Posts Tagged ‘Geithner’

Banking On Banksters

May 19, 2014

I was gloomy as I saw what happened in 2008 and thereafter: the very financiers who had stolen all the money, were given trillions, to replace what they had stolen. It was as inconceivable as the worst horrors of history, but it proceeded.

In exchange the crooks did not even have to recognize they had been wrong. When it dawned on our unworthy leaders that it looked bad, all this giving from the poor to the richest fortunes in the world, they invented something else: easing money creation for top banks, so that they could “reimburse” the Public: that’s called “Quantitative Easing” (or “the Twist”, or…)

It’s a pleasure to now have Paul Krugman seeing the light, six years later, in “Springtime For Bankers”.  Oh, don’t jump for joy, yet. No, Paul is not seeing the light about “Quantitative Easing”, that’s still beyond what he can conceive at this point. But he has finally seen that the exalted status of banking itself is the problem, and, more generally that:

…”economic policy since the onset of the financial crisis has been a dismal failure. It’s true that we avoided a full replay of the Great Depression. But employment has taken more than six years to claw its way back to pre-crisis levels — years when we should have been adding millions of jobs just to keep up with a rising population. Long-term unemployment is still almost three times as high as it was in 2007; young people, often burdened by college debt, face a highly uncertain future.

Now Timothy Geithner, who was Treasury secretary for four of those six years… thinks he did a heckuva job.

He’s not unique in his self-approbation. Policy makers in Europe, where… a number of countries are in fact experiencing Depression-level distress, have even less to boast about. Yet they too are patting themselves on the back.

How can people feel good about track records that are objectively so bad?…

In both Europe and America, economic policy has to a large extent been governed by the implicit slogan “Save the bankers, save the world” — that is, restore confidence in the financial system and prosperity will follow…

Mr. Geithner’s book is devoted to a defense of the U.S. financial bailout, which he sees as a huge success story — which it was, if financial confidence is viewed as an end in itself… But where is the rebound in the real economy? Where are the jobs? Saving Wall Street, it seems, wasn’t nearly enough. Why?

One reason for sluggish recovery is that U.S. policy “pivoted,” far too early, from a focus on jobs to a focus on budget deficits. Mr. Geithner denies that he bears any responsibility for this pivot, declaring “I was not an austerian.” In his version, the administration got all it could in the face of Republican opposition. That doesn’t match independent reporting, which portrays Mr. Geithner ridiculing fiscal stimulus as “sugar” that would yield no long-term benefit.

But fiscal austerity wasn’t the only reason recovery has been so disappointing… there was, arguably, a lot the Obama administration could have done to reduce debt burdens without Congressional approval. But it didn’t; it didn’t even spend funds specifically allocated for that purpose. Why? According to many accounts, the biggest roadblock was Mr. Geithner’s consistent opposition to mortgage debt relief — he was, if you like, all for bailing out banks but against bailing out families…

…leading experts on this subject are the economists Atif Mian and Amir Sufi, whose just-published book “House of Debt” argues very much the contrary. On their blog, Mr. Mian and Mr. Sufi point out that Mr. Geithner’s arithmetic on the issue seems weirdly wrong — order of magnitude wrong — giving much less weight to the role of debt in holding back spending than the consensus of economic research…

In the end, the story of economic policy since 2008 has been that of a remarkable double standard. Bad loans always involve mistakes on both sides — if borrowers were irresponsible, so were the people who lent them money. But when crisis came, bankers were held harmless for their errors while families paid full price.

And refusing to help families in debt, it turns out, wasn’t just unfair; it was bad economics. Wall Street is back, but America isn’t, and the double standard is the main reason.”

Some hold that Timothy Geithner is creep central. This plutocrat got his jobs because of his connections, and is now president of “private equity” (understand: conspiracyplutocratic central) firm Warburg Pincus. Obama was forced to select the 2008 crisis maker Geithner over his spiritual father, the extremely well connected Lawrence Summers, because Summers’ towering reputation as a sexist, derivatives and plutocratic fiend, was so colossal that even the powers that be cringed.

It’s true that, as chief of the New York Fed, Geithner was the prime proximal architect of the 2008 crisis, so hell could not have been in better hands.

Last week, the New York Times censored by comments about “glaciers disintegrating”, probably because the message that the melting would go faster by one order of magnitude than announced, did not go down well.

This time, one deigned to publish me (progress: in the past such a comment on finance would have been censored). Here it is (beefed up):

“Save the bankers, save the world?” It is worse than that. The bankers are who create the money, and they do so, by re-distributing it, to whom, and what, they feel worthy.

The financial crisis 2008 revealed that bankers had lent the money to unprofitable projects, on such a scale that banks went bankrupt.  In the European Union, and the USA.

It’s true some of the money, in the USA, was lent directly to families who could not pay back anymore the debts they had incurred. How did this happen on such a scale? Because those millions of home owners had been tricked into incurring these debts by misrepresenting the payments those people would have to make.

Thus the bankers behaved like gangsters. However, in spite of the colossal misery they caused, none of these gangsters was prosecuted.

Moreover, bankers had also created a lot of money they lent for highly leverage financial derivatives operations that went very wrong (they went wrong, in part because, by all betting that what they thought could not happen would not happen, the bankers made sure that it would happen). An example of this hedging gone wrong is the bankruptcy of American International Group, AIG (that cost nearly 200 billion dollars).

The futility of separating one side of the Atlantic from the other was made blatant by AIG. The specific unit of AIG that leveraged AIG into oblivion was operating from London.

Highly leverage derivatives was another way bankers went wrong. Those derivatives, in particular the financial ones, dwarf the real economy.  This means the banks are financing a virtual economy, not the real one.

The same phenomenon festers in Europe. The money was not lost for everybody, though: the richest have got much richer.

Rogue bankers create money for themselves and their friends. The public is then asked to bring fresh money to refloat the banks that the bankers and their friends just stole. Then innocent entities get accused (subprime mortgage holders, the Euro, etc.)

In New York, one, just one junior trader was prosecuted for the 2008 crash. He was French, of course. In France Jerome Kerviel was condemned to three years in jail (and initially a multi-billion dollar fine), for having, allegedly,  lied to his employer.

It has not struck the corrupt mind of “justice” that it’s a corrupt organization that allows just one man to trade 80 billion dollars. A corrupt organization in a corrupt system.

Kerviel indeed vociferously asserts that there was an extensive conspiracy to protect Societe’ Generale, one of the world’s biggest bank.

Meanwhile American justice pursues criminally some Swiss bankers. Swiss bankers are from a country small enough to eat raw. French bankers are another matter, and American bankers are, naturally untouchable (American banks are made to pay fines… from QE).

The European economy has been ravaged to give as much money to the bankers and their accomplices as what they had just stolen. And this “austerity” is still going on. Tellingly, in Europe, only the far left and far right parties are starting to understand the extent and nature of the theft, and talk about it. No wonder that they will progress in the European elections, because, increasingly, people are starting to understand the truth. Hey, Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman is nearly there!

The bankers have been saved. The world is therefore still at their mercy.  “Save the bankers, save the world” is in truth: ”Save the gangsters, save the world”. This financial plutocracy is there to stay, We The People are left to pray. On our knees.

Patrice Aymé