European Union Sets Banking Takeover for 2013

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | OCTOBER 19, 2012

The Heads of State and the Government of the European Union (EU) agreed Thursday to create a single banking supervisor. The entity should be ready next December and it will gradually begin its takeover of the banking system during 2013.

The EU leaders confirmed their commitment last June to create a bank union, which would work under the political framework of an agreement adopted back in late 2012. The announcement was made by EU spokesman Olivier Bailly, who posted a message on the social network Twitter.

Diplomatic sources explained that in practice this means that the complete takeover of the financial system by the European Central Bank (ECB) will only be completed in 2014.

With this agreement, the so-called European leaders solved the ‘differences’ regarding how to create and manage a banking supervisor. The disagreement between France and Germany stemmed from details related to the creation of the entity itself as well as the power it would have to manage all banking institutions in the old continent. While French president François Hollande pushed for its creation and effective activation for next January, German Chancellor Angela Merkel argued for delaying its implementation given the deterioration of her image at home and the coming German election.

Other diplomatic sources indicated that “Holland’s demands and proposals were simply unrealistic.” They added that even if the leaders reached an agreement by December, the process of creating such an entity  would not be completed before the end of the first semester of 2013, which means that the ECB would still require a minimum of 6 more months to fully implement its directives.

A few weeks ago, Merkel’s government questioned the schedule proposed by Hollande, while the president of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi, added that the European Parliament would need a period of one year to adapt its structures to take on the task of supervising banks in the eurozone.

According to the European Commission’s plan, the centralized banking supervision mechanism will take effect in stages. The new system would only begin to be implemented on the first of January 2013 and initially affect banks that had requested or received public aid. The plan is to include all 6,000 banks that operate in the euro area.

The German delegation did not support the idea that the new supervising entity had the power to manage  all banks, especially regional banks.

Sources said that “the effective establishment of a Europe-wide monitoring system will take several months” from formal approval, as the ECB will have to hire some 1,600 “experts”, which in turn would further delay the possibility that the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) directly recapitalizes troubled banks.

France, Italy and Spain went to the summit with the intention to push for a quick implementation of the banking supervising entity as it was proposed by the ECB, while Germany, Finland, the Netherlands and Sweden advocated delaying its implementation.

Some countries that have not adopted the common currency said that the proposal issued by the EU needed changes because in its current form it creates a competitive disadvantage compared to banks in the euro zone.

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Tokyo Injects Fiat Money while Beijing Talks about Bond Attack on Japan

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | SEPTEMBER 19, 2012

The territorial conflict for the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands on the East China Sea have revealed two things in the last few days. First, China’s thirst to defeat its rivals in the region, despite American interventionism. Two, China will not necessarily use military weapons. Instead, it will use its economic might.

While the Japanese Central Bank announced it will follow on the steps of the American Federal Reserve and European Central Bank in flooding the market with money to keep its economy afloat, in Beijing the Communist Party led government is now considering attacking Japan by imposing sanctions on its main funding source: the sale of government bonds.

China is Japan’s main creditor today with holdings of over $230 billion in Japanese government issued bonds. This is China’s strongest weapon at the moment, or at least the one that the Chinese may use to obligate Japan to withdraw from the territorial dispute that has now called for the intervention of United States Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

The most recent asset purchase program in Japan was extended by about 10 billion yen (€ 97,200 Mn), to 80 trillion yen (778 000 € Mn). In turn, the types of interest are maintained between 0 and 0.1%, a level at which they are since October 2010. The same policies are now being used by the United States Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank, which continue to facilitate funds to large financial institutions while denying loans to small and mid-size entrepreneurs.

The Bank of Japan opted, just like the Fed, to inflate its currency, by printing fiat money into the banking system in an attempt to revive the economy. As seen for the past 4 years, the insane policy of creating fiat money out of nothing does not work. In fact, it only prolongs the crisis because governments are not doing anything to kick start their economies.

The decision has favored the Nikkei, Japan’s stock market. Transactions closed with a rise of 1.19%. Stock markets are another tool in the rigged game that governments use to paint a colorful picture about otherwise dying economies, because they do not represent the actual state of those economies, but that of specific sectors. Stock prices, as in the case of Facebook, can be manipulated to show whatever the manipulators want to show.

The fake snowballing effect of the fiat money printing mechanism reached Europe, where the local markets received the news about the Japanese Bank injecting the worthless money into the economy as a good sign, which helped lift the markets.

In the meantime, in China, Jin Baisong, a member of the Chinese Academy of International Trade wrote on the China Daily newspaper that his government should “impose sanctions on Japan in the most effective manner” to bring Japan to its knees. He said China should consider invoke the security exception to punish Japan.

Other Chinese media such as the Hong Kong Economic Journal published an article about China’s plans to to cut off Japan’s supplies of rare earth metals which Japan needs to produce high tech consumer goods for local and international electronic giants. The considerations to punish Japan through credit lending, imposing cuts of raw materials and calling on international trade organizations to sanction Japan are three of the first steps China is considering to tame down the country’s intent to claim the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands as its property.

In the last two days, multiple protests exploded all over China against the Japanese which prompted many Japanese companies to close their doors for fear of retaliation.

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Who Destroyed the Middle Class? An Amoral Financial Oligarchy

BURNING PLATFORM | JUNE 20, 2012

“Over the last thirty years, the United States has been taken over by an amoral financial oligarchy, and the American dream of opportunity, education, and upward mobility is now largely confined to the top few percent of the population. Federal policy is increasingly dictated by the wealthy, by the financial sector, and by powerful (though sometimes badly mismanaged) industries such as telecommunications, health care, automobiles, and energy. These policies are implemented and praised by these groups’ willing servants, namely the increasingly bought-and-paid-for leadership of America’s political parties, academia, and lobbying industry.” – Charles Ferguson – Predator Nation

The Federal Reserve released its Survey of Consumer Finances last week. It’s a fact filled 80 page report they issue every three years to provide a financial snapshot of American households. As you can see from the chart above, the impact of the worldwide financial collapse has been catastrophic to most of the households in the U.S. A 39% decline in median net worth over a three year time frame is almost incomprehensible. Even worse, the decline has surely continued for the average American household through 2012 as home prices have continued to fall. Median family income plunged by 7.7% over a three year time frame and has not recovered since the collection of this data 18 months ago. Even more shocking is the fact that median household income was $48,900 in 2001. Families are making 6.3% less today than they were a decade ago. These figures are adjusted for inflation using the BLS massaged CPI figures. Anyone not under the influence of psychotic drugs or engaged as a paid shill for the financial oligarchy knows that inflation is purposely under reported in order to keep the masses sedated and pacified. The real decline in median household income is in excess of 20% since 2001.

The destruction of the blue collar jobs has been underway since the early 1970s. And the relentless decline in real blue collar wages has followed a bumpy downward path for decades. Sadly, the average person doesn’t understand the insidious destruction caused to their lives by the Federal Reserve generated inflation, as they actually believe their wages today are higher than they were in 1973. The reality is the oligarchy has used foreign wage differentials and the perceived benefits of globalization to ship manufacturing and now service jobs to Asia while using their captured mainstream media to convince the average American that this has been beneficial to their lives. Using one of their 15 credit cards to buy cheap foreign goods made by people who took their jobs was never so easy. I wonder if the benefits of being able to buy cheap Chinese electronics, toxic dog food, and slave labor produced igadgets outweighed the $2.3 trillion increase in consumer debt, 27% decline in real wages, 7 million manufacturing jobs lost since the mid-1970s, 46 million people on food stamps, $15 trillion increase in the National Debt since 1978, and a gutted decaying industrial base.

Not only have the oligarchs gutted our industrial base, resulting in enormous job losses among middle aged industrial workers, but they are now in the process of impoverishing the youth of this country by sucking them into crushing college debt with the false promise of decent paying jobs when they graduate with a degree in feminist studies from the University of Phoenix. The fabricated mantra that a college education guarantees a good paying job and a better future is not borne out by the facts. There are over 4,800 institutions of higher learning in this country, with only about 50 considered elite. There are another few hundred top notch institutions, with a few thousand mediocre schools and hundreds of for profit on-line diploma mills exploiting the easy Federal government debt to lure millions into their profit scheme of bilking unemployed naïve middle aged dupes and eventually the American taxpayer. The average student loan debt per student is $29,000. Student loan debt outstanding has risen from $200 billion in 2000 to over $1 trillion today. The Federal Government is blowing another bubble. They are the issuer, regulator and guarantor of these loans. They are making the loans with teaser rates to the ultimate in subprime borrowers – students without jobs going for worthless degrees at mediocre schools. The taxpayer is on the hook for the billions in loses that will surely follow. The payoff for this quadrupling of debt has been an 8% real decline in wages for college graduates since 2000. The monetary policies of the Federal Reserve and bipartisan fiscal policies of our government have led to this dreadful job market for the middle class.

The mainstream media dutifully reported a few key highlights from the Federal Reserve report and moved onto more important issues like Snooki’s pregnancy and the octomom’s new porno gig. We certainly couldn’t expect business journalists at Bloomberg, CNBC, NYT, or CNN to actually analyze the data, produce an intelligent dialogue of the causes, and reach a conclusion that the affluent and influential on Wall Street and in Washington DC caused the average family in this country to endure tremendous hardship while the oligarchy plundered and pillaged the countryside, stuffing their pockets with ill-gotten gains. Each of the ideological camps within the oligarchy trot out the usual suspects to blame the other ideological camp, while doing nothing to change the existing paradigm. Krugman and Carville are assigned the task of blaming Republican policies and dogma for the demise of the middle class. Obama and his minions already had their press release prepared, blaming George Bush and claiming the median family has made tremendous strides since he assumed command in2009. Mitt Romney (worth $250 million), whose pocket change exceeds the annual median household income of $45,800, feels the pain of the average American family and proposes a tax decrease for billionaires and less overbearing regulation on the honorable Wall Street banks in order to help the average family. It’s nothing but Kabuki Theater as the characters play their assigned parts in this elaborate display. Gary Wills cuts right to the chase:

“Yet while the rest of the populace was suffering, the rich just got richer. In 2009 and 2010, years in which millions were unable to find work, the top one percent reaped 93% of the ‘recovery’ income, and corporations are making more than they ever did. And the Republicans can still propose even further cuts in the taxes of ‘job creators’ whose only job creation has been for their own lawyers and lobbyists.”

What you will not receive from the corporate mouthpieces in the mainstream media is an explanation of where the money went, who stole it and why it happened. The theme from the media is the loss in net worth and decade long decline in household income was unavoidable and due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control. This is a false storyline perpetrated by those who have stolen your money. It’s been a bipartisan screw job and it was initiated by Clinton, Rubin, Gramm and Leach, who deregulated the banking system in 1999 by repealing the Glass-Steagall Act, but made it clear the Greenspan Put would always be in place to protect the banks from their own recklessness, greed and hubris. As a result, Wall Street could go ahead and take irresponsible financial system destroying risks in pursuit of vast riches, knowing they could count on the unlimited checkbook of Uncle Sam if things went south, and that’s exactly what happened. Heads they won, tails you lost. It’s good to own the politicians, regulators, and media.

Dude, Where’s My Net Worth?

“Sometime around the year 2010, Xers will hit a hangover mood like that of the Lost in the early 1930s and the Liberty in the late 1760s: a feeling of personal exhaustion mixed with a new public seriousness. The members of this forty- and fiftyish generation will fan out across an unusually wide distribution of personal outcomes, reminiscent of a night at the bingo table. A few will be wildly successful, others totally ruined, and the largest number will have lost a little ground since the days of Boomer midlife.” – Strauss & Howe – Generations – 1991

Neil Howe and Bill Strauss wrote their first generational theory book six years prior to their epic Fourth Turning prophecy. It appears they nailed it. Generation X households saw their net worth crushed, with a 54% loss in three years. The Baby Boomer households also took a beating in this banker engineered financial collapse. The Silent generation has survived this downturn relatively unscathed. Most of the Silents traded down from their primary residence at or near the top of the housing boom. As Neil Howe points out:

“Most sold or annuitized their financial assets at a much better moment in the history of the Dow. Even if they didn’t, they are more likely than Boomers or Xers to be getting retirement checks from defined-benefit corporate or government plans that are unaffected by the market.”

The Millenials and late Xers did not lose much because they didn’t have much to lose. Most did not own a house or stocks. As the economy continues to deteriorate the generational tension builds. The Silents and Boomers, who vote in large numbers, have not and will not vote for anyone who attempts to reform our entitlement system and make it economically viable over the long-term for young people just entering the job market.

The false storyline about the 2007 through 2010 being an aberration in the long term path to prosperity for the average American family is refuted by the following chart.

This chart paints a long-term picture of generational inequality that has been going on over the last three decades. Over three decades the Silent generation has seen their median real net worth increase by 133%, while GenX has seen their median real net worth decrease by 55% compared to the same age cohort in 1983. Only those 55 and over have seen a real improvement in their net worth over the last 27 years. Considering this period encompassed a seventeen year bull market and the GDP grew from $3.5 trillion to $15.7 trillion, a 450% increase, a few bucks should have trickled down to the average household. Even on an inflation adjusted basis, GDP has risen 125% since 1983. Evidently the economic policies supported by both parties across decades have not floated all boats – just the yachts. Age is only part of the equation. Class is the other piece. There is a class war being waged and the Buffett, Dimon, Blankfein, Romney, Clinton, Koch and the rest of the ultra-wealthy oligarchs are winning. We are now in the midst of a Fourth Turning and the corrupt, dysfunctional, amoral social order will be swept away before the climax of this Crisis.

“Through the Third Turning and into the initial stages of the Fourth, the Silent will prosper, Boomers will cope with declining expectations, and Gen-Xers will get hammered. Throughout history, we have argued, inequality both by class and by age reaches its apogee entering the Crisis era. Indeed, part of the historical purpose of the Crisis is to tear down dysfunctional institutions, vacate positions of entitlement and privilege, rectify the inequality, and create a tabula rasa on which the rising generation can build something new.” – Neil Howe

The reason for the epic collapse of middle class net worth is quite simple when viewed from a 10,000 foot elevation. The great descent in net worth was primarily due to the bursting of the Federal Reserve created real estate bubble. The Case Shiller Home Price Index plunged 28% between 2007 and 2010. The wealth destruction was concentrated among the working middle class because their homes accounted for the vast majority of their household net worth. For the wealthy, housing is a fraction of their vast net worth, while for the lowly poor; homeownership is now only a dream. Of course, between 2000 and 2007 anyone that could fog a mirror was encouraged by George Bush, Barney Frank, the National Association of Realtors, Alan Greenspan, and Wall Street shills to “own” a home. With home prices having fallen an additional 7% since 2010, the middle class has seen a further decline in their net worth. Meanwhile, Ben Bernanke’s ZIRP, QE1, QE2, Operation Twist, and the upcoming “Operation Screw the Middle Class Again” have succeeded in expanding the net worth of millionaires, billionaires and the bonuses of Wall Street bankers, while destroying the fragile finances of little old ladies and middle class risk adverse savers.

Once you dig into the details beneath the thin veneer of Bernaysian obfuscation, you realize the corporate mainstream media storyline of middle class decline has a veiled storyline of a powerful, connected 1%, enriched at the expense of the middle class.

In Part 2 of this three part series I will examine who stole your net worth and in Part 3 why they stole your net worth. Part 4 will require pitchforks, torches and a guillotine.

Monopoly Business Model, Reality and the Search for Individual Liberty

OPINION / COLUMN
By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | JUNE 16, 2012

It is interesting to read the thoughts from people who were trained in the traditional educational system think about the current global economic crisis. Their explanations are usually filled with theories that they read in their carefully crafted textbooks, which they are more than willing to regurgitate in order to put down someone else’s opinions, as if what they learned from textbooks was an authentic reflection of reality. Unfortunately, college degrees and flashy titles do not provide a real insight into the true reasons why we are in crisis today.

History is shaped by those who wrote it, and therefore it only provides a one-sided reference to which we can look back at. The issue is where should we look in order to have a good idea about what happened and how that shapes what is happening today in all aspects of life.

The current economic crisis is a very broad topic, which cannot be discussed in one op-ed. I wouldn’t presume to be able to explain the current state of affairs the world is in by writing or responding to questions that are usually e-mailed to me by readers. It is much too complicated. That is not to say that I would run away from trying to provide a starting point.

So here it is:

We’ve been under the same economic and financial system for at least the past 100 years. This system was conceived much earlier by very smart people who recognized that monopoly was the best business model for themselves. Since then, monopoly men have controlled every single aspect of human development. They have shaped the very social fabric of modern society by maintaining a tight grip on resources, their availability, development, and as a result, the way markets work. Therefore, we cannot even begin to believe that there has ever been the slightest sign of a free market economy anywhere in the planet.

Throughout human history, people associated themselves to create strong groups that helped them take care of their interests. The success of such groups relied on how much each individual’s needs and rights were respected. Much of the success of the earliest forms of civilization were based on the respect given to natural law and individual rights such as the right to life, private property, self-defense, privacy and so on. The moment one of those rights were violated, or when force was used to limit or otherwise eliminate such rights, civilizations struggled to find the balance again.

These struggles have been permanent throughout history because there have always been individuals who sought not to respect individual and natural rights (natural law) but to find the slightest edge to govern over others. Then came the idea that something called Government could be better at managing what all individuals had done themselves for thousands of years, and so humans entrusted their lives to a group of trusted servants. Later we learned that Government is just an instrument to maintain the monopoly, because it successfully hides the reality we all live in by keeping us busy, working most of our lives to maintain the fraudulent bureaucracy that the monopoly men so eagerly dominate.

The trusted servants were bought and paid for by the monopoly men, who found it much easier to bribe, threaten or manipulate a few good men, rather than bribing, threatening or manipulating whole populations. That is how monopoly men came to be Government. The monopoly business model accompanies humanity up until today, and every day that passed, those monopoly men were more empowered by their far-reaching influence, access to resources, raw materials, technology and political gain. That is where we are today. The monopoly men found a way to legalize the mafia model, which they used in their businesses and that for a long time have applied to Government. It is through this model that they manage to control every single aspect of our lifestyles.

What an economist believes or thinks about what is right or wrong for a country or a continent is irrelevant if that economist doesn’t take into account that the economy is controlled by powerful corporate interests that control it all. No economic theory will be ever successful at explaining why a crisis happened or how to fix it unless it recognizes its real origins. University degrees, economy textbooks and memberships to reputable groups do not help when trying to explain why the world is in the deepest depression in modern history. We all need to recognize that in today’s world nation-states no longer dictate what happens with their own destinies or with that of their citizens. Monopoly men do. And they will continue to do so until humanity awakens to what is behind the curtain – or in this case, who is behind the curtain.

Humanity will never be able to have real Capitalism, Free Markets or Social Justice – whatever all that means – unless we are unable to recognize how the system really works. Keynes, Krugman and all these other thinkers and talking heads bring nothing new to an economic debate, they just repeat what they learned in college or from whatever mode of education they were exposed to. There is really nothing new or beneficial we can get in order to analyze the current state of humanity if we take as our starting point ideologies that have long defrauded us all, which were all invented by the same monopoly men I mentioned above as tools to divide and conquer. The same people who invented the theory of Socialism, are the very same who invented Capitalism, Fascism, Democracy, and all of the other faces of the same die.

There is hope though.

No doubt, a large minority of humans is now aware of this state of affairs, and that large minority will have to once again carry the heavy weight of the large ignorant majority in order to deliver humanity from the evil that a global monopoly has brought upon all of us. If there is anything positive the current economic crisis has brought, is that it has awaken millions of people around the world. This crisis has been an opportunity to open the eyes and see beyond what is being shown to all of us as reality, but that is nothing but a fraud. The early stages of a new struggle for a return to individual freedom is in the works as we speak and just as it happened in the past, it will take a while to conclude.

Since Monopoly could indeed be defined as the lack of equality, equality is not achieved by having a powerful entity taking from the favored to give it to the poor. The poor need to be educated about reality, so that they can rise by themselves and create their own present and future. The moment people understand the concept of individual rights, self-responsibility, self-governance and so on, they will be – by choice – able to defeat the monopoly system.

The people in power today saw a great opportunity and took it; for the worst as we now know. But they had the liberty of taking it. We all need to have that opportunity to be able to take it, but with the understanding that we have the responsibility to take care of ourselves and to forge our own lives, not to steal from others to get ahead. Finally, equality should be a concept that means that we all are equally prosperous, in all sense of the word, not equally poor, which is what the leaders of modern socialism and government interventionism support – sometimes even unknowingly.

On a personal note, I have to add that using force or violence — which is what the monopoly men and governments normally do — to impose views, policies or wishes on anyone will only keep us from achieving the kind of world most of us seek to live in. The moment we all understand that imposing our will on anyone by using force or coercion is the root of all of our problems, is the moment we will be that much closer to solving most of those problems.

That will happen when individuals learn about and understand the concept of self-governance, self-responsibility and respect towards the inalienable rights that we are entitled to as individuals. After a majority of us learns and understands this concepts, we can all sit around and debate economics, politics or any other issue.

Greeks Withdraw $1 Billion a Day as they Await for Decisive Vote

REUTERS | JUNE 13, 2012

Greeks pulled their cash out of the banks and stocked up with food ahead of a cliffhanger election on Sunday that many fear will result in the country being forced out of the euro.

Bankers said up to 800 million euros ($1 billion) were leaving major banks daily and retailers said some of the money was being used to buy pasta and canned goods, as fears of returning to the drachma were fanned by rumors that a radical leftist leader may win the election.

The last published opinion polls showed the conservative New Democracy party, which backs the 130 billion euro ($160 billion) bailout that is keeping Greece afloat, running neck and neck with the leftist Syriza party, which wants to cancel the rescue deal.

As the election approaches, publishing polls is now legally banned and in the ensuing information vacuum, party officials have been leaking contradictory “secret polls”.

On Tuesday, one rumor making the rounds was that Syriza was leading by a wide margin.

“This is nonsense,” one reputable Greek pollster said on condition of anonymity. “Our polls show the picture has not changed much since the last polls were published. Parties may be leaking these numbers on purpose to boost their standing.”

The pollster said there was some consolidation, with voters turning to New Democracy and Syriza from smaller parties but the pool of undecided voters remained unusually large so close to the election and the result was impossible to predict.

Both parties say they want Greece to remain in the single currency but Syriza has pledged to scrap the bailout agreement signed in March which has imposed some of the toughest austerity measures seen in Europe in decades.

The European Union and International Monetary Funds have warned that Greece, which has only enough cash to last for a few weeks, must stick to the conditions of the bailout deal or risk seeing funds cut off.

Euro Or Drachma Dilemma

New Democracy has been telling voters they must choose between the euro or the drachma, while Syriza promises to end the austerity measures imposed by Greece’s international lenders, such as salary and pension cuts, that have driven many Greeks into abject poverty.

Fears that Greece will collapse financially and leave the euro have slowly drained Greek banks over the last two years. Central bank figures show that deposits shrank by about 17 percent, or 35.4 billion euros ($44.4 billion) in 2011 and stood 165.9 billion euros ($208.1 billion) at end-April.

Bankers said the pace was picking up ahead of the vote, with combined daily deposit outflows from the major banks at 500-800 million euros ($625 million to $1 billion) over the past few days, and 10-30 million euros ($12-36 million) at smaller banks.

“This includes cash withdrawals, wire transfers and investments into money market funds, German Bonds, U.S. Treasuries and EIB bonds,” said one banker, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Retailers said consumers were stocking up on non-perishable food while almost all other goods were seeing a huge drop in sales as cash-strapped Greeks have no money to spare in the country’s fifth year of recession.

“People are terrified by the prospect of returning to the drachma and some believe it’s good to fill their cupboard with food products,” said Vassilis Korkidis, head of the ESEE retail federation.

“It’s over the top, we must not panic. Filling the cupboard with food doesn’t mean we will escape the crisis,” he said.