The world’s greatest economists and bankers recently congregated at the International Economic Symposium, held at the uber-swank Hotel George V Paris, to postulate about the current state of our global financial system, economic progress and political environment. What you are about to learn about what transpired will go a long way in explaining how the word ‘truth’ is now merely a hollow collection of 5 letters with no meaning.
The 415 attendees at the symposium filled the Georges V’s captivating and majestic Salon Vendome to capacity. The topics for discussion for the conference were as follows:
- Global Debt and Money Printing,
- The Ukraine
- The Banking System
- How to score a cushy job as a talking head on a major media outlet
- How to get a tenured position at a university (with a decent pension plan)
- How to keep a straight face when discussing economics in public
Obviously the majority of the conference would focus on points 4 and 5 and 6. Personal enrichment was always a ‘hot topic’ at these sessions. However it was the discussion of the first three points that caused me to forego my usual medication (American as Apple Pie, Jack Daniels) and consume the three bottles of Andezon, Cotes-du-Rhone Syrah, an impertinent, cheeky and inexpensive French – I was in Paris after all – red wine.
My fellow economists and bankers greet me with a derisory smirk
Dear Reader, as part of my commitment to be honest with you most of the time, I should clarify that my attendance at the conference was not as an invited guest. As you may know my career as an Economist/Journalist/Barista has had its challenges. My continued attempts to expose the lunacy and danger of our current economic and banking strategies had turned me into a pariah within the community of bankers and economists. I am shunned at all gatherings of financial luminaries. Rather than with a smile and a handshake, my fellow economists and bankers greet me with a derisory smirk. Generally, my colleagues make me feel as if I am something to be scraped off the bottom of one’s shoe. Last night, in order to attend the conference I had secured a temporary job with the George V as an usher.
My assignment was to help the economists navigate the theatre style setting of the Salon Vendome and stagger to their seats. This simple task was made ever so difficult for the attendees as a result of the copious amounts of alcohol consumed at the magnificent dinner, sponsored by one of the many industry lobbying firms hoping to curry favor with the economists. While food had been served at the dinner it was clear that the attendees had found their sustenance in the libation the hotel provided. One of the sommeliers indicated to me that 1500 bottles of Emmanuel Rouget Cros Parantoux Vosne Romanee Premier Cru (1985, $800 USD/bottle) had been consumed at dinner.
Money, Money, It’s a Rich Man’s World!
As I watched the world’s foremost economists stumble their way to their seats like a barrel of immature orangutans, I had no reason to doubt the sommelier. The lights dimmed, Abba’s classic hit ‘Money, Money, It’s a Rich Man’s World’ blasted over the sound system. (This particular song is the adopted ‘National Anthem’ of the world’s bankers and economists.) The keynote speaker took the stage.
My old friend and BFF Gustavo Laframboise-Pierre
Dear Reader, words cannot describe my stupefaction when the key note speaker turned out to be none other than my old friend and BFF, Gustavo Laframboise-Pierre. Gustavo is the esteemed Director of Global Statistical Creation at the European Central Bank (ECB). Gustavo and I had significant ‘history’ together. For many years he had been my principal bookie ‘back in the day’ on Wall Street when I made obscene amounts of money selling all manner of noxious, toxic (triple AAA rated of course) subprime mortgage pools to unsuspecting investors. At the same time Gustavo plied his bookmaking from the comfort of his previously enjoyed 1995 Honda Civic, usually parked conveniently on Hanover Street to better serve his Wall Street clientele. Sadly most of my earnings were depleted by the compulsive bets I made with Gustavo.
Gustavo’s non–existent moral compass ensured that he excelled
In any event Gustavo’s life changed forever, when a senior member of the ECB, while in New York to visit his paramour, placed a staggeringly large and incorrect wager on the outcome of the 2010 World Cup with Gustavo. The only way the debt could be settled was to offer Gustavo a highly paid sinecure with the ECB. Because Gustavo lacked morals, ethics, and the ability to discern right from wrong, it was decided that he would become the ECB’s Director of Global Statistical Creation. His job was to fabricate statistics that would support the fantastical and bizarre monetary policies being implemented by Central Banks on a global basis. Gustavo’s non–existent moral compass ensured that he excelled at his job. It was Gustavo who created words and terms like Ring fencing, quantitative easing, whatever it takes, and ‘tapering’, to help put a benign spin on the actions of Central Banks.
Do as we say or you, too, could become David Hague
A hush overwhelmed the room as Gustavo approached the microphone. (Well, to be accurate the sound of random snores indicated that a number of economists had succumbed to the effects of the libation they had enjoyed with dinner.)
Gustavo confidently began his presentation:
“Ladies and Gentleman welcome to the 2014 International Economic Symposium. Before I address the important issues of protecting our pensions, how to become a talking head on television and how to pretend to believe what one is saying when talking with the media, I am required to discuss some notional economic issues. This will ensure that our sponsors are able to claim the cost of this gabfest as a tax deduction. I ask your patience and indulgence as I discuss some economic matters before we get to the ‘good stuff’.
First on the topic of banking and the economy:
- I am pleased to announce that Global Government Debt has now reached 53 trillion dollars.
- This could not have been achieved without your help. Had the leading lights of the economic community not been willing to suspend common sense and proclaim, in lecture halls, newspapers, interviews, books and on television that profligate, permanent, ponderous and profuse government debt was the road to permanent prosperity, there would have been a disaster.
- Internal studies completed by Central Banks indicate that had the world governments decided not to gorge themselves on debt, over 100,000 bankers and economists would have lost their jobs. It is a testament to your influence, and might I say, your keen interest in self-preservation that made it possible.
- Need I remind you, that if any of you are tempted, by your conscience, or concern for the 99% or your base interpretation of right and wrong, to publicly expose the inevitable disastrous end game of global debt accumulation, you will be shunned, you will be an outcast, and you will be ridiculed, destined to rejoin the 99%.“
As Gustavo said these chilling words, his gaze turned in my direction, followed by the stares of everyone in the Salon. A soft spotlight captured me in its glare as I leaned against the wall. Clearly I had become a cautionary tale for all economists and bankers. I was being used as a threat to the bankers and economists in attendance. “Do as we say or you too, could become David Hague.” Yikes!
I must admit Dear Reader, this hurt me, but not as much as the Doobie I had been smoking while listening to Gustavo. When the spotlight captured me I had surreptitiously held the doobie behind my back. It was now burning my fingers. Mercifully the spotlight was finally shifted back to Gustavo and I was able to extinguish the remainder of the burning Sinsemilla.
Special mention goes to the economists and bankers in Canada & the U.S. Federal Reserve
“You have all been outstanding in your ability to anesthetize the public into accepting runaway debt. Special mention goes to
- economists and bankers in Canada who were able to shift the public’s attention from a billion dollars wasted on a non-existent Gas Plant in Ontario to a debate regarding the Mayor of Toronto’s pathetic yet ultimately inexpensive behavior and
- the Federal Reserve’s ability to run their balance sheet over 4 trillion dollars reflecting their leadership in the area of money printing. Once again, this milestone could not have been reached without your help. Had economists chosen the path less travelled and used their influence to describe in detail the inevitable consequences of runaway money printing we would not be here today. In all likelihood this conference would be held in the cafeteria of a newly renovated Alcatraz or the Bastille. Yesterday, the newest member of our banking elite announced that the Federal Reserve would remain accommodative for a very long time. Kudos to Janet Yellen for acquiescing and acknowledging that money printing is not a strategy it is now a way of life. On behalf of the 1% let me simply say, thank you.”
The smartest minds in the world work in the financial industry
Gustavo smiled at the room as he announced the momentous news that margin debt, (based on figures released yesterday by the New York Stock Exchange), has reached an all time high . He observed:
“As you know, ladies and gentleman, the smartest minds in the world work in the financial industry.
- They have collectively recognized the genius of our approach to monetary policy.
- They willing to not only bet their own money but they are willing to bet other people’s money as well.
- They have finally heard our message that we Central Bankers have got their back. There is complete confidence in the banking system that we will inflate the market forever.
- They understand that if there is a minor hiccup such as the notional ‘Financial Crisis of 2008′ we Central Bankers, and our acolytes in government, will step in and bail them out.
I encourage you to beg, borrow or steal (just kidding, he snickered) and invest all your money in the world’s stock markets. They are headed to infinity and beyond!
Ukraine is a classic win-win situation, the bankers win and the Oligarchs win
Moving on let me briefly discuss the Ukraine. As you know the Ukraine owes western banks around 65 billion dollars . Between the International Monetary Fund, European and American banks, much of this money was made available to the Ukraine in the last 6 years. The purpose of the loans was to help the people of the Ukraine.”
A huge roar of laughter overwhelmed the room. Everyone knew that the money loaned to governments never benefited the people. It was stolen, siphoned, purloined, or dissipated by commissions, bribes, finder’s fees and just plain sticky fingers. All ‘the people’ were left with, was the debt. One would need a team of archeologists to find any benefit enjoyed by the people of the Ukraine resulting from the vast sums of money borrowed on their behalf. Once the laughter died down Gustavo continued:
“It is very important that we keep the World’s attention focused on the issue of ‘Democratic Process’ in Ukraine. It would be problematic, to say the least if the public ever realized that the only motive for caring about the Ukraine was to protect European and American banks. The virtuous loop of money travelling from banks and International Agencies to the Ukrainian Government, then to be siphoned from the Ukrainian Government’s pocket into the hands of the Oligarchs and thus back to the western banks in the form of deposits must be allowed to continue. Imagine what the impact on the stock market and the luxury housing market would be if this tsunami of money stopped flooding through our banks. (The room collectively shuddered at the thought.) What is occurring now is a classic win-win situation, the bankers win and the Oligarchs win. (Once again the audience erupted in laughter.)
The western banking community has observed with great consternation that Russia is attempting to unilaterally, undemocratically, reshape the map of this region by annexing Crimea. They are attempting to infringe on the sacred and sovereign territory of the Ukraine. We cannot condone such a gesture, which will ultimately disrupt the free flow of capital held by Crimean, Ukrainian and Russian Oligarchs into western banks! (Once again the audience erupted in laughter and derision. Gustavo stifled his own laughter at his own ‘Bon mots’.)
Borders in Europe, like socks, are changed almost daily. Borders in Europe have changed 2,308 times over the last thousand years. At the same time the Great Powers have imposed, changed and re-imposed borders throughout the world whenever their diplomats or geologists have discovered something of value. The hard part, as always, is putting a palatable spin on the dislocation to ensure that members of the 99% will sacrifice their blood and treasure to achieve the required change. The peace, prosperity, freedom and tranquility enjoyed by Africa, the Middle East and the Indian Subcontinent is a testament to the skill and foresight of the Great Power’s ability to wisely reshape the world. Throughout these tumultuous changes I am pleased to report that not one banker or economist ever lost their job or their fortune due to political upheaval. Once again you should be commended for your contribution to this singular achievement.
Give yourself a pat on the back
Finally, let be briefly comment on our banking system before we take a two hour break. I am empathetic to the exhaustion you feel after I have required you to concentrate on economic matters for 15 minutes. During the break there will be an open bar. I am pleased to announce that 6 years after the so called ‘financial crisis’ we:
- have achieved a 100% protection rate that back in 2008 was thought to be unattainable.
- have been able to ensure that not one banker or economist has been charged, fined, jailed, fired or inconvenienced despite the fact that under our watch we made 15 trillion dollars disappear
- have ensured that the net worth of the 1% now exceeds pre-crisis levels. Sure there have been some wars, civil strife, famine, and unemployment as capital is stolen, misallocated, and wasted. This collateral damage is a necessary consequence of progress.
- have been able to ensure that no new laws limiting banks behavior have been implemented. Stress tests and capital requirements for banks have been completely eviscerated to accommodate bank behavior that enriches the banks in the short term and will require more bailouts in the future. Banks are ‘good to go’ as we prepare for the next crisis.
Once again, give yourself a pat on the back. Your ability to foist absurd yet plausible rationale on all your public communication ensures that the public will willingly acquiesce to whatever the next idiotic iteration our policies espouse.” The audience leaped to their feet to provide Gustavo a standing ovation. Dear reader, I have attended enough of these meetings not to be fooled by the applause. They were not acknowledging the wisdom or insights provided in Gustavo’s speech. Rather the economists were expressing their enthusiasm and approval at Gustavo’s remark that there would be an open bar during the break.
There you have it. Dear Reader the inmates have taken over the asylum. Our financiers, economists and bankers have set sail on a course straight into the Bermuda Triangle. That the ship will reach land some day is indisputable. That it will land badly is incontrovertible. The 99%, who seem to have adopted the Ostrich as their ‘National Bird’ would be well advised to ponder these matters to prepare for the consequences of our current economic policies.
The comments above are edited ([ ]) and abridged (…) excerpts from the original article by David Hague
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