Both Socialism and Populism have been invoked during Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign run and this has led to no small amount of conceptual confusion among the American people – myself included. His rhetoric and record as a senator has been overwhelmingly anti-Wall Street, pro-worker, and, well, popular, so when I heard the label “Socialist” coming from the more conservative side from the mainstream media I thought it was another scare-tactic and then embraced it as a possible cure for our neoliberal malaise of debt-fueled Superimperialism [Michael Hudson’s latest on US Neoliberal Empire]. His brand of Socialism isn’t the type that conservatives would have you believe though, many avowed Socialists have even distanced themselves from Sanders. It came as somewhat of a surprise, but more of a moment of clarity, when Douglas Edwards (@SebastosPublius) tweeted to me that he is not in fact a Socialist but still demands support from the left in the way he steers the conversation in the media away from compromise with wealthy financiers and corporate giants embedded within the political process [How Wall Street Is Burning Democracy]. Continue reading “Socialism and/or Populism in America”
I participated in talk on the overarching and less-understood workings of the monetary system at the US Social Forum in San Jose, California last week called Who’s Money? Our Money! We’re working on getting a draft of the talking points together into one document, but here is the list of references we draw from in our research (you know, to prove we’re not crazy):
Icelandic Proposal: http://tinyurl.com/pwzwzpo
Positive Money Website: http://positivemoney.org/
Positive Money “Creating a Sovereign Money System.”: http://tinyurl.com/kgkk8rv
Bank of London “Money Creation in the Modern World.”: http://tinyurl.com/nnd7wwq
IMF Working Paper: The Chicago Plan Revisited : http://tinyurl.com/9vuqh3p
Ellen Brown’s “Web of Debt.”: http://tinyurl.com/npsvkr4
Ellen Brown’s The Public Banking Solution : http://tinyurl.com/pj5vdkd
USPS Office of the Inspector General “Providing Non-Bank Financial Services for the Underserved.” : http://tinyurl.com/m6jufyf
USPS OIG “The Road Ahead for Postal Financial Services.”: http://tinyurl.com/l4ujhf4
Elizabeth Warren “Coming to a Post Office Near You: Loans You Can Trust?”: http://tinyurl.com/paslzfn
Bank of North Dakota: http://banknd.nd.gov/
Federal Reserve System: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Reserve_System
Community Check Cashing, Oakland: http://communitycheckcashing.org/
I did a brief speech at the latest debtors’ assembly for Strike Debt Bay Area on both Fringe Finance and International Debt. With the time allotted I couldn’t get to nearly as much as I wanted to, so I will reproduce my notes here:
The Debt-System effects everyone, even people outside of the traditional banking system. It costs people who don’t have a bank account (the unbanked or underbanked) more money just to use their own money.
People choose not to use banks mainly because they don’t have enough money to meet the minimum balance requirements of banks and have had bad experiences with overdraft charges. They are primarily poor people.
The un- and under-banked people make up about one-quarter of Americans, that’s 25% of all people in America not being served by the banking system. These people must turn to Alternative Financial Services.
Check Cashing Outlets
Check Cashers take out about 4% of your pay check. For someone who uses Check Cashers their entire life, the average amount given over their lifetime is about $40,000.
Check Cashing stores have more than doubled in number this century, and the cost for using them has gone up by about 75% in the period 1996-2006.
Pre-Paid Cards have been getting popular, they are used by 13% of people in the US. They also charge you to access your own money, though a but cheaper than check cashers.
Examples of Pre-Paid Cards: GPR Cards and EBT Cards.
GPR (General Purpose Reloadable Cards) have many fees: monthly fees, activation fees, inquiry fees, and more.
EBT (Electronic Benefit Cards) are for funds given by governments to cut down on paper use (and extract fees). They are better for you when from the federal government than the state (like with Food Stamps and Unemployment Benefits). In California, fees and other costs of use are better than other states, but they’ll still hit you with lots of fees.
Welfare recipients paid $17 million plus in fees and ATM surcharges in CA alone in 2012. So fees add up with Pre-Paid Cards.
Pay Day Loans
12 million people took out a Pay Day Loan in 2012 and they’ve been getting more and more mainstream since the 2008 financial crash.
In the early 1990’s, there were less than 200 Pay Day Lenders, now there are 23,000 – that’s more than McDonalds for some perspective.
Pay Day Lenders give you money you need now at very high interest rates. Borrowers often end up paying back the Pay Day Lenders many times more than the original loan.
Most people (69%) take our Pay Day Loans to meet everyday expenses. So it’s not just emergencies that lead to Pay Day Loans, as some people believe.
The Pay Day Lenders’ game plan is to keep you in their Debt-Trap and keep the interest rolling over. They call it “Churning”: they don’t want you to pay do back the loan ASAP (only 2% of borrowers actually do). 75% of Pay Day Loans are for the purpose of this Churning and it nets them $3.5 billion.
Pay Day Loans are unsecured, meaning if you default they can’t repossess anything you own. No Debt Collectors, so don’t be frightened by them. They can contact a Credit Reporting Agency and lower your credit score, but they mostly use this as an empty threat.
There are also Pawn Shops, Auto Title Loans, and Rent-to-Own Stores which are more fringe finance institutions that extract fees, interest, and possessions primarily from poor people.
Solutions to Fring Finance:
Community Check Cashing exists in Fruitvale area if you can travel there conveniently. CCC works on a non-profit model which we are trying to extend in our working group. Join us if you like!
Postal Banking is the big one. It has already worked for over 50 years in the twentieth century very well. Postal Banking could perform just about all of the fringe finance business’ but on a cheaper public model, without the fees and usurious charges. Postal Banking is used in many countries now successfully, it is a kind low-level but far-reaching public bank.
Fringe Finance is perhaps the lowest level of the debt-system. People outside the banking system still get caught up in the debt-trap and are hit especially hard.
At perhaps the highest scale of the debt-system there is International Debt – the opposite extreme where entire countries are put under the control of financiers who weaponized debt.
This is how the standard explanation goes: A sovereign country must borrow money and go into debt if it spends too much money and doesn’t collect enough taxes.
But they do this because central banks and other international institutions prevent them from issuing their own currency and controlling its supply, so that these countries cannot control the supply and creation of their own currencies.
Control of the money in a country is in almost every case now controlled by private banks and their willingness to lend.
The Bank of International Settlements (the BIS) in Basel, Switzerland sets the rules of the global financial game for most of the countries on the planet. It was set up in 1929 as a way to shore up the power the international bankers were losing during the beginning of the Great Depression.
But it was right after a World War II that the main standards of the global financial system were set at the Bretton Woods Conference in 1944. This is where the IMF and World Bank were established.
When a country needs money to expand its economy, repay a previous debt, or gain more foreign currency reserves, it must appeal for credit from the IMF or World Bank, or issue bonds (92% of bonds are issued/sold at New York or London).
When countries take out loans from the IMF or World Bank, they must grow their economies mainly by increasing exports. This allows them to match their debt repayment with profits from exporting to consuming nations. If they cannot repay all of the debt from those loans by competing on the global export market, they are caught in the debt-trap.
The IMF and World Bank then impose structural adjustment programs that slash public institutions, public benefits, and public infrastructure. They force countries to privatize public goods like land and industry, because they have to pay the debt instead of their own people.
Privatizing public goods, land, and services gives countries a one-time boost in profit but cancels all further public profit to governments and the free use of the commons.
So, this is all about control, and debt-based finance is perhaps the primary tool for control today besides military intervention.
Any country that tries to break free and play by their own rules can attacked with currency raids and short selling on the foreign exchange market – which devalues an entire worth of a country’s economy.
Nations led by the US can also impose sanctions, saber-rattle, and fund revolutions within the dissenting country to establish sympathetic military rulers (or Juntas).
This is what happened in Chile in the 70’s, Libya a few years ago, what’s happening in Syria and Venezuela now, and what they are trying to do to Iran and Russia. There are many other examples in South and Central America, the Middle East, and Africa.
A good example with a happy ending is Argentina. 70’s – military dictatorship. 80’s – Neoliberal regime that led to a hyperinflation scenario of too much money borrowing. 90’s – massive privatization of natural resources (oil, roads, and banks). The interest in the loans and austerity conditions attached to them meant an uncompetitive, depressed economy.
So, in 1995, there was a run on the banks and massive capital flight out of the country – a major depression.
Now for the good part: without any kind of decent banking system, people turned toward alternative currencies (local communities made-up their own money).
Propel conducted massive, sustained protests that delegitimized the entire Argentinian government and made them fear for total loss of control. “Que se Vayan Todos” – “They can all go (to hell)” was their main slogan.
This pressure from below forced the Argentinian government to default on its International Debts. By re-nationalizing it’s once privatized industries, doubling social spending, and public investment, Argentina’s economy grew rapidly in the 2000’s. They went from negative growth to over 8% per year growth.
Recap on Argentina: by walking away from its debts, brought on by massive popular protest, and a re-nationalization of privatized goods, services, and land, Argentina saw major economic revival.
They were able to restructure their debt to far less than the original amount and paid off their IMF debt altogether. They did this by *issuing their own currency under their own control* and boosting public investment.
In the 2000’s, Argentina saw poverty drop from over 50% to under 15%.
Vulture funds bought some debt and refused to renegotiate it down, and there is an ongoing court battle over these culture funds right to collect the entirety of the debt that they bought from someone else.
The big one is Sovereign Money: to allow treasuries to print their own national currencies without borrowing it first from Private Central Banks or issuing bonds. The Central Banks would be public and under public control vs. for-profit private banks.
It happened in America during the civil war when Lincoln printed Greenbacks, which are the original design for the dollars we use today. Now, however, they are federal reserve notes, not treasury notes).
Canada is under a court battle for this right now and Iceland gained this after their revolution…
And Finally, Public Banks
Public Banks put money earned from interest on loans (profit) into the accounts of city and state governments instead of private banks because it would be a municipal, state, or regional bank.
They would partner with local banks and credit unions not compete with them.
Luckily we have one already in the State of North Dakota. The Great Recession and bank failure of 2008 had no effect on their economy whatsoever.
Most all major successful economies around the world today have a strong public banking sector: China, India, Brazil, Russia, and Germany (plus more).
The debt-system effects us all from big to small, from those outside of the banking system to entire countries, Fringe a Finance to International Debt. There are alternative models and solutions at each step, but we need major public pressure to recapture public goods, services, and land before these solutions can be put in place – like in Argentina.
The sources for this speech were The Debt Resistors’ Operations Manual [link], The Public Bank Solution by Ellen Brown [link], and The Democracy Project by David Graeber (for the bit about Argentina’s massive public protests of delegitimization)
This question of organization in the age of the internet seems to be one of the most crucial in any political project. How do we relate to each other on the internet, blogosphere, email, comment sections and all? How does this new form of largely isolated interaction effect more vulnerable embodied assemblages (groups/collectives)? Coming together in a common place as proximal bodies for a common purpose can never be replaced and I feel it must be emphasized – even in a blog post. What blogging does for me and others (to get all meta on you) is exchange ideas, or, if not an equalized interaction, absorb and affect each other’s expressions. I’ve learned quite a bit from the blogosphere – it is a neat surrogate for academia – but the emplacement of the student at the screen as the site of learning and sharing has its drawbacks. The internet has a great many strange places within, but the one in which the embodied user tends to inhabit is the glowing screen.
The debt activism that Asta Taylor is involved in is one case that I can relate to: I’ve done some organizing with Strike Debt Bay Area. It is extremely difficult to reach out to people *as debtors* and organize individuals into a collective *as debtors*. The isolation and shame attached to the position of debtor vis-a-vis creditors makes it less than desirable to claim as a subjectivity to come out as and own (although ‘gay’, ‘queer’, and I’m sure many others have odd histories of their own worth noting), yet the vast majority of people here in America (and many other places) are debtors burdened by the extractive economy. Is it alone, in our rooms, cafés, and other places of comfort that we will break off from adherence to a morality that sucks our energies up and keeps us from straying off of the main road? For some people yes. But for a mass movement of active bodies, most people need to meet up with others in greater gatherings. Debtors Assemblies have played that role, but in order to get people to come, to build that force, you’ve got to advertise. If you want to get people to come to your events I’ll give you some advice I gave to some students at the last Strike Debt Bay Area meeting: images everywhere. Posters, flyers, stickers, bulletin boards, walls, heavily trafficked areas… If you have a good idea, you need to get in people’s faces.
Too often do I turn off my tablet after a few hours and then think: “Okay, what did I just do on that one screen?”
“The Internet is said to be a space of democratic expression and transformation, both culturally and politically. But how true is that claim? What are some of the economic, technical, and legal obstacles in place? Drawing from her recent book, “The People’s Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age,” and her experience as an artist and an activist, Astra Taylor — filmmaker, writer, and political organizer — addresses campaigns by musicians against streaming services and debtors against creditors to reflect on the larger question of how to organize and leverage change in an age of virtual networks — be they networks of cultural distribution or financial ones.”
A friend of mine asked me to explain what it means for Graeber to say that he is an anarchist in the context of money and banking and this was my response, expanded for the blog post:
Graeber calls himself a “little a” anarchist in that he is not tied down by the ideology or any of the big names in the canon and considers it a principle of practicing politics. Anarchism mostly just means “without rulers” and the model of decision-making, the process a meeting takes on, is more important to him and other practically-minded activists that also use it. It is called the consensus model and, when done right (which is actually much harder than he makes it out to be in my experience), it is an extremely powerful and uplifting tool for organizing ourselves. The ideal in the consensus model is that a solution to a problem is worked out through deliberation that everyone can agree on. Voting is not desired but sometimes necessary when the group gets too big, but the intention is that the best solution for all people involved is reached with everyone getting to participate.
So when he talks about himself as an anarchist, it is the consensus process and direct action outside of/without communication with government agencies that he is mostly referring to. It sure as hell worked wonders during the occupy movement, but there were plenty of other factors that propelled and also hampered that movement. When you break it down, (little-a) anarchism is about self-rule instead of command rule. In a general assembly, people don’t interrupt (I love this), get on a stack (a serial list of who will talk next), clarify and debate proposals, take “temperature-checks” (in lieu of voting), and communicate non-verbally with hand-signals. It is very involving and gives everyone a sense that their thoughts actually matter and will have an effect on the course of the greater body-politic.
This style of self-organization will have limits when it comes to making policy in the present state of government, so legitimacy in the agencies of power and our liberal society is definitely lacking. The model itself comes off as antagonistic to the rest of our law-based, market oriented society because it refuses to negotiate or make demands. Although, there is no reason why some group of folks couldn’t consent on doing so. An anarchist, on the other hand, tends to hate the state as a quasi-religious ideological tenet. It started out as a humanistic desire for a non-violent world where nations did not continually embroil their populations in ruinous wars. It has spread deeper into culture with punk music – “don’t tell me what to do!”, hippies – “make love not war, man”, and the general protest politics that got big in the sixties. From the mid 1800’s until then, it was mainly thought of in the political economy sense of an alternative to capitalism that espoused grassroots revolution against all forms of oppression. Worker movements like the IWW or Wobblies wanted to use the power of the recent uprisings for a world run by those who work rather than those who profit off of them. They tended to be nomadic and were better organized before they were crushed, provoking many strikes by workers toiling in horrid conditions.
There are anarchists who are utopian socialists and engage in prefigurative politics like the syndicalists, but they generally refuse to take power and limit themselves to something like: “destroy all the states in a total revolution with a maximally invigorated population!” What comes afterward is up to your imagination, but I think some of the more committed anarchists would just continue fighting whoever seizes the obviously inevitably power vacuum that would result – probably until they are all dead. I think Graeber and those like him would be less militaristic, opting instead for constant organizing to the side of whatever government takes shape. However, there is something inherently aggressive in occupying space and claiming it for your own, marching around nearby (loudly and breaking shit occasionally), and defying all other mandates and orders but those you have crafted on your own inside. He makes the point that the Occupy movement was the most non-violent movement of its size though, probably ever. He also makes the point that occupying is somewhat of an aggressive assertion of a mass of people.
Some anarchists like to emphasize the ancient times before states and organized religion as if they were the manifestation of a timeless grassroots earth-people. It’s actually kind of appealing, until you notice the romantic folly of mixing ideals from the present, the historical past, and the ancient past and saying that underneath them there’s a timeless one that I’ve got. Still though, mythology and elemental worshipping sounds better to me than monotheism – if you have to have something of a cohesive cultural understanding through spiritual agents.
As for the debt subordinating nations and democracy, he gets most of his economic insights from Michael Hudson. He’s just a far better writer. Hudson talks about the nefarious ways in which America subordinates other nations to its interests being largely a result of its international monetary practices between the large, economically and militarily powerful nations. The U.S. has operated on a double standard for decades and forced the victorious allies after both world wars to repay it for supplies. It was through unwavering debt repayment that the U.S. got Britain to relinquish its status as top nation in the world, and the money shortages after WWI due to debt services to the U.S. all but directly caused the Great Depression. Since then, as you probably know, nations are under the illusion that they need to borrow money before it is created. But is it a failure in economic thinking or a veiled threat from the U.S.? If nations begin to print their own money debt-free and do anything socialistic like nationalize their industries, their currency will be attacked and they will be targeted for regime change. The only nations big enough to challenge this system are on the move right now, but it is still unclear whether their policies will differ from the U.S., especially in terms of debt and money policies. The interests of bond and share holders and bankers earning interest at all levels of lending (even when it shouldn’t need to be lent), plus American hegemony across the globe has got to be what he means.
What gets me is how so few people know about this, yet it is the most powerful force shaping and constraining governments and people throughout the earth. There is a gigantic geopolitical battle going on right now over trade areas and currency, yet the American public is simply not informed about it. Did you hear about Putin’s proposal for a free-trade area throughout all of Europe? I think Eurasia might be slipping away from the U.S. I heard a military (probably Navy) commander speak on a Democracy Now sound bite about how the Trans-Pacific Partnership would be a major boon to his strategic efforts to control the Pacific – “as good as another aircraft carrier.” Hudson also points to the intertwining of neoliberal philosophy and American foreign policy.
To wrap up, I think anarchists like Graeber would be willing and able to understand this stuff. Between he and Taibbi, we finally have people that can communicate complicated stuff to the public. But anarchists strategy is all delegitimization and uprising; you can’t count on them to create a public bank.
Graeber discusses monetary policy in this article for the Guardian. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/mar/18/truth-money-iou-bank-of-england-austerity. In his usual flowing style, he covers the history of money and how debt is built directly into money at its very source of creation in a breeze. I’ve written about it previously so I won’t go into it in depth, but the important thing in my eyes vis a vis anarchism is this question of how monetary reform could ever come from an anarchist movement espousing a consensus process. Here enters the concept of dual power:
“…the Occupy movement is ultimately based on what in revolutionary theory is often called a *dual power* strategy: we are trying to create liberated territories outside of the existing political, legal, and economic order, on the principle that that order is irredeemably corrupt. It is a space that operates to what extent it is possible, outside the apparatus of government and its claims of a monopoly on the legitimate use of force.” The Democracy Project: A History, a Crisis, a Movement
A burning question for someone like me who is interested in the undeniable force and vivacity of grassroots political organizing and the comfort it brings at meetings, and reclaiming the power to create money for the public is this: how can we reconcile these two opposing positions in the vein of the old populist movements around the turn of the century? The self-imposed distance from the state will make anarchist movements unwilling to touch any kind of policy objectives, no matter how transformative and how beneficial they would be to the current economic realities that most people must endure today. And yet, the greatest impediment to the liberating goals of revolutionaries is the debt structured central bank and international financial institution rule – a rule that would most easily be broken by the reinstating of sovereign money creation by governments and not private banks. Public control of money creation and distribution is more powerful in terms of confronting global oppression than any seizure of power in the traditional revolutionary sense. Such a “reform” in any individual nation would certainly travel very far in our hyper-connected age, the ripple effects of which would eventually turn power relations upside down.
So do we abandon these practices and start campaigning for political parties that would enact these reforms, form “broad coalitions” with public interest groups, and appeal to big-spender representatives with a list of demands? We should never allow ourselves to be pressured into taking sides on anyone else’s terms before we consider the options placed before us and determine if such a decision is actually required of us. Graeber’s appeal to dual power allows us to consider two different opposing forms of power and organization at once, not having to make them both find a common ground. Consensus-based direct action works well in autonomous spaces for non-bureaucratic people. Representatives regulating the money supply of a nation and administering loans at the local level would work too. The latter operates with the backing of national governments and organized military violence. The former an ideal of peaceful villagers cooperating amiably. Neither models are wholly adequate, but neither do we have to insist that they work out their differences and gel together to make the one right model. Such would be a forced choice insisting that we have one political identity and eliminate all other contradictory beliefs.
Expanding on the dual power concept Graeber elaborates on four different recent political strategies for turning grassroots political movement into sustained machines that have influenced their regions greatly.
The Sadr Strategy: armed militias with top-down discipline like those found in Iraq, which are much more likely to eventually become political parties and require a culturally cohesive base.
The San Andés Strategy: Zapatista organizations that fight and negotiate with national governments to keep their seized territory.
The El Alto Strategy: as found in Bolivia, “using autonomous institutions as the base to win a role in government and maintaining them as a directly democratic alternative completely separate from government”, which then elect representatives while putting “enormous pressure [on them] to do exactly the opposite of what they elected them to do.” This gives those representatives even more negotiating power.
The Buenos Aires Strategy: “try to strip [the political establishment] of all legitimacy.” This apparently worked in Argentina to default on its international debt. “… doing so set off a cascade of events that nearly destroyed international enforcement agencies like the International Monetary Fund, and effectively ended the Third World debt crisis.”
One gets the feeling that to enact major monetary reform would require delegitimization from populist grassroots movements *plus* inside economic policy makers pushing good ideas for public financing.
Not only does the dollar enable the US empire, but also protecting the dollar’s status is a major reason for US imperial wars. American financial and military strength is based upon the fact that the dollar is the world’s reserve and international trade currency, creating a global demand for dollars which allows the US to print as many greenbacks as it likes. It then pumps them into the overbloated finance capital system and uses them to fund its criminal wars…
…Although it has so far been unsuccessful, the idea of rebalancing the world monetary system is extremely threatening to the US, and goes a long way toward explaining recent US wars and warmongering, which may otherwise seem irrational. The line of NATO bases in Eastern Europe and the coup d’etat in Ukraine are attempts to split Europe from Russia, trying to keep a subordinated Europe in the US sphere, prevent a single Eurasian economic area, and isolate and destabilize Russia. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership has the same goal. Weakening Russia and China (and the BRICS in general) on a military, economic and political level, with a regime change in mind, is a fundamental part of the US strategy for maintaining dollar hegemony. The US therefore has surrounded them with bases and continues to try to destabilize them. The US presence in the Middle East serves not primarily to gain access to its oil and gas (the US has its own, especially since the fracking boom) or even to control access to them (the Chinese are already there), but first and foremost to protect the petrodollar, to ensure that the global fossil fuel markets continue to be denominated in dollars. Iran has been talking about wanting to de-dollarize its oil and gas trade for years – thus, it and the Shia crescent are in the US line of fire…
…This is exactly in the interests of US financial imperialism: to economically undermine any rivals that question dollar hegemony. It is absolutely unacceptable that one country should arrogate to itself the right to set a wildly loose money policy for years and then tighten it at whim, giving the rest of the world a violent thrashing. It is unacceptable that any one country control the world’s reserve currency. As the above quote says, because of the circumstances created by QE and the zero interest rate policy, today if the US economy does well, the global South suffers. It’s a zero-sum equation. This is throwing burning obstacles in front of their process of de-dollarization, and making them suffer. On purpose? Again, it would be difficult to impute too much individual agency behind these effects, but they are predictable, necessary and not unprecedented consequences of the imperial monetary policy waged by the US for years. The question of agency in this case is moot: these policies serve the empire. They go along with and have similar effects to the more obvious forms of financial imperialism such as sanctions. The US should be held accountable for the disasters it sows, and the world should remove its imperial privileges, through the creation of a neutral world reserve currency.
“Neoliberalism is not simply an economic philosophy. It’s interwoven with American foreign policy.” -Hudson.
“To provide ideological backup for Yeltsin’s Chicago Boys, the U.S. Government funded its own transitions experts whose jobs ranged from writing privatization decrees, to launching a New York-style stock exchange, to designing a Russian mutual fund market. In the fall of 1992, USAID awarded a $2.1 million contract to the Harvard Institute for International Development, which sent teams of young lawyers and economists to shadow the Gaidar [the head of Yeltsin’s economic reform team] team. In May 1995, Harvard named [Jefferey] Sachs director of the Harvard Institute for International Development, which meant that he played two roles in Russia’s reform period: he began as a freelance adviser to Yelstin, then moved on to overseeing Harvard’s large Russia outpost, funded by the U.S, government.” (p.281)“Despite the fact that Russia’s Constitutional Court once again ruled Yeltsin’s behavior unconstitutional, Clinton continued to back him, and Congress voted to give Yeltsin $2.5 billion in aid. Emboldened, Yeltsin sent troops to surround the parliament and got the city to cut off power, heat and phone lines to the White House parliament building.” (p.294)
“… several of Yeltsin’s ministers transferred large sums of public money, which should have gone into the national bank or treasury, into private banks that had been hastily incorporated by oligarchies. The state then contracted with the same banks to run the privatization auctions for the oil fields and mines. The banks ran the auctions, but they also bid on them – and sure enough, the oligarch-owned banks decided to make themselves the proud new owners of the previously public assets. …the Russian people fronted the money for the looting of their own country.” (p.294)“…he [Sachs] now sees that there was something else at work: many of Washington’s power brokers were still fighting the Cold War. They saw Russia’s economic collapse as a *geopolitical victory*, the decisive one that ensured U.S. supremacy.” (p.315)