To Avoid a Collapse Means Restoring Glass-Steagall (Without the Green New Deal)
With the recent discussion of the collapse of the western system of banking (and neo-liberal ‘post-truth’ values more generally) a serious overview of the post-WWII stripping down of nation states is in order. Over the past couple of weeks, various figures like France’s Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire and American Senator Elizabeth Warren have called for a re-organization of the banking system with Le Maire saying on July 13 that the Bretton Woods “has reached its limits”, and Warren stating on July 22 that “the country’s economic foundation is fragile. A single shock could bring it all down.” It is no secret that the western nations sit atop the largest financial bubble in human history with global derivatives estimated at $550 trillion to $1.2 quadrillion.
As refreshing as it is to hear such candid admissions of the system’s failure from high level political figures, when asked what they wish will replace this bankrupt order, neither Le Maire nor Warren have any desire to work with the Russia-China Belt and Road alliance and are unfortunately on record supporting policies cooked up by the very same oligarchs they appear to despise in the form of the Green New Deal. In spite of what many of its progressive proponents would wish, such a global green reform would not only impose Malthusian depopulation upon nation states globally were it accepted, but would establish a the supranational authority of a technocratic managerial elite as enforcers of a “de-carbonization agenda”.
Due to the rampant lack of comprehension of how this crisis was created such that such idiotic proposals as “green new deals” are now seriously being suggested as remedies to our current ills, a bit of history is in order.
Some necessary background
“The money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths. The measure of the restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit.”
– Franklin Delano Roosevelt, first Inaugural Address 1933
Knowing that the “money changers” had only been able to create the great bubbles of the 1920s via their access to the deposits of the commercial banks, Franklin Roosevelt made the core of his battle against the abuses of Wall Street centre around a 1933 legislation entitled “Glass-Steagall”, named after the two federally elected officials who led the reform with FDR. This was a bill which forced the absolute separation of productive from speculative banking, guaranteeing via the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) only those commercial banking assets associated with the productive economy, but forcing any speculative losses arising from investment banking to be suffered by the gambler. The striking success of this law inspired other countries around the world to establish similar bank separation. Alongside principles of capital budgeting, public credit, parity pricing and a commitment to scientific and technological development, a dynamic had been created that would express the greatest hope for the world, and the greatest fear for the financial empire occupying the City of London and Wall Street.
The death of John F. Kennedy ushered in a new age of pessimism and cultural irrationalism from which our society has never recovered. The destruction of a long term vision as exemplified by the space program, the St. Lawrence Seaway and the New Deal projects had resulted in a tendency within the population to increasingly look upon present pleasures as the only reality, and future goods as the mystical expression of the sum of present pleasures. In this new philosophical setting, so alien in previous epochs, money was permitted to act as a power unto itself for short term gains instead of serving the investments into the real productive wealth of society. With this new paradigm shift into the “now”, a new economic model was adopted to replace the industrial economic model which had proven itself in the years preceding and following World War II.
The name for this system was “post-industrial monetarism”. This would be a system ushered in by Richard Nixon’s announcement of the destruction of the fixed-exchange rate Bretton Woods system and its replacement by the “floating rate” system of post 1971 fame. During that same fateful year of 1971, another ominous event took place: the formation of the Rothschild Inter-Alpha Group of banks under the umbrella of the Royal Bank of Scotland, which today controls upwards of 70% of the global financial system. The stated intention of this Group would be found in the 1983 speech by Lord Jacob Rothschild: “two broad types of giant institutions, the worldwide financial service company and the international commercial bank with a global trading competence, may converge to form the ultimate, all-powerful, many-headed financial conglomerate.”
This policy demanded the destruction of the sovereign nation-state system and the imposition of a new feudal structure of world governance through the age-old scheme of controlling the money system on the one side, and playing on the vices of credulous fools who, by allowing their nations to be ruled by the belief that hedonistic market forces govern the world, would seal their own children’s doom.
All the while, geopolitical structures foreign to the United States constitutional traditions were imposed by nests of Oxford-trained Rhodes Scholars and Fabians who converted America into a global “dumb giant” enforcing a neo colonial program under a “Anglo-US Special Relationship”. The Dulles brothers, McGeorge Bundy, Kissinger, and Bush all represent names that advanced this British directed plan throughout the 20th century.
The Big Bang
The great “liberalization” of world commerce began with a series of waves through the 1970s, and moved into high gear with the interest rate hikes of Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker in 1980-82, the effects of which both annihilated much of the small and medium sized entrepreneurs, opened the speculative gates into the “Savings and Loan” debacle and also helped cartelize mineral, food, and financial institutions into ever greater behemoths. Volcker himself described this process as the “controlled disintegration of the US economy” upon becoming Fed Chairman in 1978. The raising of interest rates to 20-21% not only shut down the life blood of much of the US economic base, but also threw the third world into greater debt slavery, as nations now had to pay usurious interest on US loans.
In 1986, the City of London announced the beginning of a new era of economic irrationalism with Margaret Thatcher’s “Big Bang” deregulation. This wave of liberalization took the world by storm as it swept aside the separation of commercial, deposit and investment banking which had been the post-world war cornerstone in ensuring that the will of private finance would never again hold more sway than the power of sovereign nation-states.
After decades of chipping away at the structure of regulation that FDR’s bold intervention into history had built, the “Big Bang” set a precedent for similar financial de-regulation into the “Universal Banking” model in other parts of the western world.
The Derivative Time Bomb is Set
In September 1987, the 20 year foray into speculation resulted in a 23% collapse of the Dow Jones on October 19, 1987. Within hours of this crash, international emergency meetings had been convened with former JP Morgan tool Alan Greenspan introducing a “solution” which would have the future echoes of hyperinflation and fascism written all over it.
“Creative financial instruments” was the Orwellian name given to the new financial asset popularized by Greenspan, but otherwise known as “derivatives”. New supercomputing technologies were increasingly used in this new venture, not as the support for higher nation building practices, and space exploration programs as their NASA origins intended, but would rather become perverted to accommodate the creation of new complex formulas which could associate values to price differentials on securities and insured debts that could then be “hedged” on those very spot and futures markets made possible via the destruction of the Bretton Woods system in 1971. So while an exponentially self-generating monster was created that could end nowhere but in a meltdown, “market confidence” rallied back in force with the new flux of easy money. The physical potential to sustain human life continued to plummet.
NAFTA, the Euro and the End of History
It is no coincidence that within this period, another deadly treaty was passed called the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). With this Agreement made law, protective programs that had kept North American factories in the U.S and Canada were struck down, allowing for the export of the lifeblood of highly skilled industrial workforce to Mexico where skills were low, technologies lower, and salaries lower still. With a stripping of its productive assets, North America became increasingly reliant on exporting cheap resources and services for its means of existence. Again, the physically productive powers of society would collapse, yet monetary profits in the ephemeral “now” would skyrocket. This was replicated in Europe with the creation of the Maastricht Treaty in 1992 establishing the Euro by 1994 while the “liberalization” process of Perestroika replicated this agenda in the former Soviet Union. While some personalities gave this agenda the name “End of History” and others “the New World Order”, the effect was the same.
Universal Banking, NAFTA, Euro integration and the creation of the derivative economy in a space of just several years would induce a cartelization of finance through newly legalized mergers and acquisitions at a rate never before seen. The multitude of financial institutions that had existed in the early 1980s were absorbed into each other at great speed through the 1990s in true “survival of the fittest” fashion. No matter what level of regulation were attempted under this new structure, the degree of conflict of interest, and private political power was uncontrollable, as evidenced in the United States, by the shutdown of any attempt by Securities and Exchange Commission head Brooksley Born to fight the derivative cancer at its early stages.
By 1999 a politically castrated Bill Clinton found himself signing into law a treaty authored by then Treasury Secretary Larry Summers known as the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which would be the final nail in the coffin for the Glass-Steagall separation of commercial and investment banking in the United States. The new age of unregulated trading and creation of over-the-counter derivatives caused these strange financial instruments to grow from $60 trillion in 2000 to $600 trillion by 2008.
The 2000-2008 Frenzy
With Glass-Steagall now removed, legitimate capital such as pension funds could be used to start a hedge to end all hedges. Billions were now poured into mortgage-backed securities (MBS), a market which had been artificially plunged to record-breaking interest rate lows of 1-2% for over a year by the US Federal Reserve making borrowing easy, and the returns on the investments into the MBSs obscene. The obscenity swelled as the values of the houses skyrocketed far beyond the real values to the tune of one hundred thousand dollar homes selling for 5-6 times that price within the span of several years. As long as no one assumed this growth was ab-normal, and the unpayable nature of the capital underlying the leveraged assets locked up in the now infamous “sub-primes” and other illegitimate debt obligations was ignored, then profits were supposed to just continue infinitely. Anyone who questioned this logic was considered a heretic by the latter-day priesthood.
The stunning “success” of securitizing housing debts immediately induced a wave of sovereign wealth funds to come into prominence applying the same model that had been used in the case of mortgage-backed securities (MBS) and collateralized debt obligations (CDO) to the debts of entire nations. The securitizing of bundled packages of sovereign debts that could then be infinitely leveraged on the de-regulated world markets would no longer be considered an act of national treason, but the key to easy money.
This is the system which died in 2008. Contrary to popular belief, nothing was actually resolved. For all the talk of an “FDR revival” under Obama, speculation wasn’t actually regulated under the Dodd-Frank Act or the Volker Rule of 2010. No productive credit was created to grow the real economy under a national mission as was the case in 1933-1938. Banks were not broken up while derivatives GREW by 40% with the new bubble concentrated in the corporate/household debt sector now collapsing. During this time, nation states continued to be stripped, as austerity was rammed down the throats of nations.
It should be no surprise that in the midst of this despair, a creative alliance was consolidated in defense of the interests of sovereign nation states and humanity at large led by the leadership of Russia and China.
This leadership took the form of the China-led Belt and Road Initiative which has grown to embrace over 130 countries today and looking more and more like an Asian-led version of the New Deal of the 1930s. Indeed, China’s capacity to unleash long term credit for thousands of international long term infrastructure projects was made possible by the fact that it was the only country on the globe which had not given up the principles of bank separation which were destroyed in every other nation. Very few western figures stood up to this self-induced destruction over the decades, but one notable exception here worth mentioning is the figure of the late American economist Lyndon LaRouche (1922-2019) who not only resisted this process for over four decades, but fought alongside the Schiller Institute to promote New Silk Road as early as 1996.
With the 2016 Brexit and election of President Trump, a new wave of nationalist spirit has become a fire which the technocrats have lost their capacity to snuff out. Increasingly, the idea that nation states have a power over the private banking system has become revived and discussion for reforming the now dead Trans-Atlantic system is increasingly shaped not by the calls for a “New World Order” as Sir Kissinger would have liked, but rather for a New Silk Road and a true New Deal. The Eurasian nations are already firmly committed to this new system, and if the west is to qualify morally to take part in this new epoch, then the first step will be a return to a Glass-Steagall.
BIO: Matthew J.L. Ehret is a journalist, lecturer and founder of the Canadian Patriot Review and the Rising Tide Foundation. He has published the report “The Time has Come for Canada to Join the New Silk Road” and three volumes of the Untold History of Canada (available on untoldhistory.canadianpatriot.org). He can be reached at [email protected].