The Central Bank: Silent Partner In the Bloodletting

A nation’s economic system is a reflection pool. The face that looks back from the water is the face of the culture and the prevailing ethos. It’s no different with America. The stewards of the US economic system — Paulson and Bernanke — are inextricably linked to a political/military establishment which has been thoroughly marinated in a culture of violence and corruption. Paulson’s “Marshall Plan” for subprime homeowners is just the gloved hand of the autocrat. The other hand is still busy gouging out eyes at Guantanamo, or clubbing foreign nationals at CIA black sites, or dropping incendiary bombs on schoolchildren in Falluja. It’s all the same. The culture of war and demagoguery has its roots in the economic system. Its financial leaders are just as culpable as any low-ranking GI at Abu Ghraib.

The Paulson plan has nothing to do with saving working class people from the ravages of foreclosure. Oh, no. The Bush administration is ideologically opposed to helping people in need. We know that already. Just look at Katrina and New Orleans. The real purpose of the proposed “bailout” is to allow enough people to keep making minimal payments on their mortgages so the banking system doesn’t collapse in a heap. That’s it. It’s a sign that desperation has set in at the Federal Reserve. The last time the government orchestrated a bailout of this magnitude was during the ’30s. And, guess what? George Bush is no F.D.R.

The truth is, the system is reeling and the Fed is in a state of panic. They are doing everything in their power to keep the train on the tracks, but nothing is succeeding. They’ve slashed rates, accepted dodgy collateral (like Commercial paper and shaky mortgage-backed securities) as repos, and extended the length of the repos indefinitely, which is the same as “monetizing” the debt. Paulson has tried to set up a Super SIV to help the major investment banks off-load their mortgage-backed junk on the wary public, but that isn’t working either. Nothing is working. Meanwhile, the economic headwinds keep getting stronger, the waves keep crashing over the bow, and ship-o-state keeps listing perilously on its side. It’s a real mess.

The banks are the conduit for the paper money scam run by the Federal Reserve. It’s a shabby business run by the same people who send our kids to war while rewarding themselves with tax cuts. It stinks. Now the system is in dire straights. Are we supposed to feel bad?

Foreign central banks and investors are dumping their dollars and dollar-backed assets, the Gulf States are threatening to de-link petroleum from the dollar, and investors everywhere now know they’ve been ripped off by a shoddy mortgage-laundering swindle that got the “green light” from US regulators. It’s a bad scene all around. And now the chickens are coming home to roost.

Cluck, cluck.

The meltdown in the real estate market continues to send tremors through Wall Street. Trillions of dollars in complex bonds (CDOs and MBSs) are being downgraded as foreclosures increase and housing inventory soars. Banks, insurance companies, pension funds, bond insurers, hedge funds are all among the living dead. Many are already insolvent and many more will follow. It’s just a matter of time. The foundation of the financial markets is crumbling. The scheme to transform the liabilities of loan-applicants with bad credit into a reliable source of fat profits has failed. Alchemy doesn’t work.

The subprime crisis and (subsequent) credit crunch originated at the Federal Reserve. The Fed triggered a speculative frenzy by lowering interest rates below the rate of inflation for over 31 months between 2002 and 2004. Trillions of dollars were fed into the banking system creating the biggest equity bubble in history. Now that the housing bubble is crashing to earth — and trillions of dollars in shaky bonds are headed for the landfill — the Fed is trying to distance itself from any responsibility. But their fingerprints are everywhere. The plan was authored and executed by the Fed and that’s where the blame lies. Everyone else is just a “bit player.”

What matters now, is that the system is collapsing. It’s slowly getting crushed by the accumulated weight of its own corruption. When the system crashes, the flag will be lowered over Guantanamo Bay, the present oligarchy of racketeers will be removed from office, and the troops will come home from Iraq. Sometimes tragedy produces a positive outcome.

There could be anarchy or tyranny or martial law or detention camps. Who really knows? It’s perfectly normal that the public is worried about “what could happen” in the near future. But, consider this: can we continue moving in the same direction that we are now? Can we keep pouring the blood of innocent people all over the planet while claiming to own the world and all of its resources? Can we keep ignoring the species-threatening challenges of global warming, peak oil and nuclear proliferation?

And, is there any chance that the media, the congress, the courts, or the president will come to their senses; chart a different course, restore civil liberties, stop the human rights abuse, and withdrawal the troops?


So tell me, dear reader, what hope is there for change apart from a full-system economic collapse?

Political systems do not have to be perfect to be acceptable. I’m not naive. But — for many of us — there are basic moral criteria that have to be observed to win our support. The Bush administration has elevated killing, torture and kidnapping to a level of state policy. This is unacceptable by any standard, and yet, all the levers of power are controlled by people who support the present doctrine.

Isn’t that so?

The United States is not a beacon of hope or a light unto the world. It is a menace and a growing threat to survival on earth. America’s political and military belligerence is just an extension of a domineering economic system which serves the sole interests of the rich and powerful. The Central Bank plays a critical role in this paradigm. Nation’s don’t go to war without the blessing of their main financial institutions. The “big money” guys are the silent partners in the plunder and bloodletting.

The men who own and oversee the US financial system created the cancer which is presently devouring it from the inside. Now the tumor has metastasized and spread through the entire organism. The situation is irreversible. The economy is on its last legs and headed for a fall. US political leaders will have to accept a world in which America is just one of many states of equal power and significance. Military funding will slow to a dribble. The killing will stop. Finally.

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He can be reached at: Read other articles by Mike.

10 comments on this article so far ...

Comments RSS feed

  1. Michael Kenny said on December 8th, 2007 at 12:35pm #

    I am constantly struck by the parallels with the collapse of the Soviet Union. It collapsed, essentially, because nobody believed in it any more, not even the people who were running the system. With hindsight, we can see the decline, running from the repression of the Prague springtime, through the Portuguese revolution and Solidarnosc to Gorbachev’s last-ditch attempt to save the system, but at the time nobody expected the communist dictatorships to collapse more or less overnight the way they did.

    I would guess that that is what will happen in the US. The elite will continue to proclaim ever more vehemently that all is normal and then, suddenly, the whole house of cards will collapse. The outcome will probably be much the same as in the Soviet Union, with a period of chaos in which criminals will rule the roost and the money will be more or less worthless. The nearest parallel will probably be the reconstruction of the Confederacy after the Civil War.

    America first needs a Gorbachev, then it will endure a Yeltsin and will then find a Putin.

  2. gerald spezio said on December 8th, 2007 at 4:04pm #

    Mike; whenever you write, I read.

    A personal disagreement, but more than a nit.

    The killing could get even worse.

  3. Mulga Mumblebrain said on December 8th, 2007 at 9:56pm #

    Here in Austraya, far-flung vassal of the Real Evil Empire, the realisation is slowly dawning that the ejection of the Howard regime, in my opinion by far the vilest concatenation of liars, racists, bully-boys and murderers in our brief history, has proved to be nothing more than ‘out of the frying-pan, into the fire’. The unctuous Labor leader KevinRudd took time out in his interminable and cloying victory speech to lick some Yankee ‘ass’ (we say arse, over here). Quite why, apart from nailing his colours to the mast of S.S. Arslikhan, is a mystery. Already the new regime, expected all along to be of Blairite lineage, is proving the cynics correct. Various policies, such as climate change inducing greenhouse gas reductions, are rapidly being thrown overboard. Rudd’s Government seems strangely unwilling to investigate even the most egregious crimes of the previous regime, and one smells a culture of impunity being established, probably to keep the secret police of ASIO and the Australian Federal Police, and their US overseers, happy. Incidentally if you can view the transcript of the interrogation of Mohammed Haneef, an unfortunate Indian Moslem doctor who the AFP, in blatant collusion with the Howard regime, attempted to ‘fit up’ over ‘terrorist’ charges, you’re in for hours of harmless amusement. The pig ignorance and stupidity of the AFP agents, who thought Liverpool a suburb of London etc, is telling. In a regime such as that established by Howard, and if I may dare predict, likely to be protected and further entrenched by Rudd, where ideological fervour trumps intelligence every time, the results are liable to be dire. So, you see, the collapse of the US is not only likely to be good for all those countries its fascist leaders have in their sights. In lackey states like Australia, where the ruling class, one often suspects, owe their firmest allegiance to the cappo do tutti cappi in Washington, rather than to their own citizenry, the fall of the US might lead to a flushing out of the Augean mess that has accumulated over the last two hundred years.

  4. Allan Stellar said on December 9th, 2007 at 10:27am #

    I’ve been reading Mr. Whitney for a couple of years now. He is always a good read. And, on this mortgage issue, he has been quite accurate.

    So, if this is the end of the American Empire. So be it. Hopefully, we can now get down to the business of building a new economy which no longer is based on the greed of those who call the shots now.

    The Poor will inherit the Earth. Maybe that is the for the best.

  5. Deadbeat said on December 9th, 2007 at 12:41pm #

    The men who own and oversee the US financial system created the cancer which is presently devouring it from the inside. Now the tumor has metastasized and spread through the entire organism. The situation is irreversible. The economy is on its last legs and headed for a fall. US political leaders will have to accept a world in which America is just one of many states of equal power and significance. Military funding will slow to a dribble. The killing will stop. Finally.

    I don’t think that we will see a “collapse” of the financial system as predicted by Mike Whitney. In fact I think his rhetoric borders on hyperbole. This doesn’t mean that I disagree with the current conditions. They are true. However as James Petras points out the working class will be on the hook for the bail out.

    The FEDS, IMO, will cut rates and “secure” the bad loans even at the expense of the dollar. To them maintaining the system is the primary goal.

    While the current conditions as Whitney point out was set up by the Federal Reserve, what exacerbated the problem is the War in Iraq. Recall the War was not originally intended to by the neo-cons to be this costly and this prolonged (thought to be a “cake-walk”). The original plan was for oil revenues to fund the presence of U.S. troops.

    The neo-cons wanted a “permanent” base in Iraq that would have served Israeli interest and the “tax payers” would not care since the U.S. would have access to Iraqi oil. In other words what Whitney fails to analyze is the role Zionism played in this foreign policy blunder.

    The result of this blunder has been to split the ruling interest that has ironically created up space to openly debate Zionism’s effects on U.S. foreign policy. This was a topic that was unmentionable even as little as five years ago. This split among the ruling interest is clearly seen by the fact that Jimmy Carter’s book exist.

    I agree with Whitney that the end result may eventually lead to a withdrawal of troops but that will be only because the system is strained by the war having noting to do with any (non-functioning) anti-war movement. The “left” is too cowardly to confront U.S. Zionism to be a coherent force.

  6. Max Shields said on December 9th, 2007 at 4:24pm #

    There is no national or federal economy. That’s fallacy/myth. All wealth comes from the dynamics of cities and city regions. That’s why alternative economies like Parecon are wishful thinking. Economies are not designed or templated. The government at the state and national level feed off the financial health of cities. As cities die so goes the governments who really provide little but a spending machine and the broader distribution of “wealth”. All too frequently this distribution is corrupted and thus poverty and hunger is created – here and everywhere.

    The Fed machinations are smoke and mirrors. The Feds have no control over the global markets other than a bit of influence so long as the US is seen as having power (which is diminishing). If a vacuum in that belief is created then the smoke clears and nothing but rubble remains. But if cities and the regional economies they create can become self-sufficient and stable they can be a powerful antidote to the global and national mirage.

    State and Federal intrusion into localities is a prime example of what happens when the “mirage” interjects itself. It creates crippling economies that rarely if ever recover from the infusion of grants and funding. This is what we get with neo-liberalism and why it repeatedly fails. Healthy and sustainable economies are emergent, they are not artificially trumped up through the pumping in of external injections of capital. This is an important concept to grasp. The 1930 “bailout” or Depression turnaround is not the result of a federal act of magic. It was due to the fact that US cities were untouched by the holocaust known as WWII (and WWI). Cities, again, are the engine of wealth. The Marshal Plan did squat for nations with weak city wealth creation and only helped those who had been powerful engines before the demolition. The Soviet Union was a major mirage from all accounts. It was nothing but a large military fiefdom.

    At the national and global level they are flying totally and completely blind. Let’s not over cast them.

  7. glenn said on December 9th, 2007 at 5:33pm #

    You are clearly not a Keynsian.
    What interests me is how you see exchange rates fit into your assertion of the primacy of ‘local’ economies. Surely this is relevant. Perhaps the key is the degree of development of the productive base prior to devaluation?
    Mike, I think you touched on an important point: the current system is managed by and for the benefit of an exclusive rich minority, who are concerned solely with maintenance and growth of their own wealth and power.
    We are no longer bound within national borders. If your predictions come true (and I concur with the broad hypothesis, if not necessarily the timeline), don’t you think the powers-that-be will simply relocate? Having interests in global multinationals provides a degree of protection.

  8. Max Shields said on December 9th, 2007 at 6:38pm #

    You are right I am not Keynsian.

    Local currency (if can come in various forms and is already in use in many parts of the nation and world) is not only plausible but is essential. Neo-classical economists like Keynes shifted the economic paradigm away from the fundamentals to mathematical models which are irrelvant in reality. Economists are acknowledging the failings of neo-classical economics (which includes most 20th economists). Some have actually embraced sustainable economics which does just the opposite of the neo-classicalists – that sustainable economics re-introduces the environment and social capital into the larger economic system. This is an acknowledgement the dynamics that I discussed above which are emergent like all living systems. And it does NOT treat natural resources as commodities which is the major flaw of the neo-classical economists. This flaw is fatal as it has led to hunger, poverty, conflict and war and more.

    Even thought many economists are seeing the “light” it is the neo-classical economists who predominate the financial institutions. Joseph E. Stiglitz would be an example of an exceptionwho as as we know he was fired from the World Bank for such thoughts.

    What I’m talking about is an emerging economy. One that takes off from classical economics and away from the detour of neo-classical.

    Until there is an understanding of this economic history, we’re just whistling in the dark.

  9. anthony said on December 9th, 2007 at 6:54pm #

    Max and glen see where this is headed.Civilisation comes from the Greek ” to make city”.Like fiat currency this a failed social experiment.
    Anybody with an interest in underlying institutional reasons and real solutions to the emerging long crisis are going to be empowered by the book: “So Shall We Reap” by Colin Tudge its in Penguin.If want to save yourself years of downtime start here.What Mike Whitney is to discussions on the financial side of things Tudge is to the food supply.I am not a book seller,nor do I have any affiliation with Tudge other than being a fan.His credentials are impeccable and his work is astounding and lucid.If you factor in his work with Mike’s you really understand things are going to shift big time.Citizens of the USA are really late to the
    NWO of globalisation.Psychologically the consumer nations are most ill prepared for the rate of change which is just starting to cascade.
    Impeachment for USA officials and world courts for ECO crimes and
    warmongering will apppeal to the instant gratification we would all like
    to indulge in but we are entering what Garret Harding termed “The Bottleneck”.The Finite nature of this Planet is going to sort out the infinite delusions of human stupidity.The old confederate currency should have been the historical lesson to the States about what was at stake but ignored by generations who’s children are now becoming aware of their inheritance.People who do not educate their children
    and fob them into the world armed only with myth,religion and spin are
    promoting infantcide in some form or another.People who have not got
    sustainablity factored into their Timelines should not be in decision making roles in the public arena.Drucker has a line roughly”I am suspect of any organisation that does not have a sunset clause”.Amen!
    Oh Yea Mulga man don’t blame me I voted Green where i could.The Rudd labour gang may have no choice but to disentangle from the USA and align with China when the $ tanks (assuming we do not see IMPEACHMENT trials dwarfing Nuremberg really fast in the States).

  10. Don said on December 10th, 2007 at 11:35am #

    Take your country back!
    Take action!
    Support RON PAUL.