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Greece On Fire: The EU’s Economic Dresden

Greg Palast 

The fires in Greece are an EU/euro Dresden: a direct result of requiring the Greek government to end its brush-clearing program and slash government employment and infrastructure. The EU always puts banks ...more

Larry Summers
and the Secret “End-Game” Memo

Greg Palast 

For Vice Magazine

When a little birdie dropped the End Game memo through my window, its content was so explosive, so sick and plain evil, I just couldn’t believe it.

The Memo confirmed every conspiracy freak’s fantasy:  that in the late 1990s, the top US Treasury officials secretly conspired with a small cabal of banker big-shots to rip apart financial regulation across the planet.  When you see 26.3% unemployment in Spain, desperation and hunger in Greece, riots in Indonesia and Detroit in bankruptcy, go back to this End Game memo, the genesis of the blood and tears.

The Treasury official playing the bankers’ secret End Game was Larry Summers.  Today, Summers is Barack Obama’s leading choice for Chairman of the US Federal Reserve, the world’s central bank.  If the confidential memo is authentic, then Summers shouldn’t …more

Lazy Ouzo-Swilling, Olive-Pit Spitting Greeks
Or, How Goldman Sacked Greece

Greg Palast 

For In These Times

Here’s what we’re told:Greece

Greece’s economy blew apart because a bunch of olive-spitting, ouzo-guzzling, lazy-ass Greeks refuse to put in a full day’s work, retire while they’re still teenagers, pocket pensions fit for a pasha; and they’ve gone on a social-services spending spree using borrowed money. Now that the bill has come due and the Greeks have to pay with higher taxes and cuts in their big fat welfare state, they run riot, screaming in the streets, busting windows and burning banks.

I don’t buy it.  I don’t buy it because of the document in my hand marked, “RESTRICTED DISTRIBUTION.”

I’ll cut to the indictment:  Greece is a crime scene.  The people are victims of a fraud, a scam, a hustle and a flim-flam.   And — cover the children’s ears when I say this — a bank named Goldman Sachs is holding the smoking gun.

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This is an adaptation of an excerpt from Vultures’ Picnic, Greg Palast’s new book, out next week, an investigator’s pursuit of petroleum pigs, power pirates and high-finance fraudsters. Read the first chapter or just get the book here.

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In 2002, Goldman Sachs secretly bought up a 2.3 billion in Greek government debt, converted it all into yen and dollars, then immediately sold it back to Greece.

Goldman took a huge loss on the trade.

Is Goldman that stupid?

Goldman is stupid – like a fox. The deal was a con, with Goldman making up a phony-baloney exchange rate for the transaction.  Why?

Goldman had cut a secret deal with the Greek government in power then.  Their game:  to conceal a massive budget deficit.  Goldman’s fake loss was the Greek government’s fake gain.

Goldman would get repayment of its “loss” from the government at loan-shark rates.

The point is, through this crazy and costly legerdemain, Greece’s right-wing free-market government was able to pretend its deficits never exceeded 3 percent of GDP.

Cool. Fraudulent but cool.

But flim-flam isn’t cheap these days: On top of murderous interest payments, Goldman charged the Greeks over a quarter billion dollars in fees.

When the new Socialist government of George Papandreou came into office, they opened up the books and Goldman’s bats flew out.  Investors’ went berserk, demanding monster interest rates to lend more money to roll over this debt.

Greece’s panicked bondholders rushed to buy insurance against the nation going bankrupt.  The price of the bond-bust insurance, called a credit default swap (or CDS), also shot through the roof.  Who made a big pile selling the CDS insurance?  Goldman.

And those rotting bags of CDS’s sold by Goldman and others? Didn’t they know they were handing their customers gold-painted turds?

That’s Goldman’s specialty.  In 2007, at the same time banks were selling suspect CDS’s and CDOs (packaged sub-prime mortgage securities), Goldman held a “net short” position against these securities. That is, Goldman was betting their financial “products” would end up in the toilet. Goldman picked up another half a billion dollars on their “net short” scam.

But, instead of cuffing Goldman’s CEO Lloyd Blankfein and parading him in a cage through the streets of Athens, we have the victims of the frauds, the Greek people, blamed.  Blamed and soaked for the cost of it.  The “spread” on Greek bonds (the term used for the risk premium paid on Greece’s corrupted debt) has now risen to – get ready for this — $14,000 per family per year.

Euro-nation, the secret Geithner memo, and the Ecuador connection

Why did the Greek government throw its nation’s fate into Goldman’s greasy hands?  What the heck was in the “RESTRICTED” document? And why did I have to take it to Geneva, to throw it down in front of the Director-General of the WTO for authentication, a creepy French banker I otherwise wouldn’t bother to spit on, and then tear off to Quito to share it with the grateful President of Ecuador?

To give you all the answers would require me to write a book.  I have:  Vultures’ Picnic — in Pursuit of Petroleum Pigs, Power Pirates and High-Finance Fraudsters.

It’s really quite important to me that you read it, that you get it now.  That’s a funny statement, I suppose, from an author.  But if you’ve been reading my stories in The Guardian or watching my reports on BBC Newsnight, you’ve gotten the facts; but I really want to let you inside the investigations, to cross the continents with me and follow down the leads so that you can get a full picture of The Beasts.  The Beasts and their trophy wives, intelligence agency go-fers, political concubines and bone-breakers.  And besides, it’s enormous fun when it’s not scary as sh*t.

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Here’s a taste of Chapter 12 – The Generalissimo of Globalization – from the film-enhanced eBook edition.  [And more on the 1% Greece-ing us, check out the upcoming issue of In These Times.]

Note:  I will be in Chicago for In These Times on November 29, part of our 15 city tour that begins this coming Sunday, November 13, in Portland, then moves to San Francisco, LA, San Diego, Denver, Boulder, New Mexico, Albuquerque, Chicago, Madison, New York, DC, Houston, Burlington, and Atlanta. Find out more info here.

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Greg Palast is the author of Vultures’ Picnic: In Pursuit of Petroleum Pigs, Power Pirates and High-Finance Carnivores.

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Greg Palast 

Confronting the Globalcrat

This article appears in the December 21 edition of The Nation

Geneva

You could call him the Generalissimo of Globalization. The World Trade Organization’s director general, Pascal Lamy, was a bit defensive, wanting to assure us that the WTO “wasn’t created as a dark club of multinationals secretly cooking plots against the people. We do things in the open. Look at our website.”

It’s been a year since globalized finance brought the planet to its knees, yet here in Geneva, where in late November the WTO opened its grand “seventh ministerial,” the diplomats are in denial. One confidential document from the files of WTO members–definitely not on the WTO website–tells us that despite financial and environmental crises, the globalizers still want to party like it’s 1999.
…more

World Trade Organization Risks Financial ‘China Syndrome’

Greg Palast 

On 10th Anniversary of the Battle in Seattle
Bankers’ scheme to re-open finance casino worldwide.

 

GENEVA  — Apparently, one meltdown isn’t enough for the World Trade Organization. They meet today in Geneva on the tenth anniversary of the “Battle in Seattle,” when tens of thousands of people from around the world protested the organization’s practices.

A special investigation for Air America’s Ring of Fire. Listen to the report here or watch the 9-minute film here.
…more

French Fried Friedman
The Nouvelle Globalizer

Greg Palast 

Thomas Friedman earns plaudits and Pulitzers for his column which today announces that East Indians are taking jobs the French are too lazy to do ["A Race to the Top," New York Times, June 3]. His fit of racial profiling was motivated by his pique over France's rejection of the globalizers' charter for corporate dominance known as the European Constitution. ...more

The WTO’s Hidden Agenda

Greg Palast 

Three confidential documents from inside the World Trade Organization Secretariat and a group of captains of London finance, who call themselves the "British Invisibles," reveal the extraordinary secret entanglement of industry with government in designing European and American proposals for radical pro-business changes in WTO rules. ...more

The Fast Track Trade Jihad

Greg Palast 

After the attack on the World Trade Center, some enterprising hucksters here in New York tried to sell little bags of ashes to victims' families, supposedly of their missing kin. ...more

Gregory Palast ”“ International Investigative Reporter

Sandeep Kaushik 

Gregory Palast is almost certainly the greatest investigative journalist you've never heard of. An award-winning reporter in Britain, where he writes for The Guardian and The Sunday Observer, as well as hosts the BBC's 60 Minutes-esque Newsnight, Palast abandoned his native America when the mainstream press declined to publish his groundbreaking, hard-hitting expoés, known for stripping bare abuses of power. ...more

How Dr Dre Sings Out For The Big Six

Greg Palast 

The doctor didn't mince words. 'Now shut the fuck up and get what's coming to you!' In my exchange with Andre Young, the recording artist known as Dr Dre, this was the example he gave of his copyright intellectual property which he fears is reproduced, without compensation, by ne'er-do-wells using www.napster.com. ...more

Bolivia Vanishes: See Style Section

Greg Palast 

"You didn't read the story? Come now, it was right there in the Washington Post ... in paragraph 10 of the story, on page 13 of the Style section. I kid you not: the STYLE section." ...more