Friday, February 19, 2010

Forget Washington, Look to Europe?

Eisenhower, we are here!

Wall Street is on the prowl again, out to destroy the economy of Greece. The story is hard to follow because it seems incredible, but this is how it goes.

Over the past decade, Wall Street pumped up one of its patented cheap money, easy credit bubbles in Greece. Now as it bursts, the parasites-in-pinstripes have been placing enormous bets on whether the Greeks will go under as their government struggles to pay back all that was borrowed.

The bets are made just like in the U.S., with credit default swaps (CDS), a form of insurance sold to buyers of Greek or any other bonds. The buyers are the hedge funds looking to make fast money if the insured bonds lose value and the seller has to pay out. The big banks broker the trades between buyers and sellers.

More than a year after the horrific collapse in the United States, while the president and Congress shadow box with the lobbyists, this market is still unregulated and the profits are still enormous.

Writing in Counterpunch, Andrew Cockburn explains how the game is played. "After the buyers and sellers have all placed their bets, the buyers start beating down the value of the insured bonds," to collect on the "spread" - the difference between the insured value and new lower value of the bonds.

Reports, rumors of reports, and reports of rumors will make the "news" that is used to spook the market with talk of default, and drive down the value of the bonds.

Mr. Cockburn observes, "As the fate of Greece see-saws, both sellers and buyers have been making money, as of course have the banks in the middle. None of this has much to do with the underlying condition of the Greek economy. There was no particular reason why Greece should have become a crisis just now. Wall Street just decided it was their turn."

The Wall Street barons are shameless, greedy, unrepentant destroyers of the prosperity of hundreds of millions. Like a plague of locusts, they infest economies, devour the wealth of others and move on.

In the 1980s it was the "Third World debt crisis." In 1994, the collapse of the Mexican currency. Last year, the U.S. and the mother of all frauds. Today, Greece. Tomorrow, according to reports in financial publications, maybe Portugal.

Now authorities are discovering that Wall Street - and most especially Goldman Sachs, those "savvy" guys Mr. Obama calls his "friends" - helped engineer the crisis on which they are now feeding.

The German newspaper Der Spiegel broke the story that Wall Street helped Greece and other European governments to hide their debt. On Feb. 14 the New York Times reported, "Records and interviews show that with Wall Street's help, the nation engaged in a decade-long effort to skirt European debt limits. One deal created by Goldman Sachs helped obscure billions in debt from the budget overseers."

A few days ago in the United Kingdom, the Guardian explained the scam in more detail, reporting, "The trick was to construct complex financial arrangements that appeared on the books as 'swaps,' even though they were in fact loans. Greece was adding billions of dollars to its debt, and thanks to the ingenuity of the Goldman crew, no one knew about it until now."

Wealthier European governments like Germany and its taxpayers are on the hook to bail out Greece and possibly Portugal. Understandably, they are not happy and appear ready to fight back, and compel the European Commission to launch an investigation, focused particularly on the role of Goldman Sachs.

The kind of investigation the Obama Justice Department and the U.S. Congress should have launched. The serious kind, with criminal sanctions from which Wall Street's man, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke can't protect them.

Of course, this is only the first step in an unfolding drama. The CEO of Goldman and the other con men will without a doubt wrap themselves in the American flag and go running to the administration and Congress for protection from those nasty, unfair Europeans.

What pathetic irony.

A century ago, when the U.S. Army rolled into Paris to save France from German tyranny, the American Gen. Pershing proclaimed the debt the U.S. was paying to France from the American Revolution with the words, "Lafayette, we are here!"

Over 60 years ago, the American general and later President Dwight Eisenhower led the invasion that helped rescue all Europe from the evil tyranny of the Nazis.

Now, while congressional leaders and President Obama shield the self-proclaimed masters of the universe on Wall Street, Americans are reduced to hoping some European leader will march into Washington and save America and the world from Wall Street's ruinous economic tyranny.

"Eisenhower, we are here!"

Makes you proud to be an American, doesn't it?

No comments:

Post a Comment