The Economy and The Financial Affairs
In The Corridors of Power
A Rift or A Disconnect?
By Parwaiz Khan
Strange things are happening in the corridors of Power Elites. What used to be the rhythmic steps of Tango dance with soothing whispers in attentive ears, have now turned into the moves of shadow boxing with occasional burst of profanities. Is it our imagination or, is there a power struggle going between the Political Elites and the Financial Elites?
When obnoxious amount of public money, trillions of US dollars and hundreds of billions of British pounds, were being given to the Lords of The Money, it sure presented the spectacle of a Step Dance - No misstep recorded.
Beside the boldly declared recipients of the public money, more than $2 trillion were also provided to the lovebirds in secrecy to protect their modesty.
Doesn't seems like there is a deficit of love in those corridors!
But, upon a closer review, we observe the signs of wild punches in all directions - even attempts of strangulations. Let's look at some of the events in our effort to figure out what the heck has been going in those corridors of might.
- A Run on The US Banks:
On September 11(!), 2008 there was a run on the US banks. The Fed noticed a tremendous drawdown in the money market accounts from big banks. Just in two hours - that is, from 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM - the amount withdrawn had reached $550 Billion.
The Fed, understanding the implications sunk $105 Billion of Treasury money into the banks, but it didn't stem the outflow. After one hour they shut the whole operation down, meaning - No more money could be withdrawn.
The estimates were that had it been allowed to continue, by 2 PM $5.5 Trillion could have been withdrawn. This would have collapsed the whole U.S. economy, and within 24 hours the economy of the whole World.
- A Run on The British Banks:
A systematic and ongoing $1 trillion run on British banks by foreign investors was revealed in a statistical releases from the Bank of England. The external liabilities of banks operating in the UK - that is monies held in the UK on behalf of foreign investors - fell by $1 trillion (#700bn) between the spring and the end of 2008, representing a huge loss of funds and of confidence in the City of London.
The run on the banks is going to fuel fears that the UK's reputation as a safe place to hold funds has been fatally compromised by the acute crisis in the banking system and a general trend to financial protectionism internationally. It makes the UK look vulnerable, like some emerging markets and currencies, suffering from a flight of capital.
Similar runs on the western banking system have been reported from various sources.
- Distribution of The Booty:
Beside more than $2.3 trillions that has been already handed over to the banks, AIG has become the conduit for passing over additional billions of dollars to the entities whose disclosure would have caused a public uproar. More than $100 billion have already been funneled to these entities using AIG vehicle.
According to Wall Street Journal "some of the banks paid by AIG since the insurer started getting taxpayer funds were: Goldman Sachs Group Inc, Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch, Societe Generale, Calyon, Barclays Plc, Rabobank, Danske, HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland, Banco Santander, Morgan Stanley, Wachovia, Bank of America, and Lloyds Banking Group".
In reality the $173 billion bailout of AIG is a nontransparent, opaque and shady bailout of the AIG counter-parties: Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch and other domestic and foreign financial institutions.
- The Executive Bonus Packages:
The Executive of these Financial Institutions are a selected breed who need to be preserved, rewarded and pampered for doing a Job on the public well.
AIG has set aside a $1.2 billion bonus fund to compensate and reward for a job well done.
Similarly, other financial institutions are also assigning 100s of millions of dollars of taxpayers' money to reward their executive geniuses.
- Political Elites Showing Their Displeasure !
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama declared Monday that insurance giant American International Group is in financial straits because of "recklessness and greed" and said he intends to stop it from paying out millions in executive bonuses.
It's hard to understand how derivative traders at AIG warranted any bonuses, much less $165 million in extra pay," Obama said at the outset of an appearance to announce help for small businesses hurt by the deep recession.
"How do they justify this outrage to the taxpayers who are keeping the company afloat," the president said.
From The White House - President Obama has instructed Tim Geithner to "pursue every legal avenue to block these bonuses" planned for AIG executive. It's "hard to warrant any bonuses" at AIG and there is no way to "justify this outrage," the President said midday at the White House. After tripping over his words at one point, the President said, "I am choked up with anger," a familiar feeling in America today.
The New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo says American International Group missed his deadline for providing details about employees set to receive millions of dollars in bonuses and he's issuing subpoenas for the information. Cuomo says his office will investigate whether the employees were involved in the insurance giant's near-collapse and whether the $165 million in bonus payments are fraudulent under state law. AIG reported this month that it lost $61.7 billion in the fourth quarter of last year, the largest corporate loss in history.
- Bernard Madoff Swindle:
This was the real fast one! A con job in reality OR just a hastily hatched plot to siphon off billions of more US dollars - Money, of course may easily be funneled to the claimants using AIG type conduits - This swibndle, at the same times, has wiped the slate clean for many European swindlers as well. Good Job Bernie!
May be Madoff scheme had become a bit more transparent than the AIG bailout!
NEW YORK (AP) - "Bernard Madoff's wife could theoretically claim more than $100 million in assets -- and should forfeit it all, according to federal prosecutors.
The move by prosecutors seeks the court's help in recovering $22 million in Madoff properties, all of which are solely in Ruth Madoff's name except for one $3 million property. It also seeks $62 million in cash and securities in her name, $10 million in furnishings in the properties and $10 million for a yacht and other boats."
- And, The Declaration of War!
In the heat of economic breakdown, the lubricating oil between the grinding wheels of The Political Faction and The Financial Faction seems to have lost its viscosity. The resulting friction is hindering the smooth operation of the combined Politico-Financial apparatus.
The Speeches of high the powered political leaders are carefully crafted to deliver well calculated messages to the intended parties and, also, to cultivate a desired collective public opinion. Most of the times the audience is only the general public but, on certain occasions, the focus is on the specific parties. The posture of the delivering leader also conveys the desired message and effect. Notice the language:
In his weekly address on February 28, 2009, President Obama said:
"I realize that passing this budget won't be easy. Because it represents real and dramatic change, it also represents a threat to the status quo in Washington. I know that the insurance industry won't like the idea that they'll have to bid competitively to continue offering Medicare coverage, but that's how we'll help preserve and protect Medicare and lower health care costs for American families. I know that banks and big student lenders won't like the idea that we're ending their huge taxpayer subsidies, but that's how we'll save taxpayers nearly $50 billion and make college more affordable. I know that oil and gas companies won't like us ending nearly $30 billion in tax breaks, but that's how we'll help fund a renewable energy economy that will create new jobs and new industries. In other words, I know these steps won't sit well with the special interests and lobbyists who are invested in the old way of doing business, and I know they're gearing up for a fight as we speak. My message to them is this:"
"So am I."
Was it a clear warning and challenge to the old financial lords or just a spin to rally the troops in times of crisis? We will find it out in next few months.
But, taking into account the economic havoc and the damage that has been inflicted by the Financial Elites, it is quite possible that the Political Elites have decided that it is about time that the Financial Faction to be brought under control.
Now, pay attention to the speeches of President Obama and Prime Minister Gordon Brown given on March 3 and 4, 2009 in Washington, D.C.
Note that "shadow banking system" refers to the central banks - FED in the US and The Bank of England in the UK.
- Prime Minister Gordon Brown, March 3:
"Well, there's got to be deep regulatory change. We've just been talking, Barack and I, about the need for proper supervision of shadow banking systems, of areas where there was bank practices that were unacceptable, where remuneration policies got out of hand and weren't based on long-term success, but on short-term deals. And these are the changes that we've already announced that we are going to make."
"We've had a global banking failure, and it's happened in every part of the world. It's almost like a power cut that went right across the financial system. And we have got to rebuild that financial system. We've got to isolate the bad assets."
"You don't want shadow banking systems. You don't want regulatory tax havens. So we've got to act as a world together to deal with that. And that's one of the things we'll be talking about in April in London."
- President Obama, March 3:
"Now, having said that, the banking system has been dealt a heavy blow. It has to do with many of the things that Prime Minister Brown alluded to: lax regulation, massive over-leverage, huge systemic risks taken by unregulated institutions, as well as regulated institutions. And so there are a lot of losses that are working their way through the system. And it's not surprising that the market is hurting as a consequence. In fact, I think what we're seeing is that as people absorb the depths of the problem that existed in the banking system, as well as the international ramifications of it, that there's going to be a natural reaction."
"We are cleaning up that mess. It's going to be sort of full of fits and starts in terms of getting the mess cleaned up, but it's going to get cleaned up."
- Prime Minister Gordon Brown, March 4:
"And we need to understand what went wrong in this crisis, that the very financial instruments that were designed to diversify risk across the banking system instead spread contagion across the globe. And today's financial institutions are so interwoven that a bad bank anywhere is a threat to good banks everywhere."
"And you are also restructuring your banks. So are we. But how much safer would everybody's savings be if the whole world finally came together to outlaw shadow banking systems and offshore tax havens?"
Well, after analyzing the speeches of these two political leaders and their follow up actions and further comments, I am of the opinion that the power struggle between the Political Faction and the Financial Faction is very real. The Financial Elites had been in control for a very long time - they have screwed up big time. It is the opportunity for the Political Faction to move in and settle the scores.