Don’t Worry, It’s Just “Globalization”

                   

In December of 2008 it was announced that the Bank of New York Mellon would continue participating in the FDIC Temporary Liquidity Program.  
The Bank of New York Mellon?  Who the heck is that?  The Bank of New York Mellon is the product of a 2007 merger between Mellon Financial Corp and The Bank of New York, the oldest bank in the country, founded in 1784.   Alexander Hamilton not only wrote the bank’s constitution, but was “the individual most actively involved in the organization of The Bank of New York, guiding it through its early stages”(2)  Alexander Hamilton is well known for his advocation of the central bank, and this sentiment echoed in his “Report on Public Credit“, where he proposed that the federal government assume state debts incurred during the revolution, much to the dismay of others like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, who believed that
                          
“taxpayers should not be assessed again to bail out the less provident.” (3) 
    
An interesting twist of fate here in the current bailout milieu.  What we are currently experiencing, as it happens, is indeed a blast from the past.  And the bailouts our forefathers dealt with were controversial, just as they are now.  This is no surprise given the bailout mentality not only tolerates improvidence – it encourages it.   Indeed it rewards it.  This mentality revolves fundamentally around a central bank and its authority to create money with the stroke of a pen, money that we (the US Treasury) must issue debt (T-bills) to lay a finger on.  This easy money (debt financed) system has had some interesting effects, which all too often get lumped into the catch-all category of “globalization”.  This is certainly convenient, because for many this means that these changes are not only inevitable but are also inherently good.  Isn’t it more interesting to look at the kind of “globalization” that is being pushed and who it really benefits?
        
Globalization does not have to entail the loss of national sovereignty.  The two are not mutually exclusive, though the global elite would have us think they are.  Globalization need not entail the blurring of lines that we are seeing today, the lines separating public from private and those separating foreign from domestic.  Today, big corporations and government entities, both foreign and domestic, seem to have interests everywhere.  Thus the private Bank of New York Mellon and other banks happily support the FDIC temporary liquidity program, since taxpayers will almost certainly, ultimately bear the cost.   The government can orchestrate bailouts for many private corporations using hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars.  And the central bank can authorize GMAC’s bid for access to billions of taxpayer bailout money though the majority of GMAC is owned by GM and the giant private equity firm Cerberus.
                 
Meanwhile, some countries, like ours, are driven deeper into debt, while others have surpluses – sovereign wealth funds – allowing them to buy up stakes in both our national debt and our private corporations.  These sovereign wealth funds are a product of decades of the United States importing more than it exports.  Now China not only can purchase our debt, but can infuse Blackstone or Morgan StanleyAbu Dhabi can infuse Citibank.   Korean Investment Corp and Kuwait Investment Authority can pour funds into Merrill Lynch.  And this is a positive development?
                           
Public to private and vice-versa.  What’s the difference anymore?  Across international borders … no problem.    And how can the average Joe ever keep track of it?  We can’t.  And yet some things remain quite clear.   This kind of “globalization” smacks of power consolidation and of multinationals that are bigger than countries and that destroy local commerce everywhere they go and control governments.  But worse, they are governments!  It has become relatively easy for most of us today to name the corporate associations of many of our most important leaders.   Conflict of interest, anyone?  But this really comes as no surprise given that  corporate leadership and top government officials, including central bank officials, have been meeting secretly (4) on a regular basis for a very long time now.  Wouldn’t it be nice to be a fly on the wall inside the inner sanctum, at this year’s Trilateral Commission, CFR, or Bilderberg meetings
                     
The net result?   The global elite are getting richer.   No surprises there.   What should we expect when we “liberalize” the globe in the name of the free market global economy (5), giving giant transnationals unfettered access to the markets of their choice, regardless of how that might affect the local economy there?  (What would we expect if we took things like weight classes and age limits away from the Olympic games?  Wouldn’t we expect to ruin the competition?)  And what happens when you allow big financial institutions to use complex derivative instruments like collateralized debt obligations and credit default swaps and also allow these instruments to be bought and sold without regulation (6), or when you allow a central bank to print money out of thin air (money we don’t have) at their whim? 
                         
Easy money artificially inflates and encourages people to spend money they don’t have.  It not only creates the illusion of wealth but a misunderstanding of what wealth actually is.  Human nature ensures that the populace is easily sold on the idea that they can attain wealth without producing anything real, that it is normal to make obscene profits in stocks and real estate, and that these profits are deserved – that this wealth can just appear from nowhere – due to prudent investment.  Did they notice the commensurate ballooning their national debt and unfunded entitlements?  And do they understand why things are so cheap for them?
                 
This something for nothing mentality should have raised a few more red flags, but we were in the midst of a big party, even as the underlying economics had already begun shifting.  The world reserve currency – the US dollar – continues losing value, and central banks around the world increasingly hold fewer dollars as reserves and more of the other important currencies like the euro, pound, and yen.  As new centers of production, such as the BRIC countries, emerge, (where transnationals can enjoy slave labor and low taxes) the US dollar will continue to lose significance.   Now that our production has fallen way back, the only thing keeping the dollar afloat is the fact that it is still the world reserve currency.  The paradigm hasn’t finished shifting yet, though it has begun.  Thus productive countries like China are still sending us goods just to offset the dollars they use for their central bank reserves, dollars that our “FED” created out of thin air, and then charged to the US national debt.  Every time the FED turns on its printing press to print more dollars, our government has to issue bonds to get those dollars.  These bonds represent more government debt, for which we owe not only full face dollar value (on dollars that cost a few cents for the Fed to print) but interest to boot.  Fair deal? 
                           
Still the mass media leaves the central bank alone, and shines its bright lights on the naughty little banks who are engaging in “poor lending practices”.  It’s all their fault.  This is like ignoring the drug smugglers and then blaming the drug problem in the neighborhood on the kids and petty dealers, treating the problem symptomatically instead of systemically.  But we have an even bigger problem than that.  Unfortunately, it’s not just the kids who are intoxicated.  Easy money makes cocaine look like milk and cookies.  Spending way more than you produce is intoxicating.  Great.  But how great will it be when your home is worth a fraction of what it once was?  How great is it that the domestic stocks and funds (or the so-called “foreign” ones that trade locally and are denominated in dollars) that you hold in your retirement account continue to slide while real foreign stocks and funds continue to outperform? (7)   Even the very currency that all of your so-called “assets” are denominated in loses more value every year while others climb.  Meanwhile, giant transnationals move on to greener pastures . . . greener pastures that are rolling out the red carpets as their sovereign wealth funds swell and buy up US debt and US preferred corporate stock. 
                                                                                                                                                   
But don’t worry – it’s just “globalization”.
                                 
                                                                                                

 
  
  
  (2) 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bank_of_New_York – under “History”
          
  (3)  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Hamilton – under “Report on Public Credit” 
                
  (4)  
ie; they are not beholden to you in any way, shape or form to divulge the purpose or contents of their meetings.  The meetings are private.  But when they need bailout taxpayer dollars, then it’s all about public . . .  all about teamwork – oneness – for the good of all humanity – for the “global community”, etc . . .
               
  (5) 
Transnational offshoring has nothing to do with the free market, and everything to do with looting.  It has everything to do with domination and killing the competition being more important than innovation.  When resources aren’t available at home, they just go “offshore” and steal them, which they can do because they have friends in high places.  Abundant natural resources, dirt cheap labor, negligible civil rights, low taxes . . .   How could they resist?
                  
  (6) 
Collateralized debt obligations and credit default swaps are often compared to betting on a sporting event.  Just imagine what a wonderful development this was for those in the loop!  For most, however, these instruments are ticking time bombs.  Maybe that’s why Warren Buffett calls them “financial weapons of mass destruction.”   These instruments are highly complex, unregulated and difficult for credit rating agencies to evaluate, allowing large financial institutions to move debt off their books and avoid taxes by pooling their debt with other financial institutions.  In a nutshell, smoke and mirrors paint a pretty picture, and create money outside the normal central bank liquidity rules.
     
(7)  If you’re like most investors, your so-called “foreign” stocks or funds trade on a domestic exchange, ie; on the NASDAQ, AMEX or NYSE.  Besides being denominated in dollars, these equities are being outperformed badly by others trading on foreign exchanges such as London, Tokyo, Hong Kong, etc …  Too bad many of these foreign equities, with long track records of superior performance, are prohibited by our SEC from advertising in the US. 
                    
    
  
    
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One response to “Don’t Worry, It’s Just “Globalization”

  1. “Easy money artificially inflates and encourages people to spend money they don’t have. ”

    Which is why the US is in such a dire economic crisis.

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