FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Is Goldman Sachs Poised to Takeover Europe?

by MIKE WHITNEY

Goldman Sachs is about to take over Europe, but you wouldn’t know it by reading the papers.

On Tuesday, G-Sax alum, Mario Draghi, will take the helm at the European Central Bank replacing retiring ECB president Jean-Claude Trichet. The appointment has slipped by the media virtually unnoticed even though the ECB is the most powerful institution in the EU and is likely to play a critical role in solving the debt crisis.

Draghi was formally a Managing Director at Goldman. He also served as an advisor to the Bank of Italy in 1990, chairman of the Italian Committee for Privatisations, and was an Executive Director of The World Bank from 1984 to 1990. His bio. affirms his globalist pedigree which makes him the perfect candidate to replace the curmudgeonly Trichet who failed to comply with all of Big Finance’s demands. That’s not likely to be the case with Draghi.

The new ECB chief faces the difficult task of trying to pacify Germany while implementing policies that are opposed by the German political class as well as the German people. It won’t be easy, even for a skilled diplomat like Draghi. But Draghi will move forward with his bank-centric agenda, because it may be the last chance to keep the 17-member monetary union from disintegrating.

First, he will lower interest rates by .50 basis pts (from 1.5% to 1.%) at the ECB meeting on November 3 even though headline inflation in the eurozone is presently 3 percent and even though the move is bound to raise eyebrows in Berlin. Then he will announce that the ECB will step up its controversial bond buying program (already 170 billion euros) in order to push yields on soaring Italian debt below 6 percent. The Italian 10-year bond has zoomed to over 6.15 percent since the EU leaders announced their “breakthrough” agreement last Thursday. That means that bondholders do not believe the deal will solve the crisis. Draghi will act quickly to address the situation despite German opposition. Italy has 1.9 trillion euros in debt, 200 billion of which will come-due next year. Rising yields pose an existential threat for the faltering country.

In exchange for ECB support, Draghi will demand that Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (Bunga-bunga) push through unpopular reforms that target the unions and pensions. Italy will also be required to privatize more of its public assets and services. At the same time, the bank bailouts will continue mainly through easing new capital requirements and by underwriting bank debt so banks can issue bonds that are guaranteed by the ECB. Here’s the scoop from Bloomberg:

“European banks, which need to refinance more than $1 trillion of debt next year, may struggle to fund themselves until policy makers follow through on a pledge to guarantee their bond sales.

European Union leaders promised this week to “urgently” look at ways to guarantee bank debt in a bid to thaw funding markets frozen by the sovereign debt crisis. Lenders have found it hard to sell bonds for the past two years and have increasingly turned to the European Central Bank for unlimited short-term emergency financing…

In the U.S., the Temporary Liquidity Guarantee Program allowed banks to issue bonds with backing from the FDIC for as long as three years…

European governments including France, Spain, the U.K. and Germany guaranteed some bonds issued by their banks to reassure investors after the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. in September 2008. In May 2010, the EU ended the program when it said banks that relied on the pledges would face a review of their long-term viability.” (“European Bank Debt-Guarantee Proposals May Struggle to Thaw Funding Market”, Bloomberg)

Guarantees on bank debt is a direct subsidy to big finance, which is why we think that a former G-Sax exec. will support the policy.

Draghi is no fool, he knows that the German plan that was announced last week is more of the same “extend and pretend”. It has no chance of ending the crisis. Regardless of the stock market’s (positive) reaction, borrowing costs are still rising, the credit markets are in turmoil, and the clock is ticking. It’s now or never. Either the ECB takes the initiative and acts as lender of last resort or the eurozone is toast.

50 percent haircuts on Greek debt won’t put Greece on a sustainable growth-path anymore than a $1.4 trillion pile of money will ward off the bond vigilantes. It’s all just more “arranging the dect chairs”. Draghi’s job is to return to first principles, that is, When you are in a hole, stop digging.

The new ECB president is not so obtuse that he will solicit China to support the eurozone either. (Talk about muddled thinking?!?) The eurozone doesn’t need China; it can support itself, and it can do so without its two powerhouse nations being needlessly downgraded because policymakers can’t figure out how the monetary system works. Draghi knows how it works. Paper goes in one end and comes out money on the other. That money makes all the difference in the world. It can boost economic activity, recapitalize underwater financial institutions, and lower borrowing costs.

The central bank’s new approach will put the ECB on a collision course with Germany. This is a clash that can no longer be avoided. Draghi’s job is to save the union for the financial elites who benefit from it. Ultimately, their interests will prevail over Germany’s. You can bet on it.

Naturally, no one cares about the public’s interest. The EU’s working people don’t count.

Exclusively in the new print issue of CounterPunch

One of the Greatest Descriptions of Farm Work Ever Written— Don’t miss Frank Bardacke’s marvelous account from the California fields. ALSO Linn Washington Jr. on the “Black Backlash Against Obama.”

Order your subscription today and get
CounterPunch by email for only $35 per year.

 

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com.

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
July 22, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Good as Goldman: Hillary and Wall Street
Joseph E. Lowndes
From Silent Majority to White-Hot Rage: Observations from Cleveland
Paul Street
Political Correctness: Handle with Care
Richard Moser
Actions Express Priorities: 40 Years of Failed Lesser Evil Voting
Eric Draitser
Hillary and Tim Kaine: a Match Made on Wall Street
Conn Hallinan
The Big Boom: Nukes And NATO
Ron Jacobs
Exacerbate the Split in the Ruling Class
Jill Stein
After US Airstrikes Kill 73 in Syria, It’s Time to End Military Assaults that Breed Terrorism
Jack Rasmus
Trump, Trade and Working Class Discontent
John Feffer
Could a Military Coup Happen Here?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Late Night, Wine-Soaked Thoughts on Trump’s Jeremiad
Andrew Levine
Vice Presidents: What Are They Good For?
Michael Lukas
Law, Order, and the Disciplining of Black Bodies at the Republican National Convention
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Why It’s Just Fine for U.S. to Blow Up Children
Victor Grossman
Horror News, This Time From Munich
Margaret Kimberley
Gavin Long’s Last Words
Mark Weisbrot
Confidence and the Degradation of Brazil
Brian Cloughley
Boris Johnson: Britain’s Lying Buffoon
Lawrence Reichard
A Global Crossroad
Kevin Schwartz
Beyond 28 Pages: Saudi Arabia and the West
Charles Pierson
The Courage of Kalyn Chapman James
Michael Brenner
Terrorism Redux
Bruce Lerro
Being Inconvenienced While Minding My Own Business: Liberals and the Social Contract Theory of Violence
Mark Dunbar
The Politics of Jeremy Corbyn
Binoy Kampmark
Laura Ingraham and Trumpism
Uri Avnery
The Great Rift
Nicholas Buccola
What’s the Matter with What Ted Said?
Aidan O'Brien
Thank Allah for Western Democracy, Despondency and Defeat
Joseph Natoli
The Politics of Crazy and Stupid
Sher Ali Khan
Empirocracy
Nauman Sadiq
A House Divided: Turkey’s Failed Coup Plot
Franklin Lamb
A Roadmap for Lebanon to Grant Civil Rights for Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon
Colin Todhunter
Power and the Bomb: Conducting International Relations with the Threat of Mass Murder
Michael Barker
UK Labour’s Rightwing Select Corporate Lobbyist to Oppose Jeremy Corbyn
Graham Peebles
Brexit, Trump and Lots of Anger
Anhvinh Doanvo
Civilian Deaths, Iraq, Syria, ISIS and Drones
Christopher Brauchli
Kansas and the Phantom Voters
Peter Lee
Gavin Long’s Manifesto and the Politics of “Terrorism”
Missy Comley Beattie
An Alarmingly Ignorant Fuck
Robert Koehler
Volatile America
Adam Vogal
Why Black Lives Matter To Me
Raouf Halaby
It Is Not Plagiarism, Y’all
Rev. Jeff Hood
Deliver Us From Babel
Frances Madeson
Juvenile Life Without Parole, Captured in ‘Natural Life’
Charles R. Larson
Review: Han Kang’s “The Vegetarian”
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail