Wall Street & Washington, the usual suspects?

This is an addition to the following piece I wrote a couple of days ago. Last night I interviewed Gary McPhee, the enigmatic mayor of Carterton a small country center in the Wairarapa region of New Zealand. It was a fun evening, rambling, covering all manner of ‘stuff’ from local politics to sex, drugs and, I guess, rock and roll as we did play some great music. I enjoyed myself totally as this was not your Garden variety bland, invisible mayor like some I have met. This is a large man, B.I.G. Physically and intellectually. The sort of man we need more of. Flawed to a T and Honest to boot. At the end of our time together he handed me a DVD, ‘Zeitgeist, the Movie’. Just now I sat down and watched it all the way through. I will watch it again. I will buy my own copy. It talked of the World as we know it. The lies we grew up with that cloud our lives. Much of the discourse I am very familiar with and in viewing it I can see that the past 5 years, without television, have allowed me to read more, I have opened my eyes and heart to my own intellect. I encourage you to view the Movie. A new version comes available on the 3rd of October 2008. As the Film Maker states, do not believe what you see in the film, go and find out for yourself. I also encourage the same process. It could well change your life . . . and mine. Or not :)!

1743 – 1826

I was taken by this article in the NY Times. The country that gave us a car for accountants, VOLVO, furniture for the masses, IKEA, and vodka for the cold, AQAVIT, and music for my daughters, ABBA, may just have come to the rescue, if only we could listen and therein lies the rub. Am I good at listening? Not really but I am trying. i have driven a Volvo, shopped at IKEA, don’t like Vodka and not a big fan of ABBA but this article makes sense, I encourage to read it thoroughly and pass it on, or hit delete and down a glass of vodka.

September 23, 2008
Stopping a Financial Crisis, the Swedish Way

A banking system in crisis after the collapse of a housing bubble. An economy hemorrhaging jobs. A market-oriented government struggling to stem the panic. Sound familiar?

It does to Sweden. The country was so far in the hole in 1992 — after years of imprudent regulation, short-sighted economic policy and the end of its property boom — that its banking system was, for all practical purposes, insolvent.

But Sweden took a different course than the one now being proposed by the United States Treasury. And Swedish officials say there are lessons from their own nightmare that Washington may be missing.

Sweden did not just bail out its financial institutions by having the government take over the bad debts. It extracted pounds of flesh from bank shareholders before writing checks. Banks had to write down losses and issue warrants to the government.

That strategy held banks responsible and turned the government into an owner. When distressed assets were sold, the profits flowed to taxpayers, and the government was able to recoup more money later by selling its shares in the companies as well.

“If I go into a bank,” said Bo Lundgren, who was Sweden’s finance minister at the time, “I’d rather get equity so that there is some upside for the taxpayer.”

To read the complete article please cut and paste the following link.


with thanks to the Swedes and thanks to the NYTimes.

I googled Rockefeller to see what cane up, here is one offering, scary shit.

Greed posing as philanthropy

Tony Gosling

John D Rockefeller began as a humble oil business book-keeper in Cleveland, Ohio and in just seven years rose to control a tenth of the entire US oil business.

In the late 19th century the oil industry was a free-for-all, the law of the jungle ruled. Rockefeller used this ‘individual freedom’ to pursue several extremely successful and deceitful tactics to accumulate capital.

He would secretly buy up or create new oil related companies such as engineering and pipeline firms. These seemed to be independent operators. Rockefeller and his close colleagues secretly controlled the firms and gave Standard Oil, Rockefeller’s main oil company, hidden rebates.

Another tactic was to buy up a competing oil company, again secretly. Officials from this company could then be used very effectively to spy on, and give advanced warning of, deals being hatched by his real competitors.

Almost certainly the most lucrative secret deals done by Rockefeller and his partners were with the railroads. These ‘in harmony’ deals meant those refineries and oil traders not ‘in harmony’ with standard would find that railroads would refuse point blank to move their oil, whatever the price.

Oil, of course, is free at source, so once the investment in refining and extraction plant has been made the only really important cost was transportation. Rockefeller’s secret railroad rebates on the transportation of his oil kept his competitors guessing for years. None of them could understand how he kept pump prices so low. They were all bemused that Standard Oil had being growing at such a rate. How he managed to persuade the railroads to give him rebates and keep the deals secret is still not clear.

Allun Nevins has produced an official biography¹ of the Rockefeller empire but even he cannot help but question its morality. Of a railroad contract signed on 17 October 1877 he says, “The commission was excessive for the services performed. It was ethically indefensible.” “Today,” he says, “we must condemn the misuse of power not only as a crushing blow to the company’s competitors but as an indirect tax on the public.”

At judicial enquiries such as the Hepburn Committee, which delivered its report on January 22nd 1880, Standard Oil representatives and those ‘in harmony’ were tight lipped. They often refused to attend court hearings and regularly disputed its validity. They would give disdainful, condecending replies to the examiners which spoke of an seeming immunity to the rule of law. The committee decided that “Standard Oil violated… social justice” in its monopolistic deals with the railroads.

Standard Oil had its own intelligence and espionage service. Rockefeller saw that a little knowledge can be decisive in the business world so he combined this good supply of information on his competitors with a total wall of silence he himself presented to the outside world. ‘No comment’ was all that journalists came to expect from the Standard offices.

But what about the man himself? Old film of John Rockefeller shows him moving in a curiously stiff and wooden fashion, expressionless. He proffessed to being a Baptist and went to church regularly, but did he enjoy it? Anthony Sampson in his book ‘The Seven Sisters’ quotes John Rockefeller as having a favourite maxim; ‘Don’t let good fellowship get the least hold of you’. Jerome Greene called him, “the most unemotional man I have ever known”.

One shadowy deal that Standard Oil of California (or SOCAL) struck back in the 1930’s changed the face of urban America for ever. The Firestone Tire and Rubber Company, Phillips Petroleum Co., Mack Truck and General Motors collaborated on a project with SOCAL called National City Lines. The tram systems in the urban US were suffering from under-investment and often crippling debt repayments so National City Lines stepped in across the States to liberate the populous from their cheap and cheerful old ‘streetcar’ systems. They were replaced with motor buses or they were gradually closed down completely.

The demand for motor cars soared returning massive profits for all involved in the deal. By 1940 General Motors alone had been responsible for the disposal of more than 100 urban streetcar operations. In the late forties the consortium was found guilty by the federal grand jury under anti-trust (anti-competitive) legislation but the $5,000 fine was laughable. It did not even amount to the annual profit returned from the conversion of a single streetcar.

National City Lines sold the dream of the bus and the car to businessmen and politicians right across the continent. In Detroit, even the chairman of the rapid transit company declared the car as the ‘magic carpet of transportation for all mankind’. Mayor LeGuardia in NYC said the car represented the best of modern civilisation, whereas the tram was simply an old-fashioned obstacle to progress.

So where are the Rockefellers now? The current head of the family is David Rockefeller, Chairman of the Chase Manhattan Bank and prime mover in the secret ‘Bilderberg’ and ‘Trilateral Commission’ elite groups.

His personal secretary, Alice Victor, was one of the only woman present at the 1996 covert Bilderberg meeting just outside Montreal. Amongst the 120 or so most were Peter Job, Chief executive of Reuters, James D Wolfensohn, President of the World Bank, Jean Chretien, Prime Minister of Canada and representatives from most of the boards of US and European Banks.

Press coverage of these conferences of the super-powerful is virtually nil. The entire meeting is ‘off the record’ for the mere likes of you or I.

They may have moved the core of their interests from Oil to Banking and branched out considerably but the Rockefeller family have not given up the fascination of clandestine operations to keep their business empire beating at the heart of the capitalist machine.

About kiwicafe

1955 . . . as a teenager in New Zealand, according to friends :) I talked incessantly of photography & philosophy, in my early twenties I hung out with photographers as I began my film editing career in Australia, I bought a variety of cameras, a faux snapper I guess, more interested in film editing, travel and back deck philosophy through which my curiosity took me from Sydney to New York & Venice Beach. For 45 years have I enjoyed working with some truly great creative directors, writers, art directors, film directors, photographers, producers et al . . . hopefully I learned a thing or two! I did win a bunch of awards and went from Editor of the Year in Australia to one of the top commercial film editors in America, not bad for a skinny kid from New Zealand. 2003 . . . newly divorced, I took the pledge, became 'one of many', an American Citizen & went Searching for Zane Grey's America. For two glorious years I filmed, photographed & blogged my way around the American West. 2006 . . . returned to Aotearoa NZ, restoring a small vineyard and continuing to film, photograph and write. I exhibited & sold some images, harvested a great vintage of both red & white, sold the vineyard, edited a movie or two & now, 2013, I have discovered a whole new journey for myself, via motor neurone disease. I continue to practice my love for film | fotography | philosophy as best I can, I am in a good place, there are no mistakes in life!
This entry was posted in Financial, Morgan, Rockefeller, Wall Street. Bookmark the permalink.

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