The Bush Administration’s ” Bank Bailout”
The government’s bank rescue program under the Bush administration was estimated at a staggering 8.5 trillion dollars, an amount equivalent to 60% of the Total Gross Federal debt of 14.078 trillion (2010) (See Table 2 above). This amount does not include the “aid” to financial institutions proposed by the Obama administration, including an additional 750 billion dollars in Obama’s February 2009 budget proposal. The size of these allocations of liquid assets endangers the very structures of the fiscal and monetary system.
The total of Bush bank bailouts (8.5 trillion) can be broken down into funds granted by the Federal Reserve, the Treasury, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Federal Housing Authority.
The handouts to the financial institutions financed out of Treasury are government expenditures, to be met either through tax revenues or through the emission of public debt instruments.
The disbursements under TARP are categorized by the Bureau of the Budget as part of “a mandatory program” under an Act of the US Congress.. The Treasury’s liability, which includes the controversial Troubled Assets Relief Program, was estimated in November 2008 at 1.1 trillion dollars. (See Table 2) Further Treasury allocations, which serve to heighten the burden of the public debt have been envisaged by the Obama administration
Spiralling Public Debt Crisis
Is the Treasury in a position to finance this mounting budget deficit officially tagged at 1.75 billion through the emission of Treasury bills and government bonds?
The largest budget deficit in US history coupled with the lowest interest rates in US history: With the Fed’s ” near zero” percent discount rate, the markets for US dollar denominated government bonds and Treasury bills are in straightjacket. Moreover, the essential functions of savings (which is central to the functioning of a national economy) is in crisis. .
Who wants to invest in US government debt? What is the demand for Treasury bills at exceedingly low interest rates?
Table 3 Interest Rates in Percent
The market for US dollar denominated debt instruments is potentially at a standstill, which means that the Treasury lacks the ability to finance its mammoth budget deficit through public debt operations, leading the entire budgetary process into a quandary.
The question is whether China and Japan will continue to purchase US dollar denominated debt instruments. Washington is running a public relations campaign to lure Asian investors into buying T-bills and US government bonds. .
With the markets for US dollar denominated debt (both domestically and internationally) in crisis, further pressure will be exerted on the Treasury to slash (civilian) public expenditure to the bone, exact user fees for public services and sell off public assets, including State infrastructure and institutions. In all likelihood, this crisis is leading us to the privatization of the State, where activities hitherto under government jurisdiction will be transferred into private hands.
Who will be buying State assets at rock bottom prices? The financial elites, which are also the recipients of the bank bailout.
Consolidation of the Banks
A massive amount of liquidity has been injected into the financial system, from the bailouts but also from pension funds, individual savings, etc.
The stated objective of the bank bailout programs is to alleviate the banks’ burden of bad debts and non-performing loans. In actuality what is happening is that these massive amounts of money are being used by a handful of institutions to consolidate their position in global banking.
The exposure of the banks, largely the result of derivative trade is estimated in the tens of trillions of dollars, to the extent that the amounts and guarantees granted by the Treasury and the Fed will not resolve the crisis. Nor are they intended to resolve the crisis.
The mainstream media suggests that the banks are being nationalized as a result of TARP, In fact, it is exactly the opposite: the State is being taken over by the banks, the State is being privatized. The establishment of a Worldwide unipolar financial system is part of the broader project of the Wall Street financial elites to establish the contours of a world government.
In a bitter irony, the recipients of the bailout under TARP and Obama’s proposed 750 billion aid to financial institutions are the creditors of the federal government. The Wall Street banks are the brokers and underwriters of the US public debt, although they hold only a portion of the debt, they transact and trade in US dollar denominated public debt instruments Worldwide.
They act as creditors of the US State. They evaluate the creditworthiness of the US government, they rank the public debt through Moody’s and Standard and Poor. They control the US Treasury, the Federal Reserve Board and the US Congress. They oversee and dictate fiscal and monetary policy, ensuring that the state acts in their interest.
Since the Reagan era, Wall Street dominates most areas of economic and social policy. It sets the budgetary agenda, ensuring the curtailment of social expenditures. Wall Street preaches balanced budgets but the practice has been lobbying for the elimination of corporate taxes, the granting of handouts to corporations, tax write-offs in mergers and acquisitions etc, all of which lead to a spiralling public debt.
Circular and Contradictory Relationship
The Federal Reserve system is a privately owned central bank. While the Federal Reserve Board is a government body, the process of money creation is controlled by the 12 Federal Reserve Banks, which are privately owned.
The shareholders of the Federal Reserve banks (with the New York Federal Reserve Bank playing a dominant role) are among America’s most powerful financial institutions.
While the Federal Reserve can create money “out of thin air”, the multibillion outlays of the Treasury (including the TARP program) will require the emission of public debt in the form of treasury bills and government bonds.
US financial institutions oversee the US public debt. They are involved in the sale of treasury bills and government bonds on financial markets in the US and around the World. But they also hold part of the public debt. In this regard, they are the creditors of the US government. Part of this increased public debt required to rescue the banks will be financed or brokered by the same financial institutions which are the object of the bank rescue plan.
We are dealing with a pernicious circular relationship. When the banks pressured the Treasury to assist them in the form of a major bank rescue operation, it was understood from the outset that the banks would in turn assist the Treasury in financing the handouts of which they are the recipients.
To finance the bank bailout, the Treasury needs to run a massive budget deficit, which in turn requires a staggering increase of the US public debt.
Public opinion has been misled. The US government is in a sense financing its own indebtedness: the money granted to the banks is in part financed by borrowing from the banks.
The banks lend money to the government and with the money they lend the government, the Treasury finances the bailout. In turn, the banks impose conditionalities on the management of the US public debt. They dictate how the money should be spent. They impose fiscal responsibility, they dictate massive cuts in social expenditures which result in the collapse and/or privatization of public services. They impose the privatization of urban infrastructure, roads, sewer and water systems, public recreational areas, everything is up for privatization.
The recipient banks are the beneficiaries as well as the creditors. As creditors, they will oblige the government a) to slash expenditures b) to run up the public debt through the issuing of treasury bills and government bonds.
This public debt crisis is all the more serious because the US federal government does not control monetary policy. All public debt operations go through the Federal reserve, which is in charge of monetary policy, acting on behalf of private financial interests. The government as such has no authority over money creation. This means that public debt operations essentially serve the interests of the banks.
Continuity from Bush to Obama
The Obama stimulus program constitutes a continuation of the Bush administration’s bank bailout packages. The proposed policy solution to the crisis becomes the cause, ultimately resulting in further real economy bankruptcies and a corresponding collapse of the standard of living of Americans.
Both the Bush and Obama bank bailouts are intended to come to the rescue of troubled financial institutions, to ensure the payment of “inter-bank” debt operations. In practice, large amounts of money transit through the banking system, from the banks to the hedge funds, to offshore banking havens and back to the banks.
The government and the media tend to focus on the ambiguous notion of ” inter-bank debts”. The identity of the creditors is rarely mentioned.
Multi-billion dollar transfers are conducted electronically from one financial entity to another. Where is the money going? Who is collecting these multibillion debts, which are in large part the consequence of financial manipulation and derivative trade?
There are indications that the financial institutions are transferring billions of dollars into their affiliated hedge funds. From these hedge funds they can then channel money capital towards the acquisition of real assets.
Through what circuitous financial mechanisms were these debts created? Where is the bailout money going? Who is cashing in on the multibillion dollar government bailout money? This process is contributing to an unprecedented concentration of private wealth.
Financial manipulation is an integral part of the New World Order. It constitutes a powerful means to accumulate wealth.
Under the present political arrangement, those responsible for monetary policy are quite deliberately serving the interests of the financiers, to the detriment of working people, leading to economic dislocation, unemployment and mass poverty.
This article has focussed on how financial manipulation has served to shatter the structure of US public expenditure.
This restructuring of global financial markets and institutions (alongside the pillage of national economies) has enabled the accumulation of vast amounts of private wealth – a large portion of which has been amassed as a result of strictly speculative transactions.
This critical drain of billions of dollars of household savings and state tax revenues paralyses the functions of government spending and spurs the accumulation of a public debt, which can no longer be be financed through the emission of US dollar denominated debt.
What we are dealing with is the fraudulent transfer and confiscation of lifelong savings and pension funds, the fraudulent appropriation of tax revenues to finance the bank bailouts, etc. To understand what has happened: follow the money trail of electronic transfers with a view to establishing where the money has gone
The monetary system, which is integrated into the State budgetary process has been destabilized. The fundamental relationship between the monetary system and the real economy is in crisis.
The creation of money “out of thin air” threatens the value of the US dollar as an international currency. Similarly, the financing of a mammoth US budget deficit through dollar denominated debt instruments is impaired as a result of exceedingly low interest rates. Moreover, the process of household savings is undermined with interest rates close to zero.
What we have dealt with in this article is one central aspect of an evolving process of global financial collapse.
The international payments system is in crisis. The economic prospects are terrifying. Bankruptcies in the US, Canada, the European Union are occurring at an alarming rate. Country level exports have collapsed, leading to a contraction of international trade Reports from the Asian economies indicate a massive increase in unemployment. In China’s Pearl River basin in Southern Guangdong province’s industrial export processing economy, some 700,000 were laid off in January. In Japan, industrial output has collapsed by more than 20 percent since December. In the Philippines, a country of 90 million people, exports collapsed by more than 40 percent in December.
There are no solutions under the prevailing global financial architecture. Meaningful policies cannot be achieved without radically reforming the workings of the international banking system.
What is required is an overhaul of the monetary system including the functions and ownership of the central bank, the arrest and prosecution of those involved in financial fraud both in the financial system and in governmental agencies, the freeze of all accounts where fraudulent transfers have been deposited, the cancellation of debts resulting from fraudulent trade and/or market manipulation.
People across the land, nationally and internationally must mobilize. This struggle to democratise the financial and fiscal apparatus must be broad-based and democratic encompassing all sectors of society at all levels, in all countries. What is ultimately required is to disarm the financial establishment:
-confiscate those assets which were obtained through fraud and financial manipulation.
-restore the savings of households through reverse transfers
-return the bailout money to the Treasury, freeze the activities of the hedge funds. .
– freeze the gamut of speculative transactions including short-selling and derivative trade.