The Unz Review - Mobile
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
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The crooks who run the Western financial system set up the gold market in a way that lets them control the price. Gold is not priced in the physical gold market where bullion is bought and sold. Gold is priced in a futures market where uncovered contracts that are settled in cash are bought and... Read More
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Glass-Steagall or Another Economic Meltdown?
Donald, listen, whatever you’ve done so far, whatever you’ve messed up, there’s one thing you could do that would make up for a lot. It would be huge! Terrific! It could change our world for the better in a big-league way! It could save us all from economic disaster! And it isn’t even hard to... Read More
William Goetzmann, Money Changes Everything: How Finance Made Civilization Possible (Princeton University Press, 2016) Debt mounts up faster than the means to pay. Yet there is widespread lack of awareness regarding what this debt dynamic implies. From Mesopotamia in the third millennium BC to the modern world, the way in which society has dealt with... Read More
All of Europe, and insouciant Americans and Canadians as well, are put on notice by Syriza’s surrender to the agents of the One Percent. The message from the collapse of Syriza is that the social welfare system throughout the West will be dismantled. The Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras has agreed to the One Percent’s... Read More
A 1970 strike in Ireland provoked an admirable outbreak of ingenuity - Greece should take note
Television reporters stand in front of the shut doors of banks in Athens and speak as if a few days more of bank closure brings the Greeks that much closer to catastrophe. Media coverage dwells obsessively on the theme that for Greece it is five minutes to midnight, but somehow midnight never comes. Shuttered banks... Read More
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The Rise of “Criminal Capitalism”
Introduction: About 75% of US employees work 40 hours or longer, the second longest among all OECD countries, exceeded only by Poland and tied with South Korea. In contrast, only 10% of Danish workers, 15% of Norwegian, 30% of French, 43% of UK and 50% of German workers work 40 or more hours. With the... Read More
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Government Backing for Toxic Mortgage Securities?
The leaders of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, Sen. Tim Johnson (D., S.D.) and Sen. Mike Crapo (R., Idaho), released a draft bill on Sunday that would provide explicit government guarantees on mortgage-backed securities (MBS) generated by privately-owned banks and financial institutions. The gigantic giveaway to Wall Street would put US taxpayers on the hook... Read More
Grand Cayman: In 1503, when Christopher Columbus discovered this remote island group between Jamaica and Mexico’s Yucatan, its only inhabitants were crocodiles, turtles, iguana and insects. He named it Las Tortugas. It didn’t take long for Tortugas to become the most notorious pirate’s lair of the West Indies from where they preyed on Spanish treasure... Read More
Banks nab $400B in USTs for "Window Dressing"
“Increasing the Fed’s transparency, openness and accountability has been one of my top priorities as chairman.” -Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke on the 100th anniversary of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke is a big believer in transparency. Transparency, transparency, transparency. Hardly a day goes by that Bernanke doesn’t reiterate his commitment to transparency. He thinks the... Read More
"I am not a crook," Jamie Dimon might as well have been insisting in his five telephone calls these past two weeks with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, asking that a criminal investigation of JPMorgan Chase be dropped as part of a plea deal on what has turned out to be a $13 billion fine... Read More
As I have pointed outbefore in this space, much of the most shocking evidence of America’s weakening position in the world these days gets swept under the rug in the mainstream press. We had another instance last week when a Japanese bank was found to have egregiously flouted the American-led financial embargo on Iran. The... Read More
Hard Landing in China? It's Just a Matter of Time
An uptick in manufacturing activity in March has eased fears of a hard landing, but China is not out of the woods yet, not by a long-shot. The industrial powerhouse has succumbed to the same problems as its trading partners in the West who were thrust into crisis by soaring real estate prices, reckless credit... Read More
Although the aftershocks created by the botched Cyprus bank bailout are by no means over, the news this morning is on balance reassuring. At least we should be thankful for small mercies: the European banking system is still standing. While the crisis has precipitated bank runs in Cyprus, depositors elsewhere seem to have remained remarkably... Read More
How Wall Street "Privatized" Money Creation
Regulators are worried about the explosive growth of shadow banking, and they should be. Shadow banks were at the heart of the last financial crisis and they'll be at the heart of the next financial crisis as well. There's no doubt about it. It's simply impossible to maintain a system where unregulated, non-bank financial institutions... Read More
Cordray Fails to Protect
Richard Cordray might be the most powerful man in America today, and you've probably never even heard of him. As head of the new US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Cordray can effectively set the clock back to 2005 and inflate another gigantic, economy-busting housing bubble without breaking a sweat. All he has to do... Read More
How the Financial Lobbyists Carried the Day
Last Thursday, the Wall Street Journal ran an article titled "Burdened by Old Mortgages, Banks Are Slow to Lend Now", in which, author Nick Timiraos said that the reason that housing has been so slow to recover is because Fannie and Freddie "have been forcing banks to take back an increasing number of loans that... Read More
Skimming Profits Off Bad Loans
Didn't Ben Bernanke promise that another round of bond purchases would lower unemployment and boost economic growth? We think he did, which is why we're wondering why all the benefits from QE3 appear to be going to the banks. According to Bloomberg News: Well, how do you like that? That means that Mr. Bernanke's trickle... Read More
CounterPunch Diary
Since what is now going is being described as “the greatest financial scandal in the history of Britain” -- the Barclays imbroglio – I have a question to ask. Where are those tents outside St Pauls? Or ones in solidarity this side of the Atlantic? Where are the vibrant reminders that – as has happened... Read More
If you are a contrarian like me, you probably hold a few bank stocks — so as the Libor scandal has gathered steam you may be wondering about your exposure. Daily newspaper reports have not been much help because they mention only a few of the more obvious names. As a reader service, I have... Read More
I Thought People Were Supposed to Rob Banks, Not Vice Versa
Over a year ago Vi was wondering where to put her family’s modest savings. The peso was erratic. Any contact with the US involved too many forms and regulations. A friend suggested Danskebank, which is Danish. We thought about it. The Danes were not too vivacious, entirely inadequate as party animals, but solid and respectable.... Read More
Gaming the Housing Market
It's the same everywhere. The banks are keeping houses off the market to trick people into believing that prices have hit bottom. But prices haven't hit bottom, in fact, they still have a long way to go. So, what's going on here; what do the banks hope to gain by withholding supply? Here's a clip... Read More
What a Mess!
A poor jobs report, higher than expected inflation in China, and another flare-up in the Eurozone sent stocks tumbling on Monday. US Treasuries rallied on news from the Labor Department that employers added just 120,000 non-farm payrolls in March, far below analysts most pessimistic predictions. The Dow Jones lost 130 points on the day, while... Read More
The 50-State Foreclosure Settlement
Under the terms of the 50-state mortgage foreclosure settlement, US taxpayers could end up paying billions in penalties that were supposed to be paid by the banks. That's the gist of a front-page story which appeared in the Financial Times on Thursday, February 17. The widely-cited article by Shahien Nasiripour notes that the 5 banks... Read More
What will their future be – and what is the government’s proper financial role?
The inherently symbiotic relationship between banks and governments recently has been reversed. In medieval times, wealthy bankers lent to kings and princes as their major customers. But now it is the banks that are needy, relying on governments for funding – capped by the post-2008 bailouts to save them from going bankrupt from their bad... Read More
The Derivatives Flap
Why is Bank of America moving derivatives from Merrill Lynch to an insured subsidiary? Is it because the derivatives could blow up at any time leaving Merrill with gigantic, unsustainable losses? If that's the case, then it would make perfect sense to shift them into a depository institution that's covered by the FDIC. That way,... Read More
The Next Shoe to Drop
The deepening debt crisis in the eurozone and increasingly poor economic data in the US, have overshadowed rapidly deteriorating conditions in the world's second biggest economy. The China miracle is quickly becoming a nightmare as credit default swaps (CDS) spike parabolically to 3-year highs and stocks plunge "dragging the Hang Seng Index to its biggest... Read More
Le Tarp?
On Thursday--exactly 3 years after Lehman Brothers defaulted igniting the greatest financial crisis in 70 years--the world's most powerful central banks launched a massive intervention to staunch a liquidity squeeze in the eurozone that threatened to wreak havoc on the EU banking system. The European Central Bank --acting in cooperation with the Federal Reserve, the... Read More
Debt Ceiling Doomsday
Okay, so we all knew that the cultists and screwballs who run the GOP were going to take this to the 11th hour, right? But who knew that once they got us out on the ledge, they wouldn't know how to cut a deal? Instead, Tea Party confederates seem determined to make sure the US... Read More
After a tense week with world markets teetering on the edge of collapse Angela Merkle finally met with her French counterpart Nicholas Sarkozy and they ended the seventh month chill in their once cozy relationship. According to The Independent, they faced a serious impasse regarding bank haircuts in the "déjà vu all over again" Greek... Read More
Hanky-Panky at the Fed
It's the biggest flim-flam in the nation's history. But, thanks to the Congressional Research Service, the scam has been exposed and the public can now get a good look at the type of swindle that passes as monetary policy. Here's the scoop: When Fed chairman Ben Bernanke initiated the first round of Quantitative Easing (QE),... Read More
More Trouble in Squanderville
Bob, Frank and Freddie all bought identical houses in the same neighborhood in 2004. Each man paid $300,000 for his home. Bob paid the whole $300,000 in cash. Frank put down 10% (or $30,000) and took out a $270,000 mortgage. Freddie paid $0-down on a 100% mortgage. In 2005, home prices rose by 10% which... Read More
How to Make $4 Trillion Vanish in a Flash
On August 9, 2007, an incident took place at a bank in France that touched-off a financial crisis that that would eventually wipe out more than $30 trillion in capital and thrust the world into the deepest slump since the Great Depression. The event was recounted in a speech by Pimco's managing director Paul McCulley,... Read More
Mr. Insubordination Makes His Exit
Stuart Levey, the United States official in charge of unilateral financial sanctions against Iran and North Korea, is resigning as Assistant Secretary of State for the Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. Levey was apparently fondly regarded in the Obama White House as a key player in the "smart power" strategy, and highly regarded by... Read More
An Emerging Bubble Alert
Counterfeiting is an effective way to stimulate the economy, but the costs can be quite high. For example, if trillions of dollars in fake cash was injected into the financial system (undetected), we'd probably see the same type of thing that we see when a credit bubble is inflating; asset prices would rise, unemployment would... Read More
All It Has to Do is Vote "No"
Wednesday's press conference with ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet turned out to be a real jaw-dropper. While Master illusionist Trichet didn't commit himself to massive bond purchases (Quantitative Easing) as many had hoped, he did impress the gathering with his magical skills. The Financial Times recounts Trichet's what happened like this: Nice trick, eh? So while... Read More
Ireland is on the Way to Default
There was a bank run in Ireland last Wednesday. LCH Clearnet, a London based clearinghouse, surprised the markets by announcing it would increase margin requirements on Irish debt by 15 per cent. That's all it took to send investors fleeing for the exits. Yields on Irish bonds spiked sharply as banks tried to close positions... Read More
Austerity for Workers, Welfare for Banks
The EU banking system is in big trouble. That's why European Central Bank (ECB) head Jean-Claude Trichet continues to purchase government bonds and provide "unlimited funds" for underwater banks. It's an effort to prevent a financial system meltdown that could wipe out bondholders and plunge the economy back into recession. "We have the best track... Read More
Reflating High-Risk Assets
Credit conditions are improving for speculators and bubblemakers, but they continue to worsen for households, consumers and small businesses. An article in the Wall Street Journal confirms that the Fed's efforts to revive the so-called shadow banking system is showing signs of progress. Financial intermediaries have been taking advantage of low rates and easy terms... Read More
The Stress Test Fraud
The EU banking system is in big trouble. Many of the Union's largest banks are sitting on hundreds of billions of dodgy sovereign bonds and non performing real estate loans. But writing down their losses will deplete their capital and force them to restructure their debt. So the banks are concealing their losses through accounting... Read More
Trichet's Power Grab
On Thursday, European Central Bank head Jean-Claude Trichet announced that he would continue the ECB's low interest rates (1 per cent) and easy lending policies for the foreseeable future. Wall Street rallied on the news, sending shares rocketing up 273 points on the day. Trichet also said that he would continue his controversial bond-purchasing program... Read More
Europe Chooses Depression
Forget about a smooth recovery. Finance ministers and central bank governors of the G-20, met this weekend in Busan, South Korea and decided to substitute "tried and true" expansionary fiscal policies for their own strange brew of belt-tightening and austerity measures. The EU members are eager to restore the illusory "confidence of the markets", something... Read More
On to the 88 Cent Euro!
Despite a nearly-$1 trillion rescue operation, financial conditions in the eurozone continue to deteriorate. All the gauges of market stress are edging upwards and credit default swaps (CDS) spreads have widened to levels not seen since the weekend of the emergency euro-summit. Libor (the London Interbank Offered Rate) is on the rise and liquidity is... Read More
Systemic Instability
Debt woes in Greece have sent bond yields soaring and increased the prospect of sovereign default. A restructuring of Greek debt will deal a blow to lenders in Germany and France that are insufficiently capitalized to manage the losses. Finance ministers, EU heads-of-state and the European Central Bank (ECB) have responded forcefully to try to... Read More
"Thumbs Down" on EU Bailout
Barack Obama must have been very frightened, indeed. Otherwise he never would have inserted himself so forcefully into Greece's debt crisis. The truth is, there's much more at stake then people seem to realize. A Greek default would be a major blow to the banking system and the damage would not be limited just to... Read More
The Shadow Banking System Blew Up
Most people still don't know what caused the financial crisis. They know it had something to do with subprime mortgages and Lehman Bros, but beyond that, it gets rather hazy. Unfortunately, Congress appears to be in the dark too, which is why their attempt to regulate the system is bound to fail and pave the... Read More
An Insolvent System?
On Friday, the Wall Street Journal revealed details of a cover up by the nation’s largest banks that have been engaged in potentially-criminal accounting activities to conceal the amount of debt on their balance sheets. The SEC has been notified of the allegations and has launched a probe to determine whether further action is needed.... Read More
The Next Big Bailout "Any Day Now"
Housing is still on the rocks and prices are headed lower. Master illusionist Ben Bernanke has managed to engineer a modest 7-month uptick in sales, but the fairydust is set to wear off later this month when the Fed stops purchasing mortgage-backed securities (MBS). When the program ends, long-term interest rates will creep higher and... Read More
The Long Adjustment
The U.S. economy is at the beginning of a protracted period of adjustment. The sharp decline in business activity, which began in the summer of 2007, has moderated slightly, but there are few indications that growth will return to pre-crisis levels. Stocks have performed well in the last six months, beating most analysts expectations, but... Read More
Why the Economy Has Yet to Hit Bottom
There's a big difference between an inventory-driven recession and a credit-driven recession. An inventory recession is caused by a mismatch between supply and demand. It's the result of overcapacity and under-utilization which can only work itself out over time as inventories are pared back and demand builds. Credit-driven recessions are a different story altogether. They... Read More
Elizabeth Warren's Devasting Report to Congress
On Tuesday, a congressional panel headed by ex-Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren released a report on Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's handling of the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP). Warren was appointed to lead the five-member Congressional Oversight Panel (COP) in November by Senate majority leader Harry Reid. From the opening paragraph on, the Warren report... Read More
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