The following excerpt was taken from pages 324-329 of “The Vultures’ Picnic” by Author Greg Palast, published by Penguin. I strongly suggest you memorize it:


“We are investigating arson. Who lit the fires in Greece in 2010 and 2011, and before that, Indonesia (1998), Ecuador (1999), Argentina (2000), Ecuador again (2005), Hungary (2006) and Latvia (2009)? (The list is not exhaustive.)”

“Luckily, some birdies flew over our office and dropped several papers through the transom, one written by Tim Geithner to Larry Summers. I shouldn’t read their mail – it was confidential – but, you know. It was dated November 1997.”

“No document except maybe the Bible and Mein Kampf has caused so much harm and tears and terror. It would shudder through the world finance system and engender there the broken walls of Detroit, the burning roofs of Ecuador and the Greek dead.”

““As we enter the end-game of the WTO financial services negotiations, I believe it would be a good idea for you to touch base the CEO’s…””

““End-game”? Let’s piece together how the game began. In 1997, there were two burning questions for Summers, Geithner, Rubin, [Sandi] Wiell, and the gang.”

“The first was, What if shit happens? What if, that is, when, the decriminalized trade in weird securities goes bad, where can the United States dump its toxic assets?”

“Rubin’s Deputy Secretary, Summers, would apply the same solute he had suggested earlier, in 1991, regarding chemical toxins. Then Chief Economist of the World Bank, Summers wrote a memo stating that poor nations are “UNDER-polluted” (his own caps), so the West should dump more toxins there. When the memo leaked, Summers said it was a joke. It was certainly a joke, but it was also, under Summers, World Bank policy.”

“In 1997, Summer would make the rest of the planet swallow toxic financial assets. Let Ireland, Brazil, and Portugal pay cash money to take on the U.S. bankers’ risk.”

“The second question for the bankers was, How do we bust down financial rules across the planet?

“America is a big sandbox, but these guys want to play anywhere in the school yard. It was not enough to erase the laws against speculating with bank deposits in the United States if it was still a crime to do so in Brazil, India, Spain, and Greece. In most nations, betting government-guaranteed savings accounts on funky securities remained verboten. Moreover, national laws barred Sandy Weill’s Citigroup from buying up local banks.”

“What to do? You can’t engineer enough coup d’etats and install General Pinochets everywhere. So then, how to change the laws of 152 nations with a single-coup? Treasury called a meeting.”

“From the memos, it appears there were little gatherings of Treasury with The Boys (David Coulter from Bank of America, John Reed from Citibank, Walter Shipley from Chase, Jon Corzine from Goldman, David Kaminiski from Merrill Lynch), CEOs all. How could they make 152 nations bust apart their banking laws and allow purchases of U.S. toxic assets?”

“The answer was to take a minor trade treaty, the Financial Services Agreement (FSA), and turn it into the new finance law of the planet. In their closed little gatherings, this bankers roundtable (please don’t say cabal) rewrote the FSA, with protocols forcing every nation to remove restrictions and old fashioned safe-banking regulations. The rewritten agreement would require every nation to allow trade in new financial products, whether magical or toxic. It would blow apart any nation’s laws restricting foreign bankers. The Agreement, once signed, would trump any attempt by any Congress or Parliament to restore protections. The Agreement also dictated that, once demolished, the barriers could not be rebuilt. Return to regulation, called claw-back, would be severely punished. Any resisting nation would be put on the economic wheel and broken.”

“In 1997, Assistant Treasury Secretary Geithner was sent to Geneva, to the headquarters of the World Trade Organization (WTO), with this new Law in his diplomatic bag. He was assigned to inform the ambassadors of all 152 nations, no exceptions allowed, that they would have to sign it. Or else.”

“Or else what?

“Sometimes people – and nations – have to eat shit. But no one orders it from the menu. The waiter has to hold a gun to your head.”

“The bankers’ gun was a banana, at least in the case of Ecuador.”

“If Ecuador wanted to sell its bananas to the United States, it would have to buy the bankers’ financial “products.” If not, Ecuador could sell its bananas to the monkeys. Ecuador understood that resistance would be economic suicide and signed. More than one hundred other nations got the Ecuador treatment, fell to their knees, and also signed the Agreement.”

“The brilliance of the bankers was in using trade as the weapon. It worked like a military embargo. Ships could pass only if the papers were signed. If a nation wanted to sell America goods, they would have to swallow American bads, the derivatives, swaps, and all other exotica coming out of the mad bankers’ laboratories. Furthermore, Citibank, JP Morgan, and other banks would be allowed to jump into these nations’ markets and suck out capital at will. Local banks would be deregulated and freed as well. Freed to be eaten by Citigroup.”

“Geithner was given the trade terror gun, and when I got a copy, it was still smoking.”

“That’s what I took with me while following Geithner’s trail to Geneva to the citadel of the WTO, designated as the bank treaty’s bare-knuckle enforcer.”

. . .

“Geithner wrote about an end-game, but what game were they playing? World Trade negotiations used to be about trade in goods: you know, my computers for your bananas. But the bankers, through the mucked-with Financial Services Agreement, had switched the gameboard.”

“The juiciest target of the FSA would be China. China wanted to sell us everything we used to make ourselves. The United States would agree to let their stuff in, but in return, China would have to join the WTO, sign the Treaties,, and buy what America makes now, banking “products.” China would have to let Citi and JP Morgan set up shop in Shanghai.”

“In effect, U.S. manufacturing jobs would be sold for the bankers’ right to gamble in the new market.”

“The capture the China queen, the worker-pawns had been sacrificed – yet they had no idea they were even on the chessboard, that they were being played.”

“The score? In the last decade of the last century, U.S. multinationals shed 2.9 million employees in America while increasing their foreign workforces by 2.7 million. China signed the World Trade treaty in 2006, ending the OPM [Other Peoples Money] War, letting the foreign bankers into the Forbidden City.”

“Did it concern the Director-General [of the WTO] that the U.S. banks are calling the shots from the shadows?”

“That wasn’t his department.”

““[It’s] not for me to judge the democratic credentials of members. There’s a place in the UN, not far from here, which is called the Council on Human Rights where this sort of debate can take place.””

“If an unelected junta of bankers drafts America’s trade position, well, here’s the number to call.”

“And so the law of international finance became Lawlessness.”

“In May 2010, the end-game ended for Greece.”

“The new financial products were packaged, polished to a shine, and sold to government pension funds all over the planet. The bankers sold blind sacks of sub-prime mortgages, sliced and mixed up, as Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDOs) and other fetid concoctions. The Financial Services Agreement was rockin’!”

“But when opened, buyers found the bags were filled with financial feces. Government pensions and sovereign funds, from Finland to Qatar, lost trillions. The bags were toxic to bank balance sheets and several failed. However, in most cases, bankers could get a refill of capital juice from governments fearful of full-bore financial collapse. Re-funding banks meant de-funding economies: pension cuts, salary cuts, all the things that bring an economy to its knees. And sets it on fire.”

“When Bankers Gone Wild slammed the planet into recession, Greece’s main industry, tourism, lost two million visitors who were too broke, too panicked, for beach party vacations and ouzo.”

“And the more Greece lost, the greater “the spread.”


So if you take anything from this passage let it be that NPR’s depiction of Greek people as foolish little money squanders engaged in all manner of frittering away cash on one dis-economic social luxury after another is mostly hog-wash. They were forced into their financial mess by Geithner putting a gun to their head in order to rewrite US trade substituting financial services for manufacturing.

Remember: Obama chose to appoint Geithner. And Obama can choose to get rid of him if he so chooses.

Greg Palast should get the American People's Medal of Honor!


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