31-03-20 10:43:00, On February 1, US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper instructed General Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy to stand by. On February 13, O’Shaughnessy testified before the…
Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan called Paul Volcker “the most effective chairman in the history of the Federal Reserve.” But while Volcker, who passed away Dec. 8 at age 92, probably did have the greatest historical impact of any Fed chairman, his legacy is, at best, controversial.
“He restored credibility to the Federal Reserve at a time it had been greatly diminished,” wrote his biographer, William Silber. Volcker’s policies led to what was called “the New Keynesian revolution,” putting the Fed in charge of controlling the amount of money available to consumers and businesses by manipulating the federal funds rate (the interest rate at which banks borrow from each other). All this was because Volcker’s “shock therapy” of the early 1980s – raising the federal funds rate to an unheard of 20% – was credited with reversing the stagflation of the 1970s. But did it? Or was something else going on?
Less discussed was Volcker’s role at the behest of President Richard Nixon in taking the dollar off the gold standard, which he called “the single most important event of his career.” He evidently intended for another form of stable exchange system to replace the Bretton Woods system it destroyed, but that did not happen. Instead, freeing the dollar from gold unleashed an unaccountable central banking system that went wild printing money for the benefit of private Wall Street and London financial interests.
The power to create money can be a good and necessary tool in the hands of benevolent leaders working on behalf of the people and the economy. But like with the Sorcerer’s Apprentice in Disney’s “Fantasia,” if it falls in the wrong hands, it can wreak havoc on the world. Unfortunately for Volcker’s legacy and the well-being of the rest of us, his signature policies led to the devastation of the American working class in the 1980s and ultimately set the stage for the 2008 global financial crisis.
The Official Story and Where It Breaks Down
According to a Dec. 9 obituary in The Washington Post:
Mr. Volcker’s greatest historical mark was in eight years as Fed chairman.
John Williams has worked as a consulting economist since getting his BA and MA from Dartmouth college in New Hampshire in 1972. He now lives in California – these paragraphs are from his biography:
One of my early clients was a large manufacturer of commercial airplanes, who had developed an econometric model for predicting revenue passenger miles. The level of revenue passenger miles was their primary sales forecasting tool, and the model was heavily dependent on the GNP (now called the GDP) as reported by the Department of Commerce. Suddenly, their model stopped working, and they asked me if I could fix it. I realized the GNP numbers were faulty, corrected them for my client…and the model worked again, at least for a while, until GNP methodological changes eventually made the underlying data worthless.
For a number of years I conducted surveys among business economists as to the quality of government statistics (the vast majority thought it was pretty bad), and my results led to front page stories in 1989 in the New York Times and Investors Daily (now Investors Business Daily).
In 2004 he started Shadow Statistics and runs a blog with updates on what he calculates to be the real U.S. government statistics, you can subscribe for $175 a year. The government keeps statistics on many things; Williams focuses on only a few; unemployment, Gross Domestic Product, inflation, the value of the dollar and the money supply.
You may ask why the government would fudge the numbers. Williams found that between 1997 and 1999 the government understated inflation and as a result inflation indexed payments for social security didn’t escalate as they should have and the government saved millions. The effect is the same in many contracts where payments are inflation indexed; between retired people and pension funds, between corporations and labour unions. Lower inflation rates, real or fictitious, save many corporations money.
On his web site you can check what he says are the correct figures today; unemployment in the United States, which the government says is under 5%, he says is about 22%. One reason for the big difference is that since the ‘60’s the government no longer counts as unemployed those who could not find work.
The Trump administration’s war hawks couldn’t have asked for a more docile casus belli than the Katyusha rocket that landed a mile outside the US embassy in Baghdad’s American-occupied Green Zone on Sunday night, sparing persons, property, and the pride of a president who must have begun to doubt whether the mounting tensions between the US and Iran had any basis in reality at all – or whether the deliberately vague “credible intelligence” on the Iranian “threat” supplied by the Mossad was not a trick to convince the US to take out Israel’s last regional rival.
The plucky little rocket injured no one, and the launcher that fired it was immediately recovered by Iraqi security services in a canal in East Baghdad, which Israeli media breathlessly reported is “home to Iran-backed Shiite militias.” Authorities found no clues as to who had fired the rocket, but a narrative trap was clearly being laid. “Non-emergency” US government personnel had been safely bundled out of the Iraqi embassy by the State Department last Wednesday, supposedly due to an “imminent threat” from Iran, and even Exxon-Mobil had interrupted its plunder of Iraq’s resources, pulling 30 engineers off a Basra oil field as a “temporary precautionary measure.”
Despite its uselessness as an offensive measure, the lonely rocket fulfills the purposefully broad criteria set forth by “Rapture Mike” Pompeo earlier this month when he warned that any attacks on “US interests or citizens” by “Iran or its proxies” would be met with a “swift and decisive” response. In a “coincidence” that should surprise no one, the malignant manatee followed those remarks with a statement celebrating Israel’s National Day and promising to “work toward a safer, more stable, and more prosperous” – and presumably depopulated of all those pesky Persians – “Middle East.”
If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 19, 2019
Trump met with Bolton and other members of his cabinet on Sunday night to discuss the strike. While the State Department made ominous noises, its statement officially found no responsibility as yet;
For those of us critically attending at US foreign policy and world politics in general, the rise of Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil could hardly seem outside the scope of interest and –even more important–, influence of the US “Deep State”. So far, some indirect links have been shown, obviously in independent media, between Bolsonaro and the propaganda and psychological war tactics related to the CIA and other subsidiaries of the US Executive, generally linked to Wall Street and business interests. Let’s try and add some new –and more direct–, context and ties.
The far-right candidate who won the first round of elections in Brazil a few weeks ago –with an impressive advantage–, even when represented as a political “outsider”, has in fact been for decades the senatorial representative of a reactionary military elite and, more recently, a Pentecostal conservative population following charismatic leaders with enormous influence among the Brazilian middle and lower classes. They basically tell their flock who to vote for.
Bolsonaro has called for coups, political assassinations and violent repression against minorities and the poor for almost 30 years. He is not an outsider, but the media is playing along, regarding him as an “enemy” of corruption and crime when in fact his intended policies mean the legalization of state violence and other nefarious forms of crime. None of them new or “anti-establishment”, but pretty much the opposite. His core followers seem to feel empowered these days by his first round victory, and the attacks on opponents and minorities are dangerously rising in frequency with fatal consequences, as the killing of a black capoeira teacher last week, Moa de Katende, an Afro-Brazilian cultural figure, for being in favor of the leftist Fernando Haddad. The LGTB community is also a main target.
Even when Bolsonaro, who is also an ex-military, tries to appear more civilized to gather more votes from the political center, some of his core followers are racist gun-lovers ready to form paramilitary militias and raid the favelas in a way resembling Rodrigo Duterte’s Philippines.
As Glen Greenwald noted right after the first round of elections,
“…it is virtually impossible to overstate the threat level posed to democracy and human rights in the world’s fifth most-populous country as a result of last night’s election”.
There is a real – but largely concealed – war which is taking place throughout the African continent. It involves the United States, an invigorated Russia and a rising China. The outcome of the war is likely to define the future of the continent and its global outlook.
It is easy to pin the blame on US President Donald Trump, his erratic agenda and impulsive statements. But the truth is, the current US military expansion in Africa is just another step in the wrong direction. It is part of a strategy that had been implemented a decade ago, during the administration of President George W. Bush, and actively pursued by President Barack Obama.
In 2007, under the pretext of the ‘war on terror’, the US consolidated its various military operations in Africa to establish the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM). With a starting budget of half a billion dollars, AFRICOM was supposedly launched to engage with African countries in terms of diplomacy and aid. But, over the course of the last 10 years, AFRICOM has been transformed into a central command for military incursions and interventions.
However, that violent role has rapidly worsened during the first year of Trump’s term in office. Indeed, there is a hidden US war in Africa, and it is fought in the name of ‘counter-terrorism’.
According to a VICE News special investigation, US troops are now conducting 3,500 exercises and military engagements throughout Africa per year, an average of 10 per day. US mainstream media rarely discusses this ongoing war, thus giving the military ample space to destabilize any of the continent’s 54 countries as it pleases.
“Today’s figure of 3,500 marks an astounding 1,900 percent increase since the command was activated less than a decade ago, and suggests a major expansion of US military activities on the African continent,” VICE reported.
Following the death of four US Special Forces soldiers in Niger on October 4, US Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, made an ominous declaration to a Senate committee: these numbers are likely to increase as the US is expanding its military activities in Africa.
Mattis, like other defense officials in the previous two administrations, justifies the US military transgressions as part of ongoing ‘counter-terrorism’ efforts.