Prev-IndexNL-Next

Nederlog


  February
23, 2014
Crisis: Repo, Corporatism, "Liberals", NYT, TPP, Snowden
   "They who can give up essential 
   liberty to obtain a little temporary
   safety, deserve neither liberty
   nor safety."
   -- Benjamin Franklin [1]
   "All governments lie and nothing
   they say should be believed.
"
   -- I.F. Stone.
   "Power tends to corrupt, and   
   absolute power corrupts
   absolutely. Great men are        
   almost always bad men."
   -- Lord Acton
















Prev- crisis -Next

Sections
Introduction

1. Still Broken Five Years Later
2. The Cruel and Shameless Ideology of Corporatism
3. Liberal Politicians Launched the Idea of “Free Trade
     Agreements” In the 1960s

4. NY Times Joins The Fight Against Money In Politics
5. Trans-Pacific Partnership = Government Corruption At
     It's Finest

6. More Snowden Leaks: How The Government Reacted To
     Wikileak
About ME/CFS

Introduction:

This is the crisis file for Sunday, February 23, 2014. I could find only three articles, to which I have added three TYT-videos.

Incidentally, here are my main reasons not to have many videos: First, I read a lot faster than people talk. This generally makes me think videos are slow. To this must be added: second, spoken language is generally less clear than is written language. There are some - very few - exceptions to this, but this is the generally valid fact, although this does not mean that (spoken) videos are  necessarily inferior. (Film or video has other possibilities than written texts.) Third, videos tend to disappear faster than texts on the internet.

But today there are three videos, all by The Young Turks (TYT), which is one of the very few channels I still regularly check since I first found it in 2009, when I acquired fast internet, simply because I usually like them, though I also tend to watch only a fairly small percentage of their videos (and none from their other services), simply because of my lack of time or my lack of interest.

1.  Still Broken Five Years Later

The first article is by Mike Whitney. I found it on Truth Dig, but it is originally from CounterPunch, and it has a rather interesting point:
This starts as follows:

“The repo market wasn’t just a part of the meltdown. It was the meltdown.”
—David Weidner, Wall Street Journal, May 29, 2013.

Ask your average guy-on-the-street ‘what caused the financial crisis’, and you’ll either get a blank stare followed by a shrug of the shoulders or a brusque, three-word answer: “The housing bubble”. Even people who follow the news closely are usually sketchy on the details. They might add something about subprime mortgages or Lehman Brothers, but not much more than that. Very few people seem to know that the crisis began in a shadowy part of the financial system called repo, which is short for repurchase agreement.  In 2008, repo was ground zero, the epicenter of the meltdown. That’s where the bank run took place that froze the credit markets and sent the financial system into freefall. Unfortunately, nothing has been done to fix the problems in repo, which means that we’re just as vulnerable today as we were five years ago when Lehman imploded and all hell broke loose.

Repo is a critical part of today’s financial architecture. It allows the banks to fund their long-term securities cheaply while giving lenders, like money markets, a place where they can park their money overnight and get a small return.  The entire repo market is roughly $4.5 trillion, although the more volatile tri-party repo market is around $1.6 trillion. (Note: That’s $1.6 trillion that’s rolled over every day.)

I admit this is news for me, and probably for my readers as well, even though this is in fact the seventh year of the crisis. There is considerably more, that includes this:

While most analysts agree about the origins of the crisis and the type of changes that are needed to avoid a repeat,  the banks have blocked all attempts at reforming the system.

But, why?

It’s because the reforms would cost the banks more money, and they don’t want that. They’d rather put the entire system at risk, then cough up a little more dough to make repo safer. Here’s how the New York Fed summed it up in a paper titled “Shadow Bank Monitoring”:

One clear motivation for intermediation outside of the traditional banking system is for private actors to evade regulation and taxes. … Regulation typically forces private actors to do something which they would otherwise not do: pay taxes to the official sector, disclose additional information to investors, or hold more capital against financial exposures.
And there you are... There is considerably more in the article, that I recommend you read all of, and it ends like this, which reminds me of my Crisis + DSM-5: It's deregulation, stupid! (over a year old):

Regulate, Regulate, Regulate. That’s the ticket.

Stricter regulations could have prevented the last crisis, and stricter regulations can prevent the next one. It’s just a matter of finding the political will to get the job done.

Yes, indeed.

2. The Cruel and Shameless Ideology of Corporatism

The next article is by Ralph Nader, and I found it on Common Dreams:
Actually, this is mostly about a specific labor conflict in the U.S. but it does illustrate its title quite well.

3. Liberal Politicians Launched the Idea of “Free Trade Agreements” In the 1960s

The next article is by Washington's Blog, and it illustrates that "liberal", especially when joined to "politicians", has a rather different meaning in the U.S. than it has in Europe (where it is also far from clear [2])

This starts as follows:

Preface: Liberals might assume that it is Republicans who are cheerleaders for global corporations at the expense of government.  But, as shown below, liberal politicians have been just as bad … or worse.

Matt Stoller – who writes for Salon and has contributed to Politico, Alternet, Salon, The Nation and Reuters – knows his way around Washington.

Stoller – a prominent liberal – has scoured the Congressional Record to unearth hidden historical facts.  For example, Stoller has previously shown that the U.S. government push for a “New World Order” is no wacky conspiracy theory, but extensively documented in the Congressional Record.

Now, Stoller uses the Congressional Record to show that “free trade” pacts were always about weakening nation-states to promote rule by multinationals:

Political officials (liberal ones, actually) engaged in an actual campaign to get rid of countries with their pesky parochial interests, and have the whole world managed by global corporations. Yup, this actually was explicit in the 1960s, as opposed to today’s passive aggressive arguments which amount to the same thing.

There is a considerable amount more in the article, that ends as follows:

The bottom line is not that liberals – or conservatives – are evil.

It’s that neither the Democratic or Republican parties reflect the true values of the American people (and see this).

Indeed, a scripted psuedo-war between the parties is often used by the powers-that-be as a way to divide and conquer the American people, so that we are too distracted to stand up to reclaim our power from the idiots in both parties who are only governing for their own profit … and a small handful of their buddies.

And I think that is a really good point: there are too few political parties in the United States, and the two dominant ones are both grossly corrupt. (But whether I would consider George Ball and David Rockefeller to be - as the article has it - "liberal internationalists" I very much doubt - but this is again the difficulty I also mentioned in note [2].)

4.  NY Times Joins The Fight Against Money In Politics

Now I get to the first of three videos by The Young Turks (TYT):

This seems to me to be quite interesting news, even though I do not expect much of it in the short run:

The Editorial Board of the New York Times has decided there is - massive - legalized bribery (their term) in the United States, and writes as follows in the The Line at the 'Super Pac' Through:
"This election year will be the moment when individual candidate super PACs — a form of legalized bribery — become a truly toxic force in American politics. The giant ideological super PACs formed by political operatives like Karl Rove spent hundreds of millions in 2012, but didn't produce the conservative revolution demanded by the big donors. So now the torrent of cash is heading toward smaller groups set up to promote a single candidate or, more often, to trash that candidate's opponent."
5. Trans-Pacific Partnership = Government Corruption At It's Finest

Next, there is this video by TYT:

This is about the TPP, which amounts to the following (according to exposethetpp.org), who also supplied the boldings:
The Trans-Pacific Partnership n. 1. A "free trade" agreement that would set rules on non-trade matters such as food safety, internet freedom, medicine costs, financial regulation, and the environment. 2. A binding international governance system that would require the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, and any other country that signs on to conform their domestic policies to its rules.  3. A secret trade negotiation that has included over 600 official corporate "trade advisors" while hiding the text from Members of Congress, governors, state legislators, the press, civil society, and the public.
Again, this is a secret trade negotiation that is very much favored by Barack Obama, Whom_We_All_Must_Trust TM. It is so secret that not even the members of Congress - the guys and gals the Americans elected to rule them - were allowed to see it, although they now can - but: in a closed room, without notepapers, without having the right to make copies, and without having the right to quote what they memorized.

Also, this item is well done by Cenk Uygur.

6.  More Snowden Leaks: How The Government Reacted To Wikileak

Next, the last video by TYT today:
This is another revelation due to Edward Snowden. Part of it is the following graphic, that contains a question "agents" - some of the former colleagues of Snowden, all totally anonymous but very powerful - asked their goverment:



What was the point of that? The following:



That "normally otherwise" is a bit false, it has since emerged, again thanks to Edward Snowden, but you see how you are being tracked if you are so bold as to want to use your own mind: You are being called "malicious", and then anything is allowed against you.

Anyway... another good item.
---------------------------------
Note
[1] Here it is necessary to insist, with Aristotle, that the governors do not rule, or at least, should not rule: The laws rule, and the government, if good, is part of its executive power. Here I quote Aristotle from my More on stupidity, the rule of law, and Glenn Greenwald:
It is more proper that law should govern than any one of the citizens: upon the same principle, if it is advantageous to place the supreme power in some particular persons, they should be appointed to be only guardians, and the servants of the laws.
(And I note the whole file I quote from is quite pertinent.)

[2] In the U.S. "liberal" these days seems to be more of a swear word than a properly descriptive term, and it certainly does not mean what I mean by it, although I probably am more sympathetic to "liberal" than "non-liberal" views (here taken in the U.S. sense).
 
In fact, I like to describe myself as a "classic liberal", by which I mostly mean that, of all the political ideals that I've read - a fair amount - I like best or indeed least dislike the "liberalism" as espoused by the 19th Century writers John Stuart Mill and Alexis de Tocqueville - but this is not at all what "liberal" means in present day Holland, where it seems closest to "conservative" (which is quite unlike from what it means in the United States).

But OK - this is mainly a note that explains a bit about the many different meanings the same term has in several countries (for the English meaning of "liberal" again differs from both the Dutch and American meanings).

About ME/CFS (that I prefer to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate search machines) which is a disease I have since 1.1.1979:
1. Anthony Komaroff

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS(pdf)

2. Malcolm Hooper THE MENTAL HEALTH MOVEMENT:  
PERSECUTION OF PATIENTS?
3. Hillary Johnson

The Why  (currently not available)

4. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2003)
5. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2011)
6. Eleanor Stein

Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)

7. William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
9.
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)



       home - index - summaries - mail