from GlobalResearch Website
Foreclosure time has arrived. That means revolution - or more accurately, a counter-revolution to roll back the 20th century’s gains made by social democracy: pensions and social security, public health care and other infrastructure providing essential services at subsidized prices or for free.
The basic model follows the former Soviet Union’s post-1991 neoliberal reforms: privatization of public enterprises, a high flat tax on labor but only nominal taxes on real estate and finance, and deregulation of the economy’s prices, working conditions and credit terms.
The aim a century ago was to mobilize the Industrial Revolution’s soaring productivity and technology to raise living standards and use progressive taxation, public regulation, central banking and financial reform to distribute wealth fairly and make societies more equal. Today’s financial aim is the opposite: to concentrate wealth at the top of the economic pyramid and lower labor’s returns.
High finance loves low wages.
Governments are to go into debt to bail out banks for loans gone bad - as do more and more loans as finance impoverishes the economy, stifling its ability to pay. Yet as long as we live in democracies, voters must agree to pay.
Governments are sovereign and debt is ultimately a creature of the law and courts.
Banks “create wealth” by providing more credit (that is, debt leverage) to bid up asset prices for real estate and enterprises already in place - assets that either are being foreclosed on or sold off under debt pressure by private owners or governments.
One commentator recently characterized the latter strategy of privatization as,
Fought in the name of free markets, this counter-revolution rejects the classical ideal of markets free of unearned income paid to special interests.
The financial objective is to squeeze out a surplus by maximizing the margin of prices over costs. Opposing government enterprise and infrastructure as the road to serfdom, high finance is seeking to turn public infrastructure into rent-extracting tollbooths to extract economic rent (the “free lunch economy”), while replacing labor unions with non-union labor so as to work it more intensively.
But to achieve it, the financial sector needs a political grab to replace democracy with financial technocrats. Their job is to pretend that there is no revolution at all, merely an increase in “efficiency,” “creating wealth” by debt-leveraging the economy to the point where the entire surplus is paid out as interest to the financial managers who are emerging as Western civilization’s new central planners.
In attacking government so one-sidedly, his ideological extremism sought to replace the checks and balances of mixed economies with a private sector “free” of regulation and consumer protection. His vision was of a post-modern economy “free” of the classical reforms to bring market prices into line with cost value.
Instead of purifying industrial capitalism from the special rent extraction privileges bequeathed from the feudal epoch, Hayek’s ideology opened the way for unchecked financial power to make a travesty of “free markets.”
Insisting that Greece only has a “liquidity problem,” European Central Bank (ECB) extremists deem an economy “solvent” as long as it has assets to privatize.
ECB executive board member Lorenzo Bini Smaghi explained the plan in a Financial Times interview:
A week later Mr. Bini Smaghi insisted that the public sector,
Speaking from Berlin, he said that Greece “was not insolvent.”
It could pay off its bonds owed to German bankers ($22.7 billion), French bankers ($15 billion) and the ECB (reported to be on the hook for $190 billion) by selling off public land and ports, water and sewer rights, ownership of the telephone system and other basic infrastructure. In addition to getting paid in full and receiving high interest rates reflecting “market” expectations of non-payment, the banks would enjoy a new credit market financing privatization buy-outs.
He also claimed that:
But the less debt service an economy pays, the more revenue it has to invest productively. And to “solve” the problem by throwing public assets on the market would create windfalls for distress buyers.
As the Wall Street Journal put matters bluntly:
Rather than raising living standards while creating a more egalitarian and fair society, the ECB’s creditor-oriented “reforms” would roll the time clock back to oligarchy.
Not the post-feudal oligarchy of landlords owning
land conquered militarily, but a financial oligarchy accumulating banking
claims and bonds growing inexorably and exponentially, leaving little over
for the rest of the economy to invest or consume.
If he merely has a liquidity problem, a loan will help him earn the funds to pay down the debt. But if he falls into the negative equity that now plagues a quarter of U.S. real estate, taking on more loans will only deepen his net deficit. Ending this process by losing his home does not mean that he is merely illiquid. He is in distress, and is suffering from insolvency.
But to the ECB this is merely a liquidity problem.
Is it merely a liquidity problem if the government is told to sell off $50 billion in prime tourist sites, ports, water systems and other public assets in order to pay foreign creditors?
They sued under the fraudulent conveyance law, which says that if a creditor makes a loan without knowing how the debtor can pay in the normal course of business, the loan is assumed to have been made with the intent of foreclosing on property, and is deemed fraudulent.
Some lenders, to be sure, created a genuine insolvency problem by making loans beyond the ability of the farmers to pay, and then would foreclose on their land. The colonies nullified such loans.
Fraudulent conveyance laws have been kept on the books since the United States won its independence from Britain.
This would fundamentally alter the
relationship between public and private sectors, replacing its mixed economy
with a centrally planned one - planned by financial predators with little
care that the economy is polarizing between rich and poor, creditors and
Creditors are to be permitted to take the assets of insolvent debtors - from homeowners and companies to entire nations - as if this were a normal working of “the market” and foreclosure was simply a way to restore “liquidity.”
As for “solvency,” the ECB would strip Greece clean of its public sector’s assets. Bank officials have spoken of throwing potentially 150 billion Euros of property onto the market.
The latter policy is nothing less than a political revolution.
Bankers are trying to block governments from writing down debts, stretching out loans and reducing interest rates.
When the economic surplus is pledged to bankers rather than invested at home, we are not merely dealing with “insolvency” but with an aggressive attack. Finance becomes a continuation of war, by economic means that are to be politicized.
Acting on behalf of the commercial banks (from which most of its directors are drawn, and to which they intend to “descend from heaven” to take their rewards after serving their financial class), the European Central Bank insists on a political revolution to replace democratic government by a technocratic elite - not of industrial engineers, but of “financial engineers,” a polite name for asset stripping financial warriors.
If Greece does not comply, they threaten to wreak domestic financial havoc by “pulling the plug” on Greek banks. This “carrot and stick” approach threatens that if Greece does not sign on, the ECB and IMF will withhold loans needed to keep its banking system solvent.
The “carrot” was provided on May 31 they agreed to provide $86 billion in Euros if Greece,
It is a travesty to present this revolution simply as a financial exercise in solving the “liquidity problem” as if it were compatible with Europe’s past four centuries of political and classical economic reforms.
This is why the Syntagma Square protest in front of Parliament has been growing each week, peaking at over 70,000 last Sunday, June 5.
The next day, on June 6, thirty backbenchers of Prime Minister George Papandreou’s ruling Panhellenic Socialist party (Pasok) were joined by some of his own cabinet ministers threatening,
Seeing the popular reluctance to commit financial suicide, Conservative Opposition leader Antonis Samaras also opposed paying the European bankers,
It was obvious that no party could gain popular support for the ECB’s demand that Greece relinquish popular rule and,
ECB President Trichet depicts himself as following Erasmus in bringing Europe beyond its “strict concept of nationhood.” This is to be done by replacing elected officials with a bureaucracy of cosmopolitan banker-friendly planners.
The debt problem calls for new,
The task at hand is to make these conditions a new normalcy - and re-defining solvency to reflect a nation’s ability to pay debts by selling the public domain.
But if populations in today’s mixed economies think of solvency as existing under existing public/private proportions, they will resist the financial sector’s attempt to proceed with buyouts and foreclosures until it possesses all the assets in the world, all the hitherto public and corporate assets and those of individuals and partnerships.
Dominique Strauss-Kahn at the IMF claims that the post-2008 debt crisis is merely a short-term “liquidity problem” and one of lack of “confidence,” not insolvency reflecting an underlying inability to pay. Banks promise that everything will be all right when the economy “returns to normal” - as if it can “borrow its way out of debt,” Bernanke-style.
From the latter’s perspective the proper role of credit - that is, debt - is to fund productive capital investment and spending, because it is out of the economic surplus that debts are paid. This requires a financial regulatory system and tax system to maximize growth.
But that is precisely the fiscal policy that today’s financial sector is fighting against. It demands preferential tax-deductibility for interest to encourage debt financing rather than equity. It has disabled truth-in-lending laws and regulations to keeping interest rates and fees in line with costs of production. And it blocks governments from having central banks to freely finance their own operations and provide economies with money.
And to cap matters it now demands that
democratic society yield to centralized authoritarian financial rule.
Earlier this year, democratic opposition to the ECB and IMF attempt to impose austerity and privatization selloffs succeeded when Iceland’s President Grímsson insisted on a national referendum on the Icesave debt payment that Althing leaders had negotiated with Britain and the Netherlands (if one can characterize abject capitulation as a real negotiation).
To their credit, a heavy 3-to-2 majority of Icelanders voted “No,” saving their economy from being driven into the debt peonage.
Bankers repeatedly found themselves burned, especially by Habsburg and Bourbon despots on the thrones of Spain, Austria and France.
Loans to such rulers were liable to expire upon their death, unless their successors remained dependent on these same financiers rather than turning to their rivals. The numerous bankruptcies of Spain’s autocratic Habsburg ruler Charles V exhausted his credit, preventing the nation from raising funds to defeat the rebellious Low Countries to the north.
The Dutch Republic committed the entire nation to pay its public debts, binding the people themselves, through their elected representatives who earmarked taxes to their creditors. Bankers saw parliamentary democracy as a precondition for making sound loans to governments. This security for bankers could be achieved only from electorates having at least a nominal voice in government.
And raising war loans was a key element in military rivalry in an epoch when the maxim for survival was “Money is the sinews of war.”
At this time,
Earlier Dutch-English financing had not satisfied creditors on this count.
When Charles I borrowed 650,000 guilders from the Dutch States-General in 1625, the two countries’ military alliance against Spain helped defer the implicit constitutional struggle over who ultimately was liable for British debts.
They developed the most active capital markets and became Europe’s leading military powers.
In sum, nations emerged in their modern form by adopting the financial characteristics of democratic city‑states.
The financial imperatives of 17th-century warfare helped make these democracies victorious, for the new national financial systems facilitated military spending on a vastly extended scale.
Conversely, the more despotic Spain, Austria and France became, the greater the difficulty they found in financing their military adventures.
Austria was left “without credit, and consequently without much debt” by the end of the 18th century, the least credit-worthy and worst armed country in Europe, as Sir James Steuart noted in 1767.
It became fully dependent on British subsidies and loan guarantees by the time of the Napoleonic Wars.
For war debts and other national obligations to become binding, the people’s elected representatives had to pledge taxes. This could be achieved only by giving the electorate a voice in government.
Access to credit was,
The problem was that,
But the tables are now turning, from Icelandic voters to the large crowds gathering in Syntagma Square and elsewhere throughout Greece to oppose the terms on which Prime Minister Papandreou has been negotiating an EU bailout loan for the government - to bail out German and French banks.
Now that nations are not raising money for war but to subsidize reckless predatory bankers, Jean-Claude Trichet of the ECB recently suggested taking financial policy out of the hands of democracy.
At issue is sovereignty itself, when it comes to government responsibility for debts.
And in this respect the war being waged against Greece by the
European Central Bank (ECB) may best be seen as a dress rehearsal not only
for the rest of Europe, but for what financial lobbyists would like to bring
about in the United States.