It is very important that EVERYBODY pay attention to what is transpiring in Greece. Keep in mind, that the MSM is spinning the hell out of this story because MSM is owned by those who have imposed the draconian measures on the Greek people. Greece has, true to its history of being the birthplace of democracy, stood up and said enough to the out of control bankers and their need to feed their greed at any cost.
It is important to understand that this situation didn’t just unfold in the last few months. Instead it has been the very premeditative raping of the wealth of the Greek people. A little perspective and truth must be understood.
Today Greece owes its creditors €323 billion ($366 billion), some 175 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. How did it end up owing so much money?
“We should be clear: almost none of the huge amount of money loaned to Greece has actually gone there,” Joseph Stiglitz, former chief economist of the World Bank and a Nobel Prize winner in economics, wrote in the Guardian newspaper . “It has gone to pay out private-sector creditors – including German and French banks.” Sound familiar? Remember the 2008 bailout of US banks? Remember what QE was supposed to accomplish?
A recent CorpWatch report – The EuroZone Profiteers – can help shed further light on this matter. While it’s true that corrupt Greek politicians borrowed billions for shaky government schemes from these banks, there was a very good reason that the financiers made these rash loans: they were under pressure from European Union bureaucrats to compete in a global marketplace with U.K. and U.S. banks.
Take the German banks. While Anglo-American banking is dominated by many branches of a few major banks, Germany had some 4,000 unique institutions in 1990 that made up a three-pillar system of savings banks, co-operative banks, and private banks. These banks lived modestly on miniscule profits of one percent in comparison to Britain’s four mega-banks, which boasted returns as high as 30 percent on equity. Under pressure from Brussels, the German government agreed to push some of the bigger banks to become more “market oriented” by withdrawing state guarantees known as “anstaltslast” and “gewährträgerhaftung” to back them up in times of failure.
Likewise Prime Minister Jacques Chirac began a process of privatizing French banks in the late 1980s to “shoulder its responsibilities to the business community.” (The banks that had been nationalized over time by General Charles de Gaulle in 1945 and by President Pierre Mauroy in 1982) Like the Germans, the French banks enjoyed state protection, and thus were easily able to raise money to lend out.
The European Union was firmly behind this since they wanted European entities to compete on a global stage. “Sometimes it is said that competition is not to the benefit of all: It can favor larger firms, but hurt smaller businesses. I do not share this view,” Mario Monti, the European competition commissioner, said in October 1997. “Naturally, competition will reward greater efficiency. It will put pressure on less-performing companies and on sectors already suffering from structural problems.”
But French banks knew that they could not make billions by competing in Germany, nor were German banks expecting to vanquish the French. They looked instead to a simpler and easier market to loan out the plentiful supply of cash they had – the poorer, mostly southern European states that had agreed to take part in the launch of a common currency called the Euro in 1999.
The logic was clear: In the mid-1990s, national interest rates in Greece and Spain, for example, hovered around 14 percent, and at a similar level in Ireland during the 1992–1993 currency crisis. So borrowers in these countries were eager to welcome the northern bankers with seemingly unlimited supplies of cheap cash at interest rates as low as one to four percent.
Take the case of Georg Funke, who ran Depfa, a German public mortgage bank. Depfa helped Athens get a star credit rating, raised €265 million for the Greek government railway, helped Portugal borrow €200 million to build up a water supplier, and gave €90 million to Spain to construct a privately operated road in Galicia. For a while, the middle class in Greece like the middle classes in Spain and Ireland, benefited from the infrastructure spending stimulus. When Depfa nearly collapsed in 2008, Funke was fired.
Or take the case of Georges Pauget, the CEO of Crédit Agricole in France, who bought up Emporiki Bank of Greece for €3.1 billion in cash in 2006. Over the next six years, Emporiki lost money year after year, blowing money on one foolish venture after another, until finally, Crédit Agricole sold it for €1 – not €1 billion or even €1 million – but a single euro to Alpha Bank in October 2012. Crédit Agricole’s cumulative loss? €5.3 billion.
Money poured in from other banks like Dexia of Belgium. Via Kommunalkredit, Dexia loaned €25 million to Yiannis Kazakos, the mayor of Zografou, a suburb of Athens, to buy land to build a shopping mall. It made similar loans to other Greek municipal authorities including Acharnon, Melisia, Metamorfosis, Nea Ionia, Serres, and Volos.
“The tsunami of cheap credit that rolled across the planet between 2002 and 2007 … wasn’t just money, it was temptation,” financial writer Michael Lewis wrote in Vanity Fair. “Entire countries were told, “The lights are out, you can do whatever you want to do, and no one will ever know.”
Bloomberg took a look at statistics from the Bank for International Settlements, and worked out that German banks loaned out a staggering $704 billion to Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, and Spain before December 2009. Two of Germany’s largest private banks—Commerzbank and Deutsche Bank—loaned $201 billion to Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, and Spain, according to numbers compiled by BusinessInsider. And BNP Paribas and Crédit Agricole of France loaned $477 billion to Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, and Spain.
There is a very good parallel to this situation of cheap and easy money in the recent sub-prime mortgage crisis in the U.S.
In a recent book, A Dream Foreclosed: Black America and the Fight for a Place to Call Home, author Laura Gottesdiener explains that 30 years ago, African Americans were unable to borrow money to buy houses because of a practice called redlining—where banks drew fictitious red lines around neighborhoods they would not lend to even if the borrowers had good credit and good jobs. Today, redlining is illegal, but the reverse has happened. In the 1990s, poor people around the U.S. were offered 100 percent loans to buy houses at low rates with virtually no collateral.
“The mortgage market for white Americans was flush. There was no more money to be made from issuing mortgages to white Americans. The banks needed new consumers,” Gottesdiener told Corporate Crime Reporter magazine. “So, they moved into the minority market. But they weren’t selling the conventional loans. They were selling these incredibly exploitative predatory loans.” We know how the sub-prime crisis ended in 2008 – and it almost brought down the global economy.
What happened after the creation of the Euro was very similar. The Greek government is in debt today to Germany and France not just because they borrowed money for unwise projects, but also because the bankers pushed them to take money that they would never have been able to approved under normal circumstances. But as Stiglitz has noted, these German and French banks have now been rescued. An ATTAC Austria study showed that 77 percent of the €207 billion provided for the so-called “Greek bail-out” went to the financial sector and not to the people. It is time to investigate the bankers who created the EuroZone crisis and hold them accountable.
But the bankers are not the only ones. There must be repercussions for the European Union bureaucrats and politicians who promoted the idea that free-market competition in financial services would benefit everyone. And not least of all, there should be a serious debate on how to reverse many of the policies that were used to create the European single market in financial services.
Now, let’s map the mafia story to international finance in four stages.
Stage 1: The first and foremost reason that Greece got into trouble was the “Great Financial Crisis” of 2008 that was the brainchild of Wall Street and international bankers. If you remember, banks came up with an awesome idea of giving subprime mortgages to anyone who can fog a mirror. They then packaged up all these ticking financial bombs and sold them as “mortgage-backed securities” for a huge profit to various financial entities in countries around the world.
A big enabler of this criminal activity was another branch of the banking system, the group of rating agencies – S&P, Fitch and Moody’s – who gave stellar ratings to these destined-to-fail financial products. Unscrupulous politicians such as Tony Blair joined Goldman Sachs and peddled these dangerous securities to pension funds and municipalities and countries around Europe. Banks and Wall Street gurus made hundreds of billions of dollars in this scheme. But this was just Stage 1 of their enormous scam. There was much more profit to be made in the next three stages!
Stage 2 is when the financial time bombs exploded. Commercial and investment banks around the world started collapsing in a matter of weeks. Governments at local and regional level saw their investments and assets evaporate. Chaos everywhere!
Vultures like Goldman Sachs and other big banks profited enormously in three ways: one, they could buy other banks such as Lehman brothers and Washington Mutual for pennies on the dollar. Second, more heinously, Goldman Sachs and insiders such as John Paulson (who recently donated $400 million to Harvard) had made bets that these securities would blow up. Paulson made billions, and the media celebrated his acumen. (For an analogy, imagine the terrorists betting on 9/11 and profiting from it.) Third, to scrub salt in the wound, the big banks demanded a bailout from the very citizens whose lives the bankers had ruined! Bankers have chutzpah. In the U.S., they got hundreds of billions of dollars from the taxpayers and trillions from the Federal Reserve Bank which is nothing but a front group for the bankers. In Greece, the domestic banks got more than $30 billion of bailout from the Greek people. Let that sink in for a moment – the supposedly irresponsible Greek government had to bail out the hardcore capitalist bankers.
Stage 3 is when the banks force the government to accept massive debts. For a biology metaphor, consider a virus or a bacteria. All of them have unique strategies to weaken the immune system of the host. One of the proven techniques used by the parasitic international bankers is to downgrade the bonds of a country. And that’s exactly what the bankers did, starting at the end of 2009. This immediately makes the interest rates (“yields”) on the bonds go up, making it more and more expensive for the country to borrow money or even just roll over the existing bonds. From 2009 to mid 2010, the yields on 10-year Greek bonds almost tripled! This cruel financial assault brought the Greek government to its knees, and the banksters won their first debt deal of a whopping 110 billion Euros.
The banks also control the politics of nations. In 2011, when the Greek prime minister refused to accept a second massive bailout, the banks forced him out of the office and immediately replaced him with the Vice President of ECB (European Central Bank)! No elections needed. Screw democracy. And what would this new guy do? Sign on the dotted line of every paperwork that the bankers bring in. (By the way, the very next day, the exact same thing happened in Italy where the Prime Minister resigned, only to be replaced by a banker/economist puppet. Ten days later, Spain had a premature election where a “technocrat” banker puppet won the election). The puppet masters had the best month ever in November 2011.
Few months later, in 2012, the exact bond market manipulation was used when the banksters turned up the Greek bonds’ yields to 50%!!! This financial terrorism immediately had the desired effect: The Greek parliament agreed to a second massive bailout, even larger than the first one. Now, here is another fact that most people don’t understand. The loans are not just simple loans like you would get from a credit card or a bank. These loans come with very special strings attached that demand privatization of a country’s assets. If you have seen Godfather III, you would remember Hyman Roth, the investor who was carving up Cuba among his friends. Replace Hyman Roth with Goldman Sachs or IMF (International Monetary Fund) or ECB, and you get the picture.
Stage 4: Now, the rape and humiliation of a nation begin. For the debt that was forced upon them, Greece had to sell many of its profitable assets to oligarchs and international corporations. And privatizations are ruthless, involving everything and anything that is profitable. In Greece, privatization included water, electricity, post offices, airport services, national banks, telecommunication, port authorities (which is huge in a country that is a world leader in shipping) etc.
In addition to that, the banker tyrants also get to dictate every single line item in the government’s budget. Want to cut military spending? NO! Want to raise tax on the oligarchs or big corporations? NO! Such micro-management is non-existent in any other creditor-debtor relationship.
So what happens after privatization and despotism under bankers? Of course, the government’s revenue goes down and the debt increases further. How do you “fix” that? Of course, cut spending! Lay off public workers, cut minimum wage, cut pensions (same as our social security), cut public services, and raise taxes on things that would affect the 99% but not the 1%. For example, pension has been cut in half and sales tax increase to more than 20%. All these measures have resulted in Greece going through a financial calamity that is worse than the Great Depression of the U.S. in the 1930s.
Of course, the ever-manipulative bankers demand immediate privatization of all media which means that the country now gets photogenic TV anchors who spew propaganda every day and tell the people that crooked and greedy banksters are saviors; and slavery under austerity is so much better than the alternative. If every Greek person had known the truth about austerity, they wouldn’t have fallen for this. Same goes for Spain, Italy, Portugal, Ireland and other countries going through austerity. The sad aspect of all this is that these are not unique strategies. Since World War II, these predatory practices have been used countless times by the IMF and the World Bank in Latin America, Asia, and Africa.
So, the wonderful people of Greece rose up like Zeus and said NO (“OXI” in Greece) to the greedy puppet masters, unpatriotic oligarchs, parasitic bankers and corrupt politicians. By saying NO, they said YES to freedom, independence, self-government, and democracy.
It is time the rest of us realize what now the people of Iceland and Greece have recognized. We must all stand together and say OXI-NO! If we don’t, then we will watch as Spain, Portugal, Italy, France fall into the same despair and horrible situation the Greeks now find themselves. Soon after that it is going to be us!
We have been focused on this issue for years, and unfortunately everything we said would happen, has happened, even beyond what we envisioned could happen. WakeTFU, Stand Up, and don’t fall for any more raping of people for banker’s greed.