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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.

Source, links:

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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[1] [2] [3]

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Η Αριστερά και η Βενεζουέλα

του Κλάουντιο Κατς

Μέρος 4ο - Η στάση της Αριστεράς

Εάν η διάγνωση ότι επιδιώκεται αντιδραστικό πραξικόπημα είναι ορθή, η θέση της Αριστεράς δεν θα έπρεπε να δίνει αφορμές για διαφωνίες. Οι κατ’ εξοχήν εχθροί μας είναι η Δεξιά και ο ιμπεριαλισμός και η σύγκρουση μαζί τους πάντα αποτελεί προτεραιότητα. Αυτή η στοιχειώδης αρχή πρέπει να επιβεβαιώνεται σε κρίσιμες εποχές , όταν το προφανές μπορεί να θολώνει.

Όποια κριτική κι αν ασκούσε κανείς στον Σαλβαδόρ Αλιέντε, η βασική μάχη μας ήταν ενάντια στον Πινοτσέτ. Παρόμοια, υιοθετήσαμε μια αντίστοιχη γραμμή απέναντι στους ακραίους συντηρητικούς (επονομαζόμενους «γορίλες») της Αργεντινής, το 1955, ή σ’ αυτούς που σαμποτάριζαν τους Άρμπενζ, Τορίχος και πολλές άλλες αντιιμπεριαλιστικές κυβερνήσεις στην περιοχή. Σε σχέση με τη Βενεζουέλα σήμερα, αυτή η αρχή υποδεικνύει την ανάγκη για κοινή δράση κατά της κλιμάκωσης που επιδιώκει η Δεξιά σε όλες τις παραλλαγές της.

Όταν στον ορίζοντα διαφαίνεται ένα πραξικόπημα, είναι αναγκαίο να ξεχωρίζουμε εκείνους που ευθύνονται για την κρίση. Όσοι προκαλούν την καταστροφή δεν είναι ίδιοι με εκείνους που αδυνατούν να την αντιμετωπίσουν.

Αυτή η διάκριση εφαρμόζεται και στο πεδίο της οικονομίας. Τα λάθη του Μαδούρο είναι πολυάριθμα και αδικαιολόγητα, αλλά οι ένοχοι για την παρούσα δυσμενή κατάσταση είναι οι καπιταλιστές. Η κυβέρνηση είναι ανεκτική ή ανίκανη, αλλά δεν ανήκει στην ίδια κατηγορία μ’ αυτούς. Όσοι διαπράττουν το μνημειώδες λάθος να χαράσσουν μια γραμμή ταύτισης μεταξύ αυτών των δύο συγχέουν ευθύνες διαφορετικού χαρακτήρα.

Τα λάθη της κυβέρνησης φάνηκαν στο μη λειτουργικό σύστημα των συναλλαγματικών ισοτιμιών, στο απαράδεκτο εξωτερικό χρέος ή στην έλλειψη ελέγχου των τιμών και του λαθρεμπορίου. Αλλά η κατάρρευση της οικονομίας προκλήθηκε από τους εύπορους που χειραγωγούν τα νομίσματα, προκαλούν πληθωρισμό, χειρίζονται τα εισαγόμενα αγαθά και περιορίζουν την προσφορά βασικών αγαθών.

Η εκτελεστική εξουσία αδρανεί ή ενεργεί λανθασμένα για πολλούς λόγους: ανεπάρκεια, ανεκτικότητα στη διαφθορά, προστασία της μπουρζουαζίας που δημιουργήθηκε επί μπολιβαριανών κυβερνήσεων, συνέργια με εκατομμυριούχους που έχουν μεταμφιεστεί σε τσαβίστες. Γι’ αυτό δεν μειώνει την οικονομική στήριξη προς ιδιωτικούς ομίλους που εισπράττουν φθηνά δολάρια και εισάγουν ακριβά. Αλλά η κατάρρευση της παραγωγής προκλήθηκε από την άρχουσα τάξη για να ανατραπεί ο Μαδούρο. Η μη αναγνώριση αυτής της σύγκρουσης υποδεικνύει ασυνήθιστο επίπεδο πολιτικής μυωπίας.

Αυτού του είδους η τυφλότητα εμποδίζει την αναγνώριση ενός ακόμη βασικού γεγονότος της τρέχουσας περιόδου: της αντίστασης του τσαβισμού στη δεξιά επέλαση. Αν και με μεθόδους και συμπεριφορά που είναι άκρως αμφισβητήσιμες, ο Μαδούρο δεν παραδίνεται. Διατηρεί την κάθετη δομή του PSUV, ευνοεί την απαγόρευση των κριτικών απόψεων και συντηρεί μια γραφειοκρατία που αντιπαλεύει τις αντιδράσεις της βάσης. Αλλά, σε αντίθεση με την Ντίλμα Ρούσεφ ή τον Λούγκο, δεν παραδίνεται. Η συμπεριφορά του είναι εκ διαμέτρου αντίθετη με τη συνθηκολόγηση του Σύριζα στην Ελλάδα.

Έτσι εξηγείται το μίσος των ισχυρών. Η κυβέρνηση πήρε την πολύ σωστή απόφαση να αποσυρθεί από τον Οργανισμό Αμερικανικών Κρατών (ΟΑΣ). Εγκατέλειψε το υπουργείο των Αποικιών [των ΗΠΑ, όπως εύστοχα χαρακτηρίζεται ο ΟΑΣ, σ.τ.μ.] και πραγματοποίησε μια ρήξη που πάντα απαιτούσε η Αριστερά. Αυτή η απόφαση θα έπρεπε να συναντήσει τη συντριπτική επιδοκιμασία, την οποία όμως εξέφρασαν ελάχιστοι.

Όπως κάθε κυβέρνηση στην οποία επιτίθεται η Δεξιά, κατέφυγε στην άσκηση δύναμης για λόγους αυτοάμυνας. Τα κατεστημένα ΜΜΕ αποκηρύττουν αυτή την αντίδραση με ασυνήθη υστερία, ξεχνώντας βεβαίως τις δικαιολογίες που συνήθως παρουσιάζουν κυβερνήσεις άλλου πολιτικού χαρακτήρα, όταν αντιμετωπίζουν παρόμοιες καταστάσεις. Ο Μαδούρο, όμως, αμφισβητήθηκε και από μια αντίθετη σκοπιά -- για τη σχετική του επιείκεια προς τους φασίστες. Υιοθέτησε απλώς συγκρατημένα μέτρα ως αντίδραση στη βαρβαρότητα της αντιπολίτευσης.

Αντιδρώντας σ’ αυτή την κατάσταση, η κυβέρνηση διέπραξε αδικίες. Αυτό είναι το θλιβερό κόστος κάθε σημαντικής αντιπαράθεσης με την αντεπανάσταση. Τέτοιου τύπου ατυχή γεγονότα παρατηρούνται σε όλες τις μάχες με την αντίδραση, από την εποχή του Μπολίβαρ μέχρι τον Φιντέλ. Είναι αναγκαίο να αποφεύγεται η αυτο-ικανοποίηση ως προς αυτό το ευαίσθητο θέμα, αλλά χωρίς να επαναλαμβάνονται οι συκοφαντίες που προπαγανδίζονται από την αντιπολίτευση.

Ο Μαδούρο κατευθύνει τα πυρά του ενάντια στη βαρβαρότητα των δεξιών και όχι ενάντια στο λαό. Έτσι δεν έχει νόημα να τον συγκρίνει κανείς με τον Καντάφι ή με τον Σαντάμ Χουσεΐν. Δεν διέπραξε σφαγή αριστερών αγωνιστών ούτε συμμετείχε σε πολέμους που υποκίνησαν οι Ηνωμένες Πολιτείες. Η δε αναλογία με τον Στάλιν είναι ακόμη πιο γελοία, αλλά μας υπενθυμίζει ότι το φάντασμα του Χίτλερ περιτριγυρίζει πολλούς ηγέτες της αντιπολίτευσης που συνδέονται με τον Ουρίμπε ή νοσταλγούν έναν Πινοτσέτ.

Πηγή, παραπομπές:


[1] [2] [3]

21 September, 2017

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

Gary Rivlin, Michael Hudson

Part 3 - ALPHA MALES

Donald Trump, the “blue-collar billionaire,” has taken great pains to write grit and toughness into his privileged biography. He talks of military schools and visits to construction sites with his father and wrote in “The Art of the Deal” that in the second grade, “I actually gave a teacher a black eye. I punched my music teacher because I didn’t think he knew anything about music and I almost got expelled.” Yet when the authors of the book “Trump Revealed: An American Journey of Ambition, Ego, Money, and Power” spoke to several of his childhood friends, none of them recalled the incident. Trump himself crumpled when asked about the incident during the 2016 campaign: “When I say ‘punch,’ when you’re that age, nobody punches very hard.

Gary Cohn, however, is the middle-class kid and self-made millionaire Trump imagines himself to be. It appears that Cohn actually did slug a grade-school teacher in the face. “I was being abused,” Cohn told author Malcolm Gladwell, who interviewed him for his book, “David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants,” back when Cohn was still president of Goldman Sachs. As a child, Cohn struggled with dyslexia, a reading disorder people didn’t understand much about when Cohn attended school in the 1970s in a suburb outside Cleveland. “You’re a 6- or 7- or 8-year-old-kid, and you’re in a public-school setting, and everyone thinks you’re an idiot,” Cohn confessed to Gladwell. “You’d try to get up every morning and say, today is going to be better, but after you do that a couple of years, you realize that today is going to be no different than yesterday.” One time when he was in the fourth grade, a teacher put him under her desk, rolled her chair close, and started kicking him, Cohn said. “I pushed the chair back, hit her in the face, and walked out.

While Trump’s father was a wealthy real estate developer, Cohn’s father was an electrician. When Trump sought to get into the casino business, his father loaned him $14 million. When Cohn couldn’t find a job after graduating from college, all his father could do was find him one selling aluminum siding. While Trump has the instincts of a reality show producer and an eye for spectacle, Cohn prefers to operate in the shadows.

But they likely recognize much of themselves in the other. Both Cohn and Trump are alpha males — men of action unlikely to be found holed up in an office reading through stacks of policy reports. In fact, neither seems to be much of a reader. Cohn told Gladwell it would take him roughly six hours to read just 22 pages; he ended his time with the author by wishing him luck on “your book I’m not going to read.” Both have a transactional view of politics. Trump switched his voter registration between Democratic, Republican, and independent seven times between 1999 and 2012. In the 2000s, his foundation gave $100,000 to the Clinton Foundation, and he contributed $4,700 to Hillary Clinton’s senatorial campaigns. He even bought and refurbished a golf course in Westchester County a few miles from the Clinton home, in part, Trump once admitted, to ingratiate himself with the Clintons. Cohn is a registered Democrat who has given at least $275,000 to Democrats over the years, including to the campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, but also around $250,000 to Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

There are also striking similarities in their business histories. Both have a knack for weathering scandals and setbacks and coming out on top. Trump has filed for bankruptcy four times, started a long list of failed businesses (casinos, an airline, a football team, a steak company), but managed, through his best-selling books and highly rated reality TV show, to recast himself as the world’s greatest businessman. During Cohn’s tenure as president, Goldman Sachs faced lawsuits and federal investigations that resulted in $9 billion in fines for misconduct in the run-up to the subprime meltdown. Goldman not only survived but thrived, posting record profits — and Cohn was rewarded with handsome bonuses and a position at the top of the new administration.

Cohn’s path to the White House started with a tale of brass and bluster that would make Trump the salesman proud. Still in his 20s and stuck selling aluminum siding, Cohn made a play that would change his life. In the fall of 1982, while visiting the company’s home office on Long Island, he stole a day from work and headed to the U.S. commodities exchange in Manhattan, hoping to talk himself into a job. He overheard an important-looking man say he was heading to LaGuardia Airport; Cohn blurted out that he was headed there, too. He jumped into a cab with the man and, Cohn told Gladwell, who devoted six pages of “David and Goliath” to Cohn’s underdog rise, “I lied all the way to the airport.” The man confided to Cohn that his firm had just put him in charge of a market, options, that he knew little about. Cohn likely knew even less, but he assured his backseat companion that he could get him up to speed. Cohn then spent the weekend reading and re-reading a book called “Options as a Strategic Investment.” Within the week, he’d been hired as the man’s assistant.

Cohn soon learned enough to venture off on his own and established himself as an independent silver trader on the floor of the New York Commodities Exchange. In 1990, Goldman Sachs, arguably the most elite firm on Wall Street, offered him a job.

Goldman Sachs was founded in the years just after the American Civil War. Marcus Goldman, a Jewish immigrant from Germany, leased a cellar office next to a coal chute in 1869. There, in an office one block from Wall Street, he bought the bad debt of local businesses that needed quick cash. His son-in-law, Samuel Sachs, joined the firm in 1882. A generation later, in 1906, the firm made its first mark, arranging for the public sale of shares in Sears, Roebuck. Goldman Sachs’s influence over politics dates back at least to 1914. That year, Henry Goldman, the founder’s son, was invited to advise Woodrow Wilson’s administration about the creation of a central bank, mandated by the Federal Reserve Act, which had passed the previous year. Goldman Sachs men have played important roles in U.S. government ever since.

There was the occasional scandal, such as Goldman Sachs’s role in the 1970 collapse of Penn Central railroad, then the largest corporate bankruptcy in U.S. history. Still, the firm built a reputation as a sober, elite partnership that served its clients ably. In 1979, when John Whitehead, a senior partner and co-chairman, set to paper what he called Goldman’s “Business Principles,” he began with the firm’s most cherished belief: The client’s interests come before all else.

Two years later, Goldman took a step that signaled the beginning of the end of that culture. In the fall of 1981, Goldman purchased J. Aron & Co., a commodities trading firm. Some within the partnership were against the acquisition, worried over how profane, often crude, trading culture would mix with Goldman’s restrained, well-mannered way of doing business. “We were street fighters,” one former J. Aron partner told Fortune magazine in 2008.

The J. Aron team moved into the Goldman Sachs offices in lower Manhattan, but didn’t adopt its culture. Within a few years, it was producing well over $1 billion a year in profits. They were 300 employees inside a firm of 6,000, but were posting one-third of Goldman’s total profits. The cultural shift, it turned out, was moving in the other direction. J. Aron, according to a book by Charles D. Ellis, a former Goldman consultant, brought to Goldman “a trading culture that would become dominant in the firm.

Lloyd Blankfein, who ascended to chairman and CEO in in 2006, started his Goldman career at J. Aron, a year after Goldman acquired the firm. “We didn’t have the word ‘client’ or ‘customer’ at the old J. Aron,” Blankfein told Fortune magazine two years after taking over as CEO. “We had counter-parties.” Cohn joined J. Aron eight years after Blankfein did, in 1990. Four years later, Blankfein was put in charge of the firm’s Fixed Income, Currency, and Commodities division, which included J. Aron. Cohn, loyal and hard-working, with an instinct for connecting with people who can help him, became Blankfein’s “corporate problem solver.

The emergence of “Bad Goldman” — and Cohn’s central role in that drama — is really the story of the rise of the traders inside the firm. “As trading came to be a bigger part of Wall Street, I noticed that the vision changed,” said Robert Kaplan, a former Goldman Sachs vice chairman, who left in 2006 after working at the firm for 23 years. “The leaders were saying the same words, but they started to change incentives away from the value-added vision and tilt more to making money first. If making money is your vision, what lengths will you not go?

At the height of the dot-com years, a debate raged within the firm. The firm underwrote dozens of technology IPOs, including Microsoft and Yahoo, in the 1980s and 1990s, minting an untold number of multimillionaires and the occasional billionaire. Some of the companies they were bringing public generated no profits at all, while Goldman was generating up to $3 billion in profits a year. It seemed inevitable that some within Goldman Sachs began to dream of jettisoning the Goldman’s century-old partnership structure and taking their firm public, too. Jon Corzine was running the firm then — he would later go into politics in the Goldman tradition, first as a U.S. senator and then as New Jersey governor — and was four-square in favor of going public. Corzine’s second in command, Henry Paulson — who would go on to serve as Treasury secretary — was against the idea. But Corzine ordered up a study that supported his view that remaining private stifled Goldman’s competitive opportunities and promoted Paulson to co-senior partner. Paulson soon got on board. In May 1999, Goldman sold $3.7 billion worth of shares in the company. At the end of the first day of trading, Corzine’s and Paulson’s stakes in the firm were each worth $205 million. Cohn’s and Mnuchin’s shares were each worth $112 million. And Blankfein ended up with $168 million in company stock.

Like any publicly traded company, there would now be pressure on Goldman Sachs to make its quarterly numbers and “maximize shareholder value.” Discarding the partner model also meant the loss of a valuable restraint on risk-taking and bad behavior. Under the old system, any losses or fines came out of the partners’ pockets. In the early 1990s, for example, the firm was involved in transactions with Robert Maxwell, a London-based media mogul who was accused of stealing hundreds of millions of pounds from his companies’ pension funds. The $253 million that Goldman Sachs paid to settle lawsuits brought by pension funds over its involvement was split among the firm’s 84 limited partners. Now any losses are paid by a publicly traded entity owned by shareholders, with no direct financial liability for the decision-makers themselves. In theory, Goldman could claw back bonuses in response to executives’ bad behavior. But in 2016, when Goldman paid over $5 billion to settle charges brought by the Justice Department that the firm misled customers in the sale of a subprime mortgage product during Cohn’s time overseeing that unit, the Goldman board declined to dock Cohn’s pay. Instead, the company awarded him a $5.5 million cash bonus and another $12.6 million in company stock.

As Blankfein moved up the corporate hierarchy, Cohn rose along with him. When Blankfein was made vice chairman in charge of the firm’s multibillion-dollar global commodities business and its equities division, Cohn took over as co-head of FICC, Blankfein’s previous position. That meant Cohn was overseeing not just J. Aron and the firm’s commodities business, but also its currency trades and bond sales. By the start of 2004, Blankfein was promoted to president and COO, and Cohn was named co-head of global securities. At that point, Cohn had authority over the mortgage-trading desk. Under Cohn, the firm aggressively moved into the subprime mortgage market, using Goldman’s own money and that of its customers to help stoke the housing bubble.

Goldman was already enabling subprime predators, such as Ameriquest and New Century Financial, by providing them with the cash infusions they needed to scale up their lending to individual home buyers. Cohn would steer the firm deeper into the subprime frenzy by setting up Goldman as a patron of some of these same mortgage originators. During his tenure, Goldman snapped up loans from New Century, Countrywide, and other notorious mortgage originators and bundled them into deals with opaque names, such as ABACUS and GSAMP. Under Cohn’s watchful eye, Goldman’s brokers then funneled slices to customers they sold on the wisdom of holding mortgage-backed securities in their portfolios.

One such creation, GSAA Home Equity Trust 2006-2, illustrates Goldman’s disregard for the quality of loans it was buying and packaging into security deals. Created in early 2006, the investment vehicle was made up of more than $1 billion in home loans Goldman had bought from Ameriquest, one of the nation’s largest and most aggressive subprime lenders. By that point, the lender already had set aside $325 million to settle a probe by attorneys general and banking regulators in 49 states, who accused Ameriquest of misleading thousands of borrowers about the costs of their loans and falsifying home appraisals and other key documents. Yet GSAA Home Equity Trust 2006-2 was filled with Ameriquest loans made to more than 3,000 homeowners in Arizona, Illinois, Florida, and elsewhere. By the end of 2008, 65 percent of the roughly 1,400 borrowers whose loans remained in the deal were in default, had filed for bankruptcy, or had been targeted for foreclosure.

In just three years, Goldman Sachs had increased its trading volume by a factor of 50, which the Wall Street Journal attributed to “Cohn’s successful push to rev up risk-taking and use of Goldman’s own capital to make a profit” — what the industry calls proprietary trading, or prop trading. The 2010 Journal article quoted Justin Gmelich, then the firm’s mortgage chief, who said of Cohn, “He reshaped the culture of the mortgage department into more of a trading environment.” In 2005, with Cohn overseeing the firm’s home loan desk, Goldman underwrote $103 billion in mortgage-backed securities and other more esoteric products, such as collateralized debt obligations, which often were priced based on giant pools of home loans. The following year, the firm underwrote deals worth $131 billion.

In 2006, CEO Henry Paulson left the firm to join George W. Bush’s cabinet as Treasury secretary. Blankfein, Cohn’s mentor and friend, took Paulson’s place. By tradition, Blankfein, a trader, should have elevated someone from the investment banking side to serve as his No. 2, so both sides of the firm would be represented in the top leadership. Instead he named Cohn, his long-time loyalist, and Jon Winkelried, who also had history on the trading side, as co-presidents and co-COOs. Winkelried, who had started at Goldman eight years before Cohn, had probably earned the right to hold those titles by himself. But Cohn had the advantage of his relationship with the CEO. Blankfein and Cohn vacationed together in the Caribbean and Mexico, owned homes near each other in the Hamptons, and their children attended the same school. Winkelreid was out in two years. The bromance between his fellow No. 2 and the top boss may have proved too much.

With Blankfein and Cohn at the top, the transformation of Goldman Sachs was complete. By 2009, investment banking had shrunk to barely 10 percent of the firm’s revenues. Richard Marin, a former executive at Bear Stearns, a Goldman competitor that wouldn’t survive the mortgage meltdown, saw Cohn as “the root of the problem.” Explained Marin, “When you become arrogant in a trading sense, you begin to think that everybody’s a counterparty, not a customer, not a client. And as a counterparty, you’re allowed to rip their face off.

Source, links:


[1] [2] [4]

Related:


Η Αριστερά και η Βενεζουέλα

του Κλάουντιο Κατς

Μέρος 3ο - Μορφές ενός πραξικοπήματος

Τα ΜΜΕ, με τα ρεπορτάζ τους, στηρίζουν τι πραξικοπηματικές επιδιώξεις της αντιπολίτευσης. Η βενεζουελάνικη αντιπολίτευση δεν μπορεί να φέρει σε πέρας τις συνήθεις αναταραχές, του είδους που οδήγησαν στο πραξικόπημα του Πινοτσέτ, και έτσι προσπαθεί να ανατρέψει τον πρόεδρο Μαδούρο εκτοπίζοντας την κοινωνία. Επαναλαμβάνει αυτό που επιχείρησε τον Φεβρουάριο του 2014, προκειμένου να διαπράξει συνταγματικό πραξικόπημα παρόμοιο μ’ αυτό της Ονδούρας (2009), της Παραγουάης (2014) ή της Βραζιλίας (2016). Ελπίζει ότι θα επιβάλει με τη βία αυτό που αργότερα θα επικυρώσει στις κάλπες.

Η Δεξιά δεν διαθέτει τη στρατιωτική δύναμη που χρησιμοποιούσε στο παρελθόν για να επανέλθει στην κυβερνητική εξουσία. Αλλά επιχειρεί να αναδημιουργήσει τις δυνατότητες τέτοιας παρέμβασης διεξάγοντας αψιμαχίες στους στρατώνες, πυρπολώντας αστυνομικά τμήματα ή διοργανώνοντας πορείες στα στρατιωτικά επιτελεία.

Το σχέδιό της συνδυάζει το σαμποτάζ της οικονομίας με τις ταραχές που προκαλούν ένοπλες ομάδες οι οποίες , σε αντίθεση με την Κολομβία, δρουν ανώνυμα. Αυτές οι ενέργειες εμπλέκουν τον εγκληματικό υπόκοσμο και τρομοκρατούν τους εμπόρους.

Περιλαμβάνουν φασιστικές μεθόδους που πατρονάρονται από τα πιο βίαια ρεύματα κατά του τσαβισμού. Ιδιοποιούνται τον εξεγερσιακό συμβολισμό που σφυρηλάτησαν τα λαϊκά κινήματα και παρουσιάζουν το πλιάτσικο ως ηρωική στάση. Ο ηγέτης της αντιπολίτευσης Λεοπόλντο Λόπες δεν είναι ένας αθώος πολιτικός. Όποιο δικαστήριο λειτουργεί βάσει του κράτους δικαίου θα τον είχε καταδικάσει σε ισόβια κάθειρξη για τις εγκληματικές ευθύνες του.

Η Δεξιά προωθεί κλίμα εμφυλίου πολέμου, προκειμένου να πλήξει το ηθικό της λαϊκής βάσης του τσαβισμού που επηρεάζεται από την έλλειψη τροφίμων και φαρμάκων. Η θέση της υπέρ της ξένης επέμβασης είναι σαφής και διαπραγματεύεται με τις πιστώτριες τράπεζες τη διακοπή της πρόσβασης της Βενεζουέλας στην πίστωση.

Η αντιπολίτευση ελπίζει να λιντσάρει τον Μαδούρο για να θάψει τον τσαβισμό. Διεξάγει αυτή τη μάχη στους δρόμους για να κατακτήσει την κοινή γνώμη και για να οδηγήσει σε κατάρρευση την οικονομία. Τις εκλογές τις βλέπει απλώς ως κορύφωση αυτής της επίθεσης.

Αντιμετωπίζει, όμως, αυξανόμενα εμπόδια. Η βία που κυριαρχεί στις κινητοποιήσεις της αποξενώνει την πλειονότητα των δυσαρεστημένων και φθείρει τους οπαδούς της. Όπως έγινε το 2014, η απόκρουση των φασιστικών ομάδων υπονομεύει όλη την αντιπολίτευση. Επιπλέον, η αποφασιστικότητα του Μαδούρο αποτρέπει τη συμμετοχή στις πορείες της αντιπολίτευσης. Οι δυνάμεις της δεξιάς αντιπολίτευσης δεν έχουν κατορθώσει να εισχωρήσουν στις λαϊκές γειτονιές όπου πιθανώς θα αντιμετωπίσουν τον κίνδυνο μιας δυσμενούς ένοπλης σύγκρουσης.

Η μεγάλη αστική τάξη της Βενεζουέλας υποκινεί σε πραξικόπημα έχοντας την περιφερειακή υποστήριξη των Μάκρι (προέδρου της Αργεντινής), Τέμερ (της Βραζιλίας), Σάντος (της Κολομβίας) και Πένια Νέτο (του Μεξικού). Επί μήνες προωθούσε ένα σχέδιο αποσταθεροποίησης στον Οργανισμό Αμερικανικών Κρατών. Αλλά απέτυχε σ’ αυτόν τον τομέα. Οι προτεινόμενες κυρώσεις κατά της Βενεζουέλας δεν πέτυχαν λόγω της εναντίωσης πολλών και διαφόρων ξένων υπουργείων. Δεν επιτεύχθηκε η ομοφωνία με την οποία εκδιώχθηκε η Κούβα από τον Οργανισμό Αμερικανικών Κρατών τη δεκαετία του 1960.

Επίσης, διαβόητη είναι η υποστήριξη πραξικοπημάτων από τις ΗΠΑ με στόχο την ανάκτηση του ελέγχου στα μεγάλα αποθέματα αργού πετρελαίου της ηπείρου. Το Στέιτ Ντιπάρτμεντ θέλει να επαναλάβει τις επιχειρήσεις που διεξήγαγε στο Ιράκ ή στη Λιβύη, εφόσον γνωρίζει ότι μετά την ανατροπή του Μαδούρο ουδείς θα θυμάται πού βρίσκεται η Βενεζουέλα. Αρκεί να δει κανείς πώς τα δελτία ειδήσεων των ΜΜΕ παραλείπουν κάθε αναφορά στις χώρες στις οποίες ήδη έχει επέμβει το Πεντάγωνο. Η λογική των κυρίαρχων ραδιοτηλεοπτικών μέσων είναι να αλλάζουν το θέμα των ειδήσεών τους από τη στιγμή που οι ιμπεριαλιστές διαλύουν τον αντίπαλό τους.

Τους στρατηγικούς στόχους του ιμπεριαλισμού δεν τους αντιλαμβάνονται εκείνοι που δίνουν υπερβάλλουσα σημασία στο φλερτ κάποιας αμερικανικής εφημερίδας με τον πρόεδρο της Βενεζουέλας ή στις ρητορικές αμφισημίες του Τραμπ. Φαντάζονται ότι αυτά τα άσχετα γεγονότα υποδηλώνουν την απουσία σύγκρουσης μεταξύ των ΗΠΑ και του τσαβισμού. Και ταυτόχρονα δεν βλέπουν πόσο μοχθηρά επιτίθεται η τεράστια πλειονότητα του Τύπου στον Μαδούρο και το ότι ο πολυεκατομμυριούχος του Λευκού Οίκου διαψεύδει κάθε ημέρα αυτά που έλεγε την προηγούμενη.

Ο Τραμπ δεν είναι ούτε αδιάφορος ούτε ουδέτερος. Απλώς αναθέτει στη CIA και στο Πεντάγωνο την εκπλήρωση της συνωμοσίας «καθημερινή διατάραξη της κοινωνικής ζωής» και των σχεδίων «Ελευθερία για τη Βενεζουέλα νο 2». Αυτές οι επιχειρήσεις περιλαμβάνουν κατασκοπία, ανάπτυξη στρατευμάτων και κάλυψη τρομοκρατικών πράξεων. Εξελίσσονται κρυφά, ενώ τα ισχυρά ΜΜΕ απαξιώνουν οποιαδήποτε καταδίκη τους. Ιδίως αμφισβητούν τις «υπερβολές της Αριστεράς», ώστε κανείς να μην ενοχλεί τους συνωμότες.

Ορισμένοι αναλυτές θεωρούν ότι η παρουσία της εταιρείας Chevron στη Βενεζουέλα – ή οι συνεχιζόμενες συναλλαγές της κρατικής επιχείρησης πετρελαίου PDVSA με τις ΗΠΑ-- αποτυπώνουν μια στενή σχέση μεταξύ των δύο κυβερνήσεων. Απ’ αυτό συμπεραίνουν ότι δεν υπάρχει σενάριο πραξικοπήματος. Όμως, αυτές οι σχέσεις δεν επηρεάζουν ούτε στο ελάχιστο την απόφαση της αυτοκρατορίας να ανατρέψει την μπολιβαριανή κυβέρνηση.

Οι αμερικανικές εταιρείες δραστηριοποιούνται στη Βενεζουέλα (και οι ομόλογές τους στις ΗΠΑ) καθ’ όλη τη διάρκεια της μπολιβαριανής κυβέρνησης. Κι όμως ο Μπους, ο Ομπάμα και ο Τραμπ επιδίωξαν να ανακτήσουν τον άμεσο ιμπεριαλιστικό έλεγχο του πετρελαίου. Δεν μπορούν να το επιτύχουν μέσω μιας τεταμένης σχέσης μεταξύ εταίρων ή πελατών. Θέλουν να εγκαταστήσουν το μοντέλο ιδιωτικοποίησης που κυριαρχεί στο Μεξικό και να εκδιώξουν τη Ρωσία και την Κίνα από την πίσω αυλή τους.

Πηγή, παραπομπές:


[1] [2] [4]

Saudi Arabia, US and Britain "celebrate" 900 days of slaughter in Yemen


900 days have passed since the start of the violent war launched by Saudi Arabia against Yemen in March 2015, with the support of the United States and Great Britain.

It would not be an exaggeration at all, if one would say that the war has destroyed Yemen. From the daily bombardments, a total of 12,907 Yemeni citizens have been killed while 21,165 injured.

Also, 34,072 demolitions of buildings, factories and all kinds of facilities have been recorded.

The Legal Center for Rights and Development organization recorded with details every loss caused by the bombardments in Yemen.

The results of 900 days in one chart:


It is worth noting that the lists above include only the losses directly related to bombardments and military operations. Yet, besides these, it is estimated that 247,000 people have died from cholera, lack of health care, malnutrition and all the conditions resulting from the embargo imposed by Saudi Arabia.

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Τι είπε ο άνθρωπος!

Νίκος Μπογιόπουλος

«Δεν τρέφω αυταπάτες για μια κοινωνία χωρίς ανισότητες, κάτι τέτοιο είναι αντίθετο στην ανθρώπινη φύση, όσοι το επιχείρησαν καταστρατήγησαν τελικά την ίδια τη δημοκρατία και τα ατομικά δικαιώματα».

Ποτέ ίσως άλλοτε στην ιστορία αυτού του τόπου σε μια φράση δεν έχουν ειπωθεί τόσα πολλά.

Για την ακρίβεια δεν είχε προσφερθεί στο φιλοθεάμον κοινό τέτοιο ξεβράκωμα από τον γυμνό βασιλιά του νεοφιλελευθερισμού.

Τι μας είπε ο «μετριοπαθής», ο «ήπιος», ο «κεντροδεξιός» κύριος Μητσοτάκης;

Ότι η κοινωνική ισότητα καταστρατηγεί τη δημοκρατία και ότι κινείται στον αντίποδα της ανθρώπινης φύσης!

Ότι η «ανισότητα» (προσέξτε: η ανισότητα» και όχι η «διαφορετικότητα») αποτελεί στοιχείο του ανθρώπινου DNA και άρα είναι ο αρμός πάνω στον οποίο πρέπει να οικοδομούνται οι ανθρώπινες κοινωνίες!

Ο κ.Μητσοτάκης,ακολουθώντας τον «ευθύ» δρόμο του νεοσυντηρητισμού και όχι την σοσιαλδημοκρατική τεθλασμένη του κ.Τσίπρα (ιδού η… διαφορά τους) ήταν αποκαλυπτικός:

Δια των χειλέων του η κοινωνική ανισότητα έφτασε να συνιστά ξετσίπωτα πολιτικό πρόταγμα και να ξεστομίζεται επίσημα ως προεκλογικού τύπου διακηρυκτικός λόγος!

Τύφλα να έχει ο κοινωνικός δαρβινισμός! Τύφλα να έχει ο Μάλθους!

Ο κύριος Μητσοτάκης, ο οποίος αγορεύει περί το μέλλον, ο οποίος ομιλεί εν έτει 2017 για να μας πουλήσει τα οράματα του για το πώς θα είναι η Ελλάδα το 2030, μας το ξεκαθάρισε (εν τη πολιτική αφελεία του;): Θέλει μια χώρα, μια κοινωνία κι έναν λαό που θα ζούνε… 250 χρόνια πίσω.

Πίσω κι από εκείνο το «Ελευθερία – ΙΣΟΤΗΤΑ – αδελφοσύνη» της Γαλλικής Επανάστασης!

Τόσο «μαύρο» είναι το μέλλον που μας τάζουν. Φτιαγμένο με τα ίδια πάντα καπιταλιστικά υλικά, με τις ίδιες θεωρίες περί «άξιου και ικανού», με την ίδια κατασταλτική ιδεοληψία που αντανακλά και θέλει να αναπαραγάγει σε επίπεδο συνείδησης την επιβολή του «δίκιου του ισχυρού».

Και που όταν ανοίγουν οι υπόνομοι του συστήματος, εμφανίζονται κάποιοι και τα χρησιμοποιούν όλα αυτάγια να οδηγήσουν την ανθρωπότητα στους νόμους της Νυρεμβέργης.

Γρηγορείτε!

Πηγή:

Αν αφήναμε τους φιλελεύθερους να επιβάλλουν τη «φυσική τάξη» τους

Άρης Χατζηστεφάνου

Οι περισσότεροι φιλελεύθεροι υποστηρίζουν ότι για τα προβλήματα της οικονομίας ευθύνονται αποκλειστικά οι κρατικές παρεμβάσεις, που παραβιάζουν την «φυσική τάξη» της αγοράς. Οι δηλώσεις του προέδρου της ΝΔ ότι δεν υπάρχει κοινωνική ισότητα εντάσσονται, υπό μια έννοια, σε αυτή τη συλλογιστική. Αφήστε, λένε, την αγορά να αυτορυθμιστεί αναγνωρίζοντας το «δίκιο» του ισχυρού και όλα μας τα προβλήματα θα λυθούν.

Τι ακριβώς είναι όμως αυτή η «φυσική τάξη» την οποία επικαλούνται; Και έχει υπάρξει ποτέ «ελεύθερη αγορά» η οποία δεν ρυθμίζεται από κάποια κυβέρνηση ή οποιαδήποτε άλλη αρχή;

Είχα θέσει αυτά τα ερωτήματα στο διάσημο Κορεάτη οικονομολόγο Χα Τζουν Τσανκ, όταν επισκέφθηκε την Ελλάδα με αφορμή την κυκλοφορία του βιβλίου του Αλήθειες που δεν μας λένε για τον Καπιταλισμό (Εκδόσεις Καστανιώτη).

Για τους υποστηρικτές της ελεύθερης αγοράς, μου είπε, η φυσική τάξη πριν από μόλις 100 χρόνια ήταν να αφήνουμε ανήλικα παιδάκια να δουλεύουν σε εργοστάσια.

Πηγή, σύνδεσμοι, βίντεο:

20 September, 2017

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

Gary Rivlin, Michael Hudson

Part 2 - GOLDMAN ALWAYS WINS

Goldman Sachs had been a favorite cudgel for candidate Trump — the symbol of a government that favors Wall Street over its citizenry. Trump proclaimed that Hillary Clinton was in the firm’s pockets, as was Ted Cruz. It was Goldman Sachs that Trump singled out when he railed against a system rigged in favor of the global elite — one that “robbed our working class, stripped our country of wealth, and put money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations and political entities.

Cohn, as president and chief operating officer of Goldman Sachs, had been at the heart of it all. Aggressive and relentless, a former aluminum siding salesman and commodities broker with a nose for making money, Cohn had turned Goldman’s sleepy home loan unit into what a Senate staffer called “one of the largest mortgage trading desks in the world.” There, he aggressively pushed his sales team to sell mortgage-backed securities to unaware investors even as he watched over “the big short,” Goldman’s decision to bet billions of dollars that the market would collapse.

Now Cohn would be coordinating economic policy for the populist president.

The conflicts between the two men were striking. Cohn ran a giant investment bank with offices in financial capitals around the globe, one deeply committed to a world with few economic borders. Trump’s nationalist campaign contradicted everything Goldman Sachs and its top executives represented on the global stage.

Trump raged against “offshoring” by American companies during the 2016 campaign. He even threatened “retribution,” - a 35 percent tariff on any goods imported into the United States by a company that had moved jobs overseas. But Cohn laid out Goldman’s very different view of offshoring at an investor conference in Naples, Florida, in November. There, Cohn explained unapologetically that Goldman had offshored its back-office staff, including payroll and IT, to Bangalore, India, now home to the firm’s largest office outside New York City: “We hire people there because they work for cents on the dollar versus what people work for in the United States.

Candidate Trump promised to create millions of new jobs, vowing to be “the greatest jobs president that God ever created.” Cohn, as Goldman Sachs’s president and COO, oversaw the firm’s mergers and acquisitions business that had, over the previous three years, led to the loss of at least 22,000 U.S. jobs, according to a study by two advocacy groups. Early in his candidacy, Trump described as “disgusting” Pfizer’s decision to buy a smaller Irish competitor in order to execute a “corporate inversion,” a maneuver in which a U.S. company moves its headquarters overseas to reduce its tax burden. The Pfizer deal ultimately fell through. But in 2016, in the heat of the campaign, Goldman advised on a megadeal that saw Johnson Controls, a Fortune 500 company based in Milwaukee, buy the Ireland-based Tyco International with the same goal. A few months later, with Goldman’s help, Johnson Controls had executed its inversion.

With Cohn’s appointment, Trump now had three Goldman Sachs alums in top positions inside his administration: Steve Bannon, who was a vice president at Goldman when he left the firm in 1990, as chief strategist, and Steve Mnuchin, who had spent 17 years at Goldman, as Treasury secretary. And there were more to come. A few weeks later, another Goldman partner, Dina Powell, joined the White House as a senior counselor for economic initiatives. Goldman was a longtime client of Jay Clayton, Trump’s choice to chair the Securities and Exchange Commission; Clayton had represented Goldman after the 2008 financial crisis, and his wife Gretchen worked there as a wealth management adviser. And there was the brief, colorful tenure of Anthony Scaramucci as White House communications director: Scaramucci had been a vice president at Goldman Sachs before leaving to co-found his own investment company.

Even before Scaramucci, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., had joked that enough Goldman alum were working for the Trump administration to open a branch office in the White House.

There was a devastating financial crisis just over eight years ago,” Warren said. “Goldman Sachs was at the heart of that crisis. The idea that the president is now going to turn over the country’s economic policy to a senior Goldman executive turns my stomach.” Prior administrations often had one or two people from Goldman serving in top positions. George W. Bush at one point had three. At its peak, the Trump administration effectively had six.

Earlier this summer, Trump boasted about his team of economic advisers at a rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. “This is the president of Goldman Sachs. Smart,” Trump said. “Having him represent us! He went from massive paydays to peanuts.

Trump waved off anyone who might question his decision to rely on the very people he had demonized. “Somebody said, ‘Why did you appoint a rich person to be in charge of the economy?’ … I said: ‘Because that’s the kind of thinking we want.’” He needed “great, brilliant business minds … so the world doesn’t take advantage of us.” How else could he get the job done? “I love all people, rich or poor, but in those particular positions, I just don’t want a poor person.

Does that make sense?” Trump asked. The crowd cheered.

Years of financial disclosure forms confirm that Cohn is indeed very rich. At the end of 2016, he owned some 900,000 shares of Goldman Sachs stock, a stake worth around $220 million on the day Trump announced his appointment. Plus, he’d sold a million more Goldman shares over the previous half-dozen years. In 2007 alone, the year of the big short, Goldman Sachs paid him nearly $73 million — more than the firm paid CEO Lloyd Blankfein. The disclosure forms Cohn filled out to join the administration indicate he owned assets valued at $252 million to $611 million. That may or may not include the $65 million parting gift Goldman’s board of directors gave him for “outstanding leadership” just days before Trump was sworn in.

Like anyone taking a top job in the Trump administration, Cohn was required to sign a pledge vowing not to participate for the next two years in any matter “that is directly and substantially related to my former employer or former clients, including regulations and contracts.” But presidents have sometimes issued waivers to these requirements, and it is unclear whether the Trump administration is making such waivers public.

Sens. Warren and Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat from Wisconsin, sent Cohn a letter a few days later. They brought up the $65 million bonus and asked him to publicly recuse himself from any issue that could have a direct or “significant indirect” impact on his old firm. Cohn never responded to the letter, and if he has ever received a waiver, it has not been made available to the public or the Office of Government Ethics.

Consistent with the Trump administration’s stringent ethics rules, Mr. Cohn will recuse himself from participating in any matter directly involving his former employer, Goldman Sachs,” White House spokesperson Natalie Strom said. “The White House will not comment further.

The White House declined requests to make Cohn available for an interview and declined to answer a detailed set of questions.

Cohn shared the podium with fellow Goldman alum Mnuchin (the two made partner there the same year) when the administration unveiled its new tax plan, one that, if the past is prelude, had the potential to save Goldman more than $1 billion a year in corporate taxes. The president had promised to “do a number” on financial reforms implemented after the 2008 subprime crisis, including one that threatened to cost Goldman several billion dollars a year in revenues. Under Cohn, the administration has introduced new rules easing initial public offerings — a Goldman Sachs specialty dating back to the start of the last century, when the firm handled the IPOs of Sears, Roebuck; F. W. Woolworth; and Studebaker. As Trump’s top economic policy adviser, Cohn can exert influence over regulatory agencies that have shaken billions in penalties and settlements out of Goldman Sachs in recent years. And his former colleagues inside Goldman’s Public Sector and Infrastructure group likely appreciate the Trump administration’s infrastructure plan, which is more or less exactly as Cohn first pitched it inside Trump Tower in November.

It’s hard to see how Gary Cohn recusing himself would solve a lot of these conflicts because nearly every major decision of his job would have a significant impact, likely billions of dollars, on Goldman Sachs and its executives,” said Tyler Gellasch, an attorney and former Senate staffer who helped draft Dodd-Frank, the landmark financial reform law passed in the wake of the financial meltdown. “Goldman touches nearly every aspect of the economy, from selling U.S. treasuries to helping companies go public, and the National Economic Council advises on all of that.

In the wake of last month’s white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, Cohn confessed to the Financial Times that he has “come under enormous pressure both to resign and to remain.” But the man who the Washington Post has dubbed Trump’s “moderate voice” declared that neo-Nazis would not force “this Jew” to leave his job. “As a patriotic American, I am reluctant to leave my post as director of the National Economic Council,” Cohn told FT. “I feel a duty to fulfill my commitment to work on behalf of the American people.

Or at least a few of them. The Trump economic agenda, it turns out, is largely the Goldman agenda, one with the potential to deliver any number of gifts to the firm that made Cohn colossally rich. If Cohn stays, it will be to pursue an agenda of aggressive financial deregulation and massive corporate tax cuts — he seeks to slash rates by 57 percent — that would dramatically increase profits for large financial players like Goldman. It is an agenda as radical in its scope and impact as Bannon’s was.

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[1] [3] [4]

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