Only when you follow the story from the start, stay abreast of how it develops, carefully parse the language to unspin the spin, get your information from a wide range of sources and analyze the data for what it is – rather than for what you want it to be – can you hope to arrive at an objective conclusion. When this process is followed in observing and analyzing the Spanish banking crisis, it leads us to two conclusions:
1. It is, above all else, a con game. The con artists (heads of states, chiefs of finance and assorted technocrats) will say anything, do anything and promise anything in order to instill “confidence” in the markets and mollify the people.
2. It is crystal clear and undeniable that all these leaders, authorities and experts shooting off their mouths do not have a clue as to how to solve the crisis.
Elections are little more than turf wars between political crime families. But rather than fighting it out on the streets, to give it an air of legitimacy, the battles are waged at the ballot box. Republican, Democrats, Socialist, Bonannos, Gambinos, Lanskys, the methods differed but the motivation is the same: monetary profit and personal power.
And just as the old crime bosses died, were killed or dethroned and their families dissolved, so, too, the political crime syndicate is now under threat.
The time is ripe for new parties and new systems. Will the openings be filled with something new or will the political mob continue to rule? The outcome depends upon one thing: the will and spirit of the individual. Will people take their destiny into their own hands or continue to kneel before their oppressors; their “leaders,” “lawmakers,” “experts” and “authorities?”
It is only through having a clear understanding of the timeline of events that a clear picture of where they will lead is possible. Mainstream coverage, even when done in depth, tends to obscure the big picture by concentrating on the “breaking news” details.
It is important to recognize how, with each passing day, the headline news shifts focus from one crisis to the other. First there was Ireland, then Portugal, then Greece, now Spain. Tomorrow Italy, and the next day the world.
Out of the volumes of press coverage, an impression was created that the experts, authorities, politicians and pundits – even when they disagreed with each other – knew what they were talking about. It was only by following the story closely and referencing an array of global media sources that it became transcendently clear that they were all full of shit and making it up as they went along.
The proof was that not only were the problems not solved, they were exacerbated.
Yet, the central bankers, and grandiosely labeled “monetary policy makers” were allowed to get away with it. Political and financial royalty pontificated in voices of authority from their financial palaces and pulpits, while the presstitutes persisted in kowtowing to them. As for the general public, apart from a tiny percentage of the financially attuned, most didn’t know, didn’t care, and couldn’t tell you the difference between IMF, EU, ECB and ABC.
The Shadow knows! The shakedown
There was no solving the European debt crisis. Despite big promises made by “leaders” attending the G-20 meeting in Mexico, it concluded with no breakthrough. The buzz quickly died down and gave way to a “great deal of anxiety among investors,” according to ECB executive board member Benoit Coeuré. “Political choices have to be made,” he explained, “and it’s not surprising that markets are in disarray because they don’t know the answers.”
Of course it was “not surprising.” The markets didn’t know the answers because the G-20 politicians didn’t have the answers. These weren’t brilliant minds with proven track records. They were the exact opposite. They were no more than career politicians whose careers were littered with policy failures. “More fundamentally,” Coeuré continued, “we are now in the third year of the European crisis and coming to a point where some of the short-term fixes have been tested and exhausted, and deeper questions are being asked.”
Third year? Short term fixes? Tested and exhausted? In blunt language, what this means is that after three years and trillions spent, their quick (short term) fixes did no more than temporarily bail out banks that had made bad bets and fallen deeply in debt, while driving a number of European nations into depression.
The Libor scandal should have been the story of the century. The magnitude and import of the crime, and its incommensurately paltry punishment, should have been headline news. Thus, only a small percentage of the public knew about it and understood what was really going on. As for the rest of the population, even if Libor made it into “their” news, they wouldn’t know a Libor if they got hit over the head by one. (LIBOR is the London Interbank Offered Rate is the average interest rate estimated by leading banks in London that they would be charged if borrowing from other banks)
While public outrage at flagrant banking criminality was building throughout much of the world, what was not being recognized was that, in fact, banks controlled the world. This wasn’t a paranoid, Illuminati-style conspiracy theory. It was a Central Bank coup: “Democratic” governments had been taken over by the banks. The banks weren’t colluding with the government. They were the government. They were one and the same.
Billions of lives and livelihoods were affected by the interest-rate rigging scheme, which was but the most recent in a long series of high crimes and misdemeanors committed by the financial crime syndicate. The banks were literally sapping the life out of the people.
Yet, in the Summer of 2012, even with the wave of high-profile bank bailouts and bank frauds making the news, you still could not read about what it signified.
Sovereign debt crisis – Spain, Greece, Italy, Bankia, euro bonds, Libor – there was just too much going on for most people to understand what it meant for them. Both the specialized financial language used and the labyrinthine and Machiavellian business practices described were profession-specific and beyond the comprehension of those unschooled in it.
It was not that it was in any sense a secret. It had been divulged almost 200 years ago by Mayer Amschel Bauer Rothschild:
“The few who can understand the system will be either so interested in its profits, or so dependent on its favours, that there will be no opposition from that class, while, on the other hand, that great body of people, mentally incapable of comprehending the tremendous advantage that Capital derives from the system, will bear its burden without complaint and, perhaps, without even suspecting that the system is inimical to their interests.”
And that’s precisely how the “system” has been operating ever since.
By 2012, the takeover was complete. Rothschild’s 1838 bankers’ manifesto had been realized: “Let me issue and control a Nation’s money and I care not who makes its laws.”
The people had become vassals to the bankers. But they liked to call it “freedom and democracy.”
Since the “Panic of ’08,” among the countries directly affected (with the exception of Iceland, who let the banks fail) priority number one has been to save the banks at any cost – even though it was universally recognized that the banks and Wall Street were, in large part, responsible for creating the Panic. This was the precise opposite of the government’s reaction to the Crash of ’29, when banks and brokerages responsible for building the speculative bubbles were recognized for what they were and reined in and regulated accordingly.
Not only did the rich rule, they ruled by divine right (e.g., Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein’s famous assertion, “We’re doing God’s work”).
Regardless of their “mis-steps,” regardless of their gross failures, regardless of the widespread effects of their failures, the people calling the shots never accept responsibility for their actions. At most they express regrets and leave it to the general public to pay for their mistakes. For all the talk about reducing debt and fostering responsible economic policy, the real purpose behind the austerity measures was to wring every cent they could out of the public in order to save the banks from the consequences of their bad bets and make good their losses.
In the case of Greece, for example, this is how it worked: The citizens of the Eurozone were taxed to pay off the bad bets made by banks and to pay off debts incurred by the Greek government. Their tax money went directly to the “troika” (European Commission, European Central Bank, International Monetary Fund.) The troika would then send the funds to Greece in return for Greek bonds that nobody else would buy and that the Greek government could not service.
The Greek government took its cut of the tax money and sent the balance back to the troika. Thus, the troika loaned money to the government, most of which then went back to the troika in the form of interest payments on the bonds. In this way, 75 percent of Greece’s $230 billion debt was effectively appropriated by the troika. The long and short of it was that the troika enriched itself at the taxpayers’ expense and to the peril of the economy. The harsher the payment terms, the higher taxes had to be and the greater the cuts to services and benefits. The bigger the cuts, the deeper the depression. How could it be otherwise?
By June, official Greek unemployment hit 22 percent. In other words, the bankers and assorted financiers got practically all the money, the euro-public got taxed and received nothing in return and the Greek people were reduced to penury.
What’s in a name?
Rather than seriously address, or even acknowledge, these revolutions in the making, the news media’s standard response was to apply a pejorative label, whether or not the label fit. Any party making inroads into or unseating the ruling parties’ power was linguistically marginalized, demonized, or oversimplified as “populist,” “separatist,” “extremist,” “radical,” “anti-establishment,” etc.
Perhaps it was inevitable that news organizations would view anyone or anything that stepped beyond conventional wisdom as being on the “fringe,” since the media have positioned themselves as centrist (“Fair and balanced,” “All the News That’s Fit to Print,” “The Most Trusted Name in News”). Incestuously tied to the ruling parties, the media have become part of what all those populists, separatists, extremists, radicals and anti-establishmentarians were bent upon disempowering.
Yet, the simplistic language meant to diminish these diverse, complex political movements inadvertently described what would link them: class warfare.
The Great Book of Lies
Bankia was formed by the Spanish government in 2010 through a merger of 7 insolvent banks that had bet heavily and lost when Spain’s property market bubble blew up. In the Spring of 2011, Bankia prepared a €4 billion public offering, but the IPO fell flat with global institutional investors who were unwilling to put money into it because of its risky real estate exposure.
With the smart money out of the game, the Bankia bandits and the government wise guys targeted easier marks, launching a massive and successful public relations/propaganda campaign that exhorted Spanish citizens to buy shares of Bankia as a patriotic duty to help revive the sinking economy.
It was a con game, a ruthless, money-junkie ploy. It began with a lie and ended with a lie. Initially, shares were touted as a safe investment for the risk-averse. Bankia announced a €300 million profit for 2011, only to subsequently “re-adjust” those results as a €3 billion loss! Big international investors cashed out early, while the little people went down with the near-worthless stock.
The IMF applauded, asserting the bailout was big enough to restore credibility to Spanish banks. Christine Lagarde, IMF managing director, echoed the enthusiasm: the plan provided “assurance that the financing needs of Spain’s banking system will be fully met.” And in America, Treasury Secretary and financial Pom-Pom Boy-in-Chief, Timothy Geithner, called the plan “important for the health of Spain’s economy and as concrete steps on the path to financial union, which is vital to the resilience of the euro area.”
Investors, unmoved by the cheerleading, saw it as a good deal only for banks and their shareholders, but a burden for the government that would take on more debt and the taxpayers who would be responsible for paying it off. The Spanish daily, El Mundo noted that the €1.8 billion per year interest payments on the loan would “oblige the government to tighten the austerity thumbscrew even further … One thing is for sure: no one lends €100 billion without demanding anything in return.”
Days later, the yield on Spain’s 10-year bonds, an indicator of the risk of holding that debt, rose to 6.96 percent, the highest since the euro was introduced in 1999 – just a hair below the 7 percent that the financial world regards as the interest rate of no return, beyond which there is no possibility of ever servicing the debt.
The complex machinery of state – government, financial sector, media – had been set in lock-step motion, devoted to nothing other than rescuing the banks. There was no need to justify the action. The banks were sacred, holy, sacrosanct, indispensable to the life of the planet. It was as self-evident as the fact that “all people are created equal” … especially if they were bankers and investors and therefore, like George Orwell’s pigs in Animal Farm, more equal than others.
The Only Change You Can Believe In
For anything significant to change, people must stop playing “follow the leader.” But, if people stop following the leader, then who will lead them? The answer: No one! You must lead yourself.
But self-leadership cannot be bought, given, or imposed. It has to come from within. It begins with expecting nothing from your “leaders” and understanding that everything has to come from you. It means having the courage not to cower to power. The dignity to claim your rightful and sacred place on earth. To respect ourself, demand it of others and show respect to all who merit it … regardless of class or status. The integrity to keep and live by your word. And the passion to live a life of meaning and conviction; for your heart to feel what your mind knows.
This is not an “every man for himself,” manifesto. Rather it is a call for a cooperative of individuals with the courage, dignity, respect, integrity and passion to chart a future that is not dictated and imposed upon them by ruling political parties and the unprincipled and oppressive systems they represent. There is no “We the People” until “I the Person” is willing to stand up and speak for himself or herself.
For the future to change, the individual must change. When enough individuals change, everything changes.