October 7, 2008
The toxic mortgage-debt paper is only a cover. The real story under the covers of the history book written since the Great Depression is about the investment bankers and their allies who have returned with a vengeance to totally bankrupt America and its financial system with their greed, which created the present subprime debt and recently raised the national debt ceiling to $11 trillion and change.
The fact as David Sirota noted in Saying ‘No Deal’ To this New Deal is “We now face market forces uninhibited by democratic governance — Chinese dictators and Saudi princes [who] can move trillions of dollars without so much as a press release. This bailout, marketed as a speed enhancer, is an aggressive attempt to discard democracy’s checks and balances and pantomime that kind of autocracy.”
Yes, understand it is the bankruptcy of America that is being played out, not just poison housing debt. This bankruptcy has been enabled by our oil bankers and slave-labor nations, the inheritors of millions of our jobs. And the bankruptcy is not just financial, but ethical, moral, a total perversion of Roosevelt’s adhering to “The Common Good.” For now we have only “the individual’s profit as good,” exampled by Paulson & Company.
Sirota adds, “While our political culture still required a public sales job (thus, the fear mongering), the bill’s czarism aims to permanently euthanize democracy in the name of improving our capitalism’s global agility. . . . It was the beginning of a systematic assault on our Constitution and a radical departure from Franklin Roosevelt’s original covenant — a dangerous ‘new deal’ we must say ‘no deal’ to.”
This is the same notion that Catherine Austin Fitts and Carolyn Betts talk about in 10 Reasons Not To Bailout Wall Street. They write, “Crime that pays is crime that stays . . . There is reason to believe that Wall Street and those they represent are holding loans without collateral, multiple loans secured by the same properties, and other fraudulent instruments among the ‘troubled assets.’ Based on the secret ‘Treasury Conference Call’ with 800 Wall Street insiders, we know the deal proposed to be passed by Congress isn’t the real deal promised to Wall Street.”
What could that real deal be? Underwriting bubbles that burst in perpetuity? Making the blowhards of fear rich, richer and richest? Knowing that they can always turn to the American taxpayer to pick up the tab, whether it’s the savings and loan debacle, the dot.com bubble, the housing bubble, the missing trillions of 9/11? Or is the deal to smash our economy in pieces if Wall Streeters don’t pay? Or both?
Hugh Sunday explains the predators’ techniques in A short rough primer on leveraging and derivatives: “Leveraging means something like this. You sell $10 million in stock. You use this money as the basis to take out a loan so you can buy $100 million in mortgages. Now say you issue mortgage-backed securities based on these and sell them. Now you have a $100 million in cash so you go out and buy more mortgages only this time you use your $100 million to buy a billion dollars of them. You have just leveraged your initial $10 million 100 times.”
Can anyone do this? No. “This works if you, your banks, and the buyers of your paper are all sufficiently greedy. Why would banks loan you $100 million on $10 million collateral? The short answer is they wouldn’t for you or me, but they would and did to financial companies because of the fees and interest they made off of such transactions and because they ‘knew’ those companies were good for it. . . .”
Here is another scam vehicle known as ‘swaps.’ “This was a kind of insurance policy in the event that some mortgages declined in value. This derivative basically said if you pay me a certain fixed amount, say every 6 months, I will make good on any difference between what you initially paid for your mortgage-backed security and what it is worth when you come see me. When the housing market was going up, this amounted to essentially free money for the issuers of this kind of derivative. They could sell it as extra insurance to conservative institutions secure in the knowledge that the housing market would rise forever.
“Except of course it didn’t. The original idea was that if a package of mortgages or tranch lost value because of a high rate of defaults, the swaps or insurance buyer could demand a settlement from the swaps issuer to make up for the loss of revenue. Now on the upside of the bubble, default rates were low. Homes that went into default could be resold at even higher prices so there was no downside. However, when the bubble burst, default rates went up and issuers of these derivatives didn’t face payouts on one or two of them but on a huge number of them.”
But these devices could not occur without a kind of dangerous “we’re all connected” web. It is made up of the banks, investment houses, mortgage companies, brokers, hedge funds, insurance companies, international money launderers, Buffets, Greenbergs, Soroses all around the world, now connected by greed and computer terminals, and able to leverage or debit billions on paper or swaps in a nanosecond.
Among other favorite ploys, “are mortgage-backed securities. They are not the mortgages themselves but a financial instrument (or to use the technical term, “thingy”) based upon or derived from them. (Buyers of these are not interested in the underlying asset but in the cash flow from it, i.e., the mortgage payments.) These can themselves be further sliced and diced into further generations of derivatives . . . one that is based on 50% of this derivative plus 30% of that one and a final 20% of a third. And so on and so on. All this was to dilute and spread risk or moral hazard, but it also had the effect of putting vast distance between the mortgage title and the holders of the derivatives based on that mortgage.”
The derivatives crept like succubae into the incubus of America’s body politic and financial system. Obviously, many financial types could not “just say no” to them? In fact, in order to get their $700 billion bailout, they could manipulate the market for hundreds (even thousands if necessary) of losses in Dow points — trillions in assets wiped out, pensions, credit, bank accounts, trusts, even freezing assets of universities and colleges beyond the ability of the average Joe Sixpack to fight back, other than to vote for a demented Sarah Barracuda and Citizen McCain.
Lastly, it wasn’t like America wasn’t warned. Vermont’s Senator Bernie Sanders, among many others, wrote in Don’t make working people fail: “This bill does not deal with the absurdity of having the fox guarding the hen house. Maybe I’m the only person in America who thinks so, but I have a hard time understanding why we are giving $700 billion to the secretary of the Treasury, the former CEO of Goldman Sachs, who, along with other financial institutions, actually got us into this problem. Now, maybe I’m the only person in America who thinks that’s a little bit weird, but that is what I think . . .”
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
Could it be that his great, diverse, multilingual, hard-working population of 300 million was Wall Street’s prisoner, the Congress literally under martial law? Had they all been Sleeping with the Devil, as Robert Baer described in his tale of American-Saudi symbiosis, each inflated by the others excesses, and their mutual people driven into poverty.
For, after the initial heroic stand of the House rejecting the bankruptcy bailout, all hell broke loose, and you ended up with a 263 to 171 reversal of the rejection on Friday at 1 p.m. That is, after two relatively quiet days, Tuesday and Wednesday, on Thursday, the Dow dove again. It opened up on Friday, smoothing the way for the House revote, which turned slowly in the wind to statements like “it’s not the right way to go, but the only bill we have,” “flawed but something to ease the pain,” “now I don’t personally like it, but what else is there” and so on. If there was nothing else, they should have continued looking for something else.
But here was America once more acquiescing to massive corruption, having its Treasury looted, its working people driven further into submission, because the Dow could turn like a fire-breathing dragon and eliminate trillions. There was no St. George to wield his sword and cut the monster’s head off. The Knights of the Templar Congress had turned tail and/or been commanded to bail or face dire consequences for themselves if they refused to play bailout and harkened to the threats that poured into email boxes and voicemail from America and foreign nations.
The members of Congress returned, making their speeches, quoting from Thomas Paine or the Constitution. Some railed against the bailout then sputtered out. Some stuck to their guns. More caved. The spark to light the fire of rebellion didn’t catch. By voting time, the numbers began reversing like a hacked voting machine’s. The “compromise” which everyone was talking about had been realized. The original three-page bill had fluffed up to 450 plus pages and $150 billion in pork had been laid on, adding insult to injury.
Whatever crumbs that could be brushed off the table, a raised Federal Insurance Corporation cap of $250,000 for lost bank accounts, some ability to handle the bankruptcies (though the final deals could be made and held in secrecy by Czar Paulson), insurance for mental health, but the volcano of revolt had not erupted. They were already breaking out champagne on Wall Street. Popping corks could be heard in the distance and hearty laughter. Or was that from the House floor? So it went.
Consider, too, the report last week that in September the economy lost 159,000 jobs. As the New York Times wrote, “the worst month in five years.” As the editors of the New Yorker wrote, “Five million people have fallen into poverty. The number of Americans without health insurance has grown by seven million, while average premiums have nearly doubled . . . For the top one per cent of us, the Bush tax cuts are worth, on average, about a thousand dollars a week; for the bottom fifth, about a dollar and a half . . .
“At the same, a hundred and fifty thousand American troops fought on in Iraq and thirty-three thousand in Afghanistan . . . The direct costs, besides an expenditure of more than six hundred billion dollars, have included the loss of more than four thousand Americans, the wounding of thirty thousand . . . and the displacement of four and a half million men, women and children.”
The figures of Iraqi dead run to more than a million. As to the troops, Brasscheck TV reports an ongoing neglect if they are wounded and an incredible struggle to receive benefits. Wounded soldiers are receiving medical bills, this after being “warehoused” in substandard facilities for months. This while Kellogg Brown & Root, the Haliburton subsidiary, continues to get rich on contracts that badly serve those troops. This was to profit Vice President Cheney, its parent company’s former CEO. But it was more bankruptcy of spirit towards veterans.
As to the bailout itself, Michael Ruppert, author of Crossing the Rubicon, spoke out, “Well, I think the verdict on the bailout is in. Everyone seems to know it’s going to fail already. The Dow fell like a brick after it passed. That gives credence to what I was saying that the Repubs intend to step on this economy like a cockroach. This bill was a steamroller on rocket fuel. Many Dems went along. Politics didn’t allow many members not to vote yes. The rock and the hard places . . .
“Now California is ready to collapse. And who was Ahnold’s big financial guru? Warren Buffet. Who is a major stockholder in Wells Fargo [about to outbid Citigroup for Wachovia]? Warren Buffet. Who bought heavily into a bailed-out AIG? Warren Buffet. [Parenthetically AIG has already used $61 billion of its 85 billion Fed loan]. Who bought out Constellation Energy? Warren Buffet.
“The big guys are starting to show their cards. That means this is it. . . .” Ruppert concludes with the thought that “The sooner all this happens, the sooner we can start fixing things. Let the old paradigm acknowledge and achieve its death quickly. A new paradigm is being born. We are already in the new era.” Amen. And perhaps, this is America’s damaged but still most vital asset: its courage and optimism. It’s willingness to face the fascist enemies within, from Bush to Buffett to Paulson and his Wall Street cronies, and liberate this country with the truth.
We are still a viable nation of 300 million people, who know how to build, to fight, and how to overcome obstacles. It is now a matter of taking back our country. This is a struggle that continues the efforts of WW II when we thought that we had erased fascism. Unfortunately, its heirs picked up the torch. We know more clearly who they are now, know more about the greed that is their twisted cross. And so, now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country. For all who wish to be, they are the redeeming asset that has escaped the bankruptcy of America. It is time to be stand up and be counted. And to do the job that needs to be done.
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