Organisations

is India just Stiglitz’s playground?

http://altcoopsys.org/2017/01/31/world-economic-forum-in-davos-joseph-stiglitz-and-kenneth-rogoff-want-cashless-fully-digital-society/

Goldman Sachs hails Modi note ban as rupee swings drop most in 6 weeks

Currency reform will increase banking-system liquidity, and the rupee and local notes will likely outperform Asian peers in the near term, Goldman Sachs analysts said

http://www.livemint.com/Money/sAWTdsYQ1uc7bFbQCWG1JN/Goldman-Sachs-hails-Modi-note-ban-as-rupee-swings-drop-most.html

82% of all money in circulation is NOT paper. Because it originated between banks giving each other loans. This is called book-money.

50% of all Indians DO NOT HAVE A BANK ACCOUNT. So this is massive push to digitize India’s monetary system. But for what purpose? Stricter surveillance?

“To fully understand the following, it is important to be aware of the Better Than Cash Alliance (BTCA), formed in 2012 to push back the use of cash globally. Founding members are US-institutions who stand to gain most. Those are notably the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (Microsoft), Visa, Mastercard, Citigroup and Omidyar Network (eBay). Funding members are also the notorious Ford Foundation and the US government’s development agency USAID. Do keep in mind the acronym BTCA, as it will show up a lot in brackets to flag its members, as their role in Indian demonetisation is described.

  1. In 2013, the year after BTCA was founded, Raghuram Rajan, former Chief Economist of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington, took over the post of Governor of the Reserve Bank of Inida (RBI), coming directly from the University of Chicago.
    1. One of his first decisions was to set up the “Committee on Comprehensive Financial Services for Small Businesses and Low Income Households”.
    2. He put Nachiket Mor in charge of it, a banker an board-member of the RBI.
    3. In March 2016 the Gates Foundation (BTCA) made Mor head of its India country office. A reward?
  2. Somewhat counterintuitively, the Mor Commission that was to foster financial inclusion of the poor and of rural areas, was heavily dominated by big finance and law firms, with a strong US-bias.
    1. Members included former Citigroup-CEO (BTCA) Vikram Pandit and Bundu Ananth, President of IFMR Trust.
    2. IFMR is an Indian Research Institute, which has many US-Institutions as funders, including Chicago University, USAID (BTCA), Gates Foundation (BFCA), Ford foundation (BTCA), Citi (BTCA).
    3. IFMR is a member of the “Alliance for financial inclusion”, which is financed by the Gates-Foundation (BTCA).
    4. A further member of the Mor Committee was a representative of the National Payments Corporation of India the umbrella organization of payment service providers, which aims to move India to a cashless society.
    5. Another member was credit Rating Agency CRISIL, majority-owned by the US Rating-giant Standard & Poor’s.
  3. In 2015, USAID (BCA) announced a formal partnership with the Indian finance ministry to advance digital payments in India.
    1. The Better Than Cash Foundation is an associated partner to this partnership, as are most of the key BTCA-members individually.
    2. USAID commissioned a report on the payment infrastructure in India and on ways to advance digital payments.
    3. In January 2016 USAID presented the report titled “Beyond Cash”.
  4. In May 2016, RBI announced plans to print a new series of banknotes and announced in August that it had approved a design for a new 2,000 rupee note.
  5. In September 2016, McKinsey Global Institute issued a report titled “How digital finance could boost growth in emerging economies”.
    1. Authors acknowledged “collaboration with the Financial Services for the Poor team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
    2. They thanked more than ten Gates-Foundation (BTCA) people for contribution to the report, including Gates-Foundation’s India head Nachiket Mor of Rajan’s Mor-Committee.
    3. In mid-December, seemingly unfazed by ample evidence that taking away cash in India has been the exact opposite of helping the poor and promoting “financial inclusion”, McKinsey-partner Susan Lund and study contributor Laura Tyson published “The promise of digital finance”, making fantastic claims about the advantages of pushing back cash-use in favor of digital, including ten percent higher GDP for countries like India.
    4. They disseminated this piece on the website of Project Syndicate, which is payed for by US hedge fund billionaire George Soros.
    5. It also went to dozens of newspapers worldwide via Project Syndicat.
    6. Co-author Tyson also has relations to Soros via the World Economic Forum.
  6. Also in September 2016, less than four weeks before the surprise demonetization, the partnership between USAID and the finance ministry to advance digital payments was ”taken to a new level” by the creation of the “Catalyst”, with the webadress cashlesscatalyst.org”.
    1. US-Ambassador Jonathan Addleton said at the occasion that “India is at the forefront of global efforts to digitize economies”.
    2. The CEO of Catalyst announced that the goal was a field experiment to increase digital payments tenfold in one city.
    3. USAID declared, it would finance this initiative for three years.
  7. Catalyst is housed at IFMR, the institute mentioned above, of which Gates Foundation India’s-CEO Mor is a board member, and which relies very much on funding from various members of the Better Than Cash Alliance.

So, is this all done, to help some stupid business-men get richer, at the expense of the poor? I guess so. As usual.

When cash goes down – paypal goes up. That’s what they think. At least.

Who knew?

To conclude that the finance ministry and the prime minister decided on the demonetization assault with no significant involvement of US-institutions, we would need to believe, that USAID, Catalyst and the people at IFMR – mislead by the finance ministry of India – were working on and paying for a trial project to scale-up digital payment in only one city, right up until Modi surprisingly announced the temporary abolishment of most cash in the whole of India. Since a trial in one city alone could only have worked by creating strong  incentives to use digital payments and probably investing in the infrastructure, what Modi announced on November 8 would have made obsolete all single-city plans and preparations of Catalyst, if they had ever existed. We would have to believe that the people at the ministry who knew, and Modi, did not see a need or find a reason to delay that project until it became clear it was no longer needed.If the US government should have been displeased with their agency being ostensibly fooled into planning and paying for a useless project without being informed, they did not show it. A spokesperson of the State Department said, that the move, despite some “inconvenience” for many Indians and visiting Americans was “important and necessary to crack down on illegal actions.”

Whose initiative was It?

Granted, the creation of Catalyst might just have been a clever ruse to be able to prepare the surprise demonetisation without arousing suspicion, because a one-city field-experiment was publicly announced. However, this would make it even more relevant, that Catalyst was a heavily US-influenced operation, paid for by USAID and having grown out of a longer-standing cooperation between USAID, the Washington-based Better Than Cash Alliance and the Indian ministry of finance. 

To assume that the US-government was not informed of the plans stretches belief, given the circumstances. Assuming they have been informed and involved, one could still think, that Modi took the initiative to demonetise India, either in good faith or for more sinister reasons, and simply enlisted help and advice of US institutions. If so, the “help” did not consist in effectively helping to meet the challenge of providing all of India with new mney in a timely fashion. That part went terribly wrong. The only advice that the Better Than Cash Alliance has ever had, is to reign in the use of cash and to advertise the use of digital payment systems. Note that for those who want to push back the use of cash worldwide, the disaster that demonetization was for the majority of Indians, was a benefit, rather than a problem. Worldwide it instilled fear that people and businesses relying solely on cash could experience the same. If Modi and the Indian government should have acted with the supposed interest of the country in mind, and thought that they would get useful, unbiased advice from foreign institutions with a strong and obvious business interest in the abolishment of cash and from a foreign government whose country is home to the companies that dominate digital payment systems globally, then he would have been naïve at the border of imbecile. I will not assume that. The fact that the ground in India was prepared from at least 2013, by a committee of the RBI with very heavy US-links, and then by a formal USAID-finance-ministry partnership, does not lend more plausibility to the narrative, that the initiative was Modi’s.

We will look more closely at the economic arguments and the evidence in favor of financial inclusion and of pushing back cash in a follow-up article.

Did ‘Better than Cash’ coopt vested Indian interests

The hypothesis that the main driver or a main driver behind the demonetization were US interests, does not at all imply that the Indian prime minister and other Indian constituents did not have their own interests associated with it. It is hardly possible to get the elite of a country to do something that goes against their own interests, but it is fairly easy to get them to do something that helps (significant fractions of) them, but hurts the majority of the people. A few possible such interests, some of them quite plausible, I would like to quote from a readers letter:

1) recapitalising the public banks, which were staggering under the weight of bad loans to cronies. Soon after the demonetisation, the state banks waived loans to 63 corporations, including Modi’s close friend and ally, Adani. the entire corporate sector is expected to benefit from lowered interest rates as a result of recapitalization.
 2) there are major local beneficiaries of pushing people onto the cashless system, such as Nilekani and Ambani, who probably played a part in persuading Modi. Nilekani is the key person behind the Aadhar system of equipping every Indian with an ID card, through which they are now required to get food rations, train tickets and other basic services. this system greatly increases the possibilities for controlling the population and crushing dissenters. Ambani is the owner of an online payment platform that has directly benefited from demonetisation.
 3) destroying the informal, cash-based economy of the poor and pushing through retail chains instead. curiously, the big retail chains were well supplied with cash in their in-store ATMs. they experienced a boom immediately after demonetisation.
 5) destroying the informal economy would also ease the process of land acquisition, as indebted farmers would be forced to sell. land acquisition for real estate and other development, a long-standing demand of global capital, has been stalled by grassroots movements.
 6) emptying out the cash coffers of rival political parties. Elections are due in February in several major states. the political process in India has been profoundly corrupted by the loosened financial controls since neoliberal reforms in the 1990s.
 7) another idea that has been put forward is megalomania—Modi wanted to do something dramatic and drastic to push through multiple benefits to his backers, and also pose as a crusader against corruption. incidentally, some recently leaked documents indicate that Modi himself received bribes from a corporate house. even India’s supreme court is too chicken to order an investigation, at least thus far.

src: https://rwer.wordpress.com/2017/01/09/more-evidence-of-early-us-involvement-in-indian-demonetisation/

War by Other Means
A CFR Book
Robert D Blackwill Jennifer M Harris War by other Means Geoeconomics and statecraft book cover
Robert D Blackwill Jennifer M Harris War by other Means Geoeconomics and statecraft book cover

 

“Despite having the most powerful economy on earth, the United States too often reaches for the gun instead of the purse,” contend CFR Senior Fellows Robert D. Blackwill and Jennifer M. Harris in War by Other Means: Geoeconomics and Statecraft. They argue that the United States should strategically integrate economic and financial instruments into its foreign policy—what they define as geoeconomics—or risk losing ground as a world power. Read more and order a copy »

I BET WITH YOU 100USD – THAT EVERY KID ON THE STREET WAS SEEING THAT HOUSING-BUBBLE OF 2008 COMING.

So if Bernanke (FED) says “he did not see it coming” – it is either a lie – or it means the finance-sector and politicians are soooo arrogant and deteched from the rest 99% and blind-eyed on every eye. This is very unlikely – so i go for the first (it is a lie) with a little mix of massive arrogance and miss-management. But let us remember – the FED was FOUNDED (largely a JP Morgan production) in order to AVOID FURTHER FINANCIAL CRISIS – that probably was also a lie.

to me this seems like a scheme… banks generate money when giving a loan e.g. for a mortgage for housing… they even lend money between banks to generate more checkbook-money… after a collapse you can go on shopping tour… and buy things cheap and wait for it to gain value again. it is basically a massive nation or even world-wide fraud.

I guess the FED (which seemed to be owned by private Wall-street banks?) was very well aware what was going on.

You can surely laugh at those who were stupid enough to believe your lies – but one thing is ultimately lost – trust.

And without trust – nothing works – no cooperation between humans will be possible – so money will actually stop working. Thanks god.

Ben Shalom Bernanke (American people of Ukrainian-Jewish descent)

“8 Million jobs lost by 2008 subprime housing bubble crisis” … “good job” FED for “stabilizing” the financial system… massive failure i would say. “Small businesses are not seeking or qualifying for credit”

It is very funny that the ECB is doing the EXCATLY same thing as the FED does. 1:1 copy. Bernanke was not Goldman Sachs – Mario Draghi (ECB) was.

Do Central Bankers Know a Bubble When They See One?

Tags The FedMoney and BanksMoney and Banking

19 hours ago

Between 2000 and 2008, two of the largest financial bubbles in history — in technology stocks and housing, respectively — suffered spectacular collapses. Opinions vary, but some market commentators believe at the peak of the tech bubble, total stock market capitalization exceeded 180% of US GDP. To put this in perspective, the tech stock bubble was over twice the size of the 1920s stock bubble!1 As large as the bubble in tech stocks was, it was child’s play compared to the housing bubble. When the US housing bubble collapsed, the credit losses were so large the entire worldwide banking system was considered to be in mortal danger.

One of the primary justifications behind the 1913 founding of the Fed was to prevent financial crises. Logic then dictates if a major motivation behind forming a central bank is the prevention of a financial crisis, then a financial crisis that breaks out under the nose of a central bank must be due — at least in part — to mistakes of that bank. The Fed’s mistakes and its subsequent leading role in causing the housing bubble will be seen by reviewing speeches given by Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke that praised the housing bubble era Fed. In addition, a review of statements made in the wake of the tech bubble’s collapse will reveal senior Fed officials taking positions diametrically opposed to positions Alan Greenspan claimed formed the basis for the Fed’s policy toward bubbles, namely, allowing bubbles to burst and dealing with the consequences later.

From its March 2000 peak to its October 2002 bottom the NASDAQ declined 80%. Throughout the 1990s no one cheered on the “new economy” more than the “maestro,” Alan Greenspan. After the bubble collapsed, Greenspan recognized a need to explain his and the Fed’s actions while the tech bubble grew. In August 2002 Greenspan gave a speech at the Fed’s conference in Jackson Hole. In this speech, which Jim Grant called “self-exculpating revisionism,”2  Greenspan offered this rationale for the Fed’s actions during the late 1990s:

The struggle to understand developments in the economy and financial markets since the mid-1990s has been particularly challenging for monetary policymakers. … We at the Federal Reserve considered a number of issues related to asset bubbles — that is, surges in prices of assets to unsustainable levels. As events evolved, we recognized that, despite our suspicions, it was very difficult to definitively identify a bubble until after the fact — that is, when it’s bursting confirmed its existence.

Less than two years later, in January 2004, Greenspan would congratulate himself on the apparent success of the Fed’s strategy. In doing so he would expose the Fed’s role in creating the far more ruinous housing bubble.

There appears to be enough evidence, at least tentatively, to conclude that our strategy of addressing the bubble’s consequences rather than the bubble itself has been successful. … As I discuss later, much of the ability of the U.S. economy to absorb these sequences of shocks resulted from notably improved structural flexibility. But highly aggressive monetary ease was doubtless also a significant contributor to stability.3

The “monetary ease” — slashing interest rates — Greenspan was taking credit for here was not helping the economy heal. Instead it was fueling an enormous bubble in housing whose negative consequences can best be described as world-altering.

One month later, in February, Greenspan’s partner in criminal economic ignorance, The Great Moderation Remarks by Governor Ben S. Bernanke At the meetings of the Eastern Economic Association Washington DC February 20 2004 r040301f.” In this speech Bernanke would, unknowingly, provide further evidence of the Fed’s enormous role in fueling the housing bubble. Bernanke claimed the Fed’s monetary policy was a source of stability and helped to reduce variations in economic output.

The irony in giving this speech at this time should not be lost.

Bernanke’s speech, like Greenspan’s, betrays a total ignorance of the enormous housing bubble that was only a few weeks from peaking.

(Homeownership peaked in April 2004!) With just these two speeches, the criminal incompetence of the Greenspan/Bernanke and the leading causal role the Fed played in the housing bubble are demonstrated.

The Fed’s bubble befuddlement was not limited to a few speeches. For years on end Fed officials would take positions in contradiction to those established by Greenspan in his Jackson Hole, Wyoming, speech. For example, in July 2005 and in his capacity as head of the president’s council of economic advisors, Ben Bernanke was asked on CNBC if there was a housing bubble. He does not answer by saying bubbles can’t be seen until after they burst. Instead he says the following:

Well, I guess I don’t buy your premise. It’s a pretty unlikely possibility. We’ve never had a decline in housing prices on a nationwide basis, so what I think is more likely is house prices will slow, maybe stabilize, might slow consumption spending a bit. I don’t think it will drive the economy from its full employment path.

Later in October 2005, other Fed officials would also contradict Greenspan’s Jackson Hole speech. By then, homeownership had already peaked and the bubble had started to collapse. Amazingly,  two Fed economists investigated if there was a housing bubble. They — erroneously, of course — concluded home prices are high but not out of line.4 Obviously, if Fed officials were investigating to see if a housing bubble existed, then they believed it could be observed without first having to collapse.

Often, the most damning indictments of the bubble-era Fed come from other Fed officials. The most loquacious of these officials is current St. Louis Fed president James Bullard. Among the truths Bullard accidently exposed was the one concerning the obvious nature of the recent stock and housing bubbles. In a September 2013 interview Bullard said, The bubbles we had in the past were gigantic and obvious.5 Later, in a November 2013 interview, he said the housing and tech bubbles were blindingly obvious.”6

Amazingly, Alan Greenspan would eventually completely contradict Greenspan! Here is “Mr. Chairman,” as CNBC lovingly refers to him, discussing the Lehman Brothers failure in October 2013, “We missed the timing badly on September 15th, 2008 [the day Lehman Brothers went bankrupt]. All of us knew there was a bubble.”7 So which is it Mr. Chairman? Can bubbles be “obvious” or something “everyone knew” to exist before they pop — as you indicate here — or do you have to wait until after they pop to confirm their existence as you said in Jackson Hole?

Our brief review here demonstrates both the leading role the Fed played in creating the housing bubble — the January and February 2004 speeches — and the many mutually exclusive positions the Fed took on bubbles. In spite of being exposed in what is either a self-exculpating lie (the claim that bubbles can only be seen after they burst) or a sign of gross incompetence (the failure to see two of the largest financial bubbles in history), no Fed official has ever been asked to explain or rationalize the Fed’s contradictory positions on bubbles. Whether anyone from the Fed is ever forced to do so or not, it is obvious the Fed has much to answer for concerning all the economic hardships their bubble befuddlement has caused.

  • 1. Marc Faber, “The Monetization of the American Economy,” DailyReckoning.com, January 16, 2002 https://dailyreckoning.com/the-monetisation-of-the-american-economy/
  • 2. Jim Grant, Mr. Market Miscalculates (Mt. Jackson, Va.: Axios Press, 2008), pp. 241.
  • 3. “Risk and Uncertainty in Monetary Policy”, Remarks by Chairman Alan Greenspan at the Meetings of the American Economic Association, San Diego, California, January 03, 2004.
  • 4. Jonathan McCarthy and Richard W. Peach, “Is there a Bubble in the Housing Market Now?” Federal Reserve Bank of New York, 2005.
  • 5. Steven C. Johnson, “Fed Need Not Rush to Taper While Inflation is Low,” September 20, 2013, CNBC, http://www.cnbc.com/id/101051526/
  • 6. Matthew J. Belvedere, “Fed’s Bullard: $1-trillion a year QE pace torrid,” CNBC, http://www.cnbc.com/id/101166475
  • 7. Matthew J. Belvedere, “Bubbles and leverage cause crisis: Alan Greenspan,” October 23, 2013 CNBC, http://www.cnbc.com/id/101135835

src: https://mises.org/blog/do-central-bankers-know-bubble-when-they-see-one

Orwell On Totalitarianism

And I believe that totalitarianism, if not fought against, could triumph again.
-George Orwell

Mankind and the individuals that comprise it, conscious of it or not, are in a constant pursuit of something: happiness, perfection, wealth, or popularity. Yet there is something, a more worthy, substantial pursuit that is common amongst many others: the relentless pursuit of what he believes to be a certain TRUTH that exists. Perhaps one of the most dedicated of these people in his attempts to seek out and expose the truth is writer Eric Arthur Blair, (Nom de plume: George Orwell) particularly in his novel 1984. In order to understand Orwell’s political opinions, platforms and his desire to unveil the truth about certain governments, we must analyse his past: his experience in Burma, Spain, and England. It was through these experiences that involved propaganda and totalitarian regimes that Orwell came to develop his views on sovereignties which he later compiled in his satirical novel 1984. Though this allegorical story has an interesting “surface” tale, it must be analysed on a deeper level in order to fully understand the author’s purpose. It is through a more intense investigation of the novel that the reader comes to recognize 1984’s verisimilitude. It has become apparent that 1984 is not an anachronistic representation of a past totalitarian society; it has becomes a timeless book whose characters, lessons, and themes can be seen in the year 1996.

Orwell was born in India in 1903, his father working for the Civil Service at a time when England’s imperialism was peaking. At the age of fourteen Orwell entered Eton School in England. It was at Eton that Orwell first became exposed to totalitarian leadership under the watchful eyes of his schoolmasters who “used kicks and caresses to keep the boys in line.” Once graduated from Eton, Orwell decided to work for the British Government in Burma as a member of the Imperial Police. There Orwell was exposed to many executions and other developments that resulted under imperial rule. It was at this points that Orwell “had already made up his mind that imperialism was an evil thing.” Therefore Burma was seen as a point of change for Orwell: in Burma Orwell established a hatred for the superimposition of the British Government upon the Burmese. Yet while this developed Orwell’s opinion of such governments, his experience in Burma was only the beginning of what would come to be an extensive political resumé of experience.

Following his work in Burma, Orwell felt “obligated to expose the truth,” as he had fully come to recognize that “totalitarianism was a basic evil.” His further experience strengthened his opinions. After returning from Burma, Orwell wasted away as a poor beggar for several years and then went to Spain to fight in the Spanish Civil War. In part, it is believed that this was done because Orwell felt indebted to the world for his actions in Burma. To “equal” himself with others, he felt it necessary to “reduce” himself on a social level. Moreover, Orwell wished for an experience where he was considered to be a commoner, since the class system in England was far too restrictive for this to happen. Orwell himself said: “the class system- it hit you like a stone wall.” In Spain Orwell fought with the Republicans and there recognized that it was “impossible to fight for any side without recognizing it as an unjustifiable tyranny.” While Orwell had originally thought that Spain would be a rejuvenating experience, he quickly came to learn that even the side he was fighting for was in arms with itself. That is, the Americans, British, and Communists fighting Fascism were themselves in dispute. It was as a result of Orwell’s dissatisfaction in this incident that he almost came to be slain by a group of Communists. In Spain Orwell suffered injuries and later returned to England where he worked for the BBC. Concurrently the Second World War was under way, and Orwell familiarised himself with the Russian situation. Having just felt the frustration of the Spanish War, Orwell was once again outraged that the Russians as a people and the rest of the World were not truly recognising Stalin’s oppressive ruling. He took the stage and pointed out the truth. The fact was that little was known about Russian life behind the iron curtain: information was limited to government agency reports that only published the good news while inside sources mysteriously contradicted one another. It was as a result of these experiences that Orwell came to develop his views as expressed in the novel 1984 and Animal Farm.

Through his political experience, Orwell was not only inspired to write, but he made his goal in writing to reveal the faults of a totalitarian system:

“Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for socialism, as I understand it.”

And so, the world was given 1984 and Animal Farm where Orwell criticized the totalitarian governments of the world for their platforms. Collectively, his works came to reject the governments which sought a utopia that Orwell had, at an early age, recognised to be impossible to achieve. It was through his writing that this ultimate prophesy was established. Orwell matured as an experienced man whose young and adult exposure had opened his eyes to multitude of political clashes. It was through these trials in Burma, Russia, and Spain that Orwell began to develop a disapproval for totalitarian ruling forces and an admiration for socialism. Moreover, through leaders such as Russia’s Stalin, identified as “the greatest,” Orwell found many flaws. Consequently Orwell set on a mission to expose the truth to the world; to save it’s countries from futile attempts to create utopian states far too idealistic to be reality. In his life and work, Orwell was truly dedicated to being a beacon of light in the totalitarian night!

Rudy Sedlak
14 December, 1996