The Bush administration's proposal to bail out some of Wall Street's biggest players with an unprecedented transfer of public wealth to the private sector sent shock-waves throughout the nation.
Already deep in deficit, the administration wants to borrow $700 billion dollars -- in addition to the $900 billion already spent this year to prop up troubled lending institutions and deal with the fall-out from the housing crisis -- and entrust it to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, fresh from a long run on Wall Street himself. He'd then buy up worthless paper from struggling banks.
Who would get the money? Nobody knows. Paulson says he wants to hire Wall Street firms to oversee the process.
Under Bush's plan, the taxpayer would get little, if anything, in return. The whole thing would happen without Congressional oversight, save for a semi-annual report on the process, and Paulson's actions would be beyond challenge in the courts.
It is an economic coup d'etat in the making. And people are talking about little else. Here's 10 things that have been on our radars ...
1. Shock Doctrine: Profiting from Crisis
Robert Borosage of Campaign for America's Future invokes Naomi Klein's "Shock Doctrine in asking whether we're going to "get fleeced in this crisis" ...
Call it extortion. Every American is told to ante up $2,000--an estimated $700 billion in all--to bail out the banks from their bad bets, or they'll bring down the entire economy.
In a speculative frenzy that allowed the Masters of the Universe to pocket millions personally, the banks filled their coffers with toxic paper that no one wants to buy. Now they sensibly don't want to lend money to each other, since no one knows if the other is solvent. So they go on strike, and threaten to trigger a global depression, if they don't get rescued.
The bailout will happen simply to avoid that depression. But depressions have some salutary effects - the scoundrels go belly up, the weakest get purged, and in the wake of the disaster, people demand strict regulation of the money lenders to keep their greed and predatory behavior in check, and government spends money on the real economy to put people back to work.
2. Has a "Consensus" Really Formed Around the Idea That Something Must Be Done?
Martin Crutsinger of the Associated Press reports that "economists" -- implying, troublingly, all economists -- see the Bush Bailout as"Necessary."
But Atrios -- economist Duncan Black's blog handle -- has some questions about how everyone got on the same page so quickly ...
It's fascinating to watch how easily consensus is manufactured. A few days ago elite opinion seemed to be cheering Paulson's "no bailout" line, and now they're cheering a trillion bucks thrown down the crapper ...
It's unrealistic to imagine that I'd be able to really get enough honest information to have an informed opinion, but I spent some time thinking about what question all the Very Serious People should, at a minimum, want answered before they start cheering on [any] plans. This is what I came up with:
What changed between Monday and Friday? What new information did you have at the end of the week that you did not have at the beginning of the week which caused you to go from $0 to $1 trillion?
And, no, tumbling stock prices or babble about "deteriorating credit conditions" don't count.
3. Is This Even Legal?
The Constitutionality of the plan is being hotly debated, according to Frank James, writing on the Chicago Trib's blog:
Troubling to many critics is the breathtaking extraconstitutionality of the proposal which would give the Treasury secretary unusual powers that couldn't be countermanded by Congress or the courts.
That appears on its face to violate the Constitution's assertion of a balance of powers where no one branch is unchecked by the others.
James goes on to quote Alan Blinder, "former Federal Reserve vice chair and normally a mild-mannered, live-and-let-live Princeton University economics professor," who said Paulson should be booted out of office for his proposal ...
"I'm speaking now as one of the earliest advocates of creating an institution like this, many, many months ago. And it's a crying shame to see the way the Treasury has written this. I think the secretary of the Treasury should be dismissed, frankly. ... Asking for the authority to buy anything, with no review, with no court review, with no limits practically as to quantity or scope, with almost no congressional oversight. We have something more precious at stake than our precious financial system and that's our precious Constitution. And frankly, if I were a member of Congress, having advocated for this for nine or ten months, I would vote against this unless it's changed, dramatically..."
What's Blinder talking about? Section 8 of the draft legislation released on Saturday reads, in its entirety:Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.
Sounds pretty like some pretty unbalanced powers to us.
And who'd be the new Emperor of the U.S. economy? McClatchy's Kevin Hall explains:Making the rounds on the Sunday morning talk shows, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson repeatedly said today's financial problems were long in the making. He should know. He was part of the Gold Rush that has brought the global financial system to the brink of collapse.Paulson presided over one of the most profitable runs on Wall Street as chairman and chief executive officer of investment banking titan Goldman Sachs & Co. from 1999 until President Bush nominated him on May 30, 2006 to take over the Treasury Department.
With Paulson now seeking virtually unfettered authority to administer the largest bailout of the financial industry in U.S. history, many are wondering whether Paulson also doesn't come with enormous potential conflicts of interest.That was one reason Democrats on Sunday expressed reluctance to approve the administration's draft legislation that would leave to Paulson virtually all authority over the proposed $700 billion bailout. The legislation would allow him to decide which securities to buy, from whom to buy them, and which outside companies and people to hire to help him do so.
4. Some Lawmakers Are Angry
The reality is that there's less than a consensus that the "Paulson" plan is the way to go. Over at Open Left, Matt Stoller quotes an angry but (safely) anonymous Democratic Representative venting some spleen ...Paulsen and congressional Republicans, or the few that will actually vote for this (most will be unwilling to take responsibility for the consequences of their policies), have said that there can't be any "add ons," or addition provisions. Fuck that. I don't really want to trigger a world wide depression (that's not hyperbole, that's a distinct possibility), but I'm not voting for a blank check for $700 billion for those mother fuckers.Nancy said she wanted to include the second "stimulus" package that the Bush Administration and congressional Republicans have blocked. I don't want to trade a $700 billion dollar giveaway to the most unsympathetic human beings on the planet for a few fucking bridges. I want reforms of the industry, and I want it to be as punitive as possible.
5. Opposition Across the Political Spectrum
And the New York Times' Paul Krugman's not sure if it'll work ...So, here's my problem: what we have now are a bunch of financial institutions in trouble, because they're highly leveraged, and have mortgage-related assets on their books. And they can't raise cash because nobody wants to buy those assets. The Paulson plan will in effect create a market for toxic paper, thereby supposedly unfreezing the markets.But what if the institutions are fundamentally broke, even if the liquidity squeeze is relieved? ......Suppose that Hank Paulson does his reverse auction, and it turns out that the Treasury's price for toxic waste is 40 cents on the dollar. Even so, [banks are] still underwater. So what does Treasury do then?One answer, I suppose, is that we think that there aren't too many firms in that position -- and that those that will still fail, even with the Paulson Plan, aren't going to disrupt the markets too much when they go down. But do we know that?
In a subsequent column, Krugman says that he agrees that doing something to prop up the financial sector is necessary, but he opposes the "blank check" -- the lack of oversight built into the plan. In a rare instance, William Kristol agrees with Krugman. After saying that this is no time for ideological devotion to the "free markets," Kristol asks ......is the administration's proposal the right way to do this? It would enable the Treasury, without Congressionally approved guidelines as to pricing or procedure, to purchase hundreds of billions of dollars of financial assets, and hire private firms to manage and sell them, presumably at their discretion There are no provisions for -- or even promises of -- disclosure, accountability or transparency. Surely Congress can at least ask some hard questions about such an open-ended commitment.
And I've been shocked by the number of (mostly conservative) experts I've spoken with who aren't at all confident that the Bush administration has even the basics right -- or who think that the plan, though it looks simple on paper, will prove to be a nightmare in practice.
6. Do Joe and Jane Tax-Payer Really Have to Foot the Bill?
There's lot's of talk about how the legislation can be improved if it is passed. The WaPo's Sebastian Mallaby thinks it unnecessary to use public dollars to boost ailing banks' liquidity:Raghuram Rajan and Luigi Zingales of the University of Chicago suggest ways to force the banks to raise capital without tapping the taxpayers. First, the government should tell banks to cancel all dividend payments. Banks don't do that on their own because it would signal weakness; if everyone knows the dividend has been canceled because of a government rule, the signaling issue would be removed. Second, the government should tell all healthy banks to issue new equity. Again, banks resist doing this because they don't want to signal weakness and they don't want to dilute existing shareholders. A government order could cut through these obstacles.
7. What Would a More Progressive Bailout Look Like?
Economist Dean Baker offers up some "Progressive Conditions for a Bailout" at TPM:Principles to Guide the Bailout1) Financial institutions should be forced to endure the bulk of the losses with taxpayer funds only used where absolutely necessary to sustain the orderly operation of the financial system.2) The bailout must be designed to minimize the opportunity for gaming.3) The bailout should be designed to minimize moral hazard.4) In the case of delinquent mortgages that come into the government's possession, there should be an effort to work out an arrangement that allows the homeowner to remain in her house as owner. If this proves impossible, then former homeowners should be allowed to remain in their homes as renters paying the market rent. This should be done even if it leads to losses to the government.5) There should be serious efforts to severely restrict executive compensation at any companies that directly benefit from the bailout.
He also offers up some ideas for restructuring the financial system so, as they say, read the rest.
8. Could the Plan Get Better Through Negotiation?
It appears to us that the first draft of the bill was so extreme, that it veered so far towards Mussolini's definition of fascism -- a perfect blend of state and corporate power -- that it was intended as a starting point from which the administration could offer its opponents some concessions and still end up with something that's terrible for Main Street.
Along those lines, the Wall Street Journal reports ...The Bush administration has conceded several changes to its rescue plan for the troubled banking industry, including agreeing to compensation limits for bank chief executives taking part in the plan and the need for more help for homeowners facing foreclosure, a leading House Democrat said Monday.Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee Rep. Barney Frank said the Treasury also agreed to Democrats' idea that the federal government should receive warrants to take an equity stake in financial firms in exchange for the government purchasing toxic assets from them.Congress may raise the cost of a $700 billion market-rescue deal by adding a new economic stimulus plan to benefit taxpayers, according to Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. (Sept. 22)Senate Democrats also want to add tough new measures, including a provision that would allow the government to take shares of any financial institution that participates in the program.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said on Monday, "we will not simply hand over a $700-billion blank check to Wall Street and hope for a better outcome." But we've heard that before ... we'll see.
Of course, there is a chance that a wave of resistance coming from across the political spectrum could stop the deal, or that it might get mired in partisan bickering -- sometimes "gridlock" is good.
9. Foreign Banks Can Cash in Too
Or perhaps the fact that U.S. tax-payers look like they might also end up bailing out foreign banks will end up being a fly in the ointment.Now, the U.S. bailout looks as if it is going global, too, a move that could raise its cost and intensify scrutiny by Congress and critics.Foreign banks, which were initially excluded from the plan, lobbied successfully over the weekend to be able to sell the toxic U.S. mortgage debt owned by their American units to the Treasury, getting the same treatment as U.S. banks.On Sunday, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson indicated in a series of appearances on TV talk shows that an original proposal introduced Saturday had been widened. "It's a distinction without a difference whether it's a foreign or a U.S. one," he said in an interview with Fox News.
He's right, in a way. There are no U.S. or foreign mega-banks -- just multinational financial institutions with headquarters at home or somewhere abroad. If one accepts the logic of the plan at all, it might as well extend to multinationals with foreign-sounding names. The rabbit hole is only so deep, and we're already way down it.
10. Is This Signaling a Decline in American Power?
According to Reuters, this all seems to be making the Chinese think that a A Different World is Possible ...Threatened by a "financial tsunami," the world must consider building a financial order no longer dependent on the United States, a leading Chinese state newspaper said on Wednesday.The commentary in the overseas edition of the People's Daily said the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., "may augur an even larger impending global 'financial tsunami'."
"The eruption of the U.S. sub-prime crisis has exposed massive loopholes in the United States' financial oversight and supervision," writes the commentator, Shi Jianxun."The world urgently needs to create a diversified currency and financial system and fair and just financial order that is not dependent on the United States."
Also, the Markets Reaction ...
A lot of people expected the markets to respond positively to the bailout plan, at least over the short-run, but they, too had a thing or two to say on Monday ...Stock prices and the dollar plunged today -- and oil and other commodities soared -- on growing anxiety about the effect of the government's proposed $700-billion rescue of the financial system.The Dow Jones industrial average tumbled 372.75 points, or 3.3%, to 11,015.69, erasing the index's 368-point gain Friday. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 3.8%, and the Nasdaq composite index fell 4.2%.It was the Dow's sixth triple-digit increase or decrease in a row, and its fifth 350-point-plus move in six trading days.Some investors who pulled money out of stocks poured it into commodities.Oil futures shot up $16.37 a barrel to settle at $120.92 on the New York Mercantile Exchange after spiking as high as $130 in the last hour of trading. An index of 19 major commodities soared 3.9%.The dollar posted its biggest decline on record against the nearly decade-old euro, and yields on Treasury bonds rose over concerns about the large amount of new debt that the government could take on to fund the bailout plan.
Let's Stop the Greatest Theft in the History of Humankind
Why should American taxpayers give US Treasury Secretary "Hank" Paulson a blank check to bail out the shareholders of busted banks? Why should the Treasury turn itself into a toxic waste dump for their bad loans? Why not let other banks join the unlamented Brothers Lehman in bankruptcy court, and start a new bank with taxpayers' money? Or have the Treasury pay interest on delinquent mortgages, and make them whole? Even better, why not let the Chinese, or the Saudis or other foreign investors take control of failed American banks? They've got the money, and they gladly would pay a premium for an inside seat at the American table.
None of the above will occur. America will give between US$700-$800 billion to the Treasury to buy any bank assets it wants, on any terms, with no possible legal recourse. It is an invitation to abuse of power unparalleled in American history, in which ill-paid civil servants will set prices on the portfolios of the banking system with no oversight and no threat of legal penalty.
Why are the voices raised in protest so shrill and few? Why will Americans fall on their fountain-pens for their bankers? If America is to adopt socialism, why not have socialism for the poor, rather than for the rich? Why should American households that earn $50,000 a year subsidize Goldman Sachs partners who earn $5 million a year?
Believe it or not, there is a rational explanation, and quite in keeping with America's national motto, E pluribus hokum. Part of the problem is that Wall Street, like the ethnic godfather in the old joke, has made America an offer it can't understand. The collapsing the mortgage-backed securities market embodies a degree of complexity that mystifies the average policy wonk. But that is a lesser, superficial side of the story.
Paulson's dreadful scheme will become law, because Americans love their bankers. The bankers enable their collective gambling habit. Think of America as a town with one casino, in which the only economic activity is gambling. Most people lose, but the casino keeps lending them more money to play. Eventually, of course, the casino must go bankrupt. At this point, the townspeople people vote to tax themselves in order to bail out the casino. Collectively, the gamblers cannot help but lose; individually they nonetheless hope to win their way out of the hole.
Americans are so deep in the hole that they might as well keep putting borrowed quarters into the one-armed bandit. They have hardly saved anything for the past 10 years. Instead, they counted on capital gains to replace the retirement savings they never put aside, first in tech stocks, then in houses. That hasn't worked out. The S&P 500 Index of American equities today is worth what it was in 1997, after adjusting for inflation (and a pensioner who sells stock purchased in 1997 will pay a 20% capital gains tax on an illusory inflationary gain of 40%). Home prices doubled between 1997 and 2007 before falling by more than 20%, with no floor in sight.
As it is, many of the baby boomers now on the verge of retirement will spend their declining years working at Wal-Mart or McDonalds rather than cruising the Caribbean. Some of them still have time to tighten their belts and save 10% of their income (by consuming 10% less), plus a good deal more to compensate for the missing savings of the 1990s.
Altogether, they'd rather gamble, and if that requires a bailout of the house, they gladly will chip in to pay for it. After all, today's baby boomers won't pay for the bailout. The next generation of taxpayers will pay for Paulson's $700-$800 billion. If that enables the present generation to keep borrowing rather than saving, it is no skin off their back. If home prices continue to collapse, the baby boomers will die in debt anyway, working at low-paying jobs until the day before their funerals.
The homeowners of America hope against hope that somehow, sometime, the price of their one only asset will bounce back. The character of Mortimer Duke in the 1983 film Trading Places comes to mind. After losing his fortune in the frozen orange juice futures market, Duke screams, "I want trading reopened right now. Get those brokers back in here! Turn those machines back on! Turn those machines back on!" If a reverse takeover of the US government by Goldman Sachs is what it takes to turn the machines back on, the American public will support it. Sadly, there is no reason to expect the bailout of bank shareholders to have any effect at all on American home prices, which will continue to sink into the sand.
Contrary to what the Bush administration says, it is not the case that banks' troubled mortgage assets cannot be sold in the private market. Those are the so-called "Level III" assets that banks say they cannot value. But that is only a dodge that the banks use to postpone taking losses. There is a ready bid for these assets from hedge funds, in multi-hundred-billion-dollar size. The trouble is that the market bid is 25% to 30% below the prices that banks carry these assets on their books. Traders at Wall Street boutiques who specialize in distressed securities say that US regional banks regularly make discreet offers to sell private mortgage-backed securities (not guaranteed by a federal agency) at prices, for example, of 75 to 80 cents on the dollar. Hedge funds bid, for example, 55 to 60 cents in return.
On rare occasions, the bank seller and the hedge fund buyer will meet in the middle, although very few transactions occur. Although many banks are desperate to sell, they cannot accept the offered price without taking losses over the threshold of mortality, for write-downs of this magnitude would destroy their shareholders' capital. Investment banks typically hold about $30 of securities for every $1 of capital, so a 3% write-down would leave them insolvent. Lehman Brothers classified 14% of its assets as Level III at the end of the first quarter; Goldman Sachs was at 13%. Why is Lehman bankrupt, and Goldman Sachs still in business? If Secretary Paulson, the former head of Goldman Sachs, had not proposed a general bailout last week, we might already have had the answer to that question.
For the Paulson bailout to be helpful to the banks, it must buy their securities at much higher prices than the private market is willing to pay. Otherwise it makes no sense at all, for the banks could sell at any moment to the hedge funds. But that is a subsidy to private banks, administered at the whim of the Treasury Secretary, without oversight and without the possibility of legal recourse.
Some Democrats in Congress are asking for some form of oversight, but it is hard to imagine how they might use it, for a Treasury with $800 billion to spend would constitute the whole market bid for low-quality mortgage assets, and would set whatever prices it wished. Professionals with years of experience set prices on these securities with great uncertainty. How would an overseer determine if it had set the correct price? And if the Treasury decided to bail out one bank (say, Goldman Sachs) rather than another, how would the overseer judge whether that decision was judicious, politically motivated, venal, or arbitrary?
Opposition to the Treasury plan is disturbingly thing. Bloomberg News on June 21 quoted the Democratic chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, Christopher Dodd, saying, "I know of nobody who is arguing over the amount of money or even about that the secretary ought to have the authority to purchase these toxic instruments, these bad debts."
Why the taxpayers of America would allow their pockets to be picked in this fashion requires a different sort of explanation than one finds in economics textbooks. My analogy of gamblers taxing themselves to bail out the casino is inspired, in part, by a remarkable new book by the Canadian economists Reuven and Gabrielle Brenner (with Aaron Brown), A World of Chance. In effect, the Brenners re-interpret economic theory in terms of gambling, showing how profoundly gambling figures into human behavior, especially in such matters as so-called life-cycle investing. The 50-ish householder who has not made enough to retire may take outsized chances, considering that as matters stand, he will work until he drops dead in any case. The Brenners write:If people reach the age of fifty or fifty-five and have not "made it," what are their financial options to still live the good life? Except for allocating a few bucks to buy lottery tickets, it is hard to think of any other option. If people find themselves down on their luck and see no immediate opportunities to get rich, what can they do to sustain their hopes and dreams? Allocating a fraction of their portfolios with a chance to win a large prize is among the options. And when people are leapfrogged - that is, when some "Joneses" who were "below" them jump ahead - how can they catch up? They will tend to challenge their luck for a while, taking risks that they might have contemplated before in business, financial markets, and other areas but did not follow up with action.A World of Chance undermines our usual view of "economic man" and substitutes the angst-ridden, uncertain denizen of a world that offers no certainties and requires risk-taking as a matter of survival. I hope to offer a proper review of the work in the near future. As my marker, though, permit me to leave the thought that for providing a theoretical foundation for the counter-intuitive behavior of American taxpayers, the Brenners deserve the Nobel Prize in economics.
Alas for the gamblers of America: they will tax themselves to keep the casino in operation, but it will not profit them. Where, oh where, is America's Vladimir Putin, who will drive out the oligarchs who have stolen the country's treasure and debased its currency?Once Upon s Time
by Eustace Mullins
R.G. Hawtrey, the English economist, said, in the March, 1926 American Economic Review:
"When external investment outstrips the supply of general savings the investment market must carry the excess with money borrowed from the banks. A remedy is control of credit by a rise in bank rate."
The Federal Reserve Board applied this control of credit, but not in 1926, nor as a remedial measure. It was not applied until 1929, and then the rate was raised as a punitive measure, to freeze out everybody but the big trusts.
Professor Cassel, in the Quarterly Journal of Economics, August 1928, wrote that:
"The fact that a central bank fails to raise its bank rate in accordance with the actual situation of the capital market very much increases the strength of the cyclical movement of trade, with all its pernicious effects on social economy. A rational regulation of the bank rate lies in our hands, and may be accomplished only if we perceive its importance and decide to go in for such a policy. With a bank rate regulated on these lines the conditions for the development of trade cycles would be radically altered, and indeed, our familiar trade cycles would be a thing of the past."
This is the most authoritative premise yet made relating that our business depressions are artificially precipitated. The occurrence of the Panic of 1907, the Agricultural Depression of 1920, and the Great Depression of 1929, all three in good crop years and in periods of national prosperity, suggests that premise is not guesswork. Lord Maynard Keynes pointed out that most theories of the business cycle failed to relate their analysis adequately to the money mechanism. Any survey or study of a depression which failed to list such factors as gold movements and pressures on foreign exchange would be worthless, yet American economists have always dodged this issue.
The League of Nations had achieved its goal of getting the nations of Europe back on the gold standard by 1928, but three-fourths of the world's gold was in France and the United States. The problem was how to get that gold to countries which needed it as a basis for money and credit. The answer was action by the Federal Reserve System.
Following the secret meeting of the Federal Reserve Board and the heads of the foreign central banks in 1927, the Federal Reserve Banks in a few months doubled their holdings of Government securities and acceptances, which resulted in the exportation of five hundred million dollars in gold in that year. The System's market activities forced the rates of call money down on the Stock Exchange, and forced gold out of the country. Foreigners also took this opportunity to purchase heavily in Government securities because of the low call money rate.
"The agreement between the Bank of England and the Washington Federal Reserve authorities many months ago was that we would force the export of 725 million of gold by reducing the bank rates here, thus helping the stabilization of France and Europe and putting France on a gold basis."89 (April 20, 1928)
On February 6, 1929, Mr. Montagu Norman, Governor of the Bank of England, came to Washington and had a conference with Andrew Mellon, Secretary of the Treasury. Immediately after that mysterious visit, the Federal Reserve Board abruptly changed its policy and pursued a high discount rate policy, abandoning the cheap money policy which it had inaugurated in 1927 after Mr. Norman's other visit. The stock market crash and the deflation of the American people's financial structure was scheduled to take place in March. To get the ball rolling, Paul Warburg gave the official warning to the traders to get out of the market. In his annual report to the stockholders of his International Acceptance Bank, in March, 1929, Mr. Warburg said:
"If the orgies of unrestrained speculation are permitted to spread, the ultimate collapse is certain not only to affect the speculators themselves, but to bring about a general depression involving the entire country."
During three years of "unrestrained speculation", Mr. Warburg had not seen fit to make any remarks about the condition of the Stock Exchange. A friendly organ, The New York Times, not only gave the report two columns on its editorial page, but editorially commented on the wisdom and profundity of Mr. Warburg's observations. Mr. Warburg's concern was genuine, for the stock market bubble had gone much farther than it had been intended to go, and the bankers feared the consequences if the people realized what was going on. When this report in The New York Times started a sudden wave of selling on the Exchange, the bankers grew panicky, and it was decided to ease the market somewhat. Accordingly, Warburg's National City Bank rushed twenty-five million dollars in cash to the call money market, and postponed the day of the crash.
The revelation of the Federal Reserve Board's final decision to trigger the Crash of 1929 appears, amazingly enough, in The New York Times. On April 20, 1929, the Times headlined, "Federal Advisory Council Mystery Meeting in Washington. Resolutions were adopted by the council and transmitted to the board, but their purpose was closely guarded. An atmosphere of deep mystery was thrown about the proceedings both by the board and the council. Every effort was made to guard the proceedings of this extraordinary session. Evasive replies were given to newspaper correspondents."
Only the innermost council of "The London Connection" knew that it had been decided at this "mystery meeting" to bring down the curtain on the greatest speculative boom in American history. Those in the know began to sell off all speculative stocks and put their money in government bonds. Those who were not privy to this secret information, and they included some of the wealthiest men in America, continued to hold their speculative stocks and lost everything they had.
In FDR, My Exploited Father-in-Law, Col. Curtis B. Dall, who was a broker on Wall Street at that time, writes of the Crash, "Actually it was the calculated 'shearing' of the public by the World Money-Powers, triggered by the planned sudden shortage of the supply of call money in the New York money market."90 Overnight, the Federal Reserve System had raised the call rate to twenty percent. Unable to meet this rate, the speculators' only alternative was to jump out of windows.
The New York Federal Reserve Bank rate, which dictated the national interest rate, went to six percent on November 1, 1929. After the investors had been bankrupted, it dropped to one and one-half percent on May 8, 1931. Congressman Wright Patman in "A Primer On Money", says that the money supply decreased by eight billion dollars from 1929 to 1933, causing 11,630 banks of the total of 26,401 in the United States to go bankrupt and close their doors.
The Federal Reserve Board had already warned the stockholders of the Federal Reserve Banks to get out of the Market, on February 6, 1929, but it had not bothered to say anything to the rest of the people. Nobody knew what was going on except the Wall Street bankers who were running the show. Gold movements were completely unreliable. The Quarterly Journal of Economics noted that:
"The question has been raised, not only in this country, but in several European countries, as to whether customs statistics record with accuracy the movements of precious metals, and, when investigation has been made, confidence in such figures has been weakened rather than strengthened. Any movement between France and England, for instance, should be recorded in each country, but such comparison shows an average yearly discrepancy of fifty million francs for France and eighty-five million francs for England. These enormous discrepancies are not accounted for."
The Right Honorable Reginald McKenna stated that:
"Study of the relations between changes in gold stock and movement in price levels shows what should be very obvious, but is by no means recognized, that the gold standard is in no sense automatic in operation. The gold standard can be, and is, usefully managed and controlled for the benefit of a small group of international traders."
In August 1929, the Federal Reserve Board raised the rate to six percent. The Bank of England in the next month raised its rate from five and one-half percent to six and one-half percent. Dr. Friday in the September, 1929, issue of Review of Reviews, could find no reason for the Board's action:
"The Federal Reserve statement for August 7, 1929, shows that signs of inadequacy for autumn requirements do not exist. Gold resources are considerably more than the previous year, and gold continues to move in, to the financial embarrassment of Germany and England. The reasons for the Board's action must be sought elsewhere. The public has been given only the hint that 'This problem has presented difficulties because of certain peculiar conditions'. Every reason which Governor Young advanced for lowering the bank rate last year exists now. Increasing the rate means that not only is there danger of drawing gold from abroad, but imports of the yellow metal have been in progress for the last four months. To do anything to accentuate this is to take the responsibility for bringing on a world-wide credit deflation."
Thus we find that not only was the Federal Reserve System responsible for the First World War, which it made possible by enabling the United States to finance the Allies, but its policies brought on the world-wide depression of 1929-31. Governor Adolph C. Miller stated at the Senate Investigation of the Federal Reserve Board in 1931 that:
"If we had had no Federal Reserve System, I do not think we would have had as bad a speculative situation as we had, to begin with."
Carter Glass replied, "You have made it clear that the Federal Reserve Board provided a terrific credit expansion by these open market transactions."
Emmanuel Goldenweiser said, "In 1928-29 the Federal Board was engaged in an attempt to restrain the rapid increase in security loans and in stock market speculation. The continuity of this policy of restraint, however, was interrupted by reduction in bill rates in the autumn of 1928 and the summer of 1929."
Both J.P. Morgan and Kuhn, Loeb Co. had "preferred lists" of men to whom they sent advance announcements of profitable stocks. The men on these preferred lists were allowed to purchase these stocks at cost, that is, anywhere from 2 to 15 points a share less than they were sold to the public. The men on these lists were fellow bankers, prominent industrialists, powerful city politicians, national Committeemen of the Republican and Democratic Parties, and rulers of foreign countries. The men on these lists were notified of the coming crash, and sold all but so-called gilt-edged stocks, General Motors, Dupont, etc. The prices on these stocks also sank to record lows, but they came up soon afterwards. How the big bankers operated in 1929 is revealed by a Newsweek story on May 30, 1936, when a Roosevelt appointee, Ralph W. Morrison, resigned from the Federal Reserve Board:
"The consensus of opinion is that the Federal Reserve Board has lost an able man. He sold his Texas utilities stock to Insull for ten million dollars, and in 1929 called a meeting and ordered his banks to close out all security loans by September 1. As a result, they rode through the depression with flying colors."
Predictably enough, all of the big bankers rode through the depression "with flying colors." The people who suffered were the workers and farmers who had invested their money in get-rich stocks, after the President of the United States, Calvin Coolidge, and the Secretary of the Treasury, Andrew Mellon, had persuaded them to do it.
There had been some warnings of the approaching crash in England, which American newspapers never saw. The London Statist on May 25, 1929 said:
"The banking authorities in the United States apparently want a business panic to curb speculation."
The London Economist on May 11, 1929, said:
"The events of the past year have seen the beginnings of a new technique, which, if maintained and developed, may succeed in 'rationing the speculator without injuring the trader.'"
Governor Charles S. Hamlin quoted this statement at the Senate hearings in 1931 and said, in corroboration of it:
"That was the feeling of certain members of the Board, to remove Federal Reserve credit from the speculator without injuring the trader."
Governor Hamlin did not bother to point out that the "speculators" he was out to break were the school-teachers and small town merchants who had put their savings into the stock market, or that the "traders" he was trying to protect were the big Wall Street operators, Bernard Baruch and Paul Warburg.
When the Federal Reserve Bank of New York raised its rate to six percent on August 9, 1929, market conditions began which culminated in tremendous selling orders from October 24 into November, which wiped out a hundred and sixty billion dollars worth of security values. That was a hundred and sixty billions which the American citizens had one month and did not have the next. Some idea of the calamity may be had if we remember that our enormous outlay of money and goods in the Second World War amounted to not much more than two hundred billions of dollars, and a great deal of that remained as negotiable securities in the national debt. The stock market crash is the greatest misfortune which the United States has ever suffered. The Academy of Political Science of Columbia University in its annual meeting in January, 1930, held a post-mortem on the Crash of 1929. Vice-President Paul Warburg was to have presided, and Director Ogden Mills was to have played an important part in the discussion. However, these two gentlemen did not show up. Professor Oliver M.W. Sprague of Harvard University remarked of the crash:
"We have here a beautiful laboratory case of the stock market's dropping apparently from its own weight."
It was pointed out that there was no exhaustion of credit, as in 1893, nor any currency famine, as in the Panic of 1907, when clearing-house certificates were resorted to, nor a collapse of commodity prices, as in 1920. What then, had caused the crash? The people had purchased stocks at high prices and expected the prices to continue to rise. The prices had to come down, and they did. It was obvious to the economists and bankers gathered over their brandy and cigars at the Hotel Astor that the people were at fault. Certainly the people had made a mistake in buying over-priced securities, but they had been talked into it by every leading citizen from the President of the United States on down. Every magazine of national circulation, every big newspaper, and every prominent banker, economist, and politician, had joined in the big confidence game of urging people to buy those over-priced securities. When the Federal Reserve Bank of New York raised its rate to six percent, in August 1929, people began to get out of the market, and it turned into a panic which drove the prices of securities down far below their natural levels. As in previous panics, this enabled both Wall Street and foreign operators in the know to pick up "blue-chip" and gilt-edged" securities for a fraction of their real value.
The Crash of 1929 also saw the formation of giant holding companies which picked up these cheap bonds and securities, such as the Marine Midland Corporation, the Lehman Corporation, and the Equity Corporation. In 1929 J.P. Morgan Company organized the giant food trust, Standard Brands. There was an unequaled opportunity for trust operators to enlarge and consolidate their holdings.
Emmanuel Goldenweiser, director of research for the Federal Reserve System, said, in 1947:
"It is clear in retrospect that the Board should have ignored the speculative expansion and allowed it to collapse of its own weight."
This admission of error eighteen years after the event was small comfort to the people who lost their savings in the Crash.
The Wall Street Crash of 1929 was the beginning of a world-wide credit deflation which lasted through 1932, and from which the Western democracies did not recover until they began to rearm for the Second World War. During this depression, the trust operators achieved further control by their backing of three international swindlers, The Van Sweringen brothers, Samuel Insull, and Ivar Kreuger. These men pyramided billions of dollars worth of securities to fantastic heights. The bankers who promoted them and floated their stock issue could have stopped them at any time, by calling loans of less than a million dollars, but they let these men go on until they had incorporated many industrial and financial properties into holding companies, which the banks then took over for nothing. Insull piled up public utility holdings throughout the Middle West, which the banks got for a fraction of their worth. Ivar Kreuger was backed by Lee Higginson Company, supposedly one of the nation's most reputable banking houses. The Saturday Evening Post called him "more than a financial titan", and the English review Fortnightly said, in an article written December 1931, under the title, "A Chapter in Constructive Finance": "It is as a financial irrigator that Kreuger has become of such vital importance to Europe."*
"Financial irrigator" we may remember, was the title bestowed upon Jacob Schiff by Newsweek Magazine, when it described how Schiff had bought up American railroads with Rothschild's money.
The New Republic remarked on January 25th, 1933, when it commented on the fact that Lee Higginson Company had handled Kreuger and Toll Securities on the American market:
"Three-quarters of a billion dollars was made away with. Who was able to dictate to the French police to keep secret the news of this extremely important suicide for some hours, during which somebody sold Kreuger securities in large amounts, thus getting out of the market before the debacle?"
The Federal Reserve Board could have checked the enormous credit expansion of Insull and Kreuger by investigating the security on which their loans were being made, but the Governors never made any examination of the activities of these men.
The modern bank with the credit facilities it affords, gives an opportunity which had not previously existed for such operators as Kreuger to make an appearance of abundant capital by the aid of borrowed capital. This enables the speculator to buy securities with securities. The only limit to the amount he can corner is the amount to which the banks will back him, and, if a speculator is being promoted by a reputable banking house, as Kreuger was promoted by Lee Higginson Company, the only way he could be stopped would be by an investigation of his actual financial resources, which in Kreuger's case would have proved to be nil.
The leader of the American people during the Crash of 1929 and the subsequent depression was Herbert Hoover. After the first break of the market (the five billion dollars in security values which disappeared on October 24, 1929) President Hoover said:
"The fundamental business of the country, that is, production and distribution of commodities, is on a sound and prosperous basis."
His Secretary of the Treasury, Andrew Mellon, stated on December 25, 1929, that:
"The Government's business is in sound condition."
His own business, the Aluminum Company of America, apparently was not doing so well, for he had reduced the wages of all employees by ten percent.
The New York Times reported on April 7, 1931, "Montagu Norman, Governor of the Bank of England, conferred with the Federal Reserve Board here today. Mellon, Meyer, and George L. Harrison, Governor of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, were present."
The London Connection had sent Norman over this time to ensure that the Great Depression was proceeding according to schedule. Congressman Louis McFadden had complained, as reported in The New York Times, July 4, 1930, "Commodity prices are being reduced to 1913 levels. Wages are being reduced by the labor surplus of four million unemployed. The Morgan control of the Federal Reserve System is exercised through control of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the mediocre representation and acquiescence of the Federal Reserve Board in Washington." As the depression deepened, the trust's lock on the American economy strengthened, but no finger was pointed at the parties who were controlling the system.
Apparently congress was aware of the scheme of the international bankers and recognized the danger that the republic was in. Congressman Lindberg said in a Congressional Record dated, December 22, 1913, vol. 51, "This new law [the Federal Reserve Act] will create inflation whenever the trusts want inflation. It may not do so immediately, but ... if the trusts can get another period of inflation, they figure they can unload the stocks on the people at high prices during the excitement and them bring on a panic and buy them back at low prices... The people may not know it immediately, but the day of reckoning is only a few years removed."
"That day of reckoning, of course, came in 1929," said Perloff, "and the Federal Reserve has since created an endless series of booms and busts by the strategic tightening and relaxation of money and credit." Speaking about the historical disinformation regarding the crash, Perloff said, "Establishment historians present the '29 stock market crash as they do most events: an accident, evolved from erroneous policies, not from deliberate planning. We have all heard how foolish speculation bid stock prices high, but that the bubble finally burst, plunging brokers out of windows and America into the Depression."
"Having built the Federal Reserve as a tool to consolidate and control wealth, the international bankers were now ready to make a major killing," stated Allen. "Between 1923 and 1929," he described, "the Federal Reserve expanded (inflated) the money supply by sixty-two percent. Much of this new money was used to bid the stock market up to dizzying heights. At the same time that enormous amounts of credit money were being made available," continued Allen, "the mass media began to ballyhoo tales of instant riches to be made in the stock market. According to Ferdinand Lundberg: 'For profits to be made on these funds the public had to be induced to speculate, and it was so induced by misleading newspaper accounts, many of them bought and paid for by the brokers that operated the pools.'"
Perloff concurred, writing, "The Federal Reserve prompted the speculation by expanding the money supply a whopping sixty-two percent between 1923 and 1929. When the central bank became law in 1913, Congressman Charles Lindbergh had warned: 'From now on, depressions will be scientifically created.' Like two con men working a mark, the Fed made credit easy while Establishment newspapers hyped what riches could be made in the stock market." "Curtis Dall," he continued, "himself a syndicate manager for Lehman Brothers was on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on the day of the Crash." Perloff quotes Dall as declaring, "Actually, it was the calculated 'shearing' of the public by the World-Money powers triggered by the planned sudden shortage of call money in the New York money market."
The "shearing," wrote Allen, caused a "despair [which] produced a willingness to accept a major expansion of government controls over the economy. ... In 1929, America was a long way from total government." He advised, "The next depression will be used as the excuse for complete socialist-fascist controls at home and the creation of a World Superstate internationally."
Congressman Louis McFadden, Chairman of the House Banking Committee, declared of the Depression, "It was not accidental. It was a carefully contrived occurrence." He warned, "The international bankers sought to bring about a condition of despair here so that they might emerge as rulers of us all." The Great Depression is another example of the Problem-Reaction-Solution formula.
"Plummeting stock prices ruined small investors, but not the top "insiders" on Wall Street," wrote Perloff. "Paul Warburg had issued a tip in March of 1929 that the crash was coming. Before it did, John D. Rockefeller, Bernard Baruch, Joseph P. Kennedy, and other money barons got out of the market. ... Early withdrawal from the market not only preserved the fortunes of these men," said Perloff, "it also enabled them to return later and buy up whole companies for a song."
"History shows that the Wall Street biggies came through very well indeed," wrote Alan B. Jones in his book, How the World Really Works. Quoting from G. Edward Griffin's book, The Creature from Jekyll Island, he added, "Virtually all of the inner club was rescued. There is no record of any member of the interlocking directorate between the Federal Reserve, the major New York banks, and their prime customers having been caught by surprise." Pictured below is a bread line in New York City during the Great Depression. Apparently the Wall Street insiders didn't require this service.(*)
Jones quotes Herbert Hoover's description of the Secretary of the Treasury, Andrew Mellon's views, "Mr. Mellon had only one formula: 'Liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate the farmers, [and] liquidate real estate.'" [Mellon] said, "It will purge the rottenness out of the system. Values will be adjusted, and enterprising people will pick up the wrecks from less competent people."
"For those who knew the score," stated Allen, "a comment by Paul Warburg had provided the warning to sell. That signal came on March 9, 1929, when the Financial Chronicle quoted Warburg as giving this sound advice: 'If orgies of unrestricted speculation are permitted to spread too far ... the ultimate collapse is certain ... to bring about a general depression involving the whole country.'" "Sharpies [insiders] were later able to buy back these stocks at a ninety percent discount from their former highs," he declared.
"FDR is probably best remembered for the New Deal," stated Perloff. "Of courser, since a large portion of the work force was unemployed, there was not enough tax revenue to pay for these programs. So the government turned to its other source--borrowing. In effect, the international bankers, having created the Depression, now loaned America the cash to recover from it." He added, "Naturally, the interest on these loans would be borne on the backs of taxpayers for years to come."
The migration of families & individuals due to lack of jobs was evidently common during the Great Depression. Encyclopedia Britannica describes the Great Depression as the "Longest and most severe economic depression ever experienced," which "precipitated economic failures around the world" and triggered "major changes in the structure of the U.S. economy." "To think that the scientifically engineered Crash of '29 was an accident or the result of stupidity defies all logic," concluded Allen.
This evidence suggests that The Great Depression was artificially created so the larger Wall Street firms, which control the stock market, could eliminate competition and make profits out of lending America money to recover from it.
"Competition is a sin."
-John D. Rockefeller
An Expose of The Federal Reserve Banking System
The Federal Reserve is not owned by the American people.
In our circles it became widely known that the Fed's principle owners, or stockholders, as they prefer to be called, were the ROTHSCHILD banks of London and Berlin; LAZARD BROTHERS Banks of Paris; ISRAEL MOSES SEIF Banks of Italy, WARBURG Bank of Hamburg and Amsterdam; LEHMAN BROTHERS Bank of New York; and GOLDMAN, Sachs Banks of New York; KUHN, Loeb Bank of New York; CHASE MANHATTAN Bank of New York. These interests own and operate the Federal Reserve System through approximately three hundred stockholders, all of whom are very well known to each other, and frequently are related.
This can be understood better by knowing that a great deal of maneuvering and deception accompanied the passage of the Federal Reserve Act. The original proposal, calling for a central bank operated by insiders and private interests, was presented by Nelson Aldrich,(the maternal grandfather of todays Rockefeller brothers,) and was known as the Aldrich Bill. This bill was narrowly put down, but was soon reintroduced and passed as the Federal Reserve Act, (officially known as the Owens Glass Act.)
Because of the way in which the Federal Reserve System was designed by its founder, whoever controlled the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, essentially controlled the entire system. For all practical purposes the Federal Reserve Bank of New York IS the Federal Reserve. Currently, more than ninety of the 100 largest banks in the United States are located within this district.
Class A stockholders control the entire Federal Reserve System by owning the stock of the largest member banks in the New York Federal Reserve Bank. This controlling interest is held by fewer than a dozen international banking establishments, only four of which are factually based in the United States. The rest of the outlaying interests are European, with the most influential of these being the Rothschild family of London.
Each of the American interests are in some way connected to this family. Included among these are the Rockefellers who are by far the most powerful of the Fed's American stockholders. (The Rockefeller holdings in the Federal Reserve are primarily through Chase Manhattan Bank.)
Through their U.S. and European agents, the Rothschilds would go on to finance the Rockefeller Standard Oil dynasty, the Carnegie Steel empire, as well as the Harriman railroad system. The Rockefeller, who later became intermarried with the Carnegies, would go on to finance many of American's leading capitalists, through Chase Manhattan and Citibank, both of which have long been Rockefeller family banks. Many of these families would also become intermarried with the Rockefeller so that by 1937 one could trace "an almost unbroken line of biological relationships from the Rockefeller through one-half of the wealthiest sixty families in the nation."
Federal Reserve It is not federal, and it does not have any reserves.
Charles A. Lindbergh, Sr. 1913 "When the President signs this bill, the invisible government of the monetary power will be legalized....the worst legislative crime of the ages is perpetrated by this banking and currency bill."