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Εγχειρίδιο χειρισμού κρίσεων λόγω πολιτικών ΔΝΤ από τη CIA! / Already confirmed: Civil liberties under attack! / Greece's creditors gone completely insane! / How the global financial mafia sucked Greece's blood / ECB's economic hitmen / Η Μέρκελ επιβεβαιώνει τα σχέδια των γραφειοφασιστών! /Greece: the low-noise collapse of an entire country/ How the neoliberal establishment tricked the masses again, this time in France / Ενώ η Γερμανία προετοιμάζεται για τα χειρότερα, η Ελλάδα επιμένει στο ευρώ! / Ένας παγκόσμιος "proxy" πόλεμος κατά της ελευθερίας έχει ξεκινήσει! / McCarthyism 2.0 against the independent information / Ο επικεφαλής του "σκιώδους συμβουλίου" της ΕΚΤ επιβεβαιώνει ότι η ευρωζώνη είναι μια χρηματοπιστωτική δικτατορία! / Venezuela case as an emphatic example of why the mainstream media propaganda in the West was so successful in previous decades / Δημοψήφισμα για Grexit: η τελευταία ευκαιρία να σωθεί η Ελλάδα και η τιμή της Αριστεράς / Populism as the new cliche of the elites to stigmatize anyone not aligned with the establishment / Δεν γίνεται έτσι "σύντροφοι" ... / Panama Papers: When mainstream information wears the anti-establishment mask / The Secret Bank Bailout / The head of the ECB “shadow council” confirms that eurozone is a financial dictatorship! / A documentary by Paul Mason about the financial coup in Greece / The ruthless neo-colonialists of 21st century / First cracks to the establishment by the American people / Clinton emails - The race of the Western neo-colonialist vultures over the Libyan corpse / Επιχείρηση Panama Papers: Το κατεστημένο θέλει το μονοπώλιο και στις διαρροές; / Operation "looting of Greece" reaches final stage / Varoufakis describes how Merkel sacrificed Greece to save the Franco-German banks / France officialy enters the neo-Feudal era! / The US establishment just gave its greatest performance so far ... / A significant revelation by WikiLeaks that the media almost ignored / It's official: the US is funding Middle-East jihadists! / Οι αδίστακτοι νεο-αποικιοκράτες του 21ου αιώνα / How to handle political unrest caused by IMF policies! / Πώς το νεοφιλελεύθερο κατεστημένο ξεγέλασε τις μάζες, αυτή τη φορά στη Γαλλία / Οι Γάλλοι νεοαποικιοκράτες επιστρέφουν στην Ελλάδα υπό 'ιδανικές' συνθήκες

26 September, 2017

First reactions for the German election results as a perfect example of how the establishment exploits the rise of the far-right

by system failure

First reactions for the results of the recent German elections showed how masterfully the neoliberal regime in Germany and Europe exploits the rise of the far-right.


We do not underestimate the dangerous rise of the far-right in Germany (and elsewhere), yet it would be useful to identify the main purpose behind the alarming headlines in most of the mainstream media about this fact around Europe.

The vast majority of the mainstream media (and even independent media), focused on the dangerous rise of the Alternative for Germany (AfD), the right-wing populist and eurosceptic political party in Germany. Indeed, the rise is really impressive and cannot be underestimated considering that in previous elections AfD had gained zero seats with only 4.7%.

However, this is a perfect opportunity for the neoliberal establishment to exploit such a terrifying rise of the far-right at least in two ways:

  • First, the far-right scary monster will be used to disorientate public from what is about to become the new establishment: a neofeudal federal Europe under the tight scrutiny of the Brussels-Berlin axis, dominated by banks and corporations where labor rights, welfare state, social justice, civil liberties will become memories of the past. All in the name of growth, competition and security. We've already seen Angela Merkel essentially announcing the end of the welfare state even inside Germany.

  • Second, the far-right will be used by the neoliberal regime as a political weapon to launch a fierce counterattack against all who dare to criticize its brutally-imposed policies. From now on, anyone who will dare to protest against the neoliberal barbarism, not aligned with the establishment's new conditions based on the Greek experiment, will be considered responsible for 'feeding' the far-right. We've seen something similar in the latest US elections where the mainstream propaganda painted real progressives, who supported Bernie Sanders against Hillary Clinton, as being one of the main reasons for the rise of Donald Trump in power.

Indeed, some real progressives, coming from what the establishment calls 'far-left', even from various independent media, have already been dragged into this political trap. Some spoke about nightmares of the past, claiming that the political scenery in Germany right now dangerously resembles the situation in pre-WWII Germany.

It seems that the establishment mechanisms have studied thoroughly the 'psycho-synthesis' of modern left and therefore, know how to play the game. The worst nightmare of today's progressives, is to be accused of fueling the fire of the far-right across Europe. Inevitably, they were immediately aligned behind the headlines of the mainstream media, and therefore, didn't dare to mention what another term of a coalition government under Angela Merkel leadership would really mean for Germany and Europe.

Well, here is the ugly truth: Merkel is very close to implement all the neofeudal conditions in favor of the elites. As the experiment in Greece is almost completed, she will have all the time to implement it throughout Europe and even inside Germany. Then, her party will suffer an unprecedented defeat and she will leave because simply, her real mission will have been accomplished. And then, the new oligarchs of Europe will unleash the blood-thirsty dogs of the far-right as one of their most useful tools, in order to suppress any popular resistance.

Historically, in times of social upheaval, the big capital always uses the forces of the far-right to maintain its power and dominance over the majority. The left, once again, didn't dare to confront directly the establishment. The leftist political leaderships in Europe should realize at last that, as long as they don't dare to lead a real fight against the neoliberal regime, more and more impoverished citizens will be attracted by the far-right.

And when the far-right monster will become significantly strong, it will be extremely difficult to be confronted ...

France’s counterterrorism bill normalizes Police State

France’s draft counterterrorism bill is now in its final stretch before becoming law. The fast-tracked bill is widely expected to pass a vote in an extraordinary session of the National Assembly on October 3 – despite concerns that it encroaches on people’s rights.

The bill doesn’t prolong France’s two-year-long state of emergency, which will formally be over when it becomes law.

What it does is rather more unsettling. It takes elements of emergency practices – intrusive search powers, restrictions on individuals that have bordered on house arrest, closure of places of worship – that have been used abusively since November 2015, and makes them normal criminal and administrative practice. It does all this in a way that weakens the judiciary’s control over and ability to check against abuse in the way the new counterterrorism powers are used by prefects, the Interior Ministry’s appointed delegates in each region.

In July, the Senate approved important improvements to the bill: a sunset clause for the powers to stop existing in 2020, a requirement for annual reporting on their use to parliament, and technical changes mitigating the worst excesses of each proposed power.

But the current version of the bill, after the debate in France’s lower house, undoes many of these changes.

It re-inserts vague language allowing prefects to order a mosque closure on ill-defined grounds and sets out a harsher punishment if the mosque isn’t closed. People whose liberty is restricted to a specific area by a prefect’s order on national security grounds must report more frequently to police stations. Also, these orders can last much longer.

A prefect can order an area to be locked down for increased searches for up to a month – without an imminent threat. And it expands the areas within which police can search people without a warrant to a 20-kilometer radius of ports, airports, and international train stations – all this in a country where police have all too often engaged in ethnic profiling during such stops.

One analysis estimates that such extended powers could cover 28.6 percent of French territory and 67 percent of its population.

To some, these may seem like arcane technicalities or a small price to pay for the hope of greater security. But everyone in France should be worried about their rights when the executive branch of government rushes laws through without proper legislative scrutiny, to give itself greater powers without effective judicial control.

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Ξεπούλημα νερών: Όταν το Σίτι βγαίνει στον Τσίπρα από αριστερά

του Λεωνίδα Βατικιώτη

Όταν οι άλλοι γύριζαν ο Αλέξης και οι ΣΥΡΙΖΑίοι πήγαιναν… Όταν στην Μέκκα του νεοφιλελευθερισμού, τη βρετανική πρωτεύουσα λένε «ως εδώ» και «δεν πάει άλλο» με την ιδιωτικοποίηση του νερού, η κυβέρνηση ετοιμάζεται να ιδιωτικοποιήσει την ΕΥΔΑΠ και την ΕΥΑΘ και ο Τσίπρας, όπως και εκατοντάδες άλλοι ΣΥΡΙΖΑίοι, που έχτισαν πολιτική καριέρα ως λαθρεπιβάτες του κινήματος κατά του ξεπουλήματος των νερών, τώρα υποδέχεται εν χορδαίς και οργάνοις τον Μακρόν, συνοδευόμενο από στελέχη της Suez και της EDF, οι οποίοι ετοιμάζονται να εξαγοράσουν τις ελληνικές εταιρείες ύδατος.

Τα αλλεπάλληλα ρεπορτάζ των Financial Times για την ιδιωτικοποίηση που επιβλήθηκε το 1989 επί Θάτσερ σε Αγγλία και Ουαλία ήταν καταιγιστικά: «28 χρόνια μετά, τα αποτελέσματα από το πείραμα είναι ξεκάθαρα. Έχει αποτύχει», έγραφαν σε ανάλυση με τίτλο «Το καθεστώς του νερού κραυγάζει για αλλαγή».

Οι αιτίες που επιβεβαιώνουν την αποτυχία (για την κοινωνία) της ιδιωτικοποίησης των νερών είναι πολλές: Οι τιμές έχουν αυξηθεί ταχύτερα από τον πληθωρισμό κατά 40%, ενώ, σύμφωνα με το Πανεπιστήμιο του Γκρίνουιτς που εξειδικεύεται σε έρευνες κατά των ιδιωτικοποιήσεων, αν τα νερά ήταν ακόμη δημόσια οι καταναλωτές θα πλήρωναν 500 λίρες ετησίως λιγότερες στους λογαριασμούς τους.

Η μεγαλύτερη από τις ιδιωτικές εταιρείες η Thames Water μόλυνε τον Τάμεση ρίχνοντας στο ποτάμι (κρατηθείτε!) …4,2 δισ. λίτρα ακάθαρτων υδάτων! Μια άλλη, η Wakefield τα έριξε σε λίμνη, άλλη σε ποτάμι, κοκ. Εξαγγέλλονται θηριώδη έργα ύψους 4,2 δισ. λιρών αμφίβολης όμως αξίας που κάνουν τους περιβαλλοντολόγους – επιστήμονες να τραβούν τα μαλλιά τους. Το δε χρέος και των 9 ιδιωτικών εταιρειών φτάνει τα 42 δισ. λίρες, όταν τη στιγμή της ιδιωτικοποίησης δεν υπήρχε ούτε μισή λίρα χρέους. Κι όσο για τη ρυθμιστική αρχή, που με βάση το επίσημο παραμύθι θα επιβάλλει τον ανταγωνισμό, τιθασεύοντας υποτίθεται τις αχαλίνωτες δυνάμεις της αγοράς; Γράφει η εφημερίδα του Σίτι με την απαράμιλλη ειρωνεία της, ξεπερνώντας από τα αριστερά ακόμη και την Αυγή: «Είναι δύσκολο να αποφύγεις το συμπέρασμα ότι είναι πιο επικεντρωμένη στο να κρατάει τον κλάδο ευτυχή παρά τους καταναλωτές»…

Μπορεί όμως Άγγλοι και Ουαλοί να έχουν πει το νερό νεράκι (όπως θα γίνει και στην Ελλάδα αν αφεθεί ο ΣΥΡΙΖΑ να εφαρμόσει τα σχέδια του) κάποιοι ωστόσο κερδίζουν δισ.! Είναι οι εταιρείες ιδιωτικού κεφαλαίου (private equity), υπεράκτιες κατά βάση, που έχουν αγοράσει τις 6 από τις 9 εταιρείες ύδατος, βγάζοντας τις από το χρηματιστήριο, με ένα και μοναδικό σκοπό: Εντελώς ιδιωτικά να νέμονται τα κέρδη τους. Συγκεκριμένα τα 18,1 δις. λίρες από τα 18,8 δις. κερδών, που διανεμήθηκαν ως μερίσματα. Κι όσο για τους διευθύνοντες συμβούλους τους; Οι αμοιβές τους αρχίζουν από 1,2 εκ. ετησίως και φτάνουν τα 2,8 εκ.! Να ποιοί ωφελούνται από τις ιδιωτικοποιήσεις… Και μαζί ορισμένοι παρακεντέδες πολιτικοί και δημοσιογράφοι που θα βρουν νέα πηγή ρευστού για να χτίσουν τις επόμενες πολιτικές καριέρες…

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Σχετικά:

US airstrikes in Syria have killed 2,617 civilians

While the official Pentagon reports on civilian deaths claim far fewer deaths, NGOs have been consistently documenting a massive number of civilian bystanders killed in America’s air war in Iraq and Syria.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights put the total at 2,617 civilians killed in US-led strikes just in Syria. This included 615 children and 443 women. It also doesn’t include the much larger tolls believed to have been inflicted in Iraq.

The Pentagon has put the overall toll closer to 700 civilians killed across both countries, and they also reckon a large majority in Iraq. Within Syria, the largest number of civilians were killed in Raqqa, but it also includes civilians slain in Manbij, as well as elsewhere around the country.

Despite the US struggles with providing anything resembling accurate death tolls for their airstrikes, both the Syrian Observatory and Airwars have proven quite successful at offering estimates that are seen as closely in-line with what’s been reported by the media and by civilians on the ground.

The Pentagon, by contrast, tends to operate on wishful thinking, insisting any really large tolls are “not credible” and excluding them from the reports, despite many of those having substantial evidence of having occurred.

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Dozens of civilians killed when US bombed a school and a market in Syria

U.S. military aircraft bombed a school and a crowded marketplace in attacks that killed dozens of civilians in Syria this March, according to a new report from Human Rights Watch. The report, titled “All Feasible Precautions?: Civilian Casualties in Anti-ISIS Coalition Airstrikes in Syria,” investigated two airstrikes conducted in and around the northern Syrian city of Tabqa. Investigators who visited the sites and interviewed locals and survivors found that the strikes had caused huge numbers of civilian deaths. The documentation adds to a drumbeat of criticism about a U.S. air campaign in Syria that has already been accused of inflicting massive civilian casualties in support of ground operations against Islamic State by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.

The attacks documented in the report include a March 20 airstrike that targeted a school housing displaced people in the suburban town of Mansourah, outside of Tabqa, as well as another strike that hit a packed marketplace in Tabqa City two days later. Investigators from Human Rights Watch visited the sites of both attacks this July and collected the names of at least 84 civilians who had died in the bombings, including 30 children. While witnesses who spoke to investigators acknowledged that ISIS members, along with their families, had been around the areas of the bombings, they also said many civilians were nearby who had no connection to the group.

In the case of the March 22 marketplace bombing, huge numbers of people who had been lining up to buy bread at a local bakery were killed by an airstrike in an attack that may have been targeting a few ISIS members sitting in a nearby internet cafe. While the U.S.-led coalition has acknowledged carrying out the March 20 attack against the school, which it claimed had targeted a suspected weapons storage facility, it has said that it is still assessing the circumstances surrounding the marketplace bombing.

Full report:

Η Μέρκελ είναι η «σοβαρή ακροδεξιά» της Γερμανίας

του Άρη Χατζηστεφάνου

Με υποσχέσεις να υιοθετήσουν ακόμη περισσότερα στοιχεία από την ακροδεξιά ρητορική του κόμματος Εναλλακτική για τη Γερμανία AfD, απαντά το γερμανικό πολιτικό κατεστημένο στην εκτίναξη της ακροδεξιάς στην τρίτη θέση (δεύτερη στις περιοχές της πρώην Ανατολικής Γερμανίας).

Ήταν όμως ακριβώς αυτή η μετατόπιση ολόκληρου του πολιτικού φάσματος της Γερμανίας προς τα δεξιά που επέτρεψε στο AfD να σημειώσει τέτοια επιτυχία. Καθώς η ακροδεξιά παράταξη υποσχόταν να σταματήσει τις ροές προσφύγων και μεταναστών και να αυξήσει την αστυνομοκρατία, τα κυρίαρχα κόμματα του κέντρου και της δεξιάς προσπαθούσαν να πλειοδοτήσουν με ακόμη πιο αντιδραστικές προτάσεις. Με τον τρόπο αυτό χάρισαν την προεκλογική ατζέντα στους νεοφασίστες.

Η άνοδος του AfD είναι επίσης άρρηκτα συνδεδεμένη με την εκλογική ταπείνωση των σοσιαλδημοκρατών (SPD). Ο Γερμανικός λαός δεν ξεχνά το πάγωμα μισθών και συντάξεων που ξεκίνησε στα χρόνια του Γκέρχαρντ Σρέντερ και το οποίο συνεχίστηκε, με μικρές εξαιρέσεις, επί Μέρκελ με την ανοχή του (SPD). Η πολιτική αυτή έδωσε στη Γερμανία τεράστια εμπορικά πλεονάσματα (που λόγω της ευρωζώνης μετατράπηκαν σε ελλείμματα και συσσωρευμένα χρέη για τις υπόλοιπες χώρες) και προσέφερε αμύθητα πλούτη κυρίως στον εξαγωγικό τομέα της χώρας. Στο εσωτερικό όμως ουσιαστικά άλλαξε δραστικά την ισορροπία κεφαλαίου/εργασίας, σε βάρος του δεύτερου.

Τα γερμανικά συνδικάτα φέρουν τεράστιο μερίδιο ευθύνης αφού δέχθηκαν το νέο καθεστώς με αντάλλαγμα τη διατήρηση των θέσεων εργασίας. Αυτό που τελικά πέτυχαν ήταν η δημιουργία ελαστικών σχέσεων εργασίας και των περίφημων mini jobs που οδήγησαν σε σχετική φτωχοποίηση μεγάλα τμήματα του πληθυσμού. Οι οικονομικές ελίτ της Γερμανίας δηλαδή πάτησαν στο λαιμό τις υπόλοιπες χώρες της Ευρώπης, αυξάνοντας με αθέμιτα μέσα την ανταγωνιστικότητά τους, χωρίς να δώσουν παρά ελάχιστα ψίχουλα στους δικούς τους εργαζόμενους.

Για άλλη μια φορά λοιπόν η άνοδος της άκρας δεξιάς συνδέεται άμεσα με την οικονομική κρίση και όχι με κάποιου είδους γενετική προδιάθεση των Γερμανών, όπως θα σπεύσουν να υποστηρίξουν ορισμένοι. Άλλωστε πρόσφατες έρευνες έδειξαν ότι το 60% όσων δήλωναν ότι θα ψηφίσουν το AfD δεν υιοθετούσε τις θέσεις του αλλά ζητούσε ένα μέσο έκφρασης δυσαρέσκειας. Τα ηγετικά στελέχη του ακροδεξιού κόμματος διατηρούν ακόμη τα χαμηλότερα ποσοστά δημοτικότητας (12%) μεταξύ των σημαντικότερων πολιτικών σχηματισμών της χώρας.

H κεντροαριστερά, ως συνυπεύθυνη της κρίσης και η αριστερά η οποία δεν τόλμησε να προτείνει ριζοσπαστικές λύσεις που θα αμφισβητούσαν τη δομή του συστήματος, ήταν αναμενόμενο να καταποντιστούν σε αυτή την αντιπαράθεση.

Η κυρίαρχη πολιτική αντιπαράθεση κατέληξε για άλλη μια φορά σε ένα αγώνα δρόμου για το ποιος θα υιοθετήσει περισσότερες ακροδεξιές θέσεις αναζητώντας αποδιοπομπαίους τράγους σε μια κρίση, οι υπεύθυνοι της οποίας, βρίσκονταν πάντα μπροστά στα μάτια μας. Η Μέρκελ κέρδισε έστω και με δυσκολία αυτή τη μάχη. Και τώρα θα εκπληρώσει την υπόσχεσή της να γίνει η «σοβαρή ακροδεξιά» της Γερμανίας.

Πηγή:

Η κωμικοτραγική επιστροφή της Κλίντον και των νεοσυντηρητικών

Άρης Χατζηστεφάνου

Κωμική, αν δεν ήταν άκρως επικίνδυνη, θα ήταν η προσπάθεια της Χίλαρι Κλίντον και των νεοσυντηρητικών που την περιστοιχίζουν να κλιμακώσουν την αντιπαράθεση με τη Ρωσία, με αφορμή και την κυκλοφορία του νέου βιβλίου της υποψήφιας των Δημοκρατικών. Το βιβλίο συγκέντρωνε τόσα αρνητικά σχόλια αναγνωστών ώστε η Amazon παρενέβη στη σελίδα ηλεκτρονικής πώλησης διαγράφοντας όλα τα μηνύματα που δεν ήταν εγκωμιαστικά για την Κλίντον.

Ακολούθησε η κυκλοφορία ενός φαιδρού βίντεο από την νεοσυντηρητική «Επιτροπή για τη Διερεύνηση της Ρωσίας» στο οποίο ο ηθοποιός Μόργκαν Φρίμαν, υποστήριζε ότι η Ρωσία έχει κηρύξει πόλεμο στις ΗΠΑ, οι οποίες θα πρέπει να ηγηθούν του «ελεύθερου κόσμου» σε αυτή τη μάχη.

Και η εβδομάδα έκλεισε με τον ιδρυτή του Facebook, Μαρκ Ζούκερμπεργκ, να απευθύνεται στο αμερικανικό έθνος λέγοντας ότι θα συνεργαστεί με τις αμερικανικές αρχές ασφαλείας και το κογκρέσο παρέχοντας πληροφορίες για τις ενέργειες Ρώσων χρηστών του δημοφιλούς μέσου κοινωνικής δικτύωσης.

Πηγή:

Greece could leave the EU: why the Grexit option deserves consideration

With the Greek psyche itself the victim of a relentless shaming campaign, the idea of Greece “going it alone” begins to seem outlandish and quixotic. It is not. But it is as much tied to a revival of spirit and self-esteem as to the nuts and bolts of economic transformation.

by Michael Nevradakis

Part 2 - Fostering fear and lies

Throughout the crisis, the austerity measures that have been imposed on Greece, the arguments in favor of the necessity of remaining “in Europe,” the mythos surrounding the “European dream,” and the horror that would result from “Grexit” have been propped up by a series of lies and scare tactics that have been repeatedly propagated by politicians and media outlets alike.

This has fostered a form of learned helplessness in Greece, a belief that the country is incapable of surviving outside the eurozone and EU and therefore must remain, even if the preconditions for doing so are harsh.

One such myth pertains to the idea that Greece “doesn’t produce anything” and is therefore reliant on imports. These imports must, of course, be paid for with hard currency; therefore, the conventional line of thinking suggests that Greece would be unable to import vital necessities with its own “soft” currency.

Case in point: a 2012 Eurobarometer survey found that 94 percent of Greeks were concerned about national food security, the highest level in the EU. In addition, Greece was the only EU member-state where a majority (61 percent) expressed concern with national food production. Moreover, 79 percent of Greeks expressed the belief that Greece does not produce enough food to meet domestic needs. Again, this was the highest percentage recorded in the EU.

The claim that Greece doesn’t produce anything and is not nutritionally self-sufficient is constantly repeated by the media and used to justify remaining in the common market, but is it true? As of 2010, the most recent year for which complete statistics seem to be available, Greece met, exceeded, or came close to meeting domestic demand for staples such as eggs, meat and milk derived from sheep and goats, olive oil, several crops (including oranges, peaches, tomatoes, cucumbers, apricots, potatoes, and grapes), honey, whole grains, and poultry.

Furthermore, according to data from 2012, Greece is second worldwide in the production of sheep’s milk, third in olive and olive oil production, fourth in the production of pears, fifth in the production of peaches and nectarines, sixth in pistachio production, and in the top ten in goat’s milk, chestnuts, cantaloupes, cherries, and cotton. It is also just outside the top ten in the production of almonds, cottonseed, asparagus, figs, and other legumes. Greece is third in the world in the production of saffron and sixteenth in the world in the production of cheese products.

Outside of food production, Greece is a strong producer of such resources as aluminum and bauxite (first in Europe), magnesium (meeting 46 percent of Western Europe’s production), second in the world behind the United States in the production of smectite clay, and is the only European country with significant nickel deposits. Greece is also a significant producer of laterite and marble, as well as steel and cement.

Outside of production, Greece possesses one of the world’s largest shipping fleets, ranking second worldwide in total tonnage, while the Greek flag fleet and merchant fleet rank second in the EU and seventh globally. In addition, Greece is fourteenth in the world in tourist arrivals (but twenty-third in tourist revenue).

It is these three sectors — agriculture, shipping, and tourism — that have traditionally sustained the Greek economy, alongside domestic small businesses, which themselves have suffered during the crisis under the weight of decreased spending and increased taxation. Prior to the euro, the agricultural, shipping, and tourism sectors provided Greece with the hard currency with which it financed imports.

Indeed, it is membership in the EU that has led to a sharp decline in the domestic production of numerous staples in Greece. In 1961, twenty years before joining the EU, “impoverished” Greece produced 169,200 tons of figs, 6,374 tons of sesame, 52,000 tons of dry beans, 13,365 tons of chickpeas, and 19,246 tons of quince. In 2011, the respective figures were 9,400 tons of figs, 33 tons of sesame, 22,744 tons of dry beans, 2,200 tons of chickpeas, and 3,432 tons of quince.

In 1981, the year Greece joined the EU, production of fresh vegetables was at 123,298 tons, lemon production was at 216,874 tons, apple production was at 337,091 tons, almond production at 73,181 tons, tobacco production at 130,900 tons, tomato production at 1,884,600 tons, and potato production at 1,056,000 tons.

Thirty years later, the figures for each of these crops had sharply declined: 74,393 tons of fresh vegetables, 70,314 tons of lemons, 255,800 tons of apples, 29,800 tons of almonds, 20,287 tons of tobacco, 1,169,900 tons of tomatoes, and 757,820 tons of potatoes.

A major factor in this decline is the EU’s common agricultural policy, which sets production quotas for each country and each sector of production, and dictates to each country what to produce and which crop varieties to cultivate, what not to produce, where to export, where not to export, how much to export and at what price.

For example, until 2005 Greece’s sugar production sector was profitable and met a large part of domestic demand. In a 2006 deal with the EU, however, Greece agreed to reduce its domestic sugar production and increase imports. In 1980, the year before Greece ascended to the EU, pork meat production met 84 percent of domestic needs, while beef production met 66 percent of domestic demand. Those figures have declined to 38 and 13 percent, respectively.

The decline in beef production has also impacted the dairy sector. The EU’s influence is evident here as well: in 2000, Greece was fined 2.5 billion drachmas (over 7.3 million euros) for exceeding EU-imposed quotas for the production of cow’s milk.

And yet the myth persists: Greece “cannot survive” outside of the eurozone and EU. And while the lack of production—whether imagined or real—is one of the main arguments used by proponents of remaining in the EU, the lies do not stop there.

Source, links:


[1]

Η Αριστερά και η Βενεζουέλα

του Κλάουντιο Κατς

Μέρος 6ο - Τα αιτήματα της «κριτικής Αριστεράς»

Η σοσιαλδημοκρατική άποψη αποτελεί το χαρακτηριστικό γνώρισμα της επείγουσας έκκλησης για ειρήνευση που υπέγραψαν πολλοί [Λατινοαμερικανοί, Ευρωπαίοι και Αμερικανοί, σ.τ.μ.] διανοούμενοι [με τίτλο “An urgent international call to stop the escalation of violence in Venezuela” -- «Επείγουσα διεθνής έκκληση για να σταματήσει η κλιμάκωση της βίας στη Βενεζουέλα», σ.τ.μ.]. Οι υπογράφοντες υποστηρίζουν μια διαδικασία ειρήνευσης, απορρίπτοντας τόσο την αυταρχική στροφή του τσαβισμού όσο και τη βίαιη στάση των δεξιών ομάδων.

Μιλούν για ισορροπία ώστε να ξεπεραστεί η πόλωση και χρησιμοποιούν μια γλώσσα πιο κοντινή σ’ αυτή των ξένων υπουργείων παρά σ’ αυτή των λαϊκών αγωνιστών. Ο τόνος της έκκλησης υποδεικνύει, εμμέσως, τη συμμόρφωση με τη θεωρία των δύο κακών. Προτείνει τη μέση οδό, εναντίον και των δύο άκρων. Όμως, αυτές οι ίσες αποστάσεις αναιρούνται ευθύς αμέσως λόγω της θεμελιώδους ευθύνης που καταλογίζει στην κυβέρνηση. Και δεν παραβλέπει απλώς τη δράση της Δεξιάς, αλλά και στον ιμπεριαλισμό αναφέρεται μετά βίας και παρεμπιπτόντως.

Το κείμενο αυτό προκάλεσε την έντονη απάντηση του REDN – του Δικτύου Διανοουμένων, Καλλιτεχνών και Κοινωνικών Κινημάτων προς Υπεράσπιση της Ανθρωπιάς («Who Will Accuse the Accusers? Statement in Defense of Venezuela» -- «Ποιος θα κατηγορήσει τους κατηγόρους; Μια δήλωση προς υπεράσπιση της Βενεζουέλας», σ.τ.μ.), η οποία υπογράφηκε από πολλούς διανοούμενους. Αυτή η κριτική ορθώς απέρριψε τη φετιχοποίηση του συμβατικού ρεπουμπλικανισμού και τόνισε την αξιοσημείωτη βαρύτητα των εξω-συνταγματικών δυνάμεων σε κρίσιμες καταστάσεις.

Η φιλελεύθερη υποτροπή των μετα-προοδευτικών [μεταμοντέρνων] ή των διανοητών της «κριτικής Αριστεράς» αναπαράγει αυτό που συνέβη με τους σοσιαλδημοκράτες γκραμσιανούς στη δεκαετία του 1980. Η εχθρότητα εκείνης ομάδας για τον λενινισμό και την κουβανική επανάσταση είναι συγκρίσιμη με τη σημερινή εχθρότητα για τον τσαβισμό. Ορισμένοι από αυτούς που υπέγραψαν την «έκκληση για ειρήνευση» έχουν περάσει και από τις δύο περιόδους.

Αλλά η παρούσα σοσιαλδημοκρατική παραλλαγή έρχεται πολύ αργά και στερείται της πολιτικής αναφοράς στην οποία συνέβαλε κάποτε το Ισπανικό Σοσιαλιστικό Κόμμα (PSOE). Η σοσιαλφιλελεύθερη στροφή του εν λόγω κόμματος έχει κατεδαφίσει πλήρως το αρχικό προοδευτικό του όραμα. Η σημερινή ορφάνια της σοσιαλδημοκρατικής παραλλαγής πιθανώς εξηγεί το ότι οι φορείς της ξανασυναντιούνται με τον παλιό φιλελευθερισμό.

Σε ορισμένες περιπτώσεις, η εξέλιξη ετούτη αποτελεί μια κορύφωση της διαίρεσης που επηρέασε διακριτές παραλλαγές της αυτονομίας. Τη ρωγμή την προκάλεσαν οι θέσεις για την μπολιβαριανή διαδικασία. Όσοι επέλεξαν να ευθυγραμμιστούν με την αντιπολίτευση είναι καχύποπτοι απέναντι σε όσους «είναι δεμένοι με τον τσαβισμό».

Οι τελευταίοι όμως έχουν σκεφθεί σοβαρά τις πρότερες ανεπάρκειες και κατανόησαν την ανάγκη της πάλης για την κρατική εξουσία με σοσιαλιστικές προοπτικές που συνδέεται με τον λατινοαμερικανικό μαρξισμό.

Αντιθέτως, το άλλο τμήμα της αυτονομίας συνεχίζει να πορεύεται μέσα στην αμφισημία των γενικοτήτων περί αντι-πατριαρχισμού και κατά του εξορυκτικού μοντέλου της οικονομίας, χωρίς να προσφέρει κάποιο συγκεκριμένο παράδειγμα αυτού που προτείνει. Και καθώς απορροφάται από το φιλελεύθερο σύμπαν, οι αινιγματικές του έννοιες δεν εμπλουτίζουν πλέον την αριστερή σκέψη. Εν μέσω της αμνημοσύνης που επιδεικνύει για την ταξική πάλη και της σαγήνης που του ασκεί η αστική συνταγματικότητα, η αποκήρυξη του εξορυκτικού οικονομικού μοντέλου μετατρέπεται σε μια γραφική παραξενιά.

Πηγή, παραπομπές:


[1] [2] [3] [4] [5]

Gary Cohn is giving Goldman Sachs everything it ever wanted from the Trump Administration

Gary Rivlin, Michael Hudson

Part 6 - TROJAN HORSE

There’s ultimately no great mystery why Donald Trump selected Gary Cohn for a top post in his administration, despite his angry rhetoric about Goldman Sachs. There’s the high regard the president holds for anyone who is rich — and the instant legitimacy Cohn conferred upon the administration within business circles. Cohn’s appointment reassured bond markets about the unpredictable new president and lent his administration credibility it lacked among Fortune 100 CEOs, none of whom had donated to his campaign. Ego may also have played a role. Goldman Sachs would never do business with Trump, the developer who resorted to foreign banks and second-tier lenders to bankroll his projects. Now Goldman’s president would be among those serving in his royal court.

Who can say precisely why Cohn, a Democrat, said yes when Trump asked him to be his top economic aide? No doubt Cohn has been asking himself that question in recent weeks. But he’d hit a ceiling at Goldman Sachs. In September 2015, Goldman announced that Blankfein had lymphoma, ramping up speculation that Cohn would take over the firm. Yet four months later, after undergoing chemotherapy, Blankfein was back in his office and plainly not going anywhere. Cohn was 56 years old when he was invited to Trump Tower. An influential job inside the White House meant a face-saving exit — and one offering a huge financial advantage.

Trump spoke of the great financial price Cohn paid to join him in the White House during his speech in Cedar Rapids. But something like the opposite was true. A huge amount of Cohn’s wealth was tied up in Goldman stock. By entering government, he could sell his stake in the firm to comply with federal ethics laws. That way he could diversify his holdings and avoid roughly $50 million in capital gains taxes — at least until he sold the replacement assets.

A job in the White House might also prove an outlet for his frustrations with politicians and regulators intent on reining in the worst impulses of Wall Street. Trump was Trump, but he had also vowed to dismantle financial reform. “Dodd-Frank has made it impossible for bankers to function,” Trump said during the campaign. The new president had the potential to serve as a vessel for Goldman’s corporate interests.

Maybe the one thing that holds this administration together is a belief that markets know best, and the least regulation is the best regulation,” said Dennis Kelleher of Better Markets. “Goldman’s interests fit with that very nicely.

Trump had given Steve Mnuchin, his campaign finance chair, the grander title. But taking over as Treasury secretary meant being confirmed by the Senate. Mnuchin’s confirmation vote was delayed after it was revealed that he’d neglected to list $95 million in assets (including homes in New York, Los Angeles, and the Hamptons) on his Senate Finance Committee disclosure forms and failed to disclose his ties to an offshore hedge fund registered in the Cayman Islands. Mnuchin was not confirmed until mid-February. The president’s pick for commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, a financier who had bailed out several of Trump’s casinos a few decades earlier, was not confirmed until the end of February.

As a presidential aide, Cohn did not need Senate approval. He was part of the skeletal crew that arrived at the White House on day one, giving him a critical head start on wielding his clout and cultivating his relationship with the new president. At that point, Trump was summoning Cohn to the Oval Office for impromptu meetings as many as five times a day.

In early February, Trump signed an executive order giving his Treasury secretary 120 days to give him a hit list of regulations the administration could eliminate. But with Mnuchin yet to be confirmed, the task appeared to land in Cohn’s eager hands. He was standing at the president’s shoulder when Trump said, “We expect to be cutting a lot out of Dodd-Frank.” Shares in Goldman Sachs, which had jumped by 28 percent after the election, rose another $6 a share that day. Soon Cohn was coordinating Trump’s plans not only for rolling back regulations, but also for creating jobs and slashing taxes. He met with a health care specialist, along with House Speaker Paul Ryan and other Republican leaders, to discuss alternatives to the Affordable Care Act.

Proximity is power inside any White House, especially in this one, where policy often seems shaped by Trump’s last conversation. Treasury is several blocks away, while Cohn’s office was in the West Wing, directly across the hall from Bannon’s. Operating within a chaotic administration, Cohn was reportedly energized and focused, working around the clock. Cohn is a tenacious practitioner who, after ascending to the heights of Goldman Sachs, could teach a master class on the art of seizing a leadership vacuum and building alliances. On day 39 of the new administration, the White House sent out a press release introducing the “best-in-class team” Cohn had assembled “to drive President Trump’s bold plan for job creation and economic growth.” The 13 advisers included familiar figures who had worked for George W. Bush or his father, but they also included at least three former lobbyists so conflicted they would need an ethics waiver to work in the White House. For instance, Michael Catanzaro, the man Cohn chose to oversee energy policy, was until last year a lobbyist for such oil, gas, and coal companies as Devon Energy and Talen Energy. Shahira Knight had been a lobbyist for Fidelity, the mutual fund giant, before joining Cohn’s team.

Cohn’s strategy in those early months was to make himself indispensable to the new president. Cohn emerged as one of the few people around Trump comfortable interrupting him during a meeting or openly disagreeing on points of policy. The New York Times reported that Trump often turned to Cohn during a meeting and asked him directly, “What do you want to do?” Early on, Trump referred to Cohn as “one of my geniuses” — a quote Reuters attributed to a “source close to Cohn.”

Soon, major media were painting Cohn as a leading centrist inside the Trump White House because he had staked out positions on immigration, international alliances, and global warming at odds with Bannon’s hard-right nationalism. Bannon and his allies only bolstered this narrative by characterizing “Carbon Tax Cohn” and his allies, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, as interlopers — “the Democrats,” as some inside the White House called them. “Within Trump’s Inner Circle, a Moderate Voice Captures the President’s Ear,” read the headline of a Cohn profile in the Washington Post.

Led by Gary Cohn and Dina Powell — two former Goldman Sachs executives often aligned with Trump’s elder daughter and his son-in-law — the group and its broad network of allies are the targets of suspicion, loathing and jealousy from their more ideological West Wing colleagues,” the Washington Post reported. Fueling the rage of the ideologues, Cohn and his allies were largely winning. Trump dropped Bannon from the National Security Council and elevated Powell to deputy national security adviser. When, after Charlottesville, false reports leaked that Cohn was so disgusted with the president he was resigning, blue-chip stocks slid down. Instead, Bannon was out. Cohn, despite reports that he invoked Trump’s wrath for critical remarks to the Financial Times, was still in and expected to deliver the president a win on corporate taxes.

On the day it was announced that he was joining the Trump administration, Cohn said on a goodbye podcast for Goldman Sachs, “You look at the size of our capital. You look at the size of our balance sheet. You look at the size of our people — it’s just enormous.More than $40 billion had flowed into the bank in 2016, bringing the bank’s assets under management to a record $1.38 trillion. That meant pressure to find ways to put that money to work — an enormous challenge if regulators finally shut down Goldman’s prop trading arm.

How exactly could Cohn recuse himself from matters involving Goldman when almost every aspect of his job has the potential to either grow Goldman’s profits and inflate its stock price — or tank them both?

To the extent Goldman Sachs is a direct party in a matter, Gary will recuse himself,” a source familiar with the situation said. But, the source added, “As NEC director, Gary is going to touch on matters on the day-to-day economy as a whole and Goldman Sachs is a participant in the economy, thus Gary will indirectly touch on things that affect Goldman Sachs along with other banks and institutions.

Yet rather than publicly recuse himself on attempts to undo Dodd-Frank, Cohn has led the charge from inside the White House. On that matter, Cohn is a walking, talking conflict of interest.

While at Goldman, Cohn had personally met with officials at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to discuss the derivatives reform plank of Dodd-Frank, an arena in which Goldman is a dominant player. He had taken issue with rules imposed by Dodd-Frank that require banks to keep more capital on hand. Requiring banks to hold more money in reserve made them “unequivocally” safer than before 2008, he said in a 2015 interview while still Goldman’s president, but he complained that Goldman was now able to lend less money, hurting profits. And then there’s the Volcker Rule. Cohn, while still president of the firm, had traveled to D.C. at least twice to personally lobby regulators about its implementation.

These days, it can be hard to tell whether Cohn is speaking as a high-ranking White House official or a former Goldman Sachs executive.

In the wake of Trump’s February call for a rollback in financial regulations, Cohn vowed in an interview with Bloomberg TV, “We’re going to attack all aspects of Dodd-Frank.” The first example he gave: the Volcker Rule, which he cast as harmful to the country’s competitive advantage. In an interview that same day with Fox Business, he homed in on another Goldman obsession: Dodd-Frank’s capital requirements. “Banks are forced to hoard money because they are forced to hoard capital, and they can’t take any risks,” he said. Mortgage, auto, credit card lending, and commercial lending are all up since 2010. Yet Cohn told Fox viewers, “We need to get banks back in the lending business, that’s our No. 1 objective.

Roy Smith, a former Goldman partner now teaching at the NYU Stern School of Business, argues that Cohn should avoid the administration’s effort to unwind Dodd-Frank altogether, but “at a very minimum he has to excuse himself whenever the discussion turns to Volcker.” But Smith said he has trouble imagining Cohn leaving the room when Volcker comes up. “The hard part for someone like Cohn is that he knows where all the pain points are with Volcker and other parts of Dodd-Frank,” Smith said. “His every instinct would be to get involved.

Beyond deregulation, two other pillars of Trump’s economic plan — cutting taxes and investing in infrastructure — would have dramatic impacts on Goldman’s bottom line.

Thanks to loopholes, many Fortune 500 corporations pay little or no corporate income tax at all. By contrast, Goldman Sachs typically pays taxes near the official 35 percent federal tax rate. In 2014, for instance, Goldman paid $3.9 billion in taxes on profits of $12.4 billion, or 31 percent. Last year, the firm’s tax bill was $2.7 billion on profits of $10.3 billion, or 28 percent. In that same Fox Business interview, Cohn said that “lower corporate taxes” was the White House’s “starting point” on tax reform; cuts to personal income taxes were a secondary concern.

Under the plan Cohn and Mnuchin announced last spring, what Cohn called “one of the biggest tax cuts in the American history,” corporate taxes would be capped at 15 percent. If Cohn succeeds, Goldman will save massive sums: At that rate, Goldman would have paid $2 billion less in taxes in 2014, $1.4 billion less in 2015, and $1.4 billion less in 2016. The Koch brothers’ network of political groups has already spent millions of dollars to promote the proposal. Even Blankfein, who the Trump campaign singled out in the commercial it ran in the final days of the campaign, acknowledged in a voicemail to employees that Trump’s commitment to tax cuts, deregulation, and infrastructure “will be good for our clients and our firm.

The details of the president’s “$1 trillion” infrastructure plan are similarly favorable to Goldman. As laid out in the administration’s 2018 budget, the government would spend only $200 billion on infrastructure over the coming decade. By structuring “that funding to incentivize additional non-Federal funding” — tax breaks and deals that privatize roads, bridges, and airports — the government could take credit for “at least $1 trillion in total infrastructure spending,” the budget reads.

It was as if Cohn were still channeling his role as a leader of Goldman Sachs when, at the White House in May, he offered this advice to executives: “We say, ‘Hey, take a project you have right now, sell it off, privatize it, we know it will get maintained, and we’ll reward you for privatizing it.’” “The bigger the thing you privatize, the more money we’ll give you,” continued Cohn. By “we,” he clearly meant the federal government; by “you,” he appeared to be speaking, at least in part, about Goldman Sachs, whose Public Sector and Infrastructure group arranges the financing on large-scale public sector deals. “Goldman Sachs is one of the largest infrastructure fund managers globally,” according to infrastructure advisory firm InfraPPP Partners, “having raised more than $10 billion of capital since the inception of the business in 2006.” Lost in the infamous press conference the president gave in the lobby of Trump Tower a few days after Charlottesville, with Cohn and Mnuchin visibly uncomfortable at his right flank, were Trump’s remarks on infrastructure, the ostensible purpose of the event. The thrust was that the president would grease the wheels for project approvals by signing an executive order rolling back environmental impact requirements and other elements of an “overregulated permitting process.”

In countless other ways, Cohn is positioned to help the firm that has been so good to him over the years. The country’s National Economic Council adviser might caution a president against running too large a deficit, especially amid a healthy economy. But Goldman Sachs is in the business of finding investors to underwrite government debt. An economic adviser might caution a populist president that corporate inversions often cost jobs and tax revenue. Instead, Trump has ordered a review of policies Obama put in place to discourage them — good news for Cohn’s former colleagues. Transparency has been a watchword of initial public offerings dating back at least to the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934, but easing those rules, a step Goldman has sought, could potentially generate hundreds of millions of dollars in fees for investment banks such as Goldman. The SEC announced in June that it would allow any company going public to withhold details of its finances and strategies, an exemption previously available only to firms with under $1 billion in revenue — more good tidings for Goldman. Just loosening the rules for IPOs, said Tyler Gellasch, the former Senate staffer, “could mean hundreds of millions of dollars more to Goldman.

In June, the Treasury Department released a statement of principles about the administration’s approach to financial regulation focused on promoting “liquid and vibrant markets.” Not surprisingly, the report included a call to ease capital requirements and substantially amend the Volcker Rule.

It’s Cohn’s influence over the country’s regulators that worries Dennis Kelleher, the financial reform lobbyist. “To him, what’s good for Wall Street is good for the economy,” Kelleher said of Cohn. “Maybe that makes sense when a guy has spent 26 years at Goldman, a company who has repaid his loyalties and sweat with a net worth in the hundreds of millions.” Kelleher recalls those who lost a home or a chunk of their retirement savings during a financial crisis that Cohn helped precipitate. “They’re still suffering,” he said. “Yet now Cohn’s in charge of the economy and talking about eliminating financial reform and basically putting the country back to where it was in 2005, as if 2008 didn’t happen. I’ve started the countdown clock to the next financial crash, which will make the last one look mild.

***

Source, links:


[1] [2] [3] [4] [5]

Related:


25 September, 2017

Now, I will finish you ...

US deep state has just totally confirmed how desperately wants war with Russia


When you recruit one of the most famous Hollywood actors to attack Russia through a sloppy and obsolete type of propaganda, it shows - above all - that you are desperate to provoke a conflict.

Despite zero evidence about the alleged 'Russian intervention' (whatever that means) in the latest US elections, the US sinister syndicate of for-profit-wars continues to cultivate a Cold War 2.0 climate with the ultimate target to drag Russia into a warm conflict.

In a desperate effort to persuade the US public opinion about the 'Russian intervention', this evil syndicate created the known video with Morgan Freeman to make Americans believe that Russia is a real threat. We don't know where to start: from the Cold War language very similar to the McCarthyism era? from the fairytale-style narrative as if it has been made for 10-year old kids? from the fact that the creators of the video apparently believe that they have to face a totally naive audience? or, maybe, from the laughable conclusion that "for 241 years" the US democracy "has been a shining example to the world of what we can all aspire to"?

As Max Blumenthal says, speaking to The Real News:

It's sad for Morgan Freeman, and I think whatever you think about Russia, you can agree with me that this is probably his worst role since Driving Miss Daisy. Now he's driving, basically, the PNAC train, Project for a New American Century, driving the neocons. This is highly unusual for me, maybe I'm wrong here, to hear a black American say that America has been a shining example of democracy for 241 years. It sounds like something a neocon would write in a script and put for Morgan Freeman in a teleprompter. 200 years ago, or longer, he would have been scrubbing Thomas Jefferson's chamberpot, so this is just deeply disturbing American exceptionalism.

Beyond that, Morgan Freeman has basically been brought into this by Rob Reiner, who's been brought in by a cast of neocons, not just unindicted Iraq War criminal David Frum, who crafted the axis of evil phrase, which has helped spread instability and death around the world, but Max Boot, the neoconservative pundit and self-styled historian who's never met a war he didn't like.

We also have James Clapper, the former Director of National Intelligence and NSA director affiliated with this group, the Committee to Investigate Russia. Max Boot is a fellow at the Institute for the Study of War, which is run by Kimberly Kagan, who's part of the neoconservative Kagan dynasty.

The Institute for the Study of War is funded primarily by the arms industry and surveillance industry, and their job is basically to gin up wars and consult for generals, and make a windfall profit in the process.

They are attempting to manufacture a catalyzing event through the narrative of Trump-Russia collusion in order to ramp up hostilities with Russia, not just in Russia's near abroad in Ukraine, but also in Syria and across the world. This is an incredibly dangerous prospect.


No further investigation needed. Again, this video shows one thing: the degree of determination of the US neocon/neoliberal establishment to drag Russia to war.

24 September, 2017

Gary Cohn is giving Goldman Sachs everything it ever wanted from the Trump Administration

Gary Rivlin, Michael Hudson

Part 5 - THE VAMPIRE SQUID

Goldman Sachs repaid repaid its $10 billion bailout partway through 2009, less than 12 months after the loan was made. Other banks in the U.S. and abroad were still struggling but not Goldman, which reported a record $19.8 billion in pre-tax profits that year, and $12.9 billion the next. Gary Cohn went without a bonus in 2008, left to scrape by on his $600,000 salary. Once free of government interference, the Goldman board (which included Cohn himself) paid him a $9 million bonus in 2009 and an $18 million bonus in 2010.

Yet the once venerated firm was now the subject of jokes on the late-night talk shows. David Letterman broadcast a “Goldman Sachs Top 10 Excuses” list (No. 9: “You’re saying ‘fraud’ like it’s a bad thing.”). Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi described the bank as “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money,” a devastating moniker that followed Goldman into the business pages. After news leaked that the firm might pay its people a record $16.7 billion in bonuses in 2009, even President Barack Obama, for whom the firm had been a top campaign donor, began to turn against Goldman, telling “60 Minutes,” “I did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of fat-cat bankers on Wall Street.

They’re still puzzled why is it that people are mad at the banks,” Obama said. “Well, let’s see. You guys are drawing down $10, $20 million bonuses after America went through the worst economic year that it’s gone through in decades, and you guys caused the problem.

Goldman was also facing an onslaught of investigations and lawsuits over behavior that had helped precipitate the financial crisis. Class actions and other lawsuits filed by pension funds and other investors accused Goldman of abusing their trust, making “false and misleading statements,” and failing to conduct basic due diligence on the loans underlying the products it peddled. At least 25 of these suits named Cohn as a defendant.

State and federal regulators joined the fray. The SEC accused Goldman of deception in its marketing of opaque investments called “synthetic collateralized debt obligations,” the values of which were tied to bundles of actual mortgages. These were the deals Goldman had arranged in 2006 on behalf of John Paulson so he could short the U.S. housing market. Goldman, it turned out, had allowed Paulson to cherry-pick poor-quality loans at the greatest risk of defaulting — a fact Goldman did not share with potential investors. “Goldman wrongly permitted a client that was betting against the mortgage market to heavily influence which mortgage securities to include in an investment portfolio,” the SEC’s enforcement director at the time said, “telling other investors that the securities were selected by an independent, objective third party.

Suddenly, Cohn and other Goldman officials were downplaying the big short. In June 2010, Cohn testified before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, created by Congress to investigate the causes of the nation’s worst economic collapse since the Great Depression. Cohn asked the commissioners how anyone could claim the firm had bet against its clients when “during the two years of the financial crisis, Goldman Sachs lost $1.2 billion in its residential mortgage-related business”? His statement was technically true, but Cohn failed to mention the billions of dollars the firm pocketed by betting the mortgage market would collapse. Senate investigators later calculated that, at its peak, Goldman had $13.9 billion in short positions that would only pay off in the event of a steep drop in the mortgage market, positions that produced a record $3.7 billion in profits.

Two weeks after Cohn’s testimony, Goldman agreed to pay the SEC $550 million to settle charges of securities fraud — then the largest penalty assessed against a financial services firm in the agency’s history. Goldman admitted no wrongdoing, acknowledging only that its marketing materials “contained incomplete information.” Goldman paid $60 million in fines and restitution to settle an investigation by the Massachusetts attorney general into the financial backing the firm had offered to predatory mortgage lenders. The bank set aside another $330 million to assist people who lost their homes thanks to questionable foreclosure practices at a Goldman loan-servicing subsidiary. Goldman agreed to billions of dollars in additional settlements with state and federal agencies relating to its sale of dicey mortgage-backed securities. The firm finally acknowledged that it had failed to conduct basic due diligence on the loans its was selling customers and, once it became aware of the hazards, did not disclose them.

In the final report produced by the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Goldman Sachs was mentioned an extraordinary 2,495 times, and Gary Cohn 89 times. A Goldman Sachs representative declined to respond to queries on the record.

The investigations and fines were a blow to Goldman’s reputation and its bottom line, but the regulatory reforms being debated had the potential to threaten Goldman’s entire business model. Even before the 2008 crash, the firm’s lobbying spending had grown under Lloyd Blankfein and Cohn. By 2010, the year financial reforms were being drafted, Goldman spent $4.6 million for the services of 49 lobbyists. Their ranks included some of the most well-connected figures in Washington, including Democrat Richard Gephardt, a former House majority leader, and Republican Trent Lott, a former Senate majority leader, who had stepped down from the Senate two years earlier.

Despite all those lobbyists on the payroll, Goldman made its case primarily through proxies during the debate over financial reform. “The name Goldman Sachs was so radioactive it worked to their disadvantage to be tied to an issue,” said Marcus Stanley, then a staffer for Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer and now policy director of Americans for Financial Reform. Instead, Goldman lobbied through industry groups.

Goldman’s people likely knew that all of Wall Street’s lobbying might could not stop the passage of the sprawling 2010 legislative package dubbed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Obama was putting his muscle behind reform — “We simply cannot accept a system in which hedge funds or private equity firms inside banks can place huge, risky bets that are subsidized by taxpayers,” he said in one speech — and the Democrats enjoyed majorities in both houses of Congress. “For Goldman Sachs, the battle was over the final language,” said Dennis Kelleher of Better Markets, a Washington, D.C., lobby group that pushes for tighter financial reforms. “That way they at least had a fighting chance in the next round, when everyone turned their attention to the regulators.

There was a lot for Goldman Sachs to dislike about Dodd-Frank. There were small annoyances, such as “say on pay,” which ordered companies to give shareholders input on executive compensation, a source of potential embarrassment to a company that gave out $73 million in compensation for a single year’s work — as Goldman paid Cohn in 2007. There were large annoyances, such as the requirement that financial institutions deemed too big to fail, like Goldman, create a wind-down plan in case of disaster. There were the measures that would interfere with Goldman’s core businesses, such as a provision instructing the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to regulate the trading of derivatives. And yet nothing mattered to Goldman quite like the Volcker Rule, which would protect banks’ solvency by limiting their freedom to make speculative trades with their own money. Unless Goldman could initiate what Stanley called the “complexity two-step” — win a carve-out so a new rule wouldn’t interfere with legitimate business and then use that carve-out to render a rule toothless — Volcker would slam the door shut on the entire direction in which Blankfein and Cohn had taken Goldman.

It was 5:30 a.m. on Friday, June 25, 2010, when a joint House-Senate conference committee approved the final language of Dodd-Frank. By Sunday, an industry attorney named Annette Nazareth — a former top SEC official whose firm counts Goldman Sachs among its clients — had already sent off a heavily annotated copy of the 848-page bill to colleagues at her old agency. It was just the first salvo in a lobbying juggernaut.

Within a few months, Cohn himself was in Washington to meet with a governor of the Federal Reserve, one of the key agencies charged with implementing Volcker. The visitors log at the CFTC, the agency Dodd-Frank put in charge of derivatives reform, shows that Cohn traveled to D.C. to personally meet with CFTC staffers at least six times between 2010 and 2016. Cohn also came to the capital for meetings at the SEC, another agency responsible for the Volcker Rule. There, he met with SEC chair Mary Jo White and other commissioners. “I seem to be in Washington every week trying to explain to them the unintended consequences of overregulation,” Cohn said in a talk he gave to business students at Sacred Heart University in 2015.

Gary was the tip of the spear for Goldman to beat back regulatory reform,” said Kelleher, the financial reform lobbyist. “I used to pass him going into different agencies. They brought him in when they wanted the big gun to finish off, to kill the wounded.

Democrats lost their majority in the House that November, and Goldman threw its weight behind the spate of Republican bills that followed, aimed at taking apart Dodd-Frank piece by piece. Goldman spent more than $4 million for the services of 45 lobbyists in 2011 and $3.5 million a year in 2012 and 2013. Its lobbying spending was nearly as high in the years after passage of Dodd-Frank as it was the year the bill was introduced.

Goldman lobbyists dug in on a range of issues that would become top priorities for Republicans in the wake of Donald Trump’s electoral victory. Records from the Center for Responsive Politics show that Goldman lobbyists worked to promote corporate tax cuts, such as on the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014 and Senate legislation aimed at extending some $200 billion in tax cuts for individuals and businesses. Goldman lobbied for a bill to fund economically critical infrastructure projects, presumably on behalf of its Public Sector and Infrastructure group. Goldman had seven lobbyists working on the JOBS Act, which would make it easier for companies to go public, another bottom-line issue to a company that underwrote $27 billion in IPOs last year. In 2016, Goldman had eight lobbyists dedicated to the Financial CHOICE Act, which would have undone most of Dodd-Frank in one fell swoop — a bill the House revived in April.

Yet defanging the Volcker Rule remained the firm’s top priority. Promoted by former Fed Chair Paul Volcker, the rule would prohibit banks from committing more than 3 percent of their core assets to in-house private equity and hedge funds in the business of buying up properties and businesses with the goal of selling them at a profit. One harbinger of the financial crisis had been the collapse in the summer of 2007 of a pair of Bear Stearns hedge funds that had invested heavily in subprime loans. That 3 percent cap would have had a big impact on Goldman, which maintained a separate private equity group and operated its own internal hedge funds. But it was the restrictions Volcker placed on proprietary trading that most threatened Goldman.

Prop trading was a profit center inside many large banks, but nowhere was it as critical as at Goldman. A 2011 report by one Wall Street analyst revealed that prop trading accounted for an 8 percent share of JPMorgan Chase’s annual revenues, 9 percent of Bank of America’s, and 27 percent of Morgan Stanley’s. But prop trading made up 48 percent of Goldman’s. By one estimate, the Volcker Rule could cost Goldman Sachs $3.7 billion in revenue a year.

When regulators finalized a new Volcker Rule in 2013, Better Markets declared it a “major defeat for Wall Street.” Yet the victory for reformers was precarious. “Just changing a few words could dramatically change the scope of the rule — to the tune of billions of dollars for some firms,” said former Senate staffer Tyler Gellasch, who helped write the rule. Volcker gave banks until July 2015 — the five-year anniversary of Dodd-Frank — to bring themselves into compliance. Yet apparently the Volcker Rule had been written for other financial institutions, not elite firms like Goldman Sachs. “Goldman Sachs has been on a shopping spree with its own money,” began a New York Times article in January 2015. The bank used its own funds to buy a mall in Utah, apartments in Spain, and a European ink company. Paul Volcker expressed disappointment that banks were still making big proprietary bets, as did the two senators most responsible for writing the rule into law. That June, Cohn appeared to reassure investors that Goldman would find a workaround. Speaking at an investor conference, he said Goldman was “transforming our equity investing activities to continue to meet client needs while complying with Volcker.

Goldman had five years to prepare for some version of a Volcker Rule. Yet a loophole granted banks sufficient time to dispose of “illiquid assets” without causing undue harm — a loophole that might even cover the assets Goldman had only recently purchased, despite the impending compliance deadline. The Fed nonetheless granted the firm additional time to sell illiquid investments worth billions of dollars. “Goldman is brilliant at exercising access and influence without fingerprints,” Kelleher said.

By mid-2016, Goldman, along with Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase, was petitioning the Fed for an additional five years to comply with Volcker — which would take the banks well into a new administration. All Blankfein and Cohn had to do was wait for a new Congress and a new president who might back their efforts to flush all of Dodd-Frank. Then Goldman could continue the risky and lucrative habits it had adopted since traders like Cohn had taken over the firm — the financial crisis be damned — and continue raking in billions in profits each year.

Goldman’s political giving changed in the wake of Dodd-Frank. Dating back to at least 1990, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, people associated with the firm and its political action committees contributed more to Democrats than Republicans. Yet in the years since financial reform, Goldman, once Obama’s second-largest political donor, shifted its campaign contributions to Republicans. During the 2008 election cycle, for instance, Goldman’s people and PACs contributed $4.8 million to Democrats and $1.7 million to Republicans. By the 2012 cycle, the opposite happened, with Goldman giving $5.6 million to Republicans and $1.8 million to Democrats. Cohn’s personal giving followed the same path. Cohn gave $26,700 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in 2006 and $55,500 during the 2008 election cycle, and none to its GOP equivalent. But Cohn donated $30,800 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee in 2012 and another $33,400 to the National Republican Congressional Committee in 2015, without contributing a dime to the DSCC. Cohn gave $5,000 to Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown weeks after news broke that Elizabeth Warren — an outspoken critic of Goldman and other Wall Street players — might try to capture his U.S. Senate seat, which she did in 2012.

Goldman Sachs, under Cohn and Blankfein, was hardly chastened, continuing to play fast and loose with existing rules even as it plunged millions of dollars into fending off new ones. In 2010, the SEC ran a sting operation looking for banks willing to trade favorable assessments by its stock analysts for a piece of a Toys R Us IPO if the company went public. Goldman took the bait, for which they would pay a $5 million fine. An employee working out of Goldman’s Boston office drafted speeches, vetted a running mate, and negotiated campaign contracts for the state treasurer during his run for Massachusetts governor in 2010, despite a rule forbidding municipal bond dealers from making significant political contributions to officials who can award them business. According to the SEC, Goldman had underwritten $9 billion in bonds for Massachusetts in the previous two years, generating $7.5 million in fees. Goldman paid $12 million to settle the matter in 2012.

Just two years later, Goldman officials were again summoned by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations to address charges that the bank under Cohn and Blankfein had boosted its profits by building a “virtual monopoly” in order to inflate aluminum prices by as much as $3 billion.

The last few years have brought more unwanted attention. In 2015, the U.S. Justice Department launched an investigation into Goldman’s role in the alleged theft of billions of dollars from a development fund the firm had helped create for the government of Malaysia. Federal regulators in New York state fined Goldman $50 million because its leaders failed to effectively supervise a banker who leaked stolen confidential government information from the Fed, which hit the firm with another $36.3 million in penalties. In December, the CFTC fined Goldman $120 million for trying to rig interest rates to profit the firm.

Politically, 2016 would prove a strange year for Goldman. Bernie Sanders clobbered Hillary Clinton for pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars in speaking fees from Goldman, while Trump attacked Ted Cruz for being “in bed with” Goldman Sachs. (Cruz’s wife Heidi was a managing director in Goldman’s Houston office until she took leave to work on her husband’s presidential campaign.) Goldman would have “total control” over Clinton, Trump said at a February 2016 rally, a point his campaign reinforced in a two-minute ad that ran the weekend before Election Day. An image of Blankfein flashed across the screen as Trump warned about the global forces that “robbed our working class.

Goldman’s giving in the presidential race appears to reflect polls predicting a Clinton win and the firm’s desire for a political restart on deregulation. People who identified themselves as Goldman Sachs employees gave less than $5,000 to the Trump campaign compared to the $341,000 that the firm’s people and PACs contributed to Clinton. Goldman Sachs is relatively small compared to retail banking giants.

Yet, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, no bank outspent Goldman Sachs during the 2016 political cycle. Its PACs and people associated with the firm made $5.6 million in political contributions in 2015 and 2016. Even including all donations to Clinton, 62 percent of Goldman’s giving ended up in the coffers of Republican candidates, parties, or conservative outside groups.

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