Posted on April 29, 2013 by Ellen Brown
“[W]ith Cyprus . . . the game itself changed. By raiding the depositors’ accounts, a major central bank has gone where they would not previously have dared. The Rubicon has been crossed.”
—Eric Sprott, Shree Kargutkar, “Caveat Depositor”
The crossing of the Rubicon into the confiscation of depositor funds was not a one-off emergency measure limited to Cyprus. Similar “bail-in” policies are now appearing in multiple countries. (See my earlier articles here.) What triggered the new rules may have been a series of game-changing events including the refusal of Iceland to bail out its banks and their depositors; Bank of America’s commingling of its ominously risky derivatives arm with its depository arm over the objections of the FDIC; and the fact that most EU banks are now insolvent. A crisis in a major nation such as Spain or Italy could lead to a chain of defaults beyond anyone’s control, and beyond the ability of federal deposit insurance schemes to reimburse depositors.
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Posted on April 15, 2013 by Ellen Brown
On April 6, 2013, Ellen Brown of the Public Banking Institute joined Rocky Anderson in a thoughtful discussion relating to the 2008 economic crash and what we can do to protect our state and local economies when Wall Street Banks tank. Fortunately, we have an operating model in North Dakota to learn from: A public state bank.
Listen to the recording below to learn how public state banks save taxpayer dollars and help the economy grow.
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Posted on April 9, 2013 by Ellen Brown
Cyprus-style confiscation of depositor funds has been called the “new normal.” Bail-in policies are appearing in multiple countries directing failing TBTF banks to convert the funds of “unsecured creditors” into capital; and those creditors, it turns out, include ordinary depositors. Even “secured” creditors, including state and local governments, may be at risk. Derivatives have “super-priority” status in bankruptcy, and Dodd Frank precludes further taxpayer bailouts. In a big derivatives bust, there may be no collateral left for the creditors who are next in line. Read more »
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Posted on March 28, 2013 by Ellen Brown
Confiscating the customer deposits in Cyprus banks, it seems, was not a one-off, desperate idea of a few Eurozone “troika” officials scrambling to salvage their balance sheets. A joint paper by the US Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Bank of England dated December 10, 2012, shows that these plans have been long in the making; that they originated with the G20 Financial Stability Board in Basel, Switzerland (discussed earlier here); and that the result will be to deliver clear title to the banks of depositor funds. Read more »
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Posted on March 21, 2013 by Ellen Brown
If these worries become really serious, . . . [s]mall savers will take their money out of banks and resort to household safes and a shotgun.
– Martin Hutchinson on the attempted EU raid on deposits in Cyprus banks
The deposit confiscation scheme has long been in the making. US depositors could be next . . . .
On Tuesday, March 19, the national legislature of Cyprus overwhelmingly rejected a proposed levy on bank deposits as a condition for a European bailout. Reuters called it “a stunning setback for the 17-nation currency bloc,” but it was a stunning victory for democracy. As Reuters quoted one 65-year-old pensioner, “The voice of the people was heard.”
The EU had warned that it would withhold €10 billion in bailout loans, and the European Central Bank (ECB) had threatened to end emergency lending assistance for distressed Cypriot banks, unless depositors – including small savers – shared the cost of the rescue. In the deal rejected by the legislature, a one-time levy on depositors would be required in return for a bailout of the banking system. Deposits below €100,000 would be subject to a 6.75% levy or “haircut”, while those over €100,000 would have been subject to a 9.99% “fine.”
The move was bold, but the battle isn’t over yet. The EU has now given Cyprus until Monday to raise the billions of euros it needs to clinch an international bailout or face the threatened collapse of its financial system and likely exit from the euro currency zone.
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Posted on March 7, 2013 by Ellen Brown
Default on the public debt, nationalization of the banks, and a citizen dividend could actually save the Italian economy.
Comedian Beppe Grillo was surprised himself when his Five Star Movement got 8.7 million votes in the Italian general election of February 24-25th. His movement is now the biggest single party in the chamber of deputies, says The Guardian, which makes him “a kingmaker in a hung parliament.”
Grillo’s is the party of “no.” In a candidacy based on satire, he organized an annual “V Day Celebration,” the “V” standing for vaffanculo (“f—k off”). He rejects the status quo—all the existing parties and their monopoly control of politics, jobs, and financing—and seeks a referendum on all international treaties, including NATO membership, free trade agreements and the Euro.
“If we get into parliament,” says Grillo, “we would bring the old system down, not because we would enjoy doing so but because the system is rotten.” Critics fear, and supporters hope, that if his party succeeds, it could break the Euro system.
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Posted on February 24, 2013 by Ellen Brown
Quantitative easing (QE) is supposed to stimulate the economy by adding money to the money supply, increasing demand. But so far, it hasn’t been working. Why not? Because as practiced for the last two decades, QE does not actually increase the circulating money supply. It merely cleans up the toxic balance sheets of banks. A real “helicopter drop” that puts money into the pockets of consumers and businesses has not yet been tried. Why not? Another good question . . . .
When Ben Bernanke gave his famous helicopter money speech to the Japanese in 2002, he was not yet chairman of the Federal Reserve. He said then that the government could easily reverse a deflation, just by printing money and dropping it from helicopters. “The U.S. government has a technology, called a printing press (or, today, its electronic equivalent),” he said, “that allows it to produce as many U.S. dollars as it wishes at essentially no cost.” Later in the speech he discussed “a money-financed tax cut,” which he said was “essentially equivalent to Milton Friedman’s famous ‘helicopter drop’ of money.” Deflation could be cured, said Professor Friedman, simply by dropping money from helicopters.
It seemed logical enough. If the money supply were insufficient for the needs of trade, the solution was to add money to it. Most of the circulating money supply consists of “bank credit” created by banks when they make loans. When old loans are paid off faster than new loans are taken out (as is happening today), the money supply shrinks. The purpose of QE is to reverse this contraction.
But if debt deflation is so easy to fix, then why have the Fed’s massive attempts to pull this maneuver off failed to revive the economy? And why is Japan still suffering from deflation after 20 years of quantitative easing?
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Posted on February 13, 2013 by Ellen Brown
As Congress struggles through one budget crisis after another, it is becoming increasingly evident that austerity doesn’t work. We cannot possibly pay off a $16 trillion debt by tightening our belts, slashing public services, and raising taxes. Historically, when the deficit has been reduced, the money supply has been reduced along with it, throwing the economy into recession. After a thorough analysis of statistics from dozens of countries forced to apply austerity plans by the World Bank and IMF, former World Bank chief economist Joseph Stiglitz called austerity plans a “suicide pact.”
Congress already has in its hands the power to solve the nation’s budget challenges – today and permanently. But it has been artificially constrained from using that power by misguided economic dogma, dogma generated by the interests it serves. We have bought into the idea that there is not enough money to feed and house our population, rebuild our roads and bridges, or fund our most important programs — that there is no alternative but to slash budgets and deficits if we are to survive. We have a mountain of critical work to do, improving our schools, rebuilding our infrastructure, pursuing our research goals, and so forth. And with millions of unemployed and underemployed, the people are there to do it. What we don’t have, we are told, is just the money to bring workers and resources together.
But we do have it! Or we could. Read more »
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Posted on February 8, 2013 by Ellen Brown
Restoring public banking is at the top of Hazel Henderson’s list of things to do to build a new financial system. Also prominent is a financial transactions (Tobin) tax, already approved by EU finance ministers.
Read the article here.
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Posted on January 18, 2013 by Ellen Brown
The trillion dollar coin actually represents one of the most important principles of popular prosperity ever conceived: the creation of money by sovereign governments, debt-free.
Last week on “The Daily Show,” Jon Stewart characterized the proposal that the White House circumvent the debt ceiling by minting a trillion dollar coin as an attempt to “just make shit up.”
Economist and NY Times columnist Paul Krugman responded with a critical blog post accusing Stuart of a “lack of professionalism” for not taking the trillion dollar coin seriously. However, Krugman himself had called the idea “silly.” He thought it was just less silly — and less dangerous — than playing with the debt ceiling, which was itself an unconstitutional shackle on the Treasury’s ability to pay debts already incurred by Congress.
Stewart responded on January 15 that he stood by his “ignorant conclusion that a trillion dollar coin minted to allow the president to circumvent the debt ceiling, however arbitrary that may be, is a stupid f*cking idea.” Read more »
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Posted on January 4, 2013 by Ellen Brown
In a shameless display of putting politics before human needs, Congress began 2013 still scrapping over a $60 billion Hurricane Sandy relief bill fully nine weeks after the disaster hit. And if the Katrina experience is any indication, the bill may not bring adequate relief to struggling and displaced homeowners even when it is finally passed.
The damage wrought by Sandy to New York and New Jersey coastal areas was similar in scale to that to New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Just two weeks after Katrina hit, Congress approved $62.3 billion in emergency appropriations, along with numerous subsequent emergency funding requests to cover the damages, which topped $100 billion. Yet as noted on the Occupy Sandy Facebook page, federal relief funds post-Katrina were gutted in favor of “privatizing and outsourcing relief, making room for predatory lenders, disaster capitalists, and gentrification developers.” Read more »
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Posted on December 30, 2012 by Ellen Brown
This was generated automatically by WordPress, but it’s a nice New Year’s pic! Season’s greetings! Ellen
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
About 55,000 tourists visit Liechtenstein every year. This blog was viewed about 170,000 times in 2012. If it were Liechtenstein, it would take about 3 years for that many people to see it. Your blog had more visits than a small country in Europe!
Click here to see the complete report.
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Posted on December 19, 2012 by Ellen Brown
The “fiscal cliff” has all the earmarks of a false flag operation, full of sound and fury, intended to extort concessions from opponents. Neil Irwin of the Washington Post calls it “a self-induced austerity crisis.” David Weidner in the Wall Street Journal calls it simply theater, designed to pressure politicians into a budget deal:
The cliff is really just a trumped-up annual budget discussion. . . . The most likely outcome is a combination of tax increases, spending cuts and kicking the can down the road.
Yet the media coverage has been “panic-inducing, falling somewhere between that given to an approaching hurricane and an alien invasion.” In the summer of 2011, this sort of media hype succeeded in causing the Dow Jones Industrial Average to plunge nearly 2000 points. But this time the market is generally ignoring the cliff, either confident a deal will be reached or not caring. Read more »
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Posted on December 7, 2012 by Ellen Brown
The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and the Bank of Scotland have been pillars of Scotland’s economy and culture for over three centuries. So when the RBS was nationalized by the London-based UK government following the 2008 banking crisis, and the Bank of Scotland was acquired by the London-based Lloyds Bank, it came as a shock to the Scots. They no longer owned their oldest and most venerable banks.
Another surprise turn of events was the triumph of the Scottish National Party (SNP) in the 2011 Scottish parliamentary election. Scotland is still part of the United Kingdom, but it has had its own parliament since 1999, similar to U.S. states. The SNP has rallied around the call for independence from the UK since its founding in 1934, but it was a minority party until the 2011 victory, which gave it an overall majority in the Scottish Parliament.
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Posted on November 14, 2012 by Ellen Brown
I’ll be traveling again for the next month, to Switzerland, Malaysia, Scotland, and the East Coast, so may not get an article out; but here are three interviews on public banking from last month’s travels –
November 5, 2012 — “Populist Dialogues,” Alliance for Democracy with David Delk, “Escaping the Great Recession with Public Banking,” Portland, OR.
October 29, 2012 — Guns and Butter with Bonnie Faulkner, “Restoring Prosperity with Public Banking,” KPFA, San Francisco.
November 8, 2012 — Healthy Money Summit with Hazel Henderson, “Sustainable Banking: Restoring Abundance with Publicly-owned Banks.”
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Posted on November 8, 2012 by Ellen Brown
In the 2012 edition of Occupy Money released last week, Professor Margrit Kennedy writes that a stunning 35% to 40% of everything we buy goes to interest. This interest goes to bankers, financiers, and bondholders, who take a 35% to 40% cut of our GDP. That helps explain how wealth is systematically transferred from Main Street to Wall Street. The rich get progressively richer at the expense of the poor, not just because of “Wall Street greed” but because of the inexorable mathematics of our private banking system.
This hidden tribute to the banks will come as a surprise to most people, who think that if they pay their credit card bills on time and don’t take out loans, they aren’t paying interest. This, says Dr. Kennedy, is not true. Tradesmen, suppliers, wholesalers and retailers all along the chain of production rely on credit to pay their bills. They must pay for labor and materials before they have a product to sell and before the end buyer pays for the product 90 days later. Each supplier in the chain adds interest to its production costs, which are passed on to the ultimate consumer. Dr. Kennedy cites interest charges ranging from 12% for garbage collection, to 38% for drinking water to, 77% for rent in public housing in her native Germany.
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Posted on November 3, 2012 by Ellen Brown
I’ve been traveling and speaking for most of the last month and will be again in November, so haven’t managed to get an article out; but here are three posts on public banking that came out in the last week that I think are excellent:
HURRICANE SANDY & THE GREAT RED RIVER FLOOD
How the Public Bank of North Dakota saved Grand Forks
November 03, 2012
(GRAND FORKS, N.D.) — As the nation watches the aftermath of the destructive Hurricane Sandy in New York and New Jersey, it may be instructive to compare another cleanup 15 years ago in North Dakota after another natural disaster – the massive flooding of the Red River and the fire in downtown Grand Forks. . . .
Read more here.
CAN PUBLIC BANKS END WALL STREET HEGEMONY?
October 30, 2012
. . . The short of it is, Wall Street bankers end up earning billions in fees no matter whether state and municipal financial products succeed or fail. . . .Mike Krauss focuses on the disastrous effects this has had in Philadelphia: the city has lost $500 million dollars to these interest swap products alone. . . .
Read more here.
Mike Krauss’s fiery testimony before the Philadelphia City Council on October 25th is here.
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Posted on October 3, 2012 by Ellen Brown
QE3, the Federal Reserve’s third round of quantitative easing, is so open-ended that it is being called QE Infinity. Doubts about its effectiveness are surfacing even on Wall Street. The Financial Times reports:
Among the trading rooms and floors of Connecticut and Mayfair [in London], supposedly sophisticated money managers are raising big questions about QE3 — and whether, this time around, the Fed is not risking more than it can deliver.
Which raises the question, what is it intended to deliver? As suggested in an earlier article here, QE3 is not likely to reduce unemployment, put money in the pockets of consumers, reflate the money supply, or significantly lower interest rates for homeowners, as alleged. It will not achieve those things because it consists of no more than an asset swap on bank balance sheets. It will not get dollars to businesses or consumers on Main Street.
So what is the real purpose of this exercise? Read more »
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Posted on September 27, 2012 by Ellen Brown
North Dakota shines like a bright star in the dark night of America’s Great Recession. It stands out for two reasons: First, it led the United States in sustaining a strong economy and high employment through the last four years. Second, it is the only state in the union with a publicly-owned bank. Many believe the Bank of North Dakota played an important role in stabilizing the state’s economy, and they would like to replicate public banks nation-wide. It will be a tough fight, and an important one.
Read the whole article here.
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Posted on September 21, 2012 by Ellen Brown
The economy could use a good dose of “aggregate demand”—new spending money in the pockets of consumers—but QE3 won’t do it. Neither will it trigger the dreaded hyperinflation. In fact, it won’t do much at all. There are better alternatives.
The Fed’s announcement on September 13, 2012, that it was embarking on a third round of quantitative easing has brought the “sound money” crew out in force, pumping out articles with frighting titles such as “QE3 Will Unleash’ Economic Horror’ On The Human Race.” The Fed calls QE an asset swap, swapping Fed-created dollars for other assets on the banks’ balance sheets. But critics call it “reckless money printing” and say it will inevitably produce hyperinflation. Too much money will be chasing too few goods, forcing prices up and the value of the dollar down.
All this hyperventilating could have been avoided by taking a closer look at how QE works. The money created by the Fed will go straight into bank reserve accounts, and banks can’t lend their reserves. The money just sits there, drawing a bit of interest. The Fed’s plan is to buy mortgage-backed securities (MBS) from the banks, but according to the Washington Post, this is not expected to be of much help to homeowners either. Read more »
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