Archive for March 2010
by Webster G. Tarpley
Originally posted March 3, 2010
IT HAS BEEN EVIDENT FOR SOME TIME THAT THE ONGOING SPECULATIVE attack on Greece, along with such other countries as Spain, Ireland, Portugal, and Italy, was not primarily a reflection of their economic fundamentals, nor yet a spontaneous movement of “the market,” but rather an orchestrated action of economic warfare. The dollar had been relentlessly falling through the late summer and autumn of 2009. It obviously occurred to various Anglo-American financiers that a diversionary attack on the euro, starting with some of the weaker Mediterranean or Southern European economies, would be an ideal means of relieving pressure on the battered US greenback.
Since these degenerate elites are incapable of directly solving the problem of the dollar through increased production, full employment, and economic recovery, one of the few alternatives remaining to them is to create a situation in which the euro is collapsing faster, leaving the dollar as the beneficiary of some residual flight to quality or safe haven reflex.
This is what emerged during the first week of December with a speculative assault or bear raid against Greek and Spanish government bonds as well as the euro itself, accompanied by a scurrilous press campaign targeting the “PIIGS,” an acronym for the countries just named, coming from inside the bowels of Goldman Sachs. I have discussed this phenomenon several times over the last two to three weeks on my radio program on GCN.
Now comes concrete proof of this conspiracy in the form of a February 8th “idea dinner,” held at the Manhattan townhouse of Monness, Crespi, Hardt & Co, a boutique investment bank. Among those present were SAC Capital Advisors, David Einhorn of Greenlight Capital (a veteran of the fatal assault on Lehman Brothers in the late summer of 2008), Donald Morgan of Brigade Capital, and, most tellingly, Soros Fund Management. The consensus that emerged that night over the filet mignon was that Greek government bonds were the weak flank of the euro, and that once a Greek debt crisis had been detonated, all outcomes would be bad for the euro.
The assembled predators agreed that Greece was the first domino in Europe. Donald Morgan was adamant that the Greek contagion could soon infect all sovereign debt in the world, including national, state, municipal and all other forms of government debt. This would mean California, the UK, and the US itself, among many others. The details of this at dinner were revealed in the headline story of The Wall Street Journal on Friday, February 26, 2010.
Nor was this the only cabal in town intent on attacking the euro through the week Greek flank. The article cited suggests that GlobeOp Financial Services and Paulson & Co. are also piling on. The zombie banks were also heavily engaged. The article reported that Goldman Sachs, Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, and Barclays Bank of London were also assisting speculators in placing highly leveraged bearish bets against the euro. Note that these zombie banks are alive today because of US taxpayer money, in Barclay’s case through AIG.
by Yves Smith
Posted originally March 22, 2010 on naked capitalism.com
THE WIDELY-EXTOLLED IDEA, THAT THE EU WOULD FIND a way to muddle through the Greece crisis, looks very much in doubt. The pressure has not simply put the rescue of Greece into disarray, but appears to have led to some positions being taken that, if they hold, could lead to the partial dissolution of the monetary union. This development would have far-reaching ramifications which are far from well understood, to put it mildly.
We have a sober assessment from Wolfgang Munchau at the Financial Times:
At last we are heading towards a resolution, albeit a bad one. After weeks of pledges of political and financial support, Angela Merkel appears ready to send Greece crawling to the International Monetary Fund.
Germany cites legal reasons for its position. In past rulings, its constitutional court has interpreted the stability clauses in European law in the strictest possible sense. These rulings have left a deep impression among government officials. It is hard to say whether this argument is for real or is just an excuse not to sanction a bail-out that would be politically unpopular. It is probably a combination of the two.
I have heard suggestions that a deal may still be possible at this week’s European summit, but only if everybody were to agree to Germany’s gruesome agenda to reform the stability pact. That would have to include stricter rules and the dreaded exit clause, under which a country could be forced to leave the eurozone against its will. I am not holding my breath. But either outcome will mark the beginning of the end of Europe’s economic and monetary union as we know it….
In a column several weeks ago I put forward three conditions necessary for the eurozone to survive in the long run: a crisis resolution mechanism, a procedure to deal with internal imbalances, and a common banking supervisor. Since then, things have been moving in the wrong direction on all three counts. For a start, we have come from a situation in which the “no bail-out” clause of the Maastricht treaty, having been almost universally disbelieved for 10 years, is suddenly 100 per cent credible…
The debate on imbalances is also regressing. It would be unreasonable to ask Germany to raise wages or cut exports, but there is a legitimate complaint about Germany’s lack of domestic demand. Berlin should accept it needs to develop a strategy. But the opposite is happening…
On banking supervision, the main reason for a common European system is macroeconomic. In a monetary union, imbalances would matter a lot less if the banking system were truly anchored at the level of the union, not the member state. As banks can obtain liquidity from the European Central Bank, even extreme and persistent current account deficits should not matter in good times. But they matter in times of crisis. For as long as bank failures remain a national liability, persistent imbalances could ultimately lead to a national insolvency. If the banking sector were genuinely European, imbalances would still be an important metric of relative competitiveness but we would need to worry a lot less, just as we do not worry about the current account deficit of a city relative to its state.
Submitted by C. Powell
Originally posted March 8, 2010
Dear Friend of GATA and Gold:
GATA today delivered to the chairman of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Gary Gensler, a letter from GATA Chairman Bill Murphy, appealing to the CFTC to act against the concentrated and manipulative short positions in the precious metals markets. The commission is expected to hold a hearing this month on establishing position limits in those markets. Murphy’s letter is appended.
CHRIS POWELL, Secretary/Treasurer Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee Inc.
March 8, 2010
Gary Gensler, Chairman U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission 3 Lafayette Centre 1155 21st St. NW Washington, DC 20581
Dear Chairman Gensler:
The Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee (GATA) was formed in January 1999 to expose and oppose the manipulation and suppression of the price of gold. What we have learned over the past 11 years is of great importance in regard to the CFTC’s forthcoming hearings regarding position limits in the precious metals futures markets. Our efforts to expose manipulation in the gold market parallel those of Harry Markopolos to expose the Madoff Ponzi scheme to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Initially we thought that the manipulation of the gold market was undertaken as a coordinated profit scheme by certain bullion banks, like JPMorgan, Chase Bank, and Goldman Sachs, and that it violated federal and state anti-trust laws. But we soon discerned that the bullion banks were working closely with the U.S. Treasury Department and Federal Reserve in a gold cartel, part of a broad scheme of manipulation of the currency, precious metals, and bond markets.
As an executive at Goldman Sachs in London, Robert Rubin developed an idea to borrow gold from central banks at minimal interest rates (around one percent), sell the bullion for cash, and use the cash to fund Goldman Sachs’ operations. Rubin was confident that central banks would control the gold price with ever-more leasing or outright sales of their gold reserves and that consequently the borrowed gold could be bought back without difficulty. This was the beginning of the gold carry trade.
When Rubin became U.S. treasury secretary, he made it government policy to surreptitiously operate an identical gold carry trade but on a much larger scale. This became the principal mechanism of what was called the “strong-dollar policy.” Subsequent treasury secretaries have repeated a commitment to a “strong dollar,” suggesting that they were continuing to feed official gold into the market more or less clandestinely to support the dollar and suppress interest rates and precious metals prices.
Lawrence Summers, who followed Rubin as treasury secretary, was an expert in gold’s influence on financial markets. Previously, as a professor at Harvard University, Summers co-authored an academic study titled “Gibson’s Paradox and the Gold Standard,” (see Footnote 1 below) which concluded that in a free market gold prices move inversely to real interest rates, and, conversely, if gold prices are “fixed,” then interest rates can be maintained at lower levels than would be the case in a free market. This was the economic theory behind the “strong dollar policy.”