Goldman Sachs and other big banks aren’t just pocketing the trillions we gave them to rescue the economy – they’re re-creating the conditions for another crash
Posted Feb 17, 2010 5:57 AM
On January 21st, Lloyd Blankfein left a peculiar voicemail message on the work phones of his employees at Goldman Sachs. Fast becoming America’s pre-eminent Marvel Comics supervillain, the CEO used the call to deploy his secret weapon: a pair of giant, nuclear-powered testicles. In his message, Blankfein addressed his plan to pay out gigantic year-end bonuses amid widespread controversy over Goldman’s role in precipitating the global financial crisis.
The bank had already set aside a tidy $16.2 billion for salaries and bonuses — meaning that Goldman employees were each set to take home an average of $498,246, a number roughly commensurate with what they received during the bubble years. Still, the troops were worried: There were rumors that Dr. Ballsachs, bowing to political pressure, might be forced to scale the number back. After all, the country was broke, 14.8 million Americans were stranded on the unemployment line, and Barack Obama and the Democrats were trying to recover the populist high ground after their bitch-whipping in Massachusetts by calling for a “bailout tax” on banks. Maybe this wasn’t the right time for Goldman to be throwing its annual Roman bonus orgy.
Not to worry, Blankfein reassured employees. “In a year that proved to have no shortage of story lines,” he said, “I believe very strongly that performance is the ultimate narrative.”
Translation: We made a shitload of money last year because we’re so amazing at our jobs, so fuck all those people who want us to reduce our bonuses.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Federal Reserve, facing growing pressure as it tries to heal the ailing economy, dodged a bullet on Monday when the U.S. Senate cast aside a new effort to increase scrutiny of the central bank.
On procedural grounds, the Senate blocked a bid to permit the U.S. comptroller general, who heads the investigative arm of Congress known as the Government Accountability Office, to audit the Federal Reserve system and issue a report.
Republican Senator Jim DeMint, who has been pushing for greater transparency at the Fed, failed to get the provision attached to the must-pass annual spending bill that includes funding for the GAO for the upcoming 2010 fiscal year.
The audit would have included details about the Fed’s discount window operations, funding facilities, open market operations and agreements with foreign central banks and governments, DeMint said on the Senate floor.
“The Federal Reserve will create and disburse trillions of dollars in response to our current financial crisis,” DeMint said. “Americans across the nation, regardless of their opinion on the bailout, want to know where the money has gone.
“Allowing the Fed to operate our nation’s monetary system in almost complete secrecy leads to abuse, inflation and a lower quality of life,” he said.
Democrats who control the Senate blocked the South Carolina Republican’s amendment on the grounds that it violated rules prohibiting legislation attached to spending bills.
Fed officials were not immediately available to comment.
The move comes as some lawmakers have increasingly become wary of the Fed’s actions, particularly for its handling of the real estate market and the meltdown of major financial institutions like investment bank Bear Stearns and insurance giant American International Group.
A non-binding provision in the fiscal 2010 budget blueprint Congress approved in April called on the Fed to provide more information about collateral posted against Bear Stearns and AIG loans.
That measure also sought a study evaluating the appropriate number and costs of the regional Fed banks.
The U.S. central bank has a seven-member board in Washington whose members are nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate. It also has 12 regional banks whose presidents are appointed by banks and other businesses in their local districts, with the consent of the Washington board.
(Reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky and Alister Bull, editing by Dan Grebler)
This is from Talking Points Memo’s Reader Blogger Joe Wood:
Hitler’s worst mistake is that he did NOT gas the Jews. –James von Braunn, HolyWesternEmpire.org
James W. von Brunn holds a BachSci Journalism degree from a mid-Western university where he was president of SAE and played varsity football.
During WWII he served as PT-Boat captain, Lt. USNR, receiving a Commendation and four battle stars. For twenty years he was an advertising executive and film-producer in New York City. He is a member of Mensa, the high-IQ society.
In 1981 Von Brunn attempted to place the treasonous Federal Reserve Board of Governors under legal, non-violent, citizens arrest. He was tried in a Washington, D.C. Superior Court; convicted by a Negro jury, Jew/Negro attorneys, and sentenced to prison for eleven years by a Jew judge. A Jew/Negro/White Court of Appeals denied his appeal. He served 6.5 years in federal prison. (Read about von Brunn’s “And so, on December 7, 1981, a bright, crisp morning James Wenneker von Brunn visited the Federal Reserve Building on Constitution Ave., across from the Washington Monument, Washington D.C. I had cased the building twice before, and talked at length with one of the guards, a retire U.S. Marine. I posed as a freelance newspaper reporter. I wore a trench-coat with a camera-case slung over my shoulder. . The Marine (“HARRY”)) guided me through the Board Room, and Paul Volcker’s office; there I met his secretary, a smartly dressed middle-aged lady with gray hair. My objective was to arrest Volcker and the FED Brd of Governors.
I intended to bind their hands, and persuade them to appear on Television. There, on camera, I intended to read to the American public my indictment of these treasonous liars. If I survived I expected to be arrested, then stand trial before a jury of my peers. Back then I had faith in our system of justice. The Federal Reserve building fronts on Constitution Avenue, however, the main entrance, the north side, is at the rear. Here broad steps lead to a bank of impressive brass-encased doors, plus one turnstile doorway. Upon entering the building one faces a wide north to south marble corridor. Since my visit they installed security devices. Three (?) elevators stand along the west wall. A uniformed Negro security-guard, to the east (my left), seated behind a desk, required visitors to log-in. Attached to the desk was a closed cabinet containing, I had been informed, riot weapons. Two hall-ways, each running east to west, traverse the length of the building; they intersect the main corridor. Two security guards patrol them. Between the halls two flights of marble stairs along the west wall rise to the second level balcony, overlooking the main corridor. Harry (the ex-Marine) is stationed there – He protects the Board Members’ offices and the Board of Governors conference room. He too has a desk-cabinet with riot arms. On the first floor, opposite the balcony is a waiting room. A guard there directs visitors to their destinations, makes telephone calls to confirm appointments, etc. I waited there with a beautiful young brunette applying for her first job. She wore a luxurious sable coat, which I helped her remove when she complained it was too warm. I didn’t dare unbutton my trench coat, which concealed a sawed-off shot gun, a .38- police-special, a Bowie knife and a carpenters-apron containing cord, etc. Later the visiting-room guard said he thought I looked “suspicious.” The camera-case slung over my shoulder now contained a phony bomb, which, it appeared, could be activated by a phony detonator (range finder). As I didn’t want to kill anyone I carried no ammunition.
The previous day I re-confirmed that the Board would meet and Harry would NOT be on duty. However, upon arrival I saw that Harry was on the balcony, his partner had called in sick. Such are the fickle uncertainties of Fate. The ladies on the balcony decorating the Christmas tree departed, to my great relief, giggling and rosy-cheeked. About an hour had passed since my arrival and visitor traffic was increasing. Still my name had not been called to “photograph” the 2nd floor. I knew I had to make a move. Fortuitously, the waiting-room guard left his station to escort the beautiful lady. Now was the time. I walked down the corridor to the Negro guard at the front entrance, shoved the .38 in his gut, and escorted him out of the building. A woman awaiting an elevator suspected nothing. Outside I told the Negro to walk North and keep walking. He was a tall-lanky dude with red-veined cornea. I returned to the lobby, waited briefly then returned outside. The Negro guard disobeyed and was walking east toward the police station. I warned him that cross-hairs were zeroed in on his spine. One more step and my “comrade’ in the bushes would kill him. Fortunately there were no pedestrians to overhear. The Negro turned and walked north. I never saw him again. At the trial the black attorney praised him for his courage.
Back inside I walked down the corridor and up the marble stairs to the balcony. There, five or six men and women were conversing before the closed board room doors. Harry approached me, testily. I didn’t call you, sir. Go back downstairs and wait. I displayed the .38, keeping the barrel lowered to he couldn’t see the empty cylinders. Sotto voce, escort me to Volcker’s office. Now. I’m going to arrest him. No one will be hurt. Get your ass moving. I ain’t going nowhere, says the ex-Marine. The talking group disappeared down the hall. In that case Harry I’m going to kill you. OK, kill me. Quiet, keep your voice down. Where to you want it Harry, gut or head ? Do it, Harry says. Harry, you dumb bastard. Don’t you know the FED killed your buddies in Nam? I ain’t leaving. Harry, you can help America. Expose the g-d- Jews. Kill me, he says. One last time, I shoved the gun in his gut. NO, says he. Never expect a U.S. Marine to leave his post. I handed my revolver to him (later, in court, he testified that he jumped me and wrestled the weapon from me. Good man, Harry). I removed my trench-coat, went to the ante-room and sat down. A regiment of armed cops arrived. I told them to note that I had no ammo. They handcuffed me. A bomb-detection-team arrived to inspect the camera-case “bomb.” Soon I was hustled into a police van. There were iron benches and nothing to hold on to. It was dark inside. I was given a “joy-ride,” bounced around like dice in a shaker: slammed from wall to wall, as the driver hit every curb and pothole that he could find. Hard on the crotch. My trousers were soaked with blood.
The first night was spent in a two man cell with a white druggie. The floor covered with vomit. The only white man I saw in the DC jail, police and inmates were ALL black. My Parole Officer, appointed by the Court, was a Jew rabbi. I’m tempted to recount my prison experiences — which included fights, suicides, murders, sympathetic nurses, librarians and purloined legal documents, but that is another story probably never to be told. No time.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, a distinguished gentleman, Elgin Groseclose (America’s Money Machine) entered the fray. The 83-year old monetary expert had appeared in that capacity before Congress on numerous occasions. He telephoned me, introduced himself, set a date to meet with him in his D.C. office. He was slim, tall, nattily attired, with white hair and kindly eyes. After an exploratory conversation during which I stated my case, he volunteered to testify in my behalf. He refused to meet with me again. And would not assist in the preparation of my case. He sought impartiality. A few months later he died of cancer
Meanwhile, I was contacted by a U.S. Senator (who must remain nameless), who he offered me a plea bargain (repeated by Harriet Rosen Taylor, JEW judge, in private on the eve of the trial): If I would plead guilty to one count of gun violation (I had no DC permit) they would not prosecute me for Robbery, Burglary, Attempted Kidnapping etc. I refused. I wanted the trial broadcast to the American public. I was confident in the validity of my charges. I could find NO attorney willing to take on my case, including right-wing barristers. ACLU demurred because weapons were involved. I decided to appear pro se, in my own behalf. The government appointed an attorney, who it turned out was half Jew and was a member of NAACP. He was to guide me through courtroom protocol. However, when the prosecutor objected to my every move it became clear they would not allow me to appear pro se. So the half-JEW presented most of the arguments while Groseclose and I presented the FACTS.
I sought to subpoena Zbigniew Brzezinski, Security Advisor to Jimmy Carter; and Paul Volcker, Chairman of the Fed Brd of Governors. Brz, in his book Between Two Worlds, states that Marxism is the wave of the future, the USA must embrace it. Also Brz was appointed by David Rockefeller to organize and head the secretive Trilateral Commission, a One World organization. Paul Volcker was instrumental in floating FED loans to the USSR, to build truck plants, steel mills, etc. which produced war materials shipped to Korea and Nam, killing U.S. military personnel. The judge would not allow the traitors to be subpoenaed. Elgin Groseclose gave testimony extremely damaging to the FED. He supported my charges of FED treason; he testified that Congress was self-serving, ignorant and frightened; therefore, the FED could be removed ONLY BY FORCE. It is a tragedy that Elgin’s testimony never saw the light of day.
The courtroom was filled with Blacks and Jews. When the prosecution made a point they cheered; conversely I was booed. Judge Harriet Rosen Taylor made little effort to quiet them. The prosecution team was led by a JEW, but Nixon, a Negro, tried the case. They decided, early on, that their case was to be based on my racism. The racist charge was predicated on a 1000-word essay that I had intended to read on TV during the FED “action.” My MS, now available at www.holywesternempire.org, stemmed from that essay. There are many notable quotes therein that offend Negroes and Jews — including several by Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln. The jury and all alternates were Negroes, with one exception, a diminutive, gray-haired White lady sitting between two Negro female behemoths. Almost all the Negroes had served jail sentences, and many black ex-felons were rejected at voir dire. One black male slept through most of the trial.
A unanimous verdict was handed down. I was guilty on all counts, and sentenced to 11 years. Elgin Groseclose visited me several days later in the City Jail. He affectionately patted the glass that separated us. There were tears in his eyes. An attractive blonde seated nearby was visiting her Negro husband. It was a most depressing scenario. 6 months later I was sent to Springfield, MO, State Pen for psychiatric examination. I was declared sane “without even a hint” of paranoia, etc. However, I received a low IQ. The tests were taken in pencil, and became part of my prison records. This bothered me. Upon arriving at Ray Brook, FCI, I arranged to take Mensa tests (oral and written). A prison psychologist was sent in to administer them. He had a lisp! Even so, much to my surprise, I was admitted to Mensa. Meanwhile. My preparations for Appeal went badly. The court appointed another attorney who didn’t even have an office! By the time his brief reached me in prison, the Appeal had been adjudicated. Ben Wilson, my Easton, Md, attorney, was hesitant but finally agreed appear in my behalf before the Court of Appeals. Ben had Jew clients. He received Admiral Crommelin’s plea in my behalf; painstakingly written in longhand. The Admiral asked Ben to review it, have it typed in legal format, and then present it before my court appointed attorney made his Appeal. Meanwhile, Adm. Crommelin had personally met with Pres. Ronald Reagan in my behalf (I have a photograph of John and the President). The day of the Appeal, Ben and my sister appeared at court. The three appellate judges were Black, Jew and White. Sadly, Ben had suffered cold feet. For this Crommelin holds Ben Wilson in utter contempt. Ben had not prepared Crommelin’s appeal and he arranged to arrive in court after the decision was handed down, i.e., Guilty on all counts. BELOW IS A LETTER that I wrote while in prison to SecNav James Webb. I hoped to interest him in my case. The letter explains in detail how the Government rigged my trial.
Honorable James Henry Webb. Jr,
U.S. Secretary of the Navy
Washington, D.C. 20500
James W. von Brunn Federal Prisoner #07128-016
FCI Ray Brook, N.Y. 12977
Federal Reserve Caper”
The Quiet Coup
The crash has laid bare many unpleasant truths about the United States. One of the most alarming, says a former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, is that the finance industry has effectively captured our government—a state of affairs that more typically describes emerging markets, and is at the center of many emerging-market crises. If the IMF’s staff could speak freely about the U.S., it would tell us what it tells all countries in this situation: recovery will fail unless we break the financial oligarchy that is blocking essential reform. And if we are to prevent a true depression, we’re running out of time.
One thing you learn rather quickly when working at the International Monetary Fund is that no one is ever very happy to see you. Typically, your “clients” come in only after private capital has abandoned them, after regional trading-bloc partners have been unable to throw a strong enough lifeline, after last-ditch attempts to borrow from powerful friends like China or the European Union have fallen through. You’re never at the top of anyone’s dance card.
The reason, of course, is that the IMF specializes in telling its clients what they don’t want to hear. I should know; I pressed painful changes on many foreign officials during my time there as chief economist in 2007 and 2008. And I felt the effects of IMF pressure, at least indirectly, when I worked with governments in Eastern Europe as they struggled after 1989, and with the private sector in Asia and Latin America during the crises of the late 1990s and early 2000s. Over that time, from every vantage point, I saw firsthand the steady flow of officials—from Ukraine, Russia, Thailand, Indonesia, South Korea, and elsewhere—trudging to the fund when circumstances were dire and all else had failed.
Every crisis is different, of course. Ukraine faced hyperinflation in 1994; Russia desperately needed help when its short-term-debt rollover scheme exploded in the summer of 1998; the Indonesian rupiah plunged in 1997, nearly leveling the corporate economy; that same year, South Korea’s 30-year economic miracle ground to a halt when foreign banks suddenly refused to extend new credit.
But I must tell you, to IMF officials, all of these crises looked depressingly similar. Each country, of course, needed a loan, but more than that, each needed to make big changes so that the loan could really work. Almost always, countries in crisis need to learn to live within their means after a period of excess—exports must be increased, and imports cut—and the goal is to do this without the most horrible of recessions. Naturally, the fund’s economists spend time figuring out the policies—budget, money supply, and the like—that make sense in this context. Yet the economic solution is seldom very hard to work out.
No, the real concern of the fund’s senior staff, and the biggest obstacle to recovery, is almost invariably the politics of countries in crisis.
Typically, these countries are in a desperate economic situation for one simple reason—the powerful elites within them overreached in good times and took too many risks. Emerging-market governments and their private-sector allies commonly form a tight-knit—and, most of the time, genteel—oligarchy, running the country rather like a profit-seeking company in which they are the controlling shareholders. When a country like Indonesia or South Korea or Russia grows, so do the ambitions of its captains of industry. As masters of their mini-universe, these people make some investments that clearly benefit the broader economy, but they also start making bigger and riskier bets. They reckon—correctly, in most cases—that their political connections will allow them to push onto the government any substantial problems that arise.
In Russia, for instance, the private sector is now in serious trouble because, over the past five years or so, it borrowed at least $490 billion from global banks and investors on the assumption that the country’s energy sector could support a permanent increase in consumption throughout the economy. As Russia’s oligarchs spent this capital, acquiring other companies and embarking on ambitious investment plans that generated jobs, their importance to the political elite increased. Growing political support meant better access to lucrative contracts, tax breaks, and subsidies. And foreign investors could not have been more pleased; all other things being equal, they prefer to lend money to people who have the implicit backing of their national governments, even if that backing gives off the faint whiff of corruption.