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
Mitt Romney’s biggest backer didn’t want him to win.
We know that Paul “The Vulture” Singer, Romney’s Daddy Warbucks, organized the “grassroots” campaign to replace Romney with Gov. Chris Christie back in September.
That flopped, so Singer and the billionaire boys’ club that courted Christie moved over to Romney. Not that they had a choice. They knew Moonrocks Gingrich, who thinks he’s running for Master Jedi, and Saint Santorum who thinks he’s running for pope, would end up road kill in November.
But despite their million-dollar checks for Romney’s campaign, the billionaires are handling the ex-governor with very long and slippery tweezers. The fact that Singer and the Koch brothers went on bended knee to Christie means they are just nauseated over Romney, a man losing a war with the English language and his own tax returns, carrying their standard against President Obama. …more
This past Sunday, a deputation from Occupy Wall Street crossed the bridge from Manhattan and brought its protest to the Brooklyn residence of one of New York’s “vultures” This type of vulture doesn’t roost in a tree, but in a swish brownstone.
Palast is the author of Vultures’ Picnic: in Pursuit of Petroleum Pigs, Power Pirates and High-Finance Carnivores.
What have I done? There’s one angry squid out there.
Memo from Tim Geithner to Larry Summers (click to enlarge)
Last week, Democracy Now! and The Guardian ran our story about Goldman Sachs yanking financial support from a community credit union for honoring one of its largest customers. The customer: Occupy Wall Street.
Our report so enraged Goldman that, within days, it doubled down on its attack on the little community bank.
Goldman had already demanded the return of its $5,000 payment to the Lower East Side Peoples Federal Credit Union. Now, sources say, the trillion-dollar Wall Street mega-bank sent the following message to the not-for-profit community bank: “You will never get a dime from any bank ever again.”
[October 5, 2011] Paul Singer likes to breakfast on decayed carcasses. What he chews down is sickening, but just as nausea-inducing are his new table mates: Ken Langone and the Koch Brothers, Charles and David.
Singer has called together the billionaire boys club for the purpose of picking our next president for us. The old fashioned way of choosing presidents – democracy and counting ballots and all that – has never been a favorite of this pack. I can tell you that from my investigations of each of these gentlemen for The Guardian. When the Statue of Liberty has nightmares, she dreams that these guys will combine to seize America via a cash-and-carry coup d’etat. …more
It was quite upsetting to find our President blindfolded and tied to a chair at the GOP Tea Party headquarters, but I’m sure the $2.2 trillion ransom we paid to the hostage-takers is worth it.
Well, now that the Obama presidency is over, we can move on to more serious matters.
Look out your window. What you’ll see is that, while the debt-ceiling hostage crisis played out on cable TV, the planet has been burning down.
You haven’t heard a lot from me this year-because the normally-noisy Palast investigations team has chosen to spend these months quietly digging into unreported cases of economic and environmental arson. It will all hit the presses and TV when we launch a new book and films later this year.
Yesterday, the financial vultures, the carcass-chewers who were preying on the dirt-poor African nation of Liberia, gave up.
Two shadowy vulture funds, which had won a $43 million court judgment against Liberia, agreed to accept only $1.4 million to settle their claim following an investigation by our BBC Newsnight team. We had sought to determine if the vulture funds were covers for an elaborate fraud scheme. They folded rather than face further scrutiny and attacks from activists, Parliaments and Congress.
on the dollar, secretly bought the right to collect a $6 million debt owed by Liberia.
Hermann and his flock of vulture partners demanded Liberia pay $43 million – a devastating sum for that nation – or he would, in effect, block aid funding for Liberia’s recovery from civil war. The nation was now Hermann’s economic hostage.
I was investigating the strange links between Hermann and a company named Hamsah Investments; it smelled of fraud. Tipped off that I was about to arrive with a camera crew to question …more
White Power, Blackwater and the smell of vulture money … get it on this feature length DVD filmed by gonzo videographer Rick Rowley and the Big Noise team.
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Dispatches #6 follows Jeremy Scahill’s latest investigation into Blackwater’s role in the Nisur Square massacre, Greg Palast’s hunt of American debt speculators in Liberia, and Big Noise Films’ inside account of the resurgent white power movement in America. It also includes a special report: a warning from the heart of East St. Louis.
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BLACKWATER’S YOUNGEST VICTIM Scahill’s exclusive report on the last man standing between Blackwater and impunity for the mercenary company’s role in the massacre of Iraqi civilians in Nisur Square, Iraq.
VULTURES Palast travels to Liberia to uncover a scam by American debt speculators to take millions from one of the poorest countries on the planet. But when we showed up to ask them about it at their office in New York, it seemed to have. . . disappeared.
WHITE POWER USA From skinheads to border militias to the right wing of the “Tea Party Movement”, Big Noise takes a disturbing inside look at the resurgence of white nationalism in America.
EAST SAINT LOUIS The city that was given up for dead. Big Noise meets the people fighting against economic corrosion in the Rust Belt. Can residents of East Saint Louis save their town? Or has it become obsolete – a warning to all American cities facing de-industrialization?
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Dispatches is a new dvd magazine by Big Noise Films and is dedicated to radical investigations, analysis and on the ground video from across the globe. Big Noise ‘Dispatches’ takes you around the world to look war and crisis in the face, but also to witness a shared struggle for survival and dignity in this time of violence.
We’ve stuffed the bird and nailed it to the wall: Today, the British Parliament effectively banned financial vulture funds from the British Isles. The law, merely awaits the expected touch of the Queen’s scepter.
“Vulture funds” are international re-po men who buy up old debt of the world’s poorest nations for pennies on the dollar, then sue for ten to a hundred times what they paid for these old loans. The new UK law, passed unanimously, would would bar financiers from using UK courts to collect more than the sums authorized by the International Monetary Fund. In effect, this stops American predators – such as financiers Eric Hermann, Michael Straus, and Michael Francis “Goldfinger” Sheehan, from siphoning tens of millions of dollars of aid money the US and UK treasuries had earmarked for Liberia, Zambia, Congo and other desperately poor countries.
The first vote in the House of Commons to ban vultures took place on February 26, the day after BBC broadcast our investigation of Vulture Eric Hermann (see it here), but maneuvers by a Conservative MP appeared to have de-railed the law.
In the US Congress, Congresswoman Maxine Waters is sponsoring the Stop VULTURE Funds Act H.R. 2932), whose passage may have to wait upon the election of a Democrat to the White House.
For the original story, see Stop Feeding the Vultures in In These Times.
I get the idea that Eric Hermann doesn’t want to talk to me. When I came to his office suite, his hedge fund’s name plaque had been unbolted from the building’s wall, the suite number removed and all the employees locked in.
I’m not surprised. Hermann is a vulture, not the carrion-eating type, but the kind that prey on the financially wounded. “Vulture” is a hedge fund industry term for the financiers who buy up the right to collect old loans of the world’s poorest nations, and then use every trick in the book – from lawsuits to bribery to hiring Henry Kissinger’s lobby firm – to muscle destitute countries into turning over their meager foreign aid funds.
Vultures, whether of the feathered or speculator species, don’t like to talk to reporters.
On February 25, the day after BBC Television’s Newsnight ran my report from in front of Hermann’s locked office door, Britain’s Parliament voted to bar vulture funds from using Britain’s courts to grab the assets of poor nations. …more
Some vultures have feathers, but some have fancy offices and huge homes. Tonight, BBC investigative reporter Greg Palast follows the trail of one “vulture fund” chief, from a locked office door in New York to mud-brick houses in Africa.
Reporter Greg Palast outside the office of New York vulture fund. The name plaque has been removed and the staff locked inside.
How strange. When I arrive at the offices of Eric Hermann at hedge fund FH International, just outside New York City, the company’s corporate sign is unbolted from the wall and the suite number removed from the door.
But wait … I hear noises inside the office. Huh? I knock on the locked door and out steps the office building’s security manager.
“Guys, they don’t want to be interviewed. They don’t want to be seen. So we are going to have to ask you to leave the building.”
“And do you know why they took the sign off?”
His reply to our cameras, “I have no clue.”
But we do.
Mr. Hermann is the principle owner of a so-called “vulture fund” which attempted to seize more than $20 million from the war-wounded nation of Liberia.
Mr. Hermann is known in the finance business as a debt “vulture.” He and his associates buy up the debt of the poorest nations on the planet, usually for pennies on the dollar, then sue or use other means to squeeze the nations to pay ten times, even a hundred times, what the vulture fund paid for the debt.
The effect of Hermann’s financial maneuvers earns little applause in Liberia. In that African democracy, diplomat Winston Tubman tells us what he would say to vulture fund operators, “‘Do you know you are causing babies to die all over Liberia?'”
A week ago Friday, the day after BBC Television broadcast of our investigative report on Liberia vultures, Britain’s Parliament voted to put an end to the creepy business of financial “vultures” who siphon off aid money through manipulating Third World nations’ debt.
And our prior report on financial tricksters, on Democracy Now!, motivated two congressmen to confront the President personally, in the Oval Office with our findings. And now legislation has jets on in the USA.
We’ve kicked vulture butt, but now we need new boots.
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Greg Palast is an investigative reporter for BBC Newsnight and the author of Armed Madhouse and The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. Subscribe to Palast’s Newsletter and podcasts. Follow Palast on Facebook and Twitter.
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.
Former UK ministers and MPs from all UK parties are set to back a bill later on Wednesday outlawing the activities of vulture funds, hedge funds which divert debt relief from the poorest countries into their own pockets.
Vulture funds have been condemned by governments around the world as perverse and immoral for preying on the world’s poor.
Developed countries including Britain and the US have spent billions of pounds trying to relieve the debts of the world’s poorest nations so that they can spend that money on health and education.
The vulture fund speculators effectively divert that debt relief to themselves by buying debt for pennies in the pound just as it is about to be written off, and then suing in British or US courts for the full value plus interest.
In 2007, Newsnight exposed the activities of Donegal International which bought a tranche of Zambia’s debt for $3m and then sued for $55m – the size of Zambia’s health budget.
Reporter Greg Palast doorstepped Donegal’s boss Michael “Goldfinger” Sheehan who styles himself after the James Bond villain.