How Goldman Sachs Destroyed The Greek Economy And Created A Water Crisis In Detroit

A few days ago The Nation published an article by Robert Reich detailing how Goldman Sachs profited not only from the Greek debt crisis, but the Detroit water crisis, interest rate swaps in Oakland and the implosion of the world economy.

Let’s start with Greece:

In 2001, Greece was looking for ways to disguise its mounting financial troubles. The Maastricht Treaty required all eurozone member states to show improvement in their public finances, but Greece was heading in the wrong direction. Then Goldman Sachs came to the rescue, arranging a secret loan of 2.8 billion euros for Greece, disguised as an off-the-books “cross-currency swap”—a complicated transaction in which Greece’s foreign-currency debt was converted into a domestic-currency obligation using a fictitious market exchange rate.

As a result, about 2 percent of Greece’s debt magically disappeared from its national accounts…

Then the deal turned sour. After the 9/11 attacks, bond yields plunged, resulting in a big loss for Greece because of the formula Goldman had used to compute the country’s debt repayments under the swap. By 2005, Greece owed almost double what it had put into the deal, pushing its off-the-books debt from 2.8 billion euros to 5.1 billion. In 2005, the deal was restructured and that 5.1 billion euros in debt locked in. Perhaps not incidentally, Mario Draghi, now head of the European Central Bank and a major player in the current Greek drama, was then managing director of Goldman’s international division.

Then Detroit and Chicago:

Three years ago, the Detroit Water Department had to pay Goldman and other banks penalties totaling $547 million to terminate costly interest-rate swaps. Forty percent of Detroit’s water bills still go to paying off the penalty. Residents of Detroit whose water has been shut off because they can’t pay have no idea that Goldman and other big banks are responsible. Likewise, the Chicago school system—whose budget is already cut to the bone—must pay over $200 million in termination penalties on a Wall Street deal that had Chicago schools paying $36 million a year in interest-rate swaps.

And Oakland:

A deal involving interest-rate swaps that Goldman struck with Oakland, California, more than a decade ago has ended up costing the city about $4 million a year, but Goldman has refused to allow Oakland out of the contract unless it ponies up a $16 million termination fee—prompting the city council to pass a resolution to boycott Goldman. When confronted at a shareholder meeting about it, Blankfein explained that it was against shareholder interests to tear up a valid contract.

And then this latest turn of events in Greece where they decidedly voted against the EU bailout, bringing about a virtual halt to credit lines with the IMF and the rest of Europe. Banks have been shuttered and ATM withdrawals have been limited because of the shortage of euros. Some here at home applauded the people of Greece for saying to more austerity.

This has been years in the making. Since 2012 there are places in Greece where not a single euro has changed hands–with many Greeks not even carrying any money at all. Money had “been usurped.”

Some areas created their own currency while others created bartering networks.

Greece’s deepening economic crisis has brought new users. With ever more families plunging into poverty and despair, shops, cafes, factories and businesses have also resorted to the system under which goods and services – everything from yoga sessions to healthcare, babysitting to computer support – are traded in lieu of credits.

Over the years the services and products that are included in this bartering system have slowly expanded–with never any money of any kind changing hands.

The Athens Time Bank, for example, allows members to collect credits by offering an hour of their time to someone who needs their services. The bank boasts doctors, dentists, electricians, yoga teachers and plumbers among its ranks, but the most popular service on offer is psychotherapy – highlighting how years of austerity have eaten away at more than just savings and living standards.

They have also created something they call the “solidarity economy” that puts consumers directly in touch with the growers of their potatoes, rice, flour, fruit, honey, cheese, the producers of the laundry detergent and other household essentials that cut out the middle men and make it more affordable–about 1/3 to 1/2 less–than traditional retail stores.

Forgoing banks, traditional currency, and cutting out middle men is something that has been gaining popularity in Argentina as well. Truth-out reports:

The exchange of services began due to the total economic collapse, with people either without money or unable to access money they once had. People could no longer purchase goods or services, thus they began to exchange everything from the repair of their water pipes or roof tops to the increasing need for therapy. Exchanges developed with most every service imaginable. In some places one services was traded for another, with the two parties deciding the amount of time or type of service that was an equal exchange. In others, services were traded for goods… one of them made empanadas and traded them for apartment repairs, while the other took photos in exchange for bus tickets or other things they needed.

Argentina and Greece are examples that show us that we don’t need the big banks and, in fact, money as we know it and our current financial system are relatively new to our society (emphasis on the word “system”).  On March 8, 1817 the New York Stock Exchange was founded. On February 25, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed the National Currency Act (renamed as the National Banking Act) which for the very first time established the sole currency of the United States.

Goldman Sachs has been a player in the American financial system from the early days. A brief history:

– Goldman Sachs was founded in 1869.
– In 1906 Goldman was instrumental in starting the IPO business.
– In 1929 Goldman went into a free fall when the stock market collapsed.
– In 1930 Sidney Weinberg took over Goldman Sachs.
– By 1956 they were back and big in the IPO business.
– By 1969 they had their stocks and bonds trading business back into full swing.
– In 1976 they further expand their investment banking business.
– In 1981 they acquired Aron and Co., a commodities trading firm and their current CEO Lloyd Blankfein.
– In 1990 they expand into global operations and mergers and acquisitions.
– In 1994 they have a serious internal crisis, suffering huge losses in the bond market.
– In 1999 Henry Paulson takes over as CEO, they become major underwriters of tech company IPOs, and they go public themselves being valued at $33Billion.
– In 2006 President George W. Bush makes Henry Paulson Secretary of the United State Treasury. Current CEO Lloyd Blankfein steps in as Goldman Sachs CEO.
– In 2007 Goldman reports record profits of $11.6Billion on revenue of $46Billion–on the backs of unsuspecting mortgagees and the housing bubble.
– In 2008 Goldman Sachs
– – a) becomes a bank holding company entitling it to greater government protection
– – b) the Federal Reserve gives Goldman 100 cents on the dollar for its trading position with AIG
– – c) Warren Buffett invests $5Billion in Goldman
– – d) The US Government buys $10Billion worth of Goldman shares as part of TARP
– In January 2010 Goldman reports yet another record profit of $13.39 Billion, setting aside $16.19Billion for compensation and benefits
– In April 2010 the SEC charges Goldman with deceiving clients by selling them mortgage backed securities designed by a hedge fund run by Henry Paulson.

In July 2010 the New York Times reported that Goldman Sachs settled with the SEC for $550Million. Who got that money? And why only $550Million when they received $10Billion from the taxpayers?

Suspiciously, the history trails off there… but we saw many of their staff get hired on at the White House with the Obama Administration.

Why are we allowing this to continually happen? It’s not like we don’t know that they’ve done it before and they’ll do it again. Why not disband the banks and get back closer to bartering?

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Some Of The Differences Between Hillary Clinton And Bernie Sanders

A couple days ago Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders ran into each other at a meeting for the Senate Democratic Caucus. The New York Times reported that the two were friendly and congratulated each other on their campaigns.

Bernie is quoted as saying:

“I have known Secretary Clinton for 25 year, since she was first lady. I served with her in the Senate. I like and respect Hillary Clinton, but … ”

But they have a few areas where they think differently and the New York Times was nice enough to itemize some of them, and I share them with you below:

Trade Agreements: Mr. Sanders hates them; Mrs. Clinton is lukewarm, depending on the fine print.

The War in Iraq: He always opposed the war; she was for it before she was against it.

The Patriot Act: He voted against it; she voted for it as a senator and has been mostly mum about N.S.A. bulk data collection since.

Keystone XL Pipeline: Mr. Sanders strongly opposes the contentious North American oil pipeline loathed by environmentalists; Mrs. Clinton has not spoken out for or against the project, beyond voicing her general concerns about climate change.

Wall Street: He wants to see the big banks broken up and the 1933 Glass-Steagall regulatory provision reinstated; she wants increased regulation on banks and the so-called shadow banking industry of hedge funds and high-frequency trading, but she has not advocated to reinstate Glass-Steagall or break up the big banks (and is unlikely to do so).

Minimum Wage: He wants to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour; she has said that she, too, wants to raise the minimum wage, but has not specifically called for $15 an hour.

Debt-Free College: He has proposed a plan that would make public colleges and universities tuition free by putting into affect a financial transaction tax; she has pushed to make college “as debt-—free as possible,” but has not specified how and has not endorsed the financial transaction tax.

Other than that, it was just a friendly encounter between two old colleagues who ran into each other on a Tuesday afternoon in Washington.

For even more comparisons, and I think some of these may surprise you, click here.

 

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WATCH Bernie Sanders’ Progression On The Campaign Trail: #FeelTheBern (VIDEO)

This video shows the progression of Bernie Sanders’ campaign and how his simple message is winning over the voters because he is genuine and unscripted and his record is clear: Bernie Sanders has consistently been working his heart out for the benefit of The People.

WATCH this and tell me if you can #FeelTheBern:

 

 

 

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MSBNC Producer Leaves Ed Show To Join Bernie Sanders Campaign (VIDEO)

Sanders and Jones by James Holm

It’s no secret that Ed Schultz from MSNBC’s The Ed Show is a fan of Bernie Sanders. Two paired up for Sanders’ first interview as a Presidential candidate. The shows booking producer, Arianna Jones, has also long been a fan of Sanders and just recently announced that she’s leaving The Ed Show to help run Sanders’ presidential campaign and will be working as his Deputy Communications Manager out of the Burlington, Vermont headquarters.

Arianna Jones, a University of Vermont graduate, has also made no secret of her support for Bernie Sanders. Her Twitter feed is chock full of Bernie Sanders. And the likes of Bill Nye:

arianna jones and bill nye

In a recent interview with Sanders, Schultz asked:

Senator, I want your personal reaction to the amount of people that are coming out to see you speak and meet you and hear from you in Iowa. We’re eight months away from the caucuses, and these are crowds that we haven’t seen in contemporary times. What’s your reaction to 700, 800, 1,000 people, 1,100 people showing up to see Bernie Sanders?

To which Sanders replied:

In Minneapolis we had 4,000 people… It’s kind of mind blowing… I think, Ed, what it tells us is there is an enormous frustration today with establishment economics and the greed of the big money interests, establishment politics and the degree to which the wealthy are dominating the political system. People in this country are angry and they want real change, they want a government that works for them and not just the billionaire campaign contributors.

WATCH the whole clip here:
http://www.mrctv.org/embed/136603

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Jeb Bush Has A Shame and Humiliation Fetish

In 1995, GOP Presidential hopeful and brother and son of W and HW respectively, published a book entitled Profiles in Character. According to Huffington Post, there is a chapter entitled The Restoration of Shame. In it he laments that young people are shirking their parental responsibilities because they have “no reason to feel shame:”

One of the reasons more young women are giving birth out of wedlock and more young men are walking away from their paternal obligations is that there is no longer a stigma attached to this behavior, no reason to feel shame. Many of these young women and young men look around and see their friends engaged in the same irresponsible conduct. Their parents and neighbors have become ineffective at attaching some sense of ridicule to this behavior. There was a time when neighbors and communities would frown on out of wedlock births and when public condemnation was enough of a stimulus for one to be careful.

In 2001, as Governor of Florida, Jeb Bush allowed a law to go into effect requiring single women planning to put their infants up for adoption to publish the names of every sexual partner they may have had that may be the father of the infant(s) in question. It was dubbed the “Scarlet Letter” law.  The bill was intended to notify potential fathers in the event that the father was willing and able to take responsibility of raising the child that he conceived.

In addition to the names of the fathers, the women were also required to publish in newspapers the dates and places of sexual acts that may have caused the conception of the child as well as disclosing their own names, ages, height, weight, hair and eye color, race and the child’s name and birth place. And a description of the possible father(s) . The ads were required to run once per week for a month in the community or communities that they believe that children were conceived.

Not surprisingly, this law was later found unconstitutional.

In 2003 that law was repealed and replaced with a new law that established a “Father Registry” for men to register if they believe that they may be the father of a child. Conversely, the fathers would have to register, providing the name, address and physical description of the mother as well as the date and place(s) where they believed that the conception may have taken place, in order to preserve and protect their parental rights.

At the time Howard Simon of Florida’s ACLU was quoted as saying:

Only a male-dominated legislature could possibly pass a law that facilitates adoptions by requiring public humiliation of women.

In 2003, The New York Times reported that Charlotte Danciu, a Bacon Raton attorney who represented four women and two minor in a suit against the legislation as saying:

I had a woman come to me who had a child 10 years ago while in college and now her husband of five years wants to adopt her child and in order to do that she had to put her name, her daughter’s name and all the men she slept with in college in her college newspaper.

Huffington Post also points out that Jeb Bush is an advocate for publicly shaming children and students and people on public assistance, even saying something–in writing, in his book–that, “For many, it is more shameful to work than to take public assistance — that is how backward shame has become!”

Is THIS the person we want running our country? Just say NO to Jeb Bush in 2016–or ever.

I wonder what his wife and children have to say about this line of thinking.

Featured image from NBCMiami…  where he saying “Shame on you” to President Obama.

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Rick Perry Memes by Girl Du Jour

Rick Perry announced his most recent bid for the Oval Office today. Not sure how long you’ve been following me but Rick Perry is one of my favorite targets. The memes and jokes literally write themselves. He’s an idiot.

Enjoy!

#1 borowitz perry gdj marmel perry hat gdj obama perry gdj perry paul gdj perry walker pierce gdj Rick Perry Barack Obama Abuse Of Power Lawsuit Girl Du Jour Rick Perry Inbred Hat Wearing Horse Of The Apolcalypse Steve Marmel and Girl Du Jour rick perry lolgop gdj texas executions ultrasounds texas facts texas ranks world

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Congressman Hastings Is All Out Of Fu*ks (VIDEO)

My sister, who lives in Texas, was kind enough to share this video with me wherein Alcee Hastings (a congressman from Florida) is all out of fucks to give.  He tells the congressman from Texas EXACTLY what he thinks about Texas. And it’s delicious.

WATCH:

He was later quoted as saying:

I love Texans, but I do not like their policy makers who are in the majority. The simple fact of the matter is, evidently, I touched a nerve deep in the heart of Texas. And I would ask them to tie a yellow rose around it and do like ‘Frozen’ and ‘Let It Go.’

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