Financial Meltdown on Wall Street

Michel Chossudovsky


PREFACE

"A measure of wheat for a penny [literally - denarius, a Greek coin which represented a WHOLE DAYS wages], and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine." (Rev. 6:6)

NOTE: The meaning of this lyric is that the condition of man during this era (i.e., the "end of days") will be reduced to such that he will have to labor a whole day simply to buy a loaf of bread or three measures of barley. But the second part of the lyric [i.e., "... and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine ..."] means that the "hard times" of this period will not extend to the elites. This is the common interpretation - the one subscribed to by Ryrie, Pentecost, Ironside, Gaebelein, etc.

We stand at the edge of a precipice.

One of the most distressing dynamics of today's world is the speed at which the world is being divided between a small elite of wealthy "worthies" and a huge population of indigent "worker-serfs" - and it is important to note here that the division of the earth's population in this fashion is occurring not only in the so-called "Developing World," but in the so-called "Developed World."

In the following article, Professor Michel Chossudovsky of the University of Ottawa points out just how inexorable this process has become, and how rapidly it is taking hold of the world. The fact is, the world that permitted Christians in the United States to live comfortably "in this life" and "in this world" while others starved is passing away. As a result, we Christian stand at the edge of a precipice. It's just a matter of time before many of us fall off the edge into the horror of penury and destitution - precipitating a panic for which most of us are ill prepared. How we as Christians react to this panic will determine our future, both now and in the world to come - either to honor or to dishonor.

Two paths lay open before us: one path leads into apostasy; the other leads to a transformed life. The path we choose will reveal us for what we really are - children of this world, or children of the kingdom heaven. Unbelievers will be looking at us to see how we react to the turmoil to come.

Habakkuk in rags -
rejoicing in the Lord.

If we panic and join the mob in its stampede for an easy way out - for renewed financial security - then we will be led straight into the arms of the "coming world-ruler."

But if we can say with the prophet Habakkuk:

"Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls -

"YET I WILL REJOICE IN THE LORD, I WILL JOY IN THE GOD OF MY SALVATION." (Habakkuk 3:17-18)

- then we will be the kind of testimony the world (and unbelievers) are secretly looking for; people who are so in love with the Lord that there is no longer any duplicity in their witness before the world. There is no longer any self-serving in their testimony; no attempt to serve both God and mammon - they follow Christ now wherever He goes, be it into fire, death, torture, or economic ruin. Their love for Jesus no longer permits any separation from Him Who now is the ABSOLUTE object of their love and desire.

Again we say, the Lord is looking for such to follow Him - those who will follow Him long after the "things" are gone, the crowds have left, the popularity faded; when the clothes are tattered and torn, there is no longer any food on the table, and persecution rages all around. These are the disciples of Jesus - with such people one can repose trust and friendship; true love is here to be found.

It is in this kind of love that the TRUE church will be "revealed," and "disclosed" (Romans 8:19) It is this kind of love that will expose the hypocrites for who they really are. It is this kind of love which will separate the wheat from the tares. And it is only in tribulation that this love is truly revealed in all of is splendor and beauty - the kind that will produce "The Great Harvest of the Lamb."

- Antipas

____________________________________

We are at the crossroads of the most serious economic crisis in world history.

The economic crisis has by no means reached its climax, as some economists have predicted.

The crisis is deepening, with the risk of seriously disrupting the structures of international trade and investment.

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 US government 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

Today's economy: A House of Cards

The subprime residential mortgage crisis leading to millions of people losing their homes reached its climax in the last days of August 2008, when financial institutions reported billions of dollars in losses.

Friday, September 12, 2008, Lehman Brothers faced collapse in weekend negotiations behind closed doors on Wall Street. Black Monday descended on September 15, 2008. Following the filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy by Lehman on Monday morning, the Dow Jones industrial average declined by 504 points (4.4 percent), its largest drop since September 17, 2001, when trading resumed on Wall Street after the 9/11 attacks.

The following day, it was the turn of AIG, the insurance conglomerate. On the evening of September 16, the government "granted an $85 billion loan to AIG in exchange for a controlling 79.9% equity share of the company".

The financial slide proceeded unabated throughout September. Barely two weeks later, on Monday, September 29, the Dow Jones plummeted by 778 points, its largest one-day drop in the history of the New York Stock Exchange. This followed the rejection by the U.S. House of Representatives of the government's 700 billion dollar bailout plan, which was slated to come to the rescue of the banks affected by the subprime mortgage crisis. In a single day, 1.2 trillion dollars had seemingly evaporated.

The world's stock markets are interconnected around the clock through instant computer link-up. Instability on Wall Street immediately spills over into the European and Asian stock markets, thereby rapidly permeating the entire financial system.

Speculative Onslaught on Black
Monday, September 29, 2008

There was something disturbing about the Black Monday, September 29, 2008 collapse of Wall Street, following the decision of the U.S. House of Representatives. Did this paper money "vanish into thin air" as claimed by financial analysts, or was it "appropriated" by institutional speculators in one of the largest transfers of money wealth in American history?

There was prior knowledge on how the Congressional vote would proceed. President Bush's speeches had intimated that a collapse would occur. There was also an expectation that the market would crumble if the proposed 700 billion dollar bailout were to be rejected by the U.S. Congress.

Speculators, including major financial institutions, had already positioned themselves. Powerful financial actors with prior knowledge and access to privileged information prior to the House's rejection of the bill made billions in speculative trade on Black Monday when the market crumbled. And then on Tuesday, September 30, they made billions when the market rebounded, with the Dow jumping up by 485 points, a 4.68 percent increase, compensating in part for Monday's decline. Those financial actors who had foreknowledge and/or who had the ability to influence the vote in the U.S. Congress also made billions of dollars.

Ironically, almost twice as much money was wiped out from the U.S. stock market on Black Monday, September 29 (1.2 trillion dollars) than the value of the government's bank bailout under the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) (700 billion dollars).

Even before the opening bell, Monday looked ugly. But by the time that bell sounded again on the New York Stock Exchange, seven and a half frantic hours later, $1.2 trillion had vanished from the U.S. stock market.

This money did not vanish. It was confiscated from the pockets of people who had invested their lifelong savings in the stock market.

While public opinion celebrated the refusal of the U.S. Congress to accept the Bush administration's bailout, the decision of the legislature had fed the speculative onslaught.

Political uncertainty regarding the proposed bailout constituted ammunition for the speculators.

In a bitter irony, the Wall Street banks are "double dippers"; they are the recipients of the bank bailout. And at the same time they made money speculating first on the rejection by the U.S. Congress and subsequently on the later adoption of the bank bailout legislation.

On October 1, Wachovia Bank was taken over by Wells Fargo, overriding a competing bid from Citigroup. The deal was sealed with the support of Warren Buffett, the richest man in the world, according to Forbes, and a major shareholder of Wells Fargo.

The first week in October 2008 represented a crucial turning point. The Dow Jones fell by 21 percent over the week, with Thursday, October 9 suffering its biggest fall since Black Monday, October 19, 1987. The S&P 500 index lost 22 percent of its value. The entire western banking landscape was in disarray. Iceland's banking system was destabilized and the country was put in receivership. The Reykjavik government gave the green light for the forced bankruptcy of the entire banking system.

Following a pledge by G7 finance ministers and central bank governors on the weekend of October 10-11 to prevent further bank collapses, the world's stock markets rebounded on October 13. The G7 had committed itself to "taking all necessary steps to unfreeze credit and money markets". The Dow increased by 936 points (eleven percent) at the close of trading on October 13, its largest one day increase since 1933. Most European exchanges had "recovered", with the Paris CAC index rebounding by an astounding 8.8 percent at the close of trading.

This short-lived "recovery" was part of the speculative game. Two days later, on October 15, Black Wednesday, the Dow Jones plummeted by 7.9 percent.

The sequence of a "one day collapse" followed by a "one day surge" and recovery, followed by another "one day collapse" a few days later, is part of the process of financial manipulation. Day to day instability and swings in stock market values are the source of large windfall profits accruing to "institutional speculators" and hedge funds.

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.


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