Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Century-Old Secretive Banking Elite

A must-read article appeared in today's New York Times: "A Secretive Banking Elite Rules Trading in Derivatives" The NYT, despite numerous examples of leftward media bias and abandonment of objective journalism, is no grocery store tabloid. This story will confirm the worst fears of some conspiracy theorists. Jim Sinclair comments: "What has become of Western Financial Society that it needs to be run by secret cabals? What has become of the people that this can be discussed in the light of day and nobody really cares." I must add that, as an antitrust lawyer, I agree with the legal experts cited in the article that what is described is an illegal conspiracy under the Sherman Act. But bankers are uniquely insensitive to the legality of their actions. After all, the Fed is a cartel and was openly chartered as such. I digress with a little history lesson:
Legal tender greenbacks printed to support the Union war effort established a national currency after 1862; but that did not change the fact that some bankers occasionally underestimated depositors’ demand for money, causing bank panics and runs on the bank. And as commerce grew, the seasonal demand for credit became a larger and larger problem. Prudent bankers simply didn’t have enough money to lend out to businessmen for growth and to farmers at planting time. That was either a lost business opportunity for banks or it encouraged imprudent bankers to lend out more than they should, placing the bank’s stability at risk. It also created a liquidity problem in an economy that was growing increasingly sophisticated and an environment in which business could grow faster with outside financing. The bankers were in a straight jacket imposed by the market which required the banks to have a solid reputation and adequate reserves 100% of the time. And bankers felt a need to safely escape those strictures, which limited the banks’ ability to lend out more money and thus their ability to make more money on banking.

The Federal Reserve System

By 1910 the situation had begun to wear on the banks. And so, some influential people in banking and finance conceived of a central bank where they could pool their resources, to be drawn upon in emergencies. Key influential banking magnates met secretly in Jekyll Island, Georgia, to agree to and create a banking cartel. The cartel was modeled after the European banking cartels that existed at the time. Nelson Aldrich, the Senate Republican Whip and father-in-law of John D. Rockefeller, Jr., was the sole non-banker at the meeting. He described the idea as “not a bank, but a cooperative union of all banks of the country for definite purposes.” It went beyond the notion of private cartels such as we know today, like the DeBeers diamond cartel or OPEC. The notion was to make it a government imposed cartel like the Interstate Commerce Commission and later government agencies such as the Civil Aeronautics Board and Federal Communications Commission, all of which were chartered to give government and its proxies the exclusive right to set prices and allocate markets and resources for private corporations. A. Barton Hepburn of Chase National Bank speaking in support of the legislation said, “The measure recognizes and adopts the principles of a central bank. Indeed, if it works out as the sponsors of the law hope, it will make all incorporated banks together joint owners of a central dominating power.” Thus, in 1913 the Federal Reserve System was born. Unlike the CAB and FCC, however, the Fed is a private central bank owned by its members but imposed on them by law
"Dominating." Hmmm. To be sure.  And that is how the key players understand their role. They justify in their own minds that what they do is patriotism: they preserve the Republic. (Their bonuses are only incidental to a greater good.) But that is clearly a rationalization.

Please remain alert to Congressman Paul's expose in the coming months of the Fed and its minions.

There is no nefarious intent here.  The banks have not set as their goal to own you or your assets, or to run the economy.  They only want to make money and conserve their capital, like any other good business.  But they need to make money honestly, without the application of  "force" (meaning ultimately the guns of the government) to coerce people into transactions (or to avoid them).

Dr. Paul advocates the gold standard, which applied to our money less than a century ago.  That ideal cannot practicably be implemented in today's world economy although it can be approximated.  The point is that we, indeed every nation, need a currency that adheres to an objective standard that is beyond the control of politicians and banking interests that use their inside influence to profit from advantages they gain from a special relationship with the government and its proxies.

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