Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Greek Debt Crisis - Why You Should Care

Because on the horizon, it could mean another banking scam in the form of another taxpayer bailout.

If you're not invested in the stock market, but an American multi-national corporation is invested in Greece, and could take losses on those investments if the government of Greece defaulted on their loans to banks, why should you be concerned? Will the taxpayers have to bail out another corporation so THEY don't default on loans to their banks?

Why is it always the banks that never have to worry about defaulting to anyone (to a higher power), or taking losses, or having their corporate officers making any personal sacrifices? Why does it always fall upon the masses, even if they had no part in the wicked dealings or financial shenanigans?

Why don't governments ("the people"), who owe money to private commercial banks (just a handful of old men that wear suits), tell them to kiss their collective asses, and then just nationalize the banks? Shouldn't every country's monetary system be managed by the people, instead of being manipulated by a very few -- for guaranteed profits? (See: Banking from 2000 B.C. to the Present).

Besides just the millions of foreclosed homes and lost jobs, haven't the American people suffered enough already? And has one single banker suffered at all? NO!

Did one single banker, politician or hedge fund manager lose their home and commit suicide to escape the horrific consequences of being homeless while trying to survive on the streets? Did any of them lose their healthcare? Did any of them go hungry? Did any one of them ever go to jail for their crimes against humanity? NO!

Just the opposite. If anything, they were rewarded with multi-billion-dollar bailouts and multi-million-dollar "golden parachutes". Rather than "take personal responsibility for their own actions", they pointed their fingers at their victims and blamed the jobless and the homeless for being unemployed and homeless. Some even cruelly mocked them!

Of those who lost jobs in the U.S. during the Great Recession, but might have been lucky enough to eventually be re-hired, they now average about HALF of what they once earned as an annual income -- down from $43,700 to $23,000 a year -- or about what the government defines as "poverty wages" for a family of four. As of last year, 50% of all American workers earned less than $27,000 a year. These are VERY grim statistics for a once-middle-class in America.

These people ("the working poor"), and the unemployed (about 21 million who will have no income at all after January 1, 2012), are the people that the Republicans are trying to force into even more austerity measures. And the Republicans are trying to make it more difficult for these same people to vote in next year's elections (voter suppression).

At the same time, we also have Republicans like Paul Ryan waging a class war with food stamps (trying force austerity on them like they're doing in Greece). And we also have an illegal Super Committee that's going to decide their fates regarding Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid -- leaving them hanging out to dry - forcing them into even more "austerity measures", just like they're doing with the people in Greece.

The Republicans are forcing the once-middle-class Americans into open revolt, just like they're doing in Greece.

From the New York Times today - First, stop destroying jobs: "For the last three decades the government has pursued a variety of policies that had the effect of undermining the living standard of the middle class and redistributing income upward. As a result, the middle class has experienced stagnant income and growing insecurity. The key to rebuilding the middle class is reversing these polices."

Does anyone seriously think this is possible? NO! Especially if there's even ONE REPUBLICAN in congress, while the politicians are allowing all the bankers to avoid jail. The banks run this country, not our elected officials, and certainly not THE PEOPLE. (The Republicans are the minions of the bankers, and the bankers are the minions of Lucifer.)

Are the Greeks crazy?

No, they're just at the end of their tether. Europe is asking them to adopt more austerity than they're willing to bear.

Okay, but they're spending too much money. Surely they know they have to cut back?

Sure, but the deals on offer are pretty unattractive. Europe wants to forgive half of Greece's debt and put them on a brutal austerity plan. The problem is that this is unrealistic. Greece would be broke even if all its debt were forgiven, and if their economy tanks they'll be even broker.

But that's the prospect they're being offered: a little bit of debt forgiveness and a lot of austerity.

Well, them's the breaks.

But it puts Greece into a death spiral. They can't pay their debts, so they cut back, which hurts their economy, which makes them even broker, so they cut back some more, rinse and repeat. There's virtually no hope that they'll recover anytime in the near future. It's just endless pain. What they need is total debt forgiveness and lots of aid going forward.

That doesn't sound like a very attractive option for the rest of Europe.

No, it's not.

So maybe they should just let Greece default and wash their hands of them.

Here's the thing, though: Greek debt is largely held by German banks that made the loans. If Greece has been irresponsible, so were the German banks that happily loaned out the money. So if Greece defaults, the banks go kablooey. But they're too big to fail, which means the German government would be forced to bail them out. And guess where the bailout money comes from? Tax dollars.

This means that German taxpayers have a bleak choice. They can shovel lots of money to Greece to keep them from defaulting, or they can refuse, and then shovel lots of money into German banks to keep them from collapsing. Either way, German taxpayers are going to foot the bill. They just haven't quite accepted this in their gut yet, and it's hard to blame them. They're pretty badly screwed no matter what.

Hmmm. Given that choice, they might decide they'd rather give their money to German banks than to Greek civil servants. What happens then?

Greece defaults. And that almost certainly means that Greece exits the euro.


It's the growth thing again. If Greece defaults, nobody will loan them any money. That means huge cutbacks, which means the economy will tank, which means even more cutbacks, etc. The traditional way out of this spiral is a massive devaluation of your currency. But Greece doesn't have a currency. It has the euro.

So if they want their economy to grow again, they have to (a) default, (b) exit the euro and readopt the drachma, and (c) devalue the drachma. This will cause massive amounts of pain, but it will also make Greek exports super cheap, which will eventually revive their economy.

So why not just let that happen?

It's just too catastrophic to consider. German banks, of course, would collapse and have to be bailed out. Ditto for banks in other countries that have lots of exposure to Greek debt. But that's not the worst of it. If Greece exits the euro, it will become terrifyingly obvious that other weak countries might exit too. Portugal, Spain, and Italy are the obvious candidates. Investors, spooked at the thought of their money being stuck in a country that might exit the euro and devalue all its bank deposits, would start huge runs on banks in those countries. The ECB would have to intervene and provide liquidity without limit. It would be a disaster.

So exiting the euro can't be allowed?


But if there's no exit, there's no devaluation, and Greece is pretty much screwed forever.


So who wins?

It depends on who blinks. Exiting the euro would be no picnic for Greece. But they could decide it's better than endless indenture and threaten exit in order to get a better deal from the Germans. Then the Germans have to decide whether to call their bluff.


Exactly. Wow. Everyone knows that somebody's going to lose a huge pile of money over this. What's really happening right now is a very high-stakes negotiation to figure out just how the losses are going to be parceled out.

It's actually a little unclear just which country has the biggest exposure to Greek debt. Maybe Germany, maybe France, maybe Switzerland. See here, here, and here. And the ECB owns a lot of Greek debt these days too.

But the general principle doesn't change much. One way or another, Europe's big countries have to decide whether to bail out Greece or whether to let them default and then bail out their own banking systems."

(End of Kevin Jones article)

Also read: Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou Faces Critical Confidence Vote

Another take: Why not just give the Greeks what they want?

Bud Meyers: Why doesn't Greece just default on their debt, screw the banks and let them take the losses (and NOT bail them out with taxpayer money), exit the Euro, and NOT devalue their currency? The CEOs of the banks will never end up homeless, and this could very well prevent many Greeks from becoming homeless.

Meanwhile, back home in the good ole U.S.A. - A poll shows that even Republican voters think that the GOP is deliberately trying to tank the economy, just to insure that Barack Obama is not re-elected..."in other words, this isn't just a liberal conspiracy theory."

But why should we care about Greece? Robert Reich says that until we reverse the trend toward inequality, our economy can't be revived either. "Look elsewhere around the world and you see a similar collision unfolding. The details differ, but the larger forces are similar. You see it in Spain, Greece, and Italy, whose citizens are being squeezed by bankers insisting on austerity."

Why are the "commoners" always expected to do all the suffering and sacrificing when it's the banks and the top 1% who keep screwing up and making bad and greedy decisions that we're all forced to live with whenever they fail.

EXAMPLE: Prior to taking over MF Global, Jon Corzine ran Goldman Sachs & Co, and was a senator and governor of New Jersey. As CEO of MF Global, his bets on European debt drove the futures brokerage into a $45 billion bankruptcy, but he says he "can't find" $1 billion in investor's money. WTF?

Why is Goldman Sachs always connected in some way to scandal, wealth inequality, bailouts, bankruptcies, "golden parachutes", corruption, the U.S. Treasury, the Federal Reserve and our politicians? And it always seems to end up with "austerity for the masses." And why hasn't anyone gone to prison besides just one rouge trader named Bernie Madoff?

From 2009 to 2011, Jared Bernstein was the Chief Economist and Economic Adviser to Vice President Joe Biden and a member of President Obama’s economic team.

He writes a blog and has made numerous appearances on MSNBC. So I emailed him (below), thinking he might have more information about why those who were involved with the economic melt-down were never put in jail.

An e-mail I sent to Jared Bernstein today:

"What was Larry Summers and Robert Rubin's involvement regarding the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act?

I'd like to see you write a short and concise article tying this all together...and then explaining why no one has been investigated and arrested by Eric Holder and Company, and why no one ever went to prison.

What's the inside scoop on this? Who advised Obama to hire Larry Summers? Was it Valerie Jarrett?

Robert Rubin, who worked for Goldman Sachs for 27 years, was the Secretary of the Treasury during the Clinton administration -- about the time the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act was signed into law.(right about the time Larry Summers transitioned into that job.)

When Rubin became the chairman of Citigroup he got the government to guarantee $300 billion of Citigroup's toxic assets and obtained a $45 billion taxpayer bailout, then he received a $126 million golden parachute. How did this happen?

Those toxic assets and other collateralized debt obligations and credit default swaps were exempted from government regulation by the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, which Rubin helped design while he was treasury secretary (and which was turned into law when Rubin protégé Larry Summers took over that Cabinet post.)

Why would Rubin, a banker and commodities investor, be involved with any "reform" of the investment banks?

In 2009 President Obama tapped Larry Summers to be the director of the White House National Economic Council. Why? On who's advice?

Larry Summers ran Mr. Obama’s daily Oval Office briefings on the economy and sees the president more than the other economic advisers. He had guided Obama on matters ranging from the $787 billion economic stimulus package to the financial regulatory reform bill passed in 2010.

Again, why? And what was his connection to Hank Paulson?

Can you tell me more about the relationships between the Federal Reserve (headed by corporate CEOs of other commercial banks) and the financial institutions who sold the toxic credit-default-swaps?

READ THE ARTICLE: Too Big to Jail - "Robert Rubin's destructive impact on the economy in enabling these giant corporate banks to run amok was far greater than that of swindler Bernard Madoff, who sits in prison with a 150-year sentence."

Don't all these connections have a very high appearance of impropriety? Robert Rubin > Secretary of the Treasury > Goldman Sachs > bailouts > bonuses > golden parachutes > Citigroup's exemptions > Larry Summers > Ben Bernanke > Hank Paulson > Goldman Sachs > Secretary of the Treasury / back to Ben Bernanke (Federal Reserve) > and our elected officials in Congress and the White House.

(End of e-mail to Jarod Bernstein. If he every replies, or writes an article, I'll update this post. )

This whole circle of characters stinks to high Heaven. Was it because our elected officials were so involved, and that's why no one was ever prosecuted? Does corruption run so deep, and among so many, within our banking system and our system of government?

Again, why should we care about Greece, and why are there 280 large and profitable U.S. corporations that are "Too Big to Tax"? Because of the banks, we could end up like Greece. And isn't this exactly why Occupy Wall Street exists today?

You Can Advise the White House

* Not that it will help much (like barking at the moon), but here's what I submitted....

Repatriate $2 trillion in hoarded corporate profits off-shore to be taxed at the same rate as in China (25%) with no loopholes. Then rehire laid off government workers and restore UI benefits for the unemployed to generate economic activity. Borrow from the general fund to begin work on infrastructure to be paid back with an imposition of taxes on capital gains - taxed as REGULAR INCOME.

Federal Actions:
By executive order, nationalize the Federal Reserve, repeal the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, order Eric Holder to investigate, arrest, and put on trial all the banking executives involved in the banking and commodities fraud, to restore confidence in the markets and in our government.

Community Actions:
They are already doing's called Occupy Wall Street (just like they've been doing in Greece.)

* I had forgot to say, DRAFT ELIZABETH WARREN! (Republicans don't like her because she wants to reform the greedy banking system that created this global economic mess to begin with.)

* And rather than have the banks foreclose on millions of homes, rendering them vacant (and not generating any income at all) and/or selling them to others at a depressed market value, and/or having the taxpayers pick up the tab, thus guaranteeing the bank's investment, why not just forgive all housing mortgages completely? After all, wasn't it the banks who destroyed the housing market? Who says the banks have to be guaranteed profits, or that their executives have to be guaranteed their multl-million-dollar salaries and bonuses at the expense of THE PEOPLE? Where is it written in stone? Is that what the Republicans mean by "certainty in the marketplace"? Certainty for the banks but no certainty for THE PEOPLE?

* From HuffPost Hill today: Some of the biggest banks are offering foreclosure reviews for 4.5 million people. But ProPublica found it's really unclear what benefits the consumers would receive.

Speaking of those big banks, many of them have a "less than zero" percent income tax rate. Wells Fargo, for instance, collected $681 million from taxpayers after making $49.3 billion in profits in 2008-10.

The Department of Justice thought about changing Freedom of Information Act rules to let government agencies lie in order to deny access to public records. U.S. Senators Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) were pissed, as was a coalition of advocacy groups. On Thursday, the DOJ decided maybe that wasn't a good rule.

1 comment:

  1. Violent rioters attacked peaceful demonstrators in Athens with firebombs and stones Thursday, leaving one person dead and 74 injured, as tens of thousands turned out to decry new austerity measures demanded by creditors to keep Greece afloat. The violence came a day after a massive Athens demonstration by more than 100,000 people also degenerated into a riot, with masked, black-clad protesters attacking riot police, who responded with volleys of stun grenades and tear gas.

    Creditors (banks) have demanded that Greece pass the extra austerity measures before they give the country more funds.

    However, the inspectors from the European Commission and the European Central Bank said Greece's debt dynamics remain "extremely worrying." Their conclusions pile pressure on European leaders to make private creditors like banks take more losses on the Greek bonds they hold.