Many of you will be very interested in the financial scandals that led to the 2008 economic collapse, and its social repercussions which include OWS (Occupy Wall Street). I have expanded some comments on this topic, which I posted at the Unrepentant Marxist blog, and present them here. I am posting this because it includes links to 2 video presentations (the first in three parts), which I think you will find interesting. The first 3-part video is of Christopher Hedges speaking to Harvard students, and the second video is Episode 217 of the Keiser Report, a regular commentary on the “Global insurrection against banker occupation, GIABO.”
Both of these video presentations suggest directions OWS can take, or evolve into, in answer to the question of “what next for OWS?”
For those who have not followed the financial news, the Keiser Report discusses: the recent scandal of MF Global, the European financial crisis and secret Franco-German machinations within the Fiscal World War III on the Continent (“Überdebten”), and the explosive revelations of the Bloomberg Freedom-of-Information suit to release Federal Reserve data on its secret multi-trillion-dollar lending (half the US GDP) to the insolvent big banks in 2008. The banks made $13B in profits “processing” these loans from the Federal Reserve (backing up the banks’ toxic worthless subprime “assets”), and which they distributed mostly as bonuses within their ranks. Al Capone only owned a few wards of Chicago, but these Wall Street banks managed to snag half the US GDP. Sustained moral outrage by the public would be a good thing, far more than just OWS; where is it?
Today, I finished reading Tony Judt’s book Ill Fares The Land (Penguin, 2010).
I highly recommend this book to everyone, and especially to anyone participating in the Occupy Movement (particularly the student-age contingent) and/or sympathetic to OWS aspirations. Judt’s book is like a blending of Keiser Report data into a Hedges exhortation to arrive at a seamless exegesis of this moment in history. This book is the moral equivalent in our time to Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense” in 1776. Would that it was as widely read and taken to heart.
Christopher Hedges at Harvard on OWS:
Part 1: http://youtu.be/AlR9rMrYuHU
Part 2: http://youtu.be/ugU6ELwbi_o
Part 3: http://youtu.be/SKSUfCG7ax4
(for part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AlR9rMrYuHU)
(for part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugU6ELwbi_o)
(for part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKSUfCG7ax4)
Thanks to Louis Proyect for posting these video links at: http://louisproyect.wordpress.com/2011/11/29/chris-hedges-speaks-at-harvard-on-ows/
To complement these Hedges videos, listen to this Keiser Report (below) on the toxic entwining of:
— the Banksters (who are insolvent but want “unlimited” public bailouts with which to give themselves bonuses and build up big hoards of cash so as to keep gambling, instead of spreading capital throughout the economy, stimulating it and creating jobs — the economic purpose of commercial banks),
— the US Congress (which wants to spend more than available revenue), and
— the Federal Reserve (which is interested in enabling both pathologies to the tune of $7.77T — equal to 50% of the US GDP!!! — lent to the banks in secret before Congress created the one-tenth as large relief program, TARP).
The value and failings of OWS are commented on by guest Denninger near the end of this Keiser Report episode.
At the beginning of the program, Keiser and Herbert are discussing the latest financial scandal, of an investment firm (headed by a former New Jersey governor) that stole customer money. Brokers are not supposed to dip into customer accounts to make up their own gambling losses (especially when near $1B). This only works as comedy when done by W. C. Fields, in the Great Depression era film “The Bank Dick.” (The same title for a movie about banks today would convey a different connotation, which Fields probably intended as a double entendre.)
The Keiser Report commentators would like to see OWS take a more specific focus onto financial industry reform, which would require revising attitudes about federal oversight and monetary policy; and we know this economic concern would necessarily have to expand to include progress in reforming campaign financing, a.k.a. the corruption of Congress.
Chris Hedges, like Bill Moyers his elder contemporary, came out of divinity school and passed through journalism, so in their third chapter of life they preach to large secular congregations through the airwaves, and their sermons are based on moral principles. This is not a criticism:
“It is the gap between the inherently ethical nature of public decision-making and the utilitarian quality of contemporary public debate that accounts for the lack of trust felt towards politics and politicians…humans need a language in which to express their moral instincts.” — Tony Judt
The ideal follow-on political movement to OWS would combine the energy of moral outrage with a utilitarian specificity on financial reform (e.g., financial market taxes, banking reform, consumer & student debt relief, much more legal prosecution of fraud related to the 2008 financial collapse), similar to the reform movement represented by the Pecora Commission in 1932-1934. (My initial comments along these lines appeared in the UM blog at: http://louisproyect.wordpress.com/2011/10/05/the-people-cry-out-against-the-new-great-depression/)
So, from Hedges I see the message to OWS being “get mad as hell.” From Keiser and company I see the message to OWS being “now that you’re good and hot, focus your fire into a laser beam to burn through the stranglehold of bankster fraud.”
See Episode 217 here (mislabeled direct link):
GIABO is Max Keiser’s acronym for the idea of a global financial war between “banks,” or massive finance capital in speculation, and the commons within each sovereign state, also known by various labels: the welfare state, social democracy (Tony Judt), conviviality (Ivan Illich), or the social contract (MG,Jr).
An interesting presentation on the “European Debt Crisis In Eight Graphs” is given in the following article, which includes discussion and analysis:
From the above article one can see that in Europe the war is between Northern European banks and Southern European (Ireland counts as “southern” because it is Catholic) social democracies. The “banker occupation” of a country is called “austerity.”
World War III is a post-nuclear financial war for control of the commons, globally.
A clear explanation of the causes of the economic collapse, and its probable longevity, by a political economist; a tutorial for me and which I recommend:
The Economy Is Not Coming Back, Part I: A Short History of the Maelstrom
by Gilles d’Aymery (20 September 2010)
To fully grasp the extent of the current crisis one needs to take a short and much abridged walk through history.
The Economy Is Not Coming Back, Part II: The Reasons it Won’t
by Gilles d’Aymery (18 October 2010)
In the wake of these tsunamis, the Federal Reserve (Fed) and the US Treasury went to work and injected trillions of dollars in the financial sector through monetary and fiscal policies and in Main Street through an economic stimulus. Although some economists argue that the Obama stimulus package ($850 billion-plus) has been insufficient as it did not match the output gap — that it was, in the words of Larry Summers, only a tool to avoid “catastrophic failure” (real, deep, 1930s-like Depression), a sort of “insurance package” — these policies have served their purpose. Deep depression has so far been forestalled and unemployment kept in check, albeit at a hidden increasing rate. But recovery has not taken place. Why? And why won’t it?
As stated in Part I, the U.S. is in a latent depression. No public stimulus or austerity measures can overlook or change the actualities. The system is in a bind.
Part III is cited in comments to this blog’s posting titled “Energy for Human Development.”
Eliot Spitzer weighs in on the $7.77T heist. (His article is in the middle of all the advertising.)
Eliot Spitzer: 5 Ways to Make Banks Pay for Their Secret $7 Trillion Free Ride
The original Bloomberg Markets Magazine story, source of the revelations of the $7.77T heist, is:
Secret Fed Loans Gave Banks $13 Billion Undisclosed to Congress
By Bob Ivry, Bradley Keoun and Phil Kuntz – Nov 27, 2011 4:01 PM PT
The Bloomberg story leads off with a devastating graphical representation.
Additional Federal Reserve Bank information supplied to Bloomberg Markets Magazine, and analysis of it, modifies the $7.77T figure. It seems this figure represents the total that potentially could have been transferred during the crisis, based on the promises made by the FED at the time, but that in fact only [sic] about $1.3T-$1.5T was actually given away. The specifics are described in this Bloomberg story of December 23, 2011:
It is still true the banks made $13B in profits by accepting the secret gift transfers.
See the documentary “Inside Job” for a complete exposé of the 2008 financial collapse.
138 Years Of Economic History Shows That It Is Excessive Private Debt That Causes Depressions