Category Archives: Big Banks

Paul Mason on the Greek referendum: “For the first time in the history of the Eurozone, people power has happened”

In A World Of Artificial Liquidity – Cash Is King

Editor’s Note: Nomi Prins is a former managing director at Goldman Sachs and a former senior managing director at Bear Stearns. I would HIGHLY recommend reading her latest book, “All The Presidents’ Bankers“. You can read part two of this article here. Also, be sure to check out more of Nomi’s great work at her website.

Nomi Prins writes for Peak Prosperity:

Global central banks are afraid. Before Greece tried to stand up to the Troika, they were merely worried. Now it’s clear that no matter what they tell themselves and the world about the necessity or even righteousness of their monetary policies, liquidity can still disappear in an instant. Or at least, that’s what they should be thinking.

The Federal Reserve and US government led policy of injecting liquidity into the US and then into the worldwide financial system has resulted in the issuance of trillions of dollars of debt, recycling it through the largest private banks, and driving rates to 0% — or below. The combined book of debt that the Fed and European Central Bank (ECB) hold is $7 trillion. None of that has gone remotely into fixing the real global economy. Nor have the banks that have ben aided by this cheap money increased lending to the real economy. Instead, they have hoarded their bounty of cash. It’s not so much whether this game can continue for the near future on an international scale. It can. It is. The bigger problem is that central banks have no plan B in the event of a massive liquidity event.

Some central bank entity leaders have admitted this. IMF chief, Christine Lagarde for instance, warned Federal Reserve Chair, Janet Yellen that potential US rate hikes implemented too soon, would incite greater systemic calamity. She’s not wrong. That’s what we’ve come to: a financial system reliant on external stimulus to survive.’

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Greek Crisis Marks End of Debt Era

Atul Singh writes for Fair Observer:

[…] The Greek debt crisis is about to go global. First, other European countries are bound to be affected. Even France, la grande nation, will eventually come under pressure. Second, even states and cities will face pressure. Already, Puerto Rico’s government has declared that it cannot pay its $73 billion debt. In fact, all government-backed debt from sovereign to municipal bonds will come under pressure. Third, the US and China will eventually face a debt crisis too. The crisis is global and about to amplify.

The ballooning of debt is the biggest challenge facing the world economy. To stave off economic collapse, governments bailed out American and European banks. Central banks then released a torrent of money into the system by lowering interest rates and using quantitative easing, emulating the Bank of Japan. Those who own assets became richer, exacerbating already terrible inequality. Governments support creditors to boost economic confidence, while home owners in the US and ordinary citizens are fed to the dogs.

There is certainly a glut of savings in some parts of the world. China and Germany are awash with capital and are looking to park their money in assets that give them higher return. Yet there are limits to returns in a world awash with capital. The Chinese bubble in real estate and stocks has burst. Yet China is putting more money into its economy. It has made a fourth cut in interest rates since November and has reduced reserve requirements for banks, so they can continue lending. China has also lowered transaction fees and relaxed collateral rules on borrowing to fund share purchases. This is debt-fueled madness.

Like all parties, the Chinese one is coming to an end and stocks have lost nearly 25% of their value since the middle of June. Hence, Chinese money is flocking to the US in search of a safe harbor. Chinese buyers are now purchasing houses in California without even looking at them. China continues to fund US debt and shudders in horror as quantitative easing dilutes the value of its reserves. Unlike smaller countries like Greece, the US will never face default. It has the unique luxury of diluting its debt by simply printing more dollars. As the superpower in-charge of the world’s reserve currency, it can live off debt a little longer. It offers the greatest security to investors in an uncertain world. Yet the music will one day stop playing even for the US.’

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The forgotten origins of Greece’s crisis will make you think twice about who’s to blame

Ana Swanson reports for The Washington Post:

[…] In the mid-1990s, even before it came into existence, markets made a huge bet that the euro would be a reality. Specifically, investors, many in northern Europe, bet that interest rates in northern and southern Europe would converge. At the time, interest rates in southern Europe were much higher than in northern Europe, simply because people thought investing in countries like Greece was much riskier than investing in countries like Germany.

In anticipation of the euro zone, investors put lots of money in the cheap, high-yielding bonds of southern Europe. That helped to drive down yields and fueled borrowing and an economic boom in southern countries.

Ultimately, investors were right – Greek interest rates on 10-year bonds fell from around 20 percent in the early 1990s to only 3 percent in 2002. “They made a lot of money in the north betting against higher interest rates there. That fueled the boom, before the euro came, that overheated these economies.”

As economies overheated, it’s not a surprise that their competitiveness suffered, says Matthijs [co-editor of The Future of the Euro].

In short, many in the north pushed for a financial regime that didn’t fit the Greek economy, because they personally stood to benefit. Many rightly blame the Greeks for its current crisis, but some of the blame belongs farther north as well, he argues.’

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How Europe Played Greece

Alex Andreou writes for Common Dreams:

[…] Faith in European Institutions is thin on the ground. Lines have been crossed. At times of financial strain, a country’s currency issuer, its central bank, should act as lender of last resort and prime technocratic negotiator. In Greece’s case, the European Central Bank, sits on the same side as the creditors; acts as their enforcer. This is unprecedented.

The ECB has acted to asphyxiate the Greek economy – the ultimate blackmail to force subordination. The money is there, in our accounts, but we cannot have access to it, because the overseers of our own banking system, the very people who some months ago issued guarantees of liquidity, have decided to deny liquidity. We have phantom money, but no real money. There is a terrifying poetry to that, since the entire crisis was caused by too much phantom money in the first place.

EU Institutions are now openly admitting that their aim is regime change. A coup d’état in anything by name, using banks instead of tanks and a corrupt media as the occupiers’ broadcaster. The rest of Europe stands back and watches. Those leaders who promised the Syriza government support before the election, have ducked for cover. I understand it. They sympathise, but they don’t want to be next. They are honourable cowards. They look at the punishment beating being meted out and their instinct is to protect their own. ‘

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Joseph Stiglitz: How I would vote in the Greek referendum

Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate in economics, writes for The Guardian:

Alexis Tsipras, leader of the radical left main opposition party Syriza, greets supporters after a rally of the party in the northern Greek port city of Thessaloniki, January 2015. […] In January, Greece’s citizens voted for a government committed to ending austerity. If the government were simply fulfilling its campaign promises, it would already have rejected the proposal. But it wanted to give Greeks a chance to weigh in on this issue, so critical for their country’s future wellbeing.

That concern for popular legitimacy is incompatible with the politics of the eurozone, which was never a very democratic project. Most of its members’ governments did not seek their people’s approval to turn over their monetary sovereignty to the ECB. When Sweden’s did, Swedes said no. They understood that unemployment would rise if the country’s monetary policy were set by a central bank that focused single-mindedly on inflation (and also that there would be insufficient attention to financial stability). The economy would suffer, because the economic model underlying the eurozone was predicated on power relationships that disadvantaged workers.

And, sure enough, what we are seeing now, 16 years after the eurozone institutionalised those relationships, is the antithesis of democracy: many European leaders want to see the end of prime minister Alexis Tsipras’ leftist government. After all, it is extremely inconvenient to have in Greece a government that is so opposed to the types of policies that have done so much to increase inequality in so many advanced countries, and that is so committed to curbing the unbridled power of wealth. They seem to believe that they can eventually bring down the Greek government by bullying it into accepting an agreement that contravenes its mandate.’

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Presidents, Bankers, the Neo-Cold War and the World Bank

Editor’s Note: Nomi Prins is a former managing director at Goldman Sachs and a former senior managing director at Bear Stearns. I would HIGHLY recommend reading her latest book, “All The Presidents’ Bankers“. You can check out more of Nomi’s great work at her website.

Nomi Prins writes:

At first glance, the neo-Cold War between the US and its post WWII European Allies vs. Russia over the Ukraine, and the stonewalling of Greece by the Troika might appear to have little in common. Yet both are manifestations of a political-military-financial power play that began during the first Cold War. Behind the bravado of today’s sanctions and austerity measures lies the decision-making alliance that private bankers enjoy in conjunction with government and multinational entries like NATO and the World Bank.

It is President Obama’s foreign policy to back the Ukraine against Russia; in 1958, it was the Eisenhower Doctrine that protected Lebanon from a Soviet threat. For President Truman, the Marshall Plan arose partly to guard Greece (and other US allies) from Communism, but it also had lasting economic implications. The alignment of political leaders and key bankers was more personal back then, but the implications were similar to the present day. US military might protected its major trading partners, which in turn, did business with US banks. One power reinforced the other. Today, the ECB’s QE program funds swanky Frankfurt headquarters and prioritizes Germany’s super-bank, Deutschebank and its bond investors above Greece’s future.

These actions, then and now, have roots in the American ideology of melding military, political and financial power that flourished in the haze of World War II.  It’s not fair to pin this triple-power stance on one man, or even one bank; yet one man and one bank signified that power in all of its dimensions, including the use of political enemy creation to achieve financial goals. That man was John McCloy, ‘Chairman of the Establishment’ as his biographer, Kai Bird, characterized him. The relationship between McCloy and Truman cemented a set of public-private practices that strengthened private US banks globally at the expense of weaker, potentially Soviet (now Russian) leaning countries.’

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Is Puerto Rico America’s Greece? Interviews with Congressmember Nydia Velázquez and Economist James Henry

‘Puerto Rico could be on the verge of following Greece in defaulting on its debt. Puerto Rico’s government and the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority say they will miss today’s deadline for more than $1 billion in payments on a debt of more than $73 billion. This comes as Puerto Rico’s unemployment is more than twice the U.S. national rate, and its poverty level is nearly double that of the poorest U.S. state. Meanwhile, Puerto Rico’s healthcare system may also be on the verge of collapse. We are joined by Congressmember Nydia Velázquez, Democrat for New York and the first Puerto Rican woman to be elected to Congress.’ (Democracy Now!)

‘Economist James Henry breakdowns the hedge funds, bond holders, and wealthy individuals who have benefited from Puerto Rico’s triple tax exempt status.’ (The Real News)

World Factory: How to turn a liberal hipster into a capitalist tyrant in one evening

Paul Mason, economics editor at Channel 4 News, writes for The Guardian:

World Factory … how would you cope?[…] In Zoe Svendsen’s play World Factory at the Young Vic, the audience becomes the cast. Sixteen teams sit around factory desks playing out a carefully constructed game that requires you to run a clothing factory in China. How to deal with a troublemaker? How to dupe the buyers from ethical retail brands? What to do about the ever-present problem of clients that do not pay? Because the choices are binary they are rarely palatable. But what shocked me – and has surprised the theatre – is the capacity of perfectly decent, liberal hipsters on London’s south bank to become ruthless capitalists when seated at the boardroom table.

The classic problem presented by the game is one all managers face: short-term issues, usually involving cashflow, versus the long-term challenge of nurturing your workforce and your client base. Despite the fact that a public-address system was blaring out, in English and Chinese, that “your workforce is your vital asset” our assembled young professionals repeatedly had to be cajoled not to treat them like dirt.

And because the theatre captures data on every choice by every team, for every performance, I know we were not alone. The aggregated flowchart reveals that every audience, on every night, veers towards money and away from ethics.’

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US Hedge Funds Get Bailed Out if Greeks Pass Bailout Referendum: Interview with Bill Black and Michael Hudson

‘Foreign banks want to bleed the patient when a policy of debt cutting and tax reform would revive the Greek economy, say UMKC’s Bill Black and Michael Hudson.’ (The Real News)

The IMF defaulted on Greece a long time ago

Jerome Roos writes for ROAR Mag:

Post image for The IMF defaulted on Greece a long time agoTuesday marked the deadline for Greece to transfer a 1.6 billion euro debt repayment to the IMF. The country’s Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis had already announced that his government could not — and would not — pay. And so, at 6pm Washington-time, 1am locally, Greece officially defaulted on the IMF.

The default is an unprecedented event in the history of finance: never before has a developed country fallen into arrears on a loan from the Fund. Unsurprisingly, the international press is already conjuring up unflattering comparisons with notorious failed states like Zimbabwe and Somalia, which are among the few countries to have gone down the same path of utter financial ignominy. With all due respect for Zimbabwe and Somalia, the implication of this media narrative is clear: Greece is about to become a hopeless basket case.

In truth, superficial parallels like these are dangerously misleading. Not only do they compare apples and oranges; they also end up obscuring the IMF’s own role in the decimation of the Greek economy, which basically made an eventual Greek default inevitable. By uncritically reproducing narratives of Greece’s “failure” to repay the Fund, many in the international media are directly overlooking the fierce internal criticism that top IMF officials have expressed about their own responsibility for the utter disaster of the Troika’s bailout programs.’

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As Greece Heads for Default, Voters Prepare to Vote in Pivotal Referendum on More Austerity: Interview with Costas Panayotakis

‘Tens of thousands of Greeks have protested against further austerity cuts ahead of a key referendum on a new European bailout. The demonstrations come as the country confirms it will not meet the deadline for a $1.8 billion loan repayment due by 6 p.m. Eastern time tonight, deepening Greece’s fiscal crisis and threatening its exit from the eurozone. Greece will hold a vote this Sunday on whether to accept an austerity package of budget cuts and tax hikes in exchange for new loans. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has urged a “no” vote, calling the proposal a surrender. We go to Greece to speak with Costas Panayotakis, professor of sociology at the New York City College of Technology at CUNY and author of “Remaking Scarcity: From Capitalist Inefficiency to Economic Democracy.”‘ (Democracy Now!)

Robert Mundell, evil genius of the euro

Greg Palast wrote for The Guardian in 2012:

John Maynard Keynes in 1944 at the UN International Monetary Conference in Bretton Woods, NHThe idea that the euro has “failed” is dangerously naive. The euro is doing exactly what its progenitor – and the wealthy 1%-ers who adopted it – predicted and planned for it to do.

That progenitor is former University of Chicago economist Robert Mundell. The architect of “supply-side economics” is now a professor at Columbia University, but I knew him through his connection to my Chicago professor, Milton Friedman, back before Mundell’s research on currencies and exchange rates had produced the blueprint for European monetary union and a common European currency.

[…] The euro would really do its work when crises hit, Mundell explained. Removing a government’s control over currency would prevent nasty little elected officials from using Keynesian monetary and fiscal juice to pull a nation out of recession.

“It puts monetary policy out of the reach of politicians,” he said. “[And] without fiscal policy, the only way nations can keep jobs is by the competitive reduction of rules on business.”

He cited labor laws, environmental regulations and, of course, taxes. All would be flushed away by the euro. Democracy would not be allowed to interfere with the marketplace.’

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Will the Greek Referendum Force the Troika Back to the Bargaining Table? Interview with Dimitri Lascaris and Leo Panitch

‘Dimitri Lascaris and Leo Panitch discuss the possible consequences of a ‘no’ vote in the July 5th referendum on the bailout conditions offered by international creditors.’ (The Real News)

Joseph Stiglitz on the “criminal responsibility” of Greece’s creditors

Simon Shuster writes for TIME:

A few years ago, when Greece was still at the start of its slide into an economic depression, the Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz remembers discussing the crisis with Greek officials. What they wanted was a stimulus package to boost growth and create jobs, and Stiglitz, who had just produced an influential report for the United Nations on how to deal with the global financial crisis, agreed that this would be the best way forward. Instead, Greece’s foreign creditors imposed a strict program of austerity. The Greek economy has shrunk by about 25% since 2010. The cost-cutting was an enormous mistake, Stiglitz says, and it’s time for the creditors to admit it.

“They have criminal responsibility,” he says of the so-called troika of financial institutions that bailed out the Greek economy in 2010, namely the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and the European Central Bank. “It’s a kind of criminal responsibility for causing a major recession,” Stiglitz tells TIME in a phone interview.

Along with a growing number of the world’s most influential economists, Stiglitz has begun to urge the troika to forgive Greece’s debt – estimated to be worth close to $300 billion in bailouts – and to offer the stimulus money that two successive Greek governments have been requesting.

Failure to do so, Stiglitz argues, would not only worsen the recession in Greece – already deeper and more prolonged than the Great Depression in the U.S. – it would also wreck the credibility of Europe’s common currency, the euro, and put the global economy at risk of contagion.’

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Greek debt crisis is the Iraq War of finance

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard wrote for The Telegraph earlier this month:

[…] If we want to date the moment when the Atlantic liberal order lost its authority – and when the European Project ceased to be a motivating historic force – this may well be it. In a sense, the Greek crisis is the financial equivalent of the Iraq War, totemic for the Left, and for Souverainistes on the Right, and replete with its own “sexed up” dossiers.

Does anybody dispute that the ECB – via the Bank of Greece – is actively inciting a bank run in a country where it is also the banking regulator by issuing this report on Wednesday [June 17]?

It warned of an “uncontrollable crisis” if there is no creditor deal, followed by soaring inflation, “an exponential rise in unemployment”, and a “collapse of all that the Greek economy has achieved over the years of its EU, and especially its euro area, membership”.

The guardian of financial stability is consciously and deliberately accelerating a financial crisis in an EMU member state – with possible risks of pan-EMU and broader global contagion – as a negotiating tactic to force Greece to the table.

It did so days after premier Alexis Tsipras accused the creditors of “laying traps” in the negotiations and acting with a political motive. He more or less accused them of trying to destroy an elected government and bring about regime change by financial coercion.’

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Greece on the brink: Paul Mason on what happens next?

Paul Mason vlogs from Athens and asks: How will the bailout referendum help the country in its ongoing debt negotiations? (Channel 4 News)

Lessons from Iceland’s “pots and pans revolution”

Philip England writes for The Independent:

[…] Whether nationalising banks, jailing bankers, imposing controls on the movement of capital out of the country or holding two national referendums on whether or not to pay back foreign debtors, Iceland’s response to their devastating financial crash bucked all trends. Yet, six years later, the approach seems to have been a resounding success. In March, the IMF praised Iceland for being “one of the top economic performers in Europe over the past several years in terms of economic growth [with] one of the lowest unemployment rates”, and for being on course to pay back its IMF loans early.

However, since May 2013 the right-wing parties that set the conditions for the banking crisis have been back in power and some worry that they may be reverting to their old ways. Earlier this month the government proposed lifting capital controls by the end of the year (but said it would impose a one-off 39 per cent tax on investors withdrawing their money from the country). If Iceland sees a return to crony capitalism, then the economic bounce-back could be a short-lived phenomenon.

In the long run then, what may turn out to be a more significant outcome of the revolution is the cluster of citizens’ initiatives that emerged, dedicated to improving the way democracy works. Rather than focusing on banking reform, the post-revolution push from Icelandic civil society has been on fundamental democratic reform. The logic runs: why treat the symptoms of a system that has become corrupt when you can tackle the disease itself?’

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Saving Hamilton

Russell Berman writes for The Atlantic:

The $10 bill announcement by Treasury Secretary Jack Lew last week was intended to set off both a celebration and a great national debate: For the first time in more than a century, the portrait of a woman would grace a major denomination of U.S. paper currency, and the government wanted the public to help decide which heroine of democracy would receive the honor. The redesigned sawbuck would be unveiled in 2020, in time for the centennial anniversary of women’s suffrage.

The Treasury Department got its debate all right, but not the one it was looking for.

Instead of weighing the merits of America’s most iconic women, some of the nation’s most prominent voices have been fighting to save the founding father she would displace: Alexander Hamilton. Chief among them was Ben Bernanke, who as chairman of the Federal Reserve oversaw the central bank responsible for issuing the nation’s currency. “I must admit I was appalled to hear of Treasury Secretary Jack Lew’s decision last week to demote Alexander Hamilton from his featured position on the ten dollar bill,” the typically-circumspect ex-chairman wrote on the blog he publishes for the Brookings Institution. In a piece devoted to the exaltation of the country’s first Treasury secretary, Bernanke added that placing a woman on a currency note was “a fine idea, but it shouldn’t come at Hamilton’s expense.” On the White House’s “We the People” website, two separate petitions have been launched to keep Hamilton on the $10 bill.’

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Greece is a sideshow. The eurozone has failed, and Germans are its victims too.

Aditya Chakrabortty writes for The Guardian:

Matt Kenyon illustrationNearly every discussion of the Greek fiasco is based on a morality play. Call it Naughty Greece versus Noble Europe. Those troublesome Greeks never belonged in the euro, runs this story. Once inside, they got themselves into a big fat mess – and now it’s up to Europe to sort it all out.

Those are the basics all Wise Folk agree on. Then those on the right go on to say feckless Greece must either accept Europe’s deal or get out of the single currency. Or if more liberal, they hem and haw, cough and splutter, before calling for Europe to show a little more charity to its southern basketcase. Whatever their solution, the Wise Folk agree on the problem: it’s not Brussels that’s at fault, it’s Athens. Oh, those turbulent Greeks! That’s the attitude you smell when the IMF’s Christine Lagarde decries the Syriza government for not being “adult” enough. That’s what licenses the German press to portray Greece’s finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, as needing “psychiatric help”.

There’s just one problem with this story: like most morality tales, it shatters upon contact with hard reality. Athens is merely the worst outbreak of a much bigger disease within the euro project. Because the single currency isn’t working for ordinary Europeans, from the Ruhr valley to Rome.’

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The Asshole Factory

Umair Haque writes for Bad Words at Medium:

‘[…] Our world is now full of Asshole Factories. That’s what the stores, offices, industrial parks, skyscrapers, malls, low-rise blocks, gleaming headquarters, whimsically designed corporate campuses, really are.

It’s the grand endeavor of today. We don’t make stuff anymore. We make assholes. The Great Enterprise of this age is the Asshole Industry.’

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Child poverty rise across Britain “halts progress made since 1990s”

Jamie Doward and Toby Helm report for The Guardian:

Children playing in the streets in Brierfield in Lancashire where nearly 35% of children live in povChild poverty is on course for the biggest rise in a generation, reversing years of progress that began in the late 1990s, leading charities and independent experts claim.

The stark prognosis comes before the release of government figures which experts believe will show a clear increase for the first time since the start of the decade.

It also comes as the chancellor George Osborne and work and pensions minister Iain Duncan Smith announced they had agreed a plan to slash a further £12bn a year from benefits spending. In a joint letter they pledged to attack the “damaging culture of welfare dependency”, and said it would take “a decade” or more to return the welfare budget to what they called “sanity”.

The introduction of the bedroom tax and cuts in benefits between 2013 and last year are blamed for fuelling the rise in the number of families whose income is below 60% of the UK average – the definition of relative poverty.’

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UK Chancellor to proceed with £12bn welfare cuts despite anti-austerity protests

Rowena Mason reports for The Guardian:

Protesters at Parliament Square, London, demostrating against the government’s austerity programme on Saturday.George Osborne is to press ahead with £12bn of welfare cuts despite disquiet among some of his colleagues about the scale of the proposed reductions and anti-austerity protests in a number of UK cities.

The chancellor and Iain Duncan Smith, the work and pensions secretary, said in an article for the Sunday Times that they still intended to make deep cuts.

There have been reports in recent weeks that the cuts could be delayed or scaled back over fears they would be too damaging, coming on top of the £21bn of reductions in the last parliament.’

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Why Zimbabwe Is Killing Its Currency

Think Tank: Global Conflicts “Cost 13% of World GDP”

BBC News reports:

Syrian residents flee Maskana town in the Aleppo countryside and make their way towards the Turkish border on 16 June 2015Conflicts around the world cost $14.3tn (£9.1tn) last year, 13% of world GDP, says a survey on global peace.

That amount is equivalent to the combined economies of Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom, the report by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) said.

The divide between the most peaceful and the least peaceful nations was deepening, the annual report added.

Iceland is the world’s most peaceful nation, whilst Syria is the least.

Libya saw the most severe deterioration over the course of 2014, according to the Australia-based IEP says.

The Middle East and North Africa now ranks as the world’s most violent region, overtaking South Asia which received that ranking for 2013.’

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The Bankers of Bilderberg: The hills are alive with the sound of money

Charlie Skelton write for International Business Times:

Henry de CastriesThe dust has settled on another Bilderberg summit. George Osborne is safely back in Westminster, his mind a whirl from three solid days of seminars and discussions about European strategy, globalisation and Greece.

The attention-dodging three-day meeting was held in a luxury Tyrolean hotel, tucked up an alp in Austria. There were no singing nuns being chased around by evil Nazis to be seen; instead, it was the master race of big finance – dressed in a camouflage baseball caps and beige slacks – aka the Talent, the rain-makers, the big-hitters and “the smartest guys (and a gal) in the room”.

It was the usual heady mix of politicians and venture capitalists, senior policymakers and some extremely powerful investment bankers. Each year, the heads of some gigantic asset management companies find the time for Bilderberg, including this year the CEO of the world’s 6thlargest: JPMorgan Asset Management.

JPMorgan was also represented at the Austrian summit by four members of its International Council, including Henry Kissinger and Turkish billionaire Mustafa Koç. HSBC had three people at the summit, including group chairman Douglas Flint. Goldman Sachs flew in four.’

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Deutsche Bank Executive Dismissed Libor Fixing As a ‘Conspiracy Theory’

David Enrich reports for The Wall Street Journal:

A Deutsche Bank AG executive whose employees have been accused of rigging interest rates told a British trade group that such manipulation was nothing more than a “conspiracy theory,” a London court heard on Tuesday.

David Nicholls, who oversaw a group of employees that included some who have been fired for trying to manipulate the London interbank offered rate, or Libor, had a 2008 phone call with a British Bankers’ Association official to discuss mounting concerns about the integrity of Libor.

In the recorded call, which was played to a London jury on Tuesday, Mr. Nicholls repeatedly dismissed concerns that Libor could be manipulated. “Banks do not collude to try to set a Libor rating,” he told John Ewan, the BBA official in charge of running Libor.’

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Forget the G7 summit – Bilderberg is where the big guns go

Charlie Skelton writes for The Guardian:

Austrian police officers check cars near the town of Telfs, prior the 2015 Bilderberg conference.As one summit closes, another opens. Thursday sees the start of the influential Bilderberg policy conference, which this year is being held in Austria, just 16 miles south of the G7 summit, and in a similarly inaccessible luxury alpine resort.The participant list for the conference has just been released by the organisation, and some big names leap off the page.

No fewer than three serving European prime ministers will be attending, from Holland, Finland and Belgium. They will be discussing “European strategy” with the head of Nato, Jens Stoltenberg, and the president of Austria, Heinz Fisher. Two European finance ministers are on the list: one Dutch, the other George Osborne. The UK chancellor is a regular attendee of the Bilderberg summit, and this year he will be showing off his post-election glow. Unlike that other Bilderberg regular, Ed Balls, who is being invited back despite having by some considerable distance the weakest job title on the list: “former shadow chancellor of the exchequer.

Europe’s hottest financial potato, Greece, is on the conference agenda, and it’s good to know Benoît Coeuré, a member of the executive board of the European Central Bank will be there to discuss it in strictest privacy with interested parties, such as the heads of Deutsche Bank, Lazard, Banco Santander and HSBC.

The scandal-hit HSBC and everyone’s favourite vampire squid, Goldman Sachs, are both extremely well represented at this year’s conference. HSBC in particular by their chairman, their busy chief legal officer, and board member Rona Fairhead, who is also on the board of PepsiCo, and the chairman of the BBC Trust. Good to know the BBC is in such safe hands.’

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Protesters Press Secluded G7 Leaders on Harmful Policies: Interview with Gawain Kripke, Eric LeCompte and Nomi Prins

‘As leaders of the seven wealthy democracies known as the Group of Seven hold talks in a secluded castle in Germany, thousands of protesters have been met with 20,000 police in the largest security operation in the history of Bavaria. Issues on the G7 agenda include climate change, a $10.4 billion bailout package for Greece, and more austerity measures. We are joined by three guests: Gawain Kripke of Oxfam America, which just published the new report, “Let Them Eat Coal”; Eric LeCompte of the Jubilee USA Network; and former banker Nomi Prins, author of “All the Presidents’ Bankers.”‘ (Democracy Now!)

FIFA fiasco is yet another own goal for KPMG

Ruth Sutherland and Laura Chesters write for The Daily Mail:

KPMG: What they failed to spot‘[…] It is just the latest embarrassment for KPMG – the firm audited a string of scandal-hit clients including HSBC, HBOS, the Co-op Bank and US mortgage lender Fannie Mae, apparently without noticing anything amiss.

It is not alone. Its peers, EY, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Deloitte also stand accused of not spotting impending disasters on their client lists.

The latest furore inevitably raises questions not only over the conduct of KPMG, but the wider issue of how accountable are the accountants.

‘The Fifa affair begs a question of exactly what are audits good for,’ says Professor Prem Sikka of Essex University Business School.’

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