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Εγχειρίδιο χειρισμού κρίσεων λόγω πολιτικών ΔΝΤ από τη CIA! / Already confirmed: Civil liberties under attack! / Greece's creditors gone completely insane! / How the global financial mafia sucked Greece's blood / ECB's economic hitmen / Η Μέρκελ επιβεβαιώνει τα σχέδια των γραφειοφασιστών! /Greece: the low-noise collapse of an entire country/ How the neoliberal establishment tricked the masses again, this time in France / Ενώ η Γερμανία προετοιμάζεται για τα χειρότερα, η Ελλάδα επιμένει στο ευρώ! / Ένας παγκόσμιος "proxy" πόλεμος κατά της ελευθερίας έχει ξεκινήσει! / McCarthyism 2.0 against the independent information / Ο επικεφαλής του "σκιώδους συμβουλίου" της ΕΚΤ επιβεβαιώνει ότι η ευρωζώνη είναι μια χρηματοπιστωτική δικτατορία! / Venezuela case as an emphatic example of why the mainstream media propaganda in the West was so successful in previous decades / Δημοψήφισμα για Grexit: η τελευταία ευκαιρία να σωθεί η Ελλάδα και η τιμή της Αριστεράς / Populism as the new cliche of the elites to stigmatize anyone not aligned with the establishment / Δεν γίνεται έτσι "σύντροφοι" ... / Panama Papers: When mainstream information wears the anti-establishment mask / The Secret Bank Bailout / The head of the ECB “shadow council” confirms that eurozone is a financial dictatorship! / A documentary by Paul Mason about the financial coup in Greece / The ruthless neo-colonialists of 21st century / First cracks to the establishment by the American people / Clinton emails - The race of the Western neo-colonialist vultures over the Libyan corpse / Επιχείρηση Panama Papers: Το κατεστημένο θέλει το μονοπώλιο και στις διαρροές; / Operation "looting of Greece" reaches final stage / Varoufakis describes how Merkel sacrificed Greece to save the Franco-German banks / France officialy enters the neo-Feudal era! / The US establishment just gave its greatest performance so far ... / A significant revelation by WikiLeaks that the media almost ignored / It's official: the US is funding Middle-East jihadists! / Οι αδίστακτοι νεο-αποικιοκράτες του 21ου αιώνα / How to handle political unrest caused by IMF policies! / Πώς το νεοφιλελεύθερο κατεστημένο ξεγέλασε τις μάζες, αυτή τη φορά στη Γαλλία / Οι Γάλλοι νεοαποικιοκράτες επιστρέφουν στην Ελλάδα υπό 'ιδανικές' συνθήκες

23 September, 2017

US feared that Venezuela's state oil company could become the main carrier of social policies under Chavez

The WIKILEAKS Public Library of US Diplomacy (PlusD) holds the world's largest searchable collection of United States confidential, or formerly confidential, diplomatic communications. As of April 8, 2013 it holds 2 million records comprising approximately 1 billion words. The collection covers US involvements in, and diplomatic or intelligence reporting on, every country on earth. It is the single most significant body of geopolitical material ever published. The PlusD collection, built and curated by WikiLeaks, is updated from a variety of sources, including leaks, documents released under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and documents released by the US State Department systematic declassification review.


A cable back in June 2004 that appears to be originated from the US Embassy in Caracas, express the deep concerns of the US officials about the strong potentiality of the Venezuelan state-owned oil and natural gas company (PDVSA) to be established as the main carrier of progress toward social policies under Chavez.

Concerns are also evident about the fact that Chavez could escape from the tight scrutiny of the National Assembly, and therefore, of the US-backed opposition, or even from the direct US scrutiny through US financial sector regulations, in order to use PDVSA for the implementation of social policies.

Indeed, as described in the summary, “Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) is now the primary agent for implementation of Chavez Administration social programs.” and “When money is channeled directly through PDVSA, however, the Chavez Administration is bypassing the accounting and budgetary control that should rest with the National Assembly. A PDVSA debt buy-back program announced on June 28 may also help PDVSA to evade the transparency required by U.S. financial sector regulations in the future.


Interesting parts:

  • Recent developments have underscored that PDVSA is not simply "connected to the national development program" as Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez_ has put it, but is now the primary agent for implementation of Chavez Administration social programs. This trend began in 2003 when PDVSA affiliate CVP started funding a program to build affordable housing called "Oil for the People."

  • Starting in 2003, the Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEM) has also been designated either as the Ministry in charge or as a participant in a number of Chavez,s pet social plans. These include "Mision Ribas," the literacy plan; "Mision Barrio Adentro" (Inside the Neighborhood), the plan under which Cuban doctors provide medical services to the poor; "Mision Sucre," a plan to provide grants for higher education; and "Mision Vuelvan Caras" (About Face), a plan to provide job training to the poor. The funding for these efforts has come out of PDVSA. PDVSA has also made contributions in kind to President Chavez's programs. A number of Caracas properties formerly occupied by PDVSA have been turned over for the use of the recently formed Bolivarian University of Venezuela.

  • In early 2004, PDVSA Gas also announced a new project, "Gas Adentro," (Gas Inside, i.e., the neighborhood ) a clear reference to the "Barrio Adentro" medical program) to provide bottled gas to poor sectors of Caracas and other major cities. According to a local consultant, the proposed funding for "Gas Adentro" is about 15 percent of PDVSA Gas' 2004 budget and the project appears to be a virtual give away of the gas.

  • With increasing resources given over to social development planning, PDVSA's management, already shorthanded, is being deflected away from managing Venezuela's oil industry to becoming a one-stop solve-all social welfare program funder/executor, a task for which none of the current managers has the training let alone the experience.

In other words, the US didn't want to see PDVSA to play a central role in social policies. This is a reality that could strengthen the support of most of Venezuelans on state-owned regime concerning the oil industry. Immediately, the US big corporations would had been left behind in the race for the Venezuelan rich oil reserves.

It's a great irony and hypocrisy the fact that the Western propaganda apparatus accuses the Government of Venezuela since Chavez era for something that even the most rich-oil developed countries would do de facto. Norway for instance.

Full cable:

US nuclear carrier conducts naval drills with Japan as N. Korea threatens H-bomb test

The 100,000-ton US Navy supercarrier ‘Ronald Reagan’ has conducted drills with Japanese warships south of the Korean Peninsula, Japan's military said. Pyongyang, meanwhile, has threatened a further “hydrogen bomb test” over the Pacific.

The Japan Maritime Self Defense Force said in a statement on Friday that the Nimitz-class nuclear-powered supercarrier ‘Ronald Reagan,’ based in the Japanese town of Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, and its escort ships have been holding drills with Japanese Navy vessels in waters south and west of Japan's main islands since September 11. The strike group is also set to stage a separate drill with the South Korean Navy in October, the Defense Ministry added.

The large-scale drill will involve three Japanese warships, including two destroyers and one of the country's two biggest helicopter carriers, and will run until the end of the month.

On Friday, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho said that Pyongyang is considering testing a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean. The move is said to be in response to Washington stepping up economic sanctions against North Korea.

"It could be the most powerful detonation of an H-bomb in the Pacific," Ri said, as quoted by South Korean agency Yonhap.

More:

UN official says 7million Yemenis get food aid

The UN humanitarian chief says the World Food Program delivered emergency food to a record 7 million people across conflict-wracked Yemen in August, “helping to avert potential famine.”

Mark Lowcock told a high-level event on Yemen on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly’s ministerial meeting Friday that this represents a 60 percent increase from the average of 4.4 million people who received food assistance in the first six months of the year. The increase was partially a result of much higher imports in July.

Despite the delivery, Lowcock said Yemen “is facing the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, with nearly 21 million people in need of emergency aid or protection,” most of them children. He said the threat of famine still looms.


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Greece could leave the EU: why the Grexit option deserves consideration

With the Greek psyche itself the victim of a relentless shaming campaign, the idea of Greece “going it alone” begins to seem outlandish and quixotic. It is not. But it is as much tied to a revival of spirit and self-esteem as to the nuts and bolts of economic transformation.

by Michael Nevradakis

Part 1

Eight years into the deepest economic depression that an industrialized country has ever experienced, we are now being told that Greece is a “success story.” Having accepted the “bitter medicine” prescribed by the “troika”—the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund—the storyline today is that Greece is on the road to recovery, firmly within the European Union and the eurozone.

This narrative was recently echoed by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in his annual speech at the Thessaloniki Trade Fair, Greece’s equivalent to the State of the Union address. In this speech, Tsipras triumphantly declared that talk of “Grexit”—or a Greek departure from the eurozone and the EU—has been replaced by that of “Grinvest.”

Within such a context, there is seemingly no room for discussions about whether it is in Greece’s best interest, even after so many years of implementing the troika’s austerity diktats, to consider a departure from the eurozone and the EU. Indeed, the narrative is that the people of Greece overwhelmingly have never supported the prospect of “Grexit.”

All throughout the economic crisis in Greece, it has been reported that polls have consistently shown clear majorities favoring the country’s “European trajectory” and rejecting the possibility of a departure from the eurozone and EU.

So the Greeks want the euro at all costs, even if it means more harsh austerity measures and cuts to wages, pensions and social services. Or so we are told. These claims would be believable if they were the product of robust public debate and deliberation on the respective pros and cons of remaining within the “European family” or departing. But in Greece, and in most of the global mainstream media, there is no such debate and never has been.

Instead, what has taken place in Greece during the economic crisis has been the complete elimination from public debate of opponents of the prevalent economic and political doctrines. Those who oppose the eurozone, the EU, or simply the austerity measures, are stamped with the “scarlet letter” of being “nationalists,” “xenophobes,” or “fascists.” Such rhetoric became even more polarized following the Brexit referendum result. The Brexit result and the rise of “populism” have themselves been demonized, while poll results that contradict the mainstream narrative are habitually buried by the supposedly “objective” major media outlets.

Following the first installment of this series –in which the less-than-democratic roots of the EU, the zeal with which the EU is lionized by the global media today, the EU’s present-day democratic deficit and hypocrisy, and the attempts to discredit opponents of the EU and neoliberalism were analyzed–this piece will focus on what has long been the “elephant in the room” in Europe: the possibility of departure from the eurozone and from the EU, and why it must, at the very least, be debated on equal terms in economically suffering countries such as Greece.

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Gary Cohn is giving Goldman Sachs everything it ever wanted from the Trump Administration

Gary Rivlin, Michael Hudson

Part 4 - THE BIG SHORT

People inside Goldman Sachs were growing nervous. It was the fall of 2006 and, as Daniel Sparks, the Goldman partner overseeing the firm’s 400-person mortgage trading department, wrote in an email to several colleagues, “Subprime market getting hit hard.” The firm had lent millions to New Century, a mortgage lender dealing in the higher-risk subprime market. And now New Century was late on payments. Sparks could see that the wobbly housing market was having an impact on his department. For 10 consecutive trading days, his people had lost money. The dollar amounts were small to a behemoth like Goldman: between $5 million and $30 million a day. But the trend made Sparks jittery enough to share his concerns with the Goldman’s top executives: President Gary Cohn; David Viniar, the firm’s chief financial officer; and CEO Lloyd Blankfein.

Sparks, a Cohn protégé, was running the mortgage desk that his mentor, only a few years earlier, had built into a major profit center for the bank. In 2006 and 2007, a report by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations found, the two “maintained frequent, direct contact” as Goldman worked to jettison the billions in subprime loans it had on its book. “One of my jobs at the time was to make sure Gary and David and Lloyd knew what was going on,” Sparks told William Cohan, author of the 2011 book “Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule the World.” “They don’t like surprises.” Viniar summoned around 20 traders and managers to a 30th floor conference room inside Goldman headquarters in lower Manhattan. It was there, on an unseasonably warm Thursday in December 2006, that the firm decided to initiate what people inside Goldman would eventually dub “the big short.”

One name tossed around during the three-hour meeting was that of John Paulson. Paulson (no relation to Goldman’s former CEO) would later attain infamy when it was revealed that his firm, Paulson & Co., made roughly $15 billion betting against the mortgage market. (His personal take was nearly $4 billion.) At that point, though, Paulson was a little-known hedge fund manager who crossed Goldman’s radar when he asked the firm to create a product that would allow him to take a “short position” on the real estate market — laying down bets that a large number of mortgage investments were going to plummet in value. Goldman sold Paulson what’s called a credit-default swap, essentially an insurance policy that would pay off if homeowners defaulted on their mortgages in large enough numbers. The firm would create several more swaps on his behalf in the intervening months. Eventually, as mortgage defaults began to mount, people inside Goldman Sachs came to see Paulson as more of a prophet than a patsy. Some sitting around the conference table that December day wanted to follow his lead.

There will be big opportunities the next several months,” one Goldman manager at the meeting wrote enthusiastically in an email sent shortly after it ended. Sparks weighed in by email later that night. He wanted to make sure Goldman had enough “dry powder” — cash on hand — to be “ready for the good opportunities that are coming.” That Sunday, Sparks copied Cohn on an email reporting the firm’s progress on laying down short positions against mortgage-backed securities it had put together. The trading desk had already made $1.5 billion in short bets, “but still more work to do.

Cohn was a member of Goldman’s board of directors during this critical time and second in command of the bank. At that point, Cohn and Blankfein, along with the board and other top executives, had several options. They might have shared their concerns about the mortgage market in a filing with the SEC, which requires publicly traded companies to reveal “triggering events that accelerate or increase a direct financial obligation” or might cause “impairments” to the bottom line. They might have warned clients who had invested in mortgage-backed securities to consider extracting themselves before they suffered too much financial damage. At the very least, Goldman could have stopped peddling mortgage-backed securities that its own mortgage trading desk suspected might soon collapse in value.

Instead, Cohn and his colleagues decided to take care of Goldman Sachs.

Goldman would not have suffered the reputational damage that it did — or paid multiple billions in federal fines — if the firm, anticipating the impending crisis, had merely shorted the housing market in the hopes of making billions. That is what investment banks do: spot ways to make money that others don’t see. The money managers and traders featured in the film “The Big Short” did the same — and they were cast as brave contrarians. Yet unlike the investors featured in the film, Goldman had itself helped inflate the housing bubble — buying tens of billions of dollars in subprime mortgages over the previous several years for bundling into bonds they sold to investors. And unlike these investors, Goldman’s people were not warning anyone who would listen about the disaster about to hit. As federal investigations found, the firm, which still claims “our clients’ interests always come first” as a core principle, failed to disclose that its top people saw disaster in the very products its salespeople were continuing to hawk.

Goldman still held billions of mortgages on its books in December 2006 — mortgages that Cohn and other Goldman executives suspected would soon be worth much less than the firm had paid for them. So, while Cohn was overseeing one team inside Goldman Sachs preoccupied with implementing the big short, he was in regular contact with others scrambling to offload its subprime inventory. One Goldman trader described the mortgage-backed securities they were selling as “shitty.” Another complained in an email that they were being asked to “distribute junk that nobody was dumb enough to take first time around.” A December 28 email from Fabrice “Fabulous Fab” Tourre, a Goldman vice president later convicted of fraud, instructed traders to focus on less astute, “buy and hold” investors rather than “sophisticated hedge funds” that “will be on the same side of the trade as we will.

At Goldman Sachs, Cohn was known as a hands-on boss who made it his business to walk the floors, talking directly with traders and risk managers scattered throughout the firm. “Blankfein’s role has always been the salesperson and big-thinker conceptualizer,” said Dick Bove, a veteran Wall Street analyst who has covered Goldman Sachs for decades. “Gary was the guy dealing with the day-to-day operations. Gary was running the company.” While making his rounds, Cohn would sometimes hike a leg up on a trader’s desk, his crotch practically in the person’s face.

At 6-foot- 2, bullet-headed and bald with a heavy jaw and a fighter’s face, Cohn cut a large figure inside Goldman. Profiles over the years would describe him as aggressive, abrasive, gruff, domineering — the firm’s “attack dog.” He was the missile Blankfein launched when he needed to deliver bad news or enforce discipline. Cohn embodied the new Goldman: the man who would run through a brick wall if it meant a big payoff for the bank.

A Bloomberg profile described his typical day as 11 or 12 hours in the office, a bank-related dinner, then phone calls and emails until midnight. “The old adage that hard work will get you what you want is 100 percent true,” Cohn said in a 2009 commencement address at American University. “Work hard, ask questions, and take risk.

There’s no record of how often Cohn visited his stomping grounds after hours in the early months of 2007, but emails reveal an executive demanding — and getting — regular updates. On February 7, one of the largest originators of subprime loans, HSBC, reported a greater than anticipated rise in troubled loans in its portfolio, and another, New Century, restated its earnings for the previous three quarters to “correct errors.” Sparks wrote an email to Cohn and others the next morning to reassure them that his team was closely monitoring the pricing of the company’s “scratch-and-dent book” and already had a handle on which loans were defaults and which could still be securitized and offloaded onto customers. An impatient Cohn sent a two-word email at 5 o’clock that evening: “Any update?” The next day, an internal memo circulated that listed dozens of mortgage-backed securities with the exhortation, “Let all of the respective desks know how we can be helpful in moving these bonds.” A week later, Sparks updated Cohn on the billions in shorts his firm had bought but warned that it was hurting sales of its “pipeline of CDOs,” the collateralized debt obligations the firm had created in order to sell the mortgages still on its books.

In early March, Cohn was among those who received an email spelling out the mortgage products the firm still held. The stockpile included $1.7 billion in mortgage-related securities, along with $1.3 billion in subprime home loans and $4.3 billion in “Alt-A” loans that fall between prime and subprime on the risk scale. Goldman was “net short,” according to that same email, with $13 billion in short positions, but its exposure to the mortgage market was still considerable. Sparks and others continued to update Cohn on their success offloading securities backed by subprime mortgages through the third quarter of 2007. One product Goldman priced at $94 a share on March 31, 2007 was worth just $15 five months later. Pension funds and insurance companies were among those losing billions of dollars on securities Goldman put together and endorsed as a safe, AAA-rated investments.

The third quarter of 2007 was ugly. A pair of Bear Stearns hedge funds failed. Merrill Lynch reported $2.2 billion in losses — its largest quarterly loss ever. Merrill’s CEO warned that the bank faced another $8 billion in potential losses due to the firm’s exposure to subprime mortgages and resigned several weeks later. The roiling credit crisis also took down the CEO of Citigroup, which reported $6.5 billion in losses and then weeks later, warned of $8 billion to $11 billion in additional subprime-related write-downs.

And then there was Goldman Sachs, which reported a $2.9 billion profit that quarter. For the moment, the financial press seemed in awe of Blankfein, Cohn, and the rest of the team running the firm. Fortune headlined an article “How Goldman Sachs Defies Gravity” that said Goldman’s “huge, shrewd bet” against the mortgage market “would seem to confirm the view Goldman is the nimblest, and perhaps the smartest, brokerage on Wall Street.” A Goldman press release drily noted that “significant losses” in some areas — the subprime mortgages it hadn’t managed to unload — had been “more than offset by gains on short mortgage products.” A Goldman trader who played a central role in the big short was not so demure when making the case for a big bonus that year. John Paulson was “definitely the man in this space,” he conceded, but he’d helped make Goldman “#1 on the street by a wide margin.

Disaster struck nine months into 2008 with the collapse of Lehman Brothers, in large part the result of its exposure to subprime losses. Hank Paulson, the Treasury secretary and former Goldman CEO, spent a weekend meeting with would-be suitors willing to take over a storied bank that on paper was now worth virtually nothing. He couldn’t find a buyer. Nor could officials from the Federal Reserve, who were also working overtime to save the investment bank, founded in 1850, that was even older than Goldman Sachs. Shortly after midnight on Monday, September 15, 2008, Lehman announced that it would file for bankruptcy protection when the courts in New York opened that morning — the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history.

Goldman Sachs wasn’t immune from the crisis. The week before Lehman’s fall, Goldman’s stock had topped $161 a share. By Wednesday, it dropped to below $100. It had avoided some big losses by betting against the mortgage market, but the wider financial crisis was wreaking havoc on its other investments. On paper, Cohn had personally lost tens of millions of dollars. He hunkered down in an office with a view of Goldman’s trading floor and worked the phone, trying to change the minds of major investors who were pulling their money from Goldman, fearful of anything riskier than stashing their cash in a mattress.

The next week, Goldman converted from a free-standing investment bank to a bank holding company, which made it, in the eyes of regulators, no different from Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, or any other retail bank. That gave the firm access to cheap capital through the Fed but would also bring increased scrutiny from regulators. The bank took a $10 billion bailout from the Troubled Asset Relief Program and another $5 billion from Warren Buffett, in return for an annual dividend of 10 percent and access to discounted company stock. The firm raised additional billions through a public stock offering.

The biggest threat to Goldman was the economic health of the American International Group. Among other products, AIG sold insurance to protect against defaults on mortgage assets, which had been central to Goldman’s big short. Of the $80 billion in U.S. mortgage assets that AIG insured during the housing bubble, Goldman bought protection from AIG on roughly $33 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal. When Lehman went into bankruptcy, its creditors received 11 cents on the dollar. Executives at AIG, in a frantic effort to avoid bankruptcy, had floated the idea of pushing its creditors to accept 40 to 60 cents on the dollar; there was speculation creditors like Goldman would receive as little as 25 percent. Goldman and its clients were looking at multibillion-dollar hits to their bottom line — a potentially fatal blow.

But as Goldman learned a century ago, it pays to have friends in high places. The day after Lehman went bankrupt, the Bush administration announced an $85 billion bailout of AIG in return for a majority stake in the company. The next day, Paulson obtained a waiver regarding interactions with his former firm because, the Treasury secretary said, “It became clear that we had some very significant issues with Goldman Sachs.” Paulson’s calendar, the New York Times reported, showed that the week of the AIG bailout, he and Blankfein spoke two dozen times. While creditors around the globe were being forced to settle for much less than they were owed, AIG paid its counterparties 100 cents on the dollar. AIG ended up being the single largest private recipient of TARP funding. It received additional billions in rescue funds from the New York Federal Reserve Bank, whose board chair Stephen Friedman was a former Goldman executive who still sat on the firm’s board. The U.S. Treasury ended up with greater than a 90 percent share of AIG, and the U.S. government, using taxpayer dollars, paid in full on the insurance policies financial institutions bought to protect themselves from steep declines in real estate prices — chief among them, Goldman Sachs. All told, Goldman received at least $22.9 billion in public bailouts, including $10 billion in TARP funds and $12.9 billion in taxpayer-funded payments from AIG.

Goldman, once again, had come out on top.

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