Finance went football on Friday: German fans shouted: “Without Angie, you wouldn’t be here,” referring to multibillion-dollar bailouts. “We’ll never pay you back,” retorted Greek fans. “We’ll never pay you back.”
Last week, Yaka reminisced: the present Queen of England has reigned over English wars that have murdered 700 million people throughout their present and former ‘colonies’. Much of it during a time of European ‘peace’, and since it’s our blood being poured, we do not count among the slaughtered of their ‘World Wars.’
The ‘First World War’ or European Tribal War, 1914-18, which killed millions, is said to have begun in the boardrooms of the German Siemens and US General Electric Corporations as they fought to redivide the world’s markets. We are in for a rerun it seems.
The good news is that whenever such dinosaurs do mega-battle on each other, we are offered new opportunities to delink – extricate ourselves from their underdevelopment of our economies. History suggests such ‘World Wars’ have been ‘good’ for us, with our economies developing with less European diktat over us at such times. The bad news is of course that millions will be killed. We are not naif enough to believe this would be the war to end all wars, but let us hope such sacrifice is not in vain, and a new world, free of capitalism, will inevitably emerge.
This so-called ‘economic crisis’ is another fraud perpetrated to maintain if not increase capitalist control over the economies of our countries. With production moving east to Asia, ‘wars’ are being spread to perpetuate their grip over us. Like fires fanned by swidden (hena) cultivators on ‘crown’ land, or by professional arsonists hoping to take over limited swathes of public real-estate in inner cities, these wars could however blaze into real revolutions, if they slip the manoeuvring of the devil’s apprentices who spark them.
The fiasco in Greece provides an unfolding blueprint. Used by Europeans as a poster-boy of civilization (pronounced ‘syphillization’) and democracy, Greece is being arm-twisted to override its parliament and elections, and hand over sovereignty to a few bankers based elsewhere. The battle, however, is not between Greeks and Germans, as portrayed by the media, but between German banks representing corporations like Siemens, Bayer, Deutsche Telekom, and Greece’s future.
It is no coincidence, that many of the bankers now in charge of the economies of Europe are linked to US investment banker Goldman Sachs. In 2001, just after Greece gained entry to Europe’s monetary union, Goldman helped their government noiselessly borrow billions. Hidden from public view the deal was treated as a currency trade rather than a loan, and helped Athens meet Europe’s deficit rules. In return, Greece paid Goldman and other banks hundreds of millions of dollars to help hide huge Greece debts, presumably from their EU overseers.
Cooking growth rates
“Financial instruments” developed by Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and other banks enabled politicians to mask additional borrowing not just in Greece, but Italy and elsewhere. Banks pumped cash upfront in return for future government payments, with such liabilities then left off the books. Greece paid Goldman about $300 million in fees for arranging a 2001 transaction, trading away its rights to airport fees, highways and lottery proceeds for years to come! Such Greek deals were named after mythological figures: the airport deal labeled Aeolos, after their god (or pimp) of the winds! The lottery deal was called Ariadne, goddess (or brothel madam) of labyrinths!
This revelation of the fixing of the Greek economy’s growth rate, etc., continued the battle between European and US banks and corporations. This news about Goldman’s bribery of European governments was revealed only after Germany’s Siemens was exposed by US authorities in December 2008. (Bribery was allowed by German law until just recently: US and English corporations of course do the same thing, using different euphemisms.) Siemens agreed to pay $ 800 million – the largest penalty ever paid for violating US foreign bribery law. It settled separately paying $ 800 million to German authorities, but the scandal also led to international bribery investigations.
Siemens’ bribing of various Greek governments from the late 1990s to 2007 was exposed, and cost taxpayers 2 billion euros. In January 2011, an investigation named 15 Greek politicians ‘greased’ by Siemens. In March 2012, Greece settled out-of-court: Siemens will write off 80 million euros in “unpaid arrears” owed by the Greek government, paying them 90 million, and spending 100 million in “new” investments in Greece. It will also “consider” 60 million euros in “future” investments.
The New York Times reported: Wall Street’s economic schemes in Europe were “akin to the ones that fostered subprime mortgages” in the USA and had “worsened the financial crisis shaking Greece,” undermining “the euro by enabling European governments to hide their mounting debts.” In dozens of deals across Europe, banks provided cash upfront in return for future government payments, with those liabilities unrecorded in the books. A Greek economist noted: “Politicians want to pass the ball forward, and if a banker can show them a way to pass a problem to the future, they will fall for it.” Greece now owes major banks $ 300 billion!
A 1996 derivative brought the Italian budget into line despite its high deficits, by “swapping currency with JPMorgan at a favorable exchange rate, effectively putting more money in the government’s hands.” In return, Italy promised future payments, again not recorded as liabilities. In 2000, European finance ministers “fiercely debated” whether derivative deals used for creative accounting should be disclosed, and decided not to.
In 2005, Goldman sold an interest-rate swap to the National Bank of Greece, the country’s largest bank. All such deals “were perfectly legal.” Few rules govern how nations borrow money: “The market for sovereign debt — the Wall Street term for loans to governments — is as unfettered as it is vast.” Ironically, Greece’s new finance minister, announced on Thursday, is Vassilis Rapanos, chairman of that National Bank of Greece! (By Saturday, he was already in hospital!)
The International Monetary Fund’s capital markets surveillance unit, which monitors “vulnerability in global capital markets,” claims they can do little. But it is the US-Treasury-controlled IMF – World Bank that first sets up the straitjacket on what become gospel for our economists: deregulation and privatization.
Like loansharks or drugpushers, they get you hooked and then squeeze you dry. If you refuse to pay, then wars in various forms are declared with corporate ‘free’ media leading the attack. Slander usually reserved for Black workers are already being flung on Europe’s once ‘civilized’ Greeks: lazy, profligate, unreliable, deceitful!
Surely, Yaka declaims, the world is sick of these English words and wars.
Uddari Weblog: firstname.lastname@example.org