Financial Meltdown on Wall Street

Published on Global, by Michel Chossudovsky, Nov. 24, 2010.

… The Nature of the Economic Crisis:

In contrast to Roosevelt’s New Deal, adopted at the height of the Great Depression, the macroeconomic policy agenda of the Obama administration does not constitute a solution to the crisis. In fact, quite the opposite: it directly contributes to the concentration and centralization of financial wealth, which in turn undermines the real economy.  

The crisis did not commence with the 2008 meltdown of financial markets. It is deeply rooted in major transformations in the global economy and financial architecture which unfolded in several stages since the early 1980s. The September-October 2008 stock market crash was the outcome of a process of financial deregulation and macroeconomic reform.

We are dealing with a long-term process of economic and financial restructuring. In its earlier phase, starting in the 1980s during the Reagan-Thatcher era, local and regional level enterprises, family farms and small businesses were displaced and destroyed. In turn, the merger and acquisition boom of the 1990s led to the concurrent consolidation of large corporate entities both in the real economy as well as in banking and financial services.

International commodity trade has plummeted. Bankruptcies are occurring in all major sectors of activity: agriculture, manufacturing, telecoms, consumer retail outlets, shopping malls, airlines, hotels and tourism, not to mention real estate and the construction industry.

What is distinct in this particular phase of the crisis is the ability of the financial giants – through stock market manipulation as well as through their overriding control over credit – not only to create havoc in the production of goods and services, but also to undermine and destroy large and well established business corporations.

This crisis is far more serious than the Great Depression. All major sectors of the global economy are affected. Factories are closed down. Assembly lines are at a standstill. Unemployment is rampant. Wages have collapsed. Entire populations are precipitated into abysmal poverty. Livelihoods are destroyed. Public services are disrupted or privatized. The repercussions on people’s lives in North America and around the world are dramatic.

The Financial Meltdown: … //

… Financial Warfare: The Powers of Deception:

The September-October 2008 financial meltdown was not the consequence of a cyclical downturn of economic activity. It was the result of a complex process of financial manipulation, which included speculative trade in derivatives.

Financial manipulation has a direct bearing on the workings of the market. It potentially triggers instability in market transactions. This snowballing instability then becomes cumulative, leading to an overall slide of market values.

Inside information, high level political connections and foreknowledge of key policy announcements are crucial instruments in the conduct of large-scale speculative operations.

“Financial intelligence” and the powers of deceit were the driving forces behind the 2008 financial meltdown. Covert undercover financial operations were waged. Those powerful financial institutions, which had the ability to drive the market up at an opportune moment and then drive it down, had placed their bets accordingly. As a result, they reaped billions of dollars in windfall gains both on the upturn as well as on the downturn.

In contrast, for those who had put their faith in the free market, lifelong savings were erased in one fell swoop, appropriated by the shadow banking system. The crash of financial markets had led to a massive concentration of financial wealth.

The weapons used on Wall Street are prior knowledge and inside information, the ability to manipulate with the capacity to predict results and the spreading of misleading or false information on economic occurrences and market trends. These various procedures are best described as the powers of deception that financial institutions routinely use to mislead investors.

The art of deception is also directed against their banking competitors, who are betting in the derivatives and futures markets, stocks, currencies and commodities. Those who have access to privileged information (political, intelligence, military, scientific, etc.) will invariably have the upper hand in the conduct of these highly leveraged speculative transactions, which are the source of tremendous financial gains. The CIA has its own financial institutions on Wall Street.

In turn, the corridors of private and offshore banking enable financial institutions to transfer their profits with ease from one location to another. This procedure is also used as a safety net that protects the interests of key financial actors including CEOs and major shareholders of troubled financial institutions. Companies can be divested from within and large amounts of money can be moved out at an opportune moment, prior to the company’s demise on the stock market (e.g. Lehman, Merrill Lynch and AIG, not to mention Bernhard Madoff).

As events unfolded, Merrill Lynch was bought and Lehman Brothers was pushed into bankruptcy. These are not haphazard occurrences. They are the result of manipulation, using highly leveraged speculative operations to achieve their objective, which consists in either displacing or acquiring control over a rival financial institution. The 2008 financial meltdown has nothing to do with free market forces: it is characterized by financial warfare between competing institutional speculators.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York and its powerful Wall Street stakeholders – which are Wall Street’s largest private banks – have inside information on the conduct of U.S. monetary policy. They are therefore in a position to predict outcomes and hedge their bets in highly leveraged operations on the futures and derivatives markets. They are in an obvious conflict of interest because their prior knowledge of particular decisions by the Federal Reserve Board enables them, as private banking institutions, to make multibillion dollar profits.

Links to U.S. intelligence, the CIA, Homeland Security and the Pentagon are crucial in the conduct of speculative trade, since that allows the speculators to predict events through prior knowledge of foreign policy and/or national security decisions which directly affect financial markets. An example: they purchased “put options” on airline stocks in the days preceding the 9/11 attacks. (full text and Notes 1 – 4).

(Michel Chossudovsky is an award-winning author, Professor of Economics (Emeritus) at the University of Ottawa and Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), Montreal. He is the author of The Globalization of Poverty and The New World Order (2003) and America’s “War on Terrorism” (2005). He is also a contributor to the Encyclopaedia Britannica. His writings have been published in more than twenty languages. Global Research Articles by Michel Chossudovsky).

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