News & Analysis
Central Banking Was Responsible for 2008 Meltdown – Nothing Else
The meltdown explanation that melts away ... Although our understanding of what instigated the 2008 global financial crisis remains at best incomplete, there are a few widely agreed upon contributing factors. One of them is a 2004 rule change by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that allowed investment banks to load up on leverage. This disastrous decision has been cited by a host of prominent economists, including Princeton professor and former Federal Reserve Vice- Chairman Alan Blinder and Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz. It has even been immortalized in Hollywood, figuring into the dark financial narrative that propelled the Academy Award-winning film Inside Job. Bethany McLean is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, and co-author with Joe Nocera of "All the Devils are Here: The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis." Her first book, "The Smartest Guys in the Room," co-written with Peter Elkind, became an Academy Award-nominated documentary. – Reuters
Dominant Social Theme: The meltdown was a catastrophe. It was caused by regulations ... taxes ... leverage ... big business ... big government ... mortgage products ... derivatives ... greed ... Satan ... but one thing is for certain, it wasn't caused by fiat-monopoly central banking. We know that for sure. Central banking had nothing to do with it ....
Free-Market Analysis: Following the 2008 global economic crash on an almost day-to-day basis, as we have, we've regularly made the argument that it was caused by central banking monetary inflation and that its result is bound to be the eventual demise of the dollar reserve system.
We believe we're being proven correct on both points. We've also pointed out that the crash itself was predictable and that the top elites that put this global central banking system in place know full well that cyclically it creates crashes, recessions and now depressions.
But, of course, there is plenty of pushback. Seems everybody has an opinion about what caused the 2008 crash. And most of these opinions, played out in the mainstream media, are focused eagerly on causes that have nothing to do with central banking.
In other words, these theories are PROTECTIVE of central banking and the damage that monetary stimulation can do. Inevitably, when we read these theories we tend to notice that those advancing them are apologists for the system as it is. The system of monopoly fiat. The system that crashes regularly and ruins peoples lives as part of its foundering.
This article, a long one (excerpt above), posted at Reuters goes into incredible detail about an obscure rule change that the SEC allowed in 2004. This supposedly allowed big banks to increase leverage that led to the crash. The article sets out to disprove it.
This article is a clever kind of dominant social theme, in our view. Why? Because in debunking a silly argument about why the 2008 crash occurred, it provides readers with the impression that Reuters is a really sophisticated and hard-hitting newswire.
The idea is that Reuters – which is actually a mainstream media mouthpiece for the power elite – would provide us with an article arguing that the removal of regulation was NOT the cause of the meltdown illustrates that top Reuters writers are truth seekers.
The power elite that is trying to set up world government is having a bad go of it. The Internet – what we call the Internet Reformation – is slicing away at its fear-based promotions. Many lucid thinkers that use the Internet for reading and writing don't believe mainstream media articles anymore.
The mainstream media is badly in need of a credibility "pick-me-up." Thus, we argue, articles like this begin to appear. They are very well written, economically literate and academically argumentative. They are meant to impress you and leave you thinking that Reuters itself is a credible and clever place.
Those who publish these kinds of articles are using them as a kind of glorified PR. They are good articles and those at the top of Reuters are hoping their goodness adds a larger luster to mainstream media brands tarnished by the Internet Reformation.
But because it is Reuters doing the writing and editing, these articles – no matter how good they are – inevitably leave stuff out. For instance, we would have less trouble believing that if the article mentioned central banking as the cause. But the article, in thousands of words, never gets to central banking. Coincidence?
The article does do us the favor of debunking a certain argument about leverage. But it doesn't take the next step and explain what really DID happen. Too bad.
The article, as we mentioned, does do us the favor of debunking one widely accepted reason for the meltdown, having to do with regulatory induced leverage.
We never believed it to begin with, of course. One reason we knew right off the bat that it wasn't true was because the financial media maven Simon Johnson was a proponent of this theory.
Anything that Mr. Johnson proposes, in our humble opinion, is likely to be incorrect or at least implausible. He is always trying to hide the culpability of central banking. He is an incredibly brilliant person and great writer, but in our view, he is an apologist for power. You can see some of our articles about his theories here:
The author writes thousands of words to refute the hypothesis of Simon and others. In fact, she could do it in a few sentences, as follows: "Monopoly monetary inflation is the proximate cause of economic ruin and has ruined economies large and small for thousands of years. There is no need to blame anything else. When power over-prints money, as it inevitably does, the result will be the eventual demise of the civilization in question."
See? That's not so complex. And it's the truth. Monopoly central banking systems are entirely unstable. Even non-monopoly systems offering pure fiat are likely unstable because they will generate price inflation. But within a competitive monetary environment, people should have the ability to choose – even clearinghouses that print money.
The REAL problem is when bankers use mercantilism to create and sustain monopoly money printing. Mercantilism is the bane of free-market economies. When bankers pass laws to provide themselves with legal support for their own interests, that economy is on its way to ruin.
This is why central banks are NEVER entirely private entities, from what we can tell. Some apologists claim central banks are entirely private but a quick look at almost any central bank shows that certain government laws are necessary to their existence and continued operation.
The Fed, for instance, has been called a private bank but it took an Act of Congress to establish the Fed and even today, Congress holds hearings and makes appointments to the Federal Reserve Board.
The Fed, like other central banks, is not private. It is mercantilist. It derives its power from the de facto endorsement of the government it helps to fund.
A purely PRIVATE central bank would be a great improvement, in fact, because such a bank would LOSE (or never have) the right to print monopoly fiat. It is this MONOPOLY that is so detrimental to the larger system. And by definition, legal monopolies are generated via government approbation.
How murderous mercantilism is! In a mercantilist monopoly environment, fiat money is like poison. It builds up in the system until it ruins it. This is an ineluctable occurrence. Nothing else is needed. As top bankers print too much money – and they always do within a monopoly fiat regime – the money causes first a great boom and then a great bust.
People lament, for instance, the demise of Glass-Steagall that allowed commercial banks and merchant banks to re-merge. But those same commentators never address the issue of WHY Glass-Steagall was re-addressed.
It was re-addressed because the MANIA surrounding the marketplace mandated that the "business cycle has finally been abolished." In other words, central bank money manias ALWAYS affect regulatory prescriptions. It is almost impossible to stand in the way of a bull market.
Thus, it is only after the fact that the finger-pointing starts. If only this or that regulation hadn't been abolished or changed, we wouldn't have had this terrible disaster.
But in fact, it is the mania generated by central banking money printing that sweeps away regulatory barriers the way a raging tidal wave sweeps away all obstacles in its path.
Of course, we are not making an argument for regulation in any case. Regulation can make business worse and more impractical. It can NEVER make things better. Why? Because all regulations – all law – is a price fix, transferring wealth from people who have generated it to people who have not.
This is the dirty secret behind Western regulatory economies, the secret that is never discussed. And thus, once a crash has taken place, the paid sophists come up with all sorts of reasons why "capitalism" failed.
But they will never explain the truth – capitalism there may be, but free-markets don't exist, nor can they so long as money is retained as a government monopoly.
Money is the most important stuff. It is the lifeblood of an economy. If the blood is poisoned is poisoned by monopoly fiat, then the corpus will be poisoned too.
It is impossible to have a free market within the context of monopoly fiat. Inevitably, you end up with economies that waste wealth on false schemes that are initially seen as viable only because of the wild, false optimism created by crashing waves of monetary fiat. Paper ticker money is like crack. Here's some more from the article excerpted above:
As Blinder explained in a Jan. 24, 2009 New York Times op-ed piece, one of what he listed as six fundamental errors that led to the crisis came "when the SEC let securities firms increase their leverage sharply."
He continued: "Before then, leverage of 12 to 1 was typical; afterward, it shot up to more like 33 to 1. What were the SEC and the heads of the firms thinking?" More recently, Simon Johnson, a former chief economist at the IMF, said last November that the decision "by the Bush administration, by the SEC to allow investment banks to massively increase their leverage ... in terms of the big mistakes in financial history, that's got to be in the top 10."
It is certainly true that leverage at the investment banks zoomed between 2004 and 2007, before the near collapse. And this narrative of the rule change has plenty of appeal — it serves up villains. Stupid SEC people! Greedy bankers! It also suggests regulators were in the pockets of the big banks, and it offers support for the narrative of financial deregulation that many put at the center of the crisis.
There's just one problem with this story line: It's not true. Nor is it hard to prove that. Look at the historical leverage of the big five investment banks — Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.
The Government Accountability Office did just this in a July 2009 report and noted that three of the five firms had leverage ratios of 28 to 1 or greater at fiscal year-end 1998, which not only is a lot higher than 12 to 1 but also was higher than their leverage ratios at the end of 2006. So if leverage was higher before the rule change than it ever was afterward, how could the 2004 rule change have resulted in previously impermissible leverage?
Of course, it wasn't leverage per se that destabilized Wall Street and caused the entire financial economy to collapse. What occurred was that an overabundance of money printed over the past 30 years or so eventually created an entirely phony economy.
At some point a tipping point is reached. The financial economy of the West remains the biggest bubble ever blown in the history of humankind. The world is not merely overbanked, it is drowning in financial services and products.
The "market" realized this in 2008 and the system locked up. It took something like US$50 TRILLION in liquidity to unlock it. This will never be admitted by the power elite's mainstream economic historians and theorists. But it is true.
The world is now not only drowning in dysfunctional and worthless financial facilities, it is drowning in as-yet-uncirculated money that – once it DOES circulate – will tend to destabilize what is left of the system further. The price inflation that will result from all this monetary inflation is fairly inconceivable. This is why we write the dollar reserve system is likely finished ... kaput.
One can come up with all sorts of theories as to why there was a crash in 2008 that continues today. But the real reason is because central banks have a monopoly over money and the elites that work for the dynastic families that apparently control these central banks can – and will – always overprint money.
What happened is very simple. The system froze up because so much money printing diverted real energy and resources into wasteful banking enterprises, houses that didn't need to be built, factories that didn't need to produce unnecessary and redundant junk, etc.
When the market itself recognized this, the system stopped working and needed tens of trillions of artificial liquidity to galvanize it again. It is still is not producing jobs properly however, because the system itself is distorted and the jobs that it tends to produce are unnecessary ones.
We don't expect much from the mainstream media anymore. In fact, over time we expect less and less. But it is worth repeating (to your friends and neighbors) that the economy worldwide is not complex. Get rid of monopoly fiat money printing, allow money to compete in the free market and many if not most of the modern economic tragedies will be avoided.
Conclusion: It's not complicated. But people don't understand because there is an entire industry of sophists and wily ones dedicated to generating confusion at the expense of truth.
Posted by Don from the Republic of Lakotah on 03/20/12 03:12 PM
McLean's agonized nitpicking of an obscure rule reminds me of Marcel Matley's advice in "The Expert Ambush" that "it has to be made up of words, and every word is a universe in its own right. And every universe is filled with many, many questions, all of which you can ask."
As noted by elves, McLean's long story deviates from mass media's typical, light weight fare. In "Avoid News, Towards a Healthy News Diet" Rolf Dobelli argues the case of news as junk food for the brain.
"In the past few decades, the fortunate among us have recognized the hazards of living with an overabundance of food (obesity, diabetes) and have started to shift our diets. But most of us do not yet understand that news is to the mind what sugar is to the body. News is easy to digest. The media feeds us small bites of trivial matter, tidbits that don't really concern our lives and don't require thinking. That's why we experience almost no saturation. Unlike reading books and long, deep magazine articles (which requires thinking), we can swallow limitless quantities of news flashes, like bright-colored candies for the mind.
Today, we have reached the same point in relation to information overload that we faced 20 years ago in regard to food intake. We are beginning to recognize how toxic news can be and we are learning to take the first steps toward an information diet."
Dobelli's theory supports the notion of a mass media afflicted by attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). ADHD with story-level granularity. In other words, mass media's ADHD manifests itself both in headlines (story selection) and within the stories themselves (tropes). Until now.
Perhaps McClean's opus signals mass media trending towards obsessive-compulsive disorder. Giving rise to a mass media afflicted by ADHD-OCD. (How crazy is that?)
Posted by heidii on 03/20/12 03:53 PM
"The author writes thousands of words to refute the hypothesis of Simon and others. In fact, she could do it in a few sentences, as follows: "Monopoly monetary inflation is the proximate cause of economic ruin and has ruined economies large and small for thousands of years. There is no need to blame anything else. When power over-prints money, as it inevitably does, the result will be the eventual demise of the civilization in question."
It may be a surprise, but it is a myth to believe that a successful civilisation needs any kind of money to prosper.
Reply from The Daily Bell
You have an example?
Posted by obsvr_1 on 03/20/12 04:04 PM
The CB under political pressure corrupts its mission of stable prices (inflation moderator/governor) by distorting free market signals (interest rates) and enabling moral hazard (bank bailouts).
Investment bank over leverage amplified the boom/bust on top of the easy money.
A step in the right direction would be to move from a debt-based money to a debt-free money.
A systemic approach and implement a 'Nationalized Money, Privatize Banking' system. I have come to the conclusion that a debt-free system and tax reform/overhaul would help to stabilize the business cycles and defang the private sector credit bubble machine by eliminating Fractional Reserve Lending.
Joseph Huber & James Robertson at New Economics Foundation ( Click to view link ) published a white paper
Click to view link
that describes the theory and operational aspects of a debt-free system
Reply from The Daily Bell
"A step in the right direction would be to move from a debt-based money to a debt-free money."
You mean let's move from a central banking economy where the bankers tell us what to do to an economy where the politicians tells us what to do?
Posted by heidii on 03/20/12 04:11 PM
As the Phoenix rises out of the ashes, so must Humanity into something far greater than it is now. We seem to be going through the "process" as you have pointed to in previous articles. Has the American Dream died or is it to become the Awakening of Humanity. Nothing is set in stone accept Truth.
Posted by victorbarney on 03/20/12 05:03 PM
Central Banking? I just can't beleive it? Question? What can I do about it? Answer: NOTHING! I mean 0! How's that for an answer? Just saying...
Posted by victorbarney on 03/20/12 05:05 PM
I do. How about a "cashless society?" Watch! Just saying...
Posted by the_IRF on 03/20/12 05:38 PM
This is off of topic, a bit, i guess, but does anyone have any observations per this article:
"BRICS members mull future of the US dollar"
Click to view link
Posted by CharliePrimero on 03/20/12 06:16 PM
In 2005 wise people were pointing at Freddie/Fannie and saying "Don't pull that string".
The Meltdown was caused by Moral Hazard. When risk is removed via government subsidy, both bankers and depositors go nuts.
Posted by NAPpy on 03/20/12 06:51 PM
What do you see as an alternative to money?
Posted by NAPpy on 03/20/12 07:02 PM
"A step in the right direction would be to move from a debt-based money to a debt-free money."
The reason we have debt-based money is because the government is available as a lever for any unscrupulous person to pull. Unscrupulous people used government to create the debt-based money system we have now. If you get rid of debt-based money today, the tool used by unscrupulous people will still be waiting, and you'll see the same problem again in the future.
"A systemic approach and implement a 'Nationalized Money, Privatize Banking' system."
I want to use commodity money. Can I opt out of your system? Can I start my own mint and compete against your "nationalized" money?
Posted by Abu Aardvark on 03/20/12 07:09 PM
NYT: 'Before then, leverage of 12 to 1 was typical; afterward, it shot up to more like 33 to 1. What were the SEC and the heads of the firms thinking?" More recently, Simon Johnson, a former chief economist at the IMF, said last November that the decision "by the Bush administration, by the SEC to allow investment banks to massively increase their leverage ... in terms of the big mistakes in financial history, that's got to be in the top 10.'
So? How come these sorry shills - AT THE SAME TIME, for decades in fact - propagate that a fractional-reserve fiat-money monopoly, enforced by the state, with a cash reserve ratio of 0 - 3%, would not only be NO 'mistake', but rather THE ONLY WAY to run our contemporary, 'globalized economy' ?
But I guess I know the answer ...
That's a brilliant recap, indeed. Kudos, elves!
Reply from The Daily Bell
Posted by nithsdale on 03/20/12 07:24 PM
Banks, like the freemarkets, fail from time to time, mainly because they do not use the money they have in their care wisely (loaning to people who do not pay back or in trade, never pay for delivery}. This fact has been the bane of business going back to its beginnings. Who can forget Shylock in the Merchant of Venice and his demand for the pound of flesh?
Banks began as "treasuries" for petty nobility as it began to expand its horizons and astute families played the investment card inherent in having members in trade in many places who could be used to "mingle" wealth to satisfy petty lords and their ambitions. Many times these compacts failed because the lords lost their bids or just refused to pay back. The family, its members and its customers, took the hit. Just like is happening now in Greece.
Our crisis today is no different. The banks did what they do but their "reserves" had to grow far larger than their mingling capabilities in and among trade families. Wars, since the French Kings and Napoleon, have cost far more than trade can produce and so the bundling today must include government loan repayment promises (government securities). This was fine for about 100 years but governments, like lords, did not always pay back. Worse, civil wars even within countries meant immediate default. The bankers of the world had to convene to determine what could and should be done since trade between regions, then continents had to be kept flowing.
The growing populace of the world was involved.
The clue to the development the bankers put forth was in the tale of Isaac of York (Ivanhoe)who had his cousins in Wurtemburg, Germany, pledge their vow to finance the German princes who had Richard the Lionhearted under lock and key, held for ransom! Isaac wrote that he had the crown jewels of England as security, (They never left the Royal Deposit) Richard returned to England, freed but dependent upon Isaac and his brethren for financing his power structure. He had lost it in the many years he had been on "crusade", absent from his kingdom.
This was the origin of our banking system, based on honor, dignity and respect, delivery of the goods as contracted, both for governments and civilities. It built the United States of America, as well as emergent Europe several hundred years before.
Banking has always had a privy council, people who know that what they finance trade with is illusion. However, working with governments, they keep goods moving and populations going with engraved cetificates bearing the honor, dignity and respect of the governed.
The system breaks down from time to time when the people governed lose their sense of honor, dignity and respect. The French Revoltion is the prime example!
That is what happened here in the USA and around the world where we introduced the American Century! Our people forgot their position, let their government forget its... .the need to keep the balance sheet stable... some measure of income covering outgo!
Our Banks were brought to the brink of failure because their reserves had been squandered by our government in one quixotic venture after another, and since the New Deal and FDR in buying votes, picking one sector to expand at the expense of another! Banks used to have cash in their vaults... .gold, silver, the nation's money but that all went to government too, as the deficits piled up and budgets meant nothing in Washington.
In 2008, the fat hit the fan. Citibank, the oil transfer agent, which had to settle oil trade worldwide, in "cash on the barrelhead", had no cash to settle a 600million bill to OPEC and the Koranic/Sharia men to whom it was owed would not accept paper, (no credit, no interest, no insurance). Oil would stop flowing. Bush and Paulson had to rush to Congress, the same group who had overspent the national wealth, and ask permission to print money immediately to solve the problem.
There were Congresspeople who asked why the banks had no reserves. Your hated banksters replied they had government sanctioned reserves, but it was all in government paper which had not paid on maturity, but was rolled over and over and over and the oil sheiks wanted no part of that... it was against
their religion! They wanted cash, and they had agreed to accept American greenbacks years ago and that was it... ..
This was the crisis that still is with us. It has nothing to do with central banks, any bank, but everything to do with the people who govern us and the people who are governed. The "clearing houses" that facilitate trade, yes, even your free traders, are caught in this maw of "extravagant exhuberance" that has brought us to the brink of collapse.
We, the People of the United States, Europe have brought the houses tumbling down on our heads and we are going to have to work to remove the rubble we have caused to get back to honor, dignity, respect, the illusions that made our world in the first place,three earmarks of the elite you love to hate!
It won't be your generation to do it. You are lost but there will be new ones to come who are not so confused and convoluted!
Reply from The Daily Bell
Nithsdale, you are so wrong. The first banks were simply private WAREHOUSES. Ellen Brown makes the case they were temples, but that doesn't make sense to us. Historically, the private market always precedes government-oriented solutions.
Posted by Danny B on 03/20/12 08:48 PM
To DB and my family of commenters; you know that I wander off in left field. I'm trying to put together a body of facts into an idea. Perhaps. You can help me distill the facts into a picture.
We all know that bankers promote WAR as a big money maker. War seems to be the #1 or
# 2 method for raising funds. It's the key element to creating debt.
Click to view link
The CIA is the #1 partner.
But, the world is changing. The Iraq-Afghanistan war created LOTS of debt but, it's held by a deadbeat country. China bought up the oil contracts. POX Americana can't repay the debt. The war was lost and the loser can't repay.
The bankers and CBs promoted a war but, now, nobody can repay them. The CBs can create money and debt but, they can't create wealth. The PTB of Tel Aviv, New York, London and Brussels have hollowed out the economy. At the same time, they have hollowed out their sustenance / support.
Assuredly, the PTB have a fall back plan to exchange hosts. BRICS were the next in line. But, BRIC has gotten wise and instituted capital controls. That leaves Africa as the fallback host. There are 1 million Chinese in Africa doing beneficial [for the most part] trade agreements.
The PTB seem to be using the old playbook. They are trying to promote more American wars. More American debt that can't be repaid isn't going to help. The current host of the PTBs and the CBs has been sucked dry. ASEAN and MERCOSUR will try to keep them at arms length. If the PTB attempt to crash the world to institute world GOV, they may find that they only crash the WEST. That would erase the last bargaining chip of America; surplus agricultural capacity.
War hardware has gotten so expensive that it is impossible to make a buck with a big land war. The U.S. military has come out and said this very clearly.
The Western CBs are running out of options. War debt doesn't bring in the cash that it used to. Inflation has reached a point of severely diminishing returns.
The West is drowning in unbacked paper. The tax-and-finance burden has eliminated competitiveness. Europe is trash-talking America.
America is attacking Europe. It's every man for himself. Japan has closed ranks with the East.
I believe that the CBs are panicked. The ECB has inflated FAR faster than the FED.
Their fighting each other to attract funds for HUGE rollovers. CB purchases of gold was an admission of failure. I suspect that eventually the failed banks will point the finger at the Cbs as being the source of the problem.
Obviously, the sovereigns will try to sell off infrastructure and natural resources to repay the bankers. That just won't bring back prosperity. It won't allow a viable economy.
Reply from The Daily Bell
But Danny B, the central banks apparently don't control anything. The putative top elite families do ...
Posted by steveg on 03/20/12 10:12 PM
I believe, it is all planned. The International Monechangers Fund (IMF) and the Banking Brotherhood run the system along with other elites who owe no allegiance to any country. Perhaps we are prisoners of their system? Is the NWO here? See Link below:
Click to view link
Posted by heidii on 03/20/12 11:50 PM
At the root Money is a tool of exchange, investment; safety and security, as Ben Franklin exposed. A Truly Free society needs not the old ways of imprisonment.
The answers come from a new way, or using the old ways will fall like the sand the old ways were built on the card deck will crumble.
Posted by Danny B on 03/21/12 12:59 AM
Here's a bit of humor. Big, Bad, Bald, Ben Bernanke defends central banking with a BRILLIANT tour-de-force of logic.
"Bernanke defended the need for a central bank.
"The one thing people don't appreciate, I think, is that central banking is not a new development. It's been around for a very long time"
Click to view link
He can claim the same for syphilis.
I have no doubt that there is someone pulling the strings of the Cbs. I doubt that they can easily survive if the CBS are destroyed.
Here's something more pleasant.
Click to view link
Posted by dm on 03/21/12 06:21 AM
Can you say Jew? These are the major bankers causing this worldwide chaos. You think there is a conspiracy? All Jewish owned and in total control?
Just think people.
Posted by dm on 03/21/12 06:24 AM
These are the Ashkenazi/Khazar Jewish bankers not the Judaic Jews from the Bible heritage. Thus Jesus threw out the money changers! He even said those are of the synagog of Satan that say they are Jews and are NOT! One giant enslavement of mankind and those that worship "mammon" (money) and not God! Here we have it folks, in your face!
Posted by paul leo faso on 03/21/12 08:21 AM
Time to hold them all accountable, seize their assets and throw them off the bus;
Click to view link
Posted by spiritsplice on 03/21/12 11:29 AM
The bankers have always been allied with the temples. See Babylon's Banksters by Joseph Farrell Click to view link