

Investigators from both the department's Office of Inspector General and Office of Professional Responsibility found that political pressure did indeed drive the dismissal action against at least three of the nine federal prosecutors abruptly fired. At the time, then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales insisted the individuals were all dismissed for inadequate performance, or failure to implement the President's law enforcement agenda.

But it appears the longtime pal and adviser to President Bush was lying through his teeth. Turns out the real reason some of the top federal lawyers were removed from the job, according to the Justice Department report, was that either the U.S. attorneys had the audacity to prosecute Republicans or because they failed to aggressively prosecute Democrats.

Either way, their behavior ticked off well-connected GOP politicians who had come to expect a politically loyal Justice Department. A couple of calls from powerful New Mexico Republican officeholders helped push former U.S. attorney David Iglesias out of a job. Evidently, the top New Mexico prosecutor was remiss in his duty to produce criminal charges against Democrats in the run-up to the 2006 election.

Another U.S. attorney in Missouri lost his post over a petty complaint from Republican Sen. Christopher Bond, and still another was bumped to make room for a protégé of White House political adviser Karl Rove. There was a pervading culture of partisanship/loyalty-above-all-else in the department, recalled one of the fired attorneys.

"Not only were my colleagues and I not insulated from politics — as we should have been in our jobs as prosecutors — but we were fired for the most partisan reasons," Mr. Iglesias said.

But it mattered not to the Machiavellian Bush Administration that justice was compromised with appalling political interference. It operates under the premise that the ends always justify the means.

Look at the pattern.

The administration used fear about nonexistent WMDs as a means to justify the ends of invading Iraq. It outed a CIA operative to punish critics, eliminated civil rights under the misnamed Patriot Act to expand executive authority, crafted energy policy with energy companies to benefit the energy industry, and allowed the subprime mortgage mess to perpetuate to generate obscene wealth for a few.

And now there are official findings of fact about the politically charged dismissals of U.S. attorneys conducted to satisfy a White House agenda. Scandal-weary Americans may be inclined to dismiss yet another administration disgrace, but what happened at the Justice Department is too big a deal to ignore.

We're supposed to be a country that requires "equal justice under the law," not tainted justice under political consideration. But that's what we had under shameless administration zealots like Mr. Rove and Mr. Gonzalez.

The former administration officials allowed the most invaluable assets of the Justice Department — its integrity and independence — to be jeopardized for political ends. They permitted wholesale politicization of the department, as one commentary put it, "by subjecting new hires and sitting U.S. attorneys to rigid ideological litmus tests."

Even though new Attorney General Michael Mukasey has appointed a federal prosecutor to investigate whether criminal laws were violated all the way to the Oval Office, the administration may luck out again. As time runs out on its lamentable tenure, the injustice it perpetrated on a once-venerated institution may go unpunished.

But before the next administration takes over, Americans need firm assurance that the rule of law will be applied fairly by the Justice Department. Never again can there be partisan allegiance required of incoming professionals, or political criteria that outweigh the legal and ethical.

The impartial administration of justice in this nation, its very credibility, was nearly destroyed by the tyrannical ambitions of a few.

How's that for big news almost buried?
 
 

More scare tactics from the Right: The Obama plot

Strategy for forcing political change through orchestrated crisis

First proposed in 1966 and named after Columbia University sociologists Richard Andrew Cloward and Frances Fox Piven, the "Cloward-Piven Strategy" seeks to hasten the fall of capitalism by overloading the government bureaucracy with a flood of impossible demands, thus pushing society into crisis and economic collapse.

Inspired by the August 1965 riots in the black district of Watts in Los Angeles (which erupted after police had used batons to subdue a black man suspected of drunk driving), Cloward and Piven published an article titled "The Weight of the Poor: A Strategy to End Poverty" in the May 2, 1966 issue of The Nation. Following its publication, The Nation sold an unprecedented 30,000 reprints. Activists were abuzz over the so-called "crisis strategy" or "Cloward-Piven Strategy," as it came to be called. Many were eager to put it into effect.

In their 1966 article, Cloward and Piven charged that the ruling classes used welfare to weaken the poor; that by providing a social safety net, the rich doused the fires of rebellion. Poor people can advance only when "the rest of society is afraid of them," Cloward told The New York Times on September 27, 1970. Rather than placating the poor with government hand-outs, wrote Cloward and Piven, activists should work to sabotage and destroy the welfare system; the collapse of the welfare state would ignite a political and financial crisis that would rock the nation; poor people would rise in revolt; only then would "the rest of society" accept their demands.

The key to sparking this rebellion would be to expose the inadequacy of the welfare state. Cloward-Piven's early promoters cited radical organizer
Saul Alinsky as their inspiration. "Make the enemy live up to their (sic) own book of rules," Alinsky wrote in his 1989 book Rules for Radicals. When pressed to honor every word of every law and statute, every Judaeo-Christian moral tenet, and every implicit promise of the liberal social contract, human agencies inevitably fall short. The system's failure to "live up" to its rule book can then be used to discredit it altogether, and to replace the capitalist "rule book" with a socialist one.

The authors noted that the number of Americans subsisting on welfare -- about 8 million, at the time -- probably represented less than half the number who were technically eligible for full benefits. They proposed a "massive drive to recruit the poor onto the welfare rolls." Cloward and Piven calculated that persuading even a fraction of potential welfare recipients to demand their entitlements would bankrupt the system. The result, they predicted, would be "a profound financial and political crisis" that would unleash "powerful forces … for major economic reform at the national level."

Their article called for "cadres of aggressive organizers" to use "demonstrations to create a climate of militancy." Intimidated by threats of black violence, politicians would appeal to the federal government for help. Carefully orchestrated media campaigns, carried out by friendly, leftwing journalists, would float the idea of "a federal program of income redistribution," in the form of a guaranteed living income for all -- working and non-working people alike. Local officials would clutch at this idea like drowning men to a lifeline. They would apply pressure on Washington to implement it. With every major city erupting into chaos, Washington would have to act. This was an example of what are commonly called Trojan Horse movements -- mass movements whose outward purpose seems to be providing material help to the downtrodden, but whose real objective is to draft poor people into service as revolutionary foot soldiers; to mobilize poor people en masse to overwhelm government agencies with a flood of demands beyond the capacity of those agencies to meet. The flood of demands was calculated to break the budget, jam the bureaucratic gears into gridlock, and bring the system crashing down. Fear, turmoil, violence and economic collapse would accompany such a breakdown -- providing perfect conditions for fostering radical change. That was the theory.

Cloward and Piven recruited a militant black organizer named
George Wiley to lead their new movement. In the summer of 1967, Wiley founded the National Welfare Rights Organization (NWRO). His tactics closely followed the recommendations set out in Cloward and Piven's article. His followers invaded welfare offices across the United States -- often violently -- bullying social workers and loudly demanding every penny to which the law "entitled" them. By 1969, NWRO claimed a dues-paying membership of 22,500 families, with 523 chapters across the nation.

Regarding Wiley's tactics, The New York Times commented on September 27, 1970, "There have been sit-ins in legislative chambers, including a United States Senate committee hearing, mass demonstrations of several thousand welfare recipients, school boycotts, picket lines, mounted police, tear gas, arrests - and, on occasion, rock-throwing, smashed glass doors, overturned desks, scattered papers and ripped-out phones."These methods proved effective. "The flooding succeeded beyond Wiley's wildest dreams," writes Sol Stern in the City Journal. "From 1965 to 1974, the number of single-parent households on welfare soared from 4.3 million to 10.8 million, despite mostly flush economic times. By the early 1970s, one person was on the welfare rolls in New York City for every two working in the city's private economy."As a direct result of its massive welfare spending, New York City was forced to declare bankruptcy in 1975. The entire state of New York nearly went down with it. The Cloward-Piven strategy had proved its effectiveness.

The Cloward-Piven strategy depended on surprise. Once society recovered from the initial shock, the backlash began. New York's welfare crisis horrified America, giving rise to a reform movement which culminated in "the end of welfare as we know it" -- the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, which imposed time limits on federal welfare, along with strict eligibility and work requirements. Both Cloward and Piven attended the White House signing of the bill as guests of
President Clinton.

Most Americans to this day have never heard of Cloward and Piven. But New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani attempted to expose them in the late 1990s. As his drive for welfare reform gained momentum, Giuliani accused the militant scholars by name, citing their 1966 manifesto as evidence that they had engaged in deliberate economic sabotage. "This wasn't an accident," Giuliani charged in a 1997 speech. "It wasn't an atmospheric thing, it wasn't supernatural. This is the result of policies and programs designed to have the maximum number of people get on welfare."

Cloward and Piven never again revealed their intentions as candidly as they had in their 1966 article. Even so, their activism in subsequent years continued to rely on the tactic of overloading the system. When the public caught on to their welfare scheme, Cloward and Piven simply moved on, applying pressure to other sectors of the bureaucracy, wherever they detected weakness.


In 1982, partisans of the Cloward-Piven strategy founded a new "voting rights movement," which purported to take up the unfinished work of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Like ACORN, the organization that spear-headed this campaign, the new "voting rights" movement was led by veterans of George Wiley's welfare rights crusade. Its flagship organizations were Project Vote and Human SERVE, both founded in 1982. Project Vote is an ACORN front group, launched by former NWRO organizer and ACORN co-founder Zach Polett. Human SERVE was founded by Richard A. Cloward and Frances Fox Piven, along with a former NWRO organizer named Hulbert James.

All three of these organizations -- ACORN, Project Vote and Human SERVE -- set to work lobbying energetically for the so-called Motor-Voter law, which Bill Clinton ultimately signed in 1993. The Motor-Voter bill is largely responsible for swamping the voter rolls with "dead wood" -- invalid registrations signed in the name of deceased, ineligible or non-existent people -- thus opening the door to the unprecedented levels of voter fraud and "voter disenfranchisement" claims that followed in subsequent elections.

The new "voting rights" coalition combines mass voter registration drives -- typically featuring high levels of fraud -- with systematic intimidation of election officials in the form of frivolous lawsuits, unfounded charges of "racism" and "disenfranchisement," and "direct action" (street protests, violent or otherwise). Just as they swamped America's welfare offices in the 1960s, Cloward-Piven devotees now seek to overwhelm the nation's understaffed and poorly policed electoral system. Their tactics set the stage for the Florida recount crisis of 2000, and have introduced a level of fear, tension and foreboding to U.S. elections heretofore encountered mainly in Third World countries.


Both the Living Wage and Voting Rights movements depend heavily on financial support from George Soros's Open Society Institute and his "Shadow Party," through whose support the Cloward-Piven strategy continues to provide a blueprint for some of the Left's most ambitious campaigns.
America waits with bated breath while Washington struggles to bring the U.S. economy back from the brink of disaster. But many of those same politicians caused the crisis, and if left to their own devices will do so again.

Despite the mass media news blackout, a series of books, talk radio and the blogosphere have managed to expose Barack Obama's connections to his radical mentors -- Weather Underground bombers William Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, Communist Party member Frank Marshall Davis and others. David Horowitz and his Discover the Networks.org have also contributed a wealth of information and have noted Obama's radical connections since the beginning.

Yet, no one to my knowledge has yet connected all the dots between Barack Obama and the Radical Left. When seen together, the influences on Obama's life comprise a who's who of the radical leftist movement, and it becomes painfully apparent that not only is Obama a willing participant in that movement, he has spent most of his adult life deeply immersed in it.

But even this doesn't fully describe the extreme nature of this candidate. He can be tied directly to a malevolent overarching strategy that has motivated many, if not all, of the most destructive radical leftist organizations in the United States since the 1960s.

The Cloward-Piven Strategy of Orchestrated Crisis

In an earlier post, I noted the liberal record of unmitigated legislative disasters, the latest of which is now being played out in the financial markets before our eyes. Before the 1994 Republican takeover, Democrats had sixty years of virtually unbroken power in Congress - with substantial majorities most of the time. Can a group of smart people, studying issue after issue for years on end, with virtually unlimited resources at their command, not come up with a single policy that works? Why are they chronically incapable?

Why?

One of two things must be true. Either the Democrats are unfathomable idiots, who ignorantly pursue ever more destructive policies despite decades of contrary evidence, or they understand the consequences of their actions and relentlessly carry on anyway because they somehow benefit.

I submit to you they understand the consequences. For many it is simply a practical matter of eliciting votes from a targeted constituency at taxpayer expense; we lose a little, they gain a lot, and the politician keeps his job. But for others, the goal is more malevolent - the failure is deliberate. Don't laugh. This method not only has its proponents, it has a name: the Cloward-Piven Strategy. It describes their agenda, tactics, and long-term strategy.

The Strategy was first elucidated in the May 2, 1966 issue of The Nation magazine by a pair of radical socialist Columbia University professors, Richard Andrew Cloward and Frances Fox Piven. David Horowitz summarizes it as:

The strategy of forcing political change through orchestrated crisis. The "Cloward-Piven Strategy" seeks to hasten the fall of capitalism by overloading the government bureaucracy with a flood of impossible demands, thus pushing society into crisis and economic collapse.

Cloward and Piven were inspired by radical organizer [and Hillary Clinton mentor] Saul Alinsky:

"Make the enemy live up to their (sic) own book of rules," Alinsky wrote in his 1989 book Rules for Radicals. When pressed to honor every word of every law and statute, every Judeo-Christian moral tenet, and every implicit promise of the liberal social contract, human agencies inevitably fall short. The system's failure to "live up" to its rule book can then be used to discredit it altogether, and to replace the capitalist "rule book" with a socialist one. (Courtesy Discover the Networks.org)


Newsmax rounds out the picture:

Their strategy to create political, financial, and social chaos that would result in revolution blended Alinsky concepts with their more aggressive efforts at bringing about a change in U.S. government. To achieve their revolutionary change, Cloward and Piven sought to use a cadre of aggressive organizers assisted by friendly news media to force a re-distribution of the nation's wealth.

In their Nation article, Cloward and Piven were specific about the kind of "crisis" they were trying to create:

By crisis, we mean a publicly visible disruption in some institutional sphere. Crisis can occur spontaneously (e.g., riots) or as the intended result of tactics of demonstration and protest which either generate institutional disruption or bring unrecognized disruption to public attention.

No matter where the strategy is implemented, it shares the following features:

  1. The offensive organizes previously unorganized groups eligible for government benefits but not currently receiving all they can.
  2. The offensive seeks to identify new beneficiaries and/or create new benefits.
  3. The overarching aim is always to impose new stresses on target systems, with the ultimate goal of forcing their collapse.

Capitalizing on the racial unrest of the 1960s, Cloward and Piven saw the welfare system as their first target. They enlisted radical black activist George Wiley, who created the National Welfare Reform Organization (NWRO) to implement the strategy. Wiley hired militant foot soldiers to storm welfare offices around the country, violently demanding their "rights." According to a City Journal article by Sol Stern, welfare rolls increased from 4.3 million to 10.8 million by the mid-1970s as a result, and in New York City, where the strategy had been particularly successful, "one person was on the welfare rolls... for every two working in the city's private economy."

According to another City Journal article titled "Compassion Gone Mad":

The movement's impact on New York City was jolting: welfare caseloads, already climbing 12 percent a year in the early sixties, rose by 50 percent during Lindsay's first two years; spending doubled... The city had 150,000 welfare cases in 1960; a decade later it had 1.5 million.

The vast expansion of welfare in New York City that came of the NWRO's Cloward-Piven tactics sent the city into bankruptcy in 1975. Rudy Giuliani cited Cloward and Piven by name as being responsible for "an effort at economic sabotage." He also credited Cloward-Piven with changing the cultural attitude toward welfare from that of a temporary expedient to a lifetime entitlement, an attitude which in-and-of-itself has caused perhaps the greatest damage of all.

Cloward and Piven looked at this strategy as a gold mine of opportunity. Within the newly organized groups, each offensive would find an ample pool of foot soldier recruits willing to advance its radical agenda at little or no pay, and expand its base of reliable voters, legal or otherwise. The radicals' threatening tactics also would accrue an intimidating reputation, providing a wealth of opportunities for extorting monetary and other concessions from the target organizations. In the meantime, successful offensives would create an ever increasing drag on society. As they gleefully observed:

Moreover, this kind of mass influence is cumulative because benefits are continuous. Once eligibility for basic food and rent grants is established, the drain on local resources persists indefinitely.

The next time you drive through one of the many blighted neighborhoods in our cities, or read of the astronomical crime, drug addiction, and out-of-wedlock birth rates, or consider the failed schools, strapped police and fire resources of every major city, remember Cloward and Piven's thrill that "...the drain on local resources persists indefinitely."

ACORN, the new tip of the Cloward-Piven spear

In 1970, one of George Wiley's protégés, Wade Rathke -- like Bill Ayers, a member of the radical Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) -- was sent to found the Arkansas Community Organizations for Reform Now. While NWRO had made a good start, it alone couldn't accomplish the Cloward-Piven goals. Rathke's group broadened the offensive to include a wide array of low income "rights." Shortly thereafter they changed "Arkansas" to "Association of" and ACORN went nationwide.

Today ACORN is involved in a wide array of activities, including housing, voting rights, illegal immigration and other issues. According to ACORN's website: "ACORN is the nation's largest grassroots community organization of low-and moderate-income people with over 400,000 member families organized into more than 1,200 neighborhood chapters in 110 cities across the country," It is perhaps the largest radical group in the U.S. and has been cited for widespread criminal activity on many fronts.

Voting

On voting rights, ACORN and its voter mobilization subsidiary, Project Vote, have been involved nationwide in efforts to grant felons the vote and lobbied heavily for the Motor Voter Act of 1993, a law allowing people to register at motor vehicle departments, schools, libraries and other public places. That law had been sought by Cloward and Piven since the early1980s and they were present, standing behind President Clinton at the signing ceremony.

ACORN's voter rights tactics follow the Cloward-Piven Strategy:

  • 1. Register as many Democrat voters as possible, legal or otherwise and help them vote, multiple times if possible.
  • 2. Overwhelm the system with fraudulent registrations using multiple entries of the same name, names of deceased, random names from the phone book, even contrived names.
  • 3. Make the system difficult to police by lobbying for minimal identification standards.

In this effort, ACORN sets up registration sites all over the country and has been frequently cited for turning in fraudulent registrations, as well as destroying republican applications. In the 2004-2006 election cycles alone, ACORN was accused of widespread voter fraud in 12 states. It may have swung the election for one state governor.

ACORN's website brags: "Since 2004, ACORN has helped more than 1.7 million low- and moderate-income and minority citizens apply to register to vote." Project vote boasts 4 million. I wonder how many of them are dead? For the 2008 cycle, ACORN and Project Vote have pulled out all the stops. Given their furious nationwide effort, it is not inconceivable that this presidential race could be decided by fraudulent votes alone.

Barack Obama ran ACORN's Project Vote in Chicago and his highly successful voter registration drive was credited with getting the disgraced former Senator Carol Moseley-Braun elected. Newsmax reiterates Cloward and Piven's aspirations for ACORN's voter registration efforts:

By advocating massive, no-holds-barred voter registration campaigns, they [Cloward & Piven] sought a Democratic administration in Washington, D.C. that would re-distribute the nation's wealth and lead to a totalitarian socialist state.

Illegal Immigration

As I have written elsewhere, the Radical Left's offensive to promote illegal immigration is "Cloward-Piven on steroids." ACORN is at the forefront of this movement as well, and was a leading organization among a broad coalition of radical groups, including Soros' Open Society Institute, the Service Employees International Union (ACORN founder Wade Rathke also runs a SEIU chapter), and others, that became the Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform. CCIR fortunately failed to gain passage for the 2007 illegal immigrant amnesty bill, but its goals have not changed.

The burden of illegal immigration on our already overstressed welfare system has been widely documented. Some towns in California have even been taken over by illegal immigrant drug cartels. The disease, crime and overcrowding brought by illegal immigrants places a heavy burden on every segment of society and every level of government, threatening to split this country apart at the seams. In the meantime, radical leftist efforts to grant illegal immigrants citizenship guarantee a huge pool of new democrat voters. With little border control, terrorists can also filter in.

Obama aided ACORN as their lead attorney in a successful suit he brought against the Illinois state government to implement the Motor Voter law there. The law had been resisted by Republican Governor Jim Edgars, who feared the law was an opening to widespread vote fraud.

His fears were warranted as the Motor Voter law has since been cited as a major opportunity for vote fraud, especially for illegal immigrants, even terrorists. According to the Wall Street Journal: "After 9/11, the Justice Department found that eight of the 19 hijackers were registered to vote..."

ACORN's dual offensives on voting and illegal immigration are handy complements. Both swell the voter rolls with reliable democrats while assaulting the country ACORN seeks to destroy with overwhelming new problems.

Mortgage Crisis

And now we have the mortgage crisis, which has sent a shock wave through Wall Street and panicked world financial markets like no other since the stock market crash of 1929. But this is a problem created in Washington long ago. It originated with the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), signed into law in 1977 by President Jimmy Carter. The CRA was Carter's answer to a grassroots activist movement started in Chicago, and forced banks to make loans to low income, high risk customers. PhD economist and former Texas Senator Phil Gramm has called it: "a vast extortion scheme against the nation's banks."

ACORN aggressively sought to expand loans to low income groups using the CRA as a whip. Economist Stan Leibowitz wrote in the New York Post:

In the 1980s, groups such as the activists at ACORN began pushing charges of "redlining"-claims that banks discriminated against minorities in mortgage lending. In 1989, sympathetic members of Congress got the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act amended to force banks to collect racial data on mortgage applicants; this allowed various studies to be ginned up that seemed to validate the original accusation.

In fact, minority mortgage applications were rejected more frequently than other applications-but the overwhelming reason wasn't racial discrimination, but simply that minorities tend to have weaker finances.

ACORN showed its colors again in 1991, by taking over the House Banking Committee room for two days to protest efforts to scale back the CRA. Obama represented ACORN in the Buycks-Roberson v. Citibank Fed. Sav. Bank, 1994 suit against redlining. Most significant of all, ACORN was the driving force behind a 1995 regulatory revision pushed through by the Clinton Administration that greatly expanded the CRA and laid the groundwork for the Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac borne financial crisis we now confront. Barack Obama was the attorney representing ACORN in this effort. With this new authority, ACORN used its subsidiary, ACORN Housing, to promote subprime loans more aggressively.

As a New York Post article describes it:

A 1995 strengthening of the Community Reinvestment Act required banks to find ways to provide mortgages to their poorer communities. It also let community activists intervene at yearly bank reviews, shaking the banks down for large pots of money.


Banks that got poor reviews were punished; some saw their merger plans frustrated; others faced direct legal challenges by the Justice Department.

Flexible lending programs expanded even though they had higher default rates than loans with traditional standards. On the Web, you can still find CRA loans available via ACORN with "100 percent financing . . . no credit scores . . . undocumented income . . . even if you don't report it on your tax returns." Credit counseling is required, of course.

Ironically, an enthusiastic Fannie Mae Foundation report singled out one paragon of nondiscriminatory lending, which worked with community activists and followed "the most flexible underwriting criteria permitted." That lender's $1 billion commitment to low-income loans in 1992 had grown to $80 billion by 1999 and $600 billion by early 2003.

The lender they were speaking of was Countrywide, which specialized in subprime lending and had a working relationship with ACORN.


The revisions also allowed for the first time the securitization of CRA-regulated loans containing subprime mortgages. The changes came as radical "housing rights" groups led by ACORN lobbied for such loans. ACORN at the time was represented by a young public-interest lawyer in Chicago by the name of Barack Obama. (Emphasis, mine.)

Since these loans were to be underwritten by the government sponsored Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the implicit government guarantee of those loans absolved lenders, mortgage bundlers and investors of any concern over the obvious risk. As Bloomberg reported: "It is a classic case of socializing the risk while privatizing the profit."

And if you think Washington policy makers cared about ACORN's negative influence, think again. Before this whole mess came down, a Democrat-sponsored bill on the table would have created an "Affordable Housing Trust Fund," granting ACORN access to approximately $500 million in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac revenues with little or no oversight.

Even now, unbelievably -- on the brink of national disaster -- Democrats have insisted ACORN benefit from bailout negotiations! Senator Lindsay Graham reported last night (9/25/08) in an interview with Greta Van Susteren of On the Record that Democrats want 20 percent of the bailout money to go to ACORN!

This entire fiasco represents perhaps the pinnacle of ACORN's efforts to advance the Cloward-Piven Strategy and is a stark demonstration of the power they wield in Washington.

Enter Barack Obama

In attempting to capture the significance of Barack Obama's Radical Left connections and his relation to the Cloward Piven strategy, I constructed following flow chart. It is by no means complete. There are simply too many radical individuals and organizations to include them all here. But these are perhaps the most significant.

Cloward Piven Strategy

The chart puts Barack Obama at the epicenter of an incestuous stew of American radical leftism. Not only are his connections significant, they practically define who he is. Taken together, they constitute a who's who of the American radical left, and guiding all is the Cloward-Piven strategy.

Conspicuous in their absence are any connections at all with any other group, moderate, or even mildly leftist.
They are all radicals, firmly bedded in the anti-American, communist, socialist, radical leftist mesh.

Saul Alinsky

Most people are unaware that Barack Obama received his training in "community organizing" from Saul Alinsky's Industrial Areas Foundation. But he did. In and of itself that marks his heritage and training as that of a radical activist. One really needs go no further. But we have.

Bill Ayers

Obama objects to being associated with SDS bomber Bill Ayers, claiming he is being smeared with "guilt by association." But they worked together at the Woods Fund. The Wall Street Journal added substantially to our knowledge by describing in great detail Obama's work over five years with SDS bomber Bill Ayers on the board of a non-profit, the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, to push a radical agenda on public school children. As Stanley Kurtz states:

"...the issue here isn't guilt by association; it's guilt by participation. As CAC chairman, Mr. Obama was lending moral and financial support to Mr. Ayers and his radical circle. That is a story even if Mr. Ayers had never planted a single bomb 40 years ago."

Also included in the mix is Theresa Heinz Kerry's favorite charity, the Tides Foundation. A partial list of Tides grants tells you all you need to know: ACLU, ACORN, Center for American Progress, Center for Constitutional Rights (a communist front,) CAIR, Earth Justice, Institute for Policy Studies (KGB spy nest), National Lawyers Guild (oldest communist front in U.S.), People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), and practically every other radical group there is. ACORN's Wade Rathke runs a Tides subsidiary, the Tides Center.

Carl Davidson and the New Party

We have heard about Bomber Bill, but we hear little about fellow SDS member Carl Davidson. According to Discover the Networks, Davidson was an early supporter of Barack Obama and a prominent member of Chicago's New Party, a synthesis of CPUSA members, Socialists, ACORN veterans and other radicals. Obama sought and received the New Party's endorsement, and they assisted with his campaign. The New Party also developed a strong relationship with ACORN. As an excellent article on the New Party observes: "Barack Obama knew what he was getting into and remains an ideal New Party candidate."

George Soros

The chart also suggests the reason for George Soros' fervent support of Obama. The President of his Open Society Institute is Aryeh Neier, founder of the radical Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). As mentioned above, three other former SDS members had extensive contact with Obama: Bill Ayers, Carl Davidson and Wade Rathke. Surely Aryeh Neier would have heard from his former colleagues of the promising new politician. More to the point, Neier is firmly committed to supporting the hugely successful radical organization, ACORN, and would be certain back their favored candidate, Barack Obama.

ACORN

Obama has spent a large portion of his professional life working for ACORN or its subsidiaries, representing ACORN as a lawyer on some of its most critical issues, and training ACORN leaders. Stanley Kurtz's excellent National Review article, "Inside Obama's Acorn." also describes Obama's ACORN connection in detail. But I can't improve on Obama's own words:

I've been fighting alongside ACORN on issues you care about my entire career (emphasis added). Even before I was an elected official, when I ran Project Vote voter registration drive in Illinois, ACORN was smack dab in the middle of it, and we appreciate your work. - Barack Obama, Speech to ACORN, November 2007 (Courtesy Newsmax.)

In another excellent article on Obama's ACORN connections, Newsmax asks a nagging question:

It would be telling to know if Obama, during his years at Columbia, had occasion to meet Cloward and study the Cloward-Piven Strategy.

I ask you, is it possible ACORN would train Obama to take leadership positions within ACORN without telling him what he was training for? Is it possible ACORN would put Obama in leadership positions without clueing him into what his purpose was?? Is it possible that this most radical of organizations would put someone in charge of training its trainers, without him knowing what it was he was training them for?

As a community activist for ACORN; as a leadership trainer for ACORN; as a lead organizer for ACORN's Project Vote; as an attorney representing ACORN's successful efforts to impose Motor Voter regulations in Illinois; as ACORN's representative in lobbying for the expansion of high risk housing loans through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that led to the current crisis; as a recipient of their assistance in his political campaigns -- both with money and campaign workers; it is doubtful that he was unaware of ACORN's true goals. It is doubtful he was unaware of the Cloward-Piven Strategy.

Fast-forward to 2005 when an obsequious, servile and scraping Daniel Mudd, CEO of Fannie Mae spoke at the Congressional Black Caucus swearing in ceremony for newly-elected Illinois Senator, Barack Obama. Mudd called, the Congressional Black Caucus "our family" and "the conscience of Fannie Mae."

In 2005, Republicans sought to rein in Fannie and Freddie. Senator John McCain was at the forefront of that effort. But it failed due to an intense lobbying effort put forward by Fannie and Freddie.

In his few years as a U.S. senator, Obama has received campaign contributions of $126,349, from Fannie and Freddie, second only to the $165,400 received by Senator Chris Dodd, who has been getting donations from them since 1988. What makes Obama so special?

His closest advisers are a dirty laundry list of individuals at the heart of the financial crisis: former Fannie Mae CEO Jim Johnson; Former Fannie Mae CEO and former Clinton Budget Director Frank Raines; and billionaire failed Superior Bank of Chicago Board Chair Penny Pritzker.

Johnson had to step down as adviser on Obama's V.P. search after this gem came out:

An Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO) report[1] from September 2004 found that, during Johnson's tenure as CEO, Fannie Mae had improperly deferred $200 million in expenses. This enabled top executives, including Johnson and his successor, Franklin Raines, to receive substantial bonuses in 1998.[2] A 2006 OFHEO report[3] found that Fannie Mae had substantially under-reported Johnson's compensation. Originally reported as $6-7 million, Johnson actually received approximately $21 million.

Obama denies ties to Raines but the Washington Post calls him a member of "Obama's political circle." Raines and Johnson were fined $3 million by the Office of Federal Housing Oversight for their manipulation of Fannie books. The fine is small change however, compared to the $50 million Raines was able to obtain in improper bonuses as a result of juggling the books.

Most significantly, Penny Pritzker, the current Finance Chairperson of Obama's presidential campaign helped develop the complicated investment bundling of subprime securities at the heart of the meltdown. She did so in her position as shareholder and board chair of Superior Bank. The Bank failed in 2001, one of the largest in recent history, wiping out $50 million in uninsured life savings of approximately 1,400 customers. She was named in a RICO class action law suit but doesn't seem to have come out of it too badly.

As a young attorney in the 1990s, Barack Obama represented ACORN in Washington in their successful efforts to expand Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) authority. In addition to making it easier for ACORN groups to force banks into making risky loans, this also paved the way for banks like Superior to package mortgages as investments, and for the Government Sponsored Enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to underwrite them. These changes created the conditions that ultimately lead to the current financial crisis.

Did they not know this would occur? Were these smart people, led by a Harvard graduate, unaware of the Econ 101 concept of moral hazard that would result from the government making implicit guarantees to underwrite private sector financial risk? They should have known that freeing the high-risk mortgage market of risk, calamity was sure to ensue. I think they did.

Barack Obama, the Cloward-Piven candidate, no matter how he describes himself, has been a radical activist for most of his political career. That activism has been in support of organizations and initiatives that at their heart seek to tear the pillars of this nation asunder in order to replace them with their demented socialist vision. Their influence has spread so far and so wide that despite their blatant culpability in the current financial crisis, they are able to manipulate Capital Hill politicians to cut them into $140 billion of the bailout pie!

God grant those few responsible yet remaining in Washington, DC the strength to prevent this massive fraud from occurring. God grant them the courage to stand up in the face of this Marxist tidal wave.

Jim Simpson is a former White House staff economist and budget analyst. His writings have been published in
American Thinker, Washington Times, FrontPage Magazine, DefenseWatch, Soldier of Fortune and others. His blog is Truth and Consequences..

Zimbabwe inflation hits 231,000,000% per year

Even with the credit crunch striking all corners of the globe, few countries are in as dire financial trouble as Zimbabwe.

The country's annual inflation hit a record 231 million per cent and prospects for rescuing the ruined economy dimmed yesterday after the opposition said no progress had been made on forming a power-sharing cabinet.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said he had made compromises on many issues but both sides remained divided on sharing ministries. He was nonetheless still hopeful of eventual agreement.

'We are part of this deal and very confident about this deal. There is nothing wrong with the deal, but in the process of implementing the deal we have reached an impasse, not on the fundamental points of the deal,' he told a news conference.

'It's ridiculous to say the deal has broken down because of this failure to agree on posts. Having a good agreement with a bad guy (Mugabe) is always something else.'

Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, spoke hours after record inflation figures were issued. The yearly inflation figure raced to 231 million percent in July from 11.2 million percent in June.

A loaf of bread which cost 500 Zimbabwean dollars when the central bank redenominated the Zimbabwe dollar on August 1, now goes for at least Z$7,000.

~ more... ~

 

Oil plunges to 13-month low on global slowdown

The stunning collapse in oil markets accelerated Friday, with a barrel plunging below $78 as investors grow more pessimistic about a mushrooming global economic crisis.

A barrel of oil hasn't been this cheap in 13 months - a rare silver lining for consumers amid a rapidly imploding financial landscape.
 
 

Austrian leader Haider killed in crash

Far-right Austrian leader Joerg Haider has died in a road accident at the age of 58.

Police say the governor of Carinthia and leader of Alliance for Austria's Future died after a car accident in Klagenfurt, the capital of his home state.

They say Mr Haider was at the wheel of his official car when it veered off the road for unknown reasons.

He suffered serious injuries to his head and chest and died shortly after the accident.

~ ABC News ~

 

BBC-TV: "Set up to steal it again"

Is 2008 already fixed?



In Detroit, Palast is bounced out of the local McCain headquarters - housed under the black flag (literally) of foreclosure profiteers. We meet Robert Pratt, a union worker, who fears he will lose his home - and his vote.

Are the Republicans turning a economic devastation into an electoral bonanza?

BBC Reporter Palast follows the path of investigation laid out by civil rights attorney Robert F. Kennedy Jr. - encountering along the way the Republican Party lawyers, funders - and Karl Rove. The GOP charges that the Democrats have registered five million fraudulent voters, a claim backed by a recent US government report.

Palast meets the report's author - who claims her words were turned upside down. And they went to court to stop her from speaking out.

Democrats don't have clean hands either, as Palast discloses: from the Acoma Pueblo, we find Natives (almost all Democrats) who've had their ballots illegally junked by local Democrats.

But whichever party attacks the poor, it's McCain that's the winner.

~ more... ~


Beatles performer pays tribute to John Lennon on his birthday

The Beatles tribute band Sun Kings' Drew Harrison performed a heartfelt tribute "Spirit of John Lennon" on acoustic guitar last weekend at the Cafe DuNord nightclub in San Francisco. He played two more solo acoustic guitar tributes to John this week, the week of John's birthday.

He opened up the set with "Help" followed by "Norwegian Wood". He played some difficult songs to play on acoustic such as "Happiness is a Warm Gun" and "Revolution".

~ more... ~

The Beatles' 'Tomorrow Never Knows' by The Sun Kings



http://www.the-sun-kings.com/


Former Governor Jessee Ventura: "The CIA infiltrated state government"

'It's probably the largest volume endocrine-disrupting chemical in commerce'

It takes a lot of nerve to go up against the $3 trillion-a-year global chemical industry.

Ask University of Missouri-Columbia scientists Frederick Vom Saal and Wade Welshons. They've been in the industry's crosshairs for more than a decade, since their experiments turned up the first hard evidence that miniscule amounts of bisphenol A (BPA), an artificial sex hormone and integral component of a vast array of plastic products, caused irreversible changes in the prostates of fetal mice.  

Their findings touched off a steady drumbeat that has led to a ban on BPA-laden baby bottles in Canada, mounting support for a similar ban in the U.S., major retailers pulling plastic products off their shelves, a consumer run on glass baby bottles and a blizzard of scientific reports raising increasingly disturbing questions about the chemical's dangers at the trace levels to which people are routinely exposed.  

But back in early 1997, when the Missouri team produced its pioneering research on low-dose BPA, challenging the chemical-industrial complex seemed quixotic, even risky. Soon after the report appeared, a scientist from Dow Chemical Company, a major BPA manufacturer, showed up at the Missouri lab, disputed the data and declared, as Vom Saal recalls, "We want you to know how distressed we are by your research."  

"It was not a subtle threat," Vom Saal says. "It was really, really clear, and we ended up saying, threatening us is really not a good idea."  

The Missouri scientists redoubled their investigations of BPA and churned out more evidence of low-dose BPA toxicity to the reproductive systems of test animals. Industry officials and scientist allies fired back, sometimes in nose-to-nose debates at scientific gatherings, sometimes more insidiously.  

"I heard [chemical industry officials] were making blatantly false statements about our research," says Welshons. "They were skilled at creating doubt when none existed."  

On at least one occasion, the industry tried to mute Vom Saal's increasingly insistent voice. In 2001, according to three knowledgeable sources, a representative of the American Chemistry Council, the industry trade group, called an official at the Washington-based Society for Women's Health Research (SWHR) to urge that Vom Saal be barred from the dais at an upcoming convocation at Stanford University. Society scientific director Sherry Martz says the industry spokesman objected to Vom Saal's appearance at the prestigious event on grounds that his work was "very controversial, and not everybody believes what he's saying."  

"Our response," says Martz, "was no."

By that time, Vom Saal, Welshons and their Missouri colleagues realized that they had a tiger by the tail. The financial stakes were mind-boggling. The global chemical industry produces about 6 billion pounds of BPA annually, generating at least $6 billion in annual sales. The value of BPA-based manufactured goods, from cell phones and computers to epoxy coatings and dental bindings, is probably incalculable. Though scientists have known since the 1930s that BPA mimics estrogen in the body, for unrelated reasons, the chemical serves as an essential building block of hard, clear polycarbonate plastics and tough epoxy resins, ubiquitous materials in the modern world.  

"It's probably the largest volume endocrine-disrupting chemical in commerce," says Vom Saal. "This stuff is in everything." Because plastics made with BPA break down easily when heated, microwaved, washed with strong detergents or wrapped around acidic foods like tomatoes, trace amounts of the potent hormone leach into food from epoxy lacquer can linings, polycarbonate bottles and other plastic food packaging.  

Environmental Working Group studies have found BPA in more than half the canned foods and beverages sampled from supermarkets across the U.S., in baby bottles

and in the linings of nearly all infant formula cans. "Can you imagine," says Vom Saal, "extracting estrogen out of a packet of birth control pills and making baby bottles out of it? It's an act of insanity."  

But the industry's increasingly noisy denials backfired. Scientists surge toward burning questions the way news crews chase hurricanes. By the turn of the Millennium, dozens of scientists were launching their own investigations of the chemical. Among them was Washington State University reproductive scientist Patricia Hunt, who had become intrigued with BPA because of a laboratory accident. In 1998, she was studying eggs from normal and mutant mice when, she says, "all of a sudden, the control data went completely crazy and the eggs from perfectly normal females were showing us something really bizarre -- stronger abnormalities than we were seeing in the mutants."  

~ more... ~

 

Behind the panic: Financial warfare and the future of global bank power

By F. William Engdahl
 
9 Oct, 2008
 

What's clear from the behavior of European financial markets over the past two weeks is that the dramatic stories of financial meltdown and panic are deliberately being used by certain influential factions in and outside the EU to shape the future face of global banking in the wake of the US sub-prime and Asset-Backed Security (ABS) debacle. The most interesting development in recent days has been the unified and strong position of the German Chancellor, Finance Minister, Bundesbank and coalition Government, all opposing an American-style EU Superfund bank bailout. Meanwhile Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson pursues his Crony Capitalism to the detriment of the nation and benefit of his cronies in the financial world. It's an explosive cocktail that need not have been.

Stock market falls of 7 to 10% a day make for dramatic news headlines and serve to foster a broad sense of unease bordering on panic among ordinary citizens. The events of the last two weeks among EU banks since the dramatic state rescues of Hypo Real Estate, Dexia and Fortis banks, and the announcement by UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling of a radical shift in policy in dealing with troubled UK banks, have begun to reveal the outline of a distinctly different European response to what in effect is a crisis 'Made in USA.'

There is serious ground to believe that US Goldman Sachs ex CEO Henry Paulson, as Treasury Secretary, is not stupid. There is also serious ground to believe that he is actually moving according to a well-thought-out long-term strategy. Events as they are now unfolding in the EU tend to confirm that. As one senior European banker put it to me in private discussion, 'There is an all-out war going on between the United States and the EU to define the future face of European banking.'

In this banker's view, the ongoing attempt of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and France's Nicholas Sarkosy to get an EU common 'fund', with perhaps upwards of $300 billion to rescue troubled banks, would de facto play directly into Paulson and the US establishment's long-term strategy, by in effect weakening the banks and repaying US-originated Asset Backed Securities held by EU banks.

Using panic to centralize power

As I document in my forthcoming book, Power of Money: The Rise and Decline of the American Century, in every major US financial panic since at least the Panic of 1835, the titans of Wall Street—most especially until 1929, the House of JP Morgan—have deliberately triggered bank panics behind the scenes in order to consolidate their grip on US banking. The private banks used the panics to control Washington policy including the exact definition of the private ownership of the new Federal Reserve in 1913, and to consolidate their control over industry such as US Steel, Caterpillar, Westinghouse and the like. They are, in short, old hands at such financial warfare to increase their power.

Now they must do something similar on a global scale to be able to continue to dominate global finance, the heart of the power of the American Century.

That process of using panics to centralize their private power created an extremely powerful, concentration of financial and economic power in a few private hands, the same hands which created the influential US foreign policy think-tank, the New York Council on Foreign Relations in 1919 to guide the ascent of the American Century, as Time founder Henry Luce called it in a pivotal 1941 essay.

It's becoming increasingly obvious that people like Henry Paulson, who by the way was one of the most aggressive practitioners of the ABS revolution on Wall Street before becoming Treasury Secretary, are operating on motives beyond their over-proportional sense of greed. Paulson's own background is interesting in that context. Back in the early 1970's Paulson started his career working for a rather notorious man named John Erlichman, Nixon's ruthless adviser who created the Plumbers' Unit during the Watergate era to silence opponents of the President, and was left by Nixon to 'twist in the wind' for it in prison.

Paulson seems to have learned from his White House mentor. As co-chairman of Goldman Sachs according to a New York Times account, in 1998 he forced out his co-chairman, Jon Corzine 'in what amounted to a coup' according to the Times.

Paulson, and his friends at Citigroup and JP Morgan Chase, had a strategy it is becoming clear, as did the Godfather of Asset Backed Securitization and deregulated banking, former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, as I have detailed in my earlier series here, Financial Tsunami, Parts I-V.

Knowing that at a certain juncture the pyramid of trillions of dollars of dubious sub-prime and other high risk home mortgage-based securities would come falling down, they apparently determined to spread the so-called 'toxic waste' ABS securities as globally as possible, in order to seduce the big global banks of the world, most especially of the EU, into their honey trap.

They had help. In recent testimony under oath by Mr Lynn Turner, Chief Accountant of the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) testified that the SEC Office of Risk Management which had oversight responsibility for the Credit Default Swap market, an exotic market worth nominally some $62 trillions, was cut in Administration 'budget cuts' from a staff of one hundred down to one person. Yes, that was not a typo. That's one as in 'Uno.'

Vermont Democratic Congressman Peter Welsh queried Turner, '... was there a systematic depopulating of the regulatory force so that it was impossible actually for regulation to occur if you have one person in that office? ...and then I understand that 146 people were cut from the enforcement division of the SEC, is that what you also testified to?' Mr. Turner, in Congressional testimony replied, 'Yes…I think there has been a systematic gutting, or whatever you want to call it, of the agency and it's capability through cutting back of staff.'

Was that just ideological budget cutting fervor, or was it deliberate? Was former Goldman Sachs man, the man who convinced the President to hire Paulson, Bush's former Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Joshua Bolten, now the President's Chief of Staff, responsible for insuring there was no effective government oversight on the exploding securitization of mortgage assets?

These are perhaps some questions which the good Congressmen in both parties ought to be asking people like Henry Paulson and Josh Bolten, and not such red herring questions as how large Richard Fuld's bonus pay at Lehman was. Are Mr Bolten's fingerprints on the corpse here? And why is no one questioning the role of Paulson as CEO of Goldman Sachs, then the most aggressive promoter of exotic and other Asset Backed Securitization products on Wall Street?

Why did Henry Paulson single out one Wall Street firm, a bitter rival of his when he was CEO of Goldman Sachs according to market reports, and let it, as his mentor Erlichman was fond of saying, 'to twist in the wind.' It is the Lehman Bros. unwinding and its huge portfolio of Credit Default Swaps which is reportedly leading hedge funds and banks around the globe into panic selloffs.

It now would appear that the Paulson strategy was to use a crisis—a crisis that was pre-programmed and predictable as far back as 2003 when Josh Bolten became head of OMB—when it exploded, to panic the more conservative European Union governments into rushing to the rescue of US toxic waste assets.

Were that to have happened, it would in the process destroy what was left of sound EU banking and financial institutions, bringing the world one step closer to a global money market controlled by Paulson's cronies—US-style Crony Capitalism. Crony Capitalism is certainly appropriate here. Paulson's predecessor at both Goldman Sachs and at Treasury, Robert Rubin, liked to accuse the Asian bankers of Thailand, Indonesia and other lands hit with the speculative attacks of US-financed hedge funds in 1997 of 'crony capitalism,' leaving the impression the crisis was home grown in Asia and not the result of a deliberate executed attack by US-financed financial institutions to eliminate the Asia Tiger model among other goals, and turn Asia into the funder of US debt.

Interesting to note is that Rubin is now a Director of Citigroup, obviously one of Paulson's crony bank 'survivors,' and the bank which to date has had to write off the largest sum in toxic waste securitized assets.

If the allegation of pre-planned panic, a la the Panic of 1907 is accurate, and it is a big if, then the plan worked…up to a point. That point came over the weekend of October 3, coincidentally the national unification holiday of Germany.

Germany breaks with US model

In closed door talks well into the evening of Sunday October 5, Alex Weber the hard-nosed head of the Bundesbank, BaFin head Jochen Sanio and representatives of the Berlin coalition Government of Chancellor Merkel came up with a rescue package for Hypo Real Estate of a nominal €50 billion. However, behind the dramatic headline number, as Weber pointed out in a September 29 letter to Finance Minister Peer Steinbrück that has been made public, not only did the private German banks have to come up with 60% of that figure, the state with 40%. But also, given the careful manner in which the Government in cooperation with the Bundesbank and BaFin, structured the rescue credit agreement, the maximum possible loss, in a worst case scenario, to the state would be limited to €5.7 billion, not €30 billion as many believed. It's still real money but not the blank check for $700 billion that a US Congress under duress and a few days of falling stock market prices agreed to give Paulson.

The swift action by Finance Minister Steinbrück to fire the head of HRE, in stark contrast to Wall Street where the same criminal fraudsters remain at their desks reaping huge bonuses, indicates as well a different approach. But that does not cut to the heart of the issue. The situation of HRE arose as noted previously, from excesses in a wholly-owned daughter bank of HRE subsidiary DEPFA in Ireland, an EU country known for its liberal loose regulation and low tax regime.

A British policy shift

In the UK, after the costly and foolish bailout of Northern Rock earlier in the year, the Government of Prime Minister Gordon Brown has just announced a dramatic change in policy in the direction of Germany's position. Britain's banks will get an unprecedented 50 billion-pound (€64 billion) government lifeline and emergency loans from the Bank of England.

The government will buy preference shares from Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc, Barclays Plc and at least six other banks, and provide about 250 billion pounds of loan guarantees to refinance debt, the Treasury said. The Bank of England will make at least 200 billion pounds available. The plan doesn't specify how much each bank will get.

That means the UK Government will at least partially nationalize its most important international banks, rather than buy their bad loans as under the unworkable Paulson plan. Under such an approach, costs to UK taxpayers once the crisis abates and business returns to more normal conditions, the Government can sell the state shares back to a healthy bank at perhaps a nice profit to the Treasury. The Brown Government has apparently realized that the blanket guarantees it gave to Northern Rock and Bradford & Bingley merely opened the floodgates of government costs without changing the problem.

The new nationalization policy is a dramatic contrast to the Paulson ideological 'free market' approach of buying the worthless bonds held by the select banks Paulson chooses to save, rather than recapitalize those banks to allow them to continue to function.

The battle lines drawn

What has emerged are the outlines of two opposite approaches to the unfolding crisis. The Paulson plan is now clearly part of a project to create three colossal global financial giants—Citigroup, JP MorganChase and, of course, Paulson's own Goldman Sachs, now conveniently enough a bank. Having successfully used fear and panic to wrestle a $700 billion bailout from the US taxpayers, now the big three will try to use their unprecedented muscle to ravage European banks in the years ahead. So long as the world's largest financial credit rating agencies—Moody's and Standard & Poors—are untouched by the scandals and Congressional hearings, the reorganized US financial power of Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and JP Morgan Chase could potentially regroup and advance their global agenda over the coming several years, walking over the ashes of a bankrupt American economy made bankrupt by their follies.

By agreeing on a strategy of nationalizing what EU finance ministers deem are 'EU banks too systemically strategic to fail,' while guaranteeing bank deposits, the largest EU governments, Germany and the UK, in contrast to the US, have opted for what will in the longer run allow European banking giants to withstand the anticipated financial attacks from the likes of Goldman or Citigroup.

The dramatic selloff of stocks across European bourses and across Asia is in reality a secondary and far less critical issue. According to market reports, the selloff is being driven mainly by US hedge funds desperate to raise cash as they realize the US economy is going into economic depression, that they are exposed and that the Paulson Plan does nothing to address that.

A functioning solvent banking and interbank system is far the more strategic issue. The ABS debacle was 'Made in New York.' Nonetheless, its effects have to be isolated and viable EU banks defended in the public interest, not just the interest of Paulson's banking cronies as in the US. Unregulated offshore vehicles such as hedge funds, unregulated banking, unregulated insurance all went into building the $80 trillion ABS Tsunami as I have called it. Certain more conservative EU hands are not about to buy the remedy being offered by Washington.

The coordinated interest rate cut by the ECB and other European central banks while grabbing headlines, in effect do little to address the real problem: banks fear to lend to each other until their solvency is assured.

By initiating state partial nationalizations across the EU, and rejecting the Berlusconi/Sarkozy bailout scheme, the governments of the EU, interestingly enough this time led by the German, are laying a more sound foundation to emerge from the crisis.

Stay tuned, it's far from over. This is a fight for the survival of the American Century which has been bvuilt since 1939 on the twin pillars of American financial dominance and American military dominance—Full Spectrum, Dominance.

Asian banks, badly burned by Wall Street's manipulated 1997-98 Asia Crisis, are apparently very little exposed to the US problem. European banks are exposed in different ways, but none so serious as in the US banking world.

 

F. William Engdahl is author of the book, A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order (Pluto Press Ltd) and Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation (www.globalresearch.ca) He may be contacted through his website, www.engdahl.oilgeopolitics.net.

~ Centre for research on Globalization ~

 

 
 
 
 

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