Tag: The Guardian

The Euro is a Big Success – No Kidding

Greg Palast 

by Greg Palast | The Guardian USA

The idea that the euro has “failed” is dangerously naive. The euro is doing exactly what its progenitor – and the wealthy 1%-ers who adopted it – predicted and planned for it to do.

That progenitor is former University of Chicago economist Robert Mundell. The architect of “supply-side economics” is now a professor at Columbia University, but I knew him through his connection to my Chicago professor, Milton Friedman, back before Mundell’s research on currencies and exchange rates had produced the blueprint for European monetary union and a common European currency.

Mundell, then, was more concerned with his bathroom arrangements. Professor Mundell, who has both a Nobel Prize and an ancient villa in Tuscany, told me, incensed:

“They won’t even let me have a toilet. They’ve got rules that tell me I can’t have a toilet in this room! Can you imagine?” …more

Billionaires & Ballot Bandits
Palast’s upcoming New Book

Greg Palast 

 

 

An Excerpt from Billionaires & Ballot Bandits

How the Election Games are fixed by the Koch gang,
Karl Rove and their buck-buddies

 

Part 1 – THE GAME

 

In the Beginning

In early 2010, a man named Karl Rove met with a financier known as the Ice Man.  The billionaire had more than his share of legal and political troubles.  Rove told him he had a plan to defeat Barack Obama and seize control of Congress for the GOP.

The Ice Man said, “I’m in,” and handed over a check for $20 million.

And Ice Man promised more.

“Karl is the best political mind out there,” he said.

Way out there. 2012:  Ballots Up the Congo

How I ended up here, up the Congo River, hunting for missing ballots in the US presidential election, well, that’s a story in itself.  I’ll get to that.

But first, I have to take you deep into the Heart of Darkness, Washington DC, where, in 2004, this same Karl Rove arranged for his pudgy little poodle to take on a terrible and cruel assignment.  The poodle, Tim Griffin, had the small hands, small mind and small heart perfectly suited for the job of re-electing the President, by hook or crook.   Mostly crook.

Rove, then Senior Advisor to President George W. Bush, said,

“We are beginning to look like we have elections like those run in countries where the guys in charge are, you know, colonels in mirrored glasses.”

Rove wasn’t complaining.  He was boasting. …more

Romney’s Billionaire Threatens
BBC Investigative Reporter

“We have a File on Palast”

Greg Palast 

For Truthout/Buzzflash
Palast is the author of Vultures’ Picnic: in Pursuit of Petroleum Pigs, Power Pirates and High-Finance Carnivores. See Palast live on stage in New York, DC and other cities.

 

Last Monday, a call came in to BBC Television Centre, London, from the office of Mitt Romney’s billionaire backer and “advisor” Paul Singer.

Singer, top donor to the Republican Senate Campaign Committee had a message for the news chiefs at the prestigious broadcaster:

“We have a file on Greg Palast.”

I bet they do. …more

Wall Street is just an address
And that is WHY WE OCCUPY

Greg Palast 

The Palast investigations team at Zuccotti Park Wall Street, Occupy Portland, Occupy Oakland, and Kinshasa, Congo

exclusive for OpedNews.com

So big deal. They evicted us.  That just means we are among five million Americans evicted from their homes this year.

Our photographer, Zach Roberts, had his camera cracked and his head whacked. [See the photo of the nightstick just before it breaks the lens.]

Go ahead, kick us and evict us. That won’t stop us. Because it’s not about the real estate. Wall Street’s just an address.

Time to remind The One Percent why we occupy. …more

Sachs Fiend:
Goldman Attacks Occupy Wall Street’s Non-Profit Bank

When Goldman got huffy at a credit union honouring OWS and pulled its anniversary dinner funding, much more was at stake

Greg Palast 

Exclusive for The Guardian
by Greg Palast, the author of Vultures’ Picnic: In Pursuit of Petroleum Pigs, Power Pirates, and High-Finance Carnivores.
With Arun Gupta, founding editor of The Occupied Wall Street Journal.

Greg Palast reports from Occupied Wall Street for Democracy Now!

[Zuccotti Park, Wall Street, New York.]

Mega-bank Goldman Sachs (assets $933bn), has declared war on one of the smallest banks in New York (assets $30m), the customer-owned community bank that happens to also be the banker for Friends of Liberty Plaza, Inc, also known as Occupy Wall Street. And you thought Goldman didn’t care.

The trouble began three weeks ago when the occupiers suddenly found their donation buckets filling with thousands of dollars, way more than needed for their pizza dinners. Suddenly, the anti-bank protesters needed a bank. Citibank and Chase certainly wouldn’t fit. So OWS opened an account at the not-for-profit Lower East Side Peoples Federal Credit Union. Peoples has a unique federal charter – designated to open accounts for low-income folk from all over NewYork, available to those families earning less than $38,000 per year. (Disclosure: the CEO of the Peoples bank is my dearly beloved ex. But that’s another story.)

Goldman Sachs had also joined up with the Peoples bank. Goldman partners reportedly earn a bit more than $38k per annum, yet Goldman’s association so far was limited to giving the credit union $5,000 toward the little bank’s 25th anniversary celebration dinner. Goldman’s largesse was acknowledged on the dinner invites – along with the night’s honoree: Occupy Wall Street.

When a Goldman exec saw its gilded name next to Occupy Wall Street, …more

Who killed “Stieg” Larsson?

Greg Palast 

I asked my daughter if she would like to add her own recollections about JK Rowling and the “alternative” Harry Potter endings Jo Rowling told us when we were hanging out in the Green Room at BBC Television Centre. (I provide investigative stories for the BBC current affairs program Newsnight.) My daughter and her oblivious twin brother don’t remember much, but what did leave an impression were my speculations about the untimely and suspicious death of my fellow investigative reporter, Karl Larsson–whom you would know as the fiction writer “Stieg” Larsson.

 

My daughter interviewed me about Larsson’s work and wrote this report for school. Her mother is allowing me to post it only on condition her by-line gives her nickname only. …more

Strauss-Kahn Screws Africa

Greg Palast 

For The Guardian

Now that I’ve dispensed with the obvious and obnoxious teaser headline, let’s drop the towel and expose Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s history of arrogant abuse. The truth is, the grandee of the IMF has molested Africans for years.

On Wednesday, the New York Times ran five – count’em, FIVE – stories on Strauss-Kahn, Director-General of the International Monetary Fund. According to the Paper of Record, the charges against “DSK,” as he’s known in France, are in “contradiction” to his “charm” and “accomplishments” at the IMF.

Au contraire, mes chers lecteurs.

Director-General DSK’s cruelty, arrogance and impunity toward African and other nations as generalissimo of the IMF is right in line with the story told by the poor, African hotel housekeeper in New York City.

Let’s consider how the housekeeper from Guinea ended up here in New York. In 2002, this single mother was granted asylum. What drove her here?

It began with the IMF rape of Guinea.

…more

Liberian Leader Urges MPs to Back Action Against Vulture Funds

Greg Palast 

An investigation for BBC’s Newsnight has uncovered allegations that speculators subverted the international debt relief process.

And Heather Stewart for The Guardian

president

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the president of Liberia, is urging MPs to back a bill banning vulture funds from using British courts to prey on poor countries when it comes to a vote on Friday. Liberia lost a $20m (£13m) case in London last year against two so-called vultures. Such funds buy up the loans of poor governments, wait for them to win from the international community, and then use courts to pursue the countries for assets.

Sirleaf said: “We’ve been waiting for a parliament or an assembly to take this kind of hard decision. I hope the US Congress and maybe some others in Europe will pick up this gauntlet and will follow the example of Britain.”

An investigation for BBC’s Newsnight, to be broadcast tonight, has uncovered allegations that speculators subverted the international debt relief process for Liberia, in an attempt to gain more money from its government and international donors than 97% of its other creditors accepted.

…more

Bush Could Block Debt Collection by ‘Vulture’ Funds

Greg Palast 

by Ashley Seager, Economics Correspondent
Thursday February 22, 2007
Guardian (London)

President Bush could come to the aid of Zambia against a so-called “vulture” fund demanding millions of dollars in debt payments. He is reported to be concerned that investors from the Washington DC area won a court case in Britain last week which enabling them to claim $20m to $40m (£20m) from the poor African nation — as much as it has received in debt relief from rich countries in recent years. …more

How They Stole The Mid-Term Election

Greg Palast 

for The Guardian (UK), Comment is Free
Monday November 6, 2006

Here’s how the 2006 mid-term election was stolen.

Note the past tense. And I’m not kidding.

And shoot me for saying this, but it won’t be stolen by jerking with the touch-screen machines (though they’ll do their nasty part). While progressives panic over the viral spread of suspect computer black boxes, the Karl Rove-bots have been tunneling into the vote vaults through entirely different means.

…more

Project Censored 2007 — All About The O.I.L.

Greg Palast 

Project Censored 2007

In what has become a annual event Greg Palast wins two Project Censored awards. Project Censored compiles an annual list of 25 news stories of social significance that have been overlooked, under-reported or self-censored by the country’s major national news media. Both winning stories, Bush Didn’t Bungle Iraq, You Fools and Opec and the Economic Conquest of Iraq can be read below.

Bush Didn’t Bungle Iraq, You Fools: The Mission Was Indeed Accomplished

From The Guardian …more

British Petroleum’s “Smart Pig”

Greg Palast 

The Brilliantly Profitable Timing of the Alaska Oil Pipeline Shutdown

alskapipelineFor The Guardian (UK)

Is the Alaska Pipeline corroded? You bet it is. Has been for more than a decade. Did British Petroleum shut the pipe yesterday to turn a quick buck on its negligence, to profit off the disaster it created? Just ask the “smart pig.”

Years ago, I had the unhappy job of leading an investigation of British Petroleum’s management of the Alaska pipeline system. …more

Mexico and Florida Have More in Common Than Heat

Greg Palast for The Guardian UK

[Mexico City] There's more that the Mexico vote has in common with Florida besides the heat. The ruling party's hand-picked electoral commission counted a mere 243,000 votes more for their candidate, Felipe Calderón, over challenger Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. That's noteworthy in light of the surprise showing of candidate Senor Blank-o (the 827,000 ballots supposedly left "blank").

We've seen Mr Blank-o do well before ...more

Grand Theft Mexico

Greg Palast for The Guardian, UK

Dispatch from Mexico City

The election race south of the US border is officially too close to call. Now, where have we heard that before?

As in Florida in 2000, and as in Ohio in 2004, the exit polls show the voters voted for the progressive candidate. The race is "officially" too close to call. But they will call it - after they steal it.

Reuters reports that, as of 8pm eastern time, as voting concluded in Mexico, exit polls showed ...more

Bush Didn’t Bungle Iraq, You Fools
The Mission Was Indeed Accomplished

Greg Palast for The Guardian

Get off it. All the carping, belly-aching and complaining about George Bush's incompetence in Iraq, from both the Left and now the Right, is just dead wrong.
On the third anniversary of the tanks rolling over Iraq's border, most of the 59 million Homer Simpsons who voted for Bush are beginning to doubt if his mission was accomplished. But don't kid yourself ...more

IMF’s Four Steps to Damnation

Gregory Palast for The Observer/Guardian UK

How crises, failures, and suffering finally drove a Presidential adviser to the wrong side of the barricades

It was like a scene out of Le Carré: the brilliant agent comes in from the cold and, in hours of debriefing, empties his memory of horrors committed in the name of an ideology gone rotten.

But this was a far bigger catch than some used-up Cold War spy. The former apparatchik was Joseph Stiglitz, ex-chief economist of the World Bank. The new world economic order was his theory come to life.

He was in Washington for the big confab of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. But instead of chairing meetings of ministers and central bankers, he was outside the police cordons. The World Bank fired Stiglitz two years ago. He was not allowed a quiet retirement: he was excommunicated purely for expressing mild dissent from globalisation World Bank-style.

Here in Washington we conducted exclusive interviews with Stiglitz, for The Observer and Newsnight, about the inside workings of the IMF, the World Bank, and the bank’s 51% owner, the US Treasury.

And here, from sources unnamable (not Stiglitz), we obtained a cache of documents marked, ‘confidential’ and ‘restricted’.

Stiglitz helped translate one, a ‘country assistance strategy’. There’s an assistance strategy for every poorer nation, designed, says the World Bank, after careful in-country investigation.

But according to insider Stiglitz, the Bank’s ‘investigation’ involves little more than close inspection of five-star hotels. It concludes with a meeting with a begging finance minister, who is handed a ‘restructuring agreement’ pre-drafted for ‘voluntary’ signature.

Each nation’s economy is analysed, says Stiglitz, then the Bank hands every minister the same four-step programme.

Step One is privatisation. Stiglitz said that rather than objecting to the sell-offs of state industries, some politicians – using the World Bank’s demands to silence local critics – happily flogged their electricity and water companies. ‘You could see their eyes widen’ at the possibility of commissions for shaving a few billion off the sale price.

And the US government knew it, charges Stiglitz, at least in the case of the biggest privatisation of all, the 1995 Russian sell-off. ‘The US Treasury view was: “This was great, as we wanted Yeltsin re-elected. We DON’T CARE if it’s a corrupt election.” ‘

Stiglitz cannot simply be dismissed as a conspiracy nutter. The man was inside the game – a member of Bill Clinton’s cabinet, chairman of the President’s council of economic advisers.

Most sick-making for Stiglitz is that the US-backed oligarchs stripped Russia’s industrial assets, with the effect that national output was cut nearly in half.

After privatisation, Step Two is capital market liberalisation. In theory this allows investment capital to flow in and out. Unfortunately, as in Indonesia and Brazil, the money often simply flows out.

Stiglitz calls this the ‘hot money’ cycle. Cash comes in for speculation in real estate and currency, then flees at the first whiff of trouble. A nation’s reserves can drain in days.

And when that happens, to seduce speculators into returning a nation’s own capital funds, the IMF demands these nations raise interest rates to 30%, 50% and 80%.

‘The result was predictable,’ said Stiglitz. Higher interest rates demolish property values, savage industrial production and drain national treasuries.

At this point, according to Stiglitz, the IMF drags the gasping nation to Step Three: market-based pricing – a fancy term for raising prices on food, water and cooking gas. This leads, predictably, to Step-Three-and-a-Half: what Stiglitz calls ‘the IMF riot’.

The IMF riot is painfully predictable. When a nation is, ‘down and out, [the IMF] squeezes the last drop of blood out of them. They turn up the heat until, finally, the whole cauldron blows up,’ – as when the IMF eliminated food and fuel subsidies for the poor in Indonesia in 1998. Indonesia exploded into riots.

There are other examples – the Bolivian riots over water prices last year and, this February, the riots in Ecuador over the rise in cooking gas prices imposed by the World Bank. You’d almost believe the riot was expected.

And it is. What Stiglitz did not know is that Newsnight obtained several documents from inside the World Bank. In one, last year’s Interim Country Assistance Strategy for Ecuador, the Bank several times suggests – with cold accuracy – that the plans could be expected to spark ‘social unrest’.

That’s not surprising. The secret report notes that the plan to make the US dollar Ecuador’s currency has pushed 51% of the population below the poverty line.

The IMF riots (and by riots I mean peaceful demonstrations dispersed by bullets, tanks and tear gas) cause new flights of capital and government bankruptcies This economic arson has its bright side – for foreigners, who can then pick off remaining assets at fire sale prices.

A pattern emerges. There are lots of losers but the clear winners seem to be the western banks and US Treasury.

Now we arrive at Step Four: free trade. This is free trade by the rules of the World Trade Organisation and the World Bank, which Stiglitz likens to the Opium Wars. ‘That too was about “opening markets”,’ he said. As in the nineteenth century, Europeans and Americans today are kicking down barriers to sales in Asia, Latin American and Africa while barricading our own markets against the Third World ‘s agriculture.

In the Opium Wars, the West used military blockades. Today, the World Bank can order a financial blockade, which is just as effective and sometimes just as deadly.

Stiglitz has two concerns about the IMF/World Bank plans. First, he says, because the plans are devised in secrecy and driven by an absolutist ideology, never open for discourse or dissent, they ‘undermine democracy’. Second, they don’t work. Under the guiding hand of IMF structural ‘assistance’ Africa’s income dropped by 23%.

Did any nation avoid this fate? Yes, said Stiglitz, Botswana. Their trick? ‘They told the IMF to go packing.’

Stiglitz proposes radical land reform: an attack on the 50% crop rents charged by the propertied oligarchies worldwide.

Why didn’t the World Bank and IMF follow his advice?

‘If you challenge [land ownership], that would be a change in the power of the elites. That’s not high on their agenda.’

Ultimately, what drove him to put his job on the line was the failure of the banks and US Treasury to change course when confronted with the crises, failures, and suffering perpetrated by their four-step monetarist mambo.

‘It’s a little like the Middle Ages,’ says the economist, ‘When the patient died they would say well, we stopped the bloodletting too soon, he still had a little blood in him.’

Maybe it’s time to remove the bloodsuckers.