The Debt Spider Captures America

excerpted from the book

Web of Debt

The Shocking Truth About Our Money System And How We Can Break Free

by Ellen Hodgson Brown

Third Millennium Press, 2007, paperback


The U.S. has now surpassed even Third World countries in its debt level. By 2004, the debt of the U.S. government had hit $7.6 trillion, more than three times that of all Third World countries combined. Like the bankrupt consumer who stays afloat by making the minimum payment on his credit card, the government has avoided bankruptcy by paying just the interest on its monster debt; but Comptroller General David M. Walker warns that by 2009 the country may not be able to afford even that mounting bill. When the government cannot service its debt, it will have to declare bankruptcy, and the economy will collapse.

Al Martin is a retired naval intelligence officer, former contributor to the Presidential Council of Economic Advisors, and author of a weekly newsletter called "Behind the Scenes in the Beltway." He observed in an April 2005 newsletter that the ratio of total U.S. debt to gross domestic product (GDP) rose from 78 percent in 2000 to 308 percent in April 2005. The International Monetary Fund considers a nation-state with a total debt-to-GDP ratio of 200 percent or more to be a "de-constructed Third World nation-state." Martin wrote:

What "de-constructed" actually means is that a political regime in that country, or series of political regimes, have, through a long period of fraud, abuse, graft, corruption and mismanagement, effectively collapsed the economy of that country.

editorialist Mike Whitney in CounterPunch in April 2005

[T]he towering [U.S.] national debt coupled with the staggering trade deficits have put the nation on a precipice and a seismic shift in the fortunes of middle-class Americans is looking more likely all the time... The country has been intentionally plundered and will eventually wind up in the hands of its creditors This same Ponzi scheme has been carried out repeatedly by the IMF and World Bank throughout the world Bankruptcy is a fairly straightforward way of delivering valuable public assets and resources to collaborative industries, and of annihilating national sovereignty. After a nation is successfully driven to destitution, public policy decisions are made by creditors and not by representatives of the people .... The catastrophe that middle class Americans face is what these elites breezily refer to as "shock therapy"; a sudden jolt, followed by fundamental changes to the system. In the near future we can expect tax reform, fiscal discipline, deregulation, free capital flows, lowered tariffs, reduced public services, and privatization.

Catherine Austin Fitts, formerly managing director of a Wall Street investment bank and was Assistant Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under President George Bush Sr.. She calls what is happening to the economy "a criminal leveraged buyout of America," something she defines as "buying a country for cheap with its own money and then jacking up the rents and fees to steal the rest." She also calls it the "American Tapeworm" model:

[T]he American Tapeworm model is to simply finance the federal deficit through warfare, currency exports, Treasury and federal credit borrowing and cutbacks in domestic "discretionary" ,spending .... This will then place local municipalities and local leadership in a highly vulnerable position - one that will allow them to be persuaded with bogus but high-minded sounding arguments to further cut resources. Then, to "preserve bond ratings and the rights of creditors," our leaders can he persuaded to sell our water, natural resources and infrastructure assets at significant discounts of their true value to global investors .... This will be described as a plan to "save America" by recapitalizing it on a sound financial footing. In fact, this process will simply shift more capital continuously from America to other continents and from the lower and middle classes to elites.

In 1894, Jacob Coxey warned of the destruction of the great American middle class. That prediction is rapidly materializing, as the gap between rich and poor grows ever wider. The Federal Reserve reported in 2004 that:

* The wealthiest 1 percent of Americans held 33.4 percent of the nation's wealth, up from 30.1 percent in 1989; while the top 5 percent held 55.5 percent of the wealth.

* The poorest 50 percent of the population held only 2.5 percent of the wealth, down from 3.0 percent in 1989.

* The very wealthiest 1 percent of Americans owned a bigger piece of the pie (33.4 percent) than the poorest 90 percent (30.4 percent of the pie). They also owned 62.3 percent of the nation's business assets.

* The wealthiest 5 percent owned 93.7 percent of the value of bonds, 71.7 percent of nonresidential real estate, and 79.1 percent of the nation's stocks.

American corporations are assured of cheap, non-mobile labor of the sort found in Third World countries by a medical insurance system and other benefits tied to employment People dare not quit their jobs, however unsatisfactory, for fear of facing medical catastrophes without insurance, particularly now that the escape hatch of bankruptcy has narrowed substantially.

The Bankruptcy Reform Act of 2005 eroded the protection the government once provided against these unexpected catastrophes, ensuring that working people are kept on a treadmill of personal debt. Meanwhile, loopholes allowing very wealthy people and corporations to go bankrupt and to shield their assets from creditors remain intact.

The 2005 bankruptcy bill was written by and for credit card companies. Credit card debt reached $735 billion by 2003, more than 11 times the tab in 1980. Approximately 60 percent of credit card users do not pay off their monthly balances; and among those users, the average debt carried on their cards is close to $12,000. This "sub-prime" market is actually targeted by banks and credit card companies, which count on the poor, the working poor and the financially strapped to not be able to make their payments. According to a 2003 book titled The Two-Income Trap by Warren and Tyagi

More than 75 percent of credit card profits come from people who make those low, minimum monthly payments. And who makes minimum monthly payments at 26 percent interest? Who pays late fees, over-balance charges, and cash advance premiums? Families that can barely make ends meet, households precariously balanced between financial survival and complete collapse. These are the families that are singled out by the lending industry, barraged with special offers, personalized advertisements, and home phone calls, all with one objective in mind: get them to borrow more money.

Hazard Circular circulated during the American Civil War

[S]lavery is but the owning of labor and carries with it the care of the laborers, while the European plan, led by England, is that capital shall control labor by controlling wages. This can be done by controlling the money. The great debt that capitalists will see to it is made out of the war, must be used as a means to control the volume of money.

The slaves kept in the pre-Civil War South had to be fed and cared for. People enslaved by debt must feed and house themselves.

In 2004, home ownership was touted as being at all-time highs, hitting nearly 69 percent that year... Only 40 percent of homes were owned "free and clear, that figure included properties owned as second homes as vacation homes, and by landlords who rented the property out to non-homeowners Even homes that were at one time owned free and clear could have mortgages on them, after the owners were lured by lenders into taking cash out through home equity loans. As a result of refinancing and residential mobility, most mortgages on single-family properties today are less than four years old, which means they have a long way to go before they are paid off.

... In late 2004, mortgage debt amounted to 85 percent of disposable income, a record high.

... From 2001 through 2005, outstanding mortgage debt rose from $5.3 trillion to $8.9 trillion, the biggest debt expansion in history.

... Homeowners took equity out of their homes through home sales, refinancings and home equity loans totaling about $700 billion in 2004, more than twice the $266 billion taken five years earlier. Debts due to residential mortgages exceeded $8.1 trillion, a sum larger even than the out-of-control federal debt, which hit $7.6 trillion the same year.

In the 1980s, the Fed reacted to a stock market crisis by lowering interest rates, making investment money readily available, inflating the stock market to unprecedented heights in the 1990s. When the stock market topped out in 2000 and started downward, the Fed could have allowed it to correct naturally; but that alternative was politically unpopular, and it would have meant serious losses to the banks that owned the Fed. The decision was made instead to prop up the market with even lower interest rates. The federal funds rate was dropped to 1.0 percents launching a credit expansion that was even greater than in the 1990s, encouraging further speculation in both stocks and real estate.

By 2005, about half of all U.S. mortgages were at "adjustable" interest rates.

Loans are structured so that the borrower who agrees to a 30-year mortgage at a fixed rate of 7 percent will actually pay about 2-1/2 times the list price of the house over the course of the loan. A house priced at $330,000 at 7 percent interest would accrue $460,379. in interest, for a total tab of $790,379.36. The bank thus actually gets a bigger chunk of the pie than the seller, although it never owned either the property or the loan money, which was created as it was lent; and home loans are completely secured, so the risk to the bank is very low. The buyer will pay about 2-1/2 times the list price to borrow money the bank never had until the mortgage was signed.

Gary North, in a November 2005 article "Surreal Estate on the San Andreas"

A squeeze is coming that will affect the entire banking system. The madness of bankers has become unprecedented... Banks will wind up sitting on top of bad loans of all kinds because the American economy is now housing-sale driven.

The American money supply is being continually pumped up with new money created as loans, but borrowers are increasingly unable to repay their loans, which are going into default. When loans are extinguished by default, the money supply contracts and deflation and depression result. The collision of these two forces can result in "stagflation" - price inflation without economic growth.

Today's stocks are owned by over half of Americans, the highest number in history.

In a June 2002 article titled "Fannie and Freddie Were Lenders," Richard Freeman warned that the housing bubble was the largest bubble in history, dwarfing anything that had gone before; and that it had been pumped up to its gargantuan size by Fannie Mae (the Federal National Mortgage Association) and Freddie Mac (the Federal Home Mortgage Corporation)...

Focusing on the larger of these two institutional cousins, Fannie Mae, Freeman noted that if it were a bank, it would be the third largest bank in the world; and that it made enormous amounts of money in the real estate market for its private owners. Contrary to popular belief, Fannie Mae is not actually a government agency. It began that way under Roosevelt's New Deal, but it was later transformed into a totally private corporation. It issued stock that was bought by private investors, and eventually it was listed on the stock exchange. Like the Federal Reserve, it became "federal" only in name.

In 2002, Fannie Mae's bonds made up over $700 billion of outstanding debt total of $764 billion. Only one source of income was available to pay the interest and principal on these bonds, the money Fannie collected on the mortgages it owned. If a substantial number of mortgages were to go into default, Fannie would not have the cash to pay its bondholders. Freeman observed that no company in America had ever defaulted on as much as $50 billion in bonds, and Fannie Mae had over $700 billion - at least ten times more than any other corporation in America. A default on a bonded debt of that size, he said, could end the U.S. financial system virtually overnight.

Like those banking institutions considered "too big to fail," Fannie Mae had tentacles reaching into so much of the financial system that if it went, it could take the economy down with it. A wave of home mortgage defaults would not alone have been enough to bring down the whole housing market, said Freeman; but adding the possibility of default on Fannie's riskier obligations, totaling over $2 trillion in 2002, the chance of a system-wide default had been raised to "radioactive" levels. If a crisis in the housing mortgage market were to produce a wave of loan defaults, Fannie would not be able to meet the terms of the guarantees it put on $859 billion in Mortgage-Backed Securities, and the pension funds and other investors buying the MBS would suffer tens of billions of dollars in losses.

Colt Bagley wrote in 2004

Once upon a time, the American banking system extended loans to productive agriculture and industry. Now, it is a vast betting lilac/line, gaming on market distortions of interest rates, stocks, currencies, etc.. JP Morgan Chase Bank (JPMC) dominates the U.S. derivatives market... JPMC Bank alone has derivatives approaching four times the U.S. Gross Domestic Product of $11.5 trillion. Next come Bank of America and Citibank, with $14.9 trillion and $14.4 trillion in derivatives, respectively. The OCC [Office of the Comptroller of the Currency] reports that the top seven American derivatives banks hold 96% of the U.S. banking system's notional derivatives holding. If these banks suffer serious impairment of their derivatives holdings, kiss the banking system goodbye.

Guy Novak ... explains that the banking system has become gridlocked because its pretended "derivative" assets are fake; and the fake assets have swallowed up the real assets. It all began with deregulation in the 1980s, when government regulation was considered an irrational scheme from which business had to be freed.

Derivative bets are sold as a form of insurance against something catastrophic going wrong. But if something catastrophic does go wrong, the counterparties (the parties on the other side of the bet, typically hedge funds) are liable to fold their cards and drop out of the game. The "insured" are left with losses both from the disaster itself and from the loss of the premium paid for the bet. To avoid that result, the Federal Reserve, along with other central banks, a fraternity of big private banks, and the U.S. Treasury itself, have gotten into the habit of covertly bailing out losing counterparties. This was done when the giant hedge fund Long Term Capital Management went bankrupt in 1998. It was also evidently done in 2005, but very quietly.

financial analyst Rob Kirby in the article "The Grand Illusion", December 2005

On March 23, 2006, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System will cease publication of the M3 monetary aggregate. The Board will also cease publishing the following components: large-denomination time deposits, repurchase agreements (RPs), and Eurodollars .... [These securities] are exactly where one would expect to find the "capture" of any large scale monetization effort that the Fed would embark upon - should the need occur.

Iran announced that it would be opening an oil market (or "bourse") in euros in March 2006, sidestepping the 1974 agreement with OPEC to trade oil only in U.S. dollars. An article in the Arab online magazine Al-Jazeerah warned that the Iranian bourse "could lead to a collapse in value for the American currency, potentially putting the U.S. economy in its greatest crisis since the depression era of the 1930s." Rob Kirby wrote:

[I]f countries like Japan and China (and other Asian countries) with their trillions of U.S. dollars no longer need them (or require a great deal less of them) to buy oil ... [and] begin wholesale liquidation of U.S. debt obligations, there is no doubt in my mind that the Fed will print the dollars necessary to redeem them - this would necessarily imply an absolutely enormous (can you say hyperinflation) bloating of the money supply - which would undoubtedly be captured statistically in M3 or its related reporting. It would appear that we're all going to be "flying blind" as to how much money the Fed is truly going to pump into the system .... "

For the Federal Reserve to "monetize" the government's debt with newly-issued dollars is actually nothing new. When no one else buys U.S. securities, the Fed routinely steps in and buys them with money created for the occasion.

Richard Daughty, a commentator who writes in The Daily Reckoning ... commented in April 2006
There was ... a flurry of excitement last week when there was a rumor that the Federal Reserve had printed up, suddenly, $2 trillion in cash... With this amount of cash, the American government can pretty much buy all the government securities that any foreigners want to sell, but the inflationary effects of creating so much money won't be felt in prices for awhile.

It might be clever, if it really were the American government buying back its own securities; but it isn't. It is the private Federal Reserve and private banks. If dollars are to be printed wholesale and federal securities are to be redeemed with them, why not let Congress do the job itself and avoid a massive unnecessary debt to financial middlemen? Arguably, if the government were to buy back its own bonds and take them out of circulation, it could not only escape a massive federal debt but could do this without producing inflation. Government securities are already traded around the world just as if they were money. They would just be turned into cash, leaving the overall money supply unchanged. When the Federal Reserve buys up government bonds with newly-issued money, on the other hand, the bonds aren't taken out of circulation. Instead, they become the basis for generating many times their value in new loans; and that result is highly inflationary.

Catherine Austin Fitts former assistant secretary of HUD, in a 2004 interview

We've reached a point... where rather than let financial assets adjust, the powers that be now have [such] control of the economy through the banking system and through the governmental apparatus [that] they can simply steal more money ... ,whether it's [by keeping] the stock market pumped up, the derivatives going, or the gold price manipulated down .... In other words, you can adjust to your economy not by letting the value of the stock market or financial assets fall, but you can use warfare and organized crime to liquidate and steal whatever it is you need to keep the game going. And that's the kind of Orwellian scenario whereby you can basically keep this thing going, but in a way that leads to a highly totalitarian government and economy - corporate feudalism.

Latter-day Paul Reveres warned that domestic security measures were being tightened and civil rights were being stripped. These developments mirrored IMF policies in Third World countries, where the "IMF riot" was actually anticipated and factored in when "austerity measures" were imposed. Conspiracy theorists pointed to efforts to get the Constitution suspended under the Emergency Powers Act, martial law imposed under the Patriot and Homeland Security Acts, and the American democratic form of government replaced with a police state. They noted the use of the military in 2005 to quell rioting in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, in violation of posse comitatus, a statute forbidding U.S. active military participation in domestic law enforcement." They observed that fully-armed private mercenaries, some of them foreign, even appeared on the streets. The scene recalled a statement made by former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger at a 1992 conference of the secretive Bilderbergers, covertly tap by a Swiss delegate. Kissinger reportedly said:

Today, America would be outraged if U.N. troops entered Los Angeles to restore order. Tomorrow they will be grateful! ... The one thing every man fears is the unknown. When presented with this scenario, individual rights will be willingly relinquished for the guarantee of their well-being granted to them by the World Government.

Al Martin in a November 2005 newsletter

FEMA is being upgraded as a federal agency, and upon passage of PATRIOT Act III, which contains the amendment to overturn posse comitatus, FEMA will be re-militarized, which will give the agency military police powers .... Why is all of this being done? Why is the regime moving to a militarized police state and to a dictatorship? It is because of what Comptroller General David Walker said, that after 2009, the ability of the United States to continue to service its debt becomes questionable. Although the average citizen may not understand what that means, when the United States can no longer service its debt it collapses as an economic entity. We would be an economically collapsed state. The only way government can function and can maintain control in an economically collapsed state is through a military dictatorship.

When commercial borrowers aren't creating enough money by borrowing it into existence, the government must take over that function by spending money it doesn't have, justifying its loans in any way it can. Keeping the economy alive means continually finding ways to pump newly-created loan money into the system, while concealing the fact that this "money" has been spun out of thin air.

George Stephanopoulos, President Clinton's senior adviser on policy strategy - on "Good Morning America" on September 17, 2001

[T]he Fed in 1989 created what is called the Plunge Protection Team (PPT), which is the Federal Reserve, big major banks, representatives of the New York Stock Exchange and the other exchanges ... and they have kind of an informal agreement among major banks to come in and start to buy if there appears to he a problem.

... there was a global currency crisis [in 1998]. And [the PPT] at the guidance ' of the Fed, all of the banks got together when that started to collapse and propped up the currency markets. And they have plans in place to consider that if the stock markets start to fall.

The Plunge Protection Team (PPT) is formally called the Working Group on Financial Markets (WGFM). Created by President Reagan's Executive Order 12631 in 1988 in response to the October 1987 stock market crash, the WGFM includes the President, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, the Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Its stated purpose is to enhance "the integrity, efficiency, orderliness, and competitiveness of our Nation's financial markets and [maintain] investor confidence." According to the Order:

To the extent permitted by law and subject to the availability of funds therefore, the Department of the Treasury shall provide the Working Group with such administrative and support services as may be necessary for the performance of its functions.

In plain English, taxpayer money is being used to make the markets look healthier than they are. Treasury funds are made available, but the WGFM is not accountable to Congress and can act from behind closed doors. It not only can but it must, since if investors were to realize what was going on, they would not fall for the bait. "Maintaining investor confidence" means keeping investors in the dark about how shaky the market really is.

[New York Post columnist John] Crudele tracked the shady history of the PPT in his June 2006 New York Post series:

Back during a stock market crisis in 1989, a guy named Robert Heller - who had just left the Federal Reserve Board - suggested that the government rig the stock market in times of dire emergency. He didn't use the word "rig" but that's what he meant. Proposed as an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, it's a seminal argument that says when a crisis occurs on Wall Street "instead of flooding the entire economy with liquidity, and thereby increasing the danger of inflation, the Fed could support the stock market directly by buying market averages in the futures market, thus stabilizing the market as a whole."

The stock market was to be the Roman circus of the twenty-first century, distracting the masses with pretensions of prosperity. Instead of fixing the problem in the economy, the PPT would just "fix" the investment casino. Crudele wrote:

Over the next few years ... whenever the stock market was in trouble someone seemed to ride to the rescue .... Often it appeared to be Goldman Sachs, which just happens to be where [newly-appointed Treasury Secretary] Paulson and former Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin worked.

For obvious reasons, the mechanism by which the PPT has ridden to the rescue isn't detailed on the Fed's website; but some analysts think they know. Michael Bolser, who belongs to an antitrust group called GATA (the Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee), says that PPT money is funneled through the Fed's "primary dealers," a group of favored Wall Street brokerage firms and investment banks. The device used is a form of loan called a "repurchase agreement" or "repo," which is a contract for the sale and future repurchase of Treasury securities. Bolser explains:

It may sound odd, but the Fed occasionally gives money ["permanent" repos] to its primary dealers (a list of about thirty financial houses, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, etc). They never have to pay this free money back; thus the primary dealers will pretty much do whatever the Fed asks if they want to stay in the primary dealers "club."

The exact mechanism of repo use to support the DOW is simple. The primary dealers get repos in the morning issuance and then buy DOW index futures (a market that is far smaller than the open DOW trading volume). These futures prices then drive the DOW itself because the larger population of investors think the "insider" futures buyers have access to special information and are "ahead" of the market. Of course they don't have special information... only special money in the form of repos.

The money used to manipulate the market is "Monopoly" money, funds created from nothing and given for nothing, just to prop up the market. Not only is the Dow propped up but the gold market is held down, since gold is considered a key indicator of inflation. If the gold price were to soar, the Fed would have to increase interest rates to tighten the money supply, impairing the housing market and forcing the government to raise inflation-adjusted payments for Social Security. Most traders who see this manipulation going on don't complain, because they think the Fed is rigging the market to their advantage. But gold investors have routinely been fleeced; and the PPT's secret manipulations created a stock market bubble that would take everyone's savings down when it burst, as bubbles invariably do. Unwary investors have been induced to place risky bets on a nag on its last legs. The people become complacent and accept bad leadership, had policies and had laws, because they think it is all "working" economically.

GATA's findings were largely ignored until they were confirmed in a carefully researched report released by John Embry of Sprott Asset Management of Toronto in August 2004. An update of the report published in The Asia Times in 2005, included an introductory comment that warned, "the secrecy and growing involvement of private-sector actors threatens to foster enormous moral hazards." Moral hazard is the risk that the existence of a contract will change the way the parties act in the future; for example, a firm insured for fire may take fewer fire precautions. In this case, the hazard was that banks were taking undue investment and lending risks, believing they would be bailed out from their folly because they always had been in the past. The comment continued:

Major financial institutions may be acting as de facto agencies of the state, and thus not competing on a level playing field. There are signs that repeated intervention in recent years has corrupted the system.

In a June 2006 article titled "Plunge Protection or Enormous Hidden Tax Revenues, Chuck Augustin was more blunt, writing:

Today the markets are, without doubt, manipulated on a daily basis by the PPT. Government controlled "front companies" such as Goldman-Sachs, JP Morgan and many others collect incredible revenues through market manipulation. Much of this money is probably returned to government coffers, however, enormous sums of money are undoubtedly skimmed by participating companies and individuals.

The operation is similar to the Mafia-controlled gambling operations in Las Vegas during the 50's and 60's but much more effective and beneficial to all involved. Unlike the Mafia, the PPT has enormous advantages. The operation is immune to investigation or prosecution, there [are] unlimited funds available through the Treasury and Federal Reserve, it has the ultimate insider trading advantages, and it fully incorporates the spin and disinformation of government controlled media to sway markets in the desired direction .... Any investor can imagine the riches they could obtain if they knew what direction stocks, commodities and currencies would move in a single day, especially if they could obtain unlimited funds with which to invest! ... [T]he PPT not only cheats investors out of trillions of dollars, it also eliminates competition that refuses to he "bought" through mergers. Very soon now, only global companies and corporations owned and controlled by the NWO elite will exist.

Michael Bolser as carefully tracked the Dow against the "repo" pool... His charts show that the Fed has routinely "engineered" the Dow and the dollar to make the economy appear sounder than it is.

Alex Wallenstein in an April 2004 article

People would never give up their property rights voluntarily, directly. But if we can be sucked by Fed interest rate policy into no longer saving money (because stock market gains are so much higher than returns on CDs and savings bonds), and instead into throwing all of our retirement hopes and dreams at the stock market (that can be engineered into a catastrophic collapse in the blink of an eye), then we can all become "good little sheep." Then we can be made to march right up to be fleeced and then slaughtered and meat-packed for later consumption by our handlers.

Addison Wiggin in a 2005 book "The Demise of the Dollar

How can the government promise to pay its debts when the total of that debt keeps getting higher and higher? It's already out of control .... In fact, a collapse is inevitable and it's only a question of how quickly it is going to occur. The consequences will be huge declines in the stock market, savings becoming worthless, and the bond market completely falling apart .... It will be a rude awakening for everyone who has become complacent about America's invulnerability.

Hans Schicht in 2003 noted that David Rockefeller, the "master spider," was then 88 years old

What has been good for Rockefeller, has been a curse for the United States. Its citizens, government and country indebted to the hilt, enslaved to his banks .... The country's industrial force lost to overseas in consequence of strong dollar policies .... A strong dollar pursued purely in the interest of the banking empire and not for the best of the country. The USA, now degraded to a service and consumer nation.

With Rockefeller leaving the scene, sixty years of dollar imperialism are drawing to a close .... As one of the first signs of change, the mighty dollar has come under attack, directly on the currency markets and indirectly through the bond markets. The day of financial reckoning is not far off any longer .... ...With Rockefeller's strong hand losing its grip and the old established order fading, the world has entered a most dangerous transition period, where anything could happen."

In a March 2007 article, Richard Freeman observed that the Cayman Islands are a British Overseas Protectorate. The Caymans function as "an epicenter for globalization and financial warfare," with officials who have been hand-selected by what Freeman calls the "Anglo-Dutch oligarchy":

For the Anglo-Dutch oligarchy, closely intertwined banks and hedge funds are its foremost instruments of power, to control the financial system, and loot and devastate companies and nations. The three island specks in the Caribbean Sea, 480 miles south from Florida's southern tip - which came to be known as the Caymans, after the native word for crocodile (caymana) - had for centuries been a basing area for pirates who attacked trading vessels.

In 1993, the decision was made to turn this tourist trap into a major financial power, through the adoption of a Mutual Funds Law, to enable the easy incorporation and/or registration of hedge funds in a deregulated system The 1993 Mutual Fund Law had its effect: with direction from the City of London, the number of hedge funds operating in the Cayman Islands exploded: from 1,685 hedge funds in 1997, to 8,282 at the end of the third quarter 2006, a fivefold increase. Cayman Island hedge funds are four-fifths of the world total. Globally, hedge funds command up to $30 trillion of deployable funds. . According to reports, during 2005, the hedge funds were responsible for up to 50% of the transactions on the London and New York stock exchanges .... The hedge funds are leading a frenzied wave of mergers and acquisitions, which reached nearly $4 trillion last year and they are buying up and stripping down companies from auto parts producer Delphi and Texas power utility TXU, to Office Equities Properties, to hundreds of thousands of apartments in Berlin and Dresden, Germany. This has led to hundreds of thousands of workers being laid off.

They are assisted by their Wall Street allies. Taken altogether the hedge funds, with money borrowed from the world's biggest commercial and investment banks, have pushed the world's derivatives bubble well past $600 trillion in nominal value, and put the world on the path of the biggest financial disintegration in modern history.

Adrian Douglas observed in a June 30 article called "Derivatives" in LeMetropole

The DOW is not allowed to drop more than 200 points and it must rally the following day. Interest rates must not rise, if they do the FED must issue more of their now secret M3, ship it offshore to the Caribbean and pretend that an unknown foreign bank is buying US treasuries like crazy.

In a February 2004 article called "The Coming Storm," the London Economist warned that top banks around the world were massively exposed--to--high-risk derivatives, and that there was a very real risk of an industry-wide meltdown. The situation was compared to that before the 1998 collapse of Long Term Capital Management, when " [b]ets went spectacularly wrong after Russia defaulted; financial markets went berserk, and LTCM, a very large hedge fund, had to be rescued by its bankers at the behest of the Federal Reserve."

John Hoefle wrote in 2002 that the Fed had been quietly rescuing banks ever since. He contended that the banking system actually went bankrupt in the late 1980s, with the collapse of the junk bond market and the real estate bubble of that decade. The savings and loan sector collapsed, along with nearly every large Texas bank; and that was just the tip of the iceberg:

Citicorp was secretly taken over by the Federal Reserve in 1989, shotgun mergers were arranged for other giant banks, backdoor bailouts were given through the Fed's lending mechanisms, and I bank examiners were ordered to ignore bad loans. These measures, coupled with a headlong rush into derivatives and other forms of speculation, gave the banks a veneer of solvency while actually destroying what was left of the U.S. banking system.

The big banks were in trouble because of big gambles that had not paid off - Third World loans that had gone into default, giant corporations that had gone bankrupt, massive derivative bets gone wrong. Like with the bankrupt giant Enron, profound economic weakness was masked by phony accounting that created a "veneer of solvency." [John] Hoefle wrote:

The U.S. banks - especially the derivatives giants - are masters at this game, counting trillions of dollars of worthless IOUs derivatives, overblown assets, and unpayable debts - on their books at face value, in order to appear solvent in the late 1980s, the term "zombie" was used to refer to banks which manifested some mechanical signs of life but were in fact dead.

Between 1984 and 2002, bank failures were accompanied by a wave of consolidations and takeovers that reduced the number of banks by 45 percent. The top seven banks were consolidated into three - Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, and Bank of America. [John] Hoefle wrote:

The result of all these mergers is a group of much larger, and far more bankrupt, giant banks... [A] similar process has played out worldwide .... The global list also includes two institutions which specialize in pumping up the U.S. real estate bubble. Both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac specialize in converting mortgages into mortgage-backed securities, and will vaporize when the U.S. housing bubble pops.

In a February 2004 article titled "Cooking the Books: U.S. Banks Are Giant Casinos," Michael Edward concurred. He wrote that U. S. banks were engaging in "smoke and mirror accounting," in which they were merging with each other in order to hide their derivative losses with "paper asset" bookkeeping:

[T]he public is being conned into thinking that U.S. banks are still solvent because they show "gains" in their stock "paper" value. If the U.S. markets were not manipulated, U.S. banks would collapse overnight along with the entire U.S. economy.

... Astronomical losses for U.S. banks (as well as most world banks) have been concealed with mispriced derivatives. The problem with this is that these losses don't have to be reported to shareholders, so in all truth and reality, many U. S. banks are already insolvent. What that means is that U.S. banks have become nothing less than a Ponzi Scheme paying account holders with other account holder assets or deposits.

... always ended abruptly with great losses for every person who invested in them. U.S. bank account holders are about to find this out.

William Hummel in 'Money: What It Is How It Works' the ten largest U.S. banks hold almost half the country's total banking assets. These banks, called "money market banks" or "money center banks," include Citibank, JPMorgan Chase, and Bank of America. They are large conglomerates that combine commercial banking with investment banking However, very little of their business is what we normally think of as banking - taking deposits, providing checking services, and making consumer or small business loans.

Hedge funds are groups of investors colluding to acquire companies and bleed them of their assets, speculate in derivatives, manipulate markets, and otherwise make profits for themselves at the expense of workers and smaller investors.

The big money center banks facilitating these dubious practices are also the banks that must periodically be bailed out by the Fed and the government because they are supposedly "too big to fail." Yet these banks are not even providing what we normally think of as banking services! They are "too big to fail" only because they are responsible for a giant Ponzi scheme that has the entire economy in its death grip. They have created a perilous derivatives bubble that has generated billions of dollars in short-term profits but has destroyed the financial system in the process. Collusion among mega-banks has made derivative trading less risky, but this has not served the larger community but rather has hurt small investors and the fledgling corporations targeted by "vulture capitalism.

The "too big to fail" concept came in at the end of the 1980s, when the savings and loans collapsed and Citibank lost 50 percent of its share price. In 1989, Congress passed the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act, which bailed out the S&Ls with taxpayer money. Citibank's share price also recouped its losses. Then in 1991, a Wall Street investment bank called Salomon Brothers threatened bankruptcy, after it was caught submitting false bids for U.S. Treasury securities and the New York Fed Chief announced that the bank would no longer be able to participate in Treasury auctions. Warren Buffett, whose company owned 12 percent of the stock of Salomon Brothers, negotiated heavily with Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady; and Salomon Brothers was saved.

Murray Rothbard in an article called "Fractional Reserve Banking"

Banks make money by literally creating money out of thin air, nowadays exclusively deposits rather than bank notes. This sort of swindling or counterfeiting is dignified by the term "fractional-reserve banking," which means that bank deposits are backed by only a small fraction of the cash they promise to have at hand and redeem.

Before 1913, if too many of a bank's depositors came for their money at one time, the bank would have come up short and would have had to close its doors. That was true until the Federal Reserve Act shored up the system by allowing troubled banks to "borrow" money from the Federal Reserve, which could create it on the spot by selling government securities to a select group of banks that created the money as bookkeeping entries on their books. By rights, Rothbard said, the banks should be put into bankruptcy and the bankers should be jailed as embezzlers, just as they would have been before they succeeded in getting laws passed that protected their swindling. Instead, big banks are assured of being bailed out from their folly, encouraging them to take huge risks because they are confident of being rescued if things go amiss. This "moral hazard" has now been built into the decision-making process. But small businesses don't get bailed out when they make risky decisions that put them under water. Why should big banks have that luxury? In a "free" market, big banks should be free to fail like any other business. It would be different if they actually were indispensable to the economy, as they claim; but these global mega-banks spend most of their time and resources making profits for themselves, at the expense of the small consumer, the small investor, and small countries.

Web of Debt

Home Page