Friday, March 31, 2023

Deweaponizing The Dollar

 Captive Audience,

   Did Big Banks Take Over the US Treasury? Michael Hudson and Radhika Desai (with transcript , extensively excerpted here) Thanks Christine.
  Hudson.. The banking system is now a branch of the US Treasury with the whole value of the US Treasuries behind the banking deposit — there’s no more risk essentially.
  It would appear at first glance that she’d (Yellen) nationalized the banks.
  But really what happened was that — it wasn’t reported in the newspaper, [but it’s almost as if she’d] just taken a mid-level job at Wells Fargo — maybe it was at Citibank — saying the Treasury is now a subgroup of Wells Fargo, Chase Manhattan, and the large banks, [pledging all its credit so that uninsured depositors will not take a loss.]
  The banking system has cannibalized the Treasury and mobilized the whole of Treasury for its banking.
  People had, for a long time, wanted the idea of public banking. They wanted banking to be a public utility. But now the Treasury itself has become privatized as a banking utility...
Desai.. Michael. You put it so well. Because basically, when you can’t have banking as a public utility, then inevitably what happens is the government becomes a private utility. That’s exactly what’s going on...
Hudson.. It’s as if the whole objective of corporate industry today is to get consumers to run into debt and make money off the interest that you charge for consumers rather than to make profits...
..That’s why we’ve been deindustrializing and painted the US economy into the corner that it really can’t re-industrialize without replacing the banking system that is in the middle of showing that it doesn’t work...
..And of course it’s very hard to have a huge financial superstructure [without] an industrial base. And if you have a superstructure on a teeny base, at a certain point it’s going to collapse.
  And that’s finally what we’re saying today. The idea of a post-industrial economy making money purely on financial engineering instead of industrial engineering ends up with more claims for payment than the economy can pay.
  That’s been the theme of all of our shows and that’s exactly what you’re seeing today. Ponzi schemes work until somebody wants to withdraw their money..
..You’re seeing [Rothschild banker] Mr. Macron in France facing riots when he’s trying to say, “Well, we can’t afford to pay social security because the banks needed more money for the bailout, so we’re going to extend the retirement age.” ...
..Ever since Obama bailed out the banks and not the economy — ever since he didn’t write down the debts to what can be paid —ever since he refused to let the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation take over Citibank and refused to declare that the largest banks — Wells Fargo, Chase — all these banks were insolvent — that refusal led to the whole debt overhead — what they called the “jobless recovery”...
..Their policy is to put the financial sector first, and the job of the entire economy is to reduce its living standards, cut back its corporate investment, cut back any spending except the flow of money into the financial sector...
..The houses of eight million American families were bought out by private capital companies and turned from owner-occupied housing into rental housing. The shape of the economy changed.
  This is much more than lower interest rates. It was a transformation of the American economy from a homeowner’s economy to a rental economy — from an industrial economy to a financial economy.
  The Obama administration ended permanently any hopes for an American industrial takeoff until such time as his acts can be undone and you wipe out the debt overhead that is the same thing as the savings overhead of the banks in the financial sector...
Desai.. I should also say that the voices that have been talking about that also go back to the 1980s. I mean, remember Ross Perot and him saying that if the United States wants to have an economy as competitive as Japan’s, it’s going to need industrial policy, and that implies a very different financial system...
Hudson.. Well Obama did something much worse. The Federal Reserve in 2009 started the practice of actually paying interest on bank reserves held at the Fed.
  So a bank could borrow from the Fed at a low rate of interest, redeposit the money at the Fed and actually make an arbitrage gain.
  This is, again, a transformation in the structure. It’s not just a lower interest rate — it’s not just that. It’s lowering interest rates in a way that gives banks a way to make free money by borrowing cheap from the government and lending back to the government.
  This was a gigantic $9 trillion subsidy to the banks at the same time that the Democrats said, “We cannot afford to forgive student debt"... "We can afford to forgive the debts of the banks that have gone under. But not the students, not the homeowners that couldn’t pay, not the victims of junk mortgage loans.”
  This is the choice that both the Democrats and the Republicans are following, and that is what makes a recovery impossible for the United States without a change in policy. I don’t see how it can occur without a revolution...
..Well you could say it goes back to the founding of the Federal Reserve. That was the fatal detour that the American economy took.
  If you read the government reports of the National Monetary Commission at the time, the purpose of the Federal Reserve was to take monetary power out of Washington and put it in the financial centers in New York, Philadelphia, and Boston. And the Treasury was not even allowed as a board member on the Federal Reserve. The idea was to privatize finance and essentially replace the Treasury with the private banking system...
..We have an economy slowed down. The function of the central bank today isn’t to provide money to the economy, it’s to provide money for the banks to make money financially at the economy’s expense...
..So if Janet Yellen now says, “Well the Treasury will make good all of the bank’s losses that have been a result of raising interest rates from Obama’s zero interest rates” — then there’ll have to be another $9 trillion.
  Well with $9 trillion you can forget Social Security, forget Medicare, forget social spending — you’ll only have a government doing military spending and paying money to the banks...
..We can’t restructure the banking and credit system and leave the current bailouts in place, and the current debts in place.
  The enormous amount of debts that have grown as a result of the Obama bailouts — the huge $9 trillion in debts — cannot remain in the economy without [preventing the economy from developing].
  This whole buildup of debt, sponsored by zero interest rate policy, has to be wiped out.
  If you keep that debt, if you don’t let the banks go under, if you do not wipe out this debt, there is no way that the economy can afford to be competitive [with] other countries.
  And all that will be left [with] to relate to the international economy will be military power. There’s no way that it’ll have export power, or even a financial power that is viable...
Desai.. There has to be a root and branch reform of the financial system. Only that is going to solve the dilemma which we are in today.

  Saudi Arabia makes move towards Russia-China bloc  
  King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has signed the documents granting Saudi Arabia the status of “dialog partner” with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) – the political, economic and security bloc currently chaired by China.
  The Saudi state agency also said that Iran was set to join the bloc “soon.” Tehran had applied for membership in 2021.
  The SCO was created in 2001 by Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. It has since expanded to India, Uzbekistan, and Pakistan as full members. The status of dialog partner was created in 2008, and includes Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Egypt, Nepal, Qatar, Sri Lanka and Türkiye.
  The bloc initially focused on security concerns, primarily terrorism, separatism and extremism. It has an agreement with the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) on jointly addressing security, crime and drug trafficking.​  (CIA activities.)​ ​

  Brazil and China sign pact to abandon dollar
  Beijing and Brasilia have signed an agreement on trade in mutual currencies, abandoning the US dollar as an intermediary, and are also planning to expand cooperation on food and minerals...
..“The expectation is that this will reduce costs... promote even greater bilateral trade and facilitate investment,” AFP quoted the Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency as saying on Wednesday.
  The countries also reportedly announced the creation of a clearinghouse that will provide settlements without the US dollar, as well as lending in national currencies.

  The deals were waiting for the agreements to be signed. More will come on their heels.
  In a quick succession this week, Beijing unveiled ground-breaking deals to further its efforts to promote the yuan and ditch the US dollar.
  To be sure, the yuan’s market share in the global system remains minuscule. But the direction is clear. 
As Victor Xing at Kekselias Inc. put it: “The key characteristic of the present geopolitical development is ideological, rather than based on economic calculus. Therefore, it is harder to de-escalate, and it means the disruptions and decoupling has momentum to go on for a longer period of time.”

  Warehouses of hundred dollar bills shored up Russian banking, and they barely touched those piles. (I'm entertaining the thought that Russia left that $300 billion where the west could iimpound it, just to tempt them, like FDR tempted the Japanese in Pearl Harbor, but secretly removed the aircraft carriers and modern ships ahead of their attack.)
  Moscow stockpiled gold, yuan and foreign currency in cash to offset Western sanctions, the regulator has revealed
  Amid “increasing geopolitical risks” the central bank ramped up investments in assets “that cannot be blocked by unfriendly nations” and transferred part of its reserves to gold, Chinese yuan and foreign currency in cash, the regulator announced in its annual report.
  The central bank managed to stash billions of imported dollars “in volumes limited by logistics capabilities.

​  ​The European Union is in danger of “criminalising” the use of physical cash with its new anti-money laundering laws, an MEP has warned.
​  ​Dr Gunnar Beck, a representative for the populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, has warned that the EU appears to be pushing for the “criminalisation” of the use of physical cash with its new anti-money laundering (AML) laws.
​  ​Politicians in Brussels have long been pondering an upper legal limit on the value of cash transactions within the bloc, with lawmakers detailing plans to ban Europeans from spending over €10,000 in physical tender as part of a single transaction.

  Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo saved a man’s life Tuesday at the Florida Capitol.
  Willie James Davis Jr. on Tuesday morning suffered a cardiac event during a children’s event near the Capitol Courtyard.
  Ladapo, passing through the area, rushed to aid the 57-year-old. He performed chest compressions and stabilized Davis using a defibrillator, according to the incident report.
  “I’m grateful I was at the right place at the right time,” said Ladapo. “I love being a doctor and I especially appreciate times when my experience makes a difference.”
  Ladapo visited Davis at the hospital the following day.
“A perfect stranger made a decision to give aid and saved my life,” said Davis. “I believe he already has his wings. Again, I thank God for the blessing of continued life and the angel He sent me.”    

  Ben Gvir's Militia
  More worrying is the difficulty Netanyahu faced in even arriving at such a temporary “pause.” In order to prevent the government from collapsing, under the threat of resignation by Itamar Ben Gvir, Netanyahu agreed to Ben Gvir’s demand for the creation of a private militia under his direct control.
  The creation of this private militia has long been a goal for Ben Gvir, and his desire for it only grew after being told that his position as Minister of Police was not enough. He was specifically informed that the Minister of Police only sets policy and must leave the actual implementation of policies to the police.
..The prospect of directly channeling vast amounts and resources to thugs and violent settlers, granting them official sanction and authority is truly frightening. For many years, these elements have enjoyed the tacit support of the army and its complicity. To grant them now direct authority is frightening not only for Palestinians but for the army and the police authorities themselves, who have often viewed Ben Gvir as a convicted terrorist, inciter to violence, and a problematic agitator who creates headaches for them. He was rejected for army service, convicted for terrorism and incitement. He was a politician who has built a reputation for openly calling for near-genocidal practices. He famously went to Sheikh Jarrah, promising a Second Nakba (referring to the ethnic cleansing of 1948) while waving his pistol around. He promised greater violence once he joined the government. It was bad enough that he became Minister of Police and his equally dangerous colleague Bezalel Smotrich was given control over COGAT with direct responsibility for security in the West Bank, but now Ben Gvir is being given his own militia with direct operational authority over its members. Smotrich publicly stated that the recent pogrom at Huwara, and even erasing it (employing a biblical phrase), should have been done not by private citizens but by the government itself. Maybe he had Ben Gvir’s militia in mind.

  Amal Oraby is usually a fixture at street protests. But as tens of thousands of Israelis have demonstrated for months against a contentious government plan to overhaul the judiciary, Oraby is sitting this one out.
  An activist and lawyer, Oraby is one of the many Palestinian citizens of Israel who have stayed on the sidelines of some of the country’s largest and most sustained demonstrations — a glaring absence in a movement that says it aims to preserve the country’s democratic ideals.
  “I don’t see myself there,” Oraby said...
..“In this demonstration, we don’t talk about occupation. We don’t talk about racism. We don’t talk about discrimination,” said Sami Abou Shehadeh, a former legislator in Israel’s parliament. “And they call it a struggle for democracy.”

  Israeli Airstrikes Hit Damascus for Second Night in a Row  (Can Israelis cooperate on another war against Syria for awhile?)
  The intensified Israeli airstrikes in Syria come as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing a political crisis at home. After massive protests and dissent within the Israeli government, Netanyahu delayed his controversial judicial overhaul, but unrest in the country continues.

  Rare Rebuke Of Israel By White House Riles Republicans 
 The political fallout continues after President Biden's controversial and rare criticisms of Israel, which included on Tuesday his urging Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to abandon his governing coalition's judicial overhaul policy which critics say will destroy any semblance of checks and balances and thus is a threat to Israeli democracy itself. The plan is now on "pause" as deep divisions in Israel simmer.
  Biden had said he hoped Netanyahu "walks away from" the plan which has brought hundreds of thousands of Israeli protesters into the streets over the last couple weeks. But he really riled Israel-supporters by emphasizing that he has no intention of welcoming Netanyahu to the White House "in the near term." Typically newly elected Israeli prime ministers can expect to meet with the US president fairly quickly after entering office.
  "Like many strong supporters of Israel, I’m very concerned, and I’m concerned that they get this straight. They cannot continue down this road," Biden had told reporters.

  The liberal justices all supported the corporate lynching.
  The US Supreme Court Just Legalized Private Corporate Prosecutions. Activists Beware.  Steven Donziger
  In a major blow to the rule of law, the US Supreme Court this week let stand Chevron's private prosecution and 993-day detention of me after I helped Amazon communities in Ecuador win the historic $9.5 billion pollution case against Chevron. There was a great dissent by Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh who declared: “Our Constitution does not tolerate what happened here.” While I am dealing with a major disappointment on a personal level, I want people to know that the underlying environmental case against Chevron is still alive after being affirmed unanimously by Ecuador’s highest court and Canada’s Supreme Court for enforcement purposes.

  RFK, Jr. to Buttigieg: Airline Safety Is ‘Not a Partisan Issue,’ FAA Must Investigate Spike in Pilot Health Emergencies
  Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. called on U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg to investigate the spike in near-misses and narrowly averted airline accidents resulting from pilots incapacitated by health emergencies since 2021, coinciding with the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination campaign in the U.S.

​Heart Healthy (pictured harvesting first onion and putting in a zucchini plant)​

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