Dana White on UFC ownership's looming buyouts: 'I'm not going anywhere'        

Reports last week that Beverly Hills mega-talent agency WME/IMG has raised $1.1 billion from two international investors to buy out some of its UFC minority partners stirred some speculation that UFC President Dana White might be leaving the company.

“I’m not going anywhere, brother,” White told...


          Very Well Put        

When people see something written jump out at them they react hastily and without taking the time to really absorb and comprehend where you're coming from. I am against the victory center and mega mosque being built on Ground Zero. This has nothing to do with my belief in Religious freedoms, this has to do with the fact that the details and the things that don't get into mainstream media are at play here, and without hesitation, people jump on me calling me a racist. Anyone who knows me, laughs at those accusations. I believe they should be able to build their mosque 2 blocks uptown, as they've been offered, but refused, then refused a buy out of that building (which, btw, is where the landing gear to flight 175 fell, along with body parts, making this site part of Ground Zero).The radical group that began the attacks are funding this project, and it is customary for them to build large victory centers and mega mosques on top of conquered grounds with their stamp of ownership on it, as they plan to open it on Sept. 11, 2011. These are the same people who dance and celebrate 9-11 as a joyful holiday, burning and spitting on our flag. So this is about the attacks of 9-11 being inflicted upon us again, almost a decade later, giving this murderous hateful group approval to deem this operation "Mission Accomplished", which only gives them incentives to increase their aggressive and violent attacks against us.

So, I am speaking out while I still can, and many have their oppositions, however they have their right to that as well. As long as we have these freedoms, we should not join the repressive administration who are pro-censorship.

We need to support each other somehow, regardless of our differing views.


          Comment on Has the IRS determined that the Rollover as Business Startups (ROBS) isn’t valid? by anon        
I am involved with a ROBS transaction with Guidant Financial Group. This is very hard to explain. Here is how Guidant works: Guidant Financial Group 1) Form a Corporation 2) Set up 401k for the C-Corp. Corporation sponsors a 401k plan designed to allow for investment into your corporation. This comes complete with a favorable determination letter from the IRS. 3) Guidant guides through the process rolling the pre existing 401k from previous employer (IBM) to the 401k of the new C-Corp (belongs to the employees). 4) As administrator of the C-Corp 401k I invested funds by buying Shares of the C-Corp. Now the business is debt free and cash rich from the sale of stocks. This how I funded the C-Corp to buy a Franchise in June of 2006. I now understand this is called a ROBS account, Roll Over as Business Start Up Transaction. After being let go from IBM for the second time in twenty four years in 2005 I investigated Franchises. While searching Franchise information on the internet I also came across the Guidant Financial Group and how to use your pension funds to buy a Franchise or start a new business. I had an Attorney and an Accountant review the Guidant process and they didn’t raise any big concerns so I entered into contract with Guidant, and purchased a Franchise called Stretch-n-Grow which is a Children's exercise program where I go into the area pre schools and teach a 30 minute exercise program. I purchased the Franchise in June 2006. What I thought was a great thing has turned into a Nightmare. I have been to my SCORE Chapter, talked to many Attorneys, Talked with different departments in the IRS, talked with the DOL. As nice as people have been the answer is always the same – I’m sorry but it’s not our jurisdiction. Including the startup fee($5,000.00) for Guidant I have spent over $25,000.00 in Guidant Recordkeeping fees and Accounting fees from 6/2006 to 2/29/2012 which is my business year end date. Are you starting with more that 250,000?????? I started with less than $98,000.00 in my 401k. From 2006 to 2008 ROBS promoters like Guidant incorrectly advised me that I didn’t have an annual filing of form 5500 because of a special exception in the form 5500 EZ instructions. This exception applies when plan assets are under a specified dollar amount (250,000) and the plan only covers only an individual, or an individual and spouse. In a ROBS arrangement the PLAN through its company stock investments owns the business; it’s not the individual that owns the business. Now all plan sponsors have to file a form 5500 annually. Guidant recordkeeping fees have gone from $800.00 in 2006 to $1,188.00 a year. Requirement of form 5500 a business valuation has to done annually cost from $750.00 – $2,000.00 (Guidant did have a presentation that said the valuation was free but when I asked I was directed to a site where you can order a valuation) Required fidelity bond has to be purchased annually. Workers Compensation Ins. - because the PLAN owns most of the stock and the stock is not owned by one individual I was billed $708.00 dollars annually because based on certain law they base my corp. on payroll of $31,200.00. My payroll was $11,000.00. Most officers starting a Corp. can be exempted form workers comp. ins. completely. (When I questioned Guidant about this they didn’t know about the law) Corporate payroll taxes are much more expensive. Now because everything with Guidant is so complicated you have to have a CPA that can understand and guide you through everything. This is costing me over $3,000.00 a year. I don’t know why the Accountant and Attorney didn’t have more warnings about entering into this kind of arrangement. There only two ways to get out of this type of arrangement which is going bankrupt. Or a complicated way of buying back your stocks which in my case I can’t afford. Guidant offers one hour advice with outside counsel, but this is the same attorney that helped get me in to this. I don't have any employee's and won’t because it would only make things worse and more costly. Because of the way the program is set up I haven’t been able to find an Attorney to advise me, and I can’t find an Accountant that is affordable. I am on my way to bankruptcy, and believe most small businesses can’t withstand the high costs of doing business with Guidant. I need help to find a way to get out of this mess that is affordable and legal. I want other people to know about ROBS transactions. I just received notice from Guidant that they are increasing the recordkeeping fee form $99.00 to $120.00 per month ($1,440.00) because they will be providing the Business Valuation which is now a requirement and justifies the recordkeeping fee increase. I feel completely stripped of any control over my account and it will make it impossible to get the shares down to be able to do a buy out of the stocks. How or Why would I expect Guidant to do anything that is to My best interest. I recently fired my CPA because it was brought to my attention that his fees were out of line at over $3,000.00 a year and he was becoming less forthcoming about itemizing his invoices. This was just additional insult to injury. I just read about IRS PLR201236035. The following is a report done by the IRS in the fall of 2010; this confirms my worries. Retirement News for Employers - Fall 2010 Edition - Rollovers as Business Start-Ups Compliance Project What is a ROBS? ROBS is an arrangement in which prospective business owners use their retirement funds to pay for new business start-up costs. ROBS plans, while not considered an abusive tax avoidance transaction, are questionable because they may solely benefit one individual – the individual who rolls over his or her existing retirement funds to the ROBS plan in a tax-free transaction. The ROBS plan then uses the rollover assets to purchase the stock of the new business. Promoters aggressively market ROBS arrangements to prospective business owners. In many cases, the company will apply to IRS for a favorable determination letter (DL) as a way to assure their clients that IRS approves the ROBS arrangement. The IRS issues a DL based on the plan’s terms meeting Internal Revenue Code requirements. DLs do not give plan sponsors protection from incorrectly applying the plan’s terms or from operating the plan in a discriminatory manner. When a plan sponsor administers a plan in a way that results in prohibited discrimination or engages in prohibited transactions, it can result in plan disqualification and adverse tax consequences to the plan’s sponsor and its participants. Employee Plans ROBS Project EP initiated a ROBS project last year to: • Define traits of compliant versus noncompliant ROBS plans; • Identify ROBS plans that are noncompliant and take action to correct them; and • Use results to design compliance strategies focusing on identified issues and trends (for example, Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System, Fix-It Guides, Web-based information, newsletters, and speeches). Using compliance checks, we initially focused on companies that sponsored a plan and received a DL but didn’t file a Form 5500, Annual Return/Report of Employee Benefit Plan, or Form 5500-EZ, Annual Return of One-Participant (Owners and Their Spouses) Retirement Plan, and/or Form 1120, U.S. Corporation Income Tax Return. Our contact letter to plan sponsors asked questions about the ROBS plan’s recordkeeping and information reporting requirements, including: • the plan’s current status • plan contribution history • information on the rollover or direct transfer of the assets into the ROBS plan • participant information • stock valuation and stock purchases • general information about the business itself • why no Form 5500 or 5500-EZ and/or Form 1120 were filed We always invite a plan sponsor to furnish any other documents or materials that they believe will be helpful for us to review as part of the compliance check. ROBS Project Findings New Business Failures Preliminary results from the ROBS Project indicate that, although there were a few success stories, most ROBS businesses either failed or were on the road to failure with high rates of bankruptcy (business and personal), liens (business and personal), and corporate dissolutions by individual Secretaries of State. Some of the individuals who started ROBS plans lost not only the retirement assets they accumulated over many years, but also their dream of owning a business. As a result, much of the retirement savings invested in their unsuccessful ROBS plan was depleted or ‘lost,’ in many cases even before they had begun to offer their product or service to the public. Not Filing Form 5500 or Form 1120 Many ROBS sponsors did not understand that a qualified plan is a separate entity with its own set of requirements. Promoters incorrectly advised some sponsors they did not have an annual filing requirement because of a special exception in the Form 5500-EZ instructions. The exception applies when plan assets are less than a specified dollar amount and the plan covers only an individual, or an individual and his or her spouse, who wholly own a trade or business, whether incorporated or unincorporated. In a ROBS arrangement, however, the plan, through its company stock investments, rather than the individual, owns the trade or business. Therefore, this filing exception does not apply to a ROBS plan and the annual Form 5500 or 5500-EZ (5500-SF for filing electronically) is still required. Specific Problems with ROBS Some other areas the ROBS plan could run into trouble: • After the ROBS plan sponsor purchases the new company’s employer stock with the rollover funds, the sponsor amends the plan to prevent other participants from purchasing stock. • If the sponsor amends the plan to prevent other employees from participating after the DL is issued, this may violate the Code qualification requirements. These types of amendments tend to result in problems with coverage, discrimination and potentially result in violations of benefits, rights and features requirements. • Promoter fees • Valuation of assets • Failure to issue a Form 1099-R, Distributions From Pensions, Annuities, Retirement or Profit-Sharing Plans, IRAs, Insurance Contracts, etc., when the assets are rolled over into the ROBS plan If You Have Questions E-mail us and we will answer your questions about the Project and how it relates to your situation. Include the words “ROBS Project” in the subject line. Additionally, we encourage you to e-mail any comment for the ROBS Project or any other EPCU project, especially if these suggestions focus on areas of potential noncompliance.
          Reply #6481        
Did you buy out those area books Dracos? Just curious how you faired.
          Reply #5841        
See that's why I personally prefer to buy out the machine, not that they can't be tampered with before being put into the machine, just I think it would be less chance of that. Some gas stations seem to be shady and I avoid them altogether. I've always wondered as they scan a book into activation, can they somehow have a device that can tell which book is hot . I mean, surely some rich store owner could get his/her hands on some device like this (if there is such a device). My gut just tells me
          Reply #5654        
@Speedmon, I definitely noticed a little bit better luck when I buy out of the machine at Publix. I always ask at the counter what a certain game number is on and if I don't like that number then I buy from the machine. Obvious drawback is that you have to take what the machine spits out at ya, lol
          Reply #3771        
Oh I'm not referring to trying to buy out a game. I'm simply referring to targeting specific books. The two outlier books that AK reportedly has as mentioned in a prior post. And barring a winner on those, ones in the general range of book 616000.
          Reply #3602        
If that area wasnt so far away, I would have probably taken a huge chunk out of the remaining books. But that is 6+/- hours away from me. I may have a day around the weekend of the 8th to take a trip up there... If we get to that time and nothing changes with the jackpots remaining on 50x and 200ms, I might just bite the bullet and buy out BOTH games from AK.....
          Reply #3532        
I took my mom to AK's today to show her the display. She was impressed. Picked up a few GridIron tickets and a WOF. Got a 10X for....$1.00 and she won $5 on one of her 4 Gridirons.

UPDATE ON 200MS:

Went to Sun Foods at University and SE9th in Gainesville. For anyone interested there is currently a 200MS roll going on at number 18. I was very tempted to buy out the roll but was curious if they had anymore in stock before diving in. The manager came in and the clerk referred my question to h... [ More ]
          Reply #3433        
Hi all, I didn't play tonight but here's an update on Gainesville

I went to the Food Mart on SE9st and University Ave. They have quite a lot of games. All except 200MS. I was surprised to see they had $50,000 Gridiron which I haven't seen in stores in well over a year. Are they re-releasing this game because I went to another Kelly Kwik stop location on 34th and saw the same game.

Anyway's yes he has a roll going of 50X. It's currently on No 40. I did not want to buy out the roll so I... [ More ]
          Reply #3409        
Well typical despite the idea that odds should be better. 4 losers. No 57 had the 10X symbol for.....wait for it.....$2.00

Oh well, not too bad. No different from buying a $25 Misfortune and $5Wof and losing.

Someone suggested earlier with so few rolls left maybe the big-risk takers with the funding should buy out the 50X/200MS game. It would be an interesting experiment. It would be awesome if you guys found more of these grand prizes or at least once and for all prove all the statistics
          Secrecy charge        
IT IS very interesting to read Cllr Dix (Oct 9), he clearly fixes responsibility for Iceland essential car users allowance and holiday buy outs on Plaid Cymru and not the public servants of Caerphilly.
          Coaches do this a lot at the college level        

Their is usually some kind of buy out. It is through 2021-22, but if he wanted to go to UCLA, I am sure that it would be taken care of. You never want to make it seem like your coach is on the way out for recruiting purposes, which is why what UConn did this year with Kevin Ollie is not really seen a lot (and he was eventually given a 5 year extension).

What Stevens can do is use UCLA to get an even better extension (a lot of coaches use these big job offers as bargaining chips), decide he is fine where he is or more than likely get paid more at UCLA. Money is not everything and obviously their is a lot more pressure to succeed at UCLA than at Butler, where Stevens has taken the program to heights never believed possible. Certainly seems like he is happy where he is, just do not think the extension would be in the way of him going to UCLA where they would more than likely deal with whatever the buy out might be.


          Reply #938        
Dang skeptic, sorry to hear about that! I went to Publix today and it was on 003. Took that one and left. Scratched it in the parking lot and it was a loser. Decided to be an idiot and buy out 002, 001, and 000.. all three were winners lol. $40, $30, $25. Walked away $5 down. not complainin
          Turtle Talk #3: GAMERA VS. GYAOS (1967)        

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LUCA:

By virtue of not having access to any licenses to the most famous monsters of (American) filmland, Gamera’s career in monster rasslin took a slight detour from the standard Godzilla trajectory. After a black and white solo debut and a first match against a quadruped reptile, GAMERA VS. GYAOS takes us straight to the match against a flying monster, foregoing a clash of icons such as KING KONG VS. GODZILLA. Gyaos is no kind and gentle Earth guardian like Mothra, though. He’s not even a rowdy jock like Rodan, even though his design is obviously lifted from the (by that time) decade-old Toho pterodactyl. Gyaos is, for want of a better expression, a big fuckin’ asshole. Now, the meanness in this film doesn’t actually exceed what we saw in BARUGON, but there’s definitely some added weirdness to go along with the cruelty. But let us start at the beginning, friends…

GAMERA VS. GYAOS starts as many a kaiju movie does, with news reports about increased seismological and volcanic activities around the country. What could be the cause and/or result of these? Surely a look at the film’s title and/or poster could not tip us off here! Against the backdrop of this threat of ecological disaster, we meet our little protagonist Eichii Kanemaru (Naoyuki Abe), grandson of village elder Tatsuemon Kanemaru (Kichijiro Ueda), as he lives an idyllic life at the foot of Mt. Fuji. That idyll is disturbed, however, as the dastardly (or is it…?) Express Engineering Corp plans to build a highway through the forest, and wants to buy out all the villagers’ land. Grandfather Tatsuemon is the main spokesperson for the rights of the civilians, and tries to come to a beneficial solution for both parties. However, things take a turn for the bizarre when a laser beam slices a UN survey helicopter clean in half and causes at least one old man surveyor to fall to his death in a hilarious fashion. What could the source of this danger be? What is the mysterious green light emanating from the cave that the laser originated from? Newshound Okabe (Shin Minatsu) convinces lil’ Eichii to be his guide into the mountain. What they uncover might spell stiff-necked doom for all of Japan!

This is all extremely textbook stuff for your average kaiju movie, and as such it took a while for it to really capture my attention. The bisected helicopter with subsequent casualty was my first laugh-out-loud moment, and Okabe and Eichii’s ill-fated expedition into Mt. Fuji was probably the second time it managed to muster some interest. Now, I don’t want to undersell the movie, as it does wind up doing some crazy and entertaining stuff, but I’d hate to cover all the fun stuff before you can have a go, Travis. I’ll instead take the less fun route and enumerate the two biggest failings of the movie: the bland set-up I’ve already gone over. This stuff is what sank the original RODAN! Second, and one might say quite fatal for a movie whose entire purpose rests on it: Gyaos frankly looks like shit. He’s stiff as hell, his eyes are too big and motionless, and his teeth are the purest ivory, indicative of a rushed paint job. Rather amusingly, there’s actually an in-universe explanation given for why Gyaos can’t move his head sideways. You see he has two throats, in order to… create… the laserbeam? And they can’t… touch? Aw hell, Travis, what did you think of the third Gamera film?

TRAVIS:

Yeah, I'll admit too that Gyaos looks pretty cheap. Luca, the description you gave of motionless eyes and a rushed paint job sums up the look of most of the Gamera kaiju. Though we're already dealing with sci-fi monsters, this aesthetic gives the creatures a more cartoony appearance than the ruff & tumble stars of the Godzilla series. Whether you find this as more cheesy goodness or proof of Daiei's shoddiness is up to you. While Gyaos' believability certainly won't fool anyone, he is an interesting kaiju among his peers. I like that his beam acts more as a cutting torch than a standard laser that simply makes things go kablooey. Giving him a vampiric personality with his hunger for blood and vulnerability to sunlight also make him quite unique among Gamera's rogue gallery. In fact, Gyaos would end up as the only recurring opponent in the entire franchise. He racked up two more Showa appearances before becoming the primary antagonist of the Heisei trilogy, and he'd also square off against the big turtle in the opening scene of the Millennium era GAMERA: THE BRAVE. Good on ya, ya tight-necked bloodsucker!

Count Gyaos-cula is also responsible for my favorite guffaw inducing scene of the movie. The military eventually devises a plan to lure the monster out of his cave with gaseous clouds of synthetic blood just before dawn so that the sunrise may destroy him. But how will they keep Gyaos from flying away as soon he sees the sun? Why, by placing the plasma geyser on top of a rotating platform that will spin so fast that he'll become too dizzy and delirious to escape! If you thought the humans' plan to trap Gamera in a rocket and blast him off to Mars in the first film was ridiculous, this one certainly tops it! And so we're treated to a fun two minute sequence of Gyaos keeping high off of blood fumes while he twirls around and around and around and around and around... Basically, if you're looking to find kaiju clips to turn into LOL-worthy GIF files, you've struck gold.

But enough about our monster villain! What about our human villains? In these kaiju flicks, it's typical to paint land developers and businessmen as fools who don't respect the sacred territories and myths of the native people. GYAOS however turns this on its head in a fun way. While the villagers are protesting the construction of the new road, it's not because they care about their homes or the preservation of their history. They're simply being difficult until Express Engineering gives them a high enough price for their land so that they can become rich. What cads! To even further the role reversal, Express Engineering dedicates much of their manpower and time to aid the military in defeating Gyaos while the villagers continue to squabble and argue about their greed. Of course, it also helps that Express has the dashing, heroically handsome Shiro (Kojiro Hongo) as the foreman to lead the attacks on Gyaos. A true nobleman for urbanization, he is! What did you think about this twist, Luca?

LUCA:

I think GAMERA VS. GYAOS must be one of the most morally offensive children’s movies ever made if you have a single environmentalist or leftie bone in your body. Not only do the poor townsfolk mean to milk that gentle billion dollar corporation for all it’s worth – shades of the Simpsons episode “Radioactive Man” where Mickey Rooney scolds the Springfieldians for taking advantage of those kind, naïve Hollywood souls who just wanted to tell a story about a man… a radioactive man. Only in GAMERA VS. GYAOS, there’s no joke! The villagers really are slick hustlers who hold a billion yen enterprise by the balls for personal gain. Not only are the company men hailed as heroic, square-jawed heroes as opposed to the sniveling small-town hucksters, the plans to defeat our winged villain monster range from merely burning down a forest to spraying it with blood. Adding insult to injury doesn’t cover it: that’s some Aslan-shaving shit right there!

Thing is, I honestly have no idea if screenwriter Nisan Takahashi was consciously trying to make “civic minded” children’s entertainment, or if it was just a product of living through years of a post-war reconstructionist Japan where progress, progress, progress was the highest good. If you compare this movie to Toho’s ALL MONSTERS ATTACK, another monster flick specifically aimed at children released around roughly the same time, it’s quite jarring to see that in AMA unchecked industrialization is kind of a background evil, a dehumanizing, distancing force. In GAMERA VS. GYAOS, Express Engineering Corp is pretty much the Justice League! If nothing else, it really makes me appreciate Ishiro Honda’s anthropocentrism, even if it’s buried under layers and layers of re-used footage and shrill children’s songs.

Now, don’t get me wrong. The fact that GAMERA VS. GYAOS (unintentionally?) espouses some politics that I am super not-down with doesn’t mean it’s not a good time. It totally is! In fact, it’s a pretty solid entry for Showa monster movie watching, with a couple of real outlandish gags, a cute kid protag and a short runtime. I won’t even say the movie is fun “despite” its horrible ideology – I’d even say it’s an added bonus. Nothing surer to strike up a conversation with friends than a movie just starting to say/do evil shit like it’s normal, I say! It’s actually interesting that this kind of filmmaking has returned with the rise of China as a global economic power (and movie market). The best recent example would be TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION, where the movie inexplicably moves to China for two hours, and the Chinese government is an expert at killing Decepticons, evacuating civilians and saving American asses and being all around good guy badasses. Hey, at least they didn’t have to burn down forests to beat the bad guy!

Capture

TRAVIS:

Oh man, I love that the movie's so pro-business that burning down the entire forest will not only help defeat Gyaos but also give those petty villagers their due comeuppance! Even elder Tatsuemon justifies the action by saying that Gyaos is punishment from their ancient ancestors for their present day greed and that only destroying their land will cleanse them from sin. Remember, kids, don't allow your selfish needs to block the way of progress lest a vampire monster force you to lose your possessions!

Speaking of kids, while Gamera's soft spot for youngsters has occasionally crept up in these first few movies, it's in GYAOS that we see the turtle fully settle in as the friend to all children. Not only do we see him selflessly protect lil’ Eiichi from being gobbled up by Gyaos, but he also flies the child to safety and drops him off at a Ferris wheel to be picked up by rescuers. Wow! Imagine being a kid getting a trip on Gamera's back and having your flight end at an amusement park. What a great day! It helps that Eiichi himself is a charming young lad, a little guy who adores Gamera while luckily not reaching the heights of psychotic idolatry that Toshio from the first GAMERA portrayed. He adores the big turtle while not becoming annoyingly precocious. It's also very amusing to see the military consult Eiichi a couple of times on strategies for defeating Gyaos since the boy's a fan of kaiju and studies their habits for most of his time. This must be the ultimate wish fulfillment fantasy for geeks: having the government rely on you and your expert knowledge on your nerdy obsession to save the world.

Gamera already fought a threat from the skies, so now it was time to fight a threat from the seas! I mean, the sea threat technically comes from the skies (outer space to be exact). And I guess Gyaos didn't come from the skies either but from a volcano BUT NEVERMIND! The squid aliens are coming! The squid aliens are coming! Let's hope our hero has the taste for calamari with GAMERA VS. VIRAS!


          Japanese Mom Yukino Kawai Came To Buy Out Her Daughters Porn Video But Gets Attacked And Fucked As Well        
Watch Japanese Mom Yukino Kawai Came To Buy Out Her Daughters Porn Video But Gets Attacked And Fucked As Well on rnoPo.com - free hardcore porn videos and amateur sex tapes.
          Tory Lord tells peers about a weird Internet scam at great length        

On February 16th, Lord David James of Blackheath (a Conservative life peer) spoke for 11 minutes in the UK House of Lords about a supposed $15 trillion federal reserve conspiracy that involved more gold than has ever been mined. It turned out he had fallen for a widespread scam.

“Mr. Riyadi has sent me a remarkable document dated February 2006,” Lord James continued, “in which the American Government have called him to a meeting with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.” That meeting, he said, “was witnessed by Mr Alan Greenspan, who signed for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York of which he was chairman, as well as chairman of the real Federal Reserve in Washington. It is signed by Mr Timothy Geithner as a witness on behalf of the International Monetary Fund. The IMF sent two witnesses, the other being Mr Yusuke Horiguchi.”

“These gentlemen have signed as witnesses,” he continued, “to the effect that this deal is a proper deal. There are a lot of other signatures on the document. I do not have a photocopy; I have an original version of the contract.

“Under the contract, the American Treasury has apparently got the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to offer to buy out the bonds issued to Mr Riyadi to replace the cash which has been taken from him over the previous 10 years. It is giving him $500 million as a cash payment to buy out worthless bonds. That is all in the agreement and it is very remarkable.”

Riyadi, as the tale continues, supposedly had 750,000 tons of gold backing the $15 trillion the United States took from him to prop up the U.S. dollar.

The World Gold Council, however, estimates the only 165,000 tons of gold have been mined in the history of the world.

British Lord fell for $15 trillion federal reserve scam

          Movies that I've been watching        
I have been watching some really good movies lately. Movies that even challenge my dream to become a director ;) don't worry, it's only a dream yet. Pursuit of Happyness, Blood Diamond, Mozhi, Last Kiss, Happy Feet and so forth.

Pursuit of Happyness: I don't know how better acting can get! Will Smith has done a terrific job in this one. Very touching, real life inspired story. Highly recommend. I am looking out to buy the DVD sometime.

Blood Diamond: I have become a fan of Dicaprio and he definitely doesn't disappoint in this one. I like movies made in Africa in general, so I did like this one too. Their life seem so different to us, to the extent that it is a different world out there. People kill each other for stuff that people buy outside Africa. Jennifer Connelly was also great in the movie. Lot of violence and good acting.

Mozhi: This was a surprise winner. I really loved the movie and all of its cast and the direction. Prakash Raj has chosen a really nice movie to produce. Highly recommend this one. The beauty of the movie is that they've interspersed comedy throughout to make a heavy subject appear light. Kudos to the director for coming up with a theme like this one.

Happy Feet: I liked it overall, but it wasn't like finding nemo or Monsters Inc. I guess you can't replicate the ingenuity of these two movies anyway.

Last Kiss: Based on Will Smith's recommendation, I picked up another movie directed by the director of Pursuit of Happyness. He is actually an Italian director and directed this movie a few years ago. Last kiss is a fast paced comedy that deals with the intense emotions of men that want to avoid growing up. The movie ends on a high note.

          Dana White on UFC ownership's looming buyouts: 'I'm not going anywhere'        

Reports last week that Beverly Hills mega-talent agency WME/IMG has raised $1.1 billion from two international investors to buy out some of its UFC minority partners stirred some speculation that UFC President Dana White might be leaving the company.

“I’m not going anywhere, brother,” White told...


          Trump Is Dangerously Incompetent on National Security        

If Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping read the New York Times on Thursday morning, they must be hoping and praying for the election of Donald Trump. And if serious Republicans read the same paper, they must be sickened with fear—if they weren’t nauseated already—that their party’s presidential nominee is a threat to national security.

For on the front page of the Times, in an interview on foreign policy, Trump says that, despite our treaty obligations, he would not defend NATO allies from an invasion if they haven’t been reimbursing us for the cost of protecting them; that he would abandon our military bases in Asia; and that he wouldn’t pressure Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to relax his crackdown because “the world looks at how bad the United States is” on civil liberties, too.

Thursday morning, Trump spokesmen disputed the Times story, claiming that he wasn’t quoted accurately. Since then, the Times has released a transcript of the full interview, and the story, it turns out, is not only accurate but even more distressing than the boiled-down story suggested.

Look at the following exchange between Trump and Times reporters David Sanger and Maggie Haberman:

Trump: I would prefer that we be able to continue [with NATO allies], but if we are not going to be reasonably reimbursed for the tremendous cost of these massive nations with tremendous wealth—you have the tape going on?

Sanger: We do.

Haberman: We both do.

Trump: Then yes, I would be absolutely prepared to tell those countries, “Congratulations, you will be defending yourself.”

Sanger reminds Trump that Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty obliges member nations to treat an attack on one as an attack on all. Trump replies, “How is it helping us? We have massive trade deficits.” He also says, “In a deal, you always have to be prepared to walk”—as if the 28 nations of NATO were opposing sides in a contract dispute, not members of a mutually beneficial, trusting alliance.

Then comes the shocker.

Sanger: Can the members of NATO, including the new members of the Baltics, count on the United States to come to their military aid if they were attacked by Russia? And count on us fulfilling our obligations—

Trump: Have they fulfilled their [financial] obligations to us? If they fulfill their obligations to us, the answer is yes.

And if they haven’t paid the amount that Trump considers their proper share, the answer is no.

Then, to make matters specific, there’s this:

Sanger: I was just in the Baltic States. They are very concerned obviously about this new Russian activism, they are seeing submarines off their coasts, they are seeing airplanes they haven’t seen since the Cold War coming, bombers doing test runs. If Russia came over the border into Estonia or Latvia, Lithuania … would you come to their immediate military aid?

Trump: I don’t want to tell you what I’d do because I don’t want Putin to know what I’d do.

No! The whole point of NATO is to tell potential enemies, in no uncertain terms, that the United States and every other member-nation will respond to an attack with force.

In talking about U.S. commitments in Asia, Trump reveals himself as completely ignorant about military matters. If we shut down our bases in Japan and South Korea, and some crisis compels us to move back, Trump says, “We can always deploy” troops and weapons from bases in the United States, adding, “It would be a lot less expensive.” In fact, it would be a lot more expensive. It costs more to base troops at home than abroad, and it costs a lot more to deploy from home—we would need more cargo-transport planes and ships as well as the pilots, crews, and fuel to operate and maintain them. And it would take weeks, in some cases months, to mount a large deployment—possibly too long to make a difference.

If Trump is elected president, and if he actually does what he says he’ll do, every ally in Europe and Asia will scramble to form partnerships that do not include the United States. Some of the weaker allies will feel compelled, seeing no other choice, to cut a deal with Russia or China. Allies in every realm of international relations will view America as an untrustworthy guarantor.

Trump’s view of the world isn’t entirely out to lunch. If he and the Republican Party were trying to prompt a debate on America’s role in the world, if they were running on an avowed platform of isolationism, that would at least be taking a position. Such a debate is long overdue, and isolationism has its place as one school of thought in the American political tradition.

But it’s untenable for nearly every speaker at the GOP convention to lambast President Obama and Hillary Clinton for weakening our defenses, abandoning our allies, and “leading from behind” when the Republican candidate talks about our allies as expendable customers and prefers not to lead at all.

Trump reveals himself in the Times interview as an odd combination of isolationist and mercantilist. To him, every relationship is transactional, and the transaction’s currency is money—and only money. He sees alliances as a financial drain, carrying no geopolitical benefits. Geopolitics don’t enter into his calculus. If a commitment costs too much, cut it loose, cut the losses, balance the books, period.

Everything is a deal, and all deals are like the real estate deals that have made him a fortune. When the Times reporters ask him how he would deal with ISIS, he says that he would get the Turks to do more. When he’s reminded that the Turks care more about bashing the Kurds than defeating ISIS, he says, “It would be wonderful if we could put them somehow both together.” What’s his diplomatic plan for doing that? “Meetings,” Trump replies. “If I win, we will have meetings … very early on.”

One wonders: Does Trump think that President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry haven’t already had “meetings” with Erdogan and the region’s other leaders about doing more to beat ISIS? Does he think his idea is novel? This may explain why he thinks the Obama administration—the entire U.S. government—is filled with idiots. Don’t they see, he might be thinking, that they have to hold meetings? He may see meetings with Erdogan and other national leaders as no different from meetings with the New York City Department of Buildings, a tenant who’s behind on his rent, an indebted hotelier that he wants to buy out, or a supplier that he’s trying to fleece.

The fact that the world is a mess, that America isn’t winning better deals, is proof to Trump that our people in power don’t know how to run a slick meeting. He thinks his opponents and critics know nothing. He doesn’t know how much he doesn’t know.

Read more of Slate’s election coverage.


          All About Charging Orders - A Comprehensive Review of How LLCs and FLPs Protect Your Assets        

There are relatively few types of assets that are statutorily protected from claims of creditors. Membership interests in limited liability companies ("LLCs") and partnership interests are afforded a significant level of protection through the charging order mechanism.

The Importance of History

Before the advent of the charging order, a creditor pursuing a partner in a partnership was able to obtain from the court a writ of execution directly against the partnership's assets, which led to the seizure of such assets by the sheriff. This result was possible because the partnership itself was not treated as a juridical person, but simply as an aggregate of its partners.

The seizure of partnership assets meant that the sheriff could shut down the partnership's place of business. That caused the non-debtor partners to suffer financial losses, sometimes on par with the debtor partner, a process one court referred to as "clumsy."

To protect the non-debtor partners from the creditor of the debtor-partner, and to keep the creditor out of partnership affairs, it was necessary to keep the creditor from seizing partnership assets. This was also in line with the developing perception of partnerships as legal entities and not simple aggregates of partners. These objectives could be accomplished only by limiting the collection remedies that creditors previously enjoyed. Because any limitation on a creditor's remedies is a boon to the debtor, over the years charging orders have come to be perceived as asset protection tools.

The rationale behind the charging order limitation applied initially only to general partnerships, where every partner was involved in carrying on the business of the partnership; it did not apply to corporations because of their centralized management structure. However, over the years the charging order protection was extended to limited partners and LLC members.

Deconstructing the Uniform Acts

Most domestic and foreign partnership and limited liability company statutes provide for charging orders. Almost all domestic statutes are based on the uniform acts, such as the Revised Uniform Partnership Act of 1994 ("RUPA"), the Uniform Limited Partnership Act of 2001 ("ULPA") or the Uniform Limited Liability Company Act of 1996 ("ULLCA"), or the earlier versions of these acts.

The very first references to the charging order in the United States appeared in Section 28 of the Uniform Partnership Act of 1914 and Section 22 of the Uniform Limited Partnership Act of 1916. Both allowed creditors to petition the court for a charging order against the debtor's partnership interest. Both statutes, directly or indirectly, addressed the fact that the charging order was not the exclusive remedy of the creditor. Appointment of a receiver and foreclosure of the partnership interest were anticipated.

A 1976 amendment to the Uniform Limited Partnership Act clarified the charging order remedy. It provided that a judgment creditor has the rights of an assignee of the partnership interest.

Section 504 of both RUPA and ULLCA, and the ULLCA, at Section 504, introduced the following concepts: (i) a charging order is a lien on the judgment debtor's transferable interest; (ii) the purchaser at a foreclosure sale has the rights of a transferee; and (iii) the charging order is the exclusive means by which the creditor could pursue the partnership interest.

Both acts also provide that the charging order does not charge the entire partnership or membership interest of the debtor, but only the "transferable" (RUPA) or "distributional" (ULLCA) interest. However, the language providing that the creditor has the rights of an assignee was dropped.

Most recently, ULPA, in addition to the new language in the RUPA and the ULLCA, provides that (i) the judgment creditor has only the rights of a transferee, and (ii) the court may order a foreclosure only on the transferable interest.

All three most recent acts also provide that the charged interest may be redeemed prior to foreclosure.

The uniform acts make four important points: (1) the charging order is a lien on the judgment debtor's transferable/distributional interest; it is not a levy, (2) the creditor cannot exercise any management or voting rights because the creditor has only the rights of an assignee/transferee, (3) the foreclosure of the charged interest does not harm the debtor because the buyer at the foreclosure sale receives no greater right than was possessed by the original creditor, and (4) the creditor, expressly, has no remedy other than the charging order and foreclosure on the charging order.

Because the charging order creates a lien and not a levy, and because the creditor is not a transferee under ULPA, but has only the rights of a transferee, the creditor does not become the owner of the charged interest unless there is foreclosure. This has important tax ramifications, discussed below.

If the creditor is an assignee/transferee, or has the rights of an assignee/transferee, the uniform acts deprive the creditor of any voting, management or access to information rights. Let us use ULPA to see how that happens.

ULPA defines a "transferable interest" as a right to receive distributions. A "transferee" is defined as a person who receives a transferable interest. ULPA defines two bundles of rights that a partner may have in a partnership: economic rights and other rights. While economic rights are freely transferable, other rights (which include management and voting rights) are not transferable, unless made so in the partnership agreement.

ULPA further clarifies that a transferee has the right only to receive distributions, if and when made. The comments to the charging order section of ULPA provide:

This section balances the needs of a judgment creditor of a partner or transferee with the needs of the limited partnership and non-debtor partners and transferees. The section achieves that balance by allowing the judgment creditor to collect on the judgment through the transferable interest of the judgment debtor while prohibiting interference in the management and activities of the limited partnership.

Under this section, the judgment creditor of a partner or transferee is entitled to a charging order against the relevant transferable interest. While in effect, that order entitles the judgment creditor to whatever distributions would otherwise be due to the partner or transferee whose interest is subject to the order. The creditor has no say in the timing or amount of those distributions. The charging order does not entitle the creditor to accelerate any distributions or to otherwise interfere with the management and activities of the limited partnership.

Foreclosure of a charging order effects a permanent transfer of the charged transferable interest to the purchaser. The foreclosure does not, however, create any rights to participate in the management and conduct of the limited partnership's activities. The purchaser obtains nothing more than the status of a transferee.

ULLCA has similar provisions that restrict the creditor to a "distributional interest" (identical, except in name, to ULPA "transferable interest") that does not confer on the creditor any voting or management rights.

The creditor's inability to vote the charged interest or participate in the management of the entity is at the heart of the asset protection efficacy of the charging order. If the partnership or the LLC halts all distributions, the creditor has no ability to force the distributions.

Some practitioners fear the creditor's ability to foreclose. This fear appears to be entirely unfounded - the uniform acts clearly provide that only the charged interest may be foreclosed upon, and further provide that the purchaser at the foreclosure sale has only the rights of a transferee. To grant the purchaser of the foreclosed interest an interest greater than the right to receive distributions would mean granting to the purchaser voting and management rights associated with the debtor's interest in the entity. That would be contrary to the very reason why charging order statutes exist in the first place.

A creditor holding a charging order usually does not know whether any distributions will be forthcoming from the entity. This uncertainty is of little value to most creditors. But it may be possible to find a third party, possibly a collection firm, willing to buy the charged interest at a steep discount and then wait to get paid (which may be folly due to possible adverse tax consequences). Consequently, the ability to foreclose affords the creditor some limited value.

The creditor's ability to foreclose has no effect on the debtor. As long as no one can take away the debtor's management and voting rights, the debtor is not made worse off.

The exclusivity of the charging order (including the ability to foreclose on the charging order), which may be found in each recent uniform act, relates back to the origin of the charging order. The drafters of the uniform acts did not want to allow the creditor any possibility of gaining voting or management rights, and the exclusivity language should be read in that light.

A common point of confusion needs to be addressed with respect to exclusivity. Many cases dealing with charging orders focus on whether the charging order is the exclusive creditor remedy, or whether foreclosure is authorized (see discussion below). The uniform acts, until RUPA in 1994, never made the charging order the exclusive creditor remedy, although it was always understood that the creditor can never gain management rights. Beginning with RUPA, all uniforms acts have introduced the element of exclusivity, but it is not the charging order that is made the exclusive remedy. Instead, the acts make the respective sections of the acts dealing with charging orders the exclusive remedy, and these sections specifically allow foreclosure.

Some practitioners and commentators have suggested that the exclusivity language may mean that fraudulent transfer laws would not apply to transfers of assets to partnerships or limited liability companies. While a strict reading of the exclusivity language may, at first glance, suggest such an outcome, it would be incorrect. The charging order limitation protects the debtor's interest in the legal entity. If a creditor successfully establishes that a transfer of assets to a legal entity is a fraudulent transfer (which would be a separate legal action from the application for a charging order), the creditor no longer needs to pursue the debtor's interest in the entity. With a fraudulent transfer judgment, the creditor gains the ability to pursue the entity itself, in its capacity as the transferee of the assets. Accordingly, if the creditor has the ability to pursue the partnership or the LLC, the protection of the debtor's interest in the entity through the charging order becomes a moot point. Several courts have now opined on this subject as well, uniformly holding that the exclusivity language of the charging order statutes is not a bar to a fraudulent transfer challenge.

Charging Order Cases

There are few cases dealing with charging orders, for two reasons. First, many creditors fail to find the charging order to be a useful remedy, and seek to settle with the debtor rather than hope to get a distribution from the entity. Second, even when creditors pursue the charging order remedy, the charging order is granted by a trial court and is rarely appealed, resulting in few published opinions. Many of the reported cases deal with the creditor's ability to foreclose; most cases authorize the creditor to foreclose but restrict the buyer of the interest to the economic component of the interest. There are also some interesting outliers, readily demonstrating the degree of judicial imagination involved in statutory interpretation.

The California Supreme Court has affirmed that the charging order has replaced levies of execution as the remedy for reaching partnership interests. The two most interesting charging order cases out of California are Crocker Nat. Bank v. Perroton, and Hellman v. Anderson.

In Crocker, the court concluded that a partnership interest may be foreclosed upon if the sale of the interest does not violate the partnership agreement and the other partners consent to the sale. In Hellman, the court confirmed that foreclosure of the charged interest is authorized by the charging order statute, but disagreed with Crocker that consent of non-debtor partners is required. The court concluded that consent from other partners is not required because the foreclosure sale results in the buyer receiving only the economic interest in the partnership, not voting or management rights. Consequently, the buyer will never have ability to interfere with the business of the partnership and inconvenience the non-debtor partners. Going even further, the Hellman court remanded the case back to trial court for a determination whether the foreclosure of the economic interest (limited as that interest may be) would unduly interfere with the partnership business.

In the only opinion of its kind, the Connecticut Supreme court determined that the uniform acts authorize not only foreclosure by sale, but also strict foreclosure (forfeiture of the partnership interest to the creditor, a concept now unique to Connecticut).

In the only reported Florida opinion, the court concluded that the simplicity of the language of the charging order statute - "the judgment creditor has only the rights of an assignee" - "necessarily" precluded foreclosure. Florida statutes were subsequently amended to specifically preclude foreclosure (see above).

A Minnesota court held that the "exclusivity" of the charging order must be read in conjunction with the Uniform Fraudulent Conveyances Act. In this case a limited partnership interest subject to a charging order was transferred in a fraudulent conveyance to the debtor's wife and attorney. The creditor was allowed to pursue the limited partnership interest transferred through the fraudulent conveyance and retain its charging order.

In Deutsch v. Wolff, a Missouri court analyzed, in a charging order context, the receiver's right to manage the partnership. The court drew a distinction between a creditor who becomes an assignee of the debtor-partner (no management rights), and a receiver appointed by the court. A receiver may be granted management rights "when manager of a partnership has willfully engaged in a series of illegal activities..." It seems that in this case the court found the ability to appoint the receiver through the Missouri charging order statute, but vested the receiver with management rights using equity arguments unrelated to the charging order (i.e., a receiver could have been appointed simply because the general partner was defrauding the limited partners). A similar conclusion, under similar circumstances, was reached by courts in Nevada, Kansas and Minnesota.

Single-Member LLCs

Single-member LLCs deserve special attention in the charging order analysis. It may be argued that given the historical framework of charging orders, they should not protect single member LLC members, because there are no other "partners" to protect from the creditor.

Neither the uniform acts nor any of the state charging order statutes make any distinction between single-member and multi-member LLCs. Some courts have held that the charging order limitation would apply where all of the partners of a limited partnership were the debtors of a single creditor. The creditor had argued, to no avail, that because there were no "innocent" (non-debtor) partners to protect, the charging order protection should not apply.

One bankruptcy court held that the charging order protection does not apply to single-member LLCs. In Albright, the debtor was the sole member and manager of an LLC. The bankruptcy trustee asserted that it acquired the right to control the LLC and sell its assets, while the debtor sought to deny those rights, under the rationale discussed above.

The bankruptcy court concluded that based on Colorado LLC law, a membership interest in an LLC can be assigned, including management rights. The relevant statute provides that if all the other members do not approve of the assignment, then the assignee does not acquire management rights. If all the other members do approve, then the assignee may become a substituted member, acquiring all rights of a member).

Because in a single-member LLC there are no other members who can "not approve," an assignee will always become a substituted member. The statute was not revised following the introduction of single-member LLCs. The bankruptcy court concluded that if the LLC in Albright were a multi-member LLC, a different result would have been reached and the bankruptcy trustee would have been entitled only to the distributions of profits, but not management and control over the LLC.

The court's application of the Colorado assignability statutes is faulty. These statutes are implicated only when a member dies or assigns its interest, not in the context of bankruptcy.

The Albright case is often interpreted as a case on single-member LLC charging orders. However, the bankruptcy court devoted most of its analysis to the assignability of interests statutes, and only in passing noted that the debtor made a charging order argument. The court dismissed the debtor's charging order argument out of hand, noting that charging orders were intended to protect non-debtor "partners," and in single-member LLCs there is no one to protect.

The very limited analysis of charging orders engaged in by the Albright court is troubling. The court analyzes and follows Colorado statutes when dealing with the assignability of interests and determining how the charging order would work in a multi-member context. Inexplicably, the court completely ignored Colorado law with respect to applicability of the charging order. The Colorado charging order statute does not exempt single-member LLCs from the charging order limitation. The court completely ignores that and focuses on the historical framework of charging orders.

It is inappropriate to analyze legislative intent and historical origins of statutes when there is a clear statute on point. The Colorado charging order statute clearly limits the creditor to an economic interest in the LLC. When the Colorado legislature introduced the single-member LLC statute it is presumed to have known of the charging order statute. It chose not to make any changes to the latter. The Albright decision conveniently ignores these legal principles.

To date, with the exception of the Albright case, there are no cases analyzing the efficacy of charging orders in the single-member LLC context. Attorneys should caution their clients that if they are seeking to maximize their charging order protection, they should be forming multi-member LLCs or adding new members to existing LLCs. These new members would need to have some membership interest in the LLC, but is difficult to gage how large of an interest would be sufficient, and whether an economic interest would suffice, or are voting rights required as well. In Albright, the court concluded that if the analysis was carried out under the Colorado charging order statute, and there was another member, with a passive interest, of an "infinitesimal" nature, the bankruptcy trustee would not acquire any management or control rights.

In a community property state, if an LLC's only members are two spouses, holding their interests as community property, the LLC would probably not enjoy the protection of a multi-member LLC. If only one spouse were a debtor, then under the community property laws the creditor will be able to charge the LLC interests of both spouses. Thus, there would be no non-debtor members to protect with the charging order.

Reverse Piercing

Because of the charging order limitation, partnerships and LLCs afford a liability shield to its owners, by protecting (to some extent) the assets within these entities from the liabilities of the owners. Similar to the traditional liability shield commonly associated with limited liability entities, the protection of the charging order may be pierced by a creditor. In that eventually the charging order limitation becomes a moot point, because the entity is no longer considered to have a separate legal identity from its owners.

In Litchfield Asset Management Corp. v. Howell, after a judgment was entered against the debtor, she set up two LLCs and contributed cash to the two LLCs. The LLCs never operated a business, never made distributions or paid salaries, and the debtor used the assets of the LLC to pay her personal expenses and to make interest-free loans to family members. The court found that the debtor used her control over the LLCs to perpetrate a wrong, disregarded corporate formalities and exceeded her management authority (in making interest-free loans), and ordered reverse piercing of the LLCs.

Because there has always been a strong presumption against piercing the corporate veil (including reverse piercing), this threat to the charging order protection should be easily avoidable.

Practitioners should be wary about using partnerships and LLCs to protect personal property, such as investment accounts and residences. Most states allow the formation of partnerships and LLCs for any lawful purpose; others require a business purpose (profit or non-profit). In a state requiring a business purpose, a partnership or an LLC holding personal property may be subject to a reverse piercing claim. Entities holding personal assets should be formed in states like Delaware, that allow entities to be formed for any lawful purpose.

Tax Consequences

The tax consequences of the charging order, to the creditor and to the debtor, vary before and after foreclosure.

Until the charging order is foreclosed upon, it is a lien on the debtor's transferable interest similar to a garnishment. If the entity makes distributions to the creditor, then the tax consequences to the creditor are determined with reference to the underlying judgment.

The distributions made pursuant to a charging order are made in satisfaction of a judgment. Judgments are taxable based on the underlying cause of action, according to the "origin of the claim" test. For example, if the judgment relates to a personal injury or sickness, it may be entirely exempt from income under Section 104(a) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended ("IRC"). Similarly, the judgment may be to enforce a loan extended by the creditor to the debtor, and the repayment of the loan would not be taxable. If the judgment does not relate to a personal injury or sickness, it will be taxable as either ordinary income or capital gain. Generally, recovery which compensates for harm to capital assets is a capital gain. All other income is ordinary.

While the creditor is being taxed on the distributions it receives, the debtor is also being taxed on the income of the entity. There are three ways to arrive at this conclusion. First, absent foreclosure, the debtor remains the owner of the economic interest in the entity. Whether the entity is taxed as a sole proprietorship, a partnership or a corporation, it is the owner of the economic interest who is properly taxable. Second, paying off the creditor reduces the outstanding liabilities of the debtor, which is an economic benefit to the creditor, and therefore taxable under the Haig-Simons definition of income. Third, the charging order (to the extent it works) simply forces the debtor to pay off its debts. Paying off debts is not always deductible (see below), and changing the mechanism of debt payment (debtor paying creditor directly after getting taxed on its share of distributions, versus intercepting distributions from the entity) should not alter that result by giving the debtor the equivalent of a deduction.

The debtor may be able to obtain a deduction for any distributions made by the entity to the creditor, if the judgment relates to the debtor's business, and paying it off would be deemed an "ordinary and necessary" business expense.

If there are no distributions being made to a creditor, then (absent foreclosure) the creditor is not taxable on the income of the entity.

Once a creditor forecloses on the partnership or membership interest, the charging order lien is converted into an actual economic interest in the entity, now owned by the creditor (or the buyer of the interest at a foreclosure sale). For federal tax purposes, the creditor acquires a property right in the economic interest (compared to the right to income), and is now treated as the owner of such interest.

The tax consequences to the creditor depend on two factors: (i) whether distributions are being made, and (ii) the federal income tax treatment of the entity.

If distributions are being made, then if the entity is taxed as a sole proprietorship (because it is disregarded for tax purposes) as a partnership, or subchapter S corporation, both the debtor's share of the income of the entity and the character of the income being generated by the entity will pass through to the creditor. If the entity is a subchapter C corporation, its distributions will be taxed to the debtor as dividends.

If distributions are not being made to the creditor, then if the entity is taxed as a sole proprietorship, partnership or S corporation, the creditor is still taxed on its share of the income of the entity, causing the creditor to receive "phantom" income. If the entity is a subchapter C corporation, the creditor will not be taxed on the income of the entity until it is distributed.

Maximizing the Utility of Charging Orders

Most partnership and operating agreements provide that only the economic interest in the LLC may be assigned, but not the entire membership interest. This mirrors the uniform acts and the various state statutes.

A carefully drafted partnership or operating agreement can greatly enhance the charging order limitation. As discussed above, the statutes allow partners and members to override the default statutory provision of assignability of interests. In most business dealings it would not be possible for practitioners to make LLC interests entirely non-assignable. Clients want to retain flexibility and ability to dispose of their LLC interests. However, in family settings, or for LLCs set up solely for liability protection purposes, it may be possible to either prevent assignability altogether or to limit it in such a manner so as to make the charging order remedy of little value to the creditor.

Because the charging order protection is predicated on the debtor's continued ability to manage the entity and thus control distributions, the distribution clauses of partnership/LLC agreements become critical. If the agreement provides that all distributions must be made to the partners/members on a pro-rata basis, then distributions have to be made either to all partners/members or none. This means that if one partner/member is pursued by a creditor holding a charging order, protecting that partner/member would mean withholding distributions from all other partners/members of that LLC. Consequently, agreements should be drafted to deal with this potential problem.

One possible solution is to vary the partnership or operating agreement to allow the general partner or the manager to make distributions to all members other than the debtor-member. The author's preferred solution is to provide that the debtor vests in the distribution (i.e,, cash and assets are distributable to the debtor) but instructing the general partner or the manager to withhold the distribution while the charging order is pending. This allows the entity to allocate taxable income to the creditor (following a foreclosure) without distributing cash to the creditor.

Pursuant to the uniform acts and most state statutes that allow foreclosure, the debtor, prior to the foreclosure, may redeem its partnership/membership interest. The statute does not specify that the interest must be redeemed for fair market value. This leaves room for drafters to insert various favorable redemption provisions into the operating agreement, such as a poison pill.

A poison pill provision usually allows either the entity itself or the non-debtor partners/members to buy out the debtor for a nominal sum. The poison pill has the effect of substituting the debtor's interest in the entity with a nominal amount, which limits the assets that a creditor can obtain. If the entity is established well in advance of any creditor challenges, before the partners/members know who will benefit and who will suffer from the poison pill, it should be enforceable, but there are no cases on this point. Because the poison pill will kick in automatically, it should not be deemed a fraudulent transfer, although a challenge is likely. Poison pill provisions are usually limited to family-setting LLCs where the family members are on good terms.

A Practical Take on Charging Orders

Charging orders allow debtors to retain control over partnerships and LLCs and determine the timing of distributions. There are some exceptions to that general rule, particularly when: (i) there is a fraudulent transfer, and (ii) in a bankruptcy. It may be argued that single-member LLCs should also be deemed an exception to this general rule, based on the Albright case and the historical origin of charging orders. This author believes the Albright case to be an outlier, and in direct conflict with the charging order statutes of all states that have adopted single-member LLC provisions. Historical origin is also of little significance in this area. There is no need to interpret statutes that are very clearly drafted to apply to all LLCs.

Purchasing a foreclosed partnership interest may be foolhardy when the debtor, or a person friendly to the debtor, remains in control of the entity and can hold up the creditor's share of distributions. This will lead to adverse tax consequences for the creditor.

As a practical matter, creditors rarely chose to pursue charging orders. A charging order is not a very effective debt collection tool. The creditor may find itself holding a charging order, without any ability to determine when the judgment will be paid off. Practitioners should remember that any uncertainty surrounding charging orders is uncertainty for both the debtor and the creditor. This uncertainty forces most creditors to settle the judgment with the debtor, on terms more acceptable to the debtor, rather than pursue the charging order remedy.

For full citations and diagrams omitted in this article, please refer to the author's website http://www.maximumassetprotection.com

Jacob Stein is a partner with the law firm Boldra, Klueger and Stein, LLP, in Los Angeles, California. The firm’s practice is limited to asset protection, domestic and international tax planning, and structuring complex business transactions. The firm’s goal is to provide the highest quality legal work that is usually associated with only the biggest law firms, in a boutique firm setting.

Jacob received his law degree from the University of Southern California, and his Master’s of Law in Taxation from Georgetown University. Mr. Stein has been accredited by the State Bar of California as a Certified Tax Law Specialist and is AV-rated (highest possible rating) by Martindale-Hubbell.

In the arena of asset protection, Mr. Stein assists high net-worth individuals and successful businesses in protecting their assets from plaintiffs and creditors by focusing on properly structuring asset ownership and business structures and operations.

In the arena of tax planning, Mr. Stein structures complex domestic and offshore income and estate tax planning transactions.


LLC formation | Limited Liability Company Formation
          Smoke off the Water        
Far too much time has passed since a cigar post has been featured here at Smoke on the Water. What!? You thought this blog was named for the song!? Think again! Someone needs to buy out the nail salon that...
          Red Wings’ cap future after Tatar signing: should they buy out Ericsson?        
So many questions, few easy answers.
          American Politics: A House of Mirrors        

By Ulson Gunnar

A house of mirrors is an immersive, highly distorted and intentionally confusing version of reality. Those walking its corridors are sometimes amused and sometimes frightened by the disorienting experience, but luckily for them, it is only temporary. There is an exit, and they will walk through it, back to reality. 

But what if one existed their entire lives in such a distorted reality and knew of no exits? Would they convince themselves that these distorted images reflected back at them were in fact reality no matter how unnatural they appeared? Could they convince themselves to enjoy and even embrace this distorted reality? 

One ponders such questions when looking from the outside-in on American politics.


It too is a house of mirrors reflecting back a reality entirely distorted. Also like a house of mirrors, American politics have been intentionally constructed this way, to confuse, disorient and even frighten the American people when necessary to exercise mass persuasion over them. The final result is perpetual impunity granted to the powers that truly be, hiding behind the powers that allegedly were “elected,” and powers whose authority only exists in this house of mirrors and no further. 

New Leaders, Old Wars 

Consider US President George Bush Sr. He launched the inaugural war of what he himself called a “New World Order.” Operation Desert Storm included multiple nations comprising of nearly a million soldiers who swept from the map one of the largest conventional armies (4th largest) in the world. Bush Sr., however, paused just ahead of sweeping the Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein from power. His successor, US President William Jefferson Clinton would keep Iraq subdued with periodic bombing campaigns and the imposition of both crippling sanctions and no-fly zones in the north and south of Iraq. 

Clinton would serve 8 years in office and lock horns with Russia in Serbia in a proto-Ukraine-style conflict. In 2000, we should remember that George Bush Jr. ran on a platform opposed to global interventionism. For those trapped in the house of mirrors, this distortion of reality seemed very convincing. For those who understood the hegemonic mission of America’s special interests, those that transcend elections and political parties, they knew Bush Sr.’s desires for a “New World” endured and would manifest themselves in a yet revealed, muscular foreign policy that only needed the right impetus to be justified in the eyes of the American people. 

Conveniently, the events of September 11, 2001 delivered just that. So began the 8 year “War on Terror.” So sick of wars were Americans at the end of those 8 years, that anyone promising to end them would likely win the 2008 elections. And so Barack Obama did and thus became “US President.” However, not only did the wars not end, and not only were they in fact expanded, new wars were begun. In fact, these new wars were all the planned wars Bush Sr., Clinton and Bush Jr. never got around to fighting. 

Yet, no matter how unnatural this distorted reflection appeared in the American politics house of mirrors, those trapped perpetually within its mirrored walls found it perfectly acceptable for a Democratic president to continue Republican wars and start new wars the Republicans could only have dreamed of starting but couldn’t because of left-wing anti-war movements now silent because “their guy” was in office. 

Hillary = Obama = Bush Jr. = Clinton = Bush Sr. 

With Hillary Clinton’s announcement that she is running for office in 2016 with President Obama’s full endorsement, those infected with neo-liberalism and wandering the corridors of this house of mirrors see yet another distorted, ghoulish image staring back, but one they are yet again ready to embrace. 
Here is a woman who as US Secretary of State laughed and mocked the Libyan people upon hearing their leader had been murdered by terrorists in what constituted by all accounts a war crime. Before that, she played an active role in selling the war upon Libya in 2011 to the American left (as the American right had already desired such a war for years and needed no convincing). By 2016 we may have yet another Clinton in office, and a Clinton fully dedicated to carrying on the wars of both the Democrats and Republicans that came before her. 

To say this is continuity of agenda is a bit of an understatement. American foreign policy has been so singular in purpose and focus for the past several decades that it is clear that behind the distortions of this house of mirrors, something singular and very nasty has been there the entire time. Who or what could it be? 

The Real President of the United States Lives on Wall Street, not Pennsylvania Avenue 

How about we look at the people who pay for the political campaigns to put these various spokesmen and women-in-chiefs into office in the first place? Or the immense interests driving lobbying efforts that target and control both sides of the political aisle in American politics? A single Fortune 100 corporation has enough money to buy out every relevant politician on Capital Hill and still finish up the fiscal year bloated with billions in profits. And what happens when these interests converge across various think-tanks they themselves have set up and created to generate the singular foreign and domestic policies we see carried forward from presidency to presidency, from congressional session to session? 

We see complete control exerted over American politics as well as across the media, allegedly charged to serve as watchdogs and a check and balance, but instead turned into an echo chamber and instrument of mass persuasion by those who have clearly consolidated the summation of American politics in their pockets. 

While policy might be debated over by these special interests, and groups moved in one direction or another to exert influence against competing special interests among this exclusive club, one thing is for sure, the American voter is the last voice considered in this process. 

Since the American voter is incapable of seeing that they are in fact in a house of mirrors to begin with, and think they are “outside” in reality making real decisions, their decisions are completely irrelevant to those who really do live outside in reality and are actually making real decisions. 

We must understand that for special interests that collectively control trillions of dollars in assets, profits and infrastructure all over the planet, the last thing they are willing to do is allow for the existence of a system that might actually put into power a form of authority above their own, that would set policy predicated upon the interests of the people, rather than their own. They have the money, the power and the ability to ensure policy is set to suit them, and them alone, and they clearly have done just that. 

This is why US troops are still in Afghanistan and Iraq, wars are still being waged either directly or indirectly against Libya, Syria, Yemen, Iran and Russia and destabilization targeting China and other targets of Washington and Wall Street’s special interests continues unabated, albeit distorted within the house of mirrors, regardless of who is president. 

So Americans may think they are voting for Hillary Clinton in 2016, and those infected with neo-liberalism the world over may think another enlightened champion of their progressive cause has taken the reins of the free world, but they might as well have voted for another Bush. The reality is, that as along as Americans and those who look to America from abroad for leadership dwell in this house of mirrors, the special interests that intentionally built this carnival called “democracy” will have their way back in actual reality. 

Instead of fumbling through another four years trapped inside this carnival attraction, let’s find the exits. Let’s leave this house of mirrors and breathe a breath of fresh air. Are we really going to listen to another round of campaign promises, holding our breath hoping that this time they mean it? Or will we begin divesting from this system and building our own, one that might actually truly represent us this time, far from the mirrored walls that held us for so long? 

Ulson Gunnar, a New York-based geopolitical analyst and writer, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”, where this article first appeared


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          SAP Ariba and MercadoLibre to consumerize business commerce in Latin America         
The next BriefingsDirect global digital business panel discussion explores how the expansion of automated tactical buying for business commerce is impacting global markets, and what's in store next for Latin America.

We’ll specifically examine how “spot buy” approaches enable companies to make time-sensitive and often mission-critical purchases, even in complex and dynamic settings, like Latin America.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Get the mobile app. Read a full transcript or download a copy.

To learn more about the rising tide of such tactical business buying improvements, please join our guests, Karen Bruck, Corporate Sales Director at MercadoLibre.comin Buenos Aires, Argentina; Diego Cabrera Canay, Director of Financial Planning at MercadoLibre, and Tony Alvarez, General Manager of SAP Ariba's Spot Buy Business. The panel was recorded at the recent 2017 SAP Ariba LIVE conference in Las Vegas, and is moderated by Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions.

Here are some excerpts:

Gardner: SAP Ariba Spot Buy has been in the market a few years. Tell us about where it has rolled out so far, why certain markets are being approached, and then about Latin America specifically.

Alvarez
Alvarez: The concept is a few years old, but we've been delivering SAP Ariba Spot Buy for about a year. We began in the US, and over the past 12 months the concept of Spot Buy has progressed because of our customer base. Our customer base has pushed us in a direction that is, quite frankly, even beyond Spot Buy -- and it’s getting into trusted, vetted content.

We are approaching the market with a two-pronged strategy of, yes, we have the breadth of content so that when somebody goes into an SAP Ariba application they can find what they are looking for, but we also now have parameters and controls that allow them to vet that content and to put a filter on it.

Over the last 12 months, we've come a long way. We are live in the US, and with early access in the UK and Germany. We just went live in Australia, and now we are very much looking forward to going live and moving fast into Latin America with MercadoLibre.

Gardner: Spot buying, or tactical buying, is different from strategic or more organized long-term buying. Tell us about this subset of procurement.

Alvarez: SAP Ariba is a 20 year-old company, and its roots are in that rigorous, sourced approach. We do hundreds of billions of dollars through contract catalog on the Ariba Network, but there's a segment -- and we believe it's upward of 15% of spend -- that is spot buy spend. The procurement professional often has no idea what's being bought. And I think there are two approaches to that -- either ignorance is bliss and they are glad that it’s out of their purview, or it also keeps them up at night.

SAP Ariba Spot Buy allows them to have visibility into that spend. By partnering with providers like MercadoLibre, they have content from trusted and vetted sellers to bring to the table – so it's a really nice match for procurement.

Liberating limits

Gardner: The trick is to allow for flexibility and being dynamic, but also putting in enough rules and policies so that things don’t go off-track.

Alvarez:Exactly. For example, it’s like putting a filter on your kids’ smartphone. You want them to be able to be liberated so they can go and do as they please with phone calls -- but not to go off the guardrails.

Gardner: Karen, tell us about MercadoLibre and why Latin America might be a really interesting market for this type of Spot Buy service.

Bruck: MercadoLibre is a leading e-commerce platform in Latin America, where we provide the largest marketplaces in 16 different countries. Our main markets are Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina, and that’s where we are going the start this partnership with SAP Ariba.

Bruck
We have upward of 60 million items listed on our platform, and this breadth of supplies will make purchasing very exciting. Latin America is a complicated market -- and we like this complexity. We do very well.

It’s complicated because there are different rates of inflation in different countries, and so contracts can be hard to complete. What we bring to the table is an assortment of great payment and shipping solutions that make it easy for companies to purchase items. As Tony was saying, these are not under long-term contracts, but we still get to make use of this vast supply.

Gardner: Tony mentioned that maybe 15% of spend is in this category. Diego, do you think that that number might be higher in some of the markets that you serve?

Cabrera Canay: That’s probably the number -- but that is a big number in terms of the spend within companies. So we have to get there and see what happens.

Progressive partnership 

Gardner: Tony, tell us about the partnership. What is MercadoLibre.com bringing to the table? What is Ariba bringing to the table? How does this fit together for a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts?

Alvarez: It really is a well-matched partnership. SAP Ariba is the leading cloud procurement platform, period. When you look in Latin America, our penetration with SAP Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is even greater. We have a very strong installed base with SAP ERP.

Our plan is to take the SAP Ariba Spot Buy content and make it available to the SAP installed base. So this goes way beyond just SAP Ariba. And when you think about what Karen mentioned -- difficulties in Latin America with high inflation -- the catalog approach is not used as much in Latin America because everything is so dynamic.

For example, you might sign a contract but in just in a couple of weeks that contract may be obsolete, or unfavorable because of a change in pricing. But once we build controls and parameters in SAP Ariba Spot Buy, you can layer that on top of MercadoLibre content, which is super-broad. If you're looking for it you’re going to find it, and that content is constantly updated. You gain real-time access to the latest information, and then the procurement person gets the benefit of control.

So I'm very optimistic. As Diego mentioned, I think 15% is really on the low-end in Latin America for this type of spend. I think this will be a really nice way to put digital catalog buying in the hands of large enterprise buyers.

Gardner: Speaking of large enterprise buyers, if I'm a purchasing official in one of your new markets, what should I be thinking about how this is going to benefit me?

Transparent, trusted transactions

It saves a lot of time, it makes the comparison very transparent, and you are able to control the different options. Overall, it's a win-win ... a partnership, a match made in heaven.
Bruck: Let me talk about this from experience. As a country manager at MercadoLibre, I had to do a lot of the procurement, together with our procurement officers. It was really frustrating at times because all of these purchases had to be one-off engagements, with a different vendor every time. That takes a lot of time. You also have to bring in price comparisons, and that’s not always a simple process.

So what this platform gives you is the ability to be very transparent about prices and among different supplies. That makes it very easy to be able to buy every time without having to call and get the vendor to be in your own buying platform.

It saves a lot of time, it makes the comparison very transparent, and you are able to control the different options. Overall, it’s a win-win. So I do believe this is a partnership, a match made in heaven.

We were also very interested in business-to-business (B2B) industries. When Tony and SAP Ariba came to our offices to offer this partnership, we thought this would be a great way to leverage their needs with our supply and make it work.

Gardner: For sellers, this enables them to do repeated business more easily, more automated and so at scale. For buyers, with transparency they have more insight into getting the best prices, the best terms of delivery. Let's expand on that win-win. Diego, tell us about the business benefits for all parties.

Big and small, meet at the mall 

Cabrera Canay: In the past few years, we have been working to make MercadoLibre the biggest “mall” in e-commerce. We have the most important brands and the most important retailers selling through MercadoLibre.

Cabrera Canay
What differentiates us is that we are confident we have the best prices -- and also other great services such as free shipping, easy payments, and financing. We are sure that we can offer the buyers better purchasing.

Obviously, from the side of sellers, this all provides higher demand, it raises the bar in terms of having qualified buyers, and then giving the best services. That’s very exciting for us.

Gardner: Tony, we mentioned large enterprises, but this cuts across a great deal more of the economy, such as small- to medium sized (SMB) businesses. Tell us about how this works across diverse economies where there are large players but lots of small ones, too?

Alvarez: On the sales side, this gives really small businesses opportunity to reach large enterprise buyers that probably weren’t there before.

Diego was being modest, but MercadoLibre's payment structure, MercadoPago, is incredibly robust, and it's incredibly valuable to that end-seller, and also to the buyer.

Just having that platform and then connecting -- you are basically taking two populations, the large and small sellers, and the large and small buyers, and allowing them to commingle more than they ever had in the past.

Gardner: Karen, as you mentioned from your own experience, when you're dealing with paper, and you are dealing with one-offs, it's hard to just keep track of the process, never mind to analyze it. But when we go digital, when we have a platform, when we have business networks at work, then we can start to analyze things for companies -- and more broadly into markets.

How do you see this partnership accelerating the ability to leverage analytics, leverage some of the back-end platform technologies with SAP HANAand SAP Ariba, and making more strides toward productivity for your customers?

Data discoveries

Bruck:Right. When everything is tracked, as this will be, because every single purchase will be inside their SAP Ariba platform, it is all part of your “big data.” So then you can actually drop it, control it, analyze it, and say, “Hey, maybe these particular purchases mean that we should have long-term contracts, or that our long-term contracts were not priced correctly,” and maybe that's an opportunity to save money and lower costs.

So once you can track data, you can do a lot of things, and discover new opportunities for either being more efficient or reducing costs – and that's ultimately what we all want in all the departments of our companies.

Gardner: And for those listeners and readers who are interested in taking advantage of these services, and ultimately that great ability to analyze, what should they be doing now to get ready? Are there some things they could do culturally, organizationally, in order to become that more digital business when these services are available to them?
Paper is terrible for companies; you have to rethink your purchase processing in a digital way.

Cabrera Canay: I can talk about in our own case, where we are rebuilding our purchase processes. Paper is terrible for companies; you have to rethink your purchase processing in a digital way. Once you do it, SAP Ariba is a great solution, and with SAP Ariba Spot Buy we will have the best conditions for the buyers.

Bruck: It’s a natural process. People are going digital and embracing these new trends and technologies. It will make them more efficient. If they get up to speed quickly, it will become less about controlling stuff that they don't need to control. They will really understand the benefits, so it will be a natural adoption.

Gardner: Tony, coming back full circle, as you have rolled SAP Ariba Spot Buy out from North America to Europe to Asia-Pacific, and now to Latin America -- what have you learned in the way people use it?

Alvarez: First, at a macro level, people have found this to be a useful tool to replace some of the contracts that were less important, and so they can rely on marketplaces.

Second, we’ve really found as we’ve deployed in the US that a lot of times multinational companies are like, “Hey, that's great, I love this, but I really want to use this in Latin America.” So they want to go and get visibility elsewhere.

Turn-key technique

Third, they want a tool that doesn't require any training. If I’m a procurement professional, I want my users to already be expert at using the tool. We've designed this in the process context, and in concert with the content partners. You can just walk up and start using it. You don’t have to be an expert, and it keeps you within the guardrails without even thinking about it.

Gardner: And being a cloud-based, software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution you're always analyzing how it's being used -- going after that ultimate optimized user experience -- and then building those improvements back in on a constant basis?

Alvarez:Exactly. Always.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Get the mobile app. Read a full transcript or download a copy. Sponsor: SAP Ariba.

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          More Indian Pharma Names Flock Japan’s Generic Markets        
Since the previous Indian buyout in the Japanese Pharma sector that occurred over four years ago, there is a growth in the number of Indian Pharma firms that are looking for acquisition in Japan. Japan is currently ranked second in the largest drug markets in the world. The second buyout made by Lupin Ltd., the Mumbai-based pharma company, was in 2011 in Japan. After that, none of the major Indian drug makers have been successful in creating a significant footprint in the Japan pharmaceutical market, which is currently worth around US$115 bn. In the latest announcement, Sun Pharmaceuticals Industries, Inc., said that it is planning to buy out a Japanese drug portfolio of Swiss, created by Novartis. The buyout will help Sun Pharma gain entry into the Japanese generic drugs markets. Sun Pharma had recently taken over Ranbaxy Ltd. for US$4 bn in the past year. Sun also has announced plans to gather Rs. 12,000 crore using convertible debentures. They might also be making use of a qualified institutional placement for the purpose of acquisitions and expansion. Kewal Handa, former MD of Pfizer Ltd.’s Indian unit for the largest drug maker for the U.S., said that the growth factor will essentially come from a growing population of generic drugs. This is due to a greater interest show by the nation’s government in order to increase generic shares and lessen the overall expenditures made by patients on healthcare. In 2013, the Japanese drug sales reached US$115 bn, and holds for almost 10% of the global pharma market, in comparison to the U.S. share of 38.4% and the 20.7% shown by Europe for the same year.

Original Post More Indian Pharma Names Flock Japan’s Generic Markets source Twease
          I mandati della settimana (10/08)        
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Nel contesto dell’operazione Grupo Fernandez ha anche sottoscritto con il socio di controllo di Orsero, Fif Holding (assistita da Munari Giudici Maniglio Panfili) un patto parasociale contenente impegni di lock up e il diritto di designare un consigliere non esecutivo di Orsero. Nb Renaissance e Chequers Capital acquisiscono Biolchim, gli advisor Nb Renaissance e Chequers Capital hanno sottoscritto un accordo vincolante con Wise Sgr e il management per l’acquisto congiunto del gruppo Biolchim, azienda attiva nella produzione e nella commercializzazione di fertilizzanti speciali. Nb Renaissance è stata assistita da Gatti Pavesi Bianchi. Chequers Capital è stata assistita Nctm. I venditori sono stati assistiti da Simmons & Simmons. Le banche finanziatrici sono state assistite da Dentons. Errelegal con la famiglia Fiorucci per un immobile a Milano Errelegal ha assistito la famiglia Fiorucci nell’acquisizione di un immobile a uso commerciale sito in Milano, corso Vittorio Emanuele, Galleria Passarella, attualmente locato al gruppo Vodafone. Gli studi nell’accordo tra Mps, Quaestio e Cerved Quaestio Holding (assistita da Chiomenti) e Cerved Group (assistito da Latham & Watkins) hanno siglato un’intesa per una partnership industriale nelle attività di special servicing e hanno contestualmente raggiunto un accordo con Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena per l’acquisto della piattaforma di recupero crediti deteriorati di Mps, assistita da BonelliErede. Paul Hastings, Puri Bracco Lenzi e Gop nello shopping di ContourGlobal Paul Hastings e Puri Bracco Lenzi hanno assistito ContourGlobal Solar Holdings (Italy), nell'acquisizione da ErgyCapital, a sua volta assistita da Gianni Origoni Grippo Cappelli, delle partecipazioni totalitarie in sette società attive nel settore fotovoltaico. Legance e Chiomenti nella compravendita di Elios Ceramiche Legance ha assistito Italcer, società controllata dal fondo di private equity Mandarin Capital Partners II, nel perfezionamento dell’acquisizione del 100% di Elios Ceramiche dalla famiglia Levoni, assistita da Chiomenti. Bitolea passa a Stirling, gli studi Pavia e Ansaldo, Gattai Minoli Agostinelli, Nctm, Linklaters e Russo De Rosa hanno agito nell’ambito dell’acquisizione del Gruppo Bitolea da parte di Stirling Square Capital Partners dal fondo Clessidra Capital Partners II, gestito da Clessidra Sgr e da Fenix, società della famiglia Intini. Pavia e Ansaldo, Gattai, Colacicco ed Ey hanno assistito Stirling. Nctm ha assistito Clessidra. Linklaters ha assistito Banca Imi e Banca Popolare di Milano, in qualità di banche organizzatrici e banche finanziatrici. Russo De Rosa ha assistito Fenix e la famiglia Intini. Pavia e Ansaldo con Ipe nell’ingresso in Valedo Pavia e Ansaldo ha assistito Ipe (Investimenti in Private Equity), nell’operazione di leveraged buy out finalizzata all'acquisizione di una partecipazione di minoranza in Valedo. L’imprenditore Carlo Santoro, in qualità di venditore e reinvestitore, è stato assistito da Osborne Clarke. L’operazione è stata finanziata mediante la concessione di una linea di credito a medio lungo termine erogata da Banco Bpm, quale banca agente, e Deutsche Bank, assistite da Simmons & Simmons.
          E.W. Scripps Expands to Digital Video with a $35 Million Deal with Newsy        
E.W. Scripps, one of America’s oldest media groups, is all set to buy out Newsy, a new media startup. The latter, that became popular as a digital video news platform, has been picked up for a sum of USD 35 million in an all-cash transaction by E.W. Scripps that owns 19 television stations and news dailies that operate in multiple markets in the U.S. With this acquisition, Newsy is all set to become an E.W. Scripps subsidiary. According to officials from the media giant, the deal is anticipated to be completed over the next two weeks, around January 1. Newsy has come a long way from being a startup that was founded in 2008 that managed to raise USD 5 million. And with this big ticket buy out, the company has indeed made an impressive exit. On the other hand, this acquisition spells a new phase in the history of Scripps that had offloaded its digital news entity (the multi-million dollar Scripps Interactive) in 2007 and had chosen to retain its standing as a publishing house. Today, the acquisition of Newsy marks the culmination of a carefully-planned strategy over the last few years to make its presence felt in the digital news domain. Founded in 1879, E.W. Scripps currently owns well-established online, television and newspaper properties and will now own a digital video asset to bridge these three domains. In addition to expanding their footprint in the American media sector, the acquisition of Newsy will also give the company access to a completely new set of audience using new-age platforms such as mobiles and tablets to consume news. The chairman of Scripps, Rich Boehne said that the company is adding an important dimension to its video news strategy by buying Newsy. Currently, Newsy has a healthy mix of content delivery channels such as connected television, mobile, web, and tablet. Besides directly delivering content to audiences, it also has partnerships with the likes of AOL, Microsoft and Mashable.

Original Post E.W. Scripps Expands to Digital Video with a $35 Million Deal with Newsy source Twease
          RE: google is profitable        
Not that I'm a fan of Facebook, but if they aren't profitable where did they get the money to buy out so many startups? As for Amazon, they seem to be focused more on growth than huge margins right now:
          Interview With Perry Berezan        
GreatestHockeyLegends.com thanks Frederick Lavallee for the following interview with Perry Berezan:

2011 has been quite the year for this little French writer from Montreal, Quebec. Had the chance to interview four former NHLers, and I, of course, wanted a fifth one. I like to read those old NHL Yearbooks, especially since they started at about the same time I started watching hockey. I will always remember that 1991 Minnesota North Stars run to the Stanley Cup finals, and I told myself : ‘’ Why not try and interview a player from that roster? ‘’

I peeked at the forwards, and noticed that familiar name : Perry Berezan. Yeah, remembered him from the Flames, North Stars and Sharks. Played two times in the Stanley Cup Finals, and for an expansion team, interesting! And so, I e-mailed him. And less than 12 hours later, I had my answer...

‘’ Frederick, thanks for taking interest in an old slug.

I’d be happy to speak to you. Call me Tuesday at... ‘’ – Perry Berezan

I was shocked. I called, and was asked by Berezan if I’d prefer meeting him, because he’d come to Montreal a month after. I said yes without any hesitation. He liked my devotion and passion and was willing to take some time to meet and share some thoughts about his career, and the choices that he made in life. And so, it all happened October 21st right here in my hometown of Montreal.

Perry Berezan was born on December 5th 1964, in Edmonton, Alberta. Like many other Canadian hockey kids, he learned to skate early on an outdoor rink close to his home. His dad put him on the ice with his first pair of skates when he was 4 years old...

‘’ I just ran on the ice. Instead of falling, I just ran. Didn’t skate, didn’t walk, but it was pretty obvious to me that I wanted to play. I started playing hockey with some neighbors when I was five and I remember scoring my first goal on a breakaway by sliding in the net with the puck. One of the moms would give 10 cents per goal to kids and I remember telling myself : ‘’ I can get ten cents! ‘’. I was so excited! ‘’ says a laughing Berezan.

He played his minor hockey (up to the age of 15) in the Northeastern part of Edmonton, where he lived in a lower-middle class neighbourhood. He just loved playing. Practiced a lot of different sports and he just craved for more. But that desire especially showed in the form of...running!

‘’ In grade 7, one of the Phys Ed teachers wanted to start the 500 kilometers club, to see if people would follow. I had to get up early before school to run. I remember wanting to do a thousand! I had such a drive. My Junior High would be running in the morning, just because I had to, and then play with soccer or basketball teams, or track teams, and in the winter, during the evening, it would be hockey! ‘’

Berezan would get a shot at playing in the Alberta Junior Hockey League at age 15, but he was cut from his team. He went back to the midget level, and went back up with the Saint-Albert Saints the next year, where he would meet a coach that would have a great influence on his early career. This very coach is the father of Edmonton Oilers Hall-Of-Famer Mark Messier, Doug...

‘’ I would call it my first experience of professional hockey. Doug was as influencial on me as anyone else. He prepared me for pro hockey more than anyone. I played 112 games total that year, we won a couple of championships (BC and Alberta). Those days back then...lots of brawling, fighting, biting...bench clearing brawls. Doug scared the living daylights out of his players between periods, before games, after games. He built and put together a tough team, and I lived a pretty sheltered life at home. That year, I experienced things I thought I would never experience... ‘’ Berezan says, and he goes on...

‘’ When I got through University and joined the Flames during that Flames-Oilers rivalry, I wasn’t afraid of anything. I got to know Mark (Messier) a little before because Doug was my coach, and having played against him, I can say he was as scary and as tough as they get, I was ready! ‘’

The former AJHL Saints center decided to pursue an education by studying Business at the University of North Dakota. As he was slowly getting ready to go play hockey at North Dakota, Berezan got a very special phone call during a work shift at the factory where he worked...

‘’ I was working in Fort Saskatchewan in a warehouse for a mine. I’d run parts back and forth to help the guys that needed it at the mine...one day, my supervisor called me to tell me someone wanted to speak to me on the phone. He reminded me that I was not on break and I had to make it quick. I took the phone, and it was CBC. They told me I was drafted by the Flames and they wanted to interview me. I told them I had to go back to work and that they should call me after. So that’s what they did, since I was not on break and didn’t have time at work. I called my parents during break... ‘’

Being drafted was a good thing in Berezan’s career: it goes without saying. He was a 3rd round pick of the Flames in the 1983 NHL Entry Draft. But at the time, even though he was happy about it, the former defensive forward was not celebrating all that much, as he had another objective in mind...

‘’ Being drafted almost was a non-event. I was happy I was drafted, but I didn’t want to celebrate too much. It wasn’t really a goal to play in the NHL at that time. My goal was to play university hockey. I wanted to be the best university player I could be. Getting to university, I just wanted to be in the best shape I could be... ‘’

Back then, Berezan loved to run, and break his own limits. He was driven to do more than anyone else, whether it was about running or playing sports, he had to show the best shape possible and be the best he could be. But that turned out to be a strange thing when he started university...

‘’ I got there and saw those U.S. kids...they were big, talented and strong. I was a little intimidated, until we started doing the pre-season workouts. One of the things we had to do was to run three laps of stairs in the old Ralph Engelstad Arena. I used to run stairs all the time in the summer when I was living in Edmonton. I thought it would be a piece of cake and it was, I lapped half the team! People were mad at me and they thought I was cocky, asking me what was wrong with me. I remember saying ‘’ No, what’s wrong with you? ‘’ ...but I started to realize that even though I was not necessarily better than other people, I certainly was in better shape! ‘’ says the proud Edmonton native, who completed his degree about twelve years after leaving North Dakota the first time.

He ended up playing two seasons there with the likes of future NHLers such as Rick Zombo, Tony Hrkac, Jon Casey, and another player who would turn up to become a business partner in the future, Gord Sherven. The former North Star was quite solid and a great scorer, amassing 110 points in 86 games over the two seasons he played there.

As he was halfway through his second season at North Dakota, just before Christmas, he was going down to the rink early before a game, coming down from the hotel, in an elevator. Then, it stopped and two well-dressed men came in...Those faces were somewhat familiar to Berezan, but he was not sure...

‘’ It was Flames GM Cliff Fletcher and his assistant Al McNeil, but I didn’t recognize them at the time. I played my game that night, and when it ended, there were those two guys again! They introduced themselves and they were quite clear: they told me that the Flames coach at the time, Bob Johnson, liked what he saw and wanted me to join the Flames when my season was over at North Dakota. So they asked me to call my agent, but I didn’t have one, I was in school! That’s when I realized that I was going to play in the NHL. I thought it was only for the best players, how could I be in that group? But I joined the Flames at the end of my season, played right away, and fit in right away as well...‘’

He played his first nine games during the end of the 1984-85 season, amassing five points, including three goals. His first goal was an empty-netter, and he couldn’t remember the first goalie he beat. It was on March 20th, 1985 in Calgary in a 7-4 Flames win.

‘’ The Leafs had a couple of goalies that year, and I just can’t remember who it was. I had a great game, lots of shots, and I received a pass from Mike Eaves on a two on one to score. I just had to throw it in the net! ‘’ says the one who used to wear number 21 with the Flames.

He would have the chance to play his first full season with the Flames in 1985-86, scoring 12 goals and 33 points in 55 games. It was a great first season offensively, but Berezan played with a stacked Flames team, and so, his chances of being that offensive Top 6 forward were slim. But he found his role, and got regular ice time. His coach had confidence in him and played him in all situations...

The 1985-86 season will forever remain a part of Perry’s greatest hockey memories. That year, the Flames played a memorable 7-game series against their arch-rivals from Alberta, the Edmonton Oilers. The Oilers were the two-time defending Stanley Cup champs, and were looking for a third one in a row. With about eight minutes left in the third period of game 7, the score was tied at two. Berezan was on the ice when a line change was called, so he dumped the puck deep in the Oilers zone, and headed back to the bench...a couple seconds later, Steve Smith tried a pass across the crease, the puck hit Grant Fuhr and ricocheted right into the Oilers net...

‘’ It’s pretty amazing to be known for a goal you didn’t even score! I remember I would always play well in Edmonton. I played with John Tonelli and Lanny McDonald...we were all in a mental zone at the time. I was just trying to do the smart thing and dump it in and Steve threw it in his own net. Back then, the Oilers had the greatest transition game in hockey. And instead of going behind the net, the defenseman would try to reach a winger at the red line, and then the winger would just tip it to a streaking player down the middle for a fast and massive entrance in the offensive zone. ‘’ mentioned the former NCAA player. And he added this...

‘’ So all Steve Smith was doing was basically organizing the Oilers rush down the ice. But he fanned on the puck a little and Grant Fuhr was way too far ahead of his net. So it was Grant’s fault but ultimately, Steve got blamed for it. Mike Vernon stood on his head for the remaining 8 minutes and that was it. We were taking on the Blues in the Conference Finals. ‘’

The Flames beat the Blues in a tough 7 game series as well. The Flames thought it was all over when they led game 6 by a score of 5-2, but the Blues came back from the deficit to win in overtime and force a game 7. Fortunately, the Flames won 2-1 in the last game to get the chance to play against the Montreal Canadiens for the Stanley Cup.

‘’ Badger Bob Johnson put me in the starting lineup for the first game at the Forum. I tried to take everything in stride...I couldn’t be intimidated with a ‘’deer in the headlights’’ look, because I needed to keep my focus to perform. But I remember standing on that blue line for Oh Canada, going through my personal routine. And for a second, I thought: ‘’ Holy cow. I’m at the Montreal Forum for the Stanley Cup Finals! ‘’ but I had to get back my focus, to stay in the moment. ‘’ said a proud Perry Berezan.

Unfortunately, the Flames didn’t win the Cup in 1986. They won the first game, but lost the other four. And so, the Canadiens took Stanley to Montreal and the Flames were left disappointed. The teams that show the most character, heart and willingness to go to war usually win in the end...

‘’ Being my first year, going to the Finals...I learned quickly. You cannot start celebrating , you cannot pat yourself on the back. You just have to keep your focus and work your *ss off and do anything it takes to be a successful playoff team. Those teams that can do that and come together can succeed. But it’s hard for some teams to come together in the playoffs...just look at the Washington Capitals, for example. ‘’ and he continues...

‘’ Talented teams, but some guys are not willing to go to war, and you need everyone to go to war. Some guys learn it early, some learn it over time, and some will never learn. Some playoff guys are going to be terrible forever because they are not willing to give it all. The teams that do will win, just like the Boston Bruins last year. ‘’

Speaking of character, Berezan was directly involved in a hard rivalry. He was born and raised in Edmonton...but he wore the Flames red shirt when it all took place during his NHL years. As of today, the Battle of Alberta still is a great rivalry. Those geographic rivalries often give the fans great hockey to watch...

‘’ The Battle of Alberta! I loved every game. For an Edmonton boy to be playing in Calgary was a thrill. I had some of my best games as a pro in Edmonton in front of my family. Of course playing against Gretzky and the rest of those Oilers made it easy to get pumped up whether it was exhibition, regular season or playoffs. Badger Bob loved preparing us for the Oilers games so

each time our entire team was ready to go to war and do whatever it took to win. Unfortunately for us the Oilers were so talented and so good that we only got by them once in the playoffs. ‘’

Playing with the Flames organization from 1985 to 1989, Perry Berezan had a lot of nice things to say about his former team. He praises ‘’ Badger ‘’ Bob Johnson for the chance he was given to play early in his career and for the role he discovered for himself in the NHL...Johnson was the coach of the Wisconsin Badgers (NCAA) between 1966 and 1982. He won three national championships there. It was he who followed Berezan’s career at North Dakota and asked the Flames GM Cliff Fletcher to sign him to play with the Flames in 1985...

‘’ Bob used to be a college coach, so he was signing and bringing a lot of college players in. He gave me every single opportunity in the world to play. He played me in all types of situations and he would tell the press he had confidence in me because I could take the faceoff, play left wing, right wing, on the penalty kill or the power play. He gave me a ton of confidence and he praised me so much for my defensive abilities as a forward...I knew what my role was...‘’ says Perry about his former coach. And then, he goes on with an interesting thought...

‘’ I knew I couldn’t be a great goal scorer in the NHL, I was never that talented. I could skate, so maybe I’d be better off as a good penalty killer and a defensive forward. I couldn’t score, I just didn’t have the gifts. But every team can’t have just goal scorers on their roster! Even if you got six or seven, only three or four can really be your guys. You’ve got to fit into a role...and intuition was telling me that that was not where I was heading. I saw Brett Hull start his career in Calgary, then being sent down to the minors. My first full year in Calgary, I was up playing for the Flames, while future all-stars like Brett Hull, Gary Roberts, Theo Fleury and Brian Bradley were all playing in the minors. ‘’ continued the former IHLer, before finishing with the following on that matter...

‘’ What does that tell you? Tells you that if you find a role and you’re good at it, there’s no room for those other guys. They’re competing for the top two lines. I found my spot, I was reliable, and if Badger didn’t give me the opportunity, maybe I would have never gotten it elsewhere and I could’ve been in the minor leagues for my whole career, who knows? ‘’

Perry also has good memories of the organization in general. He was always treated with respect by the Flames and he is still part of them today...

‘’ The people there were great, leadership wise. The organization...Cliff Fletcher was like a father to me. I would go talk to him and it would feel like I was talking to my dad. It was a family atmosphere. Lanny McDonald, Jim Peplinski, Tim Hunter, Doug Risebrough...these guys were incredible leaders and our teams were really tight because of it... ‘’

Berezan would have to deal with injuries between the 1986-87 and 1988-89 seasons, playing a total of 88 games with the Flames only. He got traded to Minnesota in March of 1989, just before Calgary won the Stanley Cup. And where he found leadership and unity in Calgary, he was shocked by what he found in Minnesota...

‘’ When I got with the North Stars, I realized not everyone was like the Flames. That team was a bunch of misfits, selfish players. Then Bob Gainey came for my second year in Minnesota for his

first professional year of coaching. We went to the Stanley Cup Finals that year. Why? Because Bob understood leadership, and how to put together a team. You know, Bob was an a**hole at times.... ‘’ said the former North Star. But he had more to say on Gainey...

‘’ You can’t be a nice guy and succeed in anything all the time. Gainey is as credible and genuine as they get. If it means stepping over somebody, he doesn’t care. He wants to get something accomplished. I learned so much about life, just from seeing Bob pull our misfit, selfish group together. ‘Cause that’s what it was: a bunch of guys who had no idea what winning was about. ‘’

Learning from all the great leaders he played with in Montreal, Bob Gainey gained Perry Berezan’s respect behind the North Stars bench, with Doug Jarvis and Andy Murray as his assistants. Not a bad set of coaches!

‘’ Bob transformed the North Stars organization in a matter of months. We squeaked into the playoffs in the last game of the season. We then beat the Black Hawks in six games, and then the Blues and the Oilers. Jon Casey was standing on his head, Gaetan Duchesne played his role, there were guys with reputations, but Bob put everyone together and put them in their roles. ‘’ concluded on the subject Berezan, whose spot in the regular lineup was taken by Marc Bureau for the 1991 playoffs, resulting in him playing only one game in the playoffs.

‘’ Yeah I talk about Bob Gainey with such respect, but I hated him back at the time! But looking back, I have tons of respect for what he did. ‘’ says the laughing former St. Albert Saint.

It was hard for Berezan not to be playing during the playoffs. But he had the chance to play one game, against the Pittsburgh Penguins, during the Finals. Just like 1986, Berezan was a part of history without even intending to.

‘’ The game I played was that infamous game when Mario Lemieux scored that highlight goal that you can see every time on Hockey Night in Canada. I was on the ice when it happened. I was on a rush for the Penguins net, took a shot, and then, the defenseman just tapped it to Mario, who went all the way through our defence and beat Jon Casey. The magic stopped after that game...our bubble literally burst. And they crushed us after that to win... ‘’

That game would be the last one after two seasons with the North Stars. GM Bobby Clarke wanted to buy out Berezan’s contract...

“I had two years left to my contract and Bobby Clarke called me into his office during training camp. It was not a good sign, as he was not exactly the fatherly figure that Cliff Fletcher was. He wanted to buy out my contract for two thirds of the amount, which I refused. If you want to buy out a contract after July 1st, it has to be paid in full. I was a little intimidated and he threatened to keep me in the minors for the remainder of my contract. I was making about 170,000$ a year back then. It was not a same amount as today, but still, the rules stated that was all mine. My agent started negotiating with him...‘’

Jack Ferreira was the Sharks GM, and a former member of the North Stars organization. He was interested in Perry’s services, and he wanted to tick off Bobby Clarke. So the North Stars

resigned their former no. 21’s contract, and the veteran center was signed by the newly arrived San Jose Sharks, an expansion team...

‘’ I had a great time there. They played me a lot. But I hated losing, but our fans would be cheering us all the time. They didn’t really know hockey, they were just fans who were happy they had a team. We could basically do no wrong. George Kingston and Bob Murdoch, our coaches, decided early that it was going be a fun atmosphere. So they stressed a lot on that aspect. We had some all-stars, like Doug Wilson and Kelly Kisio. But there was a bunch of guys on that team who wouldn’t have played anywhere else. It was a good two years, but it was hard losing. ‘’ says the honest former Shark, who says he had his best year there in 1991-92 despite a brutal first season from the San Jose team.

As fans, we often hear about players who do not seem to care about losing...as long as they play and get paid. A lot of fans will say that such hockey players exist, while others, like me, tend to think that everybody hates losing and that no one gets accustomed to it. Some people just have more will then others, but Berezan burst my bubble...

‘’ It does exist. There are still players that are so gifted and everything had come easy to them. If you get 6-7 million dollars a year because you are that gifted, what is your motivation now? Those types of players are out there...and they need a kick to change. Some of them just never will... ‘’

Being a winner and a great leader, Bob Gainey was that type of coach who would kick a guy in the butt to make him work harder...

‘’ Bob Gainey completely changed Mike Modano. When you interview Mike Modano Fred, you ask him what influence Bob had on his career. Bob was so hard on Mike, and Mike hated Bob for a while. But he is his biggest influence because Mike was soft. But compared to Bob, everyone is. That guy is as hard as they get. But if you get those soft players, you’ve got to try and transform them, make them miserable for a while. And Bob could spot them from a mile...Ken Hitchcock is in the same mold. Those are people that, if hired at the right time, can do wonders. They don’t always last long, but they transform players ‘’

During the course of his second year with San Jose, Perry played his last game in pro hockey. He sustained an ankle injury shooting basketball with Brian Hayward and he played throughout training camp with an injured ankle...having a history of injuries, it was getting harder and harder for Berezan to bounce back...

‘’ The writing seemed to be on the wall. I was going have to do some amazing things to come back. Shortly after, my wife was diagnosed with MS. I was mentally fried. I was done. You have to snap out of it...you start to feel sorry for yourself for some reason. There are times when we all want to feel sorry for ourselves. And I went through it. I’d go on a road trip and my wife would cry. She had symptoms, we had a new baby...I didn’t want to play anymore. I was not motivated...and the Sharks could tell... ‘’ says former Lanny McDonald’s linemate in Calgary.

After a shaky season debut, he got sent down to Kansas City in the IHL. Kevin Constantine tried to knock some motivation back into Berezan, and it seemed to work, because he got called up again. But his fate seemed to be written in stone already...

‘’ We were playing in Calgary against the Flames, and Ronnie Stern and I collided and went knee-to-knee. He blew up my MCL. I remember laying on the stretcher in the dressing room and telling myself I was done. I couldn’t go on anymore... ‘’

And so, his career finished on a stretcher. After he decided that his career was over, he called back at North Dakota and he wanted to finish his Business Degree. Which he did...

‘’ I had decided what to do with my life. I finished my degree and I’ve never looked back because I was mentally fried. But I’m much more fortunate now, because I can make good money being a stockbroker and do it for the rest of my life. I don’t have to worry about injuries, being away from my family, being fired, having a coach telling me I’m no good...all that went away. While I miss the atmosphere and the competitive nature, I’m happy with what I got now. ‘’

Perry Berezan is a very lucky guy. He worked hard to get where he is now and that has nothing to do with luck, but he’s one of the few who actually can carry on with his life after and NHL career without too much trouble...

‘’ Out of ten pro hockey players, within two years after their playing careers, eight will end up being either bankrupt, divorced, or not working. That means only two ‘’get through’’ the first two years without too much hurt in the process. That’s tough, absolutely terrible! ‘’

Now everything’s great for the father of three. He used to do some color commentary on the TV and radio for the Flames, and, of course, he’s happy working with Greg Sherven, a former North Dakota teammate, in the Calgary area. He’s also involved a lot in his community, having won the Calgary Rotary Club 2009’s Integrity Award, for the work he does with charity.

‘’ The Flames have a terrific Alumni Association. When I was playing for the Flames, I remember after a practice seeing Jim Peplinski close to a white board with names on it. Then he’d tell players that they’d have to go there and there at this or that date. It was a player, not a PR guy. I thought it was like this everywhere. Our team at the time did so much stuff outside, and I did so much charity stuff back then, I grew to like it a lot. Other cities didn’t do that nearly as much. And when I retired...we picked up where we left off with the Alumni and we still do so much today. I love to organize and be part of doing events and raising money. And even if it’s not money, a lot of people just love that we spend the time to help them ‘’ says a proud Berezan, who does a lot still today.

Since he has the chance to be with Flames players frequently, I asked him what player he hasn’t played with, that he would’ve like to play with the most. I was proud when he told me that was the first time somebody asked him that, and he replied with something that surprised me just as much...

‘’ Because I grew up in Edmonton, and that I joined the Flames Alumni, I had the chance to work with former Oilers a lot as well. And there are a lot of good people amongst them. Playing with

Wayne Gretzky would have to be on the top of my list...because I admired him on the ice and also off the ice... ‘’ and, again, he goes on with an interesting anecdote...

‘’ I had to give a speech at an NHLPA meeting on career transition, and the line I had for them was : when you’re a 50-goal scorer in the NHL and an a**hole, people will remember you are a 50-goal scorer. But when you retire, you’re just an a**hole. So remember how you treat other people when you’re playing, because you’ll get that back when you retire ‘’ says the thoughtful man, who is as generous in person as he seems when you don’t know him.

As of December 22nd, 2011, Perry Berezan still lives in Calgary, where he works as a stockbroker and is happily married with his wife and has three children. He celebrated his 47th birthday on December 5th. I would like to thank him for his kindness and the time he took for this interview. It was a great thrill meeting a player already in just my fifth interview.

Perry is very grateful for the chance he was given by Badger Bob Johnson when he started his career. And even though I haven’t started mine yet, I’ve got to say I’m as grateful for having the chance of meeting the former two-time Stanley Cup finalist for a very fascinating hour about his career, life, and thoughts.


          Kari Eloranta        
This is Kari Eloranta. He was a Finnish hockey star and Olympian who was one of the top players in the Swedish Elite League before trying his hand at the NHL at the age of 25.

When he came to North America in 1981 he was undoubtedly one of the most sought after free agents. Seven teams were in serious negotiations for his services, but it was the Calgary Flames who won the derby. The Flames figured they had just landed the next Risto Siltanen or Pekka Rautakallio - the next very good defenseman from Europe.

It didn't quite work out that way. Eloranta was probably every bit as good as Siltanen or Rautakallio, especially with the puck. But he never really adjusted to the NHL style and went back home to Europe just as he appeared to be finding his way.

After just 19 NHL games (he picked up just 5 assists) into the 1981-82 season the Flames demoted Eloranta to the minor leagues for more seasoning, and even went as far as to trade him to St. Louis in a conditional deal before the end of the season.

Eloranta finished the season with the Blues, scoring his first NHL goal and seven assists in 12 games. But Eloranta was returned to Calgary in the summer time.

Eloranta's first season in North America was dubbed a disappointment by just about everyone. Speculation had it that if he had a poor training camp in 1982 the Flames would buy out his guaranteed contract and allow him to return to Europe.

But the proud Eloranta would not give up so easily. He trained hard all summer, and gave it his best in training camp. He won the final spot on the Calgary blue line to start the season, at the expense of a promising though green rookie named Al MacInnis.

Experience was the biggest factor in Eloranta's improvement, as he said he felt "more relaxed out there. I'm taking it easy a little bit. Last year, I didn't know what to do."

Eloranta returned to the game that made him such an attractive prospect to begin with.

"Last year, I tried to do some things I haven't done before. I tried to play a hitting game. I like to move the puck and skate. I'm trying to play my own game."

Eloranta's played improved dramatically. He played the full 80 games, seeing time on the power play. He responded to the opportunity with 4 goals and 40 assists for a career high 44 points. He chipped in with 1 goal and 4 points in 9 playoff games, too.

Eloranta played 3 more seasons with the Flames, gradually losing ice time to up and coming defensemen like MacInnis and Gary Suter. The Flames began stockpiling the lower ranks of their back line with behemoths, writing Eloranta increasingly out of the picture.

Eloranta returned to Europe where he continued to star in Finland, Sweden, and Switzerland until 1997. He represented Finland in 4 Olympics, 4 World Championships and 1 Canada Cup.

Eloranta was a smooth skater and puck mover. As his NHL statistics suggested, he was more likely to pass than to shoot. In 267 NHL games he score just 13 goals, but had 103 assists for 116 points. He could be rendered neutral by a heavy forechecking team, but he was respected as an intelligent, puck moving defenseman.
          Macam, Jenis Serta Pengertian Ekspansi Bisnis - Merger, Akuisisi, Hostile Take Over dan Leverage Buyout        

Perluasan atau expansi bisnis diperlukan oleh suatu perusahaan untuk mencapai efisiensi, menjadi lebih kompetitif, serta untuk meningkatkan keuntungan atau profit perusahaan. Ekspansi bisnis dapat dilakukan dalam beberapa metode, yakni :

1. Merger Atau Penggabungan
Merger adalah penggabungan dari dua atau lebih perusahaan menjadi satu kesatuan yang terpadu. Perusahaan yang dominan dibanding dengan perusahaan yang lain akan tetap mempertahankan identitasnya, sedangkan yang lemah akan mengaburkan identitas yang dimilikinya. jenis-jenis merger :
a. Merger Vertikal
Perusahaan masih dalam satu industri tetapi beda level atau tingkat operasional. Contoh : Restoran cepat saji menggabungkan diri dengan perusahaan peternakan ayam.
b. Merger Horisontal
Perusahaan dalam satu industri membeli perusahaan di level operasi yang sama. Contoh : pabrik komputer gabung dengan pabrik komputer.
c. Merger Konglomerasi
Tidak ada hubungan industri pada perusahaan yang diakuisisi. Bertujuan untuk meningkatkan profit perusahaan dari berbagai sumber atau unit bisnis. Contoh : perusahaan pengobatan alternatif bergabung dengan perusahaan operator telepon seluler nirkabel.
2. Akuisisi
Akuisisi adalah pembelian suatu perusahaan oleh perusahaan lain atau oleh kelompok investor. Akuisisi sering digunakan untuk menjaga ketersediaan pasokan bahan baku atau jaminan produk akan diserap oleh pasar. Contoh : Aqua diakuisisi oleh Danone, Pizza Hut oleh Coca-Cola, dan lain-lain.
3. Hostile Take Over atau Pengambil Alihan Secara Paksa
Hostile take over adalah suatu tindakan akuisisi yang dilakukan secara paksa yang biasanya dilakukan dengan cara membuka penawaran atas saham perusahaan yang ingin dikuasai di pasar modal dengan harga di atas harga pasar. Pengambilalihan secara paksa biasanya diikuti oleh pemecatan karyawan dan manajer untuk diganti orang baru untuk melakukan efisiensi pada operasional perusahaan.
4. Leverage Buyout
Leverage buy out adalah teknik pengusaan perusahaan dengan metode pinjaman atau utang yang digunakan pihak manajemen untuk membeli perusahaan lain. Terkadang suatu perusahaan target dapat dimiliki tanpa modal awal yang besar.

          Noble out at UH        
ElViento: Well, I guess this answers the question of whether or not UH has the money to buy out a coach in a minor sport like baseball. The two key candidates to keep an eye on are Todd Whitting, an assistant at TCU, and David Pierce, an assistant at Rice. Both men are UH grads […]
          As Canucks move to buy out Higgins, Burrows still in roster limbo        
Ben Kuzma on the Canucks preparing to buy out Chris Higgins and what to do with Alex Burrows.
          alisha kerudung        

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          Can Cargill cook up a success with its vegetable oil strategy?        

The company has been building its business in India through acquisitions - the latest being that of Sunflower Vanaspati. Its greatest challenge, though, will be one of mindset, say analysts

In July last year, Siraj A Chaudhry, the chairman of Cargill India, the Indian arm of the US-based $134-billion farm commodity major, was in a meeting with senior executives from the company's IT vendor, Wipro, in his Gurgaon office when an offhand remark caught his attention. This was regarding Wipro Consumer Care and Lighting looking for a suitor for its Sunflower Vanaspati brand. Chaudhry and his top management team had been eyeing the brand for several years. Over the next three months, hectic negotiations followed and the deal, reportedly worth Rs 40 crore, was finally announced in the first week of December. "The brand is iconic, positioned next to desi ghee in many households across Maharashtra," says Chaudhry.

This was the third acquisition by Cargill in the country's Rs 75,000-crore edible oil market in the past three years, which has taken the number of brands in its portfolio to five: Gemini, Nature Fresh, Rath, Sweekar and Sunflower. With the acquisition, it has also become the third largest player in the market in terms of oil processing capacity, and among the top three players in terms of consumer market share in the Rs 15,000-crore branded edible oil market. Chaudhry puts the multi-brand strategy in India into perspective. "We are trying to turn a cargo ship into a passenger liner," he says.

Till 2005, Cargill India's food business - under which falls the edible oil business - was a loss-making proposition. Price-sensitive bulk business, which is open to fluctuations in commodity price and exchange rate, accounted for majority of the edible oil sales. It was largely a volume-driven business, profit margins varied between 1 per cent and 2 per cent. The company had only one consumer-facing brand in Nature Fresh. Launched in 2003, the brand was used to market packaged sunflower and mustard oils. Market research by the company showed that up to 70 per cent of the edible oil consumed in India was at home. To cater to this market, Cargill decided to focus on a brand-led strategy.

On a buying spree
In 2005, Cargill thus bought out its partner, Pune-based Parakh Foods, reportedly for around Rs 100 crore. It gave Cargill ownership of three edible oil refineries at Paradeep (Odisha), Kandla (Gujarat) and Kurkumbh (Maharashtra), with the capacity to process 4,000 tonnes of oil annually. Along with it came the Gemini brand that had strong distribution presence in Southern India. In 2010, Cargill added to its portfolio heritage vanaspati brand Rath from Agro Tech Foods, which had a sizeable market presence among institutional and industrial segments in north India. This was followed by acquiring Marico's Sweekar brand of refined sunflower oil in 2011. The buyout of Sunflower Vanaspati has strengthened Cargill's presence in the institutional and household segments in west India. In the last three years, Cargill has forked out around Rs 100 crore on its acquisitions.

With just a few branded players in the market and some strong regional players, the strategy makes sense for Cargill. "Given the low margin in the business, there is a higher risk attached as one is not sure of the success of the national brand in each region," says Chaudhry. Analysts say a regional approach works in the edible oil business with different consumer preference in different regions. So, Gemini is popular in South and Rath in the North, while Sunflower Vanaspati has a long presence in Maharashtra and pockets of Karnataka. Sweekar is positioned as a premium national brand, while Nature Fresh has a basket of oils in its portfolio and is strong in East and North.

Cargill has the largest range of vanaspati brands in Rath, Gemini, Nature Fresh and Sunflower, for bulk consumers like hotels, restaurants and the catering industry. Also, the brands fill different price points, from Rs 60 to Rs 140 per litre. Chaudhry wants to strengthen the top end of the portfolio with an olive oil brand.

In May last year, Cargill re-launched Sweekar with a changed product mix and packaging, positioning it as a healthier option for premium consumers. Master chef Sanjeev Kapoor was roped in as the brand ambassador. Sweekar is now pitted against the likes of Sundrop from Agro Tech Foods, a company owned by US-based ConAgra Foods, and Saffola from Marico Industries. The plan is to push for 20 per cent of the premium market, with price points pegged at around Rs 140 per litre. Industry players point out a consumer shift in preference for premium brands as the price differential between popular and premium brands has come down to 5-10 per cent over the last one year. Cargill may be well-placed to ride the change in consumption pattern. There are similar plans to re-energise the other brands in its portfolio.

The dual strategy of organic and inorganic growth has given added momentum to Cargill's edible oil business which has grown at 12-15 per cent per annum over the last five years, says Chaudhry. In 2011-12, Cargill India's top line was Rs 9,000 crore, against Rs 6,750 crore in 2010-11. However, perceptible change on the consumer front would be more visible over the next three to five years when Chaudhry expects the edible oil business to grow by at least 15 per cent annually. "We have now created the platform, growth will follow," he says.

The risks
There is a downside to a brand-driven strategy. "Sales volume may take time to scale up," notes a report by ICRA. Sanjeev Giri, the business head of Dhara range of edible oils by Mother Dairy Fruit & Vegetable, says Cargill needs a clear segmentation strategy to avoid cannibalisation among the brands. "The acquired brand should demonstrate potential for growth rather than show signs of fatigue," he adds. V N Dalmia, the chairman of Dalmia Continental, the owner of Leonardo Olive Oil, feels the biggest challenge for Cargill going forward would be to build a FMCG mindset across the company for the consumer-facing business. Chaudhry, too, accepts this point. "We are still in the transition stage to be a full-fledged food company," he says. Over the last few years it has set up a dedicated sales and marketing team - of a couple of hundred people - checking out opportunities in the retail and consumer space.

Chaudhry, however, puts a caveat to Cargill's growth strategy. "We will push growth only if it is profitable," he says. Analysts agree it is easy to grow the top line in the edible oil business by pushing volume by reducing price. Being a privately held company - both in the US and India - Chaudhry is unwilling to give out profit details of Indian operations. A Mumbai-based analyst, however, notes a brand-driven strategy would only improve profitability of its edible oil business going forward. Competitors such as Adani-Wilmer, Ruchi Soya, Bunge India, too, are towing a similar line, and expanding their reach and brand portfolio. Most of them are pushing one or two brands.

Going by the initial response, Chaudhry says the portfolio approach has helped create traction at the retailer level and also with consumers. He is still conservative when it comes to spending big bucks on over-the-line adverting. "We prefer to be more active below the line, and at point of sale level," he says. As for his appetite for more buy outs: "We are always on the lookout," says Chaudhry.


          Healthy Vending Machines Are Offering an Organic Healthier Snack Food Option for Children at School        
Sprout Healthy Vending is offering an organic healthier snack food option for children at school.

About half of America's elementary school students still have access to sugary snacks and other unhealthy options in school. Sprout Healthy Vending an organic vending machine distributor is hoping to change that with their new opportunities for schools.

For years kids at schools have had access to sweet candies and sugary soda pops. In some cases kids would even skip lunch and opt for the unhealthy goodies packed into their schools vending machines spending any monies given to them by parents on things like chocolate candy bars and sugar packed dare I call them "refreshments". How could a child any child resist?

Sprout's organic vending machines are now offering parents piece of mind with a much healthier snack to offer their children Sprout machines will include such items as dried fruits, baked chips, healthy whole grain bars and all natural juices.

Schools who join the Sprout venture will have the opportunity to put the new vending machines in the cafeterias and around campuses as part of a healthy eating initiative. The options are similar to what one might find in a more traditional vending machine. But unlike the unhealthy options, these alternatives have no artificial preservatives and are mostly gluten-free. The machines have already become more popular with students, who realize that changing their eating habits now will have lasting benefits when they are older. Nutritionists say that school vending machines stocked with potato chips, cookies and sugary soft drinks contribute to childhood obesity. Teaching children about healthier options is also the goal of the placement. If kids have the option to choose and are educated about the heath values of the choice options it might help fight child obesity and aid in healthier consumption.

The Obama administration is working on setting nutritional standards for foods that children can buy outside the cafeteria. With students eating 19 to 50 percent of their daily food at school, the administration says it wants to ensure that what they eat contributes to good health. Representatives of the food and beverage industry say they generally support selling healthier snacks and drinks in schools. This could lead to stricter guidelines for what is offered in snack machines that are vending snacks to kids in school. as the US government readies for these new rules requiring healthier foods to be sold beyond the cafeteria Sprout Healthy vending is gearing up for their contribution to the cause building machines and stocking them with healthy goodies ready for placement in schools.

Interested in getting involved?
Whether you are a parent,on the school board or an entrepreneur seeking a great opportunity contact to ask how you can get involved. Call 800.450.7648 now.

by Jason Bean
          Did That Just Happen?        
So here I am sitting at my computer listening to the Black Keys’ “El Camino” (which I highly recommend, BTW) and I am just flabbergasted. I thought I was going to write about a coaching search. Seriously. Just a giant case of WTF?-itis. Did this just happen? Did this just unhappen?

Last Thursday, I was listening to the Troy Aikman show on the KTCK. They talked for a minute about the UCLA coaching search. Troy said he was excited because he had some information on who they were looking at, but he wouldn’t share. For some reason, that made me nervous; I had a suspicion he was talking about June. Aikman and June Jones have the same agent-Leigh Steinberg.

I thought on Monday June Jones was leaving and going to Arizona State. I assumed on Tuesday, June Jones was staying. I was sure Wednesday AM he was leaving for Arizona State. Then, on Thursday afternoon, it breaks that Arizona State has withdrawn its offer.

For those that need a refresher, here is a timeline:

November 28th- ASU fires Dennis Erickson. ASU hires Dallas search firm Eastman & Beaudine to assist with the search. Eastman & Beaudine assisted with the SMU searches that led to the selections of Steve Orsini, Matt Doherty and June Jones. Bob Beaudine is a graduate of SMU.

December 2nd-SMU begins the biggest recruiting weekend in the last 20+ years.

December 3rd-At some point during the day, ASU officials meet with June Jones for several hours.

Late December 4th-June Jones is announced as the only finalist for the ASU coaching position. Outrage on the message boards, twitter, myspace, tumbler and, hell, probably e-harmony as well, breaks out suggesting that June Jones is not acceptable. Apparently, in the mind of the ASU fan, June Jones is “Dennis Erickson-lite,” which I guess means a decent name, player coach, old and mediocre.

December 5th-Outrage on the web has reached such a fever-pitch that ASU backs off and is determined to slow things down, interview the Sumlin and Fedora’s of the world at the coaching convention in NY taking place as I write this. This is all well and good, but it quickly appearing that Fedora is going to UNC; Sumlin is likely going to A&M; Art Briles is uninterested in leaving Baylor.

December 6th- By the end of the day, June Jones is the only candidate again.

SMU LB recruit Thomas Brown commits to ASU. This is interesting. ASU doesn’t have a coach. Thomas Brown has never visited there. Thomas Brown has said he was deciding between Nebraska and SMU. Now he is committed to ASU.

Khalil Pettway, SMU commit, the highest rated recruit in SMU’s class, decommits. He was visiting this past weekend while June Jones talked with ASU.

At some point, June calls his staff together for a meeting in Dallas on the 7th. This is interesting because, (i) his staff is on the road recruiting; and (ii) he is supposed to be in NY. There is an alumni event in NY on the 7th and both Steve Orsini and June Jones are supposed to be in attendance.

Outrage is beginning to percolate on the ASU boards again.

December 7th-AM: June Jones has agreed to coach ASU. There is a deal in principle. June meets with his staff and says he is leaving. June apparently tells some players he is leaving, although there is no team meeting.

ASU outrage is boiling.

December 7th-PM: June is clearly out at ASU. He will not coach at ASU. Money quote from Leigh Steinberg: "Just had one of the most bizarre endings to a set of productive discussions to bring a client to a new situation. Everything was set, few tweaks left, and the principal decision maker yanks the deal with no real explanation."

Can’t find the quote, but Turner says that June Jones will lead SMU to the Big East or something to that effect.

Orsini still attends the NY alumni event (obviously, June who was/is in Dallas, was not in attendance). Austin Kilgore was there and tweeted about it. His twitter feed is here: https://twitter.com/aus10fromhous10

Orsini suggests June will continue to be the coach. Gerald Ford suggests the same. I am not going to say “follow” the guy, but his tweets from this event are interesting. Go read them. Or follow the guy. He does something with real estate and mortgages. I am sure it is riveting.

Anyway…

You can go to ponyfans or rivals or scout and read the same speculation, but it is just that: speculation. Bottom line right now is June Jones either leaves stays or he is leaving voluntarily or involuntarily. If I had to place a bet, I wouldn’t. If you gave me money and told me I had to place a bet, I suppose right now I bet June Jones is coaching SMU next week, next month and next year.

I can see June Jones “retiring” from college coaching, with a plan to coach again when this blows over. He would not be at SMU and SMU wouldn’t pay him. I guess June could get a job as a QB coach in the NFL, though I doubt anyone would hire him as a coordinator or head coach. If he “retired,” however, if I were SMU, I hold the contract over him until it expires in 2015, keeping him out as a head coach at the college level.

I can see SMU sacking June Jones over this, though that appears unlikely. The “Circle of Champions” would have to make the call and pony up the money to buy out Jones and then pay for a new coach. I don’t think people realize the money involved there. More likely, SMU and June Jones reaching a mutual agreement to part ways. The parties would have to negotiate some dollar amount less than the $6,000,000 he is owed on his contract. Contrary to the views of the amateur lawyers on the message boards, I don’t see “cause” to fire Jones over this, meaning SMU would have to buy him out of the approximately $6,000,000 he is owed on his contract. That being said, if June and his staff used SMU resources to recruit kids to another university….

I can’t see June Jones coaching anywhere but SMU in 2012. He is toxic to programs at this point. Rivals notes the $2,000,000 buyout. Yes, that is something. However, the first thing that will be brought up is the ASU matter.

June has some work to do. I am not forgiving this. This was nonsense. June Jones needs to sit down with Orsini and figure out how he will fix this mess. Reassure recruits for this year and next. Reassure the assistants for this year and next. Oh, and reassure the fanbase, too... if he can.
          Happie is Very Unhappy. But Still Happy, Nonetheless.        
My damned assistant stole my client base, decimating my animal care service within the span of a few short emails. Premier Pet Care, which saved my butt when I walked away from the corporate world and into the realm of starving artist back in 2001.

Little did I know, at the start, that when I started climbing(in 2004), having a dog walking service would be the perfect type of business for someone who needed time away from being physically present on the job. But it sure was! When I began climbing, I was still doing all the animal care myself, and working up to 30 days at a time with no full days off. I was tired.

My first climbing was in the gym, and I could fit it around my work schedule, but once I got out into the real world – the Gunks, Seneca Rocks, and Joshua Tree that first year – it really sucked to have ONE cat-sitting job on a Saturday..... Not because it would make it so I couldn't GO to the Gunks, a 90 minute drive away, but because it meant I had to do the cat sit job at about 5:30am, in order to make the 7am bus which would take me to New Paltz where a partner would pick me up!

An assistant was needed - desperately. And thus the search began.

I had good luck with nearly all the people I worked with over the years. The first one got fired because of climbing. It was the summer of 2004, and the Republican National Convention was being held in New York City. The town, nearly 100% NOT Republican, seemed to be just a few steps away from being under Marshall Law. Protests were rampant, police were everywhere, and the tinge of riot soured the fetid August air. It was Friday evening and the next day I had one client's dog to walk, two sessions early afternoon and also at 5pm. I thought I could hack the strain the convention was drawing to the city, but the Gunks were calling me stronger; if I had to be hanging by a thread, what better place that upstate, on a dynamic rope?! I called my assistant and asked her to take the sessions. She begrudgingly agreed to do it and the next morning, away I went. I had a great day of climbing.

But when I got home, I had a phone message. The client had gotten home early, and found their dog had not been walked for the early afternoon session. Not only that, but moments after they had arrive, at about 4pm, my assistant DID arrive, obviously intending to do only one walk and thinking no one would be the wiser(save the poor dog who could not tell anyone; god bless our loyal companions who bear the brunt of human selfishness so stoically).

Furious with my assistant, though I knew I had pushed her into accepting the work when she really hadn't wanted it, I simply had no choice but to let her go. Had that been the only transgression, I would likely have (obviously) taken her off that client, and continued to work with her. I generally had systems in place which protected against such occurrences, and other clients where there would simply be no opportunity for such misconduct, but she had made a few other errors which pointed to the fact she was not an upholder of the highest ethical standards. In animal care, this is a key requirement; she had to go.

I learned from the experience, and though I had a few other instances over the years where I needed to reprimand people, I have only had to fire one other person in the eight years I have run Premier Pet Care.

So, it came as a bit of a shock the other day when my current assistant emailed me stating that he was giving two weeks notice, and that he had offered my clients the opportunity to work with him directly.

You see – because I have been living upstate since May 1st, his two weeks notice actually meant that he was firing ME, and taking over my business.

The plot is a bit more complex, of course. Had I been able to whip down to the city and tell my clients I would handle the sessions, every single one of them, I am sure, would have stuck with me. Over the years I have been through many assistants, and was the one constant. Whenever an assistant moved on, I was there to pick up the work, and no dog ever missed a single session due to the handler leaving my employment.

But I couldn't just go down and save the sinking ship. Firstly, my apartment is being sublet, with the tenant in residence until mid November; I would have had nowhere to live.

Secondly.... I had to choose between saving the business and continuing on with the next chapter of my life which I had been preparing for. I actually hadn't intended to return, but to travel the southwest for winter, and had offered my assistant the opportunity to buy out my business.

In fact, his 2 weeks notice/offer to my clients occurred just 3 days after I sent him the business proposal. He'd asked to take the weekend to look it over, and on Monday evening at 9:30, he sent me an email rejecting the offer, tending his resignation, and saying he intended to let the clients chose whether to work directly with him or not.

Since he knew I live in a home with no electricity or cel service, and that I have no car, the chances of me reading that email before he sent notice to clients(which he did the next morning at 9am) was next to nil. And so, it was an easy coup.

When I found out what had happened, I began calling the clients, and explained, in truth, where this decision of my assistant had originated. He saw an opportunity, but instead of being ethical and paying a stipend for the transfer of the business, he decided he could simply take it for himself. My customers all expressed sorrow at their decisions to work with him, and best wishes for me in the future, but they really had no choice. Perhaps, for all I know, they even view me as the one in the wrong.

And all this is what makes me very unhappy.


On the other hand, the job of having to tell my clients I would not be returning, which is something I knew I would not enjoy doing, has been taken care of rather swiftly, and now I can focus my energies on getting myself ready for the winter portion of this year.

I've taken road trips before, and I've lived a simplified lifestyle for the last five months, but living a simplified lifestyle on a five-month road trip will be a totally new experience for me. My budget is meager, and to lose the income generated with the animal care business is not an insubstantial portion of the whole. But I will get by without it. No doubt others have done so with less than I will have.

I've saved up a small sum to buy a vehicle, and am now looking at cargo vans. I had wanted a camper, with it's homey organization, but after speaking with someone who lives in a Toyota Minihome every winter, I realized it would not be a good choice, no matter how much I wanted my own Home, Sweet Mobile Home.

Once I get the van, I will need to add some basic modifications – a platform bed with storage beneath at the minimum. Insulation, sound baffles, privacy curtain between cab and back and storage space along one sidewall are desirable, but if I end up with them will depend on my ability to find someone who can do the work with the amount of money I will have to pay for it.

I expect to have the van bought by the end of October, and the modifications done in two weeks, making my departure from the northeast some time in mid November – the tail end of our climbing season here at the Gunks, and the beginning of cold weather which would make cabin living uncomfortable.

I'll travel cross-country, stopping to visit my family in Michigan and Wisconsin, perhaps around the Thanksgiving holiday of possible. Then, I'll head west, veering southward along the way. I haven't looked at routes yet, nor asked opinions, though I assume I should get southward as quickly as possible to avoid the colder temperatures further north.

Joshua Tree, California is my destination, and where I expect to consider as my base. I know some people there, am fairly familiar with the ways of nomadic living in the area, and since it is a winter destination for climbers, am looking forward to meeting plenty of people as they travel to the place for their own weekend trips, vacations and dirtbag days. Other places I want to visit/climb will be Red Rocks, Hueco Tanks and crags in New Mexico and Arizona. Come mid March, I expect to begin making my way eastward, with the hopes I will have my little cabin here in the woods again.

This all makes me happy!


I expect to post updates as things go, so keep in touch and see what happens!

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          Buy Resveratrol Supplements the Smart Way        
When 60 Minutes did their story on the two researchers who finally found the real component in one that people now realize is responsible for most of its health benefits, the number of people who have been desperate to get their hands on resveratrol has skyrocketed.




(This has led to a whole host of problems for people who want to buy Resveratrol supplements, and it means that you have to be extra careful in where you order it from. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. We'll cover this in a second.)




Resveratrol supplements are, in fact, one of the hottest supplements on the market today. It's certainly not difficult to understand. The lab animals who took the resveratrol supplements acted and appeared at younger than the ones who didn't, according to the 60 Minutes story.




Don't get me wrong, the studies didn't say that their age reversed. That's not really possible.




However, if you saw that 60 Minutes story (or maybe caught some clips on YouTube), you probably noticed that in just about every test that was given, the subjects who took resveratrol did better on both physical and mental challenges.




This actually led to a lot of very reputable news organizations extolling the benefits of Resveratrol, and even caused a major U.S. pharmaceutical company to buy out the company of the researchers who discovered the compound.




It's no wonder that resveratrol is a very hot topic. And assuming that the professionals who did the work on isolating and discovering resveratrol are correct, we have a major breakthrough on our hands that should interest anyone who wants to feel younger and look younger -- but who doesn't want to spend outrageous amounts of time working out, or depriving themselves of the kinds of foods they love to eat.




There are tons of other benefits that are being mentioned with resveratrol that are even more impressive than just it's power as a weight-loss faciliator or its supposed effect on physical stamina. And lots of people contend that resveratrol is a great way to help control cholesterol, protect against cancer, and boost your metabolism levels.




It may seem obvious that with all of this evidence as to what resveratrol can do for you, that you shouldn't hesitate a second and just start taking it?




I guess that it's really up to you to decide. But what I will say is that if you want to be among the many thousands who are doing it, it's very important that you stick with a Resveratrol supplement that you know is high-quality.


The only two resources I'd suggest you use to find the best places for resveratrol are this buy resveratrol review site and this buy resveratrol article. The instructions for getting the free trial sample of resveratrol are there as well.

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Article Source: www.articlesnatch.com


          Japanese Mom Yukino Kawai Came To Buy Out Her Daughters Porn Video But Gets Attacked And Fucked As Well        
Watch Japanese Mom Yukino Kawai Came To Buy Out Her Daughters Porn Video But Gets Attacked And Fucked As Well at XXXPorn.rs - best free online XXXPorn videos for you to enjoy.
          COUNTIES STEP UP AS NEW GROUNDWATER LAWS TACKLE A CLASSIC TRAGEDY OF THE COMMONS        
By Patricia McBroom

        â€œPicture a pasture open to all,” where each herdsman strives to keep as many cattle as possible on the commons, an economist wrote almost 50 years ago. The rational choice for each individual is to add more animals to his herd without regard for the welfare of neighbors, and they all do that as they march inexorably toward mutual destruction – the “Tragedy of the Commons” as described by Garrett Hardin.
       â€œEach man is locked into a system that compels him to increase his herd without limit – in a world that is limited. Ruin is the destination toward which all men rush, each pursuing his own best interest in a society that believes in the freedom of the commons. Freedom in a commons brings ruin to all,” Hardin wrote in Science Magazine in 1968.                                                                               
Groundwater infiltrates subterranean rock, creating ancient reservoirs
         credit: mercola.com                                                                                         

Groundwater Commons    

         By far, the largest, most important commons in California is the water beneath our feet, and it is well on its way toward ruin. Large basins beneath the valley floors contain up to ten times the capacity of all the state's reservoirs put together (42 million acre feet). They are uncharted and boundless, subterranean streams of water flowing among the rocks in mysterious, unexpected ways from one region to another. And they are shrinking.
       In these years of drought, a giant sucking sound could be heard throughout the Central Valley as farmers pumped ever more water from the rocks beneath the earth.  The deeper the drill, the more ancient the layers. As they pumped, the land sank, along with the water table. In some areas of the San Joaquin Valley, only the biggest, wealthiest farmers could go deep enough to reach the water, and they did, leaving their neighbors literally in the dust with dry wells. Surface land in portions of the San Joaquin Valley sank by up to ten inches in just six months of this year, from May to October.
California has 515 groundwater basins (dark grey) in
ten hydrologic regions (outlined)   


     100 years of Exploitation

  Californians have been exploiting this commons for 100 years with precious few restrictions. There has been no statute governing its use. The only law that even affects groundwater pumping has come through case law when a property owner sued another for infringing on his rights. In these rare instances, judges have ruled that a property owner's right to pump water from the ground is not unlimited. Neighbors have rights as well – called correlative rights – and any one property owner can only take his fair share of the safe yield. But aside from this case law – of which the particulars are hard to determine (what is “safe yield” from an uncharted basin?) – the state has never imposed any limits on groundwater pumping.
       That is now changing.


First Statute to Govern Commons

       Next month, in January, the first written law governing this commons will go into effect, a statute requiring local groups to create sustainability agencies that will be charged with bringing depleted groundwater reservoirs into balance. If locals don't do it within the next few years, the state's water board has been empowered to come in and correct the balance. This is the first time in California's history that state authorities (other than courts) have given themselves the power to stop a property owner from taking water from beneath his land. But it will be a while before such power comes into play.
        The first opportunity to restrict pumping will be January of 2020, the deadline for passage of a local sustainability plan, said David Orth, manager of the Kings River Conservation District in the San Joaquin Valley and member of the powerful California Water Commission which will be making decisions on surface and groundwater storage with new state bond money approved by voters this year.
King's County's Dave Orth surveying a
recharge pond
       â€œA lot of things can happen in five years and that concerns me.... but this problem doesn't lend itself to a quick fix,”said Orth. “Any attempt tomorrow to restrict groundwater use, or even to set fees is likely to lead to a legal challenge. We have to be patient and recognize that it took 100 years to get here. It will take at least 20 to get out of it.”


Counties Stepping Up

       Meanwhile, county supervisors in the San Joaquin Valley are stepping into the breach to find various ways to halt the overdraft in their local groundwater basins. It's an urgent issue in counties like Merced, Stanislaus, Madera and Kern where lands are sinking and wells are running dry. Farmers are split, some opposing any restrictions; others calling for a moratorium on extraction.
       â€œBefore, farmers were united against doing anything,” said Sarge Green, a program director from the California Water Institute at Fresno State, who is helping counties write groundwater ordinances. “Now they are being damaged by each other, and it has created a powerful incentive to do something. You have farmers saying, 'I don't want my neighbor to export water to another county or build a giant well that dries up mine'.”
       The issues are so contentious that a groundwater lawsuit in San Luis Obispo County had to be moved to Santa Clara County last month because no one was neutral in the county of origin. San Luis Obispo supervisors had passed a moratorium last year on new well drilling from the Paso Robles groundwater basin and the county is now being sued by 35 plaintiffs. They argue that no official can restrict their right to pump whatever they need.
Land subsidence from May to October, 2014, from Merced to Corcoran
shows deepest subsidence (red) near El Nido and Corcoran

   

 Local Variability  

 Elsewhere, Madera and Kern counties both considered a moratorium on pumping and rejected the idea. On the other side of the issue, Stanislaus County passed an ordinance restricting people from certain unincorporated areas from extracting water without a permit, while Merced County is considering a similar ordinance that would also restrict export of water from the county.
       Merced supervisor Diedre Kelsey said she became aware of the need for county action when she discovered that two individuals from her district were trying to pump local groundwater and sell it to buyers in another county. “We may need an immediate moratorium,” she said.
       The issues are complicated.


                Agony and Creativity in Reaching for Sustainability

       In Kings county, Orth and others are striving to create a sustainability plan, bringing farmers together to expand land devoted to recharge basins – areas where water can sit for several weeks to soak into the aquifer below. They have even tried flooding grape fields with 18 inches of water for two months during the dormant season. In that case, they came out ahead of the game with a bumper harvest. They're now looking at how long they can leave water standing in an orchard, anything to build the recharge capacity of an area where agriculture is outrunning available water.
       Orth estimates that the Kings area is farming about five percent more land than can be sustained with current water supplies. “Our strategy is to make every bit of that up with flood water (recharge) and voluntary water conservation to avoid land retirement,”he said, adding that the state as a whole is over-farming by a significant amount and will have to retire some agricultural land, if it cannot replenish the underground aquifers.
Merced County Supervisor Diedre Kelsey:  "We may need
a moratorium." Credit: Patricia McBroom
       Land retirement.
      “That's the word that everyone is trying to avoid,” said Juliet Christian-Smith, climate scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists. “Everybody is bending over backwards to not have that conversation (about land retirement) right now,” said Christian-Smith. Instead they are talking about moratoriums and ordinances, data and analysis:
       â€œ 'How much groundwater are we using? How much is being replenished naturally? What do we need to do to reach the level of sustainable yield? What does proportional reduction look like? Should we buy out landowners?' They have to figure out what has gone on so far.” said Christian-Smith.
        Can Californians learn to cooperate in this commons and not take more than their “fair share” of a “safe yield”? It's a good question. Some people may cooperate voluntarily; others will no doubt need the police powers of the state and counties before they stop taking their lion's share of precious water.
       Meanwhile, the cavalry is coming over the hill.




          Teavana- Youthberry Wild Orange Tea        

 This year, my christmas list for my mother had a few tea products on it. My mother took this to mean that she should buy out our local Teavana store (including 3 POUNDS of german rock sugar). I absolutely LOVE Teavana and needless to say, I was quite happy with my christmas gifts (I love you mom). Besides the tea products, the teas themselves were all expected- except for one. The biggest tub of them all was a 16 oz. canister of Teavana's Youthberry Wild Orange Tea blend. I was very excited because I'd tasted a few small sips of it because its the tea that Teavana sets out as their sampler, and the dry leaves smelled like PARADISE. Alas, all was not as it seemed...
Tea Tin
Dry Leaves and Fruit
Name: Youthberry White Tea & Wild Orange Blossom Herbal Tea (BLEND)
Company: Teavana
Youthberry Price: $12.00; 2 oz.
Wild Orange Price: $6.80; 2 oz.
Suggested Amount: 1.5 tsp for 8 oz.
My Amount: 3 tsp for 14 oz.
Caffeine:
  • Youtberry has no caffeine
  • Wild Orange Blossom has 1% of the amount of caffeine in coffee
1st Steep: 
  • Time: 2 Minutes
  • Temp: 175°F
2nd Steep:
  • Time: 2.5 Minutes
  • Temp: 180 Â°F

Steeped Leaves

Ingredients: Apple pieces, white tea, hibiscus flowers, rosehip peels, candied mango pieces (mango, sugar), candied pineapple pieces (pineapple, sugar), flavoring (pineapple, orange, mango, grapefruit), beetroot pieces, citrus peels, red currants, rose petals, orange juice pieces, sunflower petals, pomegranate blossoms, acai fruit powder (acai, maltodextrin)

Dry: It smells very citric and fresh. Its actually quite beautiful with large chunks of dried apples and oranges, but they vastly outnumber the white tea leaves and herbs. 

Tea Liquor:
  • 1st Steep: Orange/Red/Pink (I think it would be called coral), probably from the hibiscus.
  • 2nd Steep: Dark Orange

Second Steeping

First Steeping

Flavor: Fruity (White tea flavor is pretty much lost), Smooth, Sour/Tart

Notes:  
 The sampler at Teavana is a lie. Well, that may be a bit dramatic but I'm pretty sure they douse that stuff in sugar. This tea was pretty weak and while I usually put NO sugar in my teas, I had to put 1 tsp of their german rock sugar (which I actually love) and 1 tsp of honey (Teavana White Gold Honey, which I also love) for this to taste good for me. I know a lot people say that this is too sweet already, but its almost like an artificial sweetness that needed more natural sugar to accompany it. While this teas biggest sell is the huge chunks of orange, I didn't really taste much citrus. I mainly tasted the hibiscus, and the tartness usually associated with hibiscus. While I initially loved the fruitiness of this tea, I quickly grew tired of its mildness. I guess it would be a good special occasion tea, because I see this as more of a hot fruit juice than tea. I bet this would be good for children who haven't really grown their palate for teas. Apart from the weak body, a few good things about this tea is that it is very smooth and you can easily tell that it is very fresh. 

 Once again (to my surprise) I found that the second steep on this tea was better than the first.  It had less of that overwhelming fruity tartness and I found that the white tea was now more prominent. I imagine that the first steep was almost pure fruit juices and the second steep was leftover fruit juice with white tea.


 While I would accept an occasional cup of the stuff, I won't be buying this one with my own money. Like I said before, this would be good for kids and non-tea drinkers.

Rating

I seem to always have this type of problems with flavored white teas. Anyone have any suggestions or recommendations for a good flavored white?

          The Noel Kempff Climate Action Project: The Conservancy Responds to a Greenpeace Report        
Thirteen years ago, The Nature Conservancy teamed up with Fundación Amigos de la Naturaleza, American Electric Power Company, BP America and Pacificorp to buy out four logging concessions adjacent to Bolivia’s Noel Kempff Mercado National Park. In addition to protecting almost 832,000 hectares of forest habitat and doubling the size of the national park, this […]
          Ichiban Episode!        
Our first podcast episode! Industry news we covered: GE’s class action lawsuit settlement over their sweaty refrigerators, Whirlpool’s pending buy out of Maytag, Maytag’s new, shorter, warranty policy on new parts. Repair tips: overfilling icemakers in some Kitchenaid refrigerators, intermittent lid switches in some Maytag top-loading washers, installing the door handle on Maytag dishwashers, fixing leaking Whirlpool Duet washers. Email questions on leaking GE dishwashers and a Kenmore washer that won’t spin.

          Jonah Energy Buys Out Competitor For Control of Natural Gas Field        
Jonah Energy, a Colorado-based oil and gas company, will soon own nearly 100 percent of natural gas reserves in western Wyoming — the eighth largest natural gas field in the country. The investment is a vote of confidence in an industry that’s seen declining prices in recent years. After a brief negotiation, Jonah Energy will buy out LINN Energy's remaining assets for more than half a billion dollars. The sale includes more than a thousand wells and nearly 30,000 acres most of which is still undeveloped. LINN Energy went bankrupt in 2016 due to persistent low natural gas prices and just recently re-emerged from bankruptcy. Paul Ulrich, the Director of Government Affairs at Jonah Energy, says the company isn’t worried about low prices. He adds they’re well-insulated to price fluctuation thanks to low operating costs. Ulrich said, “We believe that will allow us now and in the future depending on price fluctuation to ride those ups and downs and still be a viable, productive company." He
          Dell Buys EMC: The Biggest Tech Deal In History Is A Desperate Move        
An EMC flag flies on the company's corporate campus, Monday, Oct. 12, 2015, in Hopkinton, Mass. Dell is buying data storage company EMC in a deal valued at approximately $67 billion. (AP Photo/Steven Senne) Today’s headlines will include references toDell’s $67 billion acquisition of EMC2, thebiggest tech buy out ever, and [...]
          Plastics        
It's been a while since I felt any affection at all towards football.

Let's face it: as businesses go it is about as amoral and corrupt as it is possible to be from the very top all the way down to the grassiest of roots.

Far too many clubs exploit all sorts of financial loopholes with the plethora of clubs spending well beyond their means and then hitting admin to wipe the debt out at the expense of their creditors. It might be legal; it might be commonly acepted business practice; no matter it stinks.

Perhaps worst of all is the Man Utd/Glazer-stylee leveraged buy out where a new owner buys a club using income the club itself generates... God alone knows how they get away with it or sleep at night because it is completely without shame.

For all of that I have kept going to games (home ones mostly anyway) and it is a struggle to know why beyond it being an excuse to see mates and have a beer. The last few years have been a horrid, relentless, attritional spiral into near oblivion with barely a glimmer of joy along the way but I have barely missed a (home) game.

Last season was better and we began to look like a team with some talent again but even that ended horribly with the Wycombe play-off debacle no matter how remarkable, but still inadequate, the Bob Marley mini-comeback was.

Which brings us to this season and this season has been horribly disappointing as well. Make no mistake we should have been promoted weeks before the end of the season like Northampton were. It should have been us and them neck-and-neck balls-out all the way to the finishing post but no. When it mattered we just bloody crumbled.

And now we are here with Wembley and Wimbledon looming large on the horizon and a pair of simply sensational games against Portsmouth fresh in the memory. Those two Pompey games reminded me of what it was all about; of why it is that I fell in love with watching Argyle as a kid all those years ago:

Mariner & Rafferty and a vast, massive, chaotic Tuesday night crowd v Colchester; Jim Furnell saving a Terry Venables penalty; the West Brom and Derby (x2) games in the cup run; Nelson's late equaliser at Blackpool; Godfrey scoring at Bristol Rovers to set in sequence the most remarkable run of results I ever knew; being out-played by Derby for 45 mins before doing 'em good 'n' proper 4-1 in the end; walloping Leeds 6-3; Stewart Evans inspiring mayhem as we beat Man City 3-2 after being 2 down; McGregor's hat-trick in a 4-0 win at Torquay; Colchester (again) vanquished in the play-offs; Darlo at Wembley; virtually every moment of the two Sturrock promotion campaigns but especially that match v QPR and the "you'll never play here again" night v Exeter; fantastic away wins under Holloway at Palace (which remains, I think, the best I ever saw us play) and Charlton and Sheff Utd (sort of...) but that was pretty much where it stopped dead.

Since then there's been next to nothing to enjoy, to cherish but it was those occasions that make and keep a new generation of fans. It is those occasions that de-Plasticise if you like and hopefully Wembley will grab the soul of a few Plastics and never let go.

And then they won't be Plastics any more.

And lets face it we all started somewhere; we were all Plastic once.
          Video: Myanmar Neutral On South China Sea Dispute        
Myanmar, the chair of this year's meeting of the association's foreign ministers wont take sides on Philippines and Vietnam countries dispute over China's expansive claims in South China Sea. In Malaysia, government bails out Malaysian Airlines from its poor financial situation. The state-owned majority shareholder to buy out minority owners.
          One Life Insurance Policy for two people        
sunset, dusk, plants, field, nature, outdoors

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First To Die Life Insurance
A first to die life insurance policy pays the death benefit when the first insured policyholder dies. It can be used by business partners to provide funds for the surviving partner to buy out the deceased partner’s business interest and cover other expenses that may arise from a partner’s death. This can be especially useful since many physician and dental groups form partnerships or LLPs. Meanwhile, married couples may use first to die survivorship life insurance to provide the surviving spouse with money for living expenses that may arise after the first partner dies.
Although this structure is very similar to a traditional term life insurance policy, the difference is that both partners or spouses are covered under one policy. This is cheaper than purchasing 2 individual policies and can be beneficial if one policyholder may be independently uninsurable.
Second To Die Life Insurance

On the other hand, second to die life insurance does not pay the death benefit until the second insured person dies. This type of policy may be used by affluent couples as a hedge against estate taxes for their heirs. The death benefit is separate from the estate and is not subject to estate or income tax. [Editor’s Note: The policy cannot be owned by the insured if you want the benefit to be estate tax-free.] An inheriting spouse does not have to pay estate taxes so estate taxes are only due after the death of the second spouse. Family owned businesses also use second to die survivorship life insurance to provide funds to cover taxes and other liquidity needs in the event of death.
Joint Life nsurance

It is the ideal coverage to have if you are a US citizen and your estate is large enough to be liable for federal estate taxes when you both have passed away. Why first to die? The death benefits can be paid to an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust whose assets are apart from the taxable assets of the family. The trustee of the ILIT can then (1) invest the death benefits in a second, single premium policy, for the surviving spouse if greater coverage is needed for a growing estate, or (2) place the dath benefits into an SPDA and pay the interest to the surviving spouse as a retirement supplement. The principal would then be lest for the estate’s heirs to address estate tax issues. Traditional second to die does not have these options and may cause a problem A large second to die policy in an ILIT still requires annual gifts to keep in force after the first spouse dies. This may be difficult for a surviving spouse to maintain. For estate tax planning, first to die is an excellent product.

A good life insurance advisor will strive to offer the solution that appears to be best suited for the need, your individual circumstances and the amount that you can comfortably afford to address the need. 


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          Sarah Smith - Game Blog: Sprite Kit for the Win        
My game development work these days is all done in Apple's Sprite Kit, which is a dedicated 2D game development technology.  To my knowledge Apple is the only device vendor making game APIs like Sprite Kit.  Google has some back-end stuff but nothing to put sprites on the screen.

Sprite Kit is a "no engine solution".

The correct term for it is framework: Sprite Kit is not an "Engine".  You hear that as a common term around game dev circles: "what engine are you using?".  Sprite Kit is a "no engine solution".  In this article I lay out my reasons for choosing Sprite Kit for my professional studio's development, and what this distinction means in practice.

Editing a Sprite Kit Scene in Xcode

In game dev you try to separate code from assets, functionality from data, as you do in regular programming or good software engineering.  A key difference is the degree of separation and what role your game plays on the device when you use a framework rather than an engine.

  • With a framework you are actually writing a computer program,  in essence, and that program is an executable, which runs on the platform making calls via a framework API to load assets and data.  There may be tools to create data like levels and maps into a form that the framework API calls can consume.  But those tools only exist as part of a set of programmer's productivity helpers, and typically its possible to edit that data using other tools if needed.  
  • Essentially in the engine case, your game is NOT a program, its all data.  The engine is in charge, and you provide your game as a package of data for the engine to operate on.  The engine has a combined editor and previewer that encapsulates the entirety of your creative process, capturing your scripts, assets and other inputs into a package and giving an almost-real-time view of the game.

What is it that we get from game engine makers, like GameMaker, Adventure Game Studio, Unity3D, Unreal Engine or CryEngine?  They ship pre-packaged functionality, such as "place that quad over there with this texture on it", and "apply that animation to this object node".  You provide a package of data, which includes visual assets such as images & models, and logic assets such as scripts, that the game engine loads and at various times to render and evaluate.

Framework eg Sprite Kit vs an Engine
What is the real-world implication of this?  Basically you can only do (easily) what the engine provides for.  If you write a script or make an object that invokes cool engine functionality you can move mountains and make magic.  But when you try to just make a button behave like you want, and the engine doesn't support that it becomes ridiculously painful.  Mountains of code or even an external plugin has to be used.

  • With an engine
    • some incredible things are easy, and 
    • easy things are (often) strangely hard. 
    • publishing/shipping is way harder than it should be 
  • With a framework API 
    • everything is possible, and 
    • easy things are (often) a bit hard
    • shipping is what they do best
These attributes mean that engines are great for prototyping (as long as your prototype is a game that the engine can easily make) but things get hard quickly when you try to exert your will and design intent over the game; and also when you start to get closer to publishing and want to integrate platform API's for things like In-App Purchases.


Having said that engines like Unity are incredibly powerful and talented 3D programmers have produced a lot of common 3D rendering functionality into a tightly honed and well-documented beast which you can call on to get your game up and running quickly.  Of course you don't get this for free: a professional studio has to pay $1500 USD for each of Unity Pro, Unity iPhone and Unity Android - so a total bill of $4500 USD (or around $6000 AUD) per seat.  And then you pay that again when Unity goes up a major version number.  Its worth every penny - if you need that 3D functionality.

The essential trade-off is that particular engines are well-suited to producing a particular type of game.  In fact most engines already have a type of game in mind.  Unity is ideally suited to games where a 3D avatar in either 1st person or 3rd person is running around a world, followed by a camera.

You can of course fix that camera, get rid of the avatar, and place a 2D orthographic scene in the view to thereby construct a 2D game.  This is kind of like using a Mack truck as a garden shed: you've got all this powerful 3D architecture under the hood, and your fixing most of it in place so that you just use the 2D side of it.  But as mobile devices get bigger and more powerful, and include 3D rendering hardware it turns out you can get away with doing this.

As a programmer however, you can do away with all this extra baggage and enjoy the following benefits:

  • faster load times (no 3D engine to load)
  • zero cost per seat development
  • less licensing hassles
  • traction with Apple
  • immediate access to Platform API's
    • App Slicing
    • In-App Purchases
  • open source community
    • 3rd party stuff often $0
What are the drawbacks:
  • You need a programmer
  • Non-tech team member friction
  • Less off-the-shelf "store" assets
  • Code is not cross-platform
One of the difficulties with Sprite Kit is that many artists, animators and other creative professionals who are not programmers do not have experience with it yet, and thus find it hard to directly contribute their assets to it, and work with the tool set.

However I think this will change as Apple has a huge commitment to making coding with Swift and Xcode more open and available to the wider creative community.

The Sprite Kit route was a no-brainer for me as I have a career as a software engineer behind me in my game development.  Also I had my previous experience with Cocos2D which has a very similar API.  I don't need the features that Unity excels in such as 3D.  As a founder of a studio I don't want our IP saddled permanently with the licensing and lock-in hassles of being welded to Unity3D - which is a proprietary technology.  Unity also likes to monitor your games so that it can tell if you're adhering to the licensing conditions and it requires you to notify your players of this.  Basically for me its about having control over my game and my IP.

Swift, and pretty much all the Xcode & Apple toolchain is Open Source and Xcode itself is at the end of the day just an IDE, so there is nothing stopping me editing my code in JetBrains AppCode or other tools.  I could edit my assets in other tools such as for example Texture Packer, and TileEd.

Want to give Sprite Kit a serious try for your studio's next game?  I strongly suggest going and buying Ray Wenderlich's PDF book "2D iOS & tvOS Games by Tutorials".  They update their stuff and you get the updates for free, and despite the title its not just a starter book, it teaches you 90% of what you need to get going, and gives a huge bunch of sample code as well.

Your mileage may vary.  But have a look at the pros and cons, and especially try to think of the longer game if you're a professional studio, or consider that you might want to be a buy out option so that you can at some point exit your studio.  Due diligence and buy-out exits are much easier when you have the fewest possible licensing hassles linked to your IP.

I hope this article helps, and if you share some of the same aspects that I do when it comes to game development you can be clearer about your choice of engine or framework.

Thanks for reading!

          Christmas Ornaments: Making Your Home Perfect for the Holiday Season        
This article well help you choose the perfect Christmas ornaments for your tree.

Christmas trees are important, however, what would a tree be if it didn't have any Christmas ornaments? Not only is Christmas a great season, but for all those who are shopping addicts, Christmas also means Christmas shopping. Having to shop for Christmas ornaments can be fun and enjoyable instead of boring and tiring. If you look in the right places, you can find unique and interesting ornaments for your home and your Christmas tree.

One good news is that you won't have to go far and wide just to look for the perfect Christmas ornament that you need. More likely, you will find these ornaments in your nearby shopping center. Be attentive to store windows because chances are, they will have some of their best decorations displayed in there. An alternative option to buy your ornaments from is by going online. You can find unique Christmas ornaments if you scour the Internet. When you do see something that catches your attention, be sure to check the shipping time and cost first. The last thing you need is a Christmas ornament that arrives way too early for the holiday celebration for next year.

When choosing Christmas ornaments, you can opt for a themed ornament. This will help add coherence to your Christmas decorations. Some fun ornaments that you can use as décor would be dolls. You can stitch beautiful doll apparels and design it with glitter. Create lovely snowman dolls or Santa caps to hang in there as well. If you are the type who can DIY projects, then you can definitely find great instructions and tips on how to create beautiful and fun Christmas ornaments.

Before you go out to buy the right Christmas ornaments for your home, it's best to know a little bit about its past and how this whole practice came about. Back in the day, ornaments were used as peach offerings to the gods. These were given in exchange for having happiness, good health, peace and favor. Of course, as times changed, so did the meaning. It no longer became a peace offering, but it simply became something that we hanged on trees and walls for decoration during the holiday season.

The original ornaments that were used were mostly made out of wood and other elements found in nature. They were shaped into different shapes like stars, balls, and transformed into rudimentary Christmas ornaments. As time went by, it was improved and soon they were using paint to decorate the ornaments. Some were colored in red and green, the traditional colors of Christmas. Others were given metallic coatings like silver and gold.

One of the most common ornaments we have today is a Christmas ball. There are plenty of unique pieces that we can use and buy out there. Unique pieces shaped like toys, fishes, birds, stars, crystals, snowflakes, the list can be endless. One of the more commonly used Christmas ornament would be the bell. Hanging bells are commonly used since they are attractive and they have a timeless significance.

If you are looking for great and fun Christmas ornaments, you won't have to look very far. If you make use of your imagination, even items that you can find at home can be used as a great ornament for your Christmas tree. All you need is a good imagination and a dose of holiday cheer to help you find the perfect ornaments for you Christmas tree.

You can also get discounts on yoru Christmas wreaths and prelit Christmas trees

You can also check out some good reviews of Christian books here..

http://scotpreston192.terapad.com/index.cfm?fa=contentNews.newsDetails&newsID=134216&from=list
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          Why Do You Blog?        
The reason I started blogging is plain and simple and I won’t hide it. It is to make money.

A lot of people may think this is such a shallow reason to start a blog, which is essentially a journal of your experiences. But the reason that I want to make money is so that my dad can retire from his job and come home. Let me tell you a short story.

For some of you who know already and some who don’t know, you can find out who I am here. Basically, my dad has been working as an expatriate for most of my life, since I was 4 years old my dad has worked in the airline industry, mostly with Emirates Airlines (In Dubai, where he currently works).

Working life as an expatriate in the Arabian countries is extremely high paying and working as an aircraft engineer all these years, my dad has been able to send me and my younger brother to Australia to complete our university degrees. But it’s also a hard living.

The temperature in Dubai can reach up to 50 degrees Celsius in the summer and my dad works in the hangars and on the tarmac, under the planes. He also has to work day and night shifts. On top of all that, my and my 2 brothers eat like machines, which adds alot to his monthly expenses.

Another thing about Dubai is that for how much people see it as a developing, super urban country with buildings popping up everywhere there is another side to it. You have to remember that underneath the skyscrapers, giant islands and prospering economy, it is still a government which runs under Sharyiah law. Also, there is a very different mindset among the locals. To not stir up any tensions, if you think it’s bad here in Malaysia, depending on the situation and your luck, it can be 10 times worse in Dubai. Basically put, working there can be quite a challenge.

Some of the things available in Dubai.

Now, I have a brother who is only 13 years old. He is due to go to college and university after that in about 4 years time. We all want him to be able to study in Australia like how me and my younger brother did.

But my dad doesn’t think that me and my younger brother can afford to support our youngest and send him through to university ourselves. He’s decided to stay with Emirates airlines way past the normal retirement age (55). He is planning on retiring only at the age of 62 (he is 59 years old as it is). Additionally he went for training for the new A380 airbus super plane which bonded him to Emirates for the next 3 years (until he retires).

So my plan is to make enough money to buy out his bond (about USD15,000) and maintain roughly RM4000 – RM5000 a month in recurring salary. I think this should be enough to convince him that we can send my youngest brother to Australia and have the same experiences in life as me and my younger brother had.

I plan to make this money though blogging, affiliate marketing and starting my own website.

So, I know why I am blogging, but why are YOU blogging? Leave a comment, share your thoughts.


          SWAPTION HEDGING: GET REAL?        
Pension schemes: The real risk
Historically UK pension schemes’ largest financial exposures have been short positions in long-dated interest rates and inflation, arising from the liabilities. This can be seen as being short the long dated real interest rate. While many schemes have instigated LDI programs in recent years to address and manage inflation and rates risk, it is still real rates that remain a core driver of the financial position of the UK DB pension scheme community.
 
The story of the last few years in LDI has been an increase in sophistication of pension schemes in respect of their LDI approaches, and therefore a growth in the “toolkit” of instruments with which they have implemented the LDI program. [See link for some colour on this evolution: Is LDI Dead? No, It's Evolving]. One useful component which has increased in popularity recently is the use of swaptions (an option to enter into a swap). Further information on the use of swaptions in LDI is available here [Using Swaptions in an LDI Framework], but in brief, buying a receiver swaption would allow a scheme to implement a form of insurance strategy against nominal rates falling without fully “locking into” the present level of rates.
 
It’s easy to show that nominal swaptions can reduce the impact of falling rates on a pension scheme; however the true exposure is to the real rate. A nominal swaption won’t protect against a scenario where inflation rises but the nominal rate stays the same (we experienced exactly this scenario in the first part of 2013, for example). The lack of a meaningful market for hedging large real rate exposure in option format is therefore a missing element to LDI hedging.
 
Background to real rate swaptions
Traditionally a key source of real rate volatility was derived from puttable bonds issued by Network Rail.  The banks who owned those bonds were long real rate volatility through this position and hence able to sell real rate swaptions to their pension scheme clients. As the amount of issuance was somewhat limited (£800m notional) the market size was limited as well.
 
The market development is that banks now seem more willing to price up real rate options (swaption format) regardless of having a natural hedge through holding the underlying Network Rail bonds.
 
Real rate swaption: what does it look like?
Interest rate swaption: underlying is an interest rate swap (zero coupon or par);
Inflation (RPI) swaption:  underlying is as RPI inflation swap; can be spot or forward starting;
Real rate swaption: Underlying is a real rate swap:
 
Payer Real Rate: max [0, PV (floating libor leg) – PV (inflation leg)]; right to pay real rate
Receiver Real rate: max [0, PV (inflation leg) – PV (floating Libor leg)] right to receive real rate
Real rate swaptions are swaption executed, and swap settled
 
Market liquidity in real rate swaptions is not as deep as or comparable to the nominal swaption market.
 
Real rate volatility 
The volatitlity of real rates is not the same as the nominal interest rate volatility. It is after all a spread trade between inflation and interest rates- two underlyings which according to monetarist economics enjoy some element of interplay and correlation. The result is that (typically) real rates are not as volatile as nominal interest rates. Despite being less volatile, real rate vol will at least have a term structure (how volatility varies as tenor increases) similar to that of nominal rates.
As a rough guide a 1yr 30y swaption with only a short 1yr option period will have roughly c.90% of nominal volatility; whereas a 10yr 30y swaption with a longer option period will be marked with a lower c.75% of libor at the money (ATM) vol. The longer the option period the more the tail off relative to nominal volatility.
 
 
Why use it
1)      Insurance Co : Pension buy-out
Typically used as part of a pension buy-out by an insurance company wishing to protect themselves against a fall in the real yields relative to the buy-out price. Hence the Insurance company would buy a real rate receiver swaption (right to receive the real rate (today)) as opposed to real rate in the future (unhedged).
 
2)      Pension schemes: trigger – happy?
Looking to the future – what could pension schemes consider real rate swaptions for?
The LDI toolkit could be expanded to allow (say) monetising of real rate upside triggers to at least earn option premium if real rates don’t recover in the pension scheme’s favour meantime. Typically a client could look to receive a premium for monetising a strike circa 50bps out of the money from the at the money forward (ATMF), they would do this by selling a payer swaption at this level. Like the insurance company, a pension scheme could also buy downside protection against real rates falling further by buying a real rate receiver swaption.
 
 
Costs and considerations
The market for real rate swaptions is still small and subject to model risk and interpretation. Real rate volatilities are hard to calibrate, term structure has to be assumed, correlation assumptions between rates and inflation will affect pricing. Two-way pricing in the interbank market exists but not in meaningful size. Another point is that in a thin market large trades can take time to clear so market equilibrium can be measured in weeks rather than being intra-day. As a result, caveat emptor – this is not a particularly transparent product to price or trade in and out of and schemes should recognise this.
 
Why not stick with options on RPI?
Before committing to a real rate swaption as the best real rate hedge it makes sense to consider the inflation option market as well. RPI swaptions are regularly priced in option expiries from 3 months out to 2 years, with the range of available strikes being reasonably liquid within 50bps or so of the ATM price. Bid offers spreads for RPI swaptions are not much higher than that in the nominal rates swaption market as long as the strike is reasonably close to the ATM. It is therefore a quicker, cheaper, more transparent alternative – sadly it’s only one part of any real rate hedge.
 
Never say never
There are some meaningful players in the real rate option market who have dealt meaningful LDI style trades and are trying to develop the real rate swaption market. It should be stressed, however, that the process for a real rate trade can still be time-consuming and should be seen as a tactical or strategic – rather than a vanilla - hedge. Clients will want to have solid economic reason (hence the buy out trades) or a sound view on real rate exposures that they wish to hedge or monetise before the real rate route makes sense.
 
Conclusions
 
There are principally three pillars we would expect to see in place before the real rate swaptions market is able to take off:
 
1.       The major UK LDI fund managers demonstrate a capability to risk-manage and incorporate within their portfolio systems
2.       A sufficient number of banks (probably at least 3) are able to quote in meaningful size with transaction costs that appear appropriate relative to the nominal swaption market
3.       Continued increases in the sophistication of pension fund trustees (and their governance frameworks) allows them to understand the benefits and risks involved, and confidently mandate a fund manager in a sufficiently timely manner to capture opportunities.
 


Please note that all opinions expressed in this blog are the author’s own and do not constitute financial legal or investment advice. Click here for full disclaimer



 

          News: Bankers cash in on megabrew merger        
Bankers and lawyers will pocket $1.94 billion in fees and taxes from the merger between the world's top two brewers, AB InBev and SABMiller. But some 5,500 jobs will be axed as AB sets out to recoup the £79 billion it has cost to buy out its rival. It will also have to divest of such brands as Grolsch, Peroni and Pilsner Urquell and has sold Meantime of London to Japanese brewer Asahi.
          3 Investments to Protect Your Portfolio From Inflation        
Whether you think we'll see inflation or deflation in the short term, even the most ardent deflationists will admit that inflation is likely, eventually, once the bad credit outstanding has retired to money heaven.

So when inflation does return - whether it's next year, or longer, what are the best ways to shelter cold hard cash?  Inflation expert Terry Coxon explores here (fellow Harry Browne fans will recognize Terry's name - they did a lot of work together).  Coxon's Open Opportunity IRA is an especially attractive idea, for those of us who want more flexibility from our retirement plans (and/or are worried that the government may eventually try to lock them up in "Patriot bonds"!)

3 Ways to Shelter Your Cash from Inflation

By Terry Coxon, The Casey Report

The high rate of inflation most of us believe is waiting not too far down the road will be an earthquake for investment markets. The likely winners (gold, silver, precious metals stocks) and the likely losers (long-term bonds and most stocks) aren’t too hard to identify. But separating the sheep from the goats is only one element for financial success in an environment of rapidly rising consumer prices.

Higher rates of price inflation will bring greater volatility to all financial markets. The higher you expect inflation and hence gold to go, the more volatility you should expect to see for assets of every type. Even if in fact the dollar is on the road to perdition, there will be detours and backtracking along the way.

Inflation doesn't operate smoothly; it is a disrupter for both the economy and for the political system. From time to time over the next five to ten years, the Federal Reserve will come to see inflation as its most urgent problem. And every time that happens, the Fed will slow the creation of fresh dollars or even put up a big INTERMISSION sign and stop printing altogether for a while.

Such seizures of monetary virtue won’t last long, but while they do last, they will hammer most investment markets, including the market for the yellow stuff and for stocks of companies that produce or look for it. You could be absolutely correct about where the dollar is headed in the long run and still have a scary ride.

2008 was just a preview of the downdrafts you will need to survive. There will be even uglier smash-ups, and you don’t want to be among the hard-money investors who get carried off on a stretcher. To avoid being one of them, you’ll need to include cash as a constant, permanent element of your portfolio. Cash is a courage booster. Having a substantial cash reserve makes it easier to hold on to your other investments when they are getting battered and you are tempted to bail out. And cash gives you the wherewithal to buy on dips – and on the big dumps.


The Twins

Of course, cash will be the asset whose value is shrinking. But the rate at which the purchasing power of your cash declines will depend very much on how you hold it.

Interest rates on money market instruments, such as Treasury bills and large CDs, track the rate of inflation fairly closely. By creating money fast enough, the Federal Reserve can keep rates on money market instruments one or two percentage points below the inflation rate, but not indefinitely. And any such effort to suppress short-term interest rates succeeds at the cost of producing even higher inflation later. Similarly, the Fed can keep money market rates one or two points above the inflation rate for a while, with the likely eventual result of a slowing in inflation. But over long periods, the average yield on money market instruments about matches the average rate of inflation.

Given that money market yields travel the same path as inflation rates, holding cash doesn’t seem to be terribly painful. The loss in purchasing power about gets made up for by the yield. That’s a nice thought – until you think about taxes. Even though the yield is merely replacing the purchasing power being lost, the yield is subject to income tax, unless you do something about it.

Doing nothing about it is, in a subtle way, risky for your portfolio. When price inflation gets to, say, 10% and money market yields are near the same level, if you are in a 40% tax bracket, you’ll be losing purchasing power on your cash at a rate of 4% per year. The situation will get worse as inflation moves higher, and you’ll be tempted to cut back on cash in order to cut back on the leakage. And that will leave you dangerously ill-prepared for the next INTERMISSION sign.

Logically, then, to make holding cash cheap or even free, you need to hold the cash in an environment where the yield is protected from taxes. Let’s look at the possibilities, some of which, you should be warned, may make you say “Yuk.”


Deferred Annuities

A straight annuity is a contract with an insurance company that pays you a certain amount per year for the rest of your life. A deferred annuity begins with an accumulation period, during which the contract earns interest or some other investment return. You can end the accumulation period whenever you want and then either start receiving a lifetime of payments or simply withdraw the contract's accumulated value.

Earnings in a deferred annuity are tax-deferred until they are withdrawn. So if the return on a deferred annuity tracks money market yields, then the real value of the annuity will hold approximately steady, even at high rates of inflation.

Deferred annuities are now an almost forgotten topic. They were, for the first time ever, a very big topic in the high-inflation years of the 1970s and 1980s. The reason was simple – sky-high interest rates. But in more recent experience, interest rates have been so low that the advantage of tax-deferred compounding has hardly been worth the trouble. It's when interest rates are high that tax-deferred compounding brings a big payoff.

When price inflation heats up and puts money market rates on a boil, expect to see ads for deferred annuities on every financial street corner. The right annuity contract will certainly be better than leaving cash in a bank account, but it still won't be the most attractive medium for holding cash through a period of rapid inflation. There are one, or perhaps two, limitations on an annuity's appeal.

The first is that the protection from being taxed on a fictitious return only goes so far. Even though the money inside the annuity may be holding its purchasing power (with interest continuously replacing what is being lost to inflation), eventually you'll cash the annuity in. At that point, all the interest will be taxable. After, say, a decade of high inflation, most of what comes out of the annuity will be accumulated interest – which will be taxable as ordinary income. So you'd have a one-time loss of nearly 40% of your purchasing power, assuming you're in a 40% tax bracket. (I know that sounds awful, but it would be a far better result than paying tax on interest income year by year during a decade of rapid inflation.)

The second limitation is that, so far as I have been able to determine, no insurance company offers a program that would let you switch the value of an annuity between money investments and something related to precious metals. That may change as inflation and the public's interest in gold picks up. But until it does, there would be no tax-efficient way to tap the purchasing power your annuity had been protecting to buy something gold-related during the downdrafts we're trying to prepare for.


Cash Value Life Insurance

As with a deferred annuity, the earnings on a cash value life insurance policy can accumulate and compound free of current tax. But that’s where the similarity ends.

Unlike the earnings on a deferred annuity, the earnings on cash value life insurance can come out of the policy tax free. The tidiest way is for you to die at just the moment that is most convenient for your financial plan. An alternative, if you don’t have such an accommodating attitude, is to borrow the earnings from the policy. You can do so tax free if the policy satisfies the “7-pay” rule: pay for the  policy no more rapidly than with seven equal annual premiums.

Being able to borrow from the policy tax free would allow you to tap its value whenever gold and other hard investments have had a sizeable setback. Convenient. But, depending on your circumstances, that convenience may or may not be available to you for free.

Between the Internal Revenue Code's requirements for a contract to qualify as “life insurance” and the perversely characterized “consumer protection” rules of the various states, it is not possible to buy a life insurance policy in the U.S. that does not have a face value far above the amount you’ve invested in the policy. The difference represents the insurance company’s risk – mortality risk – that you may stop breathing ahead of schedule. The insurance company, of course, will charge for that risk. There are a lot of variables, but think of the charge as amounting to something on the order of 1% per year of the capital you want to wrap inside the policy to protect the return from taxes.

Whether a cash value insurance policy (a 7-pay policy, so that you can borrow tax free) is a good place to shelter cash from the winds of inflation depends in large part on whether paying for mortality risk is or is not a wasted cost for you. If you now have a reason to own term life insurance, you are paying purely for mortality risk. In that case, it would make sense for you to convert to a cash value policy that could be invested in money market instruments as a way to prepare for high inflation. There wouldn’t be any additional mortality cost, and you would get the tax advantages of life insurance.

On the other hand, if you have no use for pure life insurance coverage, using a cash value policy for its tax advantages would require you to become a regular bettor in the actuarial casino, which you probably would not want to do.


Retirement Accounts

If it is available to you, by far the best way to hold cash through an inflationary storm is in an Individual Retirement Account. Without any of the costs that come with a deferred annuity or a life insurance policy, you can invest in T-bills, insured jumbo CDs and other money market instruments and in near-cash assets such as very short-term bonds. You can have a free hand to tap the cash at opportune times to purchase precious metals and precious metal stocks. The whole arrangement is protected from current taxes, and with a Roth IRA the proceeds eventually can come out tax free.

You can do exactly the same with a solo 401(k) plan. And if you have a 401(k) plan that's sponsored by your employer, you may be able to do about the same, depending on the investment options the plan allows.

A retirement plan would be the ideal vehicle, but there is a size constraint. While the size of a deferred annuity or of a cash value life insurance policy is limited only by the size of your checkbook, IRAs are not so easily scalable. However, if you have a traditional IRA and would like to move a chunk of non-IRA money into it, there is a way to effectively do so.

Take a close look at your traditional IRA. How much of it is building tax-deferred wealth foryou? Less than meets the eye.

If you are in, say, a 40% tax bracket, then no matter how large your IRA gets to be, when it comes time to take a distribution, 40% will go to the government. Your ability to postpone that event won't change the nature of it. In effect, the government now owns 40% of your IRA, and you own only 60%. If there is, for the sake of round numbers, $100,000 in your IRA, only $60,000 is working for you.

Fortunately, there is a way to buy out the government's share. It's a Roth conversion. You pay the tax now, so that eventually your withdrawals will be tax free. The result: the assets you own directly decline by $40,000 (the money you spend to pay the tax bill on the conversion); and the amount in the IRA that is working exclusively for you increases by $40,000.

That's a big improvement, because the net effect is to move capital out of a tax-paying environment and into a tax-free environment where all of the earnings get reinvested. To continue the example, the effective size of your IRA increases by two-thirds ($40,000/$60,000). That's two-thirds more money doing the happy work of tax-free compounding for your benefit.

You can do the same with a solo 401(k) – effectively plump it up through a Roth conversion.

The financial logic of a Roth conversion is compelling. The case is even stronger if you first restructure your IRA as an Open Opportunity IRA. The Open Opportunity structure starts out as a big idea – radically greater investment freedom – and then gets bigger.

Instead of being restricted to the menu of investments allowed by your existing IRA custodian, your IRA would own a single asset – a limited liability company that you manage. Then you would roll over the investments from your existing IRA into the new IRA and then into the LLC. As Manager of the LLC, you would have the choice of keeping the existing investments or switching to real estate, gold coins, equipment leasing or almost anything else.

That's the investment freedom. In addition, by designing the LLC appropriately, significant savings on the cost of your Roth conversion may be possible..

You can learn more about the Open Opportunity IRA in "The Year of the Roth," in the June 2010 edition of The Casey Report.


Time to Plan

Deferred annuities, cash value life insurance and retirement plans – these are the ready vehicles for protecting the purchasing power of the cash you need for portfolio safety during times of rapid inflation. They do the job by reinvesting money market yields, which tend strongly to track inflation rates, without loss to current tax.

Of course, the three alternatives aren't exclusive; you can use more than one. Which of them would be best for you depends not just on their characteristics but on your individual circumstances. Now, before CPI inflation starts making double-digit headlines, is a good time to start weighing your choices. Even if you don't like any of the choices, any of them will be better than letting your cash rot.

Contributing Editor Terry Coxon is president of Passport Financial, Inc., and for over 30 years has advised clients on legal ways to internationalize their assets to optimize tax, wealth protection and estate planning goals.

[For a very limited time, you can now profit from the investment advice of both the Casey Research team and 35 big-name experts… like ShadowStats’ John Williams, James G. Rickards, Chris Whalen, Mike Maloney and many others. Get your Double-Dip Crisis Bundle today – for one low price. More info here.]
          Fireside on the Great Theft        
A recent interview in Frankfurt’s FAZ newspaper:

Dr. Schirrmacher: And then, just to find a starting point, maybe we can start with the personal, and then at least I would ask you both. Maybe that is a good starting point, very basic: What is the future of Europe? So, what do you conceive what will happen, and what is going to happen? Sie können sich auch gegenseitig … Now, Michael Hudson, you are in Germany and you are known to our readers, and Sahra Wagenknecht, of course, as well. Just very briefly your background. In your DNA, in your genetic code, you have traces of Indian roots.

Prof. Hudson: Well, I am one-eighth (Chippewa) Indian, so I’m half Irish, a quarter Swiss, one eighth English. I grew up in Minneapolis, which was the center of America’s labor movement in the 1930s. The general strike in 1936 shaped the American labor scene.

Minnesota had a governor, Floyd B. Olson, who said that he hoped capitalism run right to hell. The Trotskyists were the main opponents of the Stalinists at that time. The irony is that you had the right wing ganging up with the Stalinists, all against the Trotskyist leadership because the Stalinists feared that a non-communist socialist leadership would build up the labor unions, as Minnesota was building up the Teamsters. So in 1941 my father became one of the Minneapolis 17, the first people committed under the Smith Act. This was ostensibly against advocating the overthrow of the government by force and violence, defined so loosely that in the presentation before the jury, it meant simply having the works of Marx and Lenin on your bookshelf.

I later was asked, when I went to work for Herman Kahn at the Hudson Institute, whether there was any reason why I could not get a top secret security clearance. I mentioned that my father was a Trotskyist leader, and he said: Oh, they know about that, that Stalin and Roosevelt made a deal around 1941 that if Roosevelt would prosecute the Trotskyists, the Communist Party promised not to pull out any of its Labor unions on strike during the balance of the war. The U.S. Attorney General later wrote in his autobiography that it was the only thing that was ashamed of doing, because by no stretch of the imagination could the Trotskyists have been any threat to the country.

In fact, it was the Trotskyists that called in the National Guard to protect the workers and the strikers against the police force that was working on behalf of the large companies. The lawyer for the Trotskyists in the trial was Al Goldman, who had been a colleague of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht. As I was growing up, most of the radicals who were still living throughout the world and from the United States would come to my house, and tell me their stories and their experiences.

Dr. Schirrmacher: What could they say about Luxemburg and Liebknecht?

Prof. Hudson: Al Goldman was still trying to find out who was responsible for killing them. But we decided that it really does not matter who the individuals are. They are usually killed by their bodyguards. The key is people behind them that order the killing.

Dr. Schirrmacher: But you don’t have a memory of an anecdote or whatsoever, an anecdote about Luxemburg or Liebknecht, what they …

Prof. Hudson: No. Mainly, they talked about revolutionary theory. I wanted to grow up and go to jail like all of the people that my family admired, and their colleagues admired. So now I’m ashamed that I’ve never been able to go to the University of the Revolution.

Dr. Schirrmacher: But you worked with Kahn, and I remember that Kahn was the person who proclaimed golden ages ahead of us. And he was the futurist who always said we will be so happy and so lucky. Am I right?

Prof. Hudson: Yes, he was basically a military theorist who wrote a very good book on atomic warfare, saying that some people would survive. He was the model for “Dr. Strangelove”. And he felt so bad from being attacked for his military theory – and he was indeed a brilliant military theorist – that he decided to form the Corporate Environment study. But he was wrong in almost everything economic he said, so he brought me on to disagree with him on everything, as a foil. We liked each other. He was a very nice guy. In fact, we liked each other so much that we could not believe that the other person actually believed what they were saying publicly.

Herman Kahn weighed 400 pounds. I remember once in Paris, we were leaving the hotel to go to the airport, and I tried to hand him his pants. As far as my hands would stretch, they still weren’t long enough for the waist. He also had narcolepsy. When he was not speaking at a public lecture, he would fall asleep – usually in his food. He would rise from the table with the food flowing down his necktie, talking about the world economy an expanding pie, and in another generation, the whole world could live just like him. And everybody would go on diet, over a long time.

One of the big problems we had was when he wanted me to project the gross national product and hence living standards at 6 % or 4 % per year, which economists were doing at that time. He thought that all the technology and power somehow would make all countries rich. I refused to make that calculation, even though when I joined the Institute I insisted that the one perk that I wanted was an HP 75 calculator that could calculate exponential growth. I told Herman that the only growth that is exponential is financial – the magic of compound interest. And the more compound interest grows, the more it slows the economy, like driving a car with the brake on.

So that is where we differed. It turned out that most of his clients ended up hiring me instead of him, and I ended up getting a collection of Tibetan art as a result, and buying enough real estate, so, I’ve never had to work ever since and could spend all of my time writing.

Prof. Hudson: You talked about rescuing the banks, and that is really a phrase for trying to rescue a whole financial growth function to somehow save debts that can’t be paid. The question is: Who is going to take the loss? It really is trying to keep the debt overhead in place, by making the public sector absorb all the losses of the banks that have made the bad loan. And beyond this, it is really an ideology – an ideology that somehow the debts can all be paid. And beyond that, there is something else. Saving the banks is a slogan …

Dr. Schirrmacher: Sahra Wagenknecht, did I get you right that you say they can be paid?

Wagenknecht: They can’t. Also vorläufig können sie immer wieder, aber irgendwann …

Dr. Schirrmacher: Wegen der oberen 1 %.

Wagenknecht: … The upper class has to take the losses.

Prof. Hudson: The bailout is not saving the banks. The banks could function very well the next day after a debt cancellation. You are saving the bank stockholders and the bondholders and the rich counterparties to the banks. You are saving the gamblers who have accounts with the banks, not saving the banks.

But there is something even worse. The slogan “saving the banks” means a program for the governments to be financially responsible, which means financially self-destructive. The bailout is forcing Greece to sell its public domain, its water and sewer systems, its land, its real estate, its buildings, to sell to private buyers who are going to borrow money at interest from the bank to buy these public assets, and to treat them like a toll road.

So in the broadest sense of the term, saving the banks means to achieve by financial terms what it took an army militarily to counter a thousand years ago. Saving the banks thus is destroying society. Is that worth the payment?

Dr. Schirrmacher: Very good and very understandable, but a question again. We can’t be too economic but … You say, you don’t save the banks. But what is, let’s say, my life insurance. What they say to me is that my bank has Staatsanleihen from …, at a normal average term too, so I would lose as an average person … I mean, by saving the banks, don’t they save me as well?

Prof. Hudson: No, that’s the trick that they are playing. For instance, in the United States the largest bank is Citibank. That was insolvent as a result of being one of the most abusive fraudulent banks with junk mortgages and similar gambles. The head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Sheila Bair, said that she argued with the Obama administration saying that she could close down Citibank and save all of the insured depositors. She could have saved all of the basic banking functions.

The only people who would not have been saved would have been the gamblers at the top, on whom Citibank had written derivative gambles. It is as if in a horse race somebody goes to the casino and gambles, and then can’t pay their debt. The casinos say: We can’t operate at all, if the losers can’t pay what they owe. So, you – the government – have to levy a tax, to enable the losers to pay the winners.

It’s true that not everybody’s savings would have been saved under this plan. But normal operations would have been. And it’s the same with AIG, the Insurance conglomerate that was bailed out with $184 billion dollars. All this loss went through the London office making financial gambles, losing bets as to which way interest rates and junk mortgages would move. The government could simply have closed down AIG, taking it over and said: We are saving all of your normal insurance policies, we are saving all of your normal business, but the gamblers we are just not paying.

But in that case, Goldman Sachs would not have been paid $18 billion dollars. And Goldman Sachs had its representative Hank Paulson as Secretary of the Treasury. The Treasury was paying its private colleagues on Wall Street, instead of saving the normal depositors. The intention of this bank bailout is to wipe out the normal depositors and only save the rich of the top. Pretending to save the poor, the working class,and the middle class, they want to save everything for the top 1%. That is what they did with Citibank, and that is what they did with AIG. Citibank makes money by lending to people like Sam Zell, who would buy a company, look at the pension funds or Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), and empty them out to pay his creditors. So, what the government is saving are the parasitic functions of the banks.

Dr. Schirrmacher: To make it clear, and ask Frau Wagenknecht too: It could be possible not to save the banks, und würde trotzdem nicht diese Lebensversicherungen und Alters … das kann man trennen?

…

Dr. Schirrmacher: Nein, that is very important for you to understand that people like me, I take me as a durchschnittliche …, believe in a kind of empirical or scientific rationality and all this stuff. And if I am told by Hans Werner Sinn or other people, der frühere Regierungssprecher, Ulrich Wilhelm, you have to save the banks because then you save your life assurance, for example, then I believe it, and everybody believes it, because you say: Well, they are mathematicians or whatsoever.

Prof. Hudson: What if I say: You have to make me rich in order to give me an incentive not to wreck society. What the banks are really saying is that: We will wreck the payment system, and we will stop paying, and we will cause a crisis if you don’t give us what we want. We are holding you hostage.

But all you really have to do is take them over and replace them with other people. You save the basic banking and insurance functions. There are plenty of good assets in there. Even junk mortgages are worth something. They are worth enough to save all of the normal activities for 90 % of the population. The losers in this case would only be the 10 % at the top … And all these gains for the last 20 years have been to the top 10 %. They would lose their gains – but there is enough to pay everybody else.

Dr. Schirrmacher: Normal understanding is, politicians need majorities, and not the 10 % of the top.

Prof. Hudson: You talk about empirical studies. If the statistics were publicized to show what I am talking about, everybody would see in chart form that there is enough money there. The Federal Reserve has them. There are many statistics available, but the newspapers don’t publish them. They find it politically incorrect to do so.

What they call “class war” is simply society trying to protect itself from the 1 %.

Dr. Minkmar: One key argument in your system of thinking is the role of central banks. And now today we think that central banks are there to supervise things and see that everything runs smoothly. But what would you advice central banks to do?

Prof. Hudson: Central banks began to be created in 1694 with the Bank of England, and down to the Federal Reserve in the United States in 1913 their function was to finance government budget deficits by printing money. All governments over time run deficits – at least, most of the time – because that is how they supply the economy with the purchasing power and the money it needs to grow. The role of a central bank is to create money to finance the deficit.

If it does not do this, then the commercial banks end up performing this function. However, the commercial banks creating credit on their own computer keyboards have a different role from that of the central bank. When the central bank finances government spending, this is supposed to promote growth, full employment and industrialization. But that is not the object of a commercial bank. Banks, in the first instance, make loans against property already in place – mainly real estate and also the buyout of entire corporations. So they provide credit that bids up the price of housing, making it more expensive for workers. They also loan to buyers of commercial buildings, making it more expensive to do business, Takeover loans enable corporate raiders to bid up the price of stocks and bonds, making them yield less, so it costs more to buy a retirement income. And now, commercial banks are moving from finance capitalism to casino capitalism to make big gambles. They are essentially financing gambling. That’s what derivatives and “hedge fund” trading are.

None of this funds industrial investment. From the United States to Germany, almost all industrial capital formation is now funded by the retained earnings of corporations, not by bank borrowing. Even the stock market does not fund new direct investments. It has become a vehicle for corporate raiders to go to the banks to borrow the money, to buy a corporation on credit with junk bonds, retire the stock, and use the corporate profits to repay the banks – and then try to steal for themselves the pension funds, or sell off the assets, or just work the labor force more intensively; longer hours, outsource labor and move to the un-unionized labor. So the banks are no longer part of the industrialization process; they are part of the de-industrialization process. This is applauded as the post-industrial economy.

…

Dr. Minkmar: You were talking about Europe as being the new third world as a model for politics …

Prof. Hudson: In the 1970s and 80s, the International Monetary Fund imposed austerity on indebted countries. The conditions were that if the countries did not pay their foreign debts, they would be treated like Cuba or Iran, and made into pariahs in the international community. So, they were forced to sell off and privatize.

When I worked for Chase Manhattan Bank in 1964, my first job was to analyze the economies of Argentina, Brazil and Chile. My job was to calculate/estimate how much potential they could export and raise, one way or another.

In Latin America it could only be imposed at gunpoint, as you saw in Chile. So the first privatization, the first free-market model, was imposed at gunpoint in Chile under general Pinochet, under the direction of Henry Kissinger and the Nixon administration, and the University of Chicago Economics Department under Harberger and other operatives down there.

Once they did that, the next big test was the former Soviet Union. Unlike the West, the Soviet Union had no background in Marxism. They had no group that was familiar with Marx and Engels or classical economics. So in 1991 they immediately adopted the neo-liberal approach that said: We can promote millionaires by privatizing the property. Many friends of mine tried to go over and promote a more reasonable tax system. The post-Soviet economies after 1991 would have financed themselves by taxing natural resource wealth and real estate. But as soon as these good advisors would go over there, right-wing institutes like the Lincoln Institute or the World Bank would come and tell the mayors of a town: We’ll give you a million dollars in computers if you follow our system and give the assets to your insiders to create a new nomenklatura of vested property interests – specifically, rentier interests, who would issue stocks in their companies and sell them to U.S. and other foreign investors. The idea was to let the West buy out the key rent-yielding assets in the former Soviet Union, above all mineral rights and public utilities, as well as centrally located real estate.

The government would put a deposit in one of the banks of the nomenklatura. In the Loans-for-shares program in 1994, the banks right say: 100 million dollars to buy Yukos oil company. The government would redeposit the check in the bank, so that they got the company for nothing, that is, no cash of their own. And then, when the government did not repay the debt, the bank would get many billion dollars worth of an oil or mining company.

The Americans did this because they realized that if a kleptocrat could buy Russian resources for one cent on the dollar, they would be happy to sell it for two cents on the dollar. That made the Russian stock market the best performing market in the world from 1994 to 1997. Russia let itself be financialized.

Other parts in the Soviet Union did not have raw materials. So a more accurate dress rehearsal would be what happened in Latvia, where they imposed a neo-liberal paradise. As in Russia, the neo-liberals had a free hand as to how to design what they said would be an ideal economy. Their way of creating such an economy and its financial and fiscal system was to say: “Don’t set up your own banks. Let foreign banks create the credit on their own keyboards.” Labor in Latvia has to confront a 59% set of flat taxes on employment – taxes that together are 59%. The real estate tax is only 1%, based on the most recent appraisal of Latvian property, which was in 1917 just before the revolution. So, the result was the largest real estate bubble of all.

That is basically the neo-liberal plan for how to get rich in a post-industrial economy. A property is worth whatever a bank will lend, because without taxes the value of this economic rent became available to be paid to the banks as interest rather than as taxes. The value of the site’s location should have been the basis of public financing, as in America. It’s the basis for most localities to pay for their school systems. If you are not going to tax property, if you are not going to tax monopolies, if you are not going to tax finance, then you have to tax labor. That’s why you have a 59% tax on employment in Latvia.

The result was an economic collapse in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. The result is that one third of the Latvian labor force of working age between 20 and 35 emigrated or announced its intention to emigrate. They would go to countries like Ireland which also was being financialized. So the Baltics still, even last year, were celebrated by the Institute for International Economics, the Peterson Institute, which is a bank lobbyist in the United States, and by the applauder of Russian privatization, Anders Aslund, the Swedish neoliberal lobbyist. Latvia is applauded as a model for which Europe should emulate. So you can expect your wages to be cut by 30%, you can expect people will have to go into a lifetime of debt in order to buy housing. They will have to have to inherit money if they want to get an education.

Dr. Schirrmacher: That is what you say about Europe?

Prof. Hudson: I said, if you follow the Latvian model. This is the ideal. The basic principle when I talk to bankers is: You don’t know how far wages can be pushed down until somebody pushes back. And so far, nobody has pushed back.

Dr. Schirrmacher: But what is with the unions? Normally …

Prof. Hudson: The communist countries did not have unions because they were supposed to be one big union. So the working conditions in the Baltic States have the worst accident rates, the worst workplace conditions, and their workers report the most abusive treatment by their employers. The workplace conditions in the post-communist economies are much worse than those in the capitalist economies, where there has been a symbiosis between labor and capital, a symbiosis between the private sector and the government.
….

Dr. Schirrmacher: Just, I mean, off the record, but one of the advisers of chancellor Merkel is sometimes amazing, and he keeps telling this. He says: No, don’t write that. He says: It’s illegal, it’s against the treaty. I mean, that’s his last argument. So, I would like to … from scientific point of view. Frau

Wagenknecht: You are insane … What do you say as a scientist to this question?

Prof. Hudson: Let’s simply look at the empirical facts. Since 2008 you have had the largest monetary creation in the 20th century’s history. The central banks have fueled this money creation. In America alone they have added $13 trillion dollars to the federal debt by bank bailouts. Yet prices have remained quite stable. Wages actually have fallen for the last 30 years, despite the wave of asset-price inflation fueled by commercial bank credit.

Central bank economists talk about consumer price or commodity price inflation. But commercial banks fuel asset price inflation, by lending money against real estate, stocks and bonds already in existence. As they make credit terms easier, people need more access to bank credit in order to buy a house. They have to bid against other. So bank credit inflates real estate prices. The upshot is that now you have to take more years of your income to buy a home. In the United States, the average American worker now pays 40% of family income for housing, 15% of income more for other debt service on credit cards and student loans. Another 15% is for wage withholding, and about another 15 % in other taxes, including sales taxes. This means that only about a quarter of American workers’ income is available to be spent on goods and services. Bank lending has absorbed so much of the income of workers that money that is spent to pay the banks is not available to be spent on goods and services.

So the flip side of asset price inflation is debt deflation. More and more money has to be spent to carry the debt overhead. The problem is not central banks financing domestic government budget deficits. Every hyperinflation in history has come as a result of the collapse of the balance of payments. The Germans are most familiar with 1921, but they tend to forget that the Weimar inflation was a result of Germany trying to pay reparations abroad. They were ordered by the Allied powers to print Deutsche Marks not for domestic spending, not to run a domestic deficit, not to rebuild Germany, not to employ labor, but to throw reichsmarks onto the foreign exchange market to obtain the foreign currency to pay the Allies, so that the Allies could turn around and pay the arms debts for what they bought from the United States before entry into World War One. It was the collapse of the foreign exchange that caused the hyperinflation, not domestic spending. And Germany’s hyperinflation was not cured by the central bank creating less money. It was cured by setting up a triangular flow of international payments. American bondholders would lend money to German municipalities that would issue bonds. The municipalities would receive dollars, and turn them over to the Reichsbank. It then would issue German currency against this for local spending – using the dollars to pay the Allies. The Allies would pay America, and that would keep the circular flow going. But to do this, interest rates had to be held down in the United States, to make German and other European borrowing more profitable for international lenders.

The same thing happened in Chile, which is another textbook hyperinflation. Rogers wrote a book on the process of hyperinflation in France that also occurred in the 1920s. The classic study of German inflation is by Salomon Flink, The Reichsbank and Economic Germany. The book actually was printed in Germany at that time. The same thing happened in Russia in the 1990s. The Russia hyperinflation occurred as a result of the depreciation of the ruble. This was already determined in advance at the meeting in Huston, Texas, between the World Bank and the IMF and the other Russian authorities. All this was published at the time, even before break-up of the Soviet Union. So to talk about hyperinflation as if it is a domestic phenomenon is to ignore the fact that never in history has it been domestic. It always is a balance-of-payments phenomenon, associated either with war or a class war, as in Chile’s case.
Dr. Schirrmacher: Now, to leave that economical …, to go to the interpretation of what will come. So, when I get it right, what you say, and Frau Wagenknecht says it too, there will be a … Wir werden ärmer. Also der durchschnittliche Deutsche wird verarmen oder ärmer.

Prof. Hudson: Impoverishment.

Dr. Schirrmacher: Right. And not a revolution, not a moment where the society says no? That’s my question. But at the same time, what we are observing is that it is not only a change of the social standards of human beings in Europe but of the whole idea of democracy as well. This is something that strikes me most, which I would never believed. I must say, ten years ago, I would have said: conspiracy. And many like me would have said that the banks are so powerful and so on. Now, we start thinking whether “conspiracy” is the right word for it. And the same with the democracy, democratic question. I learned at school that the “Soziale Marktwirtschaft”, as we termed it, definitely requires Pluralismus, Demokratie, Partizipation, all that. But, and that is my question, are we, as Colin Crouch writes, postulating a post-democratic system? Is one of the prizes we have to pay for it, that democracy becomes weaker and weaker, and isn’t that a very dangerous development?

….

Dr. Schirrmacher: Und da hätte ich eine Frage, die auch ganz aktuell ist, an Michael Hudson, vielleicht more in a theoretical way. Our new president said apparently, it is ridiculous to protest against, how did he say it, the capitalistic system, or something like that. Es ist lächerlich …

Wagenknecht: Nein, albern hat er …

Dr. Schirrmacher: Albern, ja, another word, it’s like ridiculous. And there we are, the point of question is, after the end of the communism, there was the idea, there is the triumph of capitalism. And now the people who are very social saying, I am repeating what they said in Germany: Now we can have a chance really, we don’t need the money for Rüstung anymore, and for armies, and against the Soviet Union, and so on. And now, we are in the third phase, and that’s why the (spot) that is so interesting, is the question: There is no alternative. Nobody really likes it, many people suffer. But the idea is, they managed to get the system like die beste aller möglichen Welten, there is no alternative to that all. What do you say to that, and what do you say to this quote?

Prof. Hudson: It is very interesting that the destruction of communism, or what passed for communism in 1990, made possible the destruction of industrial capitalism. What you have today is not capitalism as it was known when I grew up. It is not the capitalism that was talked about by Adam Smith, Ricardo, John Stuart Mill or even Marx. It is something that is evolved into finance capitalism, that is going through a number of stages. Pension-fund capitalism is exploiting labor, not by hiring it to produce goods and services, but to dock savings and channel them into the hands of financial managers – to bid up stock market prices.

Dr. Schirrmacher: Is it not the case, that this system did exist in the 20s?

Prof. Hudson: No, it only existed since 1950s. That is when General Motors started its pension fund. Pension funds soon became the single largest purchasers of stock, pushing up stock prices. The major sellers of stock have been management insiders, and increasingly those exercising their stock options, selling them in effect to the pension funds. So, the function of labor was to provide pension fund savings to spur stock market gains for the managers that have been financializing industrial companies – and in the process, de-industrializing them.

So, I’d like to plug this into the earlier discussion you just had. When you use the word “post-democratic society”, that is a byproduct of the post-industrial economy, which essentially means a financialized economy. It also was post-modern, if you think of “modern” as what existed in the early 20th century in the Progressive Era. That was the Modern Era. We are now in a post-modern era. The pro-financial strategy is essentially an anti-government strategy. That is because every economy is planned by someone or other. Most economies throughout history have been planned by the government, or whoever controls it, whether it’s been the landed aristocracy or bankers. If the government does not do the planning, this function is forfeited to the banks. And that is where we are today. Just like the case in which, if taxes are cut and the government does not get the revenue, it is available to be pledged to the banks and capitalized on the debt.

So the planning process passes to the banks, and they claim that they are the brains of society. They say, there is no alternative. But they are not the brain; they are something alien to industrial capitalism. This is what the Saint-Simon and his followers discussed in the 19th century. It was discussed in every country. The financial strategy now is to prevent people from studying what this body of classical economics was. It sought to free society from interest. Today’s banks are playing upon anxiety and fear, like a high-pressure salesman threatening to bring on a collapse if industrial economies try to protect themselves. They say: “You have to make up your decision in a hurry, if you don’t do this, you are going to lose your money, you are going to lose this opportunity.” They try to make it appear that this not only is the only alternative, but that it will make you rich.

Banks have been saying this for 30 years. This is the first time in history that people have believed they could get rich by borrowing money to buy assets that are increasing in price, or that they may get rich by the hyperinflation of property prices, and by the stock and bond prices that bank credit has inflated. Banks have managed to prevent the government from regulating and preventing this hyperinflation – and they even have called it “wealth creation.”

It is really debt creation. Debt is a claim on the means of production, and on labor. It is not a process of real growth. So what banks are saying is that there is no alternative but to let debts grow, at compound interest. This means reducing wages, as more and more must be spent on debt service. This eats into corporate cash flow and profits. So more and more are siphoned off to pay creditors. Debt also eats into the government revenue, so that the government does not have enough to pay for social programs and pensions. It only has enough to bail out the banks on exponentially growing debt that can never been paid, mathematically. That is the empirical fact. All you have to do is draw a statistical chart of the growth of debt, and compare it to the growth in wages. And you’ll see …

Dr. Schirrmacher: How do you explain from a business point of view … I take the example of Dresden. I was in Dresden two weeks ago, and there they explained to me, the people I met from the city and from Volksbank and all these … They explained to me that Dresden, which I didn’t know, sold parts of their Stadtwerke and so on, and bought it back now because they realized that it was a mistake. I hear this from many, many other cities. Now, in my understanding of society, someone apparently made mistake here, the people who sold this, or at least, put the pressure. And normally, you would have to pay a price for making a mistake, and society would say: How could this happen? But the contrary is true, first of all, nobody discusses this, I can’t see it in den Städten.

That’s the first. And the second is, the made a mistake but became rich, from what I see. They are not sanctioned at all. So, I always ask you for the gesellschaftlichen Folgen. Isn’t this something what really is the most frightening result of this new era that things we once learned when we were kids, are not true anymore? The question of, it’s not that you are sanctioned when you make mistakes but that you can benefit in this regard?

Prof. Hudson: This is a question that I have discussed in Russia and China with their leaders. Fortunately, there is an alternative that they are well aware of. There is a way to recover the property that has been turned over to the privatizers. The answer is very simple: a windfall gain tax or a rent tax. If the land is been privatized, as it has been in China and Russia, all you have to do is tax the land’s value – the natural value, not the building value, but just the economic rent. You will recapture for the state the free lunch of economic rent.

The same principle applies to mines and fuel resources. You will simply have a mineral depletion tax that will recapture the value of what nature has provided freely. So the alternative is for the government not to tax profits, not to tax wages, not to tax income, but to tax economic rent. Because what the national income account pretends to be empirical, pretends to be “earnings” of the banks and other rentiers, is actually a transfer function – and often, outright theft.

It’s remarkable that French novelists realize this, such as Balzac who said that behind every great family fortune is a great theft. Economists don’t rise to the level of 19th century French novelists when it comes to understanding the economy.

Dr. Schirrmacher: So to get back to your outlook again, talking about Europe, we have another debate that is quite interesting, which I think might be important to see. The one debate is, Greece is a lazy country and …, a new nationalism. The other one which I hear from bankers, by the way, sometimes, is, they say it ganz leise: It’s all America. So, it’s a huge American conspiracy. And they say: Wir wissen auch, dass das System nicht funktioniert, aber das ist ein amerikanischer Druck auf das, was jetzt mit Europa passiert usw. My question is, again, I think of Peter Hacks and Rahmentheorie. Ist das ein – das ist etwas, was ich für das Allerwichtigste halte – ein Prozess, der nicht mit einem big bang …
…

Dr. Schirrmacher: Das wäre Occupy. Will "Occupy" be a revolutionary agent?

Prof. Hudson: We’re not trying to be a revolutionary agent. We are in a pre-revolutionary situation, so the aim is to raise consciousness – at this point, simply to explain how the world works. And many people want to … They sense that the economy does not work the way that textbooks say. But they can’t reinvent the rules by themselves. So most of the reason “Occupy Wall Street” is on Wall Street is because that is where the problem is. And most of the financial advisers, like myself, are lifetime workers on Wall Street, specialists in financial maneuvering and behavior. So our job is to explain to people, to popularize what used to be classical economics. Right wing interests have inverted the classical idea of free markets and captured its vocabulary, hijacking the repertory of classical, socialist and social democratic rhetoric.

Dr. Schirrmacher: Exactly that is what they did.

Prof. Hudson: I want to comment on your earlier point. It is true that the parasitic financial dynamic stems from America. But that is official policy; it is not a secret. It is not a conspiracy, it is very open. I am told that when Mr. Geithner came here to meet with the German bankers about the Greek debt, the Germans and Mrs. Merkel were in favor of a default, saying: Look, they can’t pay. But Mr. Geithner said that the German and the French banks and other banks have taken out credit default insurance with the American banks. These American banks would go under if Greece defaulted. Mrs. Merkel agreed to sacrifice the German banks and to impose losses on the German banks in order to help America. She seems to have put American interests before her own national interest, and cost the German people hundreds of billions of dollars by doing this. It is as if the leaders of Europe are hypnotized by a kind of Dr. Caligari who ends up to be running the asylum.

Dr. Schirrmacher: (…) I think, it gives sehr große Einsichten, das ist faszinierend. The idea behind is, a little bit to … first of all to show that the position Frau Wagenknecht postulates, is not a position of two people in the world, but that there is a debate about it. And the other one is to provoke the others, the economists in Germany.

Prof. Hudson: You can’t provoke them.

Wagenknecht: Provoke you can, but …

Prof. Hudson: You can only replace them with a new generation.

Dr. Schirrmacher: What I found out, what they really need to understand them is psychology. Of course, they need media power, and the consensus. The idea that you are insane if you are questioning certain aspects.

Prof. Hudson: That is what Dr. Caligari said.

Dr. Schirrmacher: Yes, that’s right. Or Dürrenmatt, “Die Physiker”, that’s exactly the same. Economists are like “Die Physiker”.

Dr. Minkmar: Once you can put a label on them, like “umstritten,” and you’ve already won.

Prof. Hudson: Why do Hollywood movies understand this better than economists and politicians?

Dr. Schirrmacher: And why does Robert Harris? Did you read the book?

Prof. Hudson: Yeah, wonderful.

Dr. Schirrmacher: "Fear," Robert Harris

          Fireside on the Great Theft        
A recent interview in Frankfurt’s FAZ newspaper:
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: And then, just to find a starting point, maybe we can start with the personal, and then at least I would ask you both. Maybe that is a good starting point, very basic: What is the future of Europe? So, what do you conceive what will happen, and what is going to happen? Sie können sich auch gegenseitig … Now, Michael Hudson, you are in Germany and you are known to our readers, and Sahra Wagenknecht, of course, as well. Just very briefly your background. In your DNA, in your genetic code, you have traces of Indian roots.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Well, I am one-eighth (Chippewa) Indian, so I’m half Irish, a quarter Swiss, one eighth English. I grew up in Minneapolis, which was the center of America’s labor movement in the 1930s. The general strike in 1936 shaped the American labor scene.
 

 
Minnesota had a governor, Floyd B. Olson, who said that he hoped capitalism run right to hell. The Trotskyists were the main opponents of the Stalinists at that time. The irony is that you had the right wing ganging up with the Stalinists, all against the Trotskyist leadership because the Stalinists feared that a non-communist socialist leadership would build up the labor unions, as Minnesota was building up the Teamsters. So in 1941 my father became one of the Minneapolis 17, the first people committed under the Smith Act. This was ostensibly against advocating the overthrow of the government by force and violence, defined so loosely that in the presentation before the jury, it meant simply having the works of Marx and Lenin on your bookshelf.
 

 
I later was asked, when I went to work for Herman Kahn at the Hudson Institute, whether there was any reason why I could not get a top secret security clearance. I mentioned that my father was a Trotskyist leader, and he said: Oh, they know about that, that Stalin and Roosevelt made a deal around 1941 that if Roosevelt would prosecute the Trotskyists, the Communist Party promised not to pull out any of its Labor unions on strike during the balance of the war. The U.S. Attorney General later wrote in his autobiography that it was the only thing that was ashamed of doing, because by no stretch of the imagination could the Trotskyists have been any threat to the country.
 

 
In fact, it was the Trotskyists that called in the National Guard to protect the workers and the strikers against the police force that was working on behalf of the large companies. The lawyer for the Trotskyists in the trial was Al Goldman, who had been a colleague of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht. As I was growing up, most of the radicals who were still living throughout the world and from the United States would come to my house, and tell me their stories and their experiences.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: What could they say about Luxemburg and Liebknecht?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Al Goldman was still trying to find out who was responsible for killing them. But we decided that it really does not matter who the individuals are. They are usually killed by their bodyguards. The key is people behind them that order the killing.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: But you don’t have a memory of an anecdote or whatsoever, an anecdote about Luxemburg or Liebknecht, what they …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: No. Mainly, they talked about revolutionary theory. I wanted to grow up and go to jail like all of the people that my family admired, and their colleagues admired. So now I’m ashamed that I’ve never been able to go to the University of the Revolution.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: But you worked with Kahn, and I remember that Kahn was the person who proclaimed golden ages ahead of us. And he was the futurist who always said we will be so happy and so lucky. Am I right?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Yes, he was basically a military theorist who wrote a very good book on atomic warfare, saying that some people would survive. He was the model for “Dr. Strangelove”. And he felt so bad from being attacked for his military theory – and he was indeed a brilliant military theorist – that he decided to form the Corporate Environment study. But he was wrong in almost everything economic he said, so he brought me on to disagree with him on everything, as a foil. We liked each other. He was a very nice guy. In fact, we liked each other so much that we could not believe that the other person actually believed what they were saying publicly.
 

 
Herman Kahn weighed 400 pounds. I remember once in Paris, we were leaving the hotel to go to the airport, and I tried to hand him his pants. As far as my hands would stretch, they still weren’t long enough for the waist. He also had narcolepsy. When he was not speaking at a public lecture, he would fall asleep – usually in his food. He would rise from the table with the food flowing down his necktie, talking about the world economy an expanding pie, and in another generation, the whole world could live just like him. And everybody would go on diet, over a long time.
 

 
One of the big problems we had was when he wanted me to project the gross national product and hence living standards at 6 % or 4 % per year, which economists were doing at that time. He thought that all the technology and power somehow would make all countries rich. I refused to make that calculation, even though when I joined the Institute I insisted that the one perk that I wanted was an HP 75 calculator that could calculate exponential growth. I told Herman that the only growth that is exponential is financial – the magic of compound interest. And the more compound interest grows, the more it slows the economy, like driving a car with the brake on.
 

 
So that is where we differed. It turned out that most of his clients ended up hiring me instead of him, and I ended up getting a collection of Tibetan art as a result, and buying enough real estate, so, I’ve never had to work ever since and could spend all of my time writing.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: You talked about rescuing the banks, and that is really a phrase for trying to rescue a whole financial growth function to somehow save debts that can’t be paid. The question is: Who is going to take the loss? It really is trying to keep the debt overhead in place, by making the public sector absorb all the losses of the banks that have made the bad loan. And beyond this, it is really an ideology – an ideology that somehow the debts can all be paid. And beyond that, there is something else. Saving the banks is a slogan …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Sahra Wagenknecht, did I get you right that you say they can be paid?
 

 
Wagenknecht: They can’t. Also vorläufig können sie immer wieder, aber irgendwann …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Wegen der oberen 1 %.
 

 
Wagenknecht: … The upper class has to take the losses.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: The bailout is not saving the banks. The banks could function very well the next day after a debt cancellation. You are saving the bank stockholders and the bondholders and the rich counterparties to the banks. You are saving the gamblers who have accounts with the banks, not saving the banks.
 

 
But there is something even worse. The slogan “saving the banks” means a program for the governments to be financially responsible, which means financially self-destructive. The bailout is forcing Greece to sell its public domain, its water and sewer systems, its land, its real estate, its buildings, to sell to private buyers who are going to borrow money at interest from the bank to buy these public assets, and to treat them like a toll road.
 

 
So in the broadest sense of the term, saving the banks means to achieve by financial terms what it took an army militarily to counter a thousand years ago. Saving the banks thus is destroying society. Is that worth the payment?
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Very good and very understandable, but a question again. We can’t be too economic but … You say, you don’t save the banks. But what is, let’s say, my life insurance. What they say to me is that my bank has Staatsanleihen from …, at a normal average term too, so I would lose as an average person … I mean, by saving the banks, don’t they save me as well?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: No, that’s the trick that they are playing. For instance, in the United States the largest bank is Citibank. That was insolvent as a result of being one of the most abusive fraudulent banks with junk mortgages and similar gambles. The head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Sheila Bair, said that she argued with the Obama administration saying that she could close down Citibank and save all of the insured depositors. She could have saved all of the basic banking functions.
 

 
The only people who would not have been saved would have been the gamblers at the top, on whom Citibank had written derivative gambles. It is as if in a horse race somebody goes to the casino and gambles, and then can’t pay their debt. The casinos say: We can’t operate at all, if the losers can’t pay what they owe. So, you – the government – have to levy a tax, to enable the losers to pay the winners.
 

 
It’s true that not everybody’s savings would have been saved under this plan. But normal operations would have been. And it’s the same with AIG, the Insurance conglomerate that was bailed out with $184 billion dollars. All this loss went through the London office making financial gambles, losing bets as to which way interest rates and junk mortgages would move. The government could simply have closed down AIG, taking it over and said: We are saving all of your normal insurance policies, we are saving all of your normal business, but the gamblers we are just not paying.
 

 
But in that case, Goldman Sachs would not have been paid $18 billion dollars. And Goldman Sachs had its representative Hank Paulson as Secretary of the Treasury. The Treasury was paying its private colleagues on Wall Street, instead of saving the normal depositors. The intention of this bank bailout is to wipe out the normal depositors and only save the rich of the top. Pretending to save the poor, the working class,and the middle class, they want to save everything for the top 1%. That is what they did with Citibank, and that is what they did with AIG. Citibank makes money by lending to people like Sam Zell, who would buy a company, look at the pension funds or Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), and empty them out to pay his creditors. So, what the government is saving are the parasitic functions of the banks.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: To make it clear, and ask Frau Wagenknecht too: It could be possible not to save the banks, und würde trotzdem nicht diese Lebensversicherungen und Alters … das kann man trennen?
 

 
…
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Nein, that is very important for you to understand that people like me, I take me as a durchschnittliche …, believe in a kind of empirical or scientific rationality and all this stuff. And if I am told by Hans Werner Sinn or other people, der frühere Regierungssprecher, Ulrich Wilhelm, you have to save the banks because then you save your life assurance, for example, then I believe it, and everybody believes it, because you say: Well, they are mathematicians or whatsoever.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: What if I say: You have to make me rich in order to give me an incentive not to wreck society. What the banks are really saying is that: We will wreck the payment system, and we will stop paying, and we will cause a crisis if you don’t give us what we want. We are holding you hostage.
 

 
But all you really have to do is take them over and replace them with other people. You save the basic banking and insurance functions. There are plenty of good assets in there. Even junk mortgages are worth something. They are worth enough to save all of the normal activities for 90 % of the population. The losers in this case would only be the 10 % at the top … And all these gains for the last 20 years have been to the top 10 %. They would lose their gains – but there is enough to pay everybody else.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Normal understanding is, politicians need majorities, and not the 10 % of the top.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: You talk about empirical studies. If the statistics were publicized to show what I am talking about, everybody would see in chart form that there is enough money there. The Federal Reserve has them. There are many statistics available, but the newspapers don’t publish them. They find it politically incorrect to do so.
 

 
What they call “class war” is simply society trying to protect itself from the 1 %.
 

 
Dr. Minkmar: One key argument in your system of thinking is the role of central banks. And now today we think that central banks are there to supervise things and see that everything runs smoothly. But what would you advice central banks to do?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Central banks began to be created in 1694 with the Bank of England, and down to the Federal Reserve in the United States in 1913 their function was to finance government budget deficits by printing money. All governments over time run deficits – at least, most of the time – because that is how they supply the economy with the purchasing power and the money it needs to grow. The role of a central bank is to create money to finance the deficit.
 

 
If it does not do this, then the commercial banks end up performing this function. However, the commercial banks creating credit on their own computer keyboards have a different role from that of the central bank. When the central bank finances government spending, this is supposed to promote growth, full employment and industrialization. But that is not the object of a commercial bank. Banks, in the first instance, make loans against property already in place – mainly real estate and also the buyout of entire corporations. So they provide credit that bids up the price of housing, making it more expensive for workers. They also loan to buyers of commercial buildings, making it more expensive to do business, Takeover loans enable corporate raiders to bid up the price of stocks and bonds, making them yield less, so it costs more to buy a retirement income. And now, commercial banks are moving from finance capitalism to casino capitalism to make big gambles. They are essentially financing gambling. That’s what derivatives and “hedge fund” trading are.
 

 
None of this funds industrial investment. From the United States to Germany, almost all industrial capital formation is now funded by the retained earnings of corporations, not by bank borrowing. Even the stock market does not fund new direct investments. It has become a vehicle for corporate raiders to go to the banks to borrow the money, to buy a corporation on credit with junk bonds, retire the stock, and use the corporate profits to repay the banks – and then try to steal for themselves the pension funds, or sell off the assets, or just work the labor force more intensively; longer hours, outsource labor and move to the un-unionized labor. So the banks are no longer part of the industrialization process; they are part of the de-industrialization process. This is applauded as the post-industrial economy.
 

 
…
 

 
Dr. Minkmar: You were talking about Europe as being the new third world as a model for politics …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: In the 1970s and 80s, the International Monetary Fund imposed austerity on indebted countries. The conditions were that if the countries did not pay their foreign debts, they would be treated like Cuba or Iran, and made into pariahs in the international community. So, they were forced to sell off and privatize.
 

 
When I worked for Chase Manhattan Bank in 1964, my first job was to analyze the economies of Argentina, Brazil and Chile. My job was to calculate/estimate how much potential they could export and raise, one way or another.
 

 
In Latin America it could only be imposed at gunpoint, as you saw in Chile. So the first privatization, the first free-market model, was imposed at gunpoint in Chile under general Pinochet, under the direction of Henry Kissinger and the Nixon administration, and the University of Chicago Economics Department under Harberger and other operatives down there.
 

 
Once they did that, the next big test was the former Soviet Union. Unlike the West, the Soviet Union had no background in Marxism. They had no group that was familiar with Marx and Engels or classical economics. So in 1991 they immediately adopted the neo-liberal approach that said: We can promote millionaires by privatizing the property. Many friends of mine tried to go over and promote a more reasonable tax system. The post-Soviet economies after 1991 would have financed themselves by taxing natural resource wealth and real estate. But as soon as these good advisors would go over there, right-wing institutes like the Lincoln Institute or the World Bank would come and tell the mayors of a town: We’ll give you a million dollars in computers if you follow our system and give the assets to your insiders to create a new nomenklatura of vested property interests – specifically, rentier interests, who would issue stocks in their companies and sell them to U.S. and other foreign investors. The idea was to let the West buy out the key rent-yielding assets in the former Soviet Union, above all mineral rights and public utilities, as well as centrally located real estate.
 

 
The government would put a deposit in one of the banks of the nomenklatura. In the Loans-for-shares program in 1994, the banks right say: 100 million dollars to buy Yukos oil company. The government would redeposit the check in the bank, so that they got the company for nothing, that is, no cash of their own. And then, when the government did not repay the debt, the bank would get many billion dollars worth of an oil or mining company.
 

 
The Americans did this because they realized that if a kleptocrat could buy Russian resources for one cent on the dollar, they would be happy to sell it for two cents on the dollar. That made the Russian stock market the best performing market in the world from 1994 to 1997. Russia let itself be financialized.
 

 
Other parts in the Soviet Union did not have raw materials. So a more accurate dress rehearsal would be what happened in Latvia, where they imposed a neo-liberal paradise. As in Russia, the neo-liberals had a free hand as to how to design what they said would be an ideal economy. Their way of creating such an economy and its financial and fiscal system was to say: “Don’t set up your own banks. Let foreign banks create the credit on their own keyboards.” Labor in Latvia has to confront a 59% set of flat taxes on employment – taxes that together are 59%. The real estate tax is only 1%, based on the most recent appraisal of Latvian property, which was in 1917 just before the revolution. So, the result was the largest real estate bubble of all.
 

 
That is basically the neo-liberal plan for how to get rich in a post-industrial economy. A property is worth whatever a bank will lend, because without taxes the value of this economic rent became available to be paid to the banks as interest rather than as taxes. The value of the site’s location should have been the basis of public financing, as in America. It’s the basis for most localities to pay for their school systems. If you are not going to tax property, if you are not going to tax monopolies, if you are not going to tax finance, then you have to tax labor. That’s why you have a 59% tax on employment in Latvia.
 

 
The result was an economic collapse in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. The result is that one third of the Latvian labor force of working age between 20 and 35 emigrated or announced its intention to emigrate. They would go to countries like Ireland which also was being financialized. So the Baltics still, even last year, were celebrated by the Institute for International Economics, the Peterson Institute, which is a bank lobbyist in the United States, and by the applauder of Russian privatization, Anders Aslund, the Swedish neoliberal lobbyist. Latvia is applauded as a model for which Europe should emulate. So you can expect your wages to be cut by 30%, you can expect people will have to go into a lifetime of debt in order to buy housing. They will have to have to inherit money if they want to get an education.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: That is what you say about Europe?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: I said, if you follow the Latvian model. This is the ideal. The basic principle when I talk to bankers is: You don’t know how far wages can be pushed down until somebody pushes back. And so far, nobody has pushed back.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: But what is with the unions? Normally …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: The communist countries did not have unions because they were supposed to be one big union. So the working conditions in the Baltic States have the worst accident rates, the worst workplace conditions, and their workers report the most abusive treatment by their employers. The workplace conditions in the post-communist economies are much worse than those in the capitalist economies, where there has been a symbiosis between labor and capital, a symbiosis between the private sector and the government.
 
….
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Just, I mean, off the record, but one of the advisers of chancellor Merkel is sometimes amazing, and he keeps telling this. He says: No, don’t write that. He says: It’s illegal, it’s against the treaty. I mean, that’s his last argument. So, I would like to … from scientific point of view. Frau
 

 
Wagenknecht: You are insane … What do you say as a scientist to this question?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Let’s simply look at the empirical facts. Since 2008 you have had the largest monetary creation in the 20th century’s history. The central banks have fueled this money creation. In America alone they have added $13 trillion dollars to the federal debt by bank bailouts. Yet prices have remained quite stable. Wages actually have fallen for the last 30 years, despite the wave of asset-price inflation fueled by commercial bank credit.
 

 
Central bank economists talk about consumer price or commodity price inflation. But commercial banks fuel asset price inflation, by lending money against real estate, stocks and bonds already in existence. As they make credit terms easier, people need more access to bank credit in order to buy a house. They have to bid against other. So bank credit inflates real estate prices. The upshot is that now you have to take more years of your income to buy a home. In the United States, the average American worker now pays 40% of family income for housing, 15% of income more for other debt service on credit cards and student loans. Another 15% is for wage withholding, and about another 15 % in other taxes, including sales taxes. This means that only about a quarter of American workers’ income is available to be spent on goods and services. Bank lending has absorbed so much of the income of workers that money that is spent to pay the banks is not available to be spent on goods and services.
 

 
So the flip side of asset price inflation is debt deflation. More and more money has to be spent to carry the debt overhead. The problem is not central banks financing domestic government budget deficits. Every hyperinflation in history has come as a result of the collapse of the balance of payments. The Germans are most familiar with 1921, but they tend to forget that the Weimar inflation was a result of Germany trying to pay reparations abroad. They were ordered by the Allied powers to print Deutsche Marks not for domestic spending, not to run a domestic deficit, not to rebuild Germany, not to employ labor, but to throw reichsmarks onto the foreign exchange market to obtain the foreign currency to pay the Allies, so that the Allies could turn around and pay the arms debts for what they bought from the United States before entry into World War One. It was the collapse of the foreign exchange that caused the hyperinflation, not domestic spending. And Germany’s hyperinflation was not cured by the central bank creating less money. It was cured by setting up a triangular flow of international payments. American bondholders would lend money to German municipalities that would issue bonds. The municipalities would receive dollars, and turn them over to the Reichsbank. It then would issue German currency against this for local spending – using the dollars to pay the Allies. The Allies would pay America, and that would keep the circular flow going. But to do this, interest rates had to be held down in the United States, to make German and other European borrowing more profitable for international lenders.
 

 
The same thing happened in Chile, which is another textbook hyperinflation. Rogers wrote a book on the process of hyperinflation in France that also occurred in the 1920s. The classic study of German inflation is by Salomon Flink, The Reichsbank and Economic Germany. The book actually was printed in Germany at that time. The same thing happened in Russia in the 1990s. The Russia hyperinflation occurred as a result of the depreciation of the ruble. This was already determined in advance at the meeting in Huston, Texas, between the World Bank and the IMF and the other Russian authorities. All this was published at the time, even before break-up of the Soviet Union. So to talk about hyperinflation as if it is a domestic phenomenon is to ignore the fact that never in history has it been domestic. It always is a balance-of-payments phenomenon, associated either with war or a class war, as in Chile’s case.
 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Now, to leave that economical …, to go to the interpretation of what will come. So, when I get it right, what you say, and Frau Wagenknecht says it too, there will be a … Wir werden ärmer. Also der durchschnittliche Deutsche wird verarmen oder ärmer.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Impoverishment.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Right. And not a revolution, not a moment where the society says no? That’s my question. But at the same time, what we are observing is that it is not only a change of the social standards of human beings in Europe but of the whole idea of democracy as well. This is something that strikes me most, which I would never believed. I must say, ten years ago, I would have said: conspiracy. And many like me would have said that the banks are so powerful and so on. Now, we start thinking whether “conspiracy” is the right word for it. And the same with the democracy, democratic question. I learned at school that the “Soziale Marktwirtschaft”, as we termed it, definitely requires Pluralismus, Demokratie, Partizipation, all that. But, and that is my question, are we, as Colin Crouch writes, postulating a post-democratic system? Is one of the prizes we have to pay for it, that democracy becomes weaker and weaker, and isn’t that a very dangerous development?
 

 
….
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Und da hätte ich eine Frage, die auch ganz aktuell ist, an Michael Hudson, vielleicht more in a theoretical way. Our new president said apparently, it is ridiculous to protest against, how did he say it, the capitalistic system, or something like that. Es ist lächerlich …
 

 
Wagenknecht: Nein, albern hat er …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Albern, ja, another word, it’s like ridiculous. And there we are, the point of question is, after the end of the communism, there was the idea, there is the triumph of capitalism. And now the people who are very social saying, I am repeating what they said in Germany: Now we can have a chance really, we don’t need the money for Rüstung anymore, and for armies, and against the Soviet Union, and so on. And now, we are in the third phase, and that’s why the (spot) that is so interesting, is the question: There is no alternative. Nobody really likes it, many people suffer. But the idea is, they managed to get the system like die beste aller möglichen Welten, there is no alternative to that all. What do you say to that, and what do you say to this quote?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: It is very interesting that the destruction of communism, or what passed for communism in 1990, made possible the destruction of industrial capitalism. What you have today is not capitalism as it was known when I grew up. It is not the capitalism that was talked about by Adam Smith, Ricardo, John Stuart Mill or even Marx. It is something that is evolved into finance capitalism, that is going through a number of stages. Pension-fund capitalism is exploiting labor, not by hiring it to produce goods and services, but to dock savings and channel them into the hands of financial managers – to bid up stock market prices.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Is it not the case, that this system did exist in the 20s?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: No, it only existed since 1950s. That is when General Motors started its pension fund. Pension funds soon became the single largest purchasers of stock, pushing up stock prices. The major sellers of stock have been management insiders, and increasingly those exercising their stock options, selling them in effect to the pension funds. So, the function of labor was to provide pension fund savings to spur stock market gains for the managers that have been financializing industrial companies – and in the process, de-industrializing them.
 

 
So, I’d like to plug this into the earlier discussion you just had. When you use the word “post-democratic society”, that is a byproduct of the post-industrial economy, which essentially means a financialized economy. It also was post-modern, if you think of “modern” as what existed in the early 20th century in the Progressive Era. That was the Modern Era. We are now in a post-modern era. The pro-financial strategy is essentially an anti-government strategy. That is because every economy is planned by someone or other. Most economies throughout history have been planned by the government, or whoever controls it, whether it’s been the landed aristocracy or bankers. If the government does not do the planning, this function is forfeited to the banks. And that is where we are today. Just like the case in which, if taxes are cut and the government does not get the revenue, it is available to be pledged to the banks and capitalized on the debt.
 

 
So the planning process passes to the banks, and they claim that they are the brains of society. They say, there is no alternative. But they are not the brain; they are something alien to industrial capitalism. This is what the Saint-Simon and his followers discussed in the 19th century. It was discussed in every country. The financial strategy now is to prevent people from studying what this body of classical economics was. It sought to free society from interest. Today’s banks are playing upon anxiety and fear, like a high-pressure salesman threatening to bring on a collapse if industrial economies try to protect themselves. They say: “You have to make up your decision in a hurry, if you don’t do this, you are going to lose your money, you are going to lose this opportunity.” They try to make it appear that this not only is the only alternative, but that it will make you rich.
 

 
Banks have been saying this for 30 years. This is the first time in history that people have believed they could get rich by borrowing money to buy assets that are increasing in price, or that they may get rich by the hyperinflation of property prices, and by the stock and bond prices that bank credit has inflated. Banks have managed to prevent the government from regulating and preventing this hyperinflation – and they even have called it “wealth creation.”
 

 
It is really debt creation. Debt is a claim on the means of production, and on labor. It is not a process of real growth. So what banks are saying is that there is no alternative but to let debts grow, at compound interest. This means reducing wages, as more and more must be spent on debt service. This eats into corporate cash flow and profits. So more and more are siphoned off to pay creditors. Debt also eats into the government revenue, so that the government does not have enough to pay for social programs and pensions. It only has enough to bail out the banks on exponentially growing debt that can never been paid, mathematically. That is the empirical fact. All you have to do is draw a statistical chart of the growth of debt, and compare it to the growth in wages. And you’ll see …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: How do you explain from a business point of view … I take the example of Dresden. I was in Dresden two weeks ago, and there they explained to me, the people I met from the city and from Volksbank and all these … They explained to me that Dresden, which I didn’t know, sold parts of their Stadtwerke and so on, and bought it back now because they realized that it was a mistake. I hear this from many, many other cities. Now, in my understanding of society, someone apparently made mistake here, the people who sold this, or at least, put the pressure. And normally, you would have to pay a price for making a mistake, and society would say: How could this happen? But the contrary is true, first of all, nobody discusses this, I can’t see it in den Städten.
 

 
That’s the first. And the second is, the made a mistake but became rich, from what I see. They are not sanctioned at all. So, I always ask you for the gesellschaftlichen Folgen. Isn’t this something what really is the most frightening result of this new era that things we once learned when we were kids, are not true anymore? The question of, it’s not that you are sanctioned when you make mistakes but that you can benefit in this regard?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: This is a question that I have discussed in Russia and China with their leaders. Fortunately, there is an alternative that they are well aware of. There is a way to recover the property that has been turned over to the privatizers. The answer is very simple: a windfall gain tax or a rent tax. If the land is been privatized, as it has been in China and Russia, all you have to do is tax the land’s value – the natural value, not the building value, but just the economic rent. You will recapture for the state the free lunch of economic rent.
 

 
The same principle applies to mines and fuel resources. You will simply have a mineral depletion tax that will recapture the value of what nature has provided freely. So the alternative is for the government not to tax profits, not to tax wages, not to tax income, but to tax economic rent. Because what the national income account pretends to be empirical, pretends to be “earnings” of the banks and other rentiers, is actually a transfer function – and often, outright theft.
 

 
It’s remarkable that French novelists realize this, such as Balzac who said that behind every great family fortune is a great theft. Economists don’t rise to the level of 19th century French novelists when it comes to understanding the economy.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: So to get back to your outlook again, talking about Europe, we have another debate that is quite interesting, which I think might be important to see. The one debate is, Greece is a lazy country and …, a new nationalism. The other one which I hear from bankers, by the way, sometimes, is, they say it ganz leise: It’s all America. So, it’s a huge American conspiracy. And they say: Wir wissen auch, dass das System nicht funktioniert, aber das ist ein amerikanischer Druck auf das, was jetzt mit Europa passiert usw. My question is, again, I think of Peter Hacks and Rahmentheorie. Ist das ein – das ist etwas, was ich für das Allerwichtigste halte – ein Prozess, der nicht mit einem big bang …
 
…
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Das wäre Occupy. Will "Occupy" be a revolutionary agent?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: We’re not trying to be a revolutionary agent. We are in a pre-revolutionary situation, so the aim is to raise consciousness – at this point, simply to explain how the world works. And many people want to … They sense that the economy does not work the way that textbooks say. But they can’t reinvent the rules by themselves. So most of the reason “Occupy Wall Street” is on Wall Street is because that is where the problem is. And most of the financial advisers, like myself, are lifetime workers on Wall Street, specialists in financial maneuvering and behavior. So our job is to explain to people, to popularize what used to be classical economics. Right wing interests have inverted the classical idea of free markets and captured its vocabulary, hijacking the repertory of classical, socialist and social democratic rhetoric.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Exactly that is what they did.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: I want to comment on your earlier point. It is true that the parasitic financial dynamic stems from America. But that is official policy; it is not a secret. It is not a conspiracy, it is very open. I am told that when Mr. Geithner came here to meet with the German bankers about the Greek debt, the Germans and Mrs. Merkel were in favor of a default, saying: Look, they can’t pay. But Mr. Geithner said that the German and the French banks and other banks have taken out credit default insurance with the American banks. These American banks would go under if Greece defaulted. Mrs. Merkel agreed to sacrifice the German banks and to impose losses on the German banks in order to help America. She seems to have put American interests before her own national interest, and cost the German people hundreds of billions of dollars by doing this. It is as if the leaders of Europe are hypnotized by a kind of Dr. Caligari who ends up to be running the asylum.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: (…) I think, it gives sehr große Einsichten, das ist faszinierend. The idea behind is, a little bit to … first of all to show that the position Frau Wagenknecht postulates, is not a position of two people in the world, but that there is a debate about it. And the other one is to provoke the others, the economists in Germany.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: You can’t provoke them.
 

 
Wagenknecht: Provoke you can, but …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: You can only replace them with a new generation.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: What I found out, what they really need to understand them is psychology. Of course, they need media power, and the consensus. The idea that you are insane if you are questioning certain aspects.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: That is what Dr. Caligari said.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Yes, that’s right. Or Dürrenmatt, “Die Physiker”, that’s exactly the same. Economists are like “Die Physiker”.
 

 
Dr. Minkmar: Once you can put a label on them, like “umstritten,” and you’ve already won.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Why do Hollywood movies understand this better than economists and politicians?
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: And why does Robert Harris? Did you read the book?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Yeah, wonderful.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: "Fear," Robert Harris
 

          Fireside on the Great Theft        
A recent interview in Frankfurt’s FAZ newspaper:
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: And then, just to find a starting point, maybe we can start with the personal, and then at least I would ask you both. Maybe that is a good starting point, very basic: What is the future of Europe? So, what do you conceive what will happen, and what is going to happen? Sie können sich auch gegenseitig … Now, Michael Hudson, you are in Germany and you are known to our readers, and Sahra Wagenknecht, of course, as well. Just very briefly your background. In your DNA, in your genetic code, you have traces of Indian roots.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Well, I am one-eighth (Chippewa) Indian, so I’m half Irish, a quarter Swiss, one eighth English. I grew up in Minneapolis, which was the center of America’s labor movement in the 1930s. The general strike in 1936 shaped the American labor scene.
 

 
Minnesota had a governor, Floyd B. Olson, who said that he hoped capitalism run right to hell. The Trotskyists were the main opponents of the Stalinists at that time. The irony is that you had the right wing ganging up with the Stalinists, all against the Trotskyist leadership because the Stalinists feared that a non-communist socialist leadership would build up the labor unions, as Minnesota was building up the Teamsters. So in 1941 my father became one of the Minneapolis 17, the first people committed under the Smith Act. This was ostensibly against advocating the overthrow of the government by force and violence, defined so loosely that in the presentation before the jury, it meant simply having the works of Marx and Lenin on your bookshelf.
 

 
I later was asked, when I went to work for Herman Kahn at the Hudson Institute, whether there was any reason why I could not get a top secret security clearance. I mentioned that my father was a Trotskyist leader, and he said: Oh, they know about that, that Stalin and Roosevelt made a deal around 1941 that if Roosevelt would prosecute the Trotskyists, the Communist Party promised not to pull out any of its Labor unions on strike during the balance of the war. The U.S. Attorney General later wrote in his autobiography that it was the only thing that was ashamed of doing, because by no stretch of the imagination could the Trotskyists have been any threat to the country.
 

 
In fact, it was the Trotskyists that called in the National Guard to protect the workers and the strikers against the police force that was working on behalf of the large companies. The lawyer for the Trotskyists in the trial was Al Goldman, who had been a colleague of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht. As I was growing up, most of the radicals who were still living throughout the world and from the United States would come to my house, and tell me their stories and their experiences.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: What could they say about Luxemburg and Liebknecht?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Al Goldman was still trying to find out who was responsible for killing them. But we decided that it really does not matter who the individuals are. They are usually killed by their bodyguards. The key is people behind them that order the killing.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: But you don’t have a memory of an anecdote or whatsoever, an anecdote about Luxemburg or Liebknecht, what they …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: No. Mainly, they talked about revolutionary theory. I wanted to grow up and go to jail like all of the people that my family admired, and their colleagues admired. So now I’m ashamed that I’ve never been able to go to the University of the Revolution.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: But you worked with Kahn, and I remember that Kahn was the person who proclaimed golden ages ahead of us. And he was the futurist who always said we will be so happy and so lucky. Am I right?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Yes, he was basically a military theorist who wrote a very good book on atomic warfare, saying that some people would survive. He was the model for “Dr. Strangelove”. And he felt so bad from being attacked for his military theory – and he was indeed a brilliant military theorist – that he decided to form the Corporate Environment study. But he was wrong in almost everything economic he said, so he brought me on to disagree with him on everything, as a foil. We liked each other. He was a very nice guy. In fact, we liked each other so much that we could not believe that the other person actually believed what they were saying publicly.
 

 
Herman Kahn weighed 400 pounds. I remember once in Paris, we were leaving the hotel to go to the airport, and I tried to hand him his pants. As far as my hands would stretch, they still weren’t long enough for the waist. He also had narcolepsy. When he was not speaking at a public lecture, he would fall asleep – usually in his food. He would rise from the table with the food flowing down his necktie, talking about the world economy an expanding pie, and in another generation, the whole world could live just like him. And everybody would go on diet, over a long time.
 

 
One of the big problems we had was when he wanted me to project the gross national product and hence living standards at 6 % or 4 % per year, which economists were doing at that time. He thought that all the technology and power somehow would make all countries rich. I refused to make that calculation, even though when I joined the Institute I insisted that the one perk that I wanted was an HP 75 calculator that could calculate exponential growth. I told Herman that the only growth that is exponential is financial – the magic of compound interest. And the more compound interest grows, the more it slows the economy, like driving a car with the brake on.
 

 
So that is where we differed. It turned out that most of his clients ended up hiring me instead of him, and I ended up getting a collection of Tibetan art as a result, and buying enough real estate, so, I’ve never had to work ever since and could spend all of my time writing.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: You talked about rescuing the banks, and that is really a phrase for trying to rescue a whole financial growth function to somehow save debts that can’t be paid. The question is: Who is going to take the loss? It really is trying to keep the debt overhead in place, by making the public sector absorb all the losses of the banks that have made the bad loan. And beyond this, it is really an ideology – an ideology that somehow the debts can all be paid. And beyond that, there is something else. Saving the banks is a slogan …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Sahra Wagenknecht, did I get you right that you say they can be paid?
 

 
Wagenknecht: They can’t. Also vorläufig können sie immer wieder, aber irgendwann …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Wegen der oberen 1 %.
 

 
Wagenknecht: … The upper class has to take the losses.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: The bailout is not saving the banks. The banks could function very well the next day after a debt cancellation. You are saving the bank stockholders and the bondholders and the rich counterparties to the banks. You are saving the gamblers who have accounts with the banks, not saving the banks.
 

 
But there is something even worse. The slogan “saving the banks” means a program for the governments to be financially responsible, which means financially self-destructive. The bailout is forcing Greece to sell its public domain, its water and sewer systems, its land, its real estate, its buildings, to sell to private buyers who are going to borrow money at interest from the bank to buy these public assets, and to treat them like a toll road.
 

 
So in the broadest sense of the term, saving the banks means to achieve by financial terms what it took an army militarily to counter a thousand years ago. Saving the banks thus is destroying society. Is that worth the payment?
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Very good and very understandable, but a question again. We can’t be too economic but … You say, you don’t save the banks. But what is, let’s say, my life insurance. What they say to me is that my bank has Staatsanleihen from …, at a normal average term too, so I would lose as an average person … I mean, by saving the banks, don’t they save me as well?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: No, that’s the trick that they are playing. For instance, in the United States the largest bank is Citibank. That was insolvent as a result of being one of the most abusive fraudulent banks with junk mortgages and similar gambles. The head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Sheila Bair, said that she argued with the Obama administration saying that she could close down Citibank and save all of the insured depositors. She could have saved all of the basic banking functions.
 

 
The only people who would not have been saved would have been the gamblers at the top, on whom Citibank had written derivative gambles. It is as if in a horse race somebody goes to the casino and gambles, and then can’t pay their debt. The casinos say: We can’t operate at all, if the losers can’t pay what they owe. So, you – the government – have to levy a tax, to enable the losers to pay the winners.
 

 
It’s true that not everybody’s savings would have been saved under this plan. But normal operations would have been. And it’s the same with AIG, the Insurance conglomerate that was bailed out with $184 billion dollars. All this loss went through the London office making financial gambles, losing bets as to which way interest rates and junk mortgages would move. The government could simply have closed down AIG, taking it over and said: We are saving all of your normal insurance policies, we are saving all of your normal business, but the gamblers we are just not paying.
 

 
But in that case, Goldman Sachs would not have been paid $18 billion dollars. And Goldman Sachs had its representative Hank Paulson as Secretary of the Treasury. The Treasury was paying its private colleagues on Wall Street, instead of saving the normal depositors. The intention of this bank bailout is to wipe out the normal depositors and only save the rich of the top. Pretending to save the poor, the working class,and the middle class, they want to save everything for the top 1%. That is what they did with Citibank, and that is what they did with AIG. Citibank makes money by lending to people like Sam Zell, who would buy a company, look at the pension funds or Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), and empty them out to pay his creditors. So, what the government is saving are the parasitic functions of the banks.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: To make it clear, and ask Frau Wagenknecht too: It could be possible not to save the banks, und würde trotzdem nicht diese Lebensversicherungen und Alters … das kann man trennen?
 

 
…
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Nein, that is very important for you to understand that people like me, I take me as a durchschnittliche …, believe in a kind of empirical or scientific rationality and all this stuff. And if I am told by Hans Werner Sinn or other people, der frühere Regierungssprecher, Ulrich Wilhelm, you have to save the banks because then you save your life assurance, for example, then I believe it, and everybody believes it, because you say: Well, they are mathematicians or whatsoever.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: What if I say: You have to make me rich in order to give me an incentive not to wreck society. What the banks are really saying is that: We will wreck the payment system, and we will stop paying, and we will cause a crisis if you don’t give us what we want. We are holding you hostage.
 

 
But all you really have to do is take them over and replace them with other people. You save the basic banking and insurance functions. There are plenty of good assets in there. Even junk mortgages are worth something. They are worth enough to save all of the normal activities for 90 % of the population. The losers in this case would only be the 10 % at the top … And all these gains for the last 20 years have been to the top 10 %. They would lose their gains – but there is enough to pay everybody else.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Normal understanding is, politicians need majorities, and not the 10 % of the top.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: You talk about empirical studies. If the statistics were publicized to show what I am talking about, everybody would see in chart form that there is enough money there. The Federal Reserve has them. There are many statistics available, but the newspapers don’t publish them. They find it politically incorrect to do so.
 

 
What they call “class war” is simply society trying to protect itself from the 1 %.
 

 
Dr. Minkmar: One key argument in your system of thinking is the role of central banks. And now today we think that central banks are there to supervise things and see that everything runs smoothly. But what would you advice central banks to do?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Central banks began to be created in 1694 with the Bank of England, and down to the Federal Reserve in the United States in 1913 their function was to finance government budget deficits by printing money. All governments over time run deficits – at least, most of the time – because that is how they supply the economy with the purchasing power and the money it needs to grow. The role of a central bank is to create money to finance the deficit.
 

 
If it does not do this, then the commercial banks end up performing this function. However, the commercial banks creating credit on their own computer keyboards have a different role from that of the central bank. When the central bank finances government spending, this is supposed to promote growth, full employment and industrialization. But that is not the object of a commercial bank. Banks, in the first instance, make loans against property already in place – mainly real estate and also the buyout of entire corporations. So they provide credit that bids up the price of housing, making it more expensive for workers. They also loan to buyers of commercial buildings, making it more expensive to do business, Takeover loans enable corporate raiders to bid up the price of stocks and bonds, making them yield less, so it costs more to buy a retirement income. And now, commercial banks are moving from finance capitalism to casino capitalism to make big gambles. They are essentially financing gambling. That’s what derivatives and “hedge fund” trading are.
 

 
None of this funds industrial investment. From the United States to Germany, almost all industrial capital formation is now funded by the retained earnings of corporations, not by bank borrowing. Even the stock market does not fund new direct investments. It has become a vehicle for corporate raiders to go to the banks to borrow the money, to buy a corporation on credit with junk bonds, retire the stock, and use the corporate profits to repay the banks – and then try to steal for themselves the pension funds, or sell off the assets, or just work the labor force more intensively; longer hours, outsource labor and move to the un-unionized labor. So the banks are no longer part of the industrialization process; they are part of the de-industrialization process. This is applauded as the post-industrial economy.
 

 
…
 

 
Dr. Minkmar: You were talking about Europe as being the new third world as a model for politics …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: In the 1970s and 80s, the International Monetary Fund imposed austerity on indebted countries. The conditions were that if the countries did not pay their foreign debts, they would be treated like Cuba or Iran, and made into pariahs in the international community. So, they were forced to sell off and privatize.
 

 
When I worked for Chase Manhattan Bank in 1964, my first job was to analyze the economies of Argentina, Brazil and Chile. My job was to calculate/estimate how much potential they could export and raise, one way or another.
 

 
In Latin America it could only be imposed at gunpoint, as you saw in Chile. So the first privatization, the first free-market model, was imposed at gunpoint in Chile under general Pinochet, under the direction of Henry Kissinger and the Nixon administration, and the University of Chicago Economics Department under Harberger and other operatives down there.
 

 
Once they did that, the next big test was the former Soviet Union. Unlike the West, the Soviet Union had no background in Marxism. They had no group that was familiar with Marx and Engels or classical economics. So in 1991 they immediately adopted the neo-liberal approach that said: We can promote millionaires by privatizing the property. Many friends of mine tried to go over and promote a more reasonable tax system. The post-Soviet economies after 1991 would have financed themselves by taxing natural resource wealth and real estate. But as soon as these good advisors would go over there, right-wing institutes like the Lincoln Institute or the World Bank would come and tell the mayors of a town: We’ll give you a million dollars in computers if you follow our system and give the assets to your insiders to create a new nomenklatura of vested property interests – specifically, rentier interests, who would issue stocks in their companies and sell them to U.S. and other foreign investors. The idea was to let the West buy out the key rent-yielding assets in the former Soviet Union, above all mineral rights and public utilities, as well as centrally located real estate.
 

 
The government would put a deposit in one of the banks of the nomenklatura. In the Loans-for-shares program in 1994, the banks right say: 100 million dollars to buy Yukos oil company. The government would redeposit the check in the bank, so that they got the company for nothing, that is, no cash of their own. And then, when the government did not repay the debt, the bank would get many billion dollars worth of an oil or mining company.
 

 
The Americans did this because they realized that if a kleptocrat could buy Russian resources for one cent on the dollar, they would be happy to sell it for two cents on the dollar. That made the Russian stock market the best performing market in the world from 1994 to 1997. Russia let itself be financialized.
 

 
Other parts in the Soviet Union did not have raw materials. So a more accurate dress rehearsal would be what happened in Latvia, where they imposed a neo-liberal paradise. As in Russia, the neo-liberals had a free hand as to how to design what they said would be an ideal economy. Their way of creating such an economy and its financial and fiscal system was to say: “Don’t set up your own banks. Let foreign banks create the credit on their own keyboards.” Labor in Latvia has to confront a 59% set of flat taxes on employment – taxes that together are 59%. The real estate tax is only 1%, based on the most recent appraisal of Latvian property, which was in 1917 just before the revolution. So, the result was the largest real estate bubble of all.
 

 
That is basically the neo-liberal plan for how to get rich in a post-industrial economy. A property is worth whatever a bank will lend, because without taxes the value of this economic rent became available to be paid to the banks as interest rather than as taxes. The value of the site’s location should have been the basis of public financing, as in America. It’s the basis for most localities to pay for their school systems. If you are not going to tax property, if you are not going to tax monopolies, if you are not going to tax finance, then you have to tax labor. That’s why you have a 59% tax on employment in Latvia.
 

 
The result was an economic collapse in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. The result is that one third of the Latvian labor force of working age between 20 and 35 emigrated or announced its intention to emigrate. They would go to countries like Ireland which also was being financialized. So the Baltics still, even last year, were celebrated by the Institute for International Economics, the Peterson Institute, which is a bank lobbyist in the United States, and by the applauder of Russian privatization, Anders Aslund, the Swedish neoliberal lobbyist. Latvia is applauded as a model for which Europe should emulate. So you can expect your wages to be cut by 30%, you can expect people will have to go into a lifetime of debt in order to buy housing. They will have to have to inherit money if they want to get an education.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: That is what you say about Europe?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: I said, if you follow the Latvian model. This is the ideal. The basic principle when I talk to bankers is: You don’t know how far wages can be pushed down until somebody pushes back. And so far, nobody has pushed back.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: But what is with the unions? Normally …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: The communist countries did not have unions because they were supposed to be one big union. So the working conditions in the Baltic States have the worst accident rates, the worst workplace conditions, and their workers report the most abusive treatment by their employers. The workplace conditions in the post-communist economies are much worse than those in the capitalist economies, where there has been a symbiosis between labor and capital, a symbiosis between the private sector and the government.
 
….
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Just, I mean, off the record, but one of the advisers of chancellor Merkel is sometimes amazing, and he keeps telling this. He says: No, don’t write that. He says: It’s illegal, it’s against the treaty. I mean, that’s his last argument. So, I would like to … from scientific point of view. Frau
 

 
Wagenknecht: You are insane … What do you say as a scientist to this question?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Let’s simply look at the empirical facts. Since 2008 you have had the largest monetary creation in the 20th century’s history. The central banks have fueled this money creation. In America alone they have added $13 trillion dollars to the federal debt by bank bailouts. Yet prices have remained quite stable. Wages actually have fallen for the last 30 years, despite the wave of asset-price inflation fueled by commercial bank credit.
 

 
Central bank economists talk about consumer price or commodity price inflation. But commercial banks fuel asset price inflation, by lending money against real estate, stocks and bonds already in existence. As they make credit terms easier, people need more access to bank credit in order to buy a house. They have to bid against other. So bank credit inflates real estate prices. The upshot is that now you have to take more years of your income to buy a home. In the United States, the average American worker now pays 40% of family income for housing, 15% of income more for other debt service on credit cards and student loans. Another 15% is for wage withholding, and about another 15 % in other taxes, including sales taxes. This means that only about a quarter of American workers’ income is available to be spent on goods and services. Bank lending has absorbed so much of the income of workers that money that is spent to pay the banks is not available to be spent on goods and services.
 

 
So the flip side of asset price inflation is debt deflation. More and more money has to be spent to carry the debt overhead. The problem is not central banks financing domestic government budget deficits. Every hyperinflation in history has come as a result of the collapse of the balance of payments. The Germans are most familiar with 1921, but they tend to forget that the Weimar inflation was a result of Germany trying to pay reparations abroad. They were ordered by the Allied powers to print Deutsche Marks not for domestic spending, not to run a domestic deficit, not to rebuild Germany, not to employ labor, but to throw reichsmarks onto the foreign exchange market to obtain the foreign currency to pay the Allies, so that the Allies could turn around and pay the arms debts for what they bought from the United States before entry into World War One. It was the collapse of the foreign exchange that caused the hyperinflation, not domestic spending. And Germany’s hyperinflation was not cured by the central bank creating less money. It was cured by setting up a triangular flow of international payments. American bondholders would lend money to German municipalities that would issue bonds. The municipalities would receive dollars, and turn them over to the Reichsbank. It then would issue German currency against this for local spending – using the dollars to pay the Allies. The Allies would pay America, and that would keep the circular flow going. But to do this, interest rates had to be held down in the United States, to make German and other European borrowing more profitable for international lenders.
 

 
The same thing happened in Chile, which is another textbook hyperinflation. Rogers wrote a book on the process of hyperinflation in France that also occurred in the 1920s. The classic study of German inflation is by Salomon Flink, The Reichsbank and Economic Germany. The book actually was printed in Germany at that time. The same thing happened in Russia in the 1990s. The Russia hyperinflation occurred as a result of the depreciation of the ruble. This was already determined in advance at the meeting in Huston, Texas, between the World Bank and the IMF and the other Russian authorities. All this was published at the time, even before break-up of the Soviet Union. So to talk about hyperinflation as if it is a domestic phenomenon is to ignore the fact that never in history has it been domestic. It always is a balance-of-payments phenomenon, associated either with war or a class war, as in Chile’s case.
 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Now, to leave that economical …, to go to the interpretation of what will come. So, when I get it right, what you say, and Frau Wagenknecht says it too, there will be a … Wir werden ärmer. Also der durchschnittliche Deutsche wird verarmen oder ärmer.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Impoverishment.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Right. And not a revolution, not a moment where the society says no? That’s my question. But at the same time, what we are observing is that it is not only a change of the social standards of human beings in Europe but of the whole idea of democracy as well. This is something that strikes me most, which I would never believed. I must say, ten years ago, I would have said: conspiracy. And many like me would have said that the banks are so powerful and so on. Now, we start thinking whether “conspiracy” is the right word for it. And the same with the democracy, democratic question. I learned at school that the “Soziale Marktwirtschaft”, as we termed it, definitely requires Pluralismus, Demokratie, Partizipation, all that. But, and that is my question, are we, as Colin Crouch writes, postulating a post-democratic system? Is one of the prizes we have to pay for it, that democracy becomes weaker and weaker, and isn’t that a very dangerous development?
 

 
….
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Und da hätte ich eine Frage, die auch ganz aktuell ist, an Michael Hudson, vielleicht more in a theoretical way. Our new president said apparently, it is ridiculous to protest against, how did he say it, the capitalistic system, or something like that. Es ist lächerlich …
 

 
Wagenknecht: Nein, albern hat er …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Albern, ja, another word, it’s like ridiculous. And there we are, the point of question is, after the end of the communism, there was the idea, there is the triumph of capitalism. And now the people who are very social saying, I am repeating what they said in Germany: Now we can have a chance really, we don’t need the money for Rüstung anymore, and for armies, and against the Soviet Union, and so on. And now, we are in the third phase, and that’s why the (spot) that is so interesting, is the question: There is no alternative. Nobody really likes it, many people suffer. But the idea is, they managed to get the system like die beste aller möglichen Welten, there is no alternative to that all. What do you say to that, and what do you say to this quote?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: It is very interesting that the destruction of communism, or what passed for communism in 1990, made possible the destruction of industrial capitalism. What you have today is not capitalism as it was known when I grew up. It is not the capitalism that was talked about by Adam Smith, Ricardo, John Stuart Mill or even Marx. It is something that is evolved into finance capitalism, that is going through a number of stages. Pension-fund capitalism is exploiting labor, not by hiring it to produce goods and services, but to dock savings and channel them into the hands of financial managers – to bid up stock market prices.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Is it not the case, that this system did exist in the 20s?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: No, it only existed since 1950s. That is when General Motors started its pension fund. Pension funds soon became the single largest purchasers of stock, pushing up stock prices. The major sellers of stock have been management insiders, and increasingly those exercising their stock options, selling them in effect to the pension funds. So, the function of labor was to provide pension fund savings to spur stock market gains for the managers that have been financializing industrial companies – and in the process, de-industrializing them.
 

 
So, I’d like to plug this into the earlier discussion you just had. When you use the word “post-democratic society”, that is a byproduct of the post-industrial economy, which essentially means a financialized economy. It also was post-modern, if you think of “modern” as what existed in the early 20th century in the Progressive Era. That was the Modern Era. We are now in a post-modern era. The pro-financial strategy is essentially an anti-government strategy. That is because every economy is planned by someone or other. Most economies throughout history have been planned by the government, or whoever controls it, whether it’s been the landed aristocracy or bankers. If the government does not do the planning, this function is forfeited to the banks. And that is where we are today. Just like the case in which, if taxes are cut and the government does not get the revenue, it is available to be pledged to the banks and capitalized on the debt.
 

 
So the planning process passes to the banks, and they claim that they are the brains of society. They say, there is no alternative. But they are not the brain; they are something alien to industrial capitalism. This is what the Saint-Simon and his followers discussed in the 19th century. It was discussed in every country. The financial strategy now is to prevent people from studying what this body of classical economics was. It sought to free society from interest. Today’s banks are playing upon anxiety and fear, like a high-pressure salesman threatening to bring on a collapse if industrial economies try to protect themselves. They say: “You have to make up your decision in a hurry, if you don’t do this, you are going to lose your money, you are going to lose this opportunity.” They try to make it appear that this not only is the only alternative, but that it will make you rich.
 

 
Banks have been saying this for 30 years. This is the first time in history that people have believed they could get rich by borrowing money to buy assets that are increasing in price, or that they may get rich by the hyperinflation of property prices, and by the stock and bond prices that bank credit has inflated. Banks have managed to prevent the government from regulating and preventing this hyperinflation – and they even have called it “wealth creation.”
 

 
It is really debt creation. Debt is a claim on the means of production, and on labor. It is not a process of real growth. So what banks are saying is that there is no alternative but to let debts grow, at compound interest. This means reducing wages, as more and more must be spent on debt service. This eats into corporate cash flow and profits. So more and more are siphoned off to pay creditors. Debt also eats into the government revenue, so that the government does not have enough to pay for social programs and pensions. It only has enough to bail out the banks on exponentially growing debt that can never been paid, mathematically. That is the empirical fact. All you have to do is draw a statistical chart of the growth of debt, and compare it to the growth in wages. And you’ll see …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: How do you explain from a business point of view … I take the example of Dresden. I was in Dresden two weeks ago, and there they explained to me, the people I met from the city and from Volksbank and all these … They explained to me that Dresden, which I didn’t know, sold parts of their Stadtwerke and so on, and bought it back now because they realized that it was a mistake. I hear this from many, many other cities. Now, in my understanding of society, someone apparently made mistake here, the people who sold this, or at least, put the pressure. And normally, you would have to pay a price for making a mistake, and society would say: How could this happen? But the contrary is true, first of all, nobody discusses this, I can’t see it in den Städten.
 

 
That’s the first. And the second is, the made a mistake but became rich, from what I see. They are not sanctioned at all. So, I always ask you for the gesellschaftlichen Folgen. Isn’t this something what really is the most frightening result of this new era that things we once learned when we were kids, are not true anymore? The question of, it’s not that you are sanctioned when you make mistakes but that you can benefit in this regard?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: This is a question that I have discussed in Russia and China with their leaders. Fortunately, there is an alternative that they are well aware of. There is a way to recover the property that has been turned over to the privatizers. The answer is very simple: a windfall gain tax or a rent tax. If the land is been privatized, as it has been in China and Russia, all you have to do is tax the land’s value – the natural value, not the building value, but just the economic rent. You will recapture for the state the free lunch of economic rent.
 

 
The same principle applies to mines and fuel resources. You will simply have a mineral depletion tax that will recapture the value of what nature has provided freely. So the alternative is for the government not to tax profits, not to tax wages, not to tax income, but to tax economic rent. Because what the national income account pretends to be empirical, pretends to be “earnings” of the banks and other rentiers, is actually a transfer function – and often, outright theft.
 

 
It’s remarkable that French novelists realize this, such as Balzac who said that behind every great family fortune is a great theft. Economists don’t rise to the level of 19th century French novelists when it comes to understanding the economy.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: So to get back to your outlook again, talking about Europe, we have another debate that is quite interesting, which I think might be important to see. The one debate is, Greece is a lazy country and …, a new nationalism. The other one which I hear from bankers, by the way, sometimes, is, they say it ganz leise: It’s all America. So, it’s a huge American conspiracy. And they say: Wir wissen auch, dass das System nicht funktioniert, aber das ist ein amerikanischer Druck auf das, was jetzt mit Europa passiert usw. My question is, again, I think of Peter Hacks and Rahmentheorie. Ist das ein – das ist etwas, was ich für das Allerwichtigste halte – ein Prozess, der nicht mit einem big bang …
 
…
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Das wäre Occupy. Will "Occupy" be a revolutionary agent?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: We’re not trying to be a revolutionary agent. We are in a pre-revolutionary situation, so the aim is to raise consciousness – at this point, simply to explain how the world works. And many people want to … They sense that the economy does not work the way that textbooks say. But they can’t reinvent the rules by themselves. So most of the reason “Occupy Wall Street” is on Wall Street is because that is where the problem is. And most of the financial advisers, like myself, are lifetime workers on Wall Street, specialists in financial maneuvering and behavior. So our job is to explain to people, to popularize what used to be classical economics. Right wing interests have inverted the classical idea of free markets and captured its vocabulary, hijacking the repertory of classical, socialist and social democratic rhetoric.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Exactly that is what they did.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: I want to comment on your earlier point. It is true that the parasitic financial dynamic stems from America. But that is official policy; it is not a secret. It is not a conspiracy, it is very open. I am told that when Mr. Geithner came here to meet with the German bankers about the Greek debt, the Germans and Mrs. Merkel were in favor of a default, saying: Look, they can’t pay. But Mr. Geithner said that the German and the French banks and other banks have taken out credit default insurance with the American banks. These American banks would go under if Greece defaulted. Mrs. Merkel agreed to sacrifice the German banks and to impose losses on the German banks in order to help America. She seems to have put American interests before her own national interest, and cost the German people hundreds of billions of dollars by doing this. It is as if the leaders of Europe are hypnotized by a kind of Dr. Caligari who ends up to be running the asylum.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: (…) I think, it gives sehr große Einsichten, das ist faszinierend. The idea behind is, a little bit to … first of all to show that the position Frau Wagenknecht postulates, is not a position of two people in the world, but that there is a debate about it. And the other one is to provoke the others, the economists in Germany.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: You can’t provoke them.
 

 
Wagenknecht: Provoke you can, but …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: You can only replace them with a new generation.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: What I found out, what they really need to understand them is psychology. Of course, they need media power, and the consensus. The idea that you are insane if you are questioning certain aspects.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: That is what Dr. Caligari said.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Yes, that’s right. Or Dürrenmatt, “Die Physiker”, that’s exactly the same. Economists are like “Die Physiker”.
 

 
Dr. Minkmar: Once you can put a label on them, like “umstritten,” and you’ve already won.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Why do Hollywood movies understand this better than economists and politicians?
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: And why does Robert Harris? Did you read the book?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Yeah, wonderful.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: "Fear," Robert Harris
 

          Fireside on the Great Theft        
A recent interview in Frankfurt’s FAZ newspaper:
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: And then, just to find a starting point, maybe we can start with the personal, and then at least I would ask you both. Maybe that is a good starting point, very basic: What is the future of Europe? So, what do you conceive what will happen, and what is going to happen? Sie können sich auch gegenseitig … Now, Michael Hudson, you are in Germany and you are known to our readers, and Sahra Wagenknecht, of course, as well. Just very briefly your background. In your DNA, in your genetic code, you have traces of Indian roots.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Well, I am one-eighth (Chippewa) Indian, so I’m half Irish, a quarter Swiss, one eighth English. I grew up in Minneapolis, which was the center of America’s labor movement in the 1930s. The general strike in 1936 shaped the American labor scene.
 

 
Minnesota had a governor, Floyd B. Olson, who said that he hoped capitalism run right to hell. The Trotskyists were the main opponents of the Stalinists at that time. The irony is that you had the right wing ganging up with the Stalinists, all against the Trotskyist leadership because the Stalinists feared that a non-communist socialist leadership would build up the labor unions, as Minnesota was building up the Teamsters. So in 1941 my father became one of the Minneapolis 17, the first people committed under the Smith Act. This was ostensibly against advocating the overthrow of the government by force and violence, defined so loosely that in the presentation before the jury, it meant simply having the works of Marx and Lenin on your bookshelf.
 

 
I later was asked, when I went to work for Herman Kahn at the Hudson Institute, whether there was any reason why I could not get a top secret security clearance. I mentioned that my father was a Trotskyist leader, and he said: Oh, they know about that, that Stalin and Roosevelt made a deal around 1941 that if Roosevelt would prosecute the Trotskyists, the Communist Party promised not to pull out any of its Labor unions on strike during the balance of the war. The U.S. Attorney General later wrote in his autobiography that it was the only thing that was ashamed of doing, because by no stretch of the imagination could the Trotskyists have been any threat to the country.
 

 
In fact, it was the Trotskyists that called in the National Guard to protect the workers and the strikers against the police force that was working on behalf of the large companies. The lawyer for the Trotskyists in the trial was Al Goldman, who had been a colleague of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht. As I was growing up, most of the radicals who were still living throughout the world and from the United States would come to my house, and tell me their stories and their experiences.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: What could they say about Luxemburg and Liebknecht?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Al Goldman was still trying to find out who was responsible for killing them. But we decided that it really does not matter who the individuals are. They are usually killed by their bodyguards. The key is people behind them that order the killing.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: But you don’t have a memory of an anecdote or whatsoever, an anecdote about Luxemburg or Liebknecht, what they …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: No. Mainly, they talked about revolutionary theory. I wanted to grow up and go to jail like all of the people that my family admired, and their colleagues admired. So now I’m ashamed that I’ve never been able to go to the University of the Revolution.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: But you worked with Kahn, and I remember that Kahn was the person who proclaimed golden ages ahead of us. And he was the futurist who always said we will be so happy and so lucky. Am I right?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Yes, he was basically a military theorist who wrote a very good book on atomic warfare, saying that some people would survive. He was the model for “Dr. Strangelove”. And he felt so bad from being attacked for his military theory – and he was indeed a brilliant military theorist – that he decided to form the Corporate Environment study. But he was wrong in almost everything economic he said, so he brought me on to disagree with him on everything, as a foil. We liked each other. He was a very nice guy. In fact, we liked each other so much that we could not believe that the other person actually believed what they were saying publicly.
 

 
Herman Kahn weighed 400 pounds. I remember once in Paris, we were leaving the hotel to go to the airport, and I tried to hand him his pants. As far as my hands would stretch, they still weren’t long enough for the waist. He also had narcolepsy. When he was not speaking at a public lecture, he would fall asleep – usually in his food. He would rise from the table with the food flowing down his necktie, talking about the world economy an expanding pie, and in another generation, the whole world could live just like him. And everybody would go on diet, over a long time.
 

 
One of the big problems we had was when he wanted me to project the gross national product and hence living standards at 6 % or 4 % per year, which economists were doing at that time. He thought that all the technology and power somehow would make all countries rich. I refused to make that calculation, even though when I joined the Institute I insisted that the one perk that I wanted was an HP 75 calculator that could calculate exponential growth. I told Herman that the only growth that is exponential is financial – the magic of compound interest. And the more compound interest grows, the more it slows the economy, like driving a car with the brake on.
 

 
So that is where we differed. It turned out that most of his clients ended up hiring me instead of him, and I ended up getting a collection of Tibetan art as a result, and buying enough real estate, so, I’ve never had to work ever since and could spend all of my time writing.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: You talked about rescuing the banks, and that is really a phrase for trying to rescue a whole financial growth function to somehow save debts that can’t be paid. The question is: Who is going to take the loss? It really is trying to keep the debt overhead in place, by making the public sector absorb all the losses of the banks that have made the bad loan. And beyond this, it is really an ideology – an ideology that somehow the debts can all be paid. And beyond that, there is something else. Saving the banks is a slogan …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Sahra Wagenknecht, did I get you right that you say they can be paid?
 

 
Wagenknecht: They can’t. Also vorläufig können sie immer wieder, aber irgendwann …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Wegen der oberen 1 %.
 

 
Wagenknecht: … The upper class has to take the losses.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: The bailout is not saving the banks. The banks could function very well the next day after a debt cancellation. You are saving the bank stockholders and the bondholders and the rich counterparties to the banks. You are saving the gamblers who have accounts with the banks, not saving the banks.
 

 
But there is something even worse. The slogan “saving the banks” means a program for the governments to be financially responsible, which means financially self-destructive. The bailout is forcing Greece to sell its public domain, its water and sewer systems, its land, its real estate, its buildings, to sell to private buyers who are going to borrow money at interest from the bank to buy these public assets, and to treat them like a toll road.
 

 
So in the broadest sense of the term, saving the banks means to achieve by financial terms what it took an army militarily to counter a thousand years ago. Saving the banks thus is destroying society. Is that worth the payment?
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Very good and very understandable, but a question again. We can’t be too economic but … You say, you don’t save the banks. But what is, let’s say, my life insurance. What they say to me is that my bank has Staatsanleihen from …, at a normal average term too, so I would lose as an average person … I mean, by saving the banks, don’t they save me as well?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: No, that’s the trick that they are playing. For instance, in the United States the largest bank is Citibank. That was insolvent as a result of being one of the most abusive fraudulent banks with junk mortgages and similar gambles. The head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Sheila Bair, said that she argued with the Obama administration saying that she could close down Citibank and save all of the insured depositors. She could have saved all of the basic banking functions.
 

 
The only people who would not have been saved would have been the gamblers at the top, on whom Citibank had written derivative gambles. It is as if in a horse race somebody goes to the casino and gambles, and then can’t pay their debt. The casinos say: We can’t operate at all, if the losers can’t pay what they owe. So, you – the government – have to levy a tax, to enable the losers to pay the winners.
 

 
It’s true that not everybody’s savings would have been saved under this plan. But normal operations would have been. And it’s the same with AIG, the Insurance conglomerate that was bailed out with $184 billion dollars. All this loss went through the London office making financial gambles, losing bets as to which way interest rates and junk mortgages would move. The government could simply have closed down AIG, taking it over and said: We are saving all of your normal insurance policies, we are saving all of your normal business, but the gamblers we are just not paying.
 

 
But in that case, Goldman Sachs would not have been paid $18 billion dollars. And Goldman Sachs had its representative Hank Paulson as Secretary of the Treasury. The Treasury was paying its private colleagues on Wall Street, instead of saving the normal depositors. The intention of this bank bailout is to wipe out the normal depositors and only save the rich of the top. Pretending to save the poor, the working class,and the middle class, they want to save everything for the top 1%. That is what they did with Citibank, and that is what they did with AIG. Citibank makes money by lending to people like Sam Zell, who would buy a company, look at the pension funds or Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), and empty them out to pay his creditors. So, what the government is saving are the parasitic functions of the banks.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: To make it clear, and ask Frau Wagenknecht too: It could be possible not to save the banks, und würde trotzdem nicht diese Lebensversicherungen und Alters … das kann man trennen?
 

 
…
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Nein, that is very important for you to understand that people like me, I take me as a durchschnittliche …, believe in a kind of empirical or scientific rationality and all this stuff. And if I am told by Hans Werner Sinn or other people, der frühere Regierungssprecher, Ulrich Wilhelm, you have to save the banks because then you save your life assurance, for example, then I believe it, and everybody believes it, because you say: Well, they are mathematicians or whatsoever.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: What if I say: You have to make me rich in order to give me an incentive not to wreck society. What the banks are really saying is that: We will wreck the payment system, and we will stop paying, and we will cause a crisis if you don’t give us what we want. We are holding you hostage.
 

 
But all you really have to do is take them over and replace them with other people. You save the basic banking and insurance functions. There are plenty of good assets in there. Even junk mortgages are worth something. They are worth enough to save all of the normal activities for 90 % of the population. The losers in this case would only be the 10 % at the top … And all these gains for the last 20 years have been to the top 10 %. They would lose their gains – but there is enough to pay everybody else.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Normal understanding is, politicians need majorities, and not the 10 % of the top.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: You talk about empirical studies. If the statistics were publicized to show what I am talking about, everybody would see in chart form that there is enough money there. The Federal Reserve has them. There are many statistics available, but the newspapers don’t publish them. They find it politically incorrect to do so.
 

 
What they call “class war” is simply society trying to protect itself from the 1 %.
 

 
Dr. Minkmar: One key argument in your system of thinking is the role of central banks. And now today we think that central banks are there to supervise things and see that everything runs smoothly. But what would you advice central banks to do?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Central banks began to be created in 1694 with the Bank of England, and down to the Federal Reserve in the United States in 1913 their function was to finance government budget deficits by printing money. All governments over time run deficits – at least, most of the time – because that is how they supply the economy with the purchasing power and the money it needs to grow. The role of a central bank is to create money to finance the deficit.
 

 
If it does not do this, then the commercial banks end up performing this function. However, the commercial banks creating credit on their own computer keyboards have a different role from that of the central bank. When the central bank finances government spending, this is supposed to promote growth, full employment and industrialization. But that is not the object of a commercial bank. Banks, in the first instance, make loans against property already in place – mainly real estate and also the buyout of entire corporations. So they provide credit that bids up the price of housing, making it more expensive for workers. They also loan to buyers of commercial buildings, making it more expensive to do business, Takeover loans enable corporate raiders to bid up the price of stocks and bonds, making them yield less, so it costs more to buy a retirement income. And now, commercial banks are moving from finance capitalism to casino capitalism to make big gambles. They are essentially financing gambling. That’s what derivatives and “hedge fund” trading are.
 

 
None of this funds industrial investment. From the United States to Germany, almost all industrial capital formation is now funded by the retained earnings of corporations, not by bank borrowing. Even the stock market does not fund new direct investments. It has become a vehicle for corporate raiders to go to the banks to borrow the money, to buy a corporation on credit with junk bonds, retire the stock, and use the corporate profits to repay the banks – and then try to steal for themselves the pension funds, or sell off the assets, or just work the labor force more intensively; longer hours, outsource labor and move to the un-unionized labor. So the banks are no longer part of the industrialization process; they are part of the de-industrialization process. This is applauded as the post-industrial economy.
 

 
…
 

 
Dr. Minkmar: You were talking about Europe as being the new third world as a model for politics …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: In the 1970s and 80s, the International Monetary Fund imposed austerity on indebted countries. The conditions were that if the countries did not pay their foreign debts, they would be treated like Cuba or Iran, and made into pariahs in the international community. So, they were forced to sell off and privatize.
 

 
When I worked for Chase Manhattan Bank in 1964, my first job was to analyze the economies of Argentina, Brazil and Chile. My job was to calculate/estimate how much potential they could export and raise, one way or another.
 

 
In Latin America it could only be imposed at gunpoint, as you saw in Chile. So the first privatization, the first free-market model, was imposed at gunpoint in Chile under general Pinochet, under the direction of Henry Kissinger and the Nixon administration, and the University of Chicago Economics Department under Harberger and other operatives down there.
 

 
Once they did that, the next big test was the former Soviet Union. Unlike the West, the Soviet Union had no background in Marxism. They had no group that was familiar with Marx and Engels or classical economics. So in 1991 they immediately adopted the neo-liberal approach that said: We can promote millionaires by privatizing the property. Many friends of mine tried to go over and promote a more reasonable tax system. The post-Soviet economies after 1991 would have financed themselves by taxing natural resource wealth and real estate. But as soon as these good advisors would go over there, right-wing institutes like the Lincoln Institute or the World Bank would come and tell the mayors of a town: We’ll give you a million dollars in computers if you follow our system and give the assets to your insiders to create a new nomenklatura of vested property interests – specifically, rentier interests, who would issue stocks in their companies and sell them to U.S. and other foreign investors. The idea was to let the West buy out the key rent-yielding assets in the former Soviet Union, above all mineral rights and public utilities, as well as centrally located real estate.
 

 
The government would put a deposit in one of the banks of the nomenklatura. In the Loans-for-shares program in 1994, the banks right say: 100 million dollars to buy Yukos oil company. The government would redeposit the check in the bank, so that they got the company for nothing, that is, no cash of their own. And then, when the government did not repay the debt, the bank would get many billion dollars worth of an oil or mining company.
 

 
The Americans did this because they realized that if a kleptocrat could buy Russian resources for one cent on the dollar, they would be happy to sell it for two cents on the dollar. That made the Russian stock market the best performing market in the world from 1994 to 1997. Russia let itself be financialized.
 

 
Other parts in the Soviet Union did not have raw materials. So a more accurate dress rehearsal would be what happened in Latvia, where they imposed a neo-liberal paradise. As in Russia, the neo-liberals had a free hand as to how to design what they said would be an ideal economy. Their way of creating such an economy and its financial and fiscal system was to say: “Don’t set up your own banks. Let foreign banks create the credit on their own keyboards.” Labor in Latvia has to confront a 59% set of flat taxes on employment – taxes that together are 59%. The real estate tax is only 1%, based on the most recent appraisal of Latvian property, which was in 1917 just before the revolution. So, the result was the largest real estate bubble of all.
 

 
That is basically the neo-liberal plan for how to get rich in a post-industrial economy. A property is worth whatever a bank will lend, because without taxes the value of this economic rent became available to be paid to the banks as interest rather than as taxes. The value of the site’s location should have been the basis of public financing, as in America. It’s the basis for most localities to pay for their school systems. If you are not going to tax property, if you are not going to tax monopolies, if you are not going to tax finance, then you have to tax labor. That’s why you have a 59% tax on employment in Latvia.
 

 
The result was an economic collapse in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. The result is that one third of the Latvian labor force of working age between 20 and 35 emigrated or announced its intention to emigrate. They would go to countries like Ireland which also was being financialized. So the Baltics still, even last year, were celebrated by the Institute for International Economics, the Peterson Institute, which is a bank lobbyist in the United States, and by the applauder of Russian privatization, Anders Aslund, the Swedish neoliberal lobbyist. Latvia is applauded as a model for which Europe should emulate. So you can expect your wages to be cut by 30%, you can expect people will have to go into a lifetime of debt in order to buy housing. They will have to have to inherit money if they want to get an education.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: That is what you say about Europe?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: I said, if you follow the Latvian model. This is the ideal. The basic principle when I talk to bankers is: You don’t know how far wages can be pushed down until somebody pushes back. And so far, nobody has pushed back.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: But what is with the unions? Normally …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: The communist countries did not have unions because they were supposed to be one big union. So the working conditions in the Baltic States have the worst accident rates, the worst workplace conditions, and their workers report the most abusive treatment by their employers. The workplace conditions in the post-communist economies are much worse than those in the capitalist economies, where there has been a symbiosis between labor and capital, a symbiosis between the private sector and the government.
 
….
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Just, I mean, off the record, but one of the advisers of chancellor Merkel is sometimes amazing, and he keeps telling this. He says: No, don’t write that. He says: It’s illegal, it’s against the treaty. I mean, that’s his last argument. So, I would like to … from scientific point of view. Frau
 

 
Wagenknecht: You are insane … What do you say as a scientist to this question?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Let’s simply look at the empirical facts. Since 2008 you have had the largest monetary creation in the 20th century’s history. The central banks have fueled this money creation. In America alone they have added $13 trillion dollars to the federal debt by bank bailouts. Yet prices have remained quite stable. Wages actually have fallen for the last 30 years, despite the wave of asset-price inflation fueled by commercial bank credit.
 

 
Central bank economists talk about consumer price or commodity price inflation. But commercial banks fuel asset price inflation, by lending money against real estate, stocks and bonds already in existence. As they make credit terms easier, people need more access to bank credit in order to buy a house. They have to bid against other. So bank credit inflates real estate prices. The upshot is that now you have to take more years of your income to buy a home. In the United States, the average American worker now pays 40% of family income for housing, 15% of income more for other debt service on credit cards and student loans. Another 15% is for wage withholding, and about another 15 % in other taxes, including sales taxes. This means that only about a quarter of American workers’ income is available to be spent on goods and services. Bank lending has absorbed so much of the income of workers that money that is spent to pay the banks is not available to be spent on goods and services.
 

 
So the flip side of asset price inflation is debt deflation. More and more money has to be spent to carry the debt overhead. The problem is not central banks financing domestic government budget deficits. Every hyperinflation in history has come as a result of the collapse of the balance of payments. The Germans are most familiar with 1921, but they tend to forget that the Weimar inflation was a result of Germany trying to pay reparations abroad. They were ordered by the Allied powers to print Deutsche Marks not for domestic spending, not to run a domestic deficit, not to rebuild Germany, not to employ labor, but to throw reichsmarks onto the foreign exchange market to obtain the foreign currency to pay the Allies, so that the Allies could turn around and pay the arms debts for what they bought from the United States before entry into World War One. It was the collapse of the foreign exchange that caused the hyperinflation, not domestic spending. And Germany’s hyperinflation was not cured by the central bank creating less money. It was cured by setting up a triangular flow of international payments. American bondholders would lend money to German municipalities that would issue bonds. The municipalities would receive dollars, and turn them over to the Reichsbank. It then would issue German currency against this for local spending – using the dollars to pay the Allies. The Allies would pay America, and that would keep the circular flow going. But to do this, interest rates had to be held down in the United States, to make German and other European borrowing more profitable for international lenders.
 

 
The same thing happened in Chile, which is another textbook hyperinflation. Rogers wrote a book on the process of hyperinflation in France that also occurred in the 1920s. The classic study of German inflation is by Salomon Flink, The Reichsbank and Economic Germany. The book actually was printed in Germany at that time. The same thing happened in Russia in the 1990s. The Russia hyperinflation occurred as a result of the depreciation of the ruble. This was already determined in advance at the meeting in Huston, Texas, between the World Bank and the IMF and the other Russian authorities. All this was published at the time, even before break-up of the Soviet Union. So to talk about hyperinflation as if it is a domestic phenomenon is to ignore the fact that never in history has it been domestic. It always is a balance-of-payments phenomenon, associated either with war or a class war, as in Chile’s case.
 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Now, to leave that economical …, to go to the interpretation of what will come. So, when I get it right, what you say, and Frau Wagenknecht says it too, there will be a … Wir werden ärmer. Also der durchschnittliche Deutsche wird verarmen oder ärmer.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Impoverishment.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Right. And not a revolution, not a moment where the society says no? That’s my question. But at the same time, what we are observing is that it is not only a change of the social standards of human beings in Europe but of the whole idea of democracy as well. This is something that strikes me most, which I would never believed. I must say, ten years ago, I would have said: conspiracy. And many like me would have said that the banks are so powerful and so on. Now, we start thinking whether “conspiracy” is the right word for it. And the same with the democracy, democratic question. I learned at school that the “Soziale Marktwirtschaft”, as we termed it, definitely requires Pluralismus, Demokratie, Partizipation, all that. But, and that is my question, are we, as Colin Crouch writes, postulating a post-democratic system? Is one of the prizes we have to pay for it, that democracy becomes weaker and weaker, and isn’t that a very dangerous development?
 

 
….
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Und da hätte ich eine Frage, die auch ganz aktuell ist, an Michael Hudson, vielleicht more in a theoretical way. Our new president said apparently, it is ridiculous to protest against, how did he say it, the capitalistic system, or something like that. Es ist lächerlich …
 

 
Wagenknecht: Nein, albern hat er …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Albern, ja, another word, it’s like ridiculous. And there we are, the point of question is, after the end of the communism, there was the idea, there is the triumph of capitalism. And now the people who are very social saying, I am repeating what they said in Germany: Now we can have a chance really, we don’t need the money for Rüstung anymore, and for armies, and against the Soviet Union, and so on. And now, we are in the third phase, and that’s why the (spot) that is so interesting, is the question: There is no alternative. Nobody really likes it, many people suffer. But the idea is, they managed to get the system like die beste aller möglichen Welten, there is no alternative to that all. What do you say to that, and what do you say to this quote?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: It is very interesting that the destruction of communism, or what passed for communism in 1990, made possible the destruction of industrial capitalism. What you have today is not capitalism as it was known when I grew up. It is not the capitalism that was talked about by Adam Smith, Ricardo, John Stuart Mill or even Marx. It is something that is evolved into finance capitalism, that is going through a number of stages. Pension-fund capitalism is exploiting labor, not by hiring it to produce goods and services, but to dock savings and channel them into the hands of financial managers – to bid up stock market prices.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Is it not the case, that this system did exist in the 20s?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: No, it only existed since 1950s. That is when General Motors started its pension fund. Pension funds soon became the single largest purchasers of stock, pushing up stock prices. The major sellers of stock have been management insiders, and increasingly those exercising their stock options, selling them in effect to the pension funds. So, the function of labor was to provide pension fund savings to spur stock market gains for the managers that have been financializing industrial companies – and in the process, de-industrializing them.
 

 
So, I’d like to plug this into the earlier discussion you just had. When you use the word “post-democratic society”, that is a byproduct of the post-industrial economy, which essentially means a financialized economy. It also was post-modern, if you think of “modern” as what existed in the early 20th century in the Progressive Era. That was the Modern Era. We are now in a post-modern era. The pro-financial strategy is essentially an anti-government strategy. That is because every economy is planned by someone or other. Most economies throughout history have been planned by the government, or whoever controls it, whether it’s been the landed aristocracy or bankers. If the government does not do the planning, this function is forfeited to the banks. And that is where we are today. Just like the case in which, if taxes are cut and the government does not get the revenue, it is available to be pledged to the banks and capitalized on the debt.
 

 
So the planning process passes to the banks, and they claim that they are the brains of society. They say, there is no alternative. But they are not the brain; they are something alien to industrial capitalism. This is what the Saint-Simon and his followers discussed in the 19th century. It was discussed in every country. The financial strategy now is to prevent people from studying what this body of classical economics was. It sought to free society from interest. Today’s banks are playing upon anxiety and fear, like a high-pressure salesman threatening to bring on a collapse if industrial economies try to protect themselves. They say: “You have to make up your decision in a hurry, if you don’t do this, you are going to lose your money, you are going to lose this opportunity.” They try to make it appear that this not only is the only alternative, but that it will make you rich.
 

 
Banks have been saying this for 30 years. This is the first time in history that people have believed they could get rich by borrowing money to buy assets that are increasing in price, or that they may get rich by the hyperinflation of property prices, and by the stock and bond prices that bank credit has inflated. Banks have managed to prevent the government from regulating and preventing this hyperinflation – and they even have called it “wealth creation.”
 

 
It is really debt creation. Debt is a claim on the means of production, and on labor. It is not a process of real growth. So what banks are saying is that there is no alternative but to let debts grow, at compound interest. This means reducing wages, as more and more must be spent on debt service. This eats into corporate cash flow and profits. So more and more are siphoned off to pay creditors. Debt also eats into the government revenue, so that the government does not have enough to pay for social programs and pensions. It only has enough to bail out the banks on exponentially growing debt that can never been paid, mathematically. That is the empirical fact. All you have to do is draw a statistical chart of the growth of debt, and compare it to the growth in wages. And you’ll see …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: How do you explain from a business point of view … I take the example of Dresden. I was in Dresden two weeks ago, and there they explained to me, the people I met from the city and from Volksbank and all these … They explained to me that Dresden, which I didn’t know, sold parts of their Stadtwerke and so on, and bought it back now because they realized that it was a mistake. I hear this from many, many other cities. Now, in my understanding of society, someone apparently made mistake here, the people who sold this, or at least, put the pressure. And normally, you would have to pay a price for making a mistake, and society would say: How could this happen? But the contrary is true, first of all, nobody discusses this, I can’t see it in den Städten.
 

 
That’s the first. And the second is, the made a mistake but became rich, from what I see. They are not sanctioned at all. So, I always ask you for the gesellschaftlichen Folgen. Isn’t this something what really is the most frightening result of this new era that things we once learned when we were kids, are not true anymore? The question of, it’s not that you are sanctioned when you make mistakes but that you can benefit in this regard?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: This is a question that I have discussed in Russia and China with their leaders. Fortunately, there is an alternative that they are well aware of. There is a way to recover the property that has been turned over to the privatizers. The answer is very simple: a windfall gain tax or a rent tax. If the land is been privatized, as it has been in China and Russia, all you have to do is tax the land’s value – the natural value, not the building value, but just the economic rent. You will recapture for the state the free lunch of economic rent.
 

 
The same principle applies to mines and fuel resources. You will simply have a mineral depletion tax that will recapture the value of what nature has provided freely. So the alternative is for the government not to tax profits, not to tax wages, not to tax income, but to tax economic rent. Because what the national income account pretends to be empirical, pretends to be “earnings” of the banks and other rentiers, is actually a transfer function – and often, outright theft.
 

 
It’s remarkable that French novelists realize this, such as Balzac who said that behind every great family fortune is a great theft. Economists don’t rise to the level of 19th century French novelists when it comes to understanding the economy.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: So to get back to your outlook again, talking about Europe, we have another debate that is quite interesting, which I think might be important to see. The one debate is, Greece is a lazy country and …, a new nationalism. The other one which I hear from bankers, by the way, sometimes, is, they say it ganz leise: It’s all America. So, it’s a huge American conspiracy. And they say: Wir wissen auch, dass das System nicht funktioniert, aber das ist ein amerikanischer Druck auf das, was jetzt mit Europa passiert usw. My question is, again, I think of Peter Hacks and Rahmentheorie. Ist das ein – das ist etwas, was ich für das Allerwichtigste halte – ein Prozess, der nicht mit einem big bang …
 
…
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Das wäre Occupy. Will "Occupy" be a revolutionary agent?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: We’re not trying to be a revolutionary agent. We are in a pre-revolutionary situation, so the aim is to raise consciousness – at this point, simply to explain how the world works. And many people want to … They sense that the economy does not work the way that textbooks say. But they can’t reinvent the rules by themselves. So most of the reason “Occupy Wall Street” is on Wall Street is because that is where the problem is. And most of the financial advisers, like myself, are lifetime workers on Wall Street, specialists in financial maneuvering and behavior. So our job is to explain to people, to popularize what used to be classical economics. Right wing interests have inverted the classical idea of free markets and captured its vocabulary, hijacking the repertory of classical, socialist and social democratic rhetoric.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Exactly that is what they did.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: I want to comment on your earlier point. It is true that the parasitic financial dynamic stems from America. But that is official policy; it is not a secret. It is not a conspiracy, it is very open. I am told that when Mr. Geithner came here to meet with the German bankers about the Greek debt, the Germans and Mrs. Merkel were in favor of a default, saying: Look, they can’t pay. But Mr. Geithner said that the German and the French banks and other banks have taken out credit default insurance with the American banks. These American banks would go under if Greece defaulted. Mrs. Merkel agreed to sacrifice the German banks and to impose losses on the German banks in order to help America. She seems to have put American interests before her own national interest, and cost the German people hundreds of billions of dollars by doing this. It is as if the leaders of Europe are hypnotized by a kind of Dr. Caligari who ends up to be running the asylum.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: (…) I think, it gives sehr große Einsichten, das ist faszinierend. The idea behind is, a little bit to … first of all to show that the position Frau Wagenknecht postulates, is not a position of two people in the world, but that there is a debate about it. And the other one is to provoke the others, the economists in Germany.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: You can’t provoke them.
 

 
Wagenknecht: Provoke you can, but …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: You can only replace them with a new generation.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: What I found out, what they really need to understand them is psychology. Of course, they need media power, and the consensus. The idea that you are insane if you are questioning certain aspects.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: That is what Dr. Caligari said.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Yes, that’s right. Or Dürrenmatt, “Die Physiker”, that’s exactly the same. Economists are like “Die Physiker”.
 

 
Dr. Minkmar: Once you can put a label on them, like “umstritten,” and you’ve already won.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Why do Hollywood movies understand this better than economists and politicians?
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: And why does Robert Harris? Did you read the book?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Yeah, wonderful.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: "Fear," Robert Harris
 

          Fireside on the Great Theft        
A recent interview in Frankfurt’s FAZ newspaper:
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: And then, just to find a starting point, maybe we can start with the personal, and then at least I would ask you both. Maybe that is a good starting point, very basic: What is the future of Europe? So, what do you conceive what will happen, and what is going to happen? Sie können sich auch gegenseitig … Now, Michael Hudson, you are in Germany and you are known to our readers, and Sahra Wagenknecht, of course, as well. Just very briefly your background. In your DNA, in your genetic code, you have traces of Indian roots.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Well, I am one-eighth (Chippewa) Indian, so I’m half Irish, a quarter Swiss, one eighth English. I grew up in Minneapolis, which was the center of America’s labor movement in the 1930s. The general strike in 1936 shaped the American labor scene.
 

 
Minnesota had a governor, Floyd B. Olson, who said that he hoped capitalism run right to hell. The Trotskyists were the main opponents of the Stalinists at that time. The irony is that you had the right wing ganging up with the Stalinists, all against the Trotskyist leadership because the Stalinists feared that a non-communist socialist leadership would build up the labor unions, as Minnesota was building up the Teamsters. So in 1941 my father became one of the Minneapolis 17, the first people committed under the Smith Act. This was ostensibly against advocating the overthrow of the government by force and violence, defined so loosely that in the presentation before the jury, it meant simply having the works of Marx and Lenin on your bookshelf.
 

 
I later was asked, when I went to work for Herman Kahn at the Hudson Institute, whether there was any reason why I could not get a top secret security clearance. I mentioned that my father was a Trotskyist leader, and he said: Oh, they know about that, that Stalin and Roosevelt made a deal around 1941 that if Roosevelt would prosecute the Trotskyists, the Communist Party promised not to pull out any of its Labor unions on strike during the balance of the war. The U.S. Attorney General later wrote in his autobiography that it was the only thing that was ashamed of doing, because by no stretch of the imagination could the Trotskyists have been any threat to the country.
 

 
In fact, it was the Trotskyists that called in the National Guard to protect the workers and the strikers against the police force that was working on behalf of the large companies. The lawyer for the Trotskyists in the trial was Al Goldman, who had been a colleague of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht. As I was growing up, most of the radicals who were still living throughout the world and from the United States would come to my house, and tell me their stories and their experiences.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: What could they say about Luxemburg and Liebknecht?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Al Goldman was still trying to find out who was responsible for killing them. But we decided that it really does not matter who the individuals are. They are usually killed by their bodyguards. The key is people behind them that order the killing.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: But you don’t have a memory of an anecdote or whatsoever, an anecdote about Luxemburg or Liebknecht, what they …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: No. Mainly, they talked about revolutionary theory. I wanted to grow up and go to jail like all of the people that my family admired, and their colleagues admired. So now I’m ashamed that I’ve never been able to go to the University of the Revolution.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: But you worked with Kahn, and I remember that Kahn was the person who proclaimed golden ages ahead of us. And he was the futurist who always said we will be so happy and so lucky. Am I right?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Yes, he was basically a military theorist who wrote a very good book on atomic warfare, saying that some people would survive. He was the model for “Dr. Strangelove”. And he felt so bad from being attacked for his military theory – and he was indeed a brilliant military theorist – that he decided to form the Corporate Environment study. But he was wrong in almost everything economic he said, so he brought me on to disagree with him on everything, as a foil. We liked each other. He was a very nice guy. In fact, we liked each other so much that we could not believe that the other person actually believed what they were saying publicly.
 

 
Herman Kahn weighed 400 pounds. I remember once in Paris, we were leaving the hotel to go to the airport, and I tried to hand him his pants. As far as my hands would stretch, they still weren’t long enough for the waist. He also had narcolepsy. When he was not speaking at a public lecture, he would fall asleep – usually in his food. He would rise from the table with the food flowing down his necktie, talking about the world economy an expanding pie, and in another generation, the whole world could live just like him. And everybody would go on diet, over a long time.
 

 
One of the big problems we had was when he wanted me to project the gross national product and hence living standards at 6 % or 4 % per year, which economists were doing at that time. He thought that all the technology and power somehow would make all countries rich. I refused to make that calculation, even though when I joined the Institute I insisted that the one perk that I wanted was an HP 75 calculator that could calculate exponential growth. I told Herman that the only growth that is exponential is financial – the magic of compound interest. And the more compound interest grows, the more it slows the economy, like driving a car with the brake on.
 

 
So that is where we differed. It turned out that most of his clients ended up hiring me instead of him, and I ended up getting a collection of Tibetan art as a result, and buying enough real estate, so, I’ve never had to work ever since and could spend all of my time writing.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: You talked about rescuing the banks, and that is really a phrase for trying to rescue a whole financial growth function to somehow save debts that can’t be paid. The question is: Who is going to take the loss? It really is trying to keep the debt overhead in place, by making the public sector absorb all the losses of the banks that have made the bad loan. And beyond this, it is really an ideology – an ideology that somehow the debts can all be paid. And beyond that, there is something else. Saving the banks is a slogan …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Sahra Wagenknecht, did I get you right that you say they can be paid?
 

 
Wagenknecht: They can’t. Also vorläufig können sie immer wieder, aber irgendwann …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Wegen der oberen 1 %.
 

 
Wagenknecht: … The upper class has to take the losses.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: The bailout is not saving the banks. The banks could function very well the next day after a debt cancellation. You are saving the bank stockholders and the bondholders and the rich counterparties to the banks. You are saving the gamblers who have accounts with the banks, not saving the banks.
 

 
But there is something even worse. The slogan “saving the banks” means a program for the governments to be financially responsible, which means financially self-destructive. The bailout is forcing Greece to sell its public domain, its water and sewer systems, its land, its real estate, its buildings, to sell to private buyers who are going to borrow money at interest from the bank to buy these public assets, and to treat them like a toll road.
 

 
So in the broadest sense of the term, saving the banks means to achieve by financial terms what it took an army militarily to counter a thousand years ago. Saving the banks thus is destroying society. Is that worth the payment?
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Very good and very understandable, but a question again. We can’t be too economic but … You say, you don’t save the banks. But what is, let’s say, my life insurance. What they say to me is that my bank has Staatsanleihen from …, at a normal average term too, so I would lose as an average person … I mean, by saving the banks, don’t they save me as well?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: No, that’s the trick that they are playing. For instance, in the United States the largest bank is Citibank. That was insolvent as a result of being one of the most abusive fraudulent banks with junk mortgages and similar gambles. The head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Sheila Bair, said that she argued with the Obama administration saying that she could close down Citibank and save all of the insured depositors. She could have saved all of the basic banking functions.
 

 
The only people who would not have been saved would have been the gamblers at the top, on whom Citibank had written derivative gambles. It is as if in a horse race somebody goes to the casino and gambles, and then can’t pay their debt. The casinos say: We can’t operate at all, if the losers can’t pay what they owe. So, you – the government – have to levy a tax, to enable the losers to pay the winners.
 

 
It’s true that not everybody’s savings would have been saved under this plan. But normal operations would have been. And it’s the same with AIG, the Insurance conglomerate that was bailed out with $184 billion dollars. All this loss went through the London office making financial gambles, losing bets as to which way interest rates and junk mortgages would move. The government could simply have closed down AIG, taking it over and said: We are saving all of your normal insurance policies, we are saving all of your normal business, but the gamblers we are just not paying.
 

 
But in that case, Goldman Sachs would not have been paid $18 billion dollars. And Goldman Sachs had its representative Hank Paulson as Secretary of the Treasury. The Treasury was paying its private colleagues on Wall Street, instead of saving the normal depositors. The intention of this bank bailout is to wipe out the normal depositors and only save the rich of the top. Pretending to save the poor, the working class,and the middle class, they want to save everything for the top 1%. That is what they did with Citibank, and that is what they did with AIG. Citibank makes money by lending to people like Sam Zell, who would buy a company, look at the pension funds or Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), and empty them out to pay his creditors. So, what the government is saving are the parasitic functions of the banks.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: To make it clear, and ask Frau Wagenknecht too: It could be possible not to save the banks, und würde trotzdem nicht diese Lebensversicherungen und Alters … das kann man trennen?
 

 
…
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Nein, that is very important for you to understand that people like me, I take me as a durchschnittliche …, believe in a kind of empirical or scientific rationality and all this stuff. And if I am told by Hans Werner Sinn or other people, der frühere Regierungssprecher, Ulrich Wilhelm, you have to save the banks because then you save your life assurance, for example, then I believe it, and everybody believes it, because you say: Well, they are mathematicians or whatsoever.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: What if I say: You have to make me rich in order to give me an incentive not to wreck society. What the banks are really saying is that: We will wreck the payment system, and we will stop paying, and we will cause a crisis if you don’t give us what we want. We are holding you hostage.
 

 
But all you really have to do is take them over and replace them with other people. You save the basic banking and insurance functions. There are plenty of good assets in there. Even junk mortgages are worth something. They are worth enough to save all of the normal activities for 90 % of the population. The losers in this case would only be the 10 % at the top … And all these gains for the last 20 years have been to the top 10 %. They would lose their gains – but there is enough to pay everybody else.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Normal understanding is, politicians need majorities, and not the 10 % of the top.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: You talk about empirical studies. If the statistics were publicized to show what I am talking about, everybody would see in chart form that there is enough money there. The Federal Reserve has them. There are many statistics available, but the newspapers don’t publish them. They find it politically incorrect to do so.
 

 
What they call “class war” is simply society trying to protect itself from the 1 %.
 

 
Dr. Minkmar: One key argument in your system of thinking is the role of central banks. And now today we think that central banks are there to supervise things and see that everything runs smoothly. But what would you advice central banks to do?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Central banks began to be created in 1694 with the Bank of England, and down to the Federal Reserve in the United States in 1913 their function was to finance government budget deficits by printing money. All governments over time run deficits – at least, most of the time – because that is how they supply the economy with the purchasing power and the money it needs to grow. The role of a central bank is to create money to finance the deficit.
 

 
If it does not do this, then the commercial banks end up performing this function. However, the commercial banks creating credit on their own computer keyboards have a different role from that of the central bank. When the central bank finances government spending, this is supposed to promote growth, full employment and industrialization. But that is not the object of a commercial bank. Banks, in the first instance, make loans against property already in place – mainly real estate and also the buyout of entire corporations. So they provide credit that bids up the price of housing, making it more expensive for workers. They also loan to buyers of commercial buildings, making it more expensive to do business, Takeover loans enable corporate raiders to bid up the price of stocks and bonds, making them yield less, so it costs more to buy a retirement income. And now, commercial banks are moving from finance capitalism to casino capitalism to make big gambles. They are essentially financing gambling. That’s what derivatives and “hedge fund” trading are.
 

 
None of this funds industrial investment. From the United States to Germany, almost all industrial capital formation is now funded by the retained earnings of corporations, not by bank borrowing. Even the stock market does not fund new direct investments. It has become a vehicle for corporate raiders to go to the banks to borrow the money, to buy a corporation on credit with junk bonds, retire the stock, and use the corporate profits to repay the banks – and then try to steal for themselves the pension funds, or sell off the assets, or just work the labor force more intensively; longer hours, outsource labor and move to the un-unionized labor. So the banks are no longer part of the industrialization process; they are part of the de-industrialization process. This is applauded as the post-industrial economy.
 

 
…
 

 
Dr. Minkmar: You were talking about Europe as being the new third world as a model for politics …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: In the 1970s and 80s, the International Monetary Fund imposed austerity on indebted countries. The conditions were that if the countries did not pay their foreign debts, they would be treated like Cuba or Iran, and made into pariahs in the international community. So, they were forced to sell off and privatize.
 

 
When I worked for Chase Manhattan Bank in 1964, my first job was to analyze the economies of Argentina, Brazil and Chile. My job was to calculate/estimate how much potential they could export and raise, one way or another.
 

 
In Latin America it could only be imposed at gunpoint, as you saw in Chile. So the first privatization, the first free-market model, was imposed at gunpoint in Chile under general Pinochet, under the direction of Henry Kissinger and the Nixon administration, and the University of Chicago Economics Department under Harberger and other operatives down there.
 

 
Once they did that, the next big test was the former Soviet Union. Unlike the West, the Soviet Union had no background in Marxism. They had no group that was familiar with Marx and Engels or classical economics. So in 1991 they immediately adopted the neo-liberal approach that said: We can promote millionaires by privatizing the property. Many friends of mine tried to go over and promote a more reasonable tax system. The post-Soviet economies after 1991 would have financed themselves by taxing natural resource wealth and real estate. But as soon as these good advisors would go over there, right-wing institutes like the Lincoln Institute or the World Bank would come and tell the mayors of a town: We’ll give you a million dollars in computers if you follow our system and give the assets to your insiders to create a new nomenklatura of vested property interests – specifically, rentier interests, who would issue stocks in their companies and sell them to U.S. and other foreign investors. The idea was to let the West buy out the key rent-yielding assets in the former Soviet Union, above all mineral rights and public utilities, as well as centrally located real estate.
 

 
The government would put a deposit in one of the banks of the nomenklatura. In the Loans-for-shares program in 1994, the banks right say: 100 million dollars to buy Yukos oil company. The government would redeposit the check in the bank, so that they got the company for nothing, that is, no cash of their own. And then, when the government did not repay the debt, the bank would get many billion dollars worth of an oil or mining company.
 

 
The Americans did this because they realized that if a kleptocrat could buy Russian resources for one cent on the dollar, they would be happy to sell it for two cents on the dollar. That made the Russian stock market the best performing market in the world from 1994 to 1997. Russia let itself be financialized.
 

 
Other parts in the Soviet Union did not have raw materials. So a more accurate dress rehearsal would be what happened in Latvia, where they imposed a neo-liberal paradise. As in Russia, the neo-liberals had a free hand as to how to design what they said would be an ideal economy. Their way of creating such an economy and its financial and fiscal system was to say: “Don’t set up your own banks. Let foreign banks create the credit on their own keyboards.” Labor in Latvia has to confront a 59% set of flat taxes on employment – taxes that together are 59%. The real estate tax is only 1%, based on the most recent appraisal of Latvian property, which was in 1917 just before the revolution. So, the result was the largest real estate bubble of all.
 

 
That is basically the neo-liberal plan for how to get rich in a post-industrial economy. A property is worth whatever a bank will lend, because without taxes the value of this economic rent became available to be paid to the banks as interest rather than as taxes. The value of the site’s location should have been the basis of public financing, as in America. It’s the basis for most localities to pay for their school systems. If you are not going to tax property, if you are not going to tax monopolies, if you are not going to tax finance, then you have to tax labor. That’s why you have a 59% tax on employment in Latvia.
 

 
The result was an economic collapse in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. The result is that one third of the Latvian labor force of working age between 20 and 35 emigrated or announced its intention to emigrate. They would go to countries like Ireland which also was being financialized. So the Baltics still, even last year, were celebrated by the Institute for International Economics, the Peterson Institute, which is a bank lobbyist in the United States, and by the applauder of Russian privatization, Anders Aslund, the Swedish neoliberal lobbyist. Latvia is applauded as a model for which Europe should emulate. So you can expect your wages to be cut by 30%, you can expect people will have to go into a lifetime of debt in order to buy housing. They will have to have to inherit money if they want to get an education.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: That is what you say about Europe?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: I said, if you follow the Latvian model. This is the ideal. The basic principle when I talk to bankers is: You don’t know how far wages can be pushed down until somebody pushes back. And so far, nobody has pushed back.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: But what is with the unions? Normally …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: The communist countries did not have unions because they were supposed to be one big union. So the working conditions in the Baltic States have the worst accident rates, the worst workplace conditions, and their workers report the most abusive treatment by their employers. The workplace conditions in the post-communist economies are much worse than those in the capitalist economies, where there has been a symbiosis between labor and capital, a symbiosis between the private sector and the government.
 
….
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Just, I mean, off the record, but one of the advisers of chancellor Merkel is sometimes amazing, and he keeps telling this. He says: No, don’t write that. He says: It’s illegal, it’s against the treaty. I mean, that’s his last argument. So, I would like to … from scientific point of view. Frau
 

 
Wagenknecht: You are insane … What do you say as a scientist to this question?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Let’s simply look at the empirical facts. Since 2008 you have had the largest monetary creation in the 20th century’s history. The central banks have fueled this money creation. In America alone they have added $13 trillion dollars to the federal debt by bank bailouts. Yet prices have remained quite stable. Wages actually have fallen for the last 30 years, despite the wave of asset-price inflation fueled by commercial bank credit.
 

 
Central bank economists talk about consumer price or commodity price inflation. But commercial banks fuel asset price inflation, by lending money against real estate, stocks and bonds already in existence. As they make credit terms easier, people need more access to bank credit in order to buy a house. They have to bid against other. So bank credit inflates real estate prices. The upshot is that now you have to take more years of your income to buy a home. In the United States, the average American worker now pays 40% of family income for housing, 15% of income more for other debt service on credit cards and student loans. Another 15% is for wage withholding, and about another 15 % in other taxes, including sales taxes. This means that only about a quarter of American workers’ income is available to be spent on goods and services. Bank lending has absorbed so much of the income of workers that money that is spent to pay the banks is not available to be spent on goods and services.
 

 
So the flip side of asset price inflation is debt deflation. More and more money has to be spent to carry the debt overhead. The problem is not central banks financing domestic government budget deficits. Every hyperinflation in history has come as a result of the collapse of the balance of payments. The Germans are most familiar with 1921, but they tend to forget that the Weimar inflation was a result of Germany trying to pay reparations abroad. They were ordered by the Allied powers to print Deutsche Marks not for domestic spending, not to run a domestic deficit, not to rebuild Germany, not to employ labor, but to throw reichsmarks onto the foreign exchange market to obtain the foreign currency to pay the Allies, so that the Allies could turn around and pay the arms debts for what they bought from the United States before entry into World War One. It was the collapse of the foreign exchange that caused the hyperinflation, not domestic spending. And Germany’s hyperinflation was not cured by the central bank creating less money. It was cured by setting up a triangular flow of international payments. American bondholders would lend money to German municipalities that would issue bonds. The municipalities would receive dollars, and turn them over to the Reichsbank. It then would issue German currency against this for local spending – using the dollars to pay the Allies. The Allies would pay America, and that would keep the circular flow going. But to do this, interest rates had to be held down in the United States, to make German and other European borrowing more profitable for international lenders.
 

 
The same thing happened in Chile, which is another textbook hyperinflation. Rogers wrote a book on the process of hyperinflation in France that also occurred in the 1920s. The classic study of German inflation is by Salomon Flink, The Reichsbank and Economic Germany. The book actually was printed in Germany at that time. The same thing happened in Russia in the 1990s. The Russia hyperinflation occurred as a result of the depreciation of the ruble. This was already determined in advance at the meeting in Huston, Texas, between the World Bank and the IMF and the other Russian authorities. All this was published at the time, even before break-up of the Soviet Union. So to talk about hyperinflation as if it is a domestic phenomenon is to ignore the fact that never in history has it been domestic. It always is a balance-of-payments phenomenon, associated either with war or a class war, as in Chile’s case.
 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Now, to leave that economical …, to go to the interpretation of what will come. So, when I get it right, what you say, and Frau Wagenknecht says it too, there will be a … Wir werden ärmer. Also der durchschnittliche Deutsche wird verarmen oder ärmer.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Impoverishment.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Right. And not a revolution, not a moment where the society says no? That’s my question. But at the same time, what we are observing is that it is not only a change of the social standards of human beings in Europe but of the whole idea of democracy as well. This is something that strikes me most, which I would never believed. I must say, ten years ago, I would have said: conspiracy. And many like me would have said that the banks are so powerful and so on. Now, we start thinking whether “conspiracy” is the right word for it. And the same with the democracy, democratic question. I learned at school that the “Soziale Marktwirtschaft”, as we termed it, definitely requires Pluralismus, Demokratie, Partizipation, all that. But, and that is my question, are we, as Colin Crouch writes, postulating a post-democratic system? Is one of the prizes we have to pay for it, that democracy becomes weaker and weaker, and isn’t that a very dangerous development?
 

 
….
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Und da hätte ich eine Frage, die auch ganz aktuell ist, an Michael Hudson, vielleicht more in a theoretical way. Our new president said apparently, it is ridiculous to protest against, how did he say it, the capitalistic system, or something like that. Es ist lächerlich …
 

 
Wagenknecht: Nein, albern hat er …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Albern, ja, another word, it’s like ridiculous. And there we are, the point of question is, after the end of the communism, there was the idea, there is the triumph of capitalism. And now the people who are very social saying, I am repeating what they said in Germany: Now we can have a chance really, we don’t need the money for Rüstung anymore, and for armies, and against the Soviet Union, and so on. And now, we are in the third phase, and that’s why the (spot) that is so interesting, is the question: There is no alternative. Nobody really likes it, many people suffer. But the idea is, they managed to get the system like die beste aller möglichen Welten, there is no alternative to that all. What do you say to that, and what do you say to this quote?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: It is very interesting that the destruction of communism, or what passed for communism in 1990, made possible the destruction of industrial capitalism. What you have today is not capitalism as it was known when I grew up. It is not the capitalism that was talked about by Adam Smith, Ricardo, John Stuart Mill or even Marx. It is something that is evolved into finance capitalism, that is going through a number of stages. Pension-fund capitalism is exploiting labor, not by hiring it to produce goods and services, but to dock savings and channel them into the hands of financial managers – to bid up stock market prices.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Is it not the case, that this system did exist in the 20s?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: No, it only existed since 1950s. That is when General Motors started its pension fund. Pension funds soon became the single largest purchasers of stock, pushing up stock prices. The major sellers of stock have been management insiders, and increasingly those exercising their stock options, selling them in effect to the pension funds. So, the function of labor was to provide pension fund savings to spur stock market gains for the managers that have been financializing industrial companies – and in the process, de-industrializing them.
 

 
So, I’d like to plug this into the earlier discussion you just had. When you use the word “post-democratic society”, that is a byproduct of the post-industrial economy, which essentially means a financialized economy. It also was post-modern, if you think of “modern” as what existed in the early 20th century in the Progressive Era. That was the Modern Era. We are now in a post-modern era. The pro-financial strategy is essentially an anti-government strategy. That is because every economy is planned by someone or other. Most economies throughout history have been planned by the government, or whoever controls it, whether it’s been the landed aristocracy or bankers. If the government does not do the planning, this function is forfeited to the banks. And that is where we are today. Just like the case in which, if taxes are cut and the government does not get the revenue, it is available to be pledged to the banks and capitalized on the debt.
 

 
So the planning process passes to the banks, and they claim that they are the brains of society. They say, there is no alternative. But they are not the brain; they are something alien to industrial capitalism. This is what the Saint-Simon and his followers discussed in the 19th century. It was discussed in every country. The financial strategy now is to prevent people from studying what this body of classical economics was. It sought to free society from interest. Today’s banks are playing upon anxiety and fear, like a high-pressure salesman threatening to bring on a collapse if industrial economies try to protect themselves. They say: “You have to make up your decision in a hurry, if you don’t do this, you are going to lose your money, you are going to lose this opportunity.” They try to make it appear that this not only is the only alternative, but that it will make you rich.
 

 
Banks have been saying this for 30 years. This is the first time in history that people have believed they could get rich by borrowing money to buy assets that are increasing in price, or that they may get rich by the hyperinflation of property prices, and by the stock and bond prices that bank credit has inflated. Banks have managed to prevent the government from regulating and preventing this hyperinflation – and they even have called it “wealth creation.”
 

 
It is really debt creation. Debt is a claim on the means of production, and on labor. It is not a process of real growth. So what banks are saying is that there is no alternative but to let debts grow, at compound interest. This means reducing wages, as more and more must be spent on debt service. This eats into corporate cash flow and profits. So more and more are siphoned off to pay creditors. Debt also eats into the government revenue, so that the government does not have enough to pay for social programs and pensions. It only has enough to bail out the banks on exponentially growing debt that can never been paid, mathematically. That is the empirical fact. All you have to do is draw a statistical chart of the growth of debt, and compare it to the growth in wages. And you’ll see …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: How do you explain from a business point of view … I take the example of Dresden. I was in Dresden two weeks ago, and there they explained to me, the people I met from the city and from Volksbank and all these … They explained to me that Dresden, which I didn’t know, sold parts of their Stadtwerke and so on, and bought it back now because they realized that it was a mistake. I hear this from many, many other cities. Now, in my understanding of society, someone apparently made mistake here, the people who sold this, or at least, put the pressure. And normally, you would have to pay a price for making a mistake, and society would say: How could this happen? But the contrary is true, first of all, nobody discusses this, I can’t see it in den Städten.
 

 
That’s the first. And the second is, the made a mistake but became rich, from what I see. They are not sanctioned at all. So, I always ask you for the gesellschaftlichen Folgen. Isn’t this something what really is the most frightening result of this new era that things we once learned when we were kids, are not true anymore? The question of, it’s not that you are sanctioned when you make mistakes but that you can benefit in this regard?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: This is a question that I have discussed in Russia and China with their leaders. Fortunately, there is an alternative that they are well aware of. There is a way to recover the property that has been turned over to the privatizers. The answer is very simple: a windfall gain tax or a rent tax. If the land is been privatized, as it has been in China and Russia, all you have to do is tax the land’s value – the natural value, not the building value, but just the economic rent. You will recapture for the state the free lunch of economic rent.
 

 
The same principle applies to mines and fuel resources. You will simply have a mineral depletion tax that will recapture the value of what nature has provided freely. So the alternative is for the government not to tax profits, not to tax wages, not to tax income, but to tax economic rent. Because what the national income account pretends to be empirical, pretends to be “earnings” of the banks and other rentiers, is actually a transfer function – and often, outright theft.
 

 
It’s remarkable that French novelists realize this, such as Balzac who said that behind every great family fortune is a great theft. Economists don’t rise to the level of 19th century French novelists when it comes to understanding the economy.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: So to get back to your outlook again, talking about Europe, we have another debate that is quite interesting, which I think might be important to see. The one debate is, Greece is a lazy country and …, a new nationalism. The other one which I hear from bankers, by the way, sometimes, is, they say it ganz leise: It’s all America. So, it’s a huge American conspiracy. And they say: Wir wissen auch, dass das System nicht funktioniert, aber das ist ein amerikanischer Druck auf das, was jetzt mit Europa passiert usw. My question is, again, I think of Peter Hacks and Rahmentheorie. Ist das ein – das ist etwas, was ich für das Allerwichtigste halte – ein Prozess, der nicht mit einem big bang …
 
…
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Das wäre Occupy. Will "Occupy" be a revolutionary agent?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: We’re not trying to be a revolutionary agent. We are in a pre-revolutionary situation, so the aim is to raise consciousness – at this point, simply to explain how the world works. And many people want to … They sense that the economy does not work the way that textbooks say. But they can’t reinvent the rules by themselves. So most of the reason “Occupy Wall Street” is on Wall Street is because that is where the problem is. And most of the financial advisers, like myself, are lifetime workers on Wall Street, specialists in financial maneuvering and behavior. So our job is to explain to people, to popularize what used to be classical economics. Right wing interests have inverted the classical idea of free markets and captured its vocabulary, hijacking the repertory of classical, socialist and social democratic rhetoric.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Exactly that is what they did.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: I want to comment on your earlier point. It is true that the parasitic financial dynamic stems from America. But that is official policy; it is not a secret. It is not a conspiracy, it is very open. I am told that when Mr. Geithner came here to meet with the German bankers about the Greek debt, the Germans and Mrs. Merkel were in favor of a default, saying: Look, they can’t pay. But Mr. Geithner said that the German and the French banks and other banks have taken out credit default insurance with the American banks. These American banks would go under if Greece defaulted. Mrs. Merkel agreed to sacrifice the German banks and to impose losses on the German banks in order to help America. She seems to have put American interests before her own national interest, and cost the German people hundreds of billions of dollars by doing this. It is as if the leaders of Europe are hypnotized by a kind of Dr. Caligari who ends up to be running the asylum.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: (…) I think, it gives sehr große Einsichten, das ist faszinierend. The idea behind is, a little bit to … first of all to show that the position Frau Wagenknecht postulates, is not a position of two people in the world, but that there is a debate about it. And the other one is to provoke the others, the economists in Germany.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: You can’t provoke them.
 

 
Wagenknecht: Provoke you can, but …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: You can only replace them with a new generation.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: What I found out, what they really need to understand them is psychology. Of course, they need media power, and the consensus. The idea that you are insane if you are questioning certain aspects.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: That is what Dr. Caligari said.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Yes, that’s right. Or Dürrenmatt, “Die Physiker”, that’s exactly the same. Economists are like “Die Physiker”.
 

 
Dr. Minkmar: Once you can put a label on them, like “umstritten,” and you’ve already won.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Why do Hollywood movies understand this better than economists and politicians?
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: And why does Robert Harris? Did you read the book?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Yeah, wonderful.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: "Fear," Robert Harris
 

          Fireside on the Great Theft        
A recent interview in Frankfurt’s FAZ newspaper:
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: And then, just to find a starting point, maybe we can start with the personal, and then at least I would ask you both. Maybe that is a good starting point, very basic: What is the future of Europe? So, what do you conceive what will happen, and what is going to happen? Sie können sich auch gegenseitig … Now, Michael Hudson, you are in Germany and you are known to our readers, and Sahra Wagenknecht, of course, as well. Just very briefly your background. In your DNA, in your genetic code, you have traces of Indian roots.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Well, I am one-eighth (Chippewa) Indian, so I’m half Irish, a quarter Swiss, one eighth English. I grew up in Minneapolis, which was the center of America’s labor movement in the 1930s. The general strike in 1936 shaped the American labor scene.
 

 
Minnesota had a governor, Floyd B. Olson, who said that he hoped capitalism run right to hell. The Trotskyists were the main opponents of the Stalinists at that time. The irony is that you had the right wing ganging up with the Stalinists, all against the Trotskyist leadership because the Stalinists feared that a non-communist socialist leadership would build up the labor unions, as Minnesota was building up the Teamsters. So in 1941 my father became one of the Minneapolis 17, the first people committed under the Smith Act. This was ostensibly against advocating the overthrow of the government by force and violence, defined so loosely that in the presentation before the jury, it meant simply having the works of Marx and Lenin on your bookshelf.
 

 
I later was asked, when I went to work for Herman Kahn at the Hudson Institute, whether there was any reason why I could not get a top secret security clearance. I mentioned that my father was a Trotskyist leader, and he said: Oh, they know about that, that Stalin and Roosevelt made a deal around 1941 that if Roosevelt would prosecute the Trotskyists, the Communist Party promised not to pull out any of its Labor unions on strike during the balance of the war. The U.S. Attorney General later wrote in his autobiography that it was the only thing that was ashamed of doing, because by no stretch of the imagination could the Trotskyists have been any threat to the country.
 

 
In fact, it was the Trotskyists that called in the National Guard to protect the workers and the strikers against the police force that was working on behalf of the large companies. The lawyer for the Trotskyists in the trial was Al Goldman, who had been a colleague of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht. As I was growing up, most of the radicals who were still living throughout the world and from the United States would come to my house, and tell me their stories and their experiences.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: What could they say about Luxemburg and Liebknecht?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Al Goldman was still trying to find out who was responsible for killing them. But we decided that it really does not matter who the individuals are. They are usually killed by their bodyguards. The key is people behind them that order the killing.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: But you don’t have a memory of an anecdote or whatsoever, an anecdote about Luxemburg or Liebknecht, what they …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: No. Mainly, they talked about revolutionary theory. I wanted to grow up and go to jail like all of the people that my family admired, and their colleagues admired. So now I’m ashamed that I’ve never been able to go to the University of the Revolution.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: But you worked with Kahn, and I remember that Kahn was the person who proclaimed golden ages ahead of us. And he was the futurist who always said we will be so happy and so lucky. Am I right?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Yes, he was basically a military theorist who wrote a very good book on atomic warfare, saying that some people would survive. He was the model for “Dr. Strangelove”. And he felt so bad from being attacked for his military theory – and he was indeed a brilliant military theorist – that he decided to form the Corporate Environment study. But he was wrong in almost everything economic he said, so he brought me on to disagree with him on everything, as a foil. We liked each other. He was a very nice guy. In fact, we liked each other so much that we could not believe that the other person actually believed what they were saying publicly.
 

 
Herman Kahn weighed 400 pounds. I remember once in Paris, we were leaving the hotel to go to the airport, and I tried to hand him his pants. As far as my hands would stretch, they still weren’t long enough for the waist. He also had narcolepsy. When he was not speaking at a public lecture, he would fall asleep – usually in his food. He would rise from the table with the food flowing down his necktie, talking about the world economy an expanding pie, and in another generation, the whole world could live just like him. And everybody would go on diet, over a long time.
 

 
One of the big problems we had was when he wanted me to project the gross national product and hence living standards at 6 % or 4 % per year, which economists were doing at that time. He thought that all the technology and power somehow would make all countries rich. I refused to make that calculation, even though when I joined the Institute I insisted that the one perk that I wanted was an HP 75 calculator that could calculate exponential growth. I told Herman that the only growth that is exponential is financial – the magic of compound interest. And the more compound interest grows, the more it slows the economy, like driving a car with the brake on.
 

 
So that is where we differed. It turned out that most of his clients ended up hiring me instead of him, and I ended up getting a collection of Tibetan art as a result, and buying enough real estate, so, I’ve never had to work ever since and could spend all of my time writing.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: You talked about rescuing the banks, and that is really a phrase for trying to rescue a whole financial growth function to somehow save debts that can’t be paid. The question is: Who is going to take the loss? It really is trying to keep the debt overhead in place, by making the public sector absorb all the losses of the banks that have made the bad loan. And beyond this, it is really an ideology – an ideology that somehow the debts can all be paid. And beyond that, there is something else. Saving the banks is a slogan …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Sahra Wagenknecht, did I get you right that you say they can be paid?
 

 
Wagenknecht: They can’t. Also vorläufig können sie immer wieder, aber irgendwann …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Wegen der oberen 1 %.
 

 
Wagenknecht: … The upper class has to take the losses.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: The bailout is not saving the banks. The banks could function very well the next day after a debt cancellation. You are saving the bank stockholders and the bondholders and the rich counterparties to the banks. You are saving the gamblers who have accounts with the banks, not saving the banks.
 

 
But there is something even worse. The slogan “saving the banks” means a program for the governments to be financially responsible, which means financially self-destructive. The bailout is forcing Greece to sell its public domain, its water and sewer systems, its land, its real estate, its buildings, to sell to private buyers who are going to borrow money at interest from the bank to buy these public assets, and to treat them like a toll road.
 

 
So in the broadest sense of the term, saving the banks means to achieve by financial terms what it took an army militarily to counter a thousand years ago. Saving the banks thus is destroying society. Is that worth the payment?
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Very good and very understandable, but a question again. We can’t be too economic but … You say, you don’t save the banks. But what is, let’s say, my life insurance. What they say to me is that my bank has Staatsanleihen from …, at a normal average term too, so I would lose as an average person … I mean, by saving the banks, don’t they save me as well?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: No, that’s the trick that they are playing. For instance, in the United States the largest bank is Citibank. That was insolvent as a result of being one of the most abusive fraudulent banks with junk mortgages and similar gambles. The head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Sheila Bair, said that she argued with the Obama administration saying that she could close down Citibank and save all of the insured depositors. She could have saved all of the basic banking functions.
 

 
The only people who would not have been saved would have been the gamblers at the top, on whom Citibank had written derivative gambles. It is as if in a horse race somebody goes to the casino and gambles, and then can’t pay their debt. The casinos say: We can’t operate at all, if the losers can’t pay what they owe. So, you – the government – have to levy a tax, to enable the losers to pay the winners.
 

 
It’s true that not everybody’s savings would have been saved under this plan. But normal operations would have been. And it’s the same with AIG, the Insurance conglomerate that was bailed out with $184 billion dollars. All this loss went through the London office making financial gambles, losing bets as to which way interest rates and junk mortgages would move. The government could simply have closed down AIG, taking it over and said: We are saving all of your normal insurance policies, we are saving all of your normal business, but the gamblers we are just not paying.
 

 
But in that case, Goldman Sachs would not have been paid $18 billion dollars. And Goldman Sachs had its representative Hank Paulson as Secretary of the Treasury. The Treasury was paying its private colleagues on Wall Street, instead of saving the normal depositors. The intention of this bank bailout is to wipe out the normal depositors and only save the rich of the top. Pretending to save the poor, the working class,and the middle class, they want to save everything for the top 1%. That is what they did with Citibank, and that is what they did with AIG. Citibank makes money by lending to people like Sam Zell, who would buy a company, look at the pension funds or Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), and empty them out to pay his creditors. So, what the government is saving are the parasitic functions of the banks.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: To make it clear, and ask Frau Wagenknecht too: It could be possible not to save the banks, und würde trotzdem nicht diese Lebensversicherungen und Alters … das kann man trennen?
 

 
…
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Nein, that is very important for you to understand that people like me, I take me as a durchschnittliche …, believe in a kind of empirical or scientific rationality and all this stuff. And if I am told by Hans Werner Sinn or other people, der frühere Regierungssprecher, Ulrich Wilhelm, you have to save the banks because then you save your life assurance, for example, then I believe it, and everybody believes it, because you say: Well, they are mathematicians or whatsoever.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: What if I say: You have to make me rich in order to give me an incentive not to wreck society. What the banks are really saying is that: We will wreck the payment system, and we will stop paying, and we will cause a crisis if you don’t give us what we want. We are holding you hostage.
 

 
But all you really have to do is take them over and replace them with other people. You save the basic banking and insurance functions. There are plenty of good assets in there. Even junk mortgages are worth something. They are worth enough to save all of the normal activities for 90 % of the population. The losers in this case would only be the 10 % at the top … And all these gains for the last 20 years have been to the top 10 %. They would lose their gains – but there is enough to pay everybody else.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Normal understanding is, politicians need majorities, and not the 10 % of the top.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: You talk about empirical studies. If the statistics were publicized to show what I am talking about, everybody would see in chart form that there is enough money there. The Federal Reserve has them. There are many statistics available, but the newspapers don’t publish them. They find it politically incorrect to do so.
 

 
What they call “class war” is simply society trying to protect itself from the 1 %.
 

 
Dr. Minkmar: One key argument in your system of thinking is the role of central banks. And now today we think that central banks are there to supervise things and see that everything runs smoothly. But what would you advice central banks to do?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Central banks began to be created in 1694 with the Bank of England, and down to the Federal Reserve in the United States in 1913 their function was to finance government budget deficits by printing money. All governments over time run deficits – at least, most of the time – because that is how they supply the economy with the purchasing power and the money it needs to grow. The role of a central bank is to create money to finance the deficit.
 

 
If it does not do this, then the commercial banks end up performing this function. However, the commercial banks creating credit on their own computer keyboards have a different role from that of the central bank. When the central bank finances government spending, this is supposed to promote growth, full employment and industrialization. But that is not the object of a commercial bank. Banks, in the first instance, make loans against property already in place – mainly real estate and also the buyout of entire corporations. So they provide credit that bids up the price of housing, making it more expensive for workers. They also loan to buyers of commercial buildings, making it more expensive to do business, Takeover loans enable corporate raiders to bid up the price of stocks and bonds, making them yield less, so it costs more to buy a retirement income. And now, commercial banks are moving from finance capitalism to casino capitalism to make big gambles. They are essentially financing gambling. That’s what derivatives and “hedge fund” trading are.
 

 
None of this funds industrial investment. From the United States to Germany, almost all industrial capital formation is now funded by the retained earnings of corporations, not by bank borrowing. Even the stock market does not fund new direct investments. It has become a vehicle for corporate raiders to go to the banks to borrow the money, to buy a corporation on credit with junk bonds, retire the stock, and use the corporate profits to repay the banks – and then try to steal for themselves the pension funds, or sell off the assets, or just work the labor force more intensively; longer hours, outsource labor and move to the un-unionized labor. So the banks are no longer part of the industrialization process; they are part of the de-industrialization process. This is applauded as the post-industrial economy.
 

 
…
 

 
Dr. Minkmar: You were talking about Europe as being the new third world as a model for politics …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: In the 1970s and 80s, the International Monetary Fund imposed austerity on indebted countries. The conditions were that if the countries did not pay their foreign debts, they would be treated like Cuba or Iran, and made into pariahs in the international community. So, they were forced to sell off and privatize.
 

 
When I worked for Chase Manhattan Bank in 1964, my first job was to analyze the economies of Argentina, Brazil and Chile. My job was to calculate/estimate how much potential they could export and raise, one way or another.
 

 
In Latin America it could only be imposed at gunpoint, as you saw in Chile. So the first privatization, the first free-market model, was imposed at gunpoint in Chile under general Pinochet, under the direction of Henry Kissinger and the Nixon administration, and the University of Chicago Economics Department under Harberger and other operatives down there.
 

 
Once they did that, the next big test was the former Soviet Union. Unlike the West, the Soviet Union had no background in Marxism. They had no group that was familiar with Marx and Engels or classical economics. So in 1991 they immediately adopted the neo-liberal approach that said: We can promote millionaires by privatizing the property. Many friends of mine tried to go over and promote a more reasonable tax system. The post-Soviet economies after 1991 would have financed themselves by taxing natural resource wealth and real estate. But as soon as these good advisors would go over there, right-wing institutes like the Lincoln Institute or the World Bank would come and tell the mayors of a town: We’ll give you a million dollars in computers if you follow our system and give the assets to your insiders to create a new nomenklatura of vested property interests – specifically, rentier interests, who would issue stocks in their companies and sell them to U.S. and other foreign investors. The idea was to let the West buy out the key rent-yielding assets in the former Soviet Union, above all mineral rights and public utilities, as well as centrally located real estate.
 

 
The government would put a deposit in one of the banks of the nomenklatura. In the Loans-for-shares program in 1994, the banks right say: 100 million dollars to buy Yukos oil company. The government would redeposit the check in the bank, so that they got the company for nothing, that is, no cash of their own. And then, when the government did not repay the debt, the bank would get many billion dollars worth of an oil or mining company.
 

 
The Americans did this because they realized that if a kleptocrat could buy Russian resources for one cent on the dollar, they would be happy to sell it for two cents on the dollar. That made the Russian stock market the best performing market in the world from 1994 to 1997. Russia let itself be financialized.
 

 
Other parts in the Soviet Union did not have raw materials. So a more accurate dress rehearsal would be what happened in Latvia, where they imposed a neo-liberal paradise. As in Russia, the neo-liberals had a free hand as to how to design what they said would be an ideal economy. Their way of creating such an economy and its financial and fiscal system was to say: “Don’t set up your own banks. Let foreign banks create the credit on their own keyboards.” Labor in Latvia has to confront a 59% set of flat taxes on employment – taxes that together are 59%. The real estate tax is only 1%, based on the most recent appraisal of Latvian property, which was in 1917 just before the revolution. So, the result was the largest real estate bubble of all.
 

 
That is basically the neo-liberal plan for how to get rich in a post-industrial economy. A property is worth whatever a bank will lend, because without taxes the value of this economic rent became available to be paid to the banks as interest rather than as taxes. The value of the site’s location should have been the basis of public financing, as in America. It’s the basis for most localities to pay for their school systems. If you are not going to tax property, if you are not going to tax monopolies, if you are not going to tax finance, then you have to tax labor. That’s why you have a 59% tax on employment in Latvia.
 

 
The result was an economic collapse in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. The result is that one third of the Latvian labor force of working age between 20 and 35 emigrated or announced its intention to emigrate. They would go to countries like Ireland which also was being financialized. So the Baltics still, even last year, were celebrated by the Institute for International Economics, the Peterson Institute, which is a bank lobbyist in the United States, and by the applauder of Russian privatization, Anders Aslund, the Swedish neoliberal lobbyist. Latvia is applauded as a model for which Europe should emulate. So you can expect your wages to be cut by 30%, you can expect people will have to go into a lifetime of debt in order to buy housing. They will have to have to inherit money if they want to get an education.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: That is what you say about Europe?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: I said, if you follow the Latvian model. This is the ideal. The basic principle when I talk to bankers is: You don’t know how far wages can be pushed down until somebody pushes back. And so far, nobody has pushed back.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: But what is with the unions? Normally …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: The communist countries did not have unions because they were supposed to be one big union. So the working conditions in the Baltic States have the worst accident rates, the worst workplace conditions, and their workers report the most abusive treatment by their employers. The workplace conditions in the post-communist economies are much worse than those in the capitalist economies, where there has been a symbiosis between labor and capital, a symbiosis between the private sector and the government.
 
….
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Just, I mean, off the record, but one of the advisers of chancellor Merkel is sometimes amazing, and he keeps telling this. He says: No, don’t write that. He says: It’s illegal, it’s against the treaty. I mean, that’s his last argument. So, I would like to … from scientific point of view. Frau
 

 
Wagenknecht: You are insane … What do you say as a scientist to this question?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Let’s simply look at the empirical facts. Since 2008 you have had the largest monetary creation in the 20th century’s history. The central banks have fueled this money creation. In America alone they have added $13 trillion dollars to the federal debt by bank bailouts. Yet prices have remained quite stable. Wages actually have fallen for the last 30 years, despite the wave of asset-price inflation fueled by commercial bank credit.
 

 
Central bank economists talk about consumer price or commodity price inflation. But commercial banks fuel asset price inflation, by lending money against real estate, stocks and bonds already in existence. As they make credit terms easier, people need more access to bank credit in order to buy a house. They have to bid against other. So bank credit inflates real estate prices. The upshot is that now you have to take more years of your income to buy a home. In the United States, the average American worker now pays 40% of family income for housing, 15% of income more for other debt service on credit cards and student loans. Another 15% is for wage withholding, and about another 15 % in other taxes, including sales taxes. This means that only about a quarter of American workers’ income is available to be spent on goods and services. Bank lending has absorbed so much of the income of workers that money that is spent to pay the banks is not available to be spent on goods and services.
 

 
So the flip side of asset price inflation is debt deflation. More and more money has to be spent to carry the debt overhead. The problem is not central banks financing domestic government budget deficits. Every hyperinflation in history has come as a result of the collapse of the balance of payments. The Germans are most familiar with 1921, but they tend to forget that the Weimar inflation was a result of Germany trying to pay reparations abroad. They were ordered by the Allied powers to print Deutsche Marks not for domestic spending, not to run a domestic deficit, not to rebuild Germany, not to employ labor, but to throw reichsmarks onto the foreign exchange market to obtain the foreign currency to pay the Allies, so that the Allies could turn around and pay the arms debts for what they bought from the United States before entry into World War One. It was the collapse of the foreign exchange that caused the hyperinflation, not domestic spending. And Germany’s hyperinflation was not cured by the central bank creating less money. It was cured by setting up a triangular flow of international payments. American bondholders would lend money to German municipalities that would issue bonds. The municipalities would receive dollars, and turn them over to the Reichsbank. It then would issue German currency against this for local spending – using the dollars to pay the Allies. The Allies would pay America, and that would keep the circular flow going. But to do this, interest rates had to be held down in the United States, to make German and other European borrowing more profitable for international lenders.
 

 
The same thing happened in Chile, which is another textbook hyperinflation. Rogers wrote a book on the process of hyperinflation in France that also occurred in the 1920s. The classic study of German inflation is by Salomon Flink, The Reichsbank and Economic Germany. The book actually was printed in Germany at that time. The same thing happened in Russia in the 1990s. The Russia hyperinflation occurred as a result of the depreciation of the ruble. This was already determined in advance at the meeting in Huston, Texas, between the World Bank and the IMF and the other Russian authorities. All this was published at the time, even before break-up of the Soviet Union. So to talk about hyperinflation as if it is a domestic phenomenon is to ignore the fact that never in history has it been domestic. It always is a balance-of-payments phenomenon, associated either with war or a class war, as in Chile’s case.
 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Now, to leave that economical …, to go to the interpretation of what will come. So, when I get it right, what you say, and Frau Wagenknecht says it too, there will be a … Wir werden ärmer. Also der durchschnittliche Deutsche wird verarmen oder ärmer.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Impoverishment.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Right. And not a revolution, not a moment where the society says no? That’s my question. But at the same time, what we are observing is that it is not only a change of the social standards of human beings in Europe but of the whole idea of democracy as well. This is something that strikes me most, which I would never believed. I must say, ten years ago, I would have said: conspiracy. And many like me would have said that the banks are so powerful and so on. Now, we start thinking whether “conspiracy” is the right word for it. And the same with the democracy, democratic question. I learned at school that the “Soziale Marktwirtschaft”, as we termed it, definitely requires Pluralismus, Demokratie, Partizipation, all that. But, and that is my question, are we, as Colin Crouch writes, postulating a post-democratic system? Is one of the prizes we have to pay for it, that democracy becomes weaker and weaker, and isn’t that a very dangerous development?
 

 
….
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Und da hätte ich eine Frage, die auch ganz aktuell ist, an Michael Hudson, vielleicht more in a theoretical way. Our new president said apparently, it is ridiculous to protest against, how did he say it, the capitalistic system, or something like that. Es ist lächerlich …
 

 
Wagenknecht: Nein, albern hat er …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Albern, ja, another word, it’s like ridiculous. And there we are, the point of question is, after the end of the communism, there was the idea, there is the triumph of capitalism. And now the people who are very social saying, I am repeating what they said in Germany: Now we can have a chance really, we don’t need the money for Rüstung anymore, and for armies, and against the Soviet Union, and so on. And now, we are in the third phase, and that’s why the (spot) that is so interesting, is the question: There is no alternative. Nobody really likes it, many people suffer. But the idea is, they managed to get the system like die beste aller möglichen Welten, there is no alternative to that all. What do you say to that, and what do you say to this quote?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: It is very interesting that the destruction of communism, or what passed for communism in 1990, made possible the destruction of industrial capitalism. What you have today is not capitalism as it was known when I grew up. It is not the capitalism that was talked about by Adam Smith, Ricardo, John Stuart Mill or even Marx. It is something that is evolved into finance capitalism, that is going through a number of stages. Pension-fund capitalism is exploiting labor, not by hiring it to produce goods and services, but to dock savings and channel them into the hands of financial managers – to bid up stock market prices.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Is it not the case, that this system did exist in the 20s?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: No, it only existed since 1950s. That is when General Motors started its pension fund. Pension funds soon became the single largest purchasers of stock, pushing up stock prices. The major sellers of stock have been management insiders, and increasingly those exercising their stock options, selling them in effect to the pension funds. So, the function of labor was to provide pension fund savings to spur stock market gains for the managers that have been financializing industrial companies – and in the process, de-industrializing them.
 

 
So, I’d like to plug this into the earlier discussion you just had. When you use the word “post-democratic society”, that is a byproduct of the post-industrial economy, which essentially means a financialized economy. It also was post-modern, if you think of “modern” as what existed in the early 20th century in the Progressive Era. That was the Modern Era. We are now in a post-modern era. The pro-financial strategy is essentially an anti-government strategy. That is because every economy is planned by someone or other. Most economies throughout history have been planned by the government, or whoever controls it, whether it’s been the landed aristocracy or bankers. If the government does not do the planning, this function is forfeited to the banks. And that is where we are today. Just like the case in which, if taxes are cut and the government does not get the revenue, it is available to be pledged to the banks and capitalized on the debt.
 

 
So the planning process passes to the banks, and they claim that they are the brains of society. They say, there is no alternative. But they are not the brain; they are something alien to industrial capitalism. This is what the Saint-Simon and his followers discussed in the 19th century. It was discussed in every country. The financial strategy now is to prevent people from studying what this body of classical economics was. It sought to free society from interest. Today’s banks are playing upon anxiety and fear, like a high-pressure salesman threatening to bring on a collapse if industrial economies try to protect themselves. They say: “You have to make up your decision in a hurry, if you don’t do this, you are going to lose your money, you are going to lose this opportunity.” They try to make it appear that this not only is the only alternative, but that it will make you rich.
 

 
Banks have been saying this for 30 years. This is the first time in history that people have believed they could get rich by borrowing money to buy assets that are increasing in price, or that they may get rich by the hyperinflation of property prices, and by the stock and bond prices that bank credit has inflated. Banks have managed to prevent the government from regulating and preventing this hyperinflation – and they even have called it “wealth creation.”
 

 
It is really debt creation. Debt is a claim on the means of production, and on labor. It is not a process of real growth. So what banks are saying is that there is no alternative but to let debts grow, at compound interest. This means reducing wages, as more and more must be spent on debt service. This eats into corporate cash flow and profits. So more and more are siphoned off to pay creditors. Debt also eats into the government revenue, so that the government does not have enough to pay for social programs and pensions. It only has enough to bail out the banks on exponentially growing debt that can never been paid, mathematically. That is the empirical fact. All you have to do is draw a statistical chart of the growth of debt, and compare it to the growth in wages. And you’ll see …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: How do you explain from a business point of view … I take the example of Dresden. I was in Dresden two weeks ago, and there they explained to me, the people I met from the city and from Volksbank and all these … They explained to me that Dresden, which I didn’t know, sold parts of their Stadtwerke and so on, and bought it back now because they realized that it was a mistake. I hear this from many, many other cities. Now, in my understanding of society, someone apparently made mistake here, the people who sold this, or at least, put the pressure. And normally, you would have to pay a price for making a mistake, and society would say: How could this happen? But the contrary is true, first of all, nobody discusses this, I can’t see it in den Städten.
 

 
That’s the first. And the second is, the made a mistake but became rich, from what I see. They are not sanctioned at all. So, I always ask you for the gesellschaftlichen Folgen. Isn’t this something what really is the most frightening result of this new era that things we once learned when we were kids, are not true anymore? The question of, it’s not that you are sanctioned when you make mistakes but that you can benefit in this regard?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: This is a question that I have discussed in Russia and China with their leaders. Fortunately, there is an alternative that they are well aware of. There is a way to recover the property that has been turned over to the privatizers. The answer is very simple: a windfall gain tax or a rent tax. If the land is been privatized, as it has been in China and Russia, all you have to do is tax the land’s value – the natural value, not the building value, but just the economic rent. You will recapture for the state the free lunch of economic rent.
 

 
The same principle applies to mines and fuel resources. You will simply have a mineral depletion tax that will recapture the value of what nature has provided freely. So the alternative is for the government not to tax profits, not to tax wages, not to tax income, but to tax economic rent. Because what the national income account pretends to be empirical, pretends to be “earnings” of the banks and other rentiers, is actually a transfer function – and often, outright theft.
 

 
It’s remarkable that French novelists realize this, such as Balzac who said that behind every great family fortune is a great theft. Economists don’t rise to the level of 19th century French novelists when it comes to understanding the economy.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: So to get back to your outlook again, talking about Europe, we have another debate that is quite interesting, which I think might be important to see. The one debate is, Greece is a lazy country and …, a new nationalism. The other one which I hear from bankers, by the way, sometimes, is, they say it ganz leise: It’s all America. So, it’s a huge American conspiracy. And they say: Wir wissen auch, dass das System nicht funktioniert, aber das ist ein amerikanischer Druck auf das, was jetzt mit Europa passiert usw. My question is, again, I think of Peter Hacks and Rahmentheorie. Ist das ein – das ist etwas, was ich für das Allerwichtigste halte – ein Prozess, der nicht mit einem big bang …
 
…
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Das wäre Occupy. Will "Occupy" be a revolutionary agent?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: We’re not trying to be a revolutionary agent. We are in a pre-revolutionary situation, so the aim is to raise consciousness – at this point, simply to explain how the world works. And many people want to … They sense that the economy does not work the way that textbooks say. But they can’t reinvent the rules by themselves. So most of the reason “Occupy Wall Street” is on Wall Street is because that is where the problem is. And most of the financial advisers, like myself, are lifetime workers on Wall Street, specialists in financial maneuvering and behavior. So our job is to explain to people, to popularize what used to be classical economics. Right wing interests have inverted the classical idea of free markets and captured its vocabulary, hijacking the repertory of classical, socialist and social democratic rhetoric.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Exactly that is what they did.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: I want to comment on your earlier point. It is true that the parasitic financial dynamic stems from America. But that is official policy; it is not a secret. It is not a conspiracy, it is very open. I am told that when Mr. Geithner came here to meet with the German bankers about the Greek debt, the Germans and Mrs. Merkel were in favor of a default, saying: Look, they can’t pay. But Mr. Geithner said that the German and the French banks and other banks have taken out credit default insurance with the American banks. These American banks would go under if Greece defaulted. Mrs. Merkel agreed to sacrifice the German banks and to impose losses on the German banks in order to help America. She seems to have put American interests before her own national interest, and cost the German people hundreds of billions of dollars by doing this. It is as if the leaders of Europe are hypnotized by a kind of Dr. Caligari who ends up to be running the asylum.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: (…) I think, it gives sehr große Einsichten, das ist faszinierend. The idea behind is, a little bit to … first of all to show that the position Frau Wagenknecht postulates, is not a position of two people in the world, but that there is a debate about it. And the other one is to provoke the others, the economists in Germany.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: You can’t provoke them.
 

 
Wagenknecht: Provoke you can, but …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: You can only replace them with a new generation.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: What I found out, what they really need to understand them is psychology. Of course, they need media power, and the consensus. The idea that you are insane if you are questioning certain aspects.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: That is what Dr. Caligari said.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Yes, that’s right. Or Dürrenmatt, “Die Physiker”, that’s exactly the same. Economists are like “Die Physiker”.
 

 
Dr. Minkmar: Once you can put a label on them, like “umstritten,” and you’ve already won.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Why do Hollywood movies understand this better than economists and politicians?
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: And why does Robert Harris? Did you read the book?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Yeah, wonderful.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: "Fear," Robert Harris
 

          Fireside on the Great Theft        
A recent interview in Frankfurt’s FAZ newspaper:
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: And then, just to find a starting point, maybe we can start with the personal, and then at least I would ask you both. Maybe that is a good starting point, very basic: What is the future of Europe? So, what do you conceive what will happen, and what is going to happen? Sie können sich auch gegenseitig … Now, Michael Hudson, you are in Germany and you are known to our readers, and Sahra Wagenknecht, of course, as well. Just very briefly your background. In your DNA, in your genetic code, you have traces of Indian roots.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Well, I am one-eighth (Chippewa) Indian, so I’m half Irish, a quarter Swiss, one eighth English. I grew up in Minneapolis, which was the center of America’s labor movement in the 1930s. The general strike in 1936 shaped the American labor scene.
 

 
Minnesota had a governor, Floyd B. Olson, who said that he hoped capitalism run right to hell. The Trotskyists were the main opponents of the Stalinists at that time. The irony is that you had the right wing ganging up with the Stalinists, all against the Trotskyist leadership because the Stalinists feared that a non-communist socialist leadership would build up the labor unions, as Minnesota was building up the Teamsters. So in 1941 my father became one of the Minneapolis 17, the first people committed under the Smith Act. This was ostensibly against advocating the overthrow of the government by force and violence, defined so loosely that in the presentation before the jury, it meant simply having the works of Marx and Lenin on your bookshelf.
 

 
I later was asked, when I went to work for Herman Kahn at the Hudson Institute, whether there was any reason why I could not get a top secret security clearance. I mentioned that my father was a Trotskyist leader, and he said: Oh, they know about that, that Stalin and Roosevelt made a deal around 1941 that if Roosevelt would prosecute the Trotskyists, the Communist Party promised not to pull out any of its Labor unions on strike during the balance of the war. The U.S. Attorney General later wrote in his autobiography that it was the only thing that was ashamed of doing, because by no stretch of the imagination could the Trotskyists have been any threat to the country.
 

 
In fact, it was the Trotskyists that called in the National Guard to protect the workers and the strikers against the police force that was working on behalf of the large companies. The lawyer for the Trotskyists in the trial was Al Goldman, who had been a colleague of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht. As I was growing up, most of the radicals who were still living throughout the world and from the United States would come to my house, and tell me their stories and their experiences.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: What could they say about Luxemburg and Liebknecht?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Al Goldman was still trying to find out who was responsible for killing them. But we decided that it really does not matter who the individuals are. They are usually killed by their bodyguards. The key is people behind them that order the killing.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: But you don’t have a memory of an anecdote or whatsoever, an anecdote about Luxemburg or Liebknecht, what they …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: No. Mainly, they talked about revolutionary theory. I wanted to grow up and go to jail like all of the people that my family admired, and their colleagues admired. So now I’m ashamed that I’ve never been able to go to the University of the Revolution.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: But you worked with Kahn, and I remember that Kahn was the person who proclaimed golden ages ahead of us. And he was the futurist who always said we will be so happy and so lucky. Am I right?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Yes, he was basically a military theorist who wrote a very good book on atomic warfare, saying that some people would survive. He was the model for “Dr. Strangelove”. And he felt so bad from being attacked for his military theory – and he was indeed a brilliant military theorist – that he decided to form the Corporate Environment study. But he was wrong in almost everything economic he said, so he brought me on to disagree with him on everything, as a foil. We liked each other. He was a very nice guy. In fact, we liked each other so much that we could not believe that the other person actually believed what they were saying publicly.
 

 
Herman Kahn weighed 400 pounds. I remember once in Paris, we were leaving the hotel to go to the airport, and I tried to hand him his pants. As far as my hands would stretch, they still weren’t long enough for the waist. He also had narcolepsy. When he was not speaking at a public lecture, he would fall asleep – usually in his food. He would rise from the table with the food flowing down his necktie, talking about the world economy an expanding pie, and in another generation, the whole world could live just like him. And everybody would go on diet, over a long time.
 

 
One of the big problems we had was when he wanted me to project the gross national product and hence living standards at 6 % or 4 % per year, which economists were doing at that time. He thought that all the technology and power somehow would make all countries rich. I refused to make that calculation, even though when I joined the Institute I insisted that the one perk that I wanted was an HP 75 calculator that could calculate exponential growth. I told Herman that the only growth that is exponential is financial – the magic of compound interest. And the more compound interest grows, the more it slows the economy, like driving a car with the brake on.
 

 
So that is where we differed. It turned out that most of his clients ended up hiring me instead of him, and I ended up getting a collection of Tibetan art as a result, and buying enough real estate, so, I’ve never had to work ever since and could spend all of my time writing.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: You talked about rescuing the banks, and that is really a phrase for trying to rescue a whole financial growth function to somehow save debts that can’t be paid. The question is: Who is going to take the loss? It really is trying to keep the debt overhead in place, by making the public sector absorb all the losses of the banks that have made the bad loan. And beyond this, it is really an ideology – an ideology that somehow the debts can all be paid. And beyond that, there is something else. Saving the banks is a slogan …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Sahra Wagenknecht, did I get you right that you say they can be paid?
 

 
Wagenknecht: They can’t. Also vorläufig können sie immer wieder, aber irgendwann …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Wegen der oberen 1 %.
 

 
Wagenknecht: … The upper class has to take the losses.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: The bailout is not saving the banks. The banks could function very well the next day after a debt cancellation. You are saving the bank stockholders and the bondholders and the rich counterparties to the banks. You are saving the gamblers who have accounts with the banks, not saving the banks.
 

 
But there is something even worse. The slogan “saving the banks” means a program for the governments to be financially responsible, which means financially self-destructive. The bailout is forcing Greece to sell its public domain, its water and sewer systems, its land, its real estate, its buildings, to sell to private buyers who are going to borrow money at interest from the bank to buy these public assets, and to treat them like a toll road.
 

 
So in the broadest sense of the term, saving the banks means to achieve by financial terms what it took an army militarily to counter a thousand years ago. Saving the banks thus is destroying society. Is that worth the payment?
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Very good and very understandable, but a question again. We can’t be too economic but … You say, you don’t save the banks. But what is, let’s say, my life insurance. What they say to me is that my bank has Staatsanleihen from …, at a normal average term too, so I would lose as an average person … I mean, by saving the banks, don’t they save me as well?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: No, that’s the trick that they are playing. For instance, in the United States the largest bank is Citibank. That was insolvent as a result of being one of the most abusive fraudulent banks with junk mortgages and similar gambles. The head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Sheila Bair, said that she argued with the Obama administration saying that she could close down Citibank and save all of the insured depositors. She could have saved all of the basic banking functions.
 

 
The only people who would not have been saved would have been the gamblers at the top, on whom Citibank had written derivative gambles. It is as if in a horse race somebody goes to the casino and gambles, and then can’t pay their debt. The casinos say: We can’t operate at all, if the losers can’t pay what they owe. So, you – the government – have to levy a tax, to enable the losers to pay the winners.
 

 
It’s true that not everybody’s savings would have been saved under this plan. But normal operations would have been. And it’s the same with AIG, the Insurance conglomerate that was bailed out with $184 billion dollars. All this loss went through the London office making financial gambles, losing bets as to which way interest rates and junk mortgages would move. The government could simply have closed down AIG, taking it over and said: We are saving all of your normal insurance policies, we are saving all of your normal business, but the gamblers we are just not paying.
 

 
But in that case, Goldman Sachs would not have been paid $18 billion dollars. And Goldman Sachs had its representative Hank Paulson as Secretary of the Treasury. The Treasury was paying its private colleagues on Wall Street, instead of saving the normal depositors. The intention of this bank bailout is to wipe out the normal depositors and only save the rich of the top. Pretending to save the poor, the working class,and the middle class, they want to save everything for the top 1%. That is what they did with Citibank, and that is what they did with AIG. Citibank makes money by lending to people like Sam Zell, who would buy a company, look at the pension funds or Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), and empty them out to pay his creditors. So, what the government is saving are the parasitic functions of the banks.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: To make it clear, and ask Frau Wagenknecht too: It could be possible not to save the banks, und würde trotzdem nicht diese Lebensversicherungen und Alters … das kann man trennen?
 

 
…
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Nein, that is very important for you to understand that people like me, I take me as a durchschnittliche …, believe in a kind of empirical or scientific rationality and all this stuff. And if I am told by Hans Werner Sinn or other people, der frühere Regierungssprecher, Ulrich Wilhelm, you have to save the banks because then you save your life assurance, for example, then I believe it, and everybody believes it, because you say: Well, they are mathematicians or whatsoever.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: What if I say: You have to make me rich in order to give me an incentive not to wreck society. What the banks are really saying is that: We will wreck the payment system, and we will stop paying, and we will cause a crisis if you don’t give us what we want. We are holding you hostage.
 

 
But all you really have to do is take them over and replace them with other people. You save the basic banking and insurance functions. There are plenty of good assets in there. Even junk mortgages are worth something. They are worth enough to save all of the normal activities for 90 % of the population. The losers in this case would only be the 10 % at the top … And all these gains for the last 20 years have been to the top 10 %. They would lose their gains – but there is enough to pay everybody else.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Normal understanding is, politicians need majorities, and not the 10 % of the top.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: You talk about empirical studies. If the statistics were publicized to show what I am talking about, everybody would see in chart form that there is enough money there. The Federal Reserve has them. There are many statistics available, but the newspapers don’t publish them. They find it politically incorrect to do so.
 

 
What they call “class war” is simply society trying to protect itself from the 1 %.
 

 
Dr. Minkmar: One key argument in your system of thinking is the role of central banks. And now today we think that central banks are there to supervise things and see that everything runs smoothly. But what would you advice central banks to do?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Central banks began to be created in 1694 with the Bank of England, and down to the Federal Reserve in the United States in 1913 their function was to finance government budget deficits by printing money. All governments over time run deficits – at least, most of the time – because that is how they supply the economy with the purchasing power and the money it needs to grow. The role of a central bank is to create money to finance the deficit.
 

 
If it does not do this, then the commercial banks end up performing this function. However, the commercial banks creating credit on their own computer keyboards have a different role from that of the central bank. When the central bank finances government spending, this is supposed to promote growth, full employment and industrialization. But that is not the object of a commercial bank. Banks, in the first instance, make loans against property already in place – mainly real estate and also the buyout of entire corporations. So they provide credit that bids up the price of housing, making it more expensive for workers. They also loan to buyers of commercial buildings, making it more expensive to do business, Takeover loans enable corporate raiders to bid up the price of stocks and bonds, making them yield less, so it costs more to buy a retirement income. And now, commercial banks are moving from finance capitalism to casino capitalism to make big gambles. They are essentially financing gambling. That’s what derivatives and “hedge fund” trading are.
 

 
None of this funds industrial investment. From the United States to Germany, almost all industrial capital formation is now funded by the retained earnings of corporations, not by bank borrowing. Even the stock market does not fund new direct investments. It has become a vehicle for corporate raiders to go to the banks to borrow the money, to buy a corporation on credit with junk bonds, retire the stock, and use the corporate profits to repay the banks – and then try to steal for themselves the pension funds, or sell off the assets, or just work the labor force more intensively; longer hours, outsource labor and move to the un-unionized labor. So the banks are no longer part of the industrialization process; they are part of the de-industrialization process. This is applauded as the post-industrial economy.
 

 
…
 

 
Dr. Minkmar: You were talking about Europe as being the new third world as a model for politics …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: In the 1970s and 80s, the International Monetary Fund imposed austerity on indebted countries. The conditions were that if the countries did not pay their foreign debts, they would be treated like Cuba or Iran, and made into pariahs in the international community. So, they were forced to sell off and privatize.
 

 
When I worked for Chase Manhattan Bank in 1964, my first job was to analyze the economies of Argentina, Brazil and Chile. My job was to calculate/estimate how much potential they could export and raise, one way or another.
 

 
In Latin America it could only be imposed at gunpoint, as you saw in Chile. So the first privatization, the first free-market model, was imposed at gunpoint in Chile under general Pinochet, under the direction of Henry Kissinger and the Nixon administration, and the University of Chicago Economics Department under Harberger and other operatives down there.
 

 
Once they did that, the next big test was the former Soviet Union. Unlike the West, the Soviet Union had no background in Marxism. They had no group that was familiar with Marx and Engels or classical economics. So in 1991 they immediately adopted the neo-liberal approach that said: We can promote millionaires by privatizing the property. Many friends of mine tried to go over and promote a more reasonable tax system. The post-Soviet economies after 1991 would have financed themselves by taxing natural resource wealth and real estate. But as soon as these good advisors would go over there, right-wing institutes like the Lincoln Institute or the World Bank would come and tell the mayors of a town: We’ll give you a million dollars in computers if you follow our system and give the assets to your insiders to create a new nomenklatura of vested property interests – specifically, rentier interests, who would issue stocks in their companies and sell them to U.S. and other foreign investors. The idea was to let the West buy out the key rent-yielding assets in the former Soviet Union, above all mineral rights and public utilities, as well as centrally located real estate.
 

 
The government would put a deposit in one of the banks of the nomenklatura. In the Loans-for-shares program in 1994, the banks right say: 100 million dollars to buy Yukos oil company. The government would redeposit the check in the bank, so that they got the company for nothing, that is, no cash of their own. And then, when the government did not repay the debt, the bank would get many billion dollars worth of an oil or mining company.
 

 
The Americans did this because they realized that if a kleptocrat could buy Russian resources for one cent on the dollar, they would be happy to sell it for two cents on the dollar. That made the Russian stock market the best performing market in the world from 1994 to 1997. Russia let itself be financialized.
 

 
Other parts in the Soviet Union did not have raw materials. So a more accurate dress rehearsal would be what happened in Latvia, where they imposed a neo-liberal paradise. As in Russia, the neo-liberals had a free hand as to how to design what they said would be an ideal economy. Their way of creating such an economy and its financial and fiscal system was to say: “Don’t set up your own banks. Let foreign banks create the credit on their own keyboards.” Labor in Latvia has to confront a 59% set of flat taxes on employment – taxes that together are 59%. The real estate tax is only 1%, based on the most recent appraisal of Latvian property, which was in 1917 just before the revolution. So, the result was the largest real estate bubble of all.
 

 
That is basically the neo-liberal plan for how to get rich in a post-industrial economy. A property is worth whatever a bank will lend, because without taxes the value of this economic rent became available to be paid to the banks as interest rather than as taxes. The value of the site’s location should have been the basis of public financing, as in America. It’s the basis for most localities to pay for their school systems. If you are not going to tax property, if you are not going to tax monopolies, if you are not going to tax finance, then you have to tax labor. That’s why you have a 59% tax on employment in Latvia.
 

 
The result was an economic collapse in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. The result is that one third of the Latvian labor force of working age between 20 and 35 emigrated or announced its intention to emigrate. They would go to countries like Ireland which also was being financialized. So the Baltics still, even last year, were celebrated by the Institute for International Economics, the Peterson Institute, which is a bank lobbyist in the United States, and by the applauder of Russian privatization, Anders Aslund, the Swedish neoliberal lobbyist. Latvia is applauded as a model for which Europe should emulate. So you can expect your wages to be cut by 30%, you can expect people will have to go into a lifetime of debt in order to buy housing. They will have to have to inherit money if they want to get an education.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: That is what you say about Europe?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: I said, if you follow the Latvian model. This is the ideal. The basic principle when I talk to bankers is: You don’t know how far wages can be pushed down until somebody pushes back. And so far, nobody has pushed back.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: But what is with the unions? Normally …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: The communist countries did not have unions because they were supposed to be one big union. So the working conditions in the Baltic States have the worst accident rates, the worst workplace conditions, and their workers report the most abusive treatment by their employers. The workplace conditions in the post-communist economies are much worse than those in the capitalist economies, where there has been a symbiosis between labor and capital, a symbiosis between the private sector and the government.
 
….
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Just, I mean, off the record, but one of the advisers of chancellor Merkel is sometimes amazing, and he keeps telling this. He says: No, don’t write that. He says: It’s illegal, it’s against the treaty. I mean, that’s his last argument. So, I would like to … from scientific point of view. Frau
 

 
Wagenknecht: You are insane … What do you say as a scientist to this question?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Let’s simply look at the empirical facts. Since 2008 you have had the largest monetary creation in the 20th century’s history. The central banks have fueled this money creation. In America alone they have added $13 trillion dollars to the federal debt by bank bailouts. Yet prices have remained quite stable. Wages actually have fallen for the last 30 years, despite the wave of asset-price inflation fueled by commercial bank credit.
 

 
Central bank economists talk about consumer price or commodity price inflation. But commercial banks fuel asset price inflation, by lending money against real estate, stocks and bonds already in existence. As they make credit terms easier, people need more access to bank credit in order to buy a house. They have to bid against other. So bank credit inflates real estate prices. The upshot is that now you have to take more years of your income to buy a home. In the United States, the average American worker now pays 40% of family income for housing, 15% of income more for other debt service on credit cards and student loans. Another 15% is for wage withholding, and about another 15 % in other taxes, including sales taxes. This means that only about a quarter of American workers’ income is available to be spent on goods and services. Bank lending has absorbed so much of the income of workers that money that is spent to pay the banks is not available to be spent on goods and services.
 

 
So the flip side of asset price inflation is debt deflation. More and more money has to be spent to carry the debt overhead. The problem is not central banks financing domestic government budget deficits. Every hyperinflation in history has come as a result of the collapse of the balance of payments. The Germans are most familiar with 1921, but they tend to forget that the Weimar inflation was a result of Germany trying to pay reparations abroad. They were ordered by the Allied powers to print Deutsche Marks not for domestic spending, not to run a domestic deficit, not to rebuild Germany, not to employ labor, but to throw reichsmarks onto the foreign exchange market to obtain the foreign currency to pay the Allies, so that the Allies could turn around and pay the arms debts for what they bought from the United States before entry into World War One. It was the collapse of the foreign exchange that caused the hyperinflation, not domestic spending. And Germany’s hyperinflation was not cured by the central bank creating less money. It was cured by setting up a triangular flow of international payments. American bondholders would lend money to German municipalities that would issue bonds. The municipalities would receive dollars, and turn them over to the Reichsbank. It then would issue German currency against this for local spending – using the dollars to pay the Allies. The Allies would pay America, and that would keep the circular flow going. But to do this, interest rates had to be held down in the United States, to make German and other European borrowing more profitable for international lenders.
 

 
The same thing happened in Chile, which is another textbook hyperinflation. Rogers wrote a book on the process of hyperinflation in France that also occurred in the 1920s. The classic study of German inflation is by Salomon Flink, The Reichsbank and Economic Germany. The book actually was printed in Germany at that time. The same thing happened in Russia in the 1990s. The Russia hyperinflation occurred as a result of the depreciation of the ruble. This was already determined in advance at the meeting in Huston, Texas, between the World Bank and the IMF and the other Russian authorities. All this was published at the time, even before break-up of the Soviet Union. So to talk about hyperinflation as if it is a domestic phenomenon is to ignore the fact that never in history has it been domestic. It always is a balance-of-payments phenomenon, associated either with war or a class war, as in Chile’s case.
 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Now, to leave that economical …, to go to the interpretation of what will come. So, when I get it right, what you say, and Frau Wagenknecht says it too, there will be a … Wir werden ärmer. Also der durchschnittliche Deutsche wird verarmen oder ärmer.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Impoverishment.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Right. And not a revolution, not a moment where the society says no? That’s my question. But at the same time, what we are observing is that it is not only a change of the social standards of human beings in Europe but of the whole idea of democracy as well. This is something that strikes me most, which I would never believed. I must say, ten years ago, I would have said: conspiracy. And many like me would have said that the banks are so powerful and so on. Now, we start thinking whether “conspiracy” is the right word for it. And the same with the democracy, democratic question. I learned at school that the “Soziale Marktwirtschaft”, as we termed it, definitely requires Pluralismus, Demokratie, Partizipation, all that. But, and that is my question, are we, as Colin Crouch writes, postulating a post-democratic system? Is one of the prizes we have to pay for it, that democracy becomes weaker and weaker, and isn’t that a very dangerous development?
 

 
….
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Und da hätte ich eine Frage, die auch ganz aktuell ist, an Michael Hudson, vielleicht more in a theoretical way. Our new president said apparently, it is ridiculous to protest against, how did he say it, the capitalistic system, or something like that. Es ist lächerlich …
 

 
Wagenknecht: Nein, albern hat er …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Albern, ja, another word, it’s like ridiculous. And there we are, the point of question is, after the end of the communism, there was the idea, there is the triumph of capitalism. And now the people who are very social saying, I am repeating what they said in Germany: Now we can have a chance really, we don’t need the money for Rüstung anymore, and for armies, and against the Soviet Union, and so on. And now, we are in the third phase, and that’s why the (spot) that is so interesting, is the question: There is no alternative. Nobody really likes it, many people suffer. But the idea is, they managed to get the system like die beste aller möglichen Welten, there is no alternative to that all. What do you say to that, and what do you say to this quote?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: It is very interesting that the destruction of communism, or what passed for communism in 1990, made possible the destruction of industrial capitalism. What you have today is not capitalism as it was known when I grew up. It is not the capitalism that was talked about by Adam Smith, Ricardo, John Stuart Mill or even Marx. It is something that is evolved into finance capitalism, that is going through a number of stages. Pension-fund capitalism is exploiting labor, not by hiring it to produce goods and services, but to dock savings and channel them into the hands of financial managers – to bid up stock market prices.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Is it not the case, that this system did exist in the 20s?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: No, it only existed since 1950s. That is when General Motors started its pension fund. Pension funds soon became the single largest purchasers of stock, pushing up stock prices. The major sellers of stock have been management insiders, and increasingly those exercising their stock options, selling them in effect to the pension funds. So, the function of labor was to provide pension fund savings to spur stock market gains for the managers that have been financializing industrial companies – and in the process, de-industrializing them.
 

 
So, I’d like to plug this into the earlier discussion you just had. When you use the word “post-democratic society”, that is a byproduct of the post-industrial economy, which essentially means a financialized economy. It also was post-modern, if you think of “modern” as what existed in the early 20th century in the Progressive Era. That was the Modern Era. We are now in a post-modern era. The pro-financial strategy is essentially an anti-government strategy. That is because every economy is planned by someone or other. Most economies throughout history have been planned by the government, or whoever controls it, whether it’s been the landed aristocracy or bankers. If the government does not do the planning, this function is forfeited to the banks. And that is where we are today. Just like the case in which, if taxes are cut and the government does not get the revenue, it is available to be pledged to the banks and capitalized on the debt.
 

 
So the planning process passes to the banks, and they claim that they are the brains of society. They say, there is no alternative. But they are not the brain; they are something alien to industrial capitalism. This is what the Saint-Simon and his followers discussed in the 19th century. It was discussed in every country. The financial strategy now is to prevent people from studying what this body of classical economics was. It sought to free society from interest. Today’s banks are playing upon anxiety and fear, like a high-pressure salesman threatening to bring on a collapse if industrial economies try to protect themselves. They say: “You have to make up your decision in a hurry, if you don’t do this, you are going to lose your money, you are going to lose this opportunity.” They try to make it appear that this not only is the only alternative, but that it will make you rich.
 

 
Banks have been saying this for 30 years. This is the first time in history that people have believed they could get rich by borrowing money to buy assets that are increasing in price, or that they may get rich by the hyperinflation of property prices, and by the stock and bond prices that bank credit has inflated. Banks have managed to prevent the government from regulating and preventing this hyperinflation – and they even have called it “wealth creation.”
 

 
It is really debt creation. Debt is a claim on the means of production, and on labor. It is not a process of real growth. So what banks are saying is that there is no alternative but to let debts grow, at compound interest. This means reducing wages, as more and more must be spent on debt service. This eats into corporate cash flow and profits. So more and more are siphoned off to pay creditors. Debt also eats into the government revenue, so that the government does not have enough to pay for social programs and pensions. It only has enough to bail out the banks on exponentially growing debt that can never been paid, mathematically. That is the empirical fact. All you have to do is draw a statistical chart of the growth of debt, and compare it to the growth in wages. And you’ll see …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: How do you explain from a business point of view … I take the example of Dresden. I was in Dresden two weeks ago, and there they explained to me, the people I met from the city and from Volksbank and all these … They explained to me that Dresden, which I didn’t know, sold parts of their Stadtwerke and so on, and bought it back now because they realized that it was a mistake. I hear this from many, many other cities. Now, in my understanding of society, someone apparently made mistake here, the people who sold this, or at least, put the pressure. And normally, you would have to pay a price for making a mistake, and society would say: How could this happen? But the contrary is true, first of all, nobody discusses this, I can’t see it in den Städten.
 

 
That’s the first. And the second is, the made a mistake but became rich, from what I see. They are not sanctioned at all. So, I always ask you for the gesellschaftlichen Folgen. Isn’t this something what really is the most frightening result of this new era that things we once learned when we were kids, are not true anymore? The question of, it’s not that you are sanctioned when you make mistakes but that you can benefit in this regard?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: This is a question that I have discussed in Russia and China with their leaders. Fortunately, there is an alternative that they are well aware of. There is a way to recover the property that has been turned over to the privatizers. The answer is very simple: a windfall gain tax or a rent tax. If the land is been privatized, as it has been in China and Russia, all you have to do is tax the land’s value – the natural value, not the building value, but just the economic rent. You will recapture for the state the free lunch of economic rent.
 

 
The same principle applies to mines and fuel resources. You will simply have a mineral depletion tax that will recapture the value of what nature has provided freely. So the alternative is for the government not to tax profits, not to tax wages, not to tax income, but to tax economic rent. Because what the national income account pretends to be empirical, pretends to be “earnings” of the banks and other rentiers, is actually a transfer function – and often, outright theft.
 

 
It’s remarkable that French novelists realize this, such as Balzac who said that behind every great family fortune is a great theft. Economists don’t rise to the level of 19th century French novelists when it comes to understanding the economy.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: So to get back to your outlook again, talking about Europe, we have another debate that is quite interesting, which I think might be important to see. The one debate is, Greece is a lazy country and …, a new nationalism. The other one which I hear from bankers, by the way, sometimes, is, they say it ganz leise: It’s all America. So, it’s a huge American conspiracy. And they say: Wir wissen auch, dass das System nicht funktioniert, aber das ist ein amerikanischer Druck auf das, was jetzt mit Europa passiert usw. My question is, again, I think of Peter Hacks and Rahmentheorie. Ist das ein – das ist etwas, was ich für das Allerwichtigste halte – ein Prozess, der nicht mit einem big bang …
 
…
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Das wäre Occupy. Will "Occupy" be a revolutionary agent?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: We’re not trying to be a revolutionary agent. We are in a pre-revolutionary situation, so the aim is to raise consciousness – at this point, simply to explain how the world works. And many people want to … They sense that the economy does not work the way that textbooks say. But they can’t reinvent the rules by themselves. So most of the reason “Occupy Wall Street” is on Wall Street is because that is where the problem is. And most of the financial advisers, like myself, are lifetime workers on Wall Street, specialists in financial maneuvering and behavior. So our job is to explain to people, to popularize what used to be classical economics. Right wing interests have inverted the classical idea of free markets and captured its vocabulary, hijacking the repertory of classical, socialist and social democratic rhetoric.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Exactly that is what they did.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: I want to comment on your earlier point. It is true that the parasitic financial dynamic stems from America. But that is official policy; it is not a secret. It is not a conspiracy, it is very open. I am told that when Mr. Geithner came here to meet with the German bankers about the Greek debt, the Germans and Mrs. Merkel were in favor of a default, saying: Look, they can’t pay. But Mr. Geithner said that the German and the French banks and other banks have taken out credit default insurance with the American banks. These American banks would go under if Greece defaulted. Mrs. Merkel agreed to sacrifice the German banks and to impose losses on the German banks in order to help America. She seems to have put American interests before her own national interest, and cost the German people hundreds of billions of dollars by doing this. It is as if the leaders of Europe are hypnotized by a kind of Dr. Caligari who ends up to be running the asylum.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: (…) I think, it gives sehr große Einsichten, das ist faszinierend. The idea behind is, a little bit to … first of all to show that the position Frau Wagenknecht postulates, is not a position of two people in the world, but that there is a debate about it. And the other one is to provoke the others, the economists in Germany.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: You can’t provoke them.
 

 
Wagenknecht: Provoke you can, but …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: You can only replace them with a new generation.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: What I found out, what they really need to understand them is psychology. Of course, they need media power, and the consensus. The idea that you are insane if you are questioning certain aspects.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: That is what Dr. Caligari said.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Yes, that’s right. Or Dürrenmatt, “Die Physiker”, that’s exactly the same. Economists are like “Die Physiker”.
 

 
Dr. Minkmar: Once you can put a label on them, like “umstritten,” and you’ve already won.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Why do Hollywood movies understand this better than economists and politicians?
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: And why does Robert Harris? Did you read the book?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Yeah, wonderful.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: "Fear," Robert Harris
 

          Fireside on the Great Theft        
A recent interview in Frankfurt’s FAZ newspaper:
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: And then, just to find a starting point, maybe we can start with the personal, and then at least I would ask you both. Maybe that is a good starting point, very basic: What is the future of Europe? So, what do you conceive what will happen, and what is going to happen? Sie können sich auch gegenseitig … Now, Michael Hudson, you are in Germany and you are known to our readers, and Sahra Wagenknecht, of course, as well. Just very briefly your background. In your DNA, in your genetic code, you have traces of Indian roots.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Well, I am one-eighth (Chippewa) Indian, so I’m half Irish, a quarter Swiss, one eighth English. I grew up in Minneapolis, which was the center of America’s labor movement in the 1930s. The general strike in 1936 shaped the American labor scene.
 

 
Minnesota had a governor, Floyd B. Olson, who said that he hoped capitalism run right to hell. The Trotskyists were the main opponents of the Stalinists at that time. The irony is that you had the right wing ganging up with the Stalinists, all against the Trotskyist leadership because the Stalinists feared that a non-communist socialist leadership would build up the labor unions, as Minnesota was building up the Teamsters. So in 1941 my father became one of the Minneapolis 17, the first people committed under the Smith Act. This was ostensibly against advocating the overthrow of the government by force and violence, defined so loosely that in the presentation before the jury, it meant simply having the works of Marx and Lenin on your bookshelf.
 

 
I later was asked, when I went to work for Herman Kahn at the Hudson Institute, whether there was any reason why I could not get a top secret security clearance. I mentioned that my father was a Trotskyist leader, and he said: Oh, they know about that, that Stalin and Roosevelt made a deal around 1941 that if Roosevelt would prosecute the Trotskyists, the Communist Party promised not to pull out any of its Labor unions on strike during the balance of the war. The U.S. Attorney General later wrote in his autobiography that it was the only thing that was ashamed of doing, because by no stretch of the imagination could the Trotskyists have been any threat to the country.
 

 
In fact, it was the Trotskyists that called in the National Guard to protect the workers and the strikers against the police force that was working on behalf of the large companies. The lawyer for the Trotskyists in the trial was Al Goldman, who had been a colleague of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht. As I was growing up, most of the radicals who were still living throughout the world and from the United States would come to my house, and tell me their stories and their experiences.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: What could they say about Luxemburg and Liebknecht?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Al Goldman was still trying to find out who was responsible for killing them. But we decided that it really does not matter who the individuals are. They are usually killed by their bodyguards. The key is people behind them that order the killing.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: But you don’t have a memory of an anecdote or whatsoever, an anecdote about Luxemburg or Liebknecht, what they …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: No. Mainly, they talked about revolutionary theory. I wanted to grow up and go to jail like all of the people that my family admired, and their colleagues admired. So now I’m ashamed that I’ve never been able to go to the University of the Revolution.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: But you worked with Kahn, and I remember that Kahn was the person who proclaimed golden ages ahead of us. And he was the futurist who always said we will be so happy and so lucky. Am I right?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Yes, he was basically a military theorist who wrote a very good book on atomic warfare, saying that some people would survive. He was the model for “Dr. Strangelove”. And he felt so bad from being attacked for his military theory – and he was indeed a brilliant military theorist – that he decided to form the Corporate Environment study. But he was wrong in almost everything economic he said, so he brought me on to disagree with him on everything, as a foil. We liked each other. He was a very nice guy. In fact, we liked each other so much that we could not believe that the other person actually believed what they were saying publicly.
 

 
Herman Kahn weighed 400 pounds. I remember once in Paris, we were leaving the hotel to go to the airport, and I tried to hand him his pants. As far as my hands would stretch, they still weren’t long enough for the waist. He also had narcolepsy. When he was not speaking at a public lecture, he would fall asleep – usually in his food. He would rise from the table with the food flowing down his necktie, talking about the world economy an expanding pie, and in another generation, the whole world could live just like him. And everybody would go on diet, over a long time.
 

 
One of the big problems we had was when he wanted me to project the gross national product and hence living standards at 6 % or 4 % per year, which economists were doing at that time. He thought that all the technology and power somehow would make all countries rich. I refused to make that calculation, even though when I joined the Institute I insisted that the one perk that I wanted was an HP 75 calculator that could calculate exponential growth. I told Herman that the only growth that is exponential is financial – the magic of compound interest. And the more compound interest grows, the more it slows the economy, like driving a car with the brake on.
 

 
So that is where we differed. It turned out that most of his clients ended up hiring me instead of him, and I ended up getting a collection of Tibetan art as a result, and buying enough real estate, so, I’ve never had to work ever since and could spend all of my time writing.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: You talked about rescuing the banks, and that is really a phrase for trying to rescue a whole financial growth function to somehow save debts that can’t be paid. The question is: Who is going to take the loss? It really is trying to keep the debt overhead in place, by making the public sector absorb all the losses of the banks that have made the bad loan. And beyond this, it is really an ideology – an ideology that somehow the debts can all be paid. And beyond that, there is something else. Saving the banks is a slogan …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Sahra Wagenknecht, did I get you right that you say they can be paid?
 

 
Wagenknecht: They can’t. Also vorläufig können sie immer wieder, aber irgendwann …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Wegen der oberen 1 %.
 

 
Wagenknecht: … The upper class has to take the losses.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: The bailout is not saving the banks. The banks could function very well the next day after a debt cancellation. You are saving the bank stockholders and the bondholders and the rich counterparties to the banks. You are saving the gamblers who have accounts with the banks, not saving the banks.
 

 
But there is something even worse. The slogan “saving the banks” means a program for the governments to be financially responsible, which means financially self-destructive. The bailout is forcing Greece to sell its public domain, its water and sewer systems, its land, its real estate, its buildings, to sell to private buyers who are going to borrow money at interest from the bank to buy these public assets, and to treat them like a toll road.
 

 
So in the broadest sense of the term, saving the banks means to achieve by financial terms what it took an army militarily to counter a thousand years ago. Saving the banks thus is destroying society. Is that worth the payment?
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Very good and very understandable, but a question again. We can’t be too economic but … You say, you don’t save the banks. But what is, let’s say, my life insurance. What they say to me is that my bank has Staatsanleihen from …, at a normal average term too, so I would lose as an average person … I mean, by saving the banks, don’t they save me as well?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: No, that’s the trick that they are playing. For instance, in the United States the largest bank is Citibank. That was insolvent as a result of being one of the most abusive fraudulent banks with junk mortgages and similar gambles. The head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Sheila Bair, said that she argued with the Obama administration saying that she could close down Citibank and save all of the insured depositors. She could have saved all of the basic banking functions.
 

 
The only people who would not have been saved would have been the gamblers at the top, on whom Citibank had written derivative gambles. It is as if in a horse race somebody goes to the casino and gambles, and then can’t pay their debt. The casinos say: We can’t operate at all, if the losers can’t pay what they owe. So, you – the government – have to levy a tax, to enable the losers to pay the winners.
 

 
It’s true that not everybody’s savings would have been saved under this plan. But normal operations would have been. And it’s the same with AIG, the Insurance conglomerate that was bailed out with $184 billion dollars. All this loss went through the London office making financial gambles, losing bets as to which way interest rates and junk mortgages would move. The government could simply have closed down AIG, taking it over and said: We are saving all of your normal insurance policies, we are saving all of your normal business, but the gamblers we are just not paying.
 

 
But in that case, Goldman Sachs would not have been paid $18 billion dollars. And Goldman Sachs had its representative Hank Paulson as Secretary of the Treasury. The Treasury was paying its private colleagues on Wall Street, instead of saving the normal depositors. The intention of this bank bailout is to wipe out the normal depositors and only save the rich of the top. Pretending to save the poor, the working class,and the middle class, they want to save everything for the top 1%. That is what they did with Citibank, and that is what they did with AIG. Citibank makes money by lending to people like Sam Zell, who would buy a company, look at the pension funds or Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), and empty them out to pay his creditors. So, what the government is saving are the parasitic functions of the banks.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: To make it clear, and ask Frau Wagenknecht too: It could be possible not to save the banks, und würde trotzdem nicht diese Lebensversicherungen und Alters … das kann man trennen?
 

 
…
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Nein, that is very important for you to understand that people like me, I take me as a durchschnittliche …, believe in a kind of empirical or scientific rationality and all this stuff. And if I am told by Hans Werner Sinn or other people, der frühere Regierungssprecher, Ulrich Wilhelm, you have to save the banks because then you save your life assurance, for example, then I believe it, and everybody believes it, because you say: Well, they are mathematicians or whatsoever.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: What if I say: You have to make me rich in order to give me an incentive not to wreck society. What the banks are really saying is that: We will wreck the payment system, and we will stop paying, and we will cause a crisis if you don’t give us what we want. We are holding you hostage.
 

 
But all you really have to do is take them over and replace them with other people. You save the basic banking and insurance functions. There are plenty of good assets in there. Even junk mortgages are worth something. They are worth enough to save all of the normal activities for 90 % of the population. The losers in this case would only be the 10 % at the top … And all these gains for the last 20 years have been to the top 10 %. They would lose their gains – but there is enough to pay everybody else.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Normal understanding is, politicians need majorities, and not the 10 % of the top.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: You talk about empirical studies. If the statistics were publicized to show what I am talking about, everybody would see in chart form that there is enough money there. The Federal Reserve has them. There are many statistics available, but the newspapers don’t publish them. They find it politically incorrect to do so.
 

 
What they call “class war” is simply society trying to protect itself from the 1 %.
 

 
Dr. Minkmar: One key argument in your system of thinking is the role of central banks. And now today we think that central banks are there to supervise things and see that everything runs smoothly. But what would you advice central banks to do?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Central banks began to be created in 1694 with the Bank of England, and down to the Federal Reserve in the United States in 1913 their function was to finance government budget deficits by printing money. All governments over time run deficits – at least, most of the time – because that is how they supply the economy with the purchasing power and the money it needs to grow. The role of a central bank is to create money to finance the deficit.
 

 
If it does not do this, then the commercial banks end up performing this function. However, the commercial banks creating credit on their own computer keyboards have a different role from that of the central bank. When the central bank finances government spending, this is supposed to promote growth, full employment and industrialization. But that is not the object of a commercial bank. Banks, in the first instance, make loans against property already in place – mainly real estate and also the buyout of entire corporations. So they provide credit that bids up the price of housing, making it more expensive for workers. They also loan to buyers of commercial buildings, making it more expensive to do business, Takeover loans enable corporate raiders to bid up the price of stocks and bonds, making them yield less, so it costs more to buy a retirement income. And now, commercial banks are moving from finance capitalism to casino capitalism to make big gambles. They are essentially financing gambling. That’s what derivatives and “hedge fund” trading are.
 

 
None of this funds industrial investment. From the United States to Germany, almost all industrial capital formation is now funded by the retained earnings of corporations, not by bank borrowing. Even the stock market does not fund new direct investments. It has become a vehicle for corporate raiders to go to the banks to borrow the money, to buy a corporation on credit with junk bonds, retire the stock, and use the corporate profits to repay the banks – and then try to steal for themselves the pension funds, or sell off the assets, or just work the labor force more intensively; longer hours, outsource labor and move to the un-unionized labor. So the banks are no longer part of the industrialization process; they are part of the de-industrialization process. This is applauded as the post-industrial economy.
 

 
…
 

 
Dr. Minkmar: You were talking about Europe as being the new third world as a model for politics …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: In the 1970s and 80s, the International Monetary Fund imposed austerity on indebted countries. The conditions were that if the countries did not pay their foreign debts, they would be treated like Cuba or Iran, and made into pariahs in the international community. So, they were forced to sell off and privatize.
 

 
When I worked for Chase Manhattan Bank in 1964, my first job was to analyze the economies of Argentina, Brazil and Chile. My job was to calculate/estimate how much potential they could export and raise, one way or another.
 

 
In Latin America it could only be imposed at gunpoint, as you saw in Chile. So the first privatization, the first free-market model, was imposed at gunpoint in Chile under general Pinochet, under the direction of Henry Kissinger and the Nixon administration, and the University of Chicago Economics Department under Harberger and other operatives down there.
 

 
Once they did that, the next big test was the former Soviet Union. Unlike the West, the Soviet Union had no background in Marxism. They had no group that was familiar with Marx and Engels or classical economics. So in 1991 they immediately adopted the neo-liberal approach that said: We can promote millionaires by privatizing the property. Many friends of mine tried to go over and promote a more reasonable tax system. The post-Soviet economies after 1991 would have financed themselves by taxing natural resource wealth and real estate. But as soon as these good advisors would go over there, right-wing institutes like the Lincoln Institute or the World Bank would come and tell the mayors of a town: We’ll give you a million dollars in computers if you follow our system and give the assets to your insiders to create a new nomenklatura of vested property interests – specifically, rentier interests, who would issue stocks in their companies and sell them to U.S. and other foreign investors. The idea was to let the West buy out the key rent-yielding assets in the former Soviet Union, above all mineral rights and public utilities, as well as centrally located real estate.
 

 
The government would put a deposit in one of the banks of the nomenklatura. In the Loans-for-shares program in 1994, the banks right say: 100 million dollars to buy Yukos oil company. The government would redeposit the check in the bank, so that they got the company for nothing, that is, no cash of their own. And then, when the government did not repay the debt, the bank would get many billion dollars worth of an oil or mining company.
 

 
The Americans did this because they realized that if a kleptocrat could buy Russian resources for one cent on the dollar, they would be happy to sell it for two cents on the dollar. That made the Russian stock market the best performing market in the world from 1994 to 1997. Russia let itself be financialized.
 

 
Other parts in the Soviet Union did not have raw materials. So a more accurate dress rehearsal would be what happened in Latvia, where they imposed a neo-liberal paradise. As in Russia, the neo-liberals had a free hand as to how to design what they said would be an ideal economy. Their way of creating such an economy and its financial and fiscal system was to say: “Don’t set up your own banks. Let foreign banks create the credit on their own keyboards.” Labor in Latvia has to confront a 59% set of flat taxes on employment – taxes that together are 59%. The real estate tax is only 1%, based on the most recent appraisal of Latvian property, which was in 1917 just before the revolution. So, the result was the largest real estate bubble of all.
 

 
That is basically the neo-liberal plan for how to get rich in a post-industrial economy. A property is worth whatever a bank will lend, because without taxes the value of this economic rent became available to be paid to the banks as interest rather than as taxes. The value of the site’s location should have been the basis of public financing, as in America. It’s the basis for most localities to pay for their school systems. If you are not going to tax property, if you are not going to tax monopolies, if you are not going to tax finance, then you have to tax labor. That’s why you have a 59% tax on employment in Latvia.
 

 
The result was an economic collapse in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. The result is that one third of the Latvian labor force of working age between 20 and 35 emigrated or announced its intention to emigrate. They would go to countries like Ireland which also was being financialized. So the Baltics still, even last year, were celebrated by the Institute for International Economics, the Peterson Institute, which is a bank lobbyist in the United States, and by the applauder of Russian privatization, Anders Aslund, the Swedish neoliberal lobbyist. Latvia is applauded as a model for which Europe should emulate. So you can expect your wages to be cut by 30%, you can expect people will have to go into a lifetime of debt in order to buy housing. They will have to have to inherit money if they want to get an education.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: That is what you say about Europe?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: I said, if you follow the Latvian model. This is the ideal. The basic principle when I talk to bankers is: You don’t know how far wages can be pushed down until somebody pushes back. And so far, nobody has pushed back.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: But what is with the unions? Normally …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: The communist countries did not have unions because they were supposed to be one big union. So the working conditions in the Baltic States have the worst accident rates, the worst workplace conditions, and their workers report the most abusive treatment by their employers. The workplace conditions in the post-communist economies are much worse than those in the capitalist economies, where there has been a symbiosis between labor and capital, a symbiosis between the private sector and the government.
 
….
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Just, I mean, off the record, but one of the advisers of chancellor Merkel is sometimes amazing, and he keeps telling this. He says: No, don’t write that. He says: It’s illegal, it’s against the treaty. I mean, that’s his last argument. So, I would like to … from scientific point of view. Frau
 

 
Wagenknecht: You are insane … What do you say as a scientist to this question?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Let’s simply look at the empirical facts. Since 2008 you have had the largest monetary creation in the 20th century’s history. The central banks have fueled this money creation. In America alone they have added $13 trillion dollars to the federal debt by bank bailouts. Yet prices have remained quite stable. Wages actually have fallen for the last 30 years, despite the wave of asset-price inflation fueled by commercial bank credit.
 

 
Central bank economists talk about consumer price or commodity price inflation. But commercial banks fuel asset price inflation, by lending money against real estate, stocks and bonds already in existence. As they make credit terms easier, people need more access to bank credit in order to buy a house. They have to bid against other. So bank credit inflates real estate prices. The upshot is that now you have to take more years of your income to buy a home. In the United States, the average American worker now pays 40% of family income for housing, 15% of income more for other debt service on credit cards and student loans. Another 15% is for wage withholding, and about another 15 % in other taxes, including sales taxes. This means that only about a quarter of American workers’ income is available to be spent on goods and services. Bank lending has absorbed so much of the income of workers that money that is spent to pay the banks is not available to be spent on goods and services.
 

 
So the flip side of asset price inflation is debt deflation. More and more money has to be spent to carry the debt overhead. The problem is not central banks financing domestic government budget deficits. Every hyperinflation in history has come as a result of the collapse of the balance of payments. The Germans are most familiar with 1921, but they tend to forget that the Weimar inflation was a result of Germany trying to pay reparations abroad. They were ordered by the Allied powers to print Deutsche Marks not for domestic spending, not to run a domestic deficit, not to rebuild Germany, not to employ labor, but to throw reichsmarks onto the foreign exchange market to obtain the foreign currency to pay the Allies, so that the Allies could turn around and pay the arms debts for what they bought from the United States before entry into World War One. It was the collapse of the foreign exchange that caused the hyperinflation, not domestic spending. And Germany’s hyperinflation was not cured by the central bank creating less money. It was cured by setting up a triangular flow of international payments. American bondholders would lend money to German municipalities that would issue bonds. The municipalities would receive dollars, and turn them over to the Reichsbank. It then would issue German currency against this for local spending – using the dollars to pay the Allies. The Allies would pay America, and that would keep the circular flow going. But to do this, interest rates had to be held down in the United States, to make German and other European borrowing more profitable for international lenders.
 

 
The same thing happened in Chile, which is another textbook hyperinflation. Rogers wrote a book on the process of hyperinflation in France that also occurred in the 1920s. The classic study of German inflation is by Salomon Flink, The Reichsbank and Economic Germany. The book actually was printed in Germany at that time. The same thing happened in Russia in the 1990s. The Russia hyperinflation occurred as a result of the depreciation of the ruble. This was already determined in advance at the meeting in Huston, Texas, between the World Bank and the IMF and the other Russian authorities. All this was published at the time, even before break-up of the Soviet Union. So to talk about hyperinflation as if it is a domestic phenomenon is to ignore the fact that never in history has it been domestic. It always is a balance-of-payments phenomenon, associated either with war or a class war, as in Chile’s case.
 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Now, to leave that economical …, to go to the interpretation of what will come. So, when I get it right, what you say, and Frau Wagenknecht says it too, there will be a … Wir werden ärmer. Also der durchschnittliche Deutsche wird verarmen oder ärmer.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Impoverishment.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Right. And not a revolution, not a moment where the society says no? That’s my question. But at the same time, what we are observing is that it is not only a change of the social standards of human beings in Europe but of the whole idea of democracy as well. This is something that strikes me most, which I would never believed. I must say, ten years ago, I would have said: conspiracy. And many like me would have said that the banks are so powerful and so on. Now, we start thinking whether “conspiracy” is the right word for it. And the same with the democracy, democratic question. I learned at school that the “Soziale Marktwirtschaft”, as we termed it, definitely requires Pluralismus, Demokratie, Partizipation, all that. But, and that is my question, are we, as Colin Crouch writes, postulating a post-democratic system? Is one of the prizes we have to pay for it, that democracy becomes weaker and weaker, and isn’t that a very dangerous development?
 

 
….
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Und da hätte ich eine Frage, die auch ganz aktuell ist, an Michael Hudson, vielleicht more in a theoretical way. Our new president said apparently, it is ridiculous to protest against, how did he say it, the capitalistic system, or something like that. Es ist lächerlich …
 

 
Wagenknecht: Nein, albern hat er …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Albern, ja, another word, it’s like ridiculous. And there we are, the point of question is, after the end of the communism, there was the idea, there is the triumph of capitalism. And now the people who are very social saying, I am repeating what they said in Germany: Now we can have a chance really, we don’t need the money for Rüstung anymore, and for armies, and against the Soviet Union, and so on. And now, we are in the third phase, and that’s why the (spot) that is so interesting, is the question: There is no alternative. Nobody really likes it, many people suffer. But the idea is, they managed to get the system like die beste aller möglichen Welten, there is no alternative to that all. What do you say to that, and what do you say to this quote?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: It is very interesting that the destruction of communism, or what passed for communism in 1990, made possible the destruction of industrial capitalism. What you have today is not capitalism as it was known when I grew up. It is not the capitalism that was talked about by Adam Smith, Ricardo, John Stuart Mill or even Marx. It is something that is evolved into finance capitalism, that is going through a number of stages. Pension-fund capitalism is exploiting labor, not by hiring it to produce goods and services, but to dock savings and channel them into the hands of financial managers – to bid up stock market prices.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Is it not the case, that this system did exist in the 20s?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: No, it only existed since 1950s. That is when General Motors started its pension fund. Pension funds soon became the single largest purchasers of stock, pushing up stock prices. The major sellers of stock have been management insiders, and increasingly those exercising their stock options, selling them in effect to the pension funds. So, the function of labor was to provide pension fund savings to spur stock market gains for the managers that have been financializing industrial companies – and in the process, de-industrializing them.
 

 
So, I’d like to plug this into the earlier discussion you just had. When you use the word “post-democratic society”, that is a byproduct of the post-industrial economy, which essentially means a financialized economy. It also was post-modern, if you think of “modern” as what existed in the early 20th century in the Progressive Era. That was the Modern Era. We are now in a post-modern era. The pro-financial strategy is essentially an anti-government strategy. That is because every economy is planned by someone or other. Most economies throughout history have been planned by the government, or whoever controls it, whether it’s been the landed aristocracy or bankers. If the government does not do the planning, this function is forfeited to the banks. And that is where we are today. Just like the case in which, if taxes are cut and the government does not get the revenue, it is available to be pledged to the banks and capitalized on the debt.
 

 
So the planning process passes to the banks, and they claim that they are the brains of society. They say, there is no alternative. But they are not the brain; they are something alien to industrial capitalism. This is what the Saint-Simon and his followers discussed in the 19th century. It was discussed in every country. The financial strategy now is to prevent people from studying what this body of classical economics was. It sought to free society from interest. Today’s banks are playing upon anxiety and fear, like a high-pressure salesman threatening to bring on a collapse if industrial economies try to protect themselves. They say: “You have to make up your decision in a hurry, if you don’t do this, you are going to lose your money, you are going to lose this opportunity.” They try to make it appear that this not only is the only alternative, but that it will make you rich.
 

 
Banks have been saying this for 30 years. This is the first time in history that people have believed they could get rich by borrowing money to buy assets that are increasing in price, or that they may get rich by the hyperinflation of property prices, and by the stock and bond prices that bank credit has inflated. Banks have managed to prevent the government from regulating and preventing this hyperinflation – and they even have called it “wealth creation.”
 

 
It is really debt creation. Debt is a claim on the means of production, and on labor. It is not a process of real growth. So what banks are saying is that there is no alternative but to let debts grow, at compound interest. This means reducing wages, as more and more must be spent on debt service. This eats into corporate cash flow and profits. So more and more are siphoned off to pay creditors. Debt also eats into the government revenue, so that the government does not have enough to pay for social programs and pensions. It only has enough to bail out the banks on exponentially growing debt that can never been paid, mathematically. That is the empirical fact. All you have to do is draw a statistical chart of the growth of debt, and compare it to the growth in wages. And you’ll see …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: How do you explain from a business point of view … I take the example of Dresden. I was in Dresden two weeks ago, and there they explained to me, the people I met from the city and from Volksbank and all these … They explained to me that Dresden, which I didn’t know, sold parts of their Stadtwerke and so on, and bought it back now because they realized that it was a mistake. I hear this from many, many other cities. Now, in my understanding of society, someone apparently made mistake here, the people who sold this, or at least, put the pressure. And normally, you would have to pay a price for making a mistake, and society would say: How could this happen? But the contrary is true, first of all, nobody discusses this, I can’t see it in den Städten.
 

 
That’s the first. And the second is, the made a mistake but became rich, from what I see. They are not sanctioned at all. So, I always ask you for the gesellschaftlichen Folgen. Isn’t this something what really is the most frightening result of this new era that things we once learned when we were kids, are not true anymore? The question of, it’s not that you are sanctioned when you make mistakes but that you can benefit in this regard?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: This is a question that I have discussed in Russia and China with their leaders. Fortunately, there is an alternative that they are well aware of. There is a way to recover the property that has been turned over to the privatizers. The answer is very simple: a windfall gain tax or a rent tax. If the land is been privatized, as it has been in China and Russia, all you have to do is tax the land’s value – the natural value, not the building value, but just the economic rent. You will recapture for the state the free lunch of economic rent.
 

 
The same principle applies to mines and fuel resources. You will simply have a mineral depletion tax that will recapture the value of what nature has provided freely. So the alternative is for the government not to tax profits, not to tax wages, not to tax income, but to tax economic rent. Because what the national income account pretends to be empirical, pretends to be “earnings” of the banks and other rentiers, is actually a transfer function – and often, outright theft.
 

 
It’s remarkable that French novelists realize this, such as Balzac who said that behind every great family fortune is a great theft. Economists don’t rise to the level of 19th century French novelists when it comes to understanding the economy.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: So to get back to your outlook again, talking about Europe, we have another debate that is quite interesting, which I think might be important to see. The one debate is, Greece is a lazy country and …, a new nationalism. The other one which I hear from bankers, by the way, sometimes, is, they say it ganz leise: It’s all America. So, it’s a huge American conspiracy. And they say: Wir wissen auch, dass das System nicht funktioniert, aber das ist ein amerikanischer Druck auf das, was jetzt mit Europa passiert usw. My question is, again, I think of Peter Hacks and Rahmentheorie. Ist das ein – das ist etwas, was ich für das Allerwichtigste halte – ein Prozess, der nicht mit einem big bang …
 
…
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Das wäre Occupy. Will "Occupy" be a revolutionary agent?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: We’re not trying to be a revolutionary agent. We are in a pre-revolutionary situation, so the aim is to raise consciousness – at this point, simply to explain how the world works. And many people want to … They sense that the economy does not work the way that textbooks say. But they can’t reinvent the rules by themselves. So most of the reason “Occupy Wall Street” is on Wall Street is because that is where the problem is. And most of the financial advisers, like myself, are lifetime workers on Wall Street, specialists in financial maneuvering and behavior. So our job is to explain to people, to popularize what used to be classical economics. Right wing interests have inverted the classical idea of free markets and captured its vocabulary, hijacking the repertory of classical, socialist and social democratic rhetoric.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Exactly that is what they did.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: I want to comment on your earlier point. It is true that the parasitic financial dynamic stems from America. But that is official policy; it is not a secret. It is not a conspiracy, it is very open. I am told that when Mr. Geithner came here to meet with the German bankers about the Greek debt, the Germans and Mrs. Merkel were in favor of a default, saying: Look, they can’t pay. But Mr. Geithner said that the German and the French banks and other banks have taken out credit default insurance with the American banks. These American banks would go under if Greece defaulted. Mrs. Merkel agreed to sacrifice the German banks and to impose losses on the German banks in order to help America. She seems to have put American interests before her own national interest, and cost the German people hundreds of billions of dollars by doing this. It is as if the leaders of Europe are hypnotized by a kind of Dr. Caligari who ends up to be running the asylum.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: (…) I think, it gives sehr große Einsichten, das ist faszinierend. The idea behind is, a little bit to … first of all to show that the position Frau Wagenknecht postulates, is not a position of two people in the world, but that there is a debate about it. And the other one is to provoke the others, the economists in Germany.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: You can’t provoke them.
 

 
Wagenknecht: Provoke you can, but …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: You can only replace them with a new generation.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: What I found out, what they really need to understand them is psychology. Of course, they need media power, and the consensus. The idea that you are insane if you are questioning certain aspects.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: That is what Dr. Caligari said.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Yes, that’s right. Or Dürrenmatt, “Die Physiker”, that’s exactly the same. Economists are like “Die Physiker”.
 

 
Dr. Minkmar: Once you can put a label on them, like “umstritten,” and you’ve already won.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Why do Hollywood movies understand this better than economists and politicians?
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: And why does Robert Harris? Did you read the book?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Yeah, wonderful.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: "Fear," Robert Harris
 

          Fireside on the Great Theft        
A recent interview in Frankfurt’s FAZ newspaper:
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: And then, just to find a starting point, maybe we can start with the personal, and then at least I would ask you both. Maybe that is a good starting point, very basic: What is the future of Europe? So, what do you conceive what will happen, and what is going to happen? Sie können sich auch gegenseitig … Now, Michael Hudson, you are in Germany and you are known to our readers, and Sahra Wagenknecht, of course, as well. Just very briefly your background. In your DNA, in your genetic code, you have traces of Indian roots.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Well, I am one-eighth (Chippewa) Indian, so I’m half Irish, a quarter Swiss, one eighth English. I grew up in Minneapolis, which was the center of America’s labor movement in the 1930s. The general strike in 1936 shaped the American labor scene.
 

 
Minnesota had a governor, Floyd B. Olson, who said that he hoped capitalism run right to hell. The Trotskyists were the main opponents of the Stalinists at that time. The irony is that you had the right wing ganging up with the Stalinists, all against the Trotskyist leadership because the Stalinists feared that a non-communist socialist leadership would build up the labor unions, as Minnesota was building up the Teamsters. So in 1941 my father became one of the Minneapolis 17, the first people committed under the Smith Act. This was ostensibly against advocating the overthrow of the government by force and violence, defined so loosely that in the presentation before the jury, it meant simply having the works of Marx and Lenin on your bookshelf.
 

 
I later was asked, when I went to work for Herman Kahn at the Hudson Institute, whether there was any reason why I could not get a top secret security clearance. I mentioned that my father was a Trotskyist leader, and he said: Oh, they know about that, that Stalin and Roosevelt made a deal around 1941 that if Roosevelt would prosecute the Trotskyists, the Communist Party promised not to pull out any of its Labor unions on strike during the balance of the war. The U.S. Attorney General later wrote in his autobiography that it was the only thing that was ashamed of doing, because by no stretch of the imagination could the Trotskyists have been any threat to the country.
 

 
In fact, it was the Trotskyists that called in the National Guard to protect the workers and the strikers against the police force that was working on behalf of the large companies. The lawyer for the Trotskyists in the trial was Al Goldman, who had been a colleague of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht. As I was growing up, most of the radicals who were still living throughout the world and from the United States would come to my house, and tell me their stories and their experiences.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: What could they say about Luxemburg and Liebknecht?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Al Goldman was still trying to find out who was responsible for killing them. But we decided that it really does not matter who the individuals are. They are usually killed by their bodyguards. The key is people behind them that order the killing.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: But you don’t have a memory of an anecdote or whatsoever, an anecdote about Luxemburg or Liebknecht, what they …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: No. Mainly, they talked about revolutionary theory. I wanted to grow up and go to jail like all of the people that my family admired, and their colleagues admired. So now I’m ashamed that I’ve never been able to go to the University of the Revolution.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: But you worked with Kahn, and I remember that Kahn was the person who proclaimed golden ages ahead of us. And he was the futurist who always said we will be so happy and so lucky. Am I right?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Yes, he was basically a military theorist who wrote a very good book on atomic warfare, saying that some people would survive. He was the model for “Dr. Strangelove”. And he felt so bad from being attacked for his military theory – and he was indeed a brilliant military theorist – that he decided to form the Corporate Environment study. But he was wrong in almost everything economic he said, so he brought me on to disagree with him on everything, as a foil. We liked each other. He was a very nice guy. In fact, we liked each other so much that we could not believe that the other person actually believed what they were saying publicly.
 

 
Herman Kahn weighed 400 pounds. I remember once in Paris, we were leaving the hotel to go to the airport, and I tried to hand him his pants. As far as my hands would stretch, they still weren’t long enough for the waist. He also had narcolepsy. When he was not speaking at a public lecture, he would fall asleep – usually in his food. He would rise from the table with the food flowing down his necktie, talking about the world economy an expanding pie, and in another generation, the whole world could live just like him. And everybody would go on diet, over a long time.
 

 
One of the big problems we had was when he wanted me to project the gross national product and hence living standards at 6 % or 4 % per year, which economists were doing at that time. He thought that all the technology and power somehow would make all countries rich. I refused to make that calculation, even though when I joined the Institute I insisted that the one perk that I wanted was an HP 75 calculator that could calculate exponential growth. I told Herman that the only growth that is exponential is financial – the magic of compound interest. And the more compound interest grows, the more it slows the economy, like driving a car with the brake on.
 

 
So that is where we differed. It turned out that most of his clients ended up hiring me instead of him, and I ended up getting a collection of Tibetan art as a result, and buying enough real estate, so, I’ve never had to work ever since and could spend all of my time writing.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: You talked about rescuing the banks, and that is really a phrase for trying to rescue a whole financial growth function to somehow save debts that can’t be paid. The question is: Who is going to take the loss? It really is trying to keep the debt overhead in place, by making the public sector absorb all the losses of the banks that have made the bad loan. And beyond this, it is really an ideology – an ideology that somehow the debts can all be paid. And beyond that, there is something else. Saving the banks is a slogan …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Sahra Wagenknecht, did I get you right that you say they can be paid?
 

 
Wagenknecht: They can’t. Also vorläufig können sie immer wieder, aber irgendwann …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Wegen der oberen 1 %.
 

 
Wagenknecht: … The upper class has to take the losses.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: The bailout is not saving the banks. The banks could function very well the next day after a debt cancellation. You are saving the bank stockholders and the bondholders and the rich counterparties to the banks. You are saving the gamblers who have accounts with the banks, not saving the banks.
 

 
But there is something even worse. The slogan “saving the banks” means a program for the governments to be financially responsible, which means financially self-destructive. The bailout is forcing Greece to sell its public domain, its water and sewer systems, its land, its real estate, its buildings, to sell to private buyers who are going to borrow money at interest from the bank to buy these public assets, and to treat them like a toll road.
 

 
So in the broadest sense of the term, saving the banks means to achieve by financial terms what it took an army militarily to counter a thousand years ago. Saving the banks thus is destroying society. Is that worth the payment?
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Very good and very understandable, but a question again. We can’t be too economic but … You say, you don’t save the banks. But what is, let’s say, my life insurance. What they say to me is that my bank has Staatsanleihen from …, at a normal average term too, so I would lose as an average person … I mean, by saving the banks, don’t they save me as well?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: No, that’s the trick that they are playing. For instance, in the United States the largest bank is Citibank. That was insolvent as a result of being one of the most abusive fraudulent banks with junk mortgages and similar gambles. The head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Sheila Bair, said that she argued with the Obama administration saying that she could close down Citibank and save all of the insured depositors. She could have saved all of the basic banking functions.
 

 
The only people who would not have been saved would have been the gamblers at the top, on whom Citibank had written derivative gambles. It is as if in a horse race somebody goes to the casino and gambles, and then can’t pay their debt. The casinos say: We can’t operate at all, if the losers can’t pay what they owe. So, you – the government – have to levy a tax, to enable the losers to pay the winners.
 

 
It’s true that not everybody’s savings would have been saved under this plan. But normal operations would have been. And it’s the same with AIG, the Insurance conglomerate that was bailed out with $184 billion dollars. All this loss went through the London office making financial gambles, losing bets as to which way interest rates and junk mortgages would move. The government could simply have closed down AIG, taking it over and said: We are saving all of your normal insurance policies, we are saving all of your normal business, but the gamblers we are just not paying.
 

 
But in that case, Goldman Sachs would not have been paid $18 billion dollars. And Goldman Sachs had its representative Hank Paulson as Secretary of the Treasury. The Treasury was paying its private colleagues on Wall Street, instead of saving the normal depositors. The intention of this bank bailout is to wipe out the normal depositors and only save the rich of the top. Pretending to save the poor, the working class,and the middle class, they want to save everything for the top 1%. That is what they did with Citibank, and that is what they did with AIG. Citibank makes money by lending to people like Sam Zell, who would buy a company, look at the pension funds or Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), and empty them out to pay his creditors. So, what the government is saving are the parasitic functions of the banks.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: To make it clear, and ask Frau Wagenknecht too: It could be possible not to save the banks, und würde trotzdem nicht diese Lebensversicherungen und Alters … das kann man trennen?
 

 
…
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Nein, that is very important for you to understand that people like me, I take me as a durchschnittliche …, believe in a kind of empirical or scientific rationality and all this stuff. And if I am told by Hans Werner Sinn or other people, der frühere Regierungssprecher, Ulrich Wilhelm, you have to save the banks because then you save your life assurance, for example, then I believe it, and everybody believes it, because you say: Well, they are mathematicians or whatsoever.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: What if I say: You have to make me rich in order to give me an incentive not to wreck society. What the banks are really saying is that: We will wreck the payment system, and we will stop paying, and we will cause a crisis if you don’t give us what we want. We are holding you hostage.
 

 
But all you really have to do is take them over and replace them with other people. You save the basic banking and insurance functions. There are plenty of good assets in there. Even junk mortgages are worth something. They are worth enough to save all of the normal activities for 90 % of the population. The losers in this case would only be the 10 % at the top … And all these gains for the last 20 years have been to the top 10 %. They would lose their gains – but there is enough to pay everybody else.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Normal understanding is, politicians need majorities, and not the 10 % of the top.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: You talk about empirical studies. If the statistics were publicized to show what I am talking about, everybody would see in chart form that there is enough money there. The Federal Reserve has them. There are many statistics available, but the newspapers don’t publish them. They find it politically incorrect to do so.
 

 
What they call “class war” is simply society trying to protect itself from the 1 %.
 

 
Dr. Minkmar: One key argument in your system of thinking is the role of central banks. And now today we think that central banks are there to supervise things and see that everything runs smoothly. But what would you advice central banks to do?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Central banks began to be created in 1694 with the Bank of England, and down to the Federal Reserve in the United States in 1913 their function was to finance government budget deficits by printing money. All governments over time run deficits – at least, most of the time – because that is how they supply the economy with the purchasing power and the money it needs to grow. The role of a central bank is to create money to finance the deficit.
 

 
If it does not do this, then the commercial banks end up performing this function. However, the commercial banks creating credit on their own computer keyboards have a different role from that of the central bank. When the central bank finances government spending, this is supposed to promote growth, full employment and industrialization. But that is not the object of a commercial bank. Banks, in the first instance, make loans against property already in place – mainly real estate and also the buyout of entire corporations. So they provide credit that bids up the price of housing, making it more expensive for workers. They also loan to buyers of commercial buildings, making it more expensive to do business, Takeover loans enable corporate raiders to bid up the price of stocks and bonds, making them yield less, so it costs more to buy a retirement income. And now, commercial banks are moving from finance capitalism to casino capitalism to make big gambles. They are essentially financing gambling. That’s what derivatives and “hedge fund” trading are.
 

 
None of this funds industrial investment. From the United States to Germany, almost all industrial capital formation is now funded by the retained earnings of corporations, not by bank borrowing. Even the stock market does not fund new direct investments. It has become a vehicle for corporate raiders to go to the banks to borrow the money, to buy a corporation on credit with junk bonds, retire the stock, and use the corporate profits to repay the banks – and then try to steal for themselves the pension funds, or sell off the assets, or just work the labor force more intensively; longer hours, outsource labor and move to the un-unionized labor. So the banks are no longer part of the industrialization process; they are part of the de-industrialization process. This is applauded as the post-industrial economy.
 

 
…
 

 
Dr. Minkmar: You were talking about Europe as being the new third world as a model for politics …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: In the 1970s and 80s, the International Monetary Fund imposed austerity on indebted countries. The conditions were that if the countries did not pay their foreign debts, they would be treated like Cuba or Iran, and made into pariahs in the international community. So, they were forced to sell off and privatize.
 

 
When I worked for Chase Manhattan Bank in 1964, my first job was to analyze the economies of Argentina, Brazil and Chile. My job was to calculate/estimate how much potential they could export and raise, one way or another.
 

 
In Latin America it could only be imposed at gunpoint, as you saw in Chile. So the first privatization, the first free-market model, was imposed at gunpoint in Chile under general Pinochet, under the direction of Henry Kissinger and the Nixon administration, and the University of Chicago Economics Department under Harberger and other operatives down there.
 

 
Once they did that, the next big test was the former Soviet Union. Unlike the West, the Soviet Union had no background in Marxism. They had no group that was familiar with Marx and Engels or classical economics. So in 1991 they immediately adopted the neo-liberal approach that said: We can promote millionaires by privatizing the property. Many friends of mine tried to go over and promote a more reasonable tax system. The post-Soviet economies after 1991 would have financed themselves by taxing natural resource wealth and real estate. But as soon as these good advisors would go over there, right-wing institutes like the Lincoln Institute or the World Bank would come and tell the mayors of a town: We’ll give you a million dollars in computers if you follow our system and give the assets to your insiders to create a new nomenklatura of vested property interests – specifically, rentier interests, who would issue stocks in their companies and sell them to U.S. and other foreign investors. The idea was to let the West buy out the key rent-yielding assets in the former Soviet Union, above all mineral rights and public utilities, as well as centrally located real estate.
 

 
The government would put a deposit in one of the banks of the nomenklatura. In the Loans-for-shares program in 1994, the banks right say: 100 million dollars to buy Yukos oil company. The government would redeposit the check in the bank, so that they got the company for nothing, that is, no cash of their own. And then, when the government did not repay the debt, the bank would get many billion dollars worth of an oil or mining company.
 

 
The Americans did this because they realized that if a kleptocrat could buy Russian resources for one cent on the dollar, they would be happy to sell it for two cents on the dollar. That made the Russian stock market the best performing market in the world from 1994 to 1997. Russia let itself be financialized.
 

 
Other parts in the Soviet Union did not have raw materials. So a more accurate dress rehearsal would be what happened in Latvia, where they imposed a neo-liberal paradise. As in Russia, the neo-liberals had a free hand as to how to design what they said would be an ideal economy. Their way of creating such an economy and its financial and fiscal system was to say: “Don’t set up your own banks. Let foreign banks create the credit on their own keyboards.” Labor in Latvia has to confront a 59% set of flat taxes on employment – taxes that together are 59%. The real estate tax is only 1%, based on the most recent appraisal of Latvian property, which was in 1917 just before the revolution. So, the result was the largest real estate bubble of all.
 

 
That is basically the neo-liberal plan for how to get rich in a post-industrial economy. A property is worth whatever a bank will lend, because without taxes the value of this economic rent became available to be paid to the banks as interest rather than as taxes. The value of the site’s location should have been the basis of public financing, as in America. It’s the basis for most localities to pay for their school systems. If you are not going to tax property, if you are not going to tax monopolies, if you are not going to tax finance, then you have to tax labor. That’s why you have a 59% tax on employment in Latvia.
 

 
The result was an economic collapse in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. The result is that one third of the Latvian labor force of working age between 20 and 35 emigrated or announced its intention to emigrate. They would go to countries like Ireland which also was being financialized. So the Baltics still, even last year, were celebrated by the Institute for International Economics, the Peterson Institute, which is a bank lobbyist in the United States, and by the applauder of Russian privatization, Anders Aslund, the Swedish neoliberal lobbyist. Latvia is applauded as a model for which Europe should emulate. So you can expect your wages to be cut by 30%, you can expect people will have to go into a lifetime of debt in order to buy housing. They will have to have to inherit money if they want to get an education.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: That is what you say about Europe?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: I said, if you follow the Latvian model. This is the ideal. The basic principle when I talk to bankers is: You don’t know how far wages can be pushed down until somebody pushes back. And so far, nobody has pushed back.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: But what is with the unions? Normally …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: The communist countries did not have unions because they were supposed to be one big union. So the working conditions in the Baltic States have the worst accident rates, the worst workplace conditions, and their workers report the most abusive treatment by their employers. The workplace conditions in the post-communist economies are much worse than those in the capitalist economies, where there has been a symbiosis between labor and capital, a symbiosis between the private sector and the government.
 
….
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Just, I mean, off the record, but one of the advisers of chancellor Merkel is sometimes amazing, and he keeps telling this. He says: No, don’t write that. He says: It’s illegal, it’s against the treaty. I mean, that’s his last argument. So, I would like to … from scientific point of view. Frau
 

 
Wagenknecht: You are insane … What do you say as a scientist to this question?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Let’s simply look at the empirical facts. Since 2008 you have had the largest monetary creation in the 20th century’s history. The central banks have fueled this money creation. In America alone they have added $13 trillion dollars to the federal debt by bank bailouts. Yet prices have remained quite stable. Wages actually have fallen for the last 30 years, despite the wave of asset-price inflation fueled by commercial bank credit.
 

 
Central bank economists talk about consumer price or commodity price inflation. But commercial banks fuel asset price inflation, by lending money against real estate, stocks and bonds already in existence. As they make credit terms easier, people need more access to bank credit in order to buy a house. They have to bid against other. So bank credit inflates real estate prices. The upshot is that now you have to take more years of your income to buy a home. In the United States, the average American worker now pays 40% of family income for housing, 15% of income more for other debt service on credit cards and student loans. Another 15% is for wage withholding, and about another 15 % in other taxes, including sales taxes. This means that only about a quarter of American workers’ income is available to be spent on goods and services. Bank lending has absorbed so much of the income of workers that money that is spent to pay the banks is not available to be spent on goods and services.
 

 
So the flip side of asset price inflation is debt deflation. More and more money has to be spent to carry the debt overhead. The problem is not central banks financing domestic government budget deficits. Every hyperinflation in history has come as a result of the collapse of the balance of payments. The Germans are most familiar with 1921, but they tend to forget that the Weimar inflation was a result of Germany trying to pay reparations abroad. They were ordered by the Allied powers to print Deutsche Marks not for domestic spending, not to run a domestic deficit, not to rebuild Germany, not to employ labor, but to throw reichsmarks onto the foreign exchange market to obtain the foreign currency to pay the Allies, so that the Allies could turn around and pay the arms debts for what they bought from the United States before entry into World War One. It was the collapse of the foreign exchange that caused the hyperinflation, not domestic spending. And Germany’s hyperinflation was not cured by the central bank creating less money. It was cured by setting up a triangular flow of international payments. American bondholders would lend money to German municipalities that would issue bonds. The municipalities would receive dollars, and turn them over to the Reichsbank. It then would issue German currency against this for local spending – using the dollars to pay the Allies. The Allies would pay America, and that would keep the circular flow going. But to do this, interest rates had to be held down in the United States, to make German and other European borrowing more profitable for international lenders.
 

 
The same thing happened in Chile, which is another textbook hyperinflation. Rogers wrote a book on the process of hyperinflation in France that also occurred in the 1920s. The classic study of German inflation is by Salomon Flink, The Reichsbank and Economic Germany. The book actually was printed in Germany at that time. The same thing happened in Russia in the 1990s. The Russia hyperinflation occurred as a result of the depreciation of the ruble. This was already determined in advance at the meeting in Huston, Texas, between the World Bank and the IMF and the other Russian authorities. All this was published at the time, even before break-up of the Soviet Union. So to talk about hyperinflation as if it is a domestic phenomenon is to ignore the fact that never in history has it been domestic. It always is a balance-of-payments phenomenon, associated either with war or a class war, as in Chile’s case.
 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Now, to leave that economical …, to go to the interpretation of what will come. So, when I get it right, what you say, and Frau Wagenknecht says it too, there will be a … Wir werden ärmer. Also der durchschnittliche Deutsche wird verarmen oder ärmer.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Impoverishment.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Right. And not a revolution, not a moment where the society says no? That’s my question. But at the same time, what we are observing is that it is not only a change of the social standards of human beings in Europe but of the whole idea of democracy as well. This is something that strikes me most, which I would never believed. I must say, ten years ago, I would have said: conspiracy. And many like me would have said that the banks are so powerful and so on. Now, we start thinking whether “conspiracy” is the right word for it. And the same with the democracy, democratic question. I learned at school that the “Soziale Marktwirtschaft”, as we termed it, definitely requires Pluralismus, Demokratie, Partizipation, all that. But, and that is my question, are we, as Colin Crouch writes, postulating a post-democratic system? Is one of the prizes we have to pay for it, that democracy becomes weaker and weaker, and isn’t that a very dangerous development?
 

 
….
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Und da hätte ich eine Frage, die auch ganz aktuell ist, an Michael Hudson, vielleicht more in a theoretical way. Our new president said apparently, it is ridiculous to protest against, how did he say it, the capitalistic system, or something like that. Es ist lächerlich …
 

 
Wagenknecht: Nein, albern hat er …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Albern, ja, another word, it’s like ridiculous. And there we are, the point of question is, after the end of the communism, there was the idea, there is the triumph of capitalism. And now the people who are very social saying, I am repeating what they said in Germany: Now we can have a chance really, we don’t need the money for Rüstung anymore, and for armies, and against the Soviet Union, and so on. And now, we are in the third phase, and that’s why the (spot) that is so interesting, is the question: There is no alternative. Nobody really likes it, many people suffer. But the idea is, they managed to get the system like die beste aller möglichen Welten, there is no alternative to that all. What do you say to that, and what do you say to this quote?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: It is very interesting that the destruction of communism, or what passed for communism in 1990, made possible the destruction of industrial capitalism. What you have today is not capitalism as it was known when I grew up. It is not the capitalism that was talked about by Adam Smith, Ricardo, John Stuart Mill or even Marx. It is something that is evolved into finance capitalism, that is going through a number of stages. Pension-fund capitalism is exploiting labor, not by hiring it to produce goods and services, but to dock savings and channel them into the hands of financial managers – to bid up stock market prices.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Is it not the case, that this system did exist in the 20s?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: No, it only existed since 1950s. That is when General Motors started its pension fund. Pension funds soon became the single largest purchasers of stock, pushing up stock prices. The major sellers of stock have been management insiders, and increasingly those exercising their stock options, selling them in effect to the pension funds. So, the function of labor was to provide pension fund savings to spur stock market gains for the managers that have been financializing industrial companies – and in the process, de-industrializing them.
 

 
So, I’d like to plug this into the earlier discussion you just had. When you use the word “post-democratic society”, that is a byproduct of the post-industrial economy, which essentially means a financialized economy. It also was post-modern, if you think of “modern” as what existed in the early 20th century in the Progressive Era. That was the Modern Era. We are now in a post-modern era. The pro-financial strategy is essentially an anti-government strategy. That is because every economy is planned by someone or other. Most economies throughout history have been planned by the government, or whoever controls it, whether it’s been the landed aristocracy or bankers. If the government does not do the planning, this function is forfeited to the banks. And that is where we are today. Just like the case in which, if taxes are cut and the government does not get the revenue, it is available to be pledged to the banks and capitalized on the debt.
 

 
So the planning process passes to the banks, and they claim that they are the brains of society. They say, there is no alternative. But they are not the brain; they are something alien to industrial capitalism. This is what the Saint-Simon and his followers discussed in the 19th century. It was discussed in every country. The financial strategy now is to prevent people from studying what this body of classical economics was. It sought to free society from interest. Today’s banks are playing upon anxiety and fear, like a high-pressure salesman threatening to bring on a collapse if industrial economies try to protect themselves. They say: “You have to make up your decision in a hurry, if you don’t do this, you are going to lose your money, you are going to lose this opportunity.” They try to make it appear that this not only is the only alternative, but that it will make you rich.
 

 
Banks have been saying this for 30 years. This is the first time in history that people have believed they could get rich by borrowing money to buy assets that are increasing in price, or that they may get rich by the hyperinflation of property prices, and by the stock and bond prices that bank credit has inflated. Banks have managed to prevent the government from regulating and preventing this hyperinflation – and they even have called it “wealth creation.”
 

 
It is really debt creation. Debt is a claim on the means of production, and on labor. It is not a process of real growth. So what banks are saying is that there is no alternative but to let debts grow, at compound interest. This means reducing wages, as more and more must be spent on debt service. This eats into corporate cash flow and profits. So more and more are siphoned off to pay creditors. Debt also eats into the government revenue, so that the government does not have enough to pay for social programs and pensions. It only has enough to bail out the banks on exponentially growing debt that can never been paid, mathematically. That is the empirical fact. All you have to do is draw a statistical chart of the growth of debt, and compare it to the growth in wages. And you’ll see …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: How do you explain from a business point of view … I take the example of Dresden. I was in Dresden two weeks ago, and there they explained to me, the people I met from the city and from Volksbank and all these … They explained to me that Dresden, which I didn’t know, sold parts of their Stadtwerke and so on, and bought it back now because they realized that it was a mistake. I hear this from many, many other cities. Now, in my understanding of society, someone apparently made mistake here, the people who sold this, or at least, put the pressure. And normally, you would have to pay a price for making a mistake, and society would say: How could this happen? But the contrary is true, first of all, nobody discusses this, I can’t see it in den Städten.
 

 
That’s the first. And the second is, the made a mistake but became rich, from what I see. They are not sanctioned at all. So, I always ask you for the gesellschaftlichen Folgen. Isn’t this something what really is the most frightening result of this new era that things we once learned when we were kids, are not true anymore? The question of, it’s not that you are sanctioned when you make mistakes but that you can benefit in this regard?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: This is a question that I have discussed in Russia and China with their leaders. Fortunately, there is an alternative that they are well aware of. There is a way to recover the property that has been turned over to the privatizers. The answer is very simple: a windfall gain tax or a rent tax. If the land is been privatized, as it has been in China and Russia, all you have to do is tax the land’s value – the natural value, not the building value, but just the economic rent. You will recapture for the state the free lunch of economic rent.
 

 
The same principle applies to mines and fuel resources. You will simply have a mineral depletion tax that will recapture the value of what nature has provided freely. So the alternative is for the government not to tax profits, not to tax wages, not to tax income, but to tax economic rent. Because what the national income account pretends to be empirical, pretends to be “earnings” of the banks and other rentiers, is actually a transfer function – and often, outright theft.
 

 
It’s remarkable that French novelists realize this, such as Balzac who said that behind every great family fortune is a great theft. Economists don’t rise to the level of 19th century French novelists when it comes to understanding the economy.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: So to get back to your outlook again, talking about Europe, we have another debate that is quite interesting, which I think might be important to see. The one debate is, Greece is a lazy country and …, a new nationalism. The other one which I hear from bankers, by the way, sometimes, is, they say it ganz leise: It’s all America. So, it’s a huge American conspiracy. And they say: Wir wissen auch, dass das System nicht funktioniert, aber das ist ein amerikanischer Druck auf das, was jetzt mit Europa passiert usw. My question is, again, I think of Peter Hacks and Rahmentheorie. Ist das ein – das ist etwas, was ich für das Allerwichtigste halte – ein Prozess, der nicht mit einem big bang …
 
…
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Das wäre Occupy. Will "Occupy" be a revolutionary agent?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: We’re not trying to be a revolutionary agent. We are in a pre-revolutionary situation, so the aim is to raise consciousness – at this point, simply to explain how the world works. And many people want to … They sense that the economy does not work the way that textbooks say. But they can’t reinvent the rules by themselves. So most of the reason “Occupy Wall Street” is on Wall Street is because that is where the problem is. And most of the financial advisers, like myself, are lifetime workers on Wall Street, specialists in financial maneuvering and behavior. So our job is to explain to people, to popularize what used to be classical economics. Right wing interests have inverted the classical idea of free markets and captured its vocabulary, hijacking the repertory of classical, socialist and social democratic rhetoric.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Exactly that is what they did.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: I want to comment on your earlier point. It is true that the parasitic financial dynamic stems from America. But that is official policy; it is not a secret. It is not a conspiracy, it is very open. I am told that when Mr. Geithner came here to meet with the German bankers about the Greek debt, the Germans and Mrs. Merkel were in favor of a default, saying: Look, they can’t pay. But Mr. Geithner said that the German and the French banks and other banks have taken out credit default insurance with the American banks. These American banks would go under if Greece defaulted. Mrs. Merkel agreed to sacrifice the German banks and to impose losses on the German banks in order to help America. She seems to have put American interests before her own national interest, and cost the German people hundreds of billions of dollars by doing this. It is as if the leaders of Europe are hypnotized by a kind of Dr. Caligari who ends up to be running the asylum.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: (…) I think, it gives sehr große Einsichten, das ist faszinierend. The idea behind is, a little bit to … first of all to show that the position Frau Wagenknecht postulates, is not a position of two people in the world, but that there is a debate about it. And the other one is to provoke the others, the economists in Germany.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: You can’t provoke them.
 

 
Wagenknecht: Provoke you can, but …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: You can only replace them with a new generation.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: What I found out, what they really need to understand them is psychology. Of course, they need media power, and the consensus. The idea that you are insane if you are questioning certain aspects.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: That is what Dr. Caligari said.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Yes, that’s right. Or Dürrenmatt, “Die Physiker”, that’s exactly the same. Economists are like “Die Physiker”.
 

 
Dr. Minkmar: Once you can put a label on them, like “umstritten,” and you’ve already won.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Why do Hollywood movies understand this better than economists and politicians?
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: And why does Robert Harris? Did you read the book?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Yeah, wonderful.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: "Fear," Robert Harris
 

          Fireside on the Great Theft        
A recent interview in Frankfurt’s FAZ newspaper:
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: And then, just to find a starting point, maybe we can start with the personal, and then at least I would ask you both. Maybe that is a good starting point, very basic: What is the future of Europe? So, what do you conceive what will happen, and what is going to happen? Sie können sich auch gegenseitig … Now, Michael Hudson, you are in Germany and you are known to our readers, and Sahra Wagenknecht, of course, as well. Just very briefly your background. In your DNA, in your genetic code, you have traces of Indian roots.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Well, I am one-eighth (Chippewa) Indian, so I’m half Irish, a quarter Swiss, one eighth English. I grew up in Minneapolis, which was the center of America’s labor movement in the 1930s. The general strike in 1936 shaped the American labor scene.
 

 
Minnesota had a governor, Floyd B. Olson, who said that he hoped capitalism run right to hell. The Trotskyists were the main opponents of the Stalinists at that time. The irony is that you had the right wing ganging up with the Stalinists, all against the Trotskyist leadership because the Stalinists feared that a non-communist socialist leadership would build up the labor unions, as Minnesota was building up the Teamsters. So in 1941 my father became one of the Minneapolis 17, the first people committed under the Smith Act. This was ostensibly against advocating the overthrow of the government by force and violence, defined so loosely that in the presentation before the jury, it meant simply having the works of Marx and Lenin on your bookshelf.
 

 
I later was asked, when I went to work for Herman Kahn at the Hudson Institute, whether there was any reason why I could not get a top secret security clearance. I mentioned that my father was a Trotskyist leader, and he said: Oh, they know about that, that Stalin and Roosevelt made a deal around 1941 that if Roosevelt would prosecute the Trotskyists, the Communist Party promised not to pull out any of its Labor unions on strike during the balance of the war. The U.S. Attorney General later wrote in his autobiography that it was the only thing that was ashamed of doing, because by no stretch of the imagination could the Trotskyists have been any threat to the country.
 

 
In fact, it was the Trotskyists that called in the National Guard to protect the workers and the strikers against the police force that was working on behalf of the large companies. The lawyer for the Trotskyists in the trial was Al Goldman, who had been a colleague of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht. As I was growing up, most of the radicals who were still living throughout the world and from the United States would come to my house, and tell me their stories and their experiences.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: What could they say about Luxemburg and Liebknecht?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Al Goldman was still trying to find out who was responsible for killing them. But we decided that it really does not matter who the individuals are. They are usually killed by their bodyguards. The key is people behind them that order the killing.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: But you don’t have a memory of an anecdote or whatsoever, an anecdote about Luxemburg or Liebknecht, what they …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: No. Mainly, they talked about revolutionary theory. I wanted to grow up and go to jail like all of the people that my family admired, and their colleagues admired. So now I’m ashamed that I’ve never been able to go to the University of the Revolution.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: But you worked with Kahn, and I remember that Kahn was the person who proclaimed golden ages ahead of us. And he was the futurist who always said we will be so happy and so lucky. Am I right?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Yes, he was basically a military theorist who wrote a very good book on atomic warfare, saying that some people would survive. He was the model for “Dr. Strangelove”. And he felt so bad from being attacked for his military theory – and he was indeed a brilliant military theorist – that he decided to form the Corporate Environment study. But he was wrong in almost everything economic he said, so he brought me on to disagree with him on everything, as a foil. We liked each other. He was a very nice guy. In fact, we liked each other so much that we could not believe that the other person actually believed what they were saying publicly.
 

 
Herman Kahn weighed 400 pounds. I remember once in Paris, we were leaving the hotel to go to the airport, and I tried to hand him his pants. As far as my hands would stretch, they still weren’t long enough for the waist. He also had narcolepsy. When he was not speaking at a public lecture, he would fall asleep – usually in his food. He would rise from the table with the food flowing down his necktie, talking about the world economy an expanding pie, and in another generation, the whole world could live just like him. And everybody would go on diet, over a long time.
 

 
One of the big problems we had was when he wanted me to project the gross national product and hence living standards at 6 % or 4 % per year, which economists were doing at that time. He thought that all the technology and power somehow would make all countries rich. I refused to make that calculation, even though when I joined the Institute I insisted that the one perk that I wanted was an HP 75 calculator that could calculate exponential growth. I told Herman that the only growth that is exponential is financial – the magic of compound interest. And the more compound interest grows, the more it slows the economy, like driving a car with the brake on.
 

 
So that is where we differed. It turned out that most of his clients ended up hiring me instead of him, and I ended up getting a collection of Tibetan art as a result, and buying enough real estate, so, I’ve never had to work ever since and could spend all of my time writing.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: You talked about rescuing the banks, and that is really a phrase for trying to rescue a whole financial growth function to somehow save debts that can’t be paid. The question is: Who is going to take the loss? It really is trying to keep the debt overhead in place, by making the public sector absorb all the losses of the banks that have made the bad loan. And beyond this, it is really an ideology – an ideology that somehow the debts can all be paid. And beyond that, there is something else. Saving the banks is a slogan …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Sahra Wagenknecht, did I get you right that you say they can be paid?
 

 
Wagenknecht: They can’t. Also vorläufig können sie immer wieder, aber irgendwann …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Wegen der oberen 1 %.
 

 
Wagenknecht: … The upper class has to take the losses.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: The bailout is not saving the banks. The banks could function very well the next day after a debt cancellation. You are saving the bank stockholders and the bondholders and the rich counterparties to the banks. You are saving the gamblers who have accounts with the banks, not saving the banks.
 

 
But there is something even worse. The slogan “saving the banks” means a program for the governments to be financially responsible, which means financially self-destructive. The bailout is forcing Greece to sell its public domain, its water and sewer systems, its land, its real estate, its buildings, to sell to private buyers who are going to borrow money at interest from the bank to buy these public assets, and to treat them like a toll road.
 

 
So in the broadest sense of the term, saving the banks means to achieve by financial terms what it took an army militarily to counter a thousand years ago. Saving the banks thus is destroying society. Is that worth the payment?
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Very good and very understandable, but a question again. We can’t be too economic but … You say, you don’t save the banks. But what is, let’s say, my life insurance. What they say to me is that my bank has Staatsanleihen from …, at a normal average term too, so I would lose as an average person … I mean, by saving the banks, don’t they save me as well?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: No, that’s the trick that they are playing. For instance, in the United States the largest bank is Citibank. That was insolvent as a result of being one of the most abusive fraudulent banks with junk mortgages and similar gambles. The head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Sheila Bair, said that she argued with the Obama administration saying that she could close down Citibank and save all of the insured depositors. She could have saved all of the basic banking functions.
 

 
The only people who would not have been saved would have been the gamblers at the top, on whom Citibank had written derivative gambles. It is as if in a horse race somebody goes to the casino and gambles, and then can’t pay their debt. The casinos say: We can’t operate at all, if the losers can’t pay what they owe. So, you – the government – have to levy a tax, to enable the losers to pay the winners.
 

 
It’s true that not everybody’s savings would have been saved under this plan. But normal operations would have been. And it’s the same with AIG, the Insurance conglomerate that was bailed out with $184 billion dollars. All this loss went through the London office making financial gambles, losing bets as to which way interest rates and junk mortgages would move. The government could simply have closed down AIG, taking it over and said: We are saving all of your normal insurance policies, we are saving all of your normal business, but the gamblers we are just not paying.
 

 
But in that case, Goldman Sachs would not have been paid $18 billion dollars. And Goldman Sachs had its representative Hank Paulson as Secretary of the Treasury. The Treasury was paying its private colleagues on Wall Street, instead of saving the normal depositors. The intention of this bank bailout is to wipe out the normal depositors and only save the rich of the top. Pretending to save the poor, the working class,and the middle class, they want to save everything for the top 1%. That is what they did with Citibank, and that is what they did with AIG. Citibank makes money by lending to people like Sam Zell, who would buy a company, look at the pension funds or Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), and empty them out to pay his creditors. So, what the government is saving are the parasitic functions of the banks.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: To make it clear, and ask Frau Wagenknecht too: It could be possible not to save the banks, und würde trotzdem nicht diese Lebensversicherungen und Alters … das kann man trennen?
 

 
…
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Nein, that is very important for you to understand that people like me, I take me as a durchschnittliche …, believe in a kind of empirical or scientific rationality and all this stuff. And if I am told by Hans Werner Sinn or other people, der frühere Regierungssprecher, Ulrich Wilhelm, you have to save the banks because then you save your life assurance, for example, then I believe it, and everybody believes it, because you say: Well, they are mathematicians or whatsoever.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: What if I say: You have to make me rich in order to give me an incentive not to wreck society. What the banks are really saying is that: We will wreck the payment system, and we will stop paying, and we will cause a crisis if you don’t give us what we want. We are holding you hostage.
 

 
But all you really have to do is take them over and replace them with other people. You save the basic banking and insurance functions. There are plenty of good assets in there. Even junk mortgages are worth something. They are worth enough to save all of the normal activities for 90 % of the population. The losers in this case would only be the 10 % at the top … And all these gains for the last 20 years have been to the top 10 %. They would lose their gains – but there is enough to pay everybody else.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Normal understanding is, politicians need majorities, and not the 10 % of the top.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: You talk about empirical studies. If the statistics were publicized to show what I am talking about, everybody would see in chart form that there is enough money there. The Federal Reserve has them. There are many statistics available, but the newspapers don’t publish them. They find it politically incorrect to do so.
 

 
What they call “class war” is simply society trying to protect itself from the 1 %.
 

 
Dr. Minkmar: One key argument in your system of thinking is the role of central banks. And now today we think that central banks are there to supervise things and see that everything runs smoothly. But what would you advice central banks to do?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Central banks began to be created in 1694 with the Bank of England, and down to the Federal Reserve in the United States in 1913 their function was to finance government budget deficits by printing money. All governments over time run deficits – at least, most of the time – because that is how they supply the economy with the purchasing power and the money it needs to grow. The role of a central bank is to create money to finance the deficit.
 

 
If it does not do this, then the commercial banks end up performing this function. However, the commercial banks creating credit on their own computer keyboards have a different role from that of the central bank. When the central bank finances government spending, this is supposed to promote growth, full employment and industrialization. But that is not the object of a commercial bank. Banks, in the first instance, make loans against property already in place – mainly real estate and also the buyout of entire corporations. So they provide credit that bids up the price of housing, making it more expensive for workers. They also loan to buyers of commercial buildings, making it more expensive to do business, Takeover loans enable corporate raiders to bid up the price of stocks and bonds, making them yield less, so it costs more to buy a retirement income. And now, commercial banks are moving from finance capitalism to casino capitalism to make big gambles. They are essentially financing gambling. That’s what derivatives and “hedge fund” trading are.
 

 
None of this funds industrial investment. From the United States to Germany, almost all industrial capital formation is now funded by the retained earnings of corporations, not by bank borrowing. Even the stock market does not fund new direct investments. It has become a vehicle for corporate raiders to go to the banks to borrow the money, to buy a corporation on credit with junk bonds, retire the stock, and use the corporate profits to repay the banks – and then try to steal for themselves the pension funds, or sell off the assets, or just work the labor force more intensively; longer hours, outsource labor and move to the un-unionized labor. So the banks are no longer part of the industrialization process; they are part of the de-industrialization process. This is applauded as the post-industrial economy.
 

 
…
 

 
Dr. Minkmar: You were talking about Europe as being the new third world as a model for politics …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: In the 1970s and 80s, the International Monetary Fund imposed austerity on indebted countries. The conditions were that if the countries did not pay their foreign debts, they would be treated like Cuba or Iran, and made into pariahs in the international community. So, they were forced to sell off and privatize.
 

 
When I worked for Chase Manhattan Bank in 1964, my first job was to analyze the economies of Argentina, Brazil and Chile. My job was to calculate/estimate how much potential they could export and raise, one way or another.
 

 
In Latin America it could only be imposed at gunpoint, as you saw in Chile. So the first privatization, the first free-market model, was imposed at gunpoint in Chile under general Pinochet, under the direction of Henry Kissinger and the Nixon administration, and the University of Chicago Economics Department under Harberger and other operatives down there.
 

 
Once they did that, the next big test was the former Soviet Union. Unlike the West, the Soviet Union had no background in Marxism. They had no group that was familiar with Marx and Engels or classical economics. So in 1991 they immediately adopted the neo-liberal approach that said: We can promote millionaires by privatizing the property. Many friends of mine tried to go over and promote a more reasonable tax system. The post-Soviet economies after 1991 would have financed themselves by taxing natural resource wealth and real estate. But as soon as these good advisors would go over there, right-wing institutes like the Lincoln Institute or the World Bank would come and tell the mayors of a town: We’ll give you a million dollars in computers if you follow our system and give the assets to your insiders to create a new nomenklatura of vested property interests – specifically, rentier interests, who would issue stocks in their companies and sell them to U.S. and other foreign investors. The idea was to let the West buy out the key rent-yielding assets in the former Soviet Union, above all mineral rights and public utilities, as well as centrally located real estate.
 

 
The government would put a deposit in one of the banks of the nomenklatura. In the Loans-for-shares program in 1994, the banks right say: 100 million dollars to buy Yukos oil company. The government would redeposit the check in the bank, so that they got the company for nothing, that is, no cash of their own. And then, when the government did not repay the debt, the bank would get many billion dollars worth of an oil or mining company.
 

 
The Americans did this because they realized that if a kleptocrat could buy Russian resources for one cent on the dollar, they would be happy to sell it for two cents on the dollar. That made the Russian stock market the best performing market in the world from 1994 to 1997. Russia let itself be financialized.
 

 
Other parts in the Soviet Union did not have raw materials. So a more accurate dress rehearsal would be what happened in Latvia, where they imposed a neo-liberal paradise. As in Russia, the neo-liberals had a free hand as to how to design what they said would be an ideal economy. Their way of creating such an economy and its financial and fiscal system was to say: “Don’t set up your own banks. Let foreign banks create the credit on their own keyboards.” Labor in Latvia has to confront a 59% set of flat taxes on employment – taxes that together are 59%. The real estate tax is only 1%, based on the most recent appraisal of Latvian property, which was in 1917 just before the revolution. So, the result was the largest real estate bubble of all.
 

 
That is basically the neo-liberal plan for how to get rich in a post-industrial economy. A property is worth whatever a bank will lend, because without taxes the value of this economic rent became available to be paid to the banks as interest rather than as taxes. The value of the site’s location should have been the basis of public financing, as in America. It’s the basis for most localities to pay for their school systems. If you are not going to tax property, if you are not going to tax monopolies, if you are not going to tax finance, then you have to tax labor. That’s why you have a 59% tax on employment in Latvia.
 

 
The result was an economic collapse in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. The result is that one third of the Latvian labor force of working age between 20 and 35 emigrated or announced its intention to emigrate. They would go to countries like Ireland which also was being financialized. So the Baltics still, even last year, were celebrated by the Institute for International Economics, the Peterson Institute, which is a bank lobbyist in the United States, and by the applauder of Russian privatization, Anders Aslund, the Swedish neoliberal lobbyist. Latvia is applauded as a model for which Europe should emulate. So you can expect your wages to be cut by 30%, you can expect people will have to go into a lifetime of debt in order to buy housing. They will have to have to inherit money if they want to get an education.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: That is what you say about Europe?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: I said, if you follow the Latvian model. This is the ideal. The basic principle when I talk to bankers is: You don’t know how far wages can be pushed down until somebody pushes back. And so far, nobody has pushed back.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: But what is with the unions? Normally …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: The communist countries did not have unions because they were supposed to be one big union. So the working conditions in the Baltic States have the worst accident rates, the worst workplace conditions, and their workers report the most abusive treatment by their employers. The workplace conditions in the post-communist economies are much worse than those in the capitalist economies, where there has been a symbiosis between labor and capital, a symbiosis between the private sector and the government.
 
….
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Just, I mean, off the record, but one of the advisers of chancellor Merkel is sometimes amazing, and he keeps telling this. He says: No, don’t write that. He says: It’s illegal, it’s against the treaty. I mean, that’s his last argument. So, I would like to … from scientific point of view. Frau
 

 
Wagenknecht: You are insane … What do you say as a scientist to this question?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Let’s simply look at the empirical facts. Since 2008 you have had the largest monetary creation in the 20th century’s history. The central banks have fueled this money creation. In America alone they have added $13 trillion dollars to the federal debt by bank bailouts. Yet prices have remained quite stable. Wages actually have fallen for the last 30 years, despite the wave of asset-price inflation fueled by commercial bank credit.
 

 
Central bank economists talk about consumer price or commodity price inflation. But commercial banks fuel asset price inflation, by lending money against real estate, stocks and bonds already in existence. As they make credit terms easier, people need more access to bank credit in order to buy a house. They have to bid against other. So bank credit inflates real estate prices. The upshot is that now you have to take more years of your income to buy a home. In the United States, the average American worker now pays 40% of family income for housing, 15% of income more for other debt service on credit cards and student loans. Another 15% is for wage withholding, and about another 15 % in other taxes, including sales taxes. This means that only about a quarter of American workers’ income is available to be spent on goods and services. Bank lending has absorbed so much of the income of workers that money that is spent to pay the banks is not available to be spent on goods and services.
 

 
So the flip side of asset price inflation is debt deflation. More and more money has to be spent to carry the debt overhead. The problem is not central banks financing domestic government budget deficits. Every hyperinflation in history has come as a result of the collapse of the balance of payments. The Germans are most familiar with 1921, but they tend to forget that the Weimar inflation was a result of Germany trying to pay reparations abroad. They were ordered by the Allied powers to print Deutsche Marks not for domestic spending, not to run a domestic deficit, not to rebuild Germany, not to employ labor, but to throw reichsmarks onto the foreign exchange market to obtain the foreign currency to pay the Allies, so that the Allies could turn around and pay the arms debts for what they bought from the United States before entry into World War One. It was the collapse of the foreign exchange that caused the hyperinflation, not domestic spending. And Germany’s hyperinflation was not cured by the central bank creating less money. It was cured by setting up a triangular flow of international payments. American bondholders would lend money to German municipalities that would issue bonds. The municipalities would receive dollars, and turn them over to the Reichsbank. It then would issue German currency against this for local spending – using the dollars to pay the Allies. The Allies would pay America, and that would keep the circular flow going. But to do this, interest rates had to be held down in the United States, to make German and other European borrowing more profitable for international lenders.
 

 
The same thing happened in Chile, which is another textbook hyperinflation. Rogers wrote a book on the process of hyperinflation in France that also occurred in the 1920s. The classic study of German inflation is by Salomon Flink, The Reichsbank and Economic Germany. The book actually was printed in Germany at that time. The same thing happened in Russia in the 1990s. The Russia hyperinflation occurred as a result of the depreciation of the ruble. This was already determined in advance at the meeting in Huston, Texas, between the World Bank and the IMF and the other Russian authorities. All this was published at the time, even before break-up of the Soviet Union. So to talk about hyperinflation as if it is a domestic phenomenon is to ignore the fact that never in history has it been domestic. It always is a balance-of-payments phenomenon, associated either with war or a class war, as in Chile’s case.
 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Now, to leave that economical …, to go to the interpretation of what will come. So, when I get it right, what you say, and Frau Wagenknecht says it too, there will be a … Wir werden ärmer. Also der durchschnittliche Deutsche wird verarmen oder ärmer.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Impoverishment.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Right. And not a revolution, not a moment where the society says no? That’s my question. But at the same time, what we are observing is that it is not only a change of the social standards of human beings in Europe but of the whole idea of democracy as well. This is something that strikes me most, which I would never believed. I must say, ten years ago, I would have said: conspiracy. And many like me would have said that the banks are so powerful and so on. Now, we start thinking whether “conspiracy” is the right word for it. And the same with the democracy, democratic question. I learned at school that the “Soziale Marktwirtschaft”, as we termed it, definitely requires Pluralismus, Demokratie, Partizipation, all that. But, and that is my question, are we, as Colin Crouch writes, postulating a post-democratic system? Is one of the prizes we have to pay for it, that democracy becomes weaker and weaker, and isn’t that a very dangerous development?
 

 
….
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Und da hätte ich eine Frage, die auch ganz aktuell ist, an Michael Hudson, vielleicht more in a theoretical way. Our new president said apparently, it is ridiculous to protest against, how did he say it, the capitalistic system, or something like that. Es ist lächerlich …
 

 
Wagenknecht: Nein, albern hat er …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Albern, ja, another word, it’s like ridiculous. And there we are, the point of question is, after the end of the communism, there was the idea, there is the triumph of capitalism. And now the people who are very social saying, I am repeating what they said in Germany: Now we can have a chance really, we don’t need the money for Rüstung anymore, and for armies, and against the Soviet Union, and so on. And now, we are in the third phase, and that’s why the (spot) that is so interesting, is the question: There is no alternative. Nobody really likes it, many people suffer. But the idea is, they managed to get the system like die beste aller möglichen Welten, there is no alternative to that all. What do you say to that, and what do you say to this quote?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: It is very interesting that the destruction of communism, or what passed for communism in 1990, made possible the destruction of industrial capitalism. What you have today is not capitalism as it was known when I grew up. It is not the capitalism that was talked about by Adam Smith, Ricardo, John Stuart Mill or even Marx. It is something that is evolved into finance capitalism, that is going through a number of stages. Pension-fund capitalism is exploiting labor, not by hiring it to produce goods and services, but to dock savings and channel them into the hands of financial managers – to bid up stock market prices.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Is it not the case, that this system did exist in the 20s?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: No, it only existed since 1950s. That is when General Motors started its pension fund. Pension funds soon became the single largest purchasers of stock, pushing up stock prices. The major sellers of stock have been management insiders, and increasingly those exercising their stock options, selling them in effect to the pension funds. So, the function of labor was to provide pension fund savings to spur stock market gains for the managers that have been financializing industrial companies – and in the process, de-industrializing them.
 

 
So, I’d like to plug this into the earlier discussion you just had. When you use the word “post-democratic society”, that is a byproduct of the post-industrial economy, which essentially means a financialized economy. It also was post-modern, if you think of “modern” as what existed in the early 20th century in the Progressive Era. That was the Modern Era. We are now in a post-modern era. The pro-financial strategy is essentially an anti-government strategy. That is because every economy is planned by someone or other. Most economies throughout history have been planned by the government, or whoever controls it, whether it’s been the landed aristocracy or bankers. If the government does not do the planning, this function is forfeited to the banks. And that is where we are today. Just like the case in which, if taxes are cut and the government does not get the revenue, it is available to be pledged to the banks and capitalized on the debt.
 

 
So the planning process passes to the banks, and they claim that they are the brains of society. They say, there is no alternative. But they are not the brain; they are something alien to industrial capitalism. This is what the Saint-Simon and his followers discussed in the 19th century. It was discussed in every country. The financial strategy now is to prevent people from studying what this body of classical economics was. It sought to free society from interest. Today’s banks are playing upon anxiety and fear, like a high-pressure salesman threatening to bring on a collapse if industrial economies try to protect themselves. They say: “You have to make up your decision in a hurry, if you don’t do this, you are going to lose your money, you are going to lose this opportunity.” They try to make it appear that this not only is the only alternative, but that it will make you rich.
 

 
Banks have been saying this for 30 years. This is the first time in history that people have believed they could get rich by borrowing money to buy assets that are increasing in price, or that they may get rich by the hyperinflation of property prices, and by the stock and bond prices that bank credit has inflated. Banks have managed to prevent the government from regulating and preventing this hyperinflation – and they even have called it “wealth creation.”
 

 
It is really debt creation. Debt is a claim on the means of production, and on labor. It is not a process of real growth. So what banks are saying is that there is no alternative but to let debts grow, at compound interest. This means reducing wages, as more and more must be spent on debt service. This eats into corporate cash flow and profits. So more and more are siphoned off to pay creditors. Debt also eats into the government revenue, so that the government does not have enough to pay for social programs and pensions. It only has enough to bail out the banks on exponentially growing debt that can never been paid, mathematically. That is the empirical fact. All you have to do is draw a statistical chart of the growth of debt, and compare it to the growth in wages. And you’ll see …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: How do you explain from a business point of view … I take the example of Dresden. I was in Dresden two weeks ago, and there they explained to me, the people I met from the city and from Volksbank and all these … They explained to me that Dresden, which I didn’t know, sold parts of their Stadtwerke and so on, and bought it back now because they realized that it was a mistake. I hear this from many, many other cities. Now, in my understanding of society, someone apparently made mistake here, the people who sold this, or at least, put the pressure. And normally, you would have to pay a price for making a mistake, and society would say: How could this happen? But the contrary is true, first of all, nobody discusses this, I can’t see it in den Städten.
 

 
That’s the first. And the second is, the made a mistake but became rich, from what I see. They are not sanctioned at all. So, I always ask you for the gesellschaftlichen Folgen. Isn’t this something what really is the most frightening result of this new era that things we once learned when we were kids, are not true anymore? The question of, it’s not that you are sanctioned when you make mistakes but that you can benefit in this regard?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: This is a question that I have discussed in Russia and China with their leaders. Fortunately, there is an alternative that they are well aware of. There is a way to recover the property that has been turned over to the privatizers. The answer is very simple: a windfall gain tax or a rent tax. If the land is been privatized, as it has been in China and Russia, all you have to do is tax the land’s value – the natural value, not the building value, but just the economic rent. You will recapture for the state the free lunch of economic rent.
 

 
The same principle applies to mines and fuel resources. You will simply have a mineral depletion tax that will recapture the value of what nature has provided freely. So the alternative is for the government not to tax profits, not to tax wages, not to tax income, but to tax economic rent. Because what the national income account pretends to be empirical, pretends to be “earnings” of the banks and other rentiers, is actually a transfer function – and often, outright theft.
 

 
It’s remarkable that French novelists realize this, such as Balzac who said that behind every great family fortune is a great theft. Economists don’t rise to the level of 19th century French novelists when it comes to understanding the economy.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: So to get back to your outlook again, talking about Europe, we have another debate that is quite interesting, which I think might be important to see. The one debate is, Greece is a lazy country and …, a new nationalism. The other one which I hear from bankers, by the way, sometimes, is, they say it ganz leise: It’s all America. So, it’s a huge American conspiracy. And they say: Wir wissen auch, dass das System nicht funktioniert, aber das ist ein amerikanischer Druck auf das, was jetzt mit Europa passiert usw. My question is, again, I think of Peter Hacks and Rahmentheorie. Ist das ein – das ist etwas, was ich für das Allerwichtigste halte – ein Prozess, der nicht mit einem big bang …
 
…
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Das wäre Occupy. Will "Occupy" be a revolutionary agent?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: We’re not trying to be a revolutionary agent. We are in a pre-revolutionary situation, so the aim is to raise consciousness – at this point, simply to explain how the world works. And many people want to … They sense that the economy does not work the way that textbooks say. But they can’t reinvent the rules by themselves. So most of the reason “Occupy Wall Street” is on Wall Street is because that is where the problem is. And most of the financial advisers, like myself, are lifetime workers on Wall Street, specialists in financial maneuvering and behavior. So our job is to explain to people, to popularize what used to be classical economics. Right wing interests have inverted the classical idea of free markets and captured its vocabulary, hijacking the repertory of classical, socialist and social democratic rhetoric.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Exactly that is what they did.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: I want to comment on your earlier point. It is true that the parasitic financial dynamic stems from America. But that is official policy; it is not a secret. It is not a conspiracy, it is very open. I am told that when Mr. Geithner came here to meet with the German bankers about the Greek debt, the Germans and Mrs. Merkel were in favor of a default, saying: Look, they can’t pay. But Mr. Geithner said that the German and the French banks and other banks have taken out credit default insurance with the American banks. These American banks would go under if Greece defaulted. Mrs. Merkel agreed to sacrifice the German banks and to impose losses on the German banks in order to help America. She seems to have put American interests before her own national interest, and cost the German people hundreds of billions of dollars by doing this. It is as if the leaders of Europe are hypnotized by a kind of Dr. Caligari who ends up to be running the asylum.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: (…) I think, it gives sehr große Einsichten, das ist faszinierend. The idea behind is, a little bit to … first of all to show that the position Frau Wagenknecht postulates, is not a position of two people in the world, but that there is a debate about it. And the other one is to provoke the others, the economists in Germany.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: You can’t provoke them.
 

 
Wagenknecht: Provoke you can, but …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: You can only replace them with a new generation.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: What I found out, what they really need to understand them is psychology. Of course, they need media power, and the consensus. The idea that you are insane if you are questioning certain aspects.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: That is what Dr. Caligari said.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Yes, that’s right. Or Dürrenmatt, “Die Physiker”, that’s exactly the same. Economists are like “Die Physiker”.
 

 
Dr. Minkmar: Once you can put a label on them, like “umstritten,” and you’ve already won.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Why do Hollywood movies understand this better than economists and politicians?
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: And why does Robert Harris? Did you read the book?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Yeah, wonderful.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: "Fear," Robert Harris
 

          Fireside on the Great Theft        
A recent interview in Frankfurt’s FAZ newspaper:
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: And then, just to find a starting point, maybe we can start with the personal, and then at least I would ask you both. Maybe that is a good starting point, very basic: What is the future of Europe? So, what do you conceive what will happen, and what is going to happen? Sie können sich auch gegenseitig … Now, Michael Hudson, you are in Germany and you are known to our readers, and Sahra Wagenknecht, of course, as well. Just very briefly your background. In your DNA, in your genetic code, you have traces of Indian roots.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Well, I am one-eighth (Chippewa) Indian, so I’m half Irish, a quarter Swiss, one eighth English. I grew up in Minneapolis, which was the center of America’s labor movement in the 1930s. The general strike in 1936 shaped the American labor scene.
 

 
Minnesota had a governor, Floyd B. Olson, who said that he hoped capitalism run right to hell. The Trotskyists were the main opponents of the Stalinists at that time. The irony is that you had the right wing ganging up with the Stalinists, all against the Trotskyist leadership because the Stalinists feared that a non-communist socialist leadership would build up the labor unions, as Minnesota was building up the Teamsters. So in 1941 my father became one of the Minneapolis 17, the first people committed under the Smith Act. This was ostensibly against advocating the overthrow of the government by force and violence, defined so loosely that in the presentation before the jury, it meant simply having the works of Marx and Lenin on your bookshelf.
 

 
I later was asked, when I went to work for Herman Kahn at the Hudson Institute, whether there was any reason why I could not get a top secret security clearance. I mentioned that my father was a Trotskyist leader, and he said: Oh, they know about that, that Stalin and Roosevelt made a deal around 1941 that if Roosevelt would prosecute the Trotskyists, the Communist Party promised not to pull out any of its Labor unions on strike during the balance of the war. The U.S. Attorney General later wrote in his autobiography that it was the only thing that was ashamed of doing, because by no stretch of the imagination could the Trotskyists have been any threat to the country.
 

 
In fact, it was the Trotskyists that called in the National Guard to protect the workers and the strikers against the police force that was working on behalf of the large companies. The lawyer for the Trotskyists in the trial was Al Goldman, who had been a colleague of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht. As I was growing up, most of the radicals who were still living throughout the world and from the United States would come to my house, and tell me their stories and their experiences.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: What could they say about Luxemburg and Liebknecht?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Al Goldman was still trying to find out who was responsible for killing them. But we decided that it really does not matter who the individuals are. They are usually killed by their bodyguards. The key is people behind them that order the killing.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: But you don’t have a memory of an anecdote or whatsoever, an anecdote about Luxemburg or Liebknecht, what they …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: No. Mainly, they talked about revolutionary theory. I wanted to grow up and go to jail like all of the people that my family admired, and their colleagues admired. So now I’m ashamed that I’ve never been able to go to the University of the Revolution.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: But you worked with Kahn, and I remember that Kahn was the person who proclaimed golden ages ahead of us. And he was the futurist who always said we will be so happy and so lucky. Am I right?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Yes, he was basically a military theorist who wrote a very good book on atomic warfare, saying that some people would survive. He was the model for “Dr. Strangelove”. And he felt so bad from being attacked for his military theory – and he was indeed a brilliant military theorist – that he decided to form the Corporate Environment study. But he was wrong in almost everything economic he said, so he brought me on to disagree with him on everything, as a foil. We liked each other. He was a very nice guy. In fact, we liked each other so much that we could not believe that the other person actually believed what they were saying publicly.
 

 
Herman Kahn weighed 400 pounds. I remember once in Paris, we were leaving the hotel to go to the airport, and I tried to hand him his pants. As far as my hands would stretch, they still weren’t long enough for the waist. He also had narcolepsy. When he was not speaking at a public lecture, he would fall asleep – usually in his food. He would rise from the table with the food flowing down his necktie, talking about the world economy an expanding pie, and in another generation, the whole world could live just like him. And everybody would go on diet, over a long time.
 

 
One of the big problems we had was when he wanted me to project the gross national product and hence living standards at 6 % or 4 % per year, which economists were doing at that time. He thought that all the technology and power somehow would make all countries rich. I refused to make that calculation, even though when I joined the Institute I insisted that the one perk that I wanted was an HP 75 calculator that could calculate exponential growth. I told Herman that the only growth that is exponential is financial – the magic of compound interest. And the more compound interest grows, the more it slows the economy, like driving a car with the brake on.
 

 
So that is where we differed. It turned out that most of his clients ended up hiring me instead of him, and I ended up getting a collection of Tibetan art as a result, and buying enough real estate, so, I’ve never had to work ever since and could spend all of my time writing.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: You talked about rescuing the banks, and that is really a phrase for trying to rescue a whole financial growth function to somehow save debts that can’t be paid. The question is: Who is going to take the loss? It really is trying to keep the debt overhead in place, by making the public sector absorb all the losses of the banks that have made the bad loan. And beyond this, it is really an ideology – an ideology that somehow the debts can all be paid. And beyond that, there is something else. Saving the banks is a slogan …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Sahra Wagenknecht, did I get you right that you say they can be paid?
 

 
Wagenknecht: They can’t. Also vorläufig können sie immer wieder, aber irgendwann …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Wegen der oberen 1 %.
 

 
Wagenknecht: … The upper class has to take the losses.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: The bailout is not saving the banks. The banks could function very well the next day after a debt cancellation. You are saving the bank stockholders and the bondholders and the rich counterparties to the banks. You are saving the gamblers who have accounts with the banks, not saving the banks.
 

 
But there is something even worse. The slogan “saving the banks” means a program for the governments to be financially responsible, which means financially self-destructive. The bailout is forcing Greece to sell its public domain, its water and sewer systems, its land, its real estate, its buildings, to sell to private buyers who are going to borrow money at interest from the bank to buy these public assets, and to treat them like a toll road.
 

 
So in the broadest sense of the term, saving the banks means to achieve by financial terms what it took an army militarily to counter a thousand years ago. Saving the banks thus is destroying society. Is that worth the payment?
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Very good and very understandable, but a question again. We can’t be too economic but … You say, you don’t save the banks. But what is, let’s say, my life insurance. What they say to me is that my bank has Staatsanleihen from …, at a normal average term too, so I would lose as an average person … I mean, by saving the banks, don’t they save me as well?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: No, that’s the trick that they are playing. For instance, in the United States the largest bank is Citibank. That was insolvent as a result of being one of the most abusive fraudulent banks with junk mortgages and similar gambles. The head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Sheila Bair, said that she argued with the Obama administration saying that she could close down Citibank and save all of the insured depositors. She could have saved all of the basic banking functions.
 

 
The only people who would not have been saved would have been the gamblers at the top, on whom Citibank had written derivative gambles. It is as if in a horse race somebody goes to the casino and gambles, and then can’t pay their debt. The casinos say: We can’t operate at all, if the losers can’t pay what they owe. So, you – the government – have to levy a tax, to enable the losers to pay the winners.
 

 
It’s true that not everybody’s savings would have been saved under this plan. But normal operations would have been. And it’s the same with AIG, the Insurance conglomerate that was bailed out with $184 billion dollars. All this loss went through the London office making financial gambles, losing bets as to which way interest rates and junk mortgages would move. The government could simply have closed down AIG, taking it over and said: We are saving all of your normal insurance policies, we are saving all of your normal business, but the gamblers we are just not paying.
 

 
But in that case, Goldman Sachs would not have been paid $18 billion dollars. And Goldman Sachs had its representative Hank Paulson as Secretary of the Treasury. The Treasury was paying its private colleagues on Wall Street, instead of saving the normal depositors. The intention of this bank bailout is to wipe out the normal depositors and only save the rich of the top. Pretending to save the poor, the working class,and the middle class, they want to save everything for the top 1%. That is what they did with Citibank, and that is what they did with AIG. Citibank makes money by lending to people like Sam Zell, who would buy a company, look at the pension funds or Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), and empty them out to pay his creditors. So, what the government is saving are the parasitic functions of the banks.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: To make it clear, and ask Frau Wagenknecht too: It could be possible not to save the banks, und würde trotzdem nicht diese Lebensversicherungen und Alters … das kann man trennen?
 

 
…
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Nein, that is very important for you to understand that people like me, I take me as a durchschnittliche …, believe in a kind of empirical or scientific rationality and all this stuff. And if I am told by Hans Werner Sinn or other people, der frühere Regierungssprecher, Ulrich Wilhelm, you have to save the banks because then you save your life assurance, for example, then I believe it, and everybody believes it, because you say: Well, they are mathematicians or whatsoever.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: What if I say: You have to make me rich in order to give me an incentive not to wreck society. What the banks are really saying is that: We will wreck the payment system, and we will stop paying, and we will cause a crisis if you don’t give us what we want. We are holding you hostage.
 

 
But all you really have to do is take them over and replace them with other people. You save the basic banking and insurance functions. There are plenty of good assets in there. Even junk mortgages are worth something. They are worth enough to save all of the normal activities for 90 % of the population. The losers in this case would only be the 10 % at the top … And all these gains for the last 20 years have been to the top 10 %. They would lose their gains – but there is enough to pay everybody else.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Normal understanding is, politicians need majorities, and not the 10 % of the top.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: You talk about empirical studies. If the statistics were publicized to show what I am talking about, everybody would see in chart form that there is enough money there. The Federal Reserve has them. There are many statistics available, but the newspapers don’t publish them. They find it politically incorrect to do so.
 

 
What they call “class war” is simply society trying to protect itself from the 1 %.
 

 
Dr. Minkmar: One key argument in your system of thinking is the role of central banks. And now today we think that central banks are there to supervise things and see that everything runs smoothly. But what would you advice central banks to do?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Central banks began to be created in 1694 with the Bank of England, and down to the Federal Reserve in the United States in 1913 their function was to finance government budget deficits by printing money. All governments over time run deficits – at least, most of the time – because that is how they supply the economy with the purchasing power and the money it needs to grow. The role of a central bank is to create money to finance the deficit.
 

 
If it does not do this, then the commercial banks end up performing this function. However, the commercial banks creating credit on their own computer keyboards have a different role from that of the central bank. When the central bank finances government spending, this is supposed to promote growth, full employment and industrialization. But that is not the object of a commercial bank. Banks, in the first instance, make loans against property already in place – mainly real estate and also the buyout of entire corporations. So they provide credit that bids up the price of housing, making it more expensive for workers. They also loan to buyers of commercial buildings, making it more expensive to do business, Takeover loans enable corporate raiders to bid up the price of stocks and bonds, making them yield less, so it costs more to buy a retirement income. And now, commercial banks are moving from finance capitalism to casino capitalism to make big gambles. They are essentially financing gambling. That’s what derivatives and “hedge fund” trading are.
 

 
None of this funds industrial investment. From the United States to Germany, almost all industrial capital formation is now funded by the retained earnings of corporations, not by bank borrowing. Even the stock market does not fund new direct investments. It has become a vehicle for corporate raiders to go to the banks to borrow the money, to buy a corporation on credit with junk bonds, retire the stock, and use the corporate profits to repay the banks – and then try to steal for themselves the pension funds, or sell off the assets, or just work the labor force more intensively; longer hours, outsource labor and move to the un-unionized labor. So the banks are no longer part of the industrialization process; they are part of the de-industrialization process. This is applauded as the post-industrial economy.
 

 
…
 

 
Dr. Minkmar: You were talking about Europe as being the new third world as a model for politics …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: In the 1970s and 80s, the International Monetary Fund imposed austerity on indebted countries. The conditions were that if the countries did not pay their foreign debts, they would be treated like Cuba or Iran, and made into pariahs in the international community. So, they were forced to sell off and privatize.
 

 
When I worked for Chase Manhattan Bank in 1964, my first job was to analyze the economies of Argentina, Brazil and Chile. My job was to calculate/estimate how much potential they could export and raise, one way or another.
 

 
In Latin America it could only be imposed at gunpoint, as you saw in Chile. So the first privatization, the first free-market model, was imposed at gunpoint in Chile under general Pinochet, under the direction of Henry Kissinger and the Nixon administration, and the University of Chicago Economics Department under Harberger and other operatives down there.
 

 
Once they did that, the next big test was the former Soviet Union. Unlike the West, the Soviet Union had no background in Marxism. They had no group that was familiar with Marx and Engels or classical economics. So in 1991 they immediately adopted the neo-liberal approach that said: We can promote millionaires by privatizing the property. Many friends of mine tried to go over and promote a more reasonable tax system. The post-Soviet economies after 1991 would have financed themselves by taxing natural resource wealth and real estate. But as soon as these good advisors would go over there, right-wing institutes like the Lincoln Institute or the World Bank would come and tell the mayors of a town: We’ll give you a million dollars in computers if you follow our system and give the assets to your insiders to create a new nomenklatura of vested property interests – specifically, rentier interests, who would issue stocks in their companies and sell them to U.S. and other foreign investors. The idea was to let the West buy out the key rent-yielding assets in the former Soviet Union, above all mineral rights and public utilities, as well as centrally located real estate.
 

 
The government would put a deposit in one of the banks of the nomenklatura. In the Loans-for-shares program in 1994, the banks right say: 100 million dollars to buy Yukos oil company. The government would redeposit the check in the bank, so that they got the company for nothing, that is, no cash of their own. And then, when the government did not repay the debt, the bank would get many billion dollars worth of an oil or mining company.
 

 
The Americans did this because they realized that if a kleptocrat could buy Russian resources for one cent on the dollar, they would be happy to sell it for two cents on the dollar. That made the Russian stock market the best performing market in the world from 1994 to 1997. Russia let itself be financialized.
 

 
Other parts in the Soviet Union did not have raw materials. So a more accurate dress rehearsal would be what happened in Latvia, where they imposed a neo-liberal paradise. As in Russia, the neo-liberals had a free hand as to how to design what they said would be an ideal economy. Their way of creating such an economy and its financial and fiscal system was to say: “Don’t set up your own banks. Let foreign banks create the credit on their own keyboards.” Labor in Latvia has to confront a 59% set of flat taxes on employment – taxes that together are 59%. The real estate tax is only 1%, based on the most recent appraisal of Latvian property, which was in 1917 just before the revolution. So, the result was the largest real estate bubble of all.
 

 
That is basically the neo-liberal plan for how to get rich in a post-industrial economy. A property is worth whatever a bank will lend, because without taxes the value of this economic rent became available to be paid to the banks as interest rather than as taxes. The value of the site’s location should have been the basis of public financing, as in America. It’s the basis for most localities to pay for their school systems. If you are not going to tax property, if you are not going to tax monopolies, if you are not going to tax finance, then you have to tax labor. That’s why you have a 59% tax on employment in Latvia.
 

 
The result was an economic collapse in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. The result is that one third of the Latvian labor force of working age between 20 and 35 emigrated or announced its intention to emigrate. They would go to countries like Ireland which also was being financialized. So the Baltics still, even last year, were celebrated by the Institute for International Economics, the Peterson Institute, which is a bank lobbyist in the United States, and by the applauder of Russian privatization, Anders Aslund, the Swedish neoliberal lobbyist. Latvia is applauded as a model for which Europe should emulate. So you can expect your wages to be cut by 30%, you can expect people will have to go into a lifetime of debt in order to buy housing. They will have to have to inherit money if they want to get an education.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: That is what you say about Europe?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: I said, if you follow the Latvian model. This is the ideal. The basic principle when I talk to bankers is: You don’t know how far wages can be pushed down until somebody pushes back. And so far, nobody has pushed back.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: But what is with the unions? Normally …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: The communist countries did not have unions because they were supposed to be one big union. So the working conditions in the Baltic States have the worst accident rates, the worst workplace conditions, and their workers report the most abusive treatment by their employers. The workplace conditions in the post-communist economies are much worse than those in the capitalist economies, where there has been a symbiosis between labor and capital, a symbiosis between the private sector and the government.
 
….
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Just, I mean, off the record, but one of the advisers of chancellor Merkel is sometimes amazing, and he keeps telling this. He says: No, don’t write that. He says: It’s illegal, it’s against the treaty. I mean, that’s his last argument. So, I would like to … from scientific point of view. Frau
 

 
Wagenknecht: You are insane … What do you say as a scientist to this question?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Let’s simply look at the empirical facts. Since 2008 you have had the largest monetary creation in the 20th century’s history. The central banks have fueled this money creation. In America alone they have added $13 trillion dollars to the federal debt by bank bailouts. Yet prices have remained quite stable. Wages actually have fallen for the last 30 years, despite the wave of asset-price inflation fueled by commercial bank credit.
 

 
Central bank economists talk about consumer price or commodity price inflation. But commercial banks fuel asset price inflation, by lending money against real estate, stocks and bonds already in existence. As they make credit terms easier, people need more access to bank credit in order to buy a house. They have to bid against other. So bank credit inflates real estate prices. The upshot is that now you have to take more years of your income to buy a home. In the United States, the average American worker now pays 40% of family income for housing, 15% of income more for other debt service on credit cards and student loans. Another 15% is for wage withholding, and about another 15 % in other taxes, including sales taxes. This means that only about a quarter of American workers’ income is available to be spent on goods and services. Bank lending has absorbed so much of the income of workers that money that is spent to pay the banks is not available to be spent on goods and services.
 

 
So the flip side of asset price inflation is debt deflation. More and more money has to be spent to carry the debt overhead. The problem is not central banks financing domestic government budget deficits. Every hyperinflation in history has come as a result of the collapse of the balance of payments. The Germans are most familiar with 1921, but they tend to forget that the Weimar inflation was a result of Germany trying to pay reparations abroad. They were ordered by the Allied powers to print Deutsche Marks not for domestic spending, not to run a domestic deficit, not to rebuild Germany, not to employ labor, but to throw reichsmarks onto the foreign exchange market to obtain the foreign currency to pay the Allies, so that the Allies could turn around and pay the arms debts for what they bought from the United States before entry into World War One. It was the collapse of the foreign exchange that caused the hyperinflation, not domestic spending. And Germany’s hyperinflation was not cured by the central bank creating less money. It was cured by setting up a triangular flow of international payments. American bondholders would lend money to German municipalities that would issue bonds. The municipalities would receive dollars, and turn them over to the Reichsbank. It then would issue German currency against this for local spending – using the dollars to pay the Allies. The Allies would pay America, and that would keep the circular flow going. But to do this, interest rates had to be held down in the United States, to make German and other European borrowing more profitable for international lenders.
 

 
The same thing happened in Chile, which is another textbook hyperinflation. Rogers wrote a book on the process of hyperinflation in France that also occurred in the 1920s. The classic study of German inflation is by Salomon Flink, The Reichsbank and Economic Germany. The book actually was printed in Germany at that time. The same thing happened in Russia in the 1990s. The Russia hyperinflation occurred as a result of the depreciation of the ruble. This was already determined in advance at the meeting in Huston, Texas, between the World Bank and the IMF and the other Russian authorities. All this was published at the time, even before break-up of the Soviet Union. So to talk about hyperinflation as if it is a domestic phenomenon is to ignore the fact that never in history has it been domestic. It always is a balance-of-payments phenomenon, associated either with war or a class war, as in Chile’s case.
 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Now, to leave that economical …, to go to the interpretation of what will come. So, when I get it right, what you say, and Frau Wagenknecht says it too, there will be a … Wir werden ärmer. Also der durchschnittliche Deutsche wird verarmen oder ärmer.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Impoverishment.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Right. And not a revolution, not a moment where the society says no? That’s my question. But at the same time, what we are observing is that it is not only a change of the social standards of human beings in Europe but of the whole idea of democracy as well. This is something that strikes me most, which I would never believed. I must say, ten years ago, I would have said: conspiracy. And many like me would have said that the banks are so powerful and so on. Now, we start thinking whether “conspiracy” is the right word for it. And the same with the democracy, democratic question. I learned at school that the “Soziale Marktwirtschaft”, as we termed it, definitely requires Pluralismus, Demokratie, Partizipation, all that. But, and that is my question, are we, as Colin Crouch writes, postulating a post-democratic system? Is one of the prizes we have to pay for it, that democracy becomes weaker and weaker, and isn’t that a very dangerous development?
 

 
….
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Und da hätte ich eine Frage, die auch ganz aktuell ist, an Michael Hudson, vielleicht more in a theoretical way. Our new president said apparently, it is ridiculous to protest against, how did he say it, the capitalistic system, or something like that. Es ist lächerlich …
 

 
Wagenknecht: Nein, albern hat er …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Albern, ja, another word, it’s like ridiculous. And there we are, the point of question is, after the end of the communism, there was the idea, there is the triumph of capitalism. And now the people who are very social saying, I am repeating what they said in Germany: Now we can have a chance really, we don’t need the money for Rüstung anymore, and for armies, and against the Soviet Union, and so on. And now, we are in the third phase, and that’s why the (spot) that is so interesting, is the question: There is no alternative. Nobody really likes it, many people suffer. But the idea is, they managed to get the system like die beste aller möglichen Welten, there is no alternative to that all. What do you say to that, and what do you say to this quote?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: It is very interesting that the destruction of communism, or what passed for communism in 1990, made possible the destruction of industrial capitalism. What you have today is not capitalism as it was known when I grew up. It is not the capitalism that was talked about by Adam Smith, Ricardo, John Stuart Mill or even Marx. It is something that is evolved into finance capitalism, that is going through a number of stages. Pension-fund capitalism is exploiting labor, not by hiring it to produce goods and services, but to dock savings and channel them into the hands of financial managers – to bid up stock market prices.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Is it not the case, that this system did exist in the 20s?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: No, it only existed since 1950s. That is when General Motors started its pension fund. Pension funds soon became the single largest purchasers of stock, pushing up stock prices. The major sellers of stock have been management insiders, and increasingly those exercising their stock options, selling them in effect to the pension funds. So, the function of labor was to provide pension fund savings to spur stock market gains for the managers that have been financializing industrial companies – and in the process, de-industrializing them.
 

 
So, I’d like to plug this into the earlier discussion you just had. When you use the word “post-democratic society”, that is a byproduct of the post-industrial economy, which essentially means a financialized economy. It also was post-modern, if you think of “modern” as what existed in the early 20th century in the Progressive Era. That was the Modern Era. We are now in a post-modern era. The pro-financial strategy is essentially an anti-government strategy. That is because every economy is planned by someone or other. Most economies throughout history have been planned by the government, or whoever controls it, whether it’s been the landed aristocracy or bankers. If the government does not do the planning, this function is forfeited to the banks. And that is where we are today. Just like the case in which, if taxes are cut and the government does not get the revenue, it is available to be pledged to the banks and capitalized on the debt.
 

 
So the planning process passes to the banks, and they claim that they are the brains of society. They say, there is no alternative. But they are not the brain; they are something alien to industrial capitalism. This is what the Saint-Simon and his followers discussed in the 19th century. It was discussed in every country. The financial strategy now is to prevent people from studying what this body of classical economics was. It sought to free society from interest. Today’s banks are playing upon anxiety and fear, like a high-pressure salesman threatening to bring on a collapse if industrial economies try to protect themselves. They say: “You have to make up your decision in a hurry, if you don’t do this, you are going to lose your money, you are going to lose this opportunity.” They try to make it appear that this not only is the only alternative, but that it will make you rich.
 

 
Banks have been saying this for 30 years. This is the first time in history that people have believed they could get rich by borrowing money to buy assets that are increasing in price, or that they may get rich by the hyperinflation of property prices, and by the stock and bond prices that bank credit has inflated. Banks have managed to prevent the government from regulating and preventing this hyperinflation – and they even have called it “wealth creation.”
 

 
It is really debt creation. Debt is a claim on the means of production, and on labor. It is not a process of real growth. So what banks are saying is that there is no alternative but to let debts grow, at compound interest. This means reducing wages, as more and more must be spent on debt service. This eats into corporate cash flow and profits. So more and more are siphoned off to pay creditors. Debt also eats into the government revenue, so that the government does not have enough to pay for social programs and pensions. It only has enough to bail out the banks on exponentially growing debt that can never been paid, mathematically. That is the empirical fact. All you have to do is draw a statistical chart of the growth of debt, and compare it to the growth in wages. And you’ll see …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: How do you explain from a business point of view … I take the example of Dresden. I was in Dresden two weeks ago, and there they explained to me, the people I met from the city and from Volksbank and all these … They explained to me that Dresden, which I didn’t know, sold parts of their Stadtwerke and so on, and bought it back now because they realized that it was a mistake. I hear this from many, many other cities. Now, in my understanding of society, someone apparently made mistake here, the people who sold this, or at least, put the pressure. And normally, you would have to pay a price for making a mistake, and society would say: How could this happen? But the contrary is true, first of all, nobody discusses this, I can’t see it in den Städten.
 

 
That’s the first. And the second is, the made a mistake but became rich, from what I see. They are not sanctioned at all. So, I always ask you for the gesellschaftlichen Folgen. Isn’t this something what really is the most frightening result of this new era that things we once learned when we were kids, are not true anymore? The question of, it’s not that you are sanctioned when you make mistakes but that you can benefit in this regard?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: This is a question that I have discussed in Russia and China with their leaders. Fortunately, there is an alternative that they are well aware of. There is a way to recover the property that has been turned over to the privatizers. The answer is very simple: a windfall gain tax or a rent tax. If the land is been privatized, as it has been in China and Russia, all you have to do is tax the land’s value – the natural value, not the building value, but just the economic rent. You will recapture for the state the free lunch of economic rent.
 

 
The same principle applies to mines and fuel resources. You will simply have a mineral depletion tax that will recapture the value of what nature has provided freely. So the alternative is for the government not to tax profits, not to tax wages, not to tax income, but to tax economic rent. Because what the national income account pretends to be empirical, pretends to be “earnings” of the banks and other rentiers, is actually a transfer function – and often, outright theft.
 

 
It’s remarkable that French novelists realize this, such as Balzac who said that behind every great family fortune is a great theft. Economists don’t rise to the level of 19th century French novelists when it comes to understanding the economy.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: So to get back to your outlook again, talking about Europe, we have another debate that is quite interesting, which I think might be important to see. The one debate is, Greece is a lazy country and …, a new nationalism. The other one which I hear from bankers, by the way, sometimes, is, they say it ganz leise: It’s all America. So, it’s a huge American conspiracy. And they say: Wir wissen auch, dass das System nicht funktioniert, aber das ist ein amerikanischer Druck auf das, was jetzt mit Europa passiert usw. My question is, again, I think of Peter Hacks and Rahmentheorie. Ist das ein – das ist etwas, was ich für das Allerwichtigste halte – ein Prozess, der nicht mit einem big bang …
 
…
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Das wäre Occupy. Will "Occupy" be a revolutionary agent?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: We’re not trying to be a revolutionary agent. We are in a pre-revolutionary situation, so the aim is to raise consciousness – at this point, simply to explain how the world works. And many people want to … They sense that the economy does not work the way that textbooks say. But they can’t reinvent the rules by themselves. So most of the reason “Occupy Wall Street” is on Wall Street is because that is where the problem is. And most of the financial advisers, like myself, are lifetime workers on Wall Street, specialists in financial maneuvering and behavior. So our job is to explain to people, to popularize what used to be classical economics. Right wing interests have inverted the classical idea of free markets and captured its vocabulary, hijacking the repertory of classical, socialist and social democratic rhetoric.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Exactly that is what they did.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: I want to comment on your earlier point. It is true that the parasitic financial dynamic stems from America. But that is official policy; it is not a secret. It is not a conspiracy, it is very open. I am told that when Mr. Geithner came here to meet with the German bankers about the Greek debt, the Germans and Mrs. Merkel were in favor of a default, saying: Look, they can’t pay. But Mr. Geithner said that the German and the French banks and other banks have taken out credit default insurance with the American banks. These American banks would go under if Greece defaulted. Mrs. Merkel agreed to sacrifice the German banks and to impose losses on the German banks in order to help America. She seems to have put American interests before her own national interest, and cost the German people hundreds of billions of dollars by doing this. It is as if the leaders of Europe are hypnotized by a kind of Dr. Caligari who ends up to be running the asylum.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: (…) I think, it gives sehr große Einsichten, das ist faszinierend. The idea behind is, a little bit to … first of all to show that the position Frau Wagenknecht postulates, is not a position of two people in the world, but that there is a debate about it. And the other one is to provoke the others, the economists in Germany.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: You can’t provoke them.
 

 
Wagenknecht: Provoke you can, but …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: You can only replace them with a new generation.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: What I found out, what they really need to understand them is psychology. Of course, they need media power, and the consensus. The idea that you are insane if you are questioning certain aspects.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: That is what Dr. Caligari said.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Yes, that’s right. Or Dürrenmatt, “Die Physiker”, that’s exactly the same. Economists are like “Die Physiker”.
 

 
Dr. Minkmar: Once you can put a label on them, like “umstritten,” and you’ve already won.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Why do Hollywood movies understand this better than economists and politicians?
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: And why does Robert Harris? Did you read the book?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Yeah, wonderful.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: "Fear," Robert Harris
 

          Fireside on the Great Theft        
A recent interview in Frankfurt’s FAZ newspaper:
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: And then, just to find a starting point, maybe we can start with the personal, and then at least I would ask you both. Maybe that is a good starting point, very basic: What is the future of Europe? So, what do you conceive what will happen, and what is going to happen? Sie können sich auch gegenseitig … Now, Michael Hudson, you are in Germany and you are known to our readers, and Sahra Wagenknecht, of course, as well. Just very briefly your background. In your DNA, in your genetic code, you have traces of Indian roots.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Well, I am one-eighth (Chippewa) Indian, so I’m half Irish, a quarter Swiss, one eighth English. I grew up in Minneapolis, which was the center of America’s labor movement in the 1930s. The general strike in 1936 shaped the American labor scene.
 

 
Minnesota had a governor, Floyd B. Olson, who said that he hoped capitalism run right to hell. The Trotskyists were the main opponents of the Stalinists at that time. The irony is that you had the right wing ganging up with the Stalinists, all against the Trotskyist leadership because the Stalinists feared that a non-communist socialist leadership would build up the labor unions, as Minnesota was building up the Teamsters. So in 1941 my father became one of the Minneapolis 17, the first people committed under the Smith Act. This was ostensibly against advocating the overthrow of the government by force and violence, defined so loosely that in the presentation before the jury, it meant simply having the works of Marx and Lenin on your bookshelf.
 

 
I later was asked, when I went to work for Herman Kahn at the Hudson Institute, whether there was any reason why I could not get a top secret security clearance. I mentioned that my father was a Trotskyist leader, and he said: Oh, they know about that, that Stalin and Roosevelt made a deal around 1941 that if Roosevelt would prosecute the Trotskyists, the Communist Party promised not to pull out any of its Labor unions on strike during the balance of the war. The U.S. Attorney General later wrote in his autobiography that it was the only thing that was ashamed of doing, because by no stretch of the imagination could the Trotskyists have been any threat to the country.
 

 
In fact, it was the Trotskyists that called in the National Guard to protect the workers and the strikers against the police force that was working on behalf of the large companies. The lawyer for the Trotskyists in the trial was Al Goldman, who had been a colleague of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht. As I was growing up, most of the radicals who were still living throughout the world and from the United States would come to my house, and tell me their stories and their experiences.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: What could they say about Luxemburg and Liebknecht?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Al Goldman was still trying to find out who was responsible for killing them. But we decided that it really does not matter who the individuals are. They are usually killed by their bodyguards. The key is people behind them that order the killing.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: But you don’t have a memory of an anecdote or whatsoever, an anecdote about Luxemburg or Liebknecht, what they …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: No. Mainly, they talked about revolutionary theory. I wanted to grow up and go to jail like all of the people that my family admired, and their colleagues admired. So now I’m ashamed that I’ve never been able to go to the University of the Revolution.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: But you worked with Kahn, and I remember that Kahn was the person who proclaimed golden ages ahead of us. And he was the futurist who always said we will be so happy and so lucky. Am I right?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Yes, he was basically a military theorist who wrote a very good book on atomic warfare, saying that some people would survive. He was the model for “Dr. Strangelove”. And he felt so bad from being attacked for his military theory – and he was indeed a brilliant military theorist – that he decided to form the Corporate Environment study. But he was wrong in almost everything economic he said, so he brought me on to disagree with him on everything, as a foil. We liked each other. He was a very nice guy. In fact, we liked each other so much that we could not believe that the other person actually believed what they were saying publicly.
 

 
Herman Kahn weighed 400 pounds. I remember once in Paris, we were leaving the hotel to go to the airport, and I tried to hand him his pants. As far as my hands would stretch, they still weren’t long enough for the waist. He also had narcolepsy. When he was not speaking at a public lecture, he would fall asleep – usually in his food. He would rise from the table with the food flowing down his necktie, talking about the world economy an expanding pie, and in another generation, the whole world could live just like him. And everybody would go on diet, over a long time.
 

 
One of the big problems we had was when he wanted me to project the gross national product and hence living standards at 6 % or 4 % per year, which economists were doing at that time. He thought that all the technology and power somehow would make all countries rich. I refused to make that calculation, even though when I joined the Institute I insisted that the one perk that I wanted was an HP 75 calculator that could calculate exponential growth. I told Herman that the only growth that is exponential is financial – the magic of compound interest. And the more compound interest grows, the more it slows the economy, like driving a car with the brake on.
 

 
So that is where we differed. It turned out that most of his clients ended up hiring me instead of him, and I ended up getting a collection of Tibetan art as a result, and buying enough real estate, so, I’ve never had to work ever since and could spend all of my time writing.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: You talked about rescuing the banks, and that is really a phrase for trying to rescue a whole financial growth function to somehow save debts that can’t be paid. The question is: Who is going to take the loss? It really is trying to keep the debt overhead in place, by making the public sector absorb all the losses of the banks that have made the bad loan. And beyond this, it is really an ideology – an ideology that somehow the debts can all be paid. And beyond that, there is something else. Saving the banks is a slogan …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Sahra Wagenknecht, did I get you right that you say they can be paid?
 

 
Wagenknecht: They can’t. Also vorläufig können sie immer wieder, aber irgendwann …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Wegen der oberen 1 %.
 

 
Wagenknecht: … The upper class has to take the losses.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: The bailout is not saving the banks. The banks could function very well the next day after a debt cancellation. You are saving the bank stockholders and the bondholders and the rich counterparties to the banks. You are saving the gamblers who have accounts with the banks, not saving the banks.
 

 
But there is something even worse. The slogan “saving the banks” means a program for the governments to be financially responsible, which means financially self-destructive. The bailout is forcing Greece to sell its public domain, its water and sewer systems, its land, its real estate, its buildings, to sell to private buyers who are going to borrow money at interest from the bank to buy these public assets, and to treat them like a toll road.
 

 
So in the broadest sense of the term, saving the banks means to achieve by financial terms what it took an army militarily to counter a thousand years ago. Saving the banks thus is destroying society. Is that worth the payment?
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Very good and very understandable, but a question again. We can’t be too economic but … You say, you don’t save the banks. But what is, let’s say, my life insurance. What they say to me is that my bank has Staatsanleihen from …, at a normal average term too, so I would lose as an average person … I mean, by saving the banks, don’t they save me as well?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: No, that’s the trick that they are playing. For instance, in the United States the largest bank is Citibank. That was insolvent as a result of being one of the most abusive fraudulent banks with junk mortgages and similar gambles. The head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Sheila Bair, said that she argued with the Obama administration saying that she could close down Citibank and save all of the insured depositors. She could have saved all of the basic banking functions.
 

 
The only people who would not have been saved would have been the gamblers at the top, on whom Citibank had written derivative gambles. It is as if in a horse race somebody goes to the casino and gambles, and then can’t pay their debt. The casinos say: We can’t operate at all, if the losers can’t pay what they owe. So, you – the government – have to levy a tax, to enable the losers to pay the winners.
 

 
It’s true that not everybody’s savings would have been saved under this plan. But normal operations would have been. And it’s the same with AIG, the Insurance conglomerate that was bailed out with $184 billion dollars. All this loss went through the London office making financial gambles, losing bets as to which way interest rates and junk mortgages would move. The government could simply have closed down AIG, taking it over and said: We are saving all of your normal insurance policies, we are saving all of your normal business, but the gamblers we are just not paying.
 

 
But in that case, Goldman Sachs would not have been paid $18 billion dollars. And Goldman Sachs had its representative Hank Paulson as Secretary of the Treasury. The Treasury was paying its private colleagues on Wall Street, instead of saving the normal depositors. The intention of this bank bailout is to wipe out the normal depositors and only save the rich of the top. Pretending to save the poor, the working class,and the middle class, they want to save everything for the top 1%. That is what they did with Citibank, and that is what they did with AIG. Citibank makes money by lending to people like Sam Zell, who would buy a company, look at the pension funds or Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), and empty them out to pay his creditors. So, what the government is saving are the parasitic functions of the banks.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: To make it clear, and ask Frau Wagenknecht too: It could be possible not to save the banks, und würde trotzdem nicht diese Lebensversicherungen und Alters … das kann man trennen?
 

 
…
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Nein, that is very important for you to understand that people like me, I take me as a durchschnittliche …, believe in a kind of empirical or scientific rationality and all this stuff. And if I am told by Hans Werner Sinn or other people, der frühere Regierungssprecher, Ulrich Wilhelm, you have to save the banks because then you save your life assurance, for example, then I believe it, and everybody believes it, because you say: Well, they are mathematicians or whatsoever.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: What if I say: You have to make me rich in order to give me an incentive not to wreck society. What the banks are really saying is that: We will wreck the payment system, and we will stop paying, and we will cause a crisis if you don’t give us what we want. We are holding you hostage.
 

 
But all you really have to do is take them over and replace them with other people. You save the basic banking and insurance functions. There are plenty of good assets in there. Even junk mortgages are worth something. They are worth enough to save all of the normal activities for 90 % of the population. The losers in this case would only be the 10 % at the top … And all these gains for the last 20 years have been to the top 10 %. They would lose their gains – but there is enough to pay everybody else.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Normal understanding is, politicians need majorities, and not the 10 % of the top.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: You talk about empirical studies. If the statistics were publicized to show what I am talking about, everybody would see in chart form that there is enough money there. The Federal Reserve has them. There are many statistics available, but the newspapers don’t publish them. They find it politically incorrect to do so.
 

 
What they call “class war” is simply society trying to protect itself from the 1 %.
 

 
Dr. Minkmar: One key argument in your system of thinking is the role of central banks. And now today we think that central banks are there to supervise things and see that everything runs smoothly. But what would you advice central banks to do?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Central banks began to be created in 1694 with the Bank of England, and down to the Federal Reserve in the United States in 1913 their function was to finance government budget deficits by printing money. All governments over time run deficits – at least, most of the time – because that is how they supply the economy with the purchasing power and the money it needs to grow. The role of a central bank is to create money to finance the deficit.
 

 
If it does not do this, then the commercial banks end up performing this function. However, the commercial banks creating credit on their own computer keyboards have a different role from that of the central bank. When the central bank finances government spending, this is supposed to promote growth, full employment and industrialization. But that is not the object of a commercial bank. Banks, in the first instance, make loans against property already in place – mainly real estate and also the buyout of entire corporations. So they provide credit that bids up the price of housing, making it more expensive for workers. They also loan to buyers of commercial buildings, making it more expensive to do business, Takeover loans enable corporate raiders to bid up the price of stocks and bonds, making them yield less, so it costs more to buy a retirement income. And now, commercial banks are moving from finance capitalism to casino capitalism to make big gambles. They are essentially financing gambling. That’s what derivatives and “hedge fund” trading are.
 

 
None of this funds industrial investment. From the United States to Germany, almost all industrial capital formation is now funded by the retained earnings of corporations, not by bank borrowing. Even the stock market does not fund new direct investments. It has become a vehicle for corporate raiders to go to the banks to borrow the money, to buy a corporation on credit with junk bonds, retire the stock, and use the corporate profits to repay the banks – and then try to steal for themselves the pension funds, or sell off the assets, or just work the labor force more intensively; longer hours, outsource labor and move to the un-unionized labor. So the banks are no longer part of the industrialization process; they are part of the de-industrialization process. This is applauded as the post-industrial economy.
 

 
…
 

 
Dr. Minkmar: You were talking about Europe as being the new third world as a model for politics …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: In the 1970s and 80s, the International Monetary Fund imposed austerity on indebted countries. The conditions were that if the countries did not pay their foreign debts, they would be treated like Cuba or Iran, and made into pariahs in the international community. So, they were forced to sell off and privatize.
 

 
When I worked for Chase Manhattan Bank in 1964, my first job was to analyze the economies of Argentina, Brazil and Chile. My job was to calculate/estimate how much potential they could export and raise, one way or another.
 

 
In Latin America it could only be imposed at gunpoint, as you saw in Chile. So the first privatization, the first free-market model, was imposed at gunpoint in Chile under general Pinochet, under the direction of Henry Kissinger and the Nixon administration, and the University of Chicago Economics Department under Harberger and other operatives down there.
 

 
Once they did that, the next big test was the former Soviet Union. Unlike the West, the Soviet Union had no background in Marxism. They had no group that was familiar with Marx and Engels or classical economics. So in 1991 they immediately adopted the neo-liberal approach that said: We can promote millionaires by privatizing the property. Many friends of mine tried to go over and promote a more reasonable tax system. The post-Soviet economies after 1991 would have financed themselves by taxing natural resource wealth and real estate. But as soon as these good advisors would go over there, right-wing institutes like the Lincoln Institute or the World Bank would come and tell the mayors of a town: We’ll give you a million dollars in computers if you follow our system and give the assets to your insiders to create a new nomenklatura of vested property interests – specifically, rentier interests, who would issue stocks in their companies and sell them to U.S. and other foreign investors. The idea was to let the West buy out the key rent-yielding assets in the former Soviet Union, above all mineral rights and public utilities, as well as centrally located real estate.
 

 
The government would put a deposit in one of the banks of the nomenklatura. In the Loans-for-shares program in 1994, the banks right say: 100 million dollars to buy Yukos oil company. The government would redeposit the check in the bank, so that they got the company for nothing, that is, no cash of their own. And then, when the government did not repay the debt, the bank would get many billion dollars worth of an oil or mining company.
 

 
The Americans did this because they realized that if a kleptocrat could buy Russian resources for one cent on the dollar, they would be happy to sell it for two cents on the dollar. That made the Russian stock market the best performing market in the world from 1994 to 1997. Russia let itself be financialized.
 

 
Other parts in the Soviet Union did not have raw materials. So a more accurate dress rehearsal would be what happened in Latvia, where they imposed a neo-liberal paradise. As in Russia, the neo-liberals had a free hand as to how to design what they said would be an ideal economy. Their way of creating such an economy and its financial and fiscal system was to say: “Don’t set up your own banks. Let foreign banks create the credit on their own keyboards.” Labor in Latvia has to confront a 59% set of flat taxes on employment – taxes that together are 59%. The real estate tax is only 1%, based on the most recent appraisal of Latvian property, which was in 1917 just before the revolution. So, the result was the largest real estate bubble of all.
 

 
That is basically the neo-liberal plan for how to get rich in a post-industrial economy. A property is worth whatever a bank will lend, because without taxes the value of this economic rent became available to be paid to the banks as interest rather than as taxes. The value of the site’s location should have been the basis of public financing, as in America. It’s the basis for most localities to pay for their school systems. If you are not going to tax property, if you are not going to tax monopolies, if you are not going to tax finance, then you have to tax labor. That’s why you have a 59% tax on employment in Latvia.
 

 
The result was an economic collapse in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. The result is that one third of the Latvian labor force of working age between 20 and 35 emigrated or announced its intention to emigrate. They would go to countries like Ireland which also was being financialized. So the Baltics still, even last year, were celebrated by the Institute for International Economics, the Peterson Institute, which is a bank lobbyist in the United States, and by the applauder of Russian privatization, Anders Aslund, the Swedish neoliberal lobbyist. Latvia is applauded as a model for which Europe should emulate. So you can expect your wages to be cut by 30%, you can expect people will have to go into a lifetime of debt in order to buy housing. They will have to have to inherit money if they want to get an education.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: That is what you say about Europe?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: I said, if you follow the Latvian model. This is the ideal. The basic principle when I talk to bankers is: You don’t know how far wages can be pushed down until somebody pushes back. And so far, nobody has pushed back.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: But what is with the unions? Normally …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: The communist countries did not have unions because they were supposed to be one big union. So the working conditions in the Baltic States have the worst accident rates, the worst workplace conditions, and their workers report the most abusive treatment by their employers. The workplace conditions in the post-communist economies are much worse than those in the capitalist economies, where there has been a symbiosis between labor and capital, a symbiosis between the private sector and the government.
 
….
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Just, I mean, off the record, but one of the advisers of chancellor Merkel is sometimes amazing, and he keeps telling this. He says: No, don’t write that. He says: It’s illegal, it’s against the treaty. I mean, that’s his last argument. So, I would like to … from scientific point of view. Frau
 

 
Wagenknecht: You are insane … What do you say as a scientist to this question?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Let’s simply look at the empirical facts. Since 2008 you have had the largest monetary creation in the 20th century’s history. The central banks have fueled this money creation. In America alone they have added $13 trillion dollars to the federal debt by bank bailouts. Yet prices have remained quite stable. Wages actually have fallen for the last 30 years, despite the wave of asset-price inflation fueled by commercial bank credit.
 

 
Central bank economists talk about consumer price or commodity price inflation. But commercial banks fuel asset price inflation, by lending money against real estate, stocks and bonds already in existence. As they make credit terms easier, people need more access to bank credit in order to buy a house. They have to bid against other. So bank credit inflates real estate prices. The upshot is that now you have to take more years of your income to buy a home. In the United States, the average American worker now pays 40% of family income for housing, 15% of income more for other debt service on credit cards and student loans. Another 15% is for wage withholding, and about another 15 % in other taxes, including sales taxes. This means that only about a quarter of American workers’ income is available to be spent on goods and services. Bank lending has absorbed so much of the income of workers that money that is spent to pay the banks is not available to be spent on goods and services.
 

 
So the flip side of asset price inflation is debt deflation. More and more money has to be spent to carry the debt overhead. The problem is not central banks financing domestic government budget deficits. Every hyperinflation in history has come as a result of the collapse of the balance of payments. The Germans are most familiar with 1921, but they tend to forget that the Weimar inflation was a result of Germany trying to pay reparations abroad. They were ordered by the Allied powers to print Deutsche Marks not for domestic spending, not to run a domestic deficit, not to rebuild Germany, not to employ labor, but to throw reichsmarks onto the foreign exchange market to obtain the foreign currency to pay the Allies, so that the Allies could turn around and pay the arms debts for what they bought from the United States before entry into World War One. It was the collapse of the foreign exchange that caused the hyperinflation, not domestic spending. And Germany’s hyperinflation was not cured by the central bank creating less money. It was cured by setting up a triangular flow of international payments. American bondholders would lend money to German municipalities that would issue bonds. The municipalities would receive dollars, and turn them over to the Reichsbank. It then would issue German currency against this for local spending – using the dollars to pay the Allies. The Allies would pay America, and that would keep the circular flow going. But to do this, interest rates had to be held down in the United States, to make German and other European borrowing more profitable for international lenders.
 

 
The same thing happened in Chile, which is another textbook hyperinflation. Rogers wrote a book on the process of hyperinflation in France that also occurred in the 1920s. The classic study of German inflation is by Salomon Flink, The Reichsbank and Economic Germany. The book actually was printed in Germany at that time. The same thing happened in Russia in the 1990s. The Russia hyperinflation occurred as a result of the depreciation of the ruble. This was already determined in advance at the meeting in Huston, Texas, between the World Bank and the IMF and the other Russian authorities. All this was published at the time, even before break-up of the Soviet Union. So to talk about hyperinflation as if it is a domestic phenomenon is to ignore the fact that never in history has it been domestic. It always is a balance-of-payments phenomenon, associated either with war or a class war, as in Chile’s case.
 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Now, to leave that economical …, to go to the interpretation of what will come. So, when I get it right, what you say, and Frau Wagenknecht says it too, there will be a … Wir werden ärmer. Also der durchschnittliche Deutsche wird verarmen oder ärmer.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Impoverishment.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Right. And not a revolution, not a moment where the society says no? That’s my question. But at the same time, what we are observing is that it is not only a change of the social standards of human beings in Europe but of the whole idea of democracy as well. This is something that strikes me most, which I would never believed. I must say, ten years ago, I would have said: conspiracy. And many like me would have said that the banks are so powerful and so on. Now, we start thinking whether “conspiracy” is the right word for it. And the same with the democracy, democratic question. I learned at school that the “Soziale Marktwirtschaft”, as we termed it, definitely requires Pluralismus, Demokratie, Partizipation, all that. But, and that is my question, are we, as Colin Crouch writes, postulating a post-democratic system? Is one of the prizes we have to pay for it, that democracy becomes weaker and weaker, and isn’t that a very dangerous development?
 

 
….
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Und da hätte ich eine Frage, die auch ganz aktuell ist, an Michael Hudson, vielleicht more in a theoretical way. Our new president said apparently, it is ridiculous to protest against, how did he say it, the capitalistic system, or something like that. Es ist lächerlich …
 

 
Wagenknecht: Nein, albern hat er …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Albern, ja, another word, it’s like ridiculous. And there we are, the point of question is, after the end of the communism, there was the idea, there is the triumph of capitalism. And now the people who are very social saying, I am repeating what they said in Germany: Now we can have a chance really, we don’t need the money for Rüstung anymore, and for armies, and against the Soviet Union, and so on. And now, we are in the third phase, and that’s why the (spot) that is so interesting, is the question: There is no alternative. Nobody really likes it, many people suffer. But the idea is, they managed to get the system like die beste aller möglichen Welten, there is no alternative to that all. What do you say to that, and what do you say to this quote?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: It is very interesting that the destruction of communism, or what passed for communism in 1990, made possible the destruction of industrial capitalism. What you have today is not capitalism as it was known when I grew up. It is not the capitalism that was talked about by Adam Smith, Ricardo, John Stuart Mill or even Marx. It is something that is evolved into finance capitalism, that is going through a number of stages. Pension-fund capitalism is exploiting labor, not by hiring it to produce goods and services, but to dock savings and channel them into the hands of financial managers – to bid up stock market prices.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Is it not the case, that this system did exist in the 20s?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: No, it only existed since 1950s. That is when General Motors started its pension fund. Pension funds soon became the single largest purchasers of stock, pushing up stock prices. The major sellers of stock have been management insiders, and increasingly those exercising their stock options, selling them in effect to the pension funds. So, the function of labor was to provide pension fund savings to spur stock market gains for the managers that have been financializing industrial companies – and in the process, de-industrializing them.
 

 
So, I’d like to plug this into the earlier discussion you just had. When you use the word “post-democratic society”, that is a byproduct of the post-industrial economy, which essentially means a financialized economy. It also was post-modern, if you think of “modern” as what existed in the early 20th century in the Progressive Era. That was the Modern Era. We are now in a post-modern era. The pro-financial strategy is essentially an anti-government strategy. That is because every economy is planned by someone or other. Most economies throughout history have been planned by the government, or whoever controls it, whether it’s been the landed aristocracy or bankers. If the government does not do the planning, this function is forfeited to the banks. And that is where we are today. Just like the case in which, if taxes are cut and the government does not get the revenue, it is available to be pledged to the banks and capitalized on the debt.
 

 
So the planning process passes to the banks, and they claim that they are the brains of society. They say, there is no alternative. But they are not the brain; they are something alien to industrial capitalism. This is what the Saint-Simon and his followers discussed in the 19th century. It was discussed in every country. The financial strategy now is to prevent people from studying what this body of classical economics was. It sought to free society from interest. Today’s banks are playing upon anxiety and fear, like a high-pressure salesman threatening to bring on a collapse if industrial economies try to protect themselves. They say: “You have to make up your decision in a hurry, if you don’t do this, you are going to lose your money, you are going to lose this opportunity.” They try to make it appear that this not only is the only alternative, but that it will make you rich.
 

 
Banks have been saying this for 30 years. This is the first time in history that people have believed they could get rich by borrowing money to buy assets that are increasing in price, or that they may get rich by the hyperinflation of property prices, and by the stock and bond prices that bank credit has inflated. Banks have managed to prevent the government from regulating and preventing this hyperinflation – and they even have called it “wealth creation.”
 

 
It is really debt creation. Debt is a claim on the means of production, and on labor. It is not a process of real growth. So what banks are saying is that there is no alternative but to let debts grow, at compound interest. This means reducing wages, as more and more must be spent on debt service. This eats into corporate cash flow and profits. So more and more are siphoned off to pay creditors. Debt also eats into the government revenue, so that the government does not have enough to pay for social programs and pensions. It only has enough to bail out the banks on exponentially growing debt that can never been paid, mathematically. That is the empirical fact. All you have to do is draw a statistical chart of the growth of debt, and compare it to the growth in wages. And you’ll see …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: How do you explain from a business point of view … I take the example of Dresden. I was in Dresden two weeks ago, and there they explained to me, the people I met from the city and from Volksbank and all these … They explained to me that Dresden, which I didn’t know, sold parts of their Stadtwerke and so on, and bought it back now because they realized that it was a mistake. I hear this from many, many other cities. Now, in my understanding of society, someone apparently made mistake here, the people who sold this, or at least, put the pressure. And normally, you would have to pay a price for making a mistake, and society would say: How could this happen? But the contrary is true, first of all, nobody discusses this, I can’t see it in den Städten.
 

 
That’s the first. And the second is, the made a mistake but became rich, from what I see. They are not sanctioned at all. So, I always ask you for the gesellschaftlichen Folgen. Isn’t this something what really is the most frightening result of this new era that things we once learned when we were kids, are not true anymore? The question of, it’s not that you are sanctioned when you make mistakes but that you can benefit in this regard?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: This is a question that I have discussed in Russia and China with their leaders. Fortunately, there is an alternative that they are well aware of. There is a way to recover the property that has been turned over to the privatizers. The answer is very simple: a windfall gain tax or a rent tax. If the land is been privatized, as it has been in China and Russia, all you have to do is tax the land’s value – the natural value, not the building value, but just the economic rent. You will recapture for the state the free lunch of economic rent.
 

 
The same principle applies to mines and fuel resources. You will simply have a mineral depletion tax that will recapture the value of what nature has provided freely. So the alternative is for the government not to tax profits, not to tax wages, not to tax income, but to tax economic rent. Because what the national income account pretends to be empirical, pretends to be “earnings” of the banks and other rentiers, is actually a transfer function – and often, outright theft.
 

 
It’s remarkable that French novelists realize this, such as Balzac who said that behind every great family fortune is a great theft. Economists don’t rise to the level of 19th century French novelists when it comes to understanding the economy.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: So to get back to your outlook again, talking about Europe, we have another debate that is quite interesting, which I think might be important to see. The one debate is, Greece is a lazy country and …, a new nationalism. The other one which I hear from bankers, by the way, sometimes, is, they say it ganz leise: It’s all America. So, it’s a huge American conspiracy. And they say: Wir wissen auch, dass das System nicht funktioniert, aber das ist ein amerikanischer Druck auf das, was jetzt mit Europa passiert usw. My question is, again, I think of Peter Hacks and Rahmentheorie. Ist das ein – das ist etwas, was ich für das Allerwichtigste halte – ein Prozess, der nicht mit einem big bang …
 
…
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Das wäre Occupy. Will "Occupy" be a revolutionary agent?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: We’re not trying to be a revolutionary agent. We are in a pre-revolutionary situation, so the aim is to raise consciousness – at this point, simply to explain how the world works. And many people want to … They sense that the economy does not work the way that textbooks say. But they can’t reinvent the rules by themselves. So most of the reason “Occupy Wall Street” is on Wall Street is because that is where the problem is. And most of the financial advisers, like myself, are lifetime workers on Wall Street, specialists in financial maneuvering and behavior. So our job is to explain to people, to popularize what used to be classical economics. Right wing interests have inverted the classical idea of free markets and captured its vocabulary, hijacking the repertory of classical, socialist and social democratic rhetoric.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Exactly that is what they did.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: I want to comment on your earlier point. It is true that the parasitic financial dynamic stems from America. But that is official policy; it is not a secret. It is not a conspiracy, it is very open. I am told that when Mr. Geithner came here to meet with the German bankers about the Greek debt, the Germans and Mrs. Merkel were in favor of a default, saying: Look, they can’t pay. But Mr. Geithner said that the German and the French banks and other banks have taken out credit default insurance with the American banks. These American banks would go under if Greece defaulted. Mrs. Merkel agreed to sacrifice the German banks and to impose losses on the German banks in order to help America. She seems to have put American interests before her own national interest, and cost the German people hundreds of billions of dollars by doing this. It is as if the leaders of Europe are hypnotized by a kind of Dr. Caligari who ends up to be running the asylum.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: (…) I think, it gives sehr große Einsichten, das ist faszinierend. The idea behind is, a little bit to … first of all to show that the position Frau Wagenknecht postulates, is not a position of two people in the world, but that there is a debate about it. And the other one is to provoke the others, the economists in Germany.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: You can’t provoke them.
 

 
Wagenknecht: Provoke you can, but …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: You can only replace them with a new generation.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: What I found out, what they really need to understand them is psychology. Of course, they need media power, and the consensus. The idea that you are insane if you are questioning certain aspects.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: That is what Dr. Caligari said.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Yes, that’s right. Or Dürrenmatt, “Die Physiker”, that’s exactly the same. Economists are like “Die Physiker”.
 

 
Dr. Minkmar: Once you can put a label on them, like “umstritten,” and you’ve already won.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Why do Hollywood movies understand this better than economists and politicians?
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: And why does Robert Harris? Did you read the book?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Yeah, wonderful.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: "Fear," Robert Harris
 

          Fireside on the Great Theft        
A recent interview in Frankfurt’s FAZ newspaper:
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: And then, just to find a starting point, maybe we can start with the personal, and then at least I would ask you both. Maybe that is a good starting point, very basic: What is the future of Europe? So, what do you conceive what will happen, and what is going to happen? Sie können sich auch gegenseitig … Now, Michael Hudson, you are in Germany and you are known to our readers, and Sahra Wagenknecht, of course, as well. Just very briefly your background. In your DNA, in your genetic code, you have traces of Indian roots.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Well, I am one-eighth (Chippewa) Indian, so I’m half Irish, a quarter Swiss, one eighth English. I grew up in Minneapolis, which was the center of America’s labor movement in the 1930s. The general strike in 1936 shaped the American labor scene.
 

 
Minnesota had a governor, Floyd B. Olson, who said that he hoped capitalism run right to hell. The Trotskyists were the main opponents of the Stalinists at that time. The irony is that you had the right wing ganging up with the Stalinists, all against the Trotskyist leadership because the Stalinists feared that a non-communist socialist leadership would build up the labor unions, as Minnesota was building up the Teamsters. So in 1941 my father became one of the Minneapolis 17, the first people committed under the Smith Act. This was ostensibly against advocating the overthrow of the government by force and violence, defined so loosely that in the presentation before the jury, it meant simply having the works of Marx and Lenin on your bookshelf.
 

 
I later was asked, when I went to work for Herman Kahn at the Hudson Institute, whether there was any reason why I could not get a top secret security clearance. I mentioned that my father was a Trotskyist leader, and he said: Oh, they know about that, that Stalin and Roosevelt made a deal around 1941 that if Roosevelt would prosecute the Trotskyists, the Communist Party promised not to pull out any of its Labor unions on strike during the balance of the war. The U.S. Attorney General later wrote in his autobiography that it was the only thing that was ashamed of doing, because by no stretch of the imagination could the Trotskyists have been any threat to the country.
 

 
In fact, it was the Trotskyists that called in the National Guard to protect the workers and the strikers against the police force that was working on behalf of the large companies. The lawyer for the Trotskyists in the trial was Al Goldman, who had been a colleague of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht. As I was growing up, most of the radicals who were still living throughout the world and from the United States would come to my house, and tell me their stories and their experiences.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: What could they say about Luxemburg and Liebknecht?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Al Goldman was still trying to find out who was responsible for killing them. But we decided that it really does not matter who the individuals are. They are usually killed by their bodyguards. The key is people behind them that order the killing.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: But you don’t have a memory of an anecdote or whatsoever, an anecdote about Luxemburg or Liebknecht, what they …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: No. Mainly, they talked about revolutionary theory. I wanted to grow up and go to jail like all of the people that my family admired, and their colleagues admired. So now I’m ashamed that I’ve never been able to go to the University of the Revolution.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: But you worked with Kahn, and I remember that Kahn was the person who proclaimed golden ages ahead of us. And he was the futurist who always said we will be so happy and so lucky. Am I right?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Yes, he was basically a military theorist who wrote a very good book on atomic warfare, saying that some people would survive. He was the model for “Dr. Strangelove”. And he felt so bad from being attacked for his military theory – and he was indeed a brilliant military theorist – that he decided to form the Corporate Environment study. But he was wrong in almost everything economic he said, so he brought me on to disagree with him on everything, as a foil. We liked each other. He was a very nice guy. In fact, we liked each other so much that we could not believe that the other person actually believed what they were saying publicly.
 

 
Herman Kahn weighed 400 pounds. I remember once in Paris, we were leaving the hotel to go to the airport, and I tried to hand him his pants. As far as my hands would stretch, they still weren’t long enough for the waist. He also had narcolepsy. When he was not speaking at a public lecture, he would fall asleep – usually in his food. He would rise from the table with the food flowing down his necktie, talking about the world economy an expanding pie, and in another generation, the whole world could live just like him. And everybody would go on diet, over a long time.
 

 
One of the big problems we had was when he wanted me to project the gross national product and hence living standards at 6 % or 4 % per year, which economists were doing at that time. He thought that all the technology and power somehow would make all countries rich. I refused to make that calculation, even though when I joined the Institute I insisted that the one perk that I wanted was an HP 75 calculator that could calculate exponential growth. I told Herman that the only growth that is exponential is financial – the magic of compound interest. And the more compound interest grows, the more it slows the economy, like driving a car with the brake on.
 

 
So that is where we differed. It turned out that most of his clients ended up hiring me instead of him, and I ended up getting a collection of Tibetan art as a result, and buying enough real estate, so, I’ve never had to work ever since and could spend all of my time writing.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: You talked about rescuing the banks, and that is really a phrase for trying to rescue a whole financial growth function to somehow save debts that can’t be paid. The question is: Who is going to take the loss? It really is trying to keep the debt overhead in place, by making the public sector absorb all the losses of the banks that have made the bad loan. And beyond this, it is really an ideology – an ideology that somehow the debts can all be paid. And beyond that, there is something else. Saving the banks is a slogan …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Sahra Wagenknecht, did I get you right that you say they can be paid?
 

 
Wagenknecht: They can’t. Also vorläufig können sie immer wieder, aber irgendwann …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Wegen der oberen 1 %.
 

 
Wagenknecht: … The upper class has to take the losses.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: The bailout is not saving the banks. The banks could function very well the next day after a debt cancellation. You are saving the bank stockholders and the bondholders and the rich counterparties to the banks. You are saving the gamblers who have accounts with the banks, not saving the banks.
 

 
But there is something even worse. The slogan “saving the banks” means a program for the governments to be financially responsible, which means financially self-destructive. The bailout is forcing Greece to sell its public domain, its water and sewer systems, its land, its real estate, its buildings, to sell to private buyers who are going to borrow money at interest from the bank to buy these public assets, and to treat them like a toll road.
 

 
So in the broadest sense of the term, saving the banks means to achieve by financial terms what it took an army militarily to counter a thousand years ago. Saving the banks thus is destroying society. Is that worth the payment?
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Very good and very understandable, but a question again. We can’t be too economic but … You say, you don’t save the banks. But what is, let’s say, my life insurance. What they say to me is that my bank has Staatsanleihen from …, at a normal average term too, so I would lose as an average person … I mean, by saving the banks, don’t they save me as well?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: No, that’s the trick that they are playing. For instance, in the United States the largest bank is Citibank. That was insolvent as a result of being one of the most abusive fraudulent banks with junk mortgages and similar gambles. The head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Sheila Bair, said that she argued with the Obama administration saying that she could close down Citibank and save all of the insured depositors. She could have saved all of the basic banking functions.
 

 
The only people who would not have been saved would have been the gamblers at the top, on whom Citibank had written derivative gambles. It is as if in a horse race somebody goes to the casino and gambles, and then can’t pay their debt. The casinos say: We can’t operate at all, if the losers can’t pay what they owe. So, you – the government – have to levy a tax, to enable the losers to pay the winners.
 

 
It’s true that not everybody’s savings would have been saved under this plan. But normal operations would have been. And it’s the same with AIG, the Insurance conglomerate that was bailed out with $184 billion dollars. All this loss went through the London office making financial gambles, losing bets as to which way interest rates and junk mortgages would move. The government could simply have closed down AIG, taking it over and said: We are saving all of your normal insurance policies, we are saving all of your normal business, but the gamblers we are just not paying.
 

 
But in that case, Goldman Sachs would not have been paid $18 billion dollars. And Goldman Sachs had its representative Hank Paulson as Secretary of the Treasury. The Treasury was paying its private colleagues on Wall Street, instead of saving the normal depositors. The intention of this bank bailout is to wipe out the normal depositors and only save the rich of the top. Pretending to save the poor, the working class,and the middle class, they want to save everything for the top 1%. That is what they did with Citibank, and that is what they did with AIG. Citibank makes money by lending to people like Sam Zell, who would buy a company, look at the pension funds or Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), and empty them out to pay his creditors. So, what the government is saving are the parasitic functions of the banks.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: To make it clear, and ask Frau Wagenknecht too: It could be possible not to save the banks, und würde trotzdem nicht diese Lebensversicherungen und Alters … das kann man trennen?
 

 
…
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Nein, that is very important for you to understand that people like me, I take me as a durchschnittliche …, believe in a kind of empirical or scientific rationality and all this stuff. And if I am told by Hans Werner Sinn or other people, der frühere Regierungssprecher, Ulrich Wilhelm, you have to save the banks because then you save your life assurance, for example, then I believe it, and everybody believes it, because you say: Well, they are mathematicians or whatsoever.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: What if I say: You have to make me rich in order to give me an incentive not to wreck society. What the banks are really saying is that: We will wreck the payment system, and we will stop paying, and we will cause a crisis if you don’t give us what we want. We are holding you hostage.
 

 
But all you really have to do is take them over and replace them with other people. You save the basic banking and insurance functions. There are plenty of good assets in there. Even junk mortgages are worth something. They are worth enough to save all of the normal activities for 90 % of the population. The losers in this case would only be the 10 % at the top … And all these gains for the last 20 years have been to the top 10 %. They would lose their gains – but there is enough to pay everybody else.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Normal understanding is, politicians need majorities, and not the 10 % of the top.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: You talk about empirical studies. If the statistics were publicized to show what I am talking about, everybody would see in chart form that there is enough money there. The Federal Reserve has them. There are many statistics available, but the newspapers don’t publish them. They find it politically incorrect to do so.
 

 
What they call “class war” is simply society trying to protect itself from the 1 %.
 

 
Dr. Minkmar: One key argument in your system of thinking is the role of central banks. And now today we think that central banks are there to supervise things and see that everything runs smoothly. But what would you advice central banks to do?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Central banks began to be created in 1694 with the Bank of England, and down to the Federal Reserve in the United States in 1913 their function was to finance government budget deficits by printing money. All governments over time run deficits – at least, most of the time – because that is how they supply the economy with the purchasing power and the money it needs to grow. The role of a central bank is to create money to finance the deficit.
 

 
If it does not do this, then the commercial banks end up performing this function. However, the commercial banks creating credit on their own computer keyboards have a different role from that of the central bank. When the central bank finances government spending, this is supposed to promote growth, full employment and industrialization. But that is not the object of a commercial bank. Banks, in the first instance, make loans against property already in place – mainly real estate and also the buyout of entire corporations. So they provide credit that bids up the price of housing, making it more expensive for workers. They also loan to buyers of commercial buildings, making it more expensive to do business, Takeover loans enable corporate raiders to bid up the price of stocks and bonds, making them yield less, so it costs more to buy a retirement income. And now, commercial banks are moving from finance capitalism to casino capitalism to make big gambles. They are essentially financing gambling. That’s what derivatives and “hedge fund” trading are.
 

 
None of this funds industrial investment. From the United States to Germany, almost all industrial capital formation is now funded by the retained earnings of corporations, not by bank borrowing. Even the stock market does not fund new direct investments. It has become a vehicle for corporate raiders to go to the banks to borrow the money, to buy a corporation on credit with junk bonds, retire the stock, and use the corporate profits to repay the banks – and then try to steal for themselves the pension funds, or sell off the assets, or just work the labor force more intensively; longer hours, outsource labor and move to the un-unionized labor. So the banks are no longer part of the industrialization process; they are part of the de-industrialization process. This is applauded as the post-industrial economy.
 

 
…
 

 
Dr. Minkmar: You were talking about Europe as being the new third world as a model for politics …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: In the 1970s and 80s, the International Monetary Fund imposed austerity on indebted countries. The conditions were that if the countries did not pay their foreign debts, they would be treated like Cuba or Iran, and made into pariahs in the international community. So, they were forced to sell off and privatize.
 

 
When I worked for Chase Manhattan Bank in 1964, my first job was to analyze the economies of Argentina, Brazil and Chile. My job was to calculate/estimate how much potential they could export and raise, one way or another.
 

 
In Latin America it could only be imposed at gunpoint, as you saw in Chile. So the first privatization, the first free-market model, was imposed at gunpoint in Chile under general Pinochet, under the direction of Henry Kissinger and the Nixon administration, and the University of Chicago Economics Department under Harberger and other operatives down there.
 

 
Once they did that, the next big test was the former Soviet Union. Unlike the West, the Soviet Union had no background in Marxism. They had no group that was familiar with Marx and Engels or classical economics. So in 1991 they immediately adopted the neo-liberal approach that said: We can promote millionaires by privatizing the property. Many friends of mine tried to go over and promote a more reasonable tax system. The post-Soviet economies after 1991 would have financed themselves by taxing natural resource wealth and real estate. But as soon as these good advisors would go over there, right-wing institutes like the Lincoln Institute or the World Bank would come and tell the mayors of a town: We’ll give you a million dollars in computers if you follow our system and give the assets to your insiders to create a new nomenklatura of vested property interests – specifically, rentier interests, who would issue stocks in their companies and sell them to U.S. and other foreign investors. The idea was to let the West buy out the key rent-yielding assets in the former Soviet Union, above all mineral rights and public utilities, as well as centrally located real estate.
 

 
The government would put a deposit in one of the banks of the nomenklatura. In the Loans-for-shares program in 1994, the banks right say: 100 million dollars to buy Yukos oil company. The government would redeposit the check in the bank, so that they got the company for nothing, that is, no cash of their own. And then, when the government did not repay the debt, the bank would get many billion dollars worth of an oil or mining company.
 

 
The Americans did this because they realized that if a kleptocrat could buy Russian resources for one cent on the dollar, they would be happy to sell it for two cents on the dollar. That made the Russian stock market the best performing market in the world from 1994 to 1997. Russia let itself be financialized.
 

 
Other parts in the Soviet Union did not have raw materials. So a more accurate dress rehearsal would be what happened in Latvia, where they imposed a neo-liberal paradise. As in Russia, the neo-liberals had a free hand as to how to design what they said would be an ideal economy. Their way of creating such an economy and its financial and fiscal system was to say: “Don’t set up your own banks. Let foreign banks create the credit on their own keyboards.” Labor in Latvia has to confront a 59% set of flat taxes on employment – taxes that together are 59%. The real estate tax is only 1%, based on the most recent appraisal of Latvian property, which was in 1917 just before the revolution. So, the result was the largest real estate bubble of all.
 

 
That is basically the neo-liberal plan for how to get rich in a post-industrial economy. A property is worth whatever a bank will lend, because without taxes the value of this economic rent became available to be paid to the banks as interest rather than as taxes. The value of the site’s location should have been the basis of public financing, as in America. It’s the basis for most localities to pay for their school systems. If you are not going to tax property, if you are not going to tax monopolies, if you are not going to tax finance, then you have to tax labor. That’s why you have a 59% tax on employment in Latvia.
 

 
The result was an economic collapse in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. The result is that one third of the Latvian labor force of working age between 20 and 35 emigrated or announced its intention to emigrate. They would go to countries like Ireland which also was being financialized. So the Baltics still, even last year, were celebrated by the Institute for International Economics, the Peterson Institute, which is a bank lobbyist in the United States, and by the applauder of Russian privatization, Anders Aslund, the Swedish neoliberal lobbyist. Latvia is applauded as a model for which Europe should emulate. So you can expect your wages to be cut by 30%, you can expect people will have to go into a lifetime of debt in order to buy housing. They will have to have to inherit money if they want to get an education.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: That is what you say about Europe?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: I said, if you follow the Latvian model. This is the ideal. The basic principle when I talk to bankers is: You don’t know how far wages can be pushed down until somebody pushes back. And so far, nobody has pushed back.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: But what is with the unions? Normally …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: The communist countries did not have unions because they were supposed to be one big union. So the working conditions in the Baltic States have the worst accident rates, the worst workplace conditions, and their workers report the most abusive treatment by their employers. The workplace conditions in the post-communist economies are much worse than those in the capitalist economies, where there has been a symbiosis between labor and capital, a symbiosis between the private sector and the government.
 
….
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Just, I mean, off the record, but one of the advisers of chancellor Merkel is sometimes amazing, and he keeps telling this. He says: No, don’t write that. He says: It’s illegal, it’s against the treaty. I mean, that’s his last argument. So, I would like to … from scientific point of view. Frau
 

 
Wagenknecht: You are insane … What do you say as a scientist to this question?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Let’s simply look at the empirical facts. Since 2008 you have had the largest monetary creation in the 20th century’s history. The central banks have fueled this money creation. In America alone they have added $13 trillion dollars to the federal debt by bank bailouts. Yet prices have remained quite stable. Wages actually have fallen for the last 30 years, despite the wave of asset-price inflation fueled by commercial bank credit.
 

 
Central bank economists talk about consumer price or commodity price inflation. But commercial banks fuel asset price inflation, by lending money against real estate, stocks and bonds already in existence. As they make credit terms easier, people need more access to bank credit in order to buy a house. They have to bid against other. So bank credit inflates real estate prices. The upshot is that now you have to take more years of your income to buy a home. In the United States, the average American worker now pays 40% of family income for housing, 15% of income more for other debt service on credit cards and student loans. Another 15% is for wage withholding, and about another 15 % in other taxes, including sales taxes. This means that only about a quarter of American workers’ income is available to be spent on goods and services. Bank lending has absorbed so much of the income of workers that money that is spent to pay the banks is not available to be spent on goods and services.
 

 
So the flip side of asset price inflation is debt deflation. More and more money has to be spent to carry the debt overhead. The problem is not central banks financing domestic government budget deficits. Every hyperinflation in history has come as a result of the collapse of the balance of payments. The Germans are most familiar with 1921, but they tend to forget that the Weimar inflation was a result of Germany trying to pay reparations abroad. They were ordered by the Allied powers to print Deutsche Marks not for domestic spending, not to run a domestic deficit, not to rebuild Germany, not to employ labor, but to throw reichsmarks onto the foreign exchange market to obtain the foreign currency to pay the Allies, so that the Allies could turn around and pay the arms debts for what they bought from the United States before entry into World War One. It was the collapse of the foreign exchange that caused the hyperinflation, not domestic spending. And Germany’s hyperinflation was not cured by the central bank creating less money. It was cured by setting up a triangular flow of international payments. American bondholders would lend money to German municipalities that would issue bonds. The municipalities would receive dollars, and turn them over to the Reichsbank. It then would issue German currency against this for local spending – using the dollars to pay the Allies. The Allies would pay America, and that would keep the circular flow going. But to do this, interest rates had to be held down in the United States, to make German and other European borrowing more profitable for international lenders.
 

 
The same thing happened in Chile, which is another textbook hyperinflation. Rogers wrote a book on the process of hyperinflation in France that also occurred in the 1920s. The classic study of German inflation is by Salomon Flink, The Reichsbank and Economic Germany. The book actually was printed in Germany at that time. The same thing happened in Russia in the 1990s. The Russia hyperinflation occurred as a result of the depreciation of the ruble. This was already determined in advance at the meeting in Huston, Texas, between the World Bank and the IMF and the other Russian authorities. All this was published at the time, even before break-up of the Soviet Union. So to talk about hyperinflation as if it is a domestic phenomenon is to ignore the fact that never in history has it been domestic. It always is a balance-of-payments phenomenon, associated either with war or a class war, as in Chile’s case.
 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Now, to leave that economical …, to go to the interpretation of what will come. So, when I get it right, what you say, and Frau Wagenknecht says it too, there will be a … Wir werden ärmer. Also der durchschnittliche Deutsche wird verarmen oder ärmer.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Impoverishment.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Right. And not a revolution, not a moment where the society says no? That’s my question. But at the same time, what we are observing is that it is not only a change of the social standards of human beings in Europe but of the whole idea of democracy as well. This is something that strikes me most, which I would never believed. I must say, ten years ago, I would have said: conspiracy. And many like me would have said that the banks are so powerful and so on. Now, we start thinking whether “conspiracy” is the right word for it. And the same with the democracy, democratic question. I learned at school that the “Soziale Marktwirtschaft”, as we termed it, definitely requires Pluralismus, Demokratie, Partizipation, all that. But, and that is my question, are we, as Colin Crouch writes, postulating a post-democratic system? Is one of the prizes we have to pay for it, that democracy becomes weaker and weaker, and isn’t that a very dangerous development?
 

 
….
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Und da hätte ich eine Frage, die auch ganz aktuell ist, an Michael Hudson, vielleicht more in a theoretical way. Our new president said apparently, it is ridiculous to protest against, how did he say it, the capitalistic system, or something like that. Es ist lächerlich …
 

 
Wagenknecht: Nein, albern hat er …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Albern, ja, another word, it’s like ridiculous. And there we are, the point of question is, after the end of the communism, there was the idea, there is the triumph of capitalism. And now the people who are very social saying, I am repeating what they said in Germany: Now we can have a chance really, we don’t need the money for Rüstung anymore, and for armies, and against the Soviet Union, and so on. And now, we are in the third phase, and that’s why the (spot) that is so interesting, is the question: There is no alternative. Nobody really likes it, many people suffer. But the idea is, they managed to get the system like die beste aller möglichen Welten, there is no alternative to that all. What do you say to that, and what do you say to this quote?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: It is very interesting that the destruction of communism, or what passed for communism in 1990, made possible the destruction of industrial capitalism. What you have today is not capitalism as it was known when I grew up. It is not the capitalism that was talked about by Adam Smith, Ricardo, John Stuart Mill or even Marx. It is something that is evolved into finance capitalism, that is going through a number of stages. Pension-fund capitalism is exploiting labor, not by hiring it to produce goods and services, but to dock savings and channel them into the hands of financial managers – to bid up stock market prices.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Is it not the case, that this system did exist in the 20s?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: No, it only existed since 1950s. That is when General Motors started its pension fund. Pension funds soon became the single largest purchasers of stock, pushing up stock prices. The major sellers of stock have been management insiders, and increasingly those exercising their stock options, selling them in effect to the pension funds. So, the function of labor was to provide pension fund savings to spur stock market gains for the managers that have been financializing industrial companies – and in the process, de-industrializing them.
 

 
So, I’d like to plug this into the earlier discussion you just had. When you use the word “post-democratic society”, that is a byproduct of the post-industrial economy, which essentially means a financialized economy. It also was post-modern, if you think of “modern” as what existed in the early 20th century in the Progressive Era. That was the Modern Era. We are now in a post-modern era. The pro-financial strategy is essentially an anti-government strategy. That is because every economy is planned by someone or other. Most economies throughout history have been planned by the government, or whoever controls it, whether it’s been the landed aristocracy or bankers. If the government does not do the planning, this function is forfeited to the banks. And that is where we are today. Just like the case in which, if taxes are cut and the government does not get the revenue, it is available to be pledged to the banks and capitalized on the debt.
 

 
So the planning process passes to the banks, and they claim that they are the brains of society. They say, there is no alternative. But they are not the brain; they are something alien to industrial capitalism. This is what the Saint-Simon and his followers discussed in the 19th century. It was discussed in every country. The financial strategy now is to prevent people from studying what this body of classical economics was. It sought to free society from interest. Today’s banks are playing upon anxiety and fear, like a high-pressure salesman threatening to bring on a collapse if industrial economies try to protect themselves. They say: “You have to make up your decision in a hurry, if you don’t do this, you are going to lose your money, you are going to lose this opportunity.” They try to make it appear that this not only is the only alternative, but that it will make you rich.
 

 
Banks have been saying this for 30 years. This is the first time in history that people have believed they could get rich by borrowing money to buy assets that are increasing in price, or that they may get rich by the hyperinflation of property prices, and by the stock and bond prices that bank credit has inflated. Banks have managed to prevent the government from regulating and preventing this hyperinflation – and they even have called it “wealth creation.”
 

 
It is really debt creation. Debt is a claim on the means of production, and on labor. It is not a process of real growth. So what banks are saying is that there is no alternative but to let debts grow, at compound interest. This means reducing wages, as more and more must be spent on debt service. This eats into corporate cash flow and profits. So more and more are siphoned off to pay creditors. Debt also eats into the government revenue, so that the government does not have enough to pay for social programs and pensions. It only has enough to bail out the banks on exponentially growing debt that can never been paid, mathematically. That is the empirical fact. All you have to do is draw a statistical chart of the growth of debt, and compare it to the growth in wages. And you’ll see …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: How do you explain from a business point of view … I take the example of Dresden. I was in Dresden two weeks ago, and there they explained to me, the people I met from the city and from Volksbank and all these … They explained to me that Dresden, which I didn’t know, sold parts of their Stadtwerke and so on, and bought it back now because they realized that it was a mistake. I hear this from many, many other cities. Now, in my understanding of society, someone apparently made mistake here, the people who sold this, or at least, put the pressure. And normally, you would have to pay a price for making a mistake, and society would say: How could this happen? But the contrary is true, first of all, nobody discusses this, I can’t see it in den Städten.
 

 
That’s the first. And the second is, the made a mistake but became rich, from what I see. They are not sanctioned at all. So, I always ask you for the gesellschaftlichen Folgen. Isn’t this something what really is the most frightening result of this new era that things we once learned when we were kids, are not true anymore? The question of, it’s not that you are sanctioned when you make mistakes but that you can benefit in this regard?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: This is a question that I have discussed in Russia and China with their leaders. Fortunately, there is an alternative that they are well aware of. There is a way to recover the property that has been turned over to the privatizers. The answer is very simple: a windfall gain tax or a rent tax. If the land is been privatized, as it has been in China and Russia, all you have to do is tax the land’s value – the natural value, not the building value, but just the economic rent. You will recapture for the state the free lunch of economic rent.
 

 
The same principle applies to mines and fuel resources. You will simply have a mineral depletion tax that will recapture the value of what nature has provided freely. So the alternative is for the government not to tax profits, not to tax wages, not to tax income, but to tax economic rent. Because what the national income account pretends to be empirical, pretends to be “earnings” of the banks and other rentiers, is actually a transfer function – and often, outright theft.
 

 
It’s remarkable that French novelists realize this, such as Balzac who said that behind every great family fortune is a great theft. Economists don’t rise to the level of 19th century French novelists when it comes to understanding the economy.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: So to get back to your outlook again, talking about Europe, we have another debate that is quite interesting, which I think might be important to see. The one debate is, Greece is a lazy country and …, a new nationalism. The other one which I hear from bankers, by the way, sometimes, is, they say it ganz leise: It’s all America. So, it’s a huge American conspiracy. And they say: Wir wissen auch, dass das System nicht funktioniert, aber das ist ein amerikanischer Druck auf das, was jetzt mit Europa passiert usw. My question is, again, I think of Peter Hacks and Rahmentheorie. Ist das ein – das ist etwas, was ich für das Allerwichtigste halte – ein Prozess, der nicht mit einem big bang …
 
…
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Das wäre Occupy. Will "Occupy" be a revolutionary agent?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: We’re not trying to be a revolutionary agent. We are in a pre-revolutionary situation, so the aim is to raise consciousness – at this point, simply to explain how the world works. And many people want to … They sense that the economy does not work the way that textbooks say. But they can’t reinvent the rules by themselves. So most of the reason “Occupy Wall Street” is on Wall Street is because that is where the problem is. And most of the financial advisers, like myself, are lifetime workers on Wall Street, specialists in financial maneuvering and behavior. So our job is to explain to people, to popularize what used to be classical economics. Right wing interests have inverted the classical idea of free markets and captured its vocabulary, hijacking the repertory of classical, socialist and social democratic rhetoric.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Exactly that is what they did.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: I want to comment on your earlier point. It is true that the parasitic financial dynamic stems from America. But that is official policy; it is not a secret. It is not a conspiracy, it is very open. I am told that when Mr. Geithner came here to meet with the German bankers about the Greek debt, the Germans and Mrs. Merkel were in favor of a default, saying: Look, they can’t pay. But Mr. Geithner said that the German and the French banks and other banks have taken out credit default insurance with the American banks. These American banks would go under if Greece defaulted. Mrs. Merkel agreed to sacrifice the German banks and to impose losses on the German banks in order to help America. She seems to have put American interests before her own national interest, and cost the German people hundreds of billions of dollars by doing this. It is as if the leaders of Europe are hypnotized by a kind of Dr. Caligari who ends up to be running the asylum.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: (…) I think, it gives sehr große Einsichten, das ist faszinierend. The idea behind is, a little bit to … first of all to show that the position Frau Wagenknecht postulates, is not a position of two people in the world, but that there is a debate about it. And the other one is to provoke the others, the economists in Germany.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: You can’t provoke them.
 

 
Wagenknecht: Provoke you can, but …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: You can only replace them with a new generation.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: What I found out, what they really need to understand them is psychology. Of course, they need media power, and the consensus. The idea that you are insane if you are questioning certain aspects.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: That is what Dr. Caligari said.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Yes, that’s right. Or Dürrenmatt, “Die Physiker”, that’s exactly the same. Economists are like “Die Physiker”.
 

 
Dr. Minkmar: Once you can put a label on them, like “umstritten,” and you’ve already won.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Why do Hollywood movies understand this better than economists and politicians?
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: And why does Robert Harris? Did you read the book?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Yeah, wonderful.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: "Fear," Robert Harris
 

          Fireside on the Great Theft        
A recent interview in Frankfurt’s FAZ newspaper:
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: And then, just to find a starting point, maybe we can start with the personal, and then at least I would ask you both. Maybe that is a good starting point, very basic: What is the future of Europe? So, what do you conceive what will happen, and what is going to happen? Sie können sich auch gegenseitig … Now, Michael Hudson, you are in Germany and you are known to our readers, and Sahra Wagenknecht, of course, as well. Just very briefly your background. In your DNA, in your genetic code, you have traces of Indian roots.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Well, I am one-eighth (Chippewa) Indian, so I’m half Irish, a quarter Swiss, one eighth English. I grew up in Minneapolis, which was the center of America’s labor movement in the 1930s. The general strike in 1936 shaped the American labor scene.
 

 
Minnesota had a governor, Floyd B. Olson, who said that he hoped capitalism run right to hell. The Trotskyists were the main opponents of the Stalinists at that time. The irony is that you had the right wing ganging up with the Stalinists, all against the Trotskyist leadership because the Stalinists feared that a non-communist socialist leadership would build up the labor unions, as Minnesota was building up the Teamsters. So in 1941 my father became one of the Minneapolis 17, the first people committed under the Smith Act. This was ostensibly against advocating the overthrow of the government by force and violence, defined so loosely that in the presentation before the jury, it meant simply having the works of Marx and Lenin on your bookshelf.
 

 
I later was asked, when I went to work for Herman Kahn at the Hudson Institute, whether there was any reason why I could not get a top secret security clearance. I mentioned that my father was a Trotskyist leader, and he said: Oh, they know about that, that Stalin and Roosevelt made a deal around 1941 that if Roosevelt would prosecute the Trotskyists, the Communist Party promised not to pull out any of its Labor unions on strike during the balance of the war. The U.S. Attorney General later wrote in his autobiography that it was the only thing that was ashamed of doing, because by no stretch of the imagination could the Trotskyists have been any threat to the country.
 

 
In fact, it was the Trotskyists that called in the National Guard to protect the workers and the strikers against the police force that was working on behalf of the large companies. The lawyer for the Trotskyists in the trial was Al Goldman, who had been a colleague of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht. As I was growing up, most of the radicals who were still living throughout the world and from the United States would come to my house, and tell me their stories and their experiences.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: What could they say about Luxemburg and Liebknecht?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Al Goldman was still trying to find out who was responsible for killing them. But we decided that it really does not matter who the individuals are. They are usually killed by their bodyguards. The key is people behind them that order the killing.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: But you don’t have a memory of an anecdote or whatsoever, an anecdote about Luxemburg or Liebknecht, what they …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: No. Mainly, they talked about revolutionary theory. I wanted to grow up and go to jail like all of the people that my family admired, and their colleagues admired. So now I’m ashamed that I’ve never been able to go to the University of the Revolution.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: But you worked with Kahn, and I remember that Kahn was the person who proclaimed golden ages ahead of us. And he was the futurist who always said we will be so happy and so lucky. Am I right?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Yes, he was basically a military theorist who wrote a very good book on atomic warfare, saying that some people would survive. He was the model for “Dr. Strangelove”. And he felt so bad from being attacked for his military theory – and he was indeed a brilliant military theorist – that he decided to form the Corporate Environment study. But he was wrong in almost everything economic he said, so he brought me on to disagree with him on everything, as a foil. We liked each other. He was a very nice guy. In fact, we liked each other so much that we could not believe that the other person actually believed what they were saying publicly.
 

 
Herman Kahn weighed 400 pounds. I remember once in Paris, we were leaving the hotel to go to the airport, and I tried to hand him his pants. As far as my hands would stretch, they still weren’t long enough for the waist. He also had narcolepsy. When he was not speaking at a public lecture, he would fall asleep – usually in his food. He would rise from the table with the food flowing down his necktie, talking about the world economy an expanding pie, and in another generation, the whole world could live just like him. And everybody would go on diet, over a long time.
 

 
One of the big problems we had was when he wanted me to project the gross national product and hence living standards at 6 % or 4 % per year, which economists were doing at that time. He thought that all the technology and power somehow would make all countries rich. I refused to make that calculation, even though when I joined the Institute I insisted that the one perk that I wanted was an HP 75 calculator that could calculate exponential growth. I told Herman that the only growth that is exponential is financial – the magic of compound interest. And the more compound interest grows, the more it slows the economy, like driving a car with the brake on.
 

 
So that is where we differed. It turned out that most of his clients ended up hiring me instead of him, and I ended up getting a collection of Tibetan art as a result, and buying enough real estate, so, I’ve never had to work ever since and could spend all of my time writing.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: You talked about rescuing the banks, and that is really a phrase for trying to rescue a whole financial growth function to somehow save debts that can’t be paid. The question is: Who is going to take the loss? It really is trying to keep the debt overhead in place, by making the public sector absorb all the losses of the banks that have made the bad loan. And beyond this, it is really an ideology – an ideology that somehow the debts can all be paid. And beyond that, there is something else. Saving the banks is a slogan …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Sahra Wagenknecht, did I get you right that you say they can be paid?
 

 
Wagenknecht: They can’t. Also vorläufig können sie immer wieder, aber irgendwann …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Wegen der oberen 1 %.
 

 
Wagenknecht: … The upper class has to take the losses.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: The bailout is not saving the banks. The banks could function very well the next day after a debt cancellation. You are saving the bank stockholders and the bondholders and the rich counterparties to the banks. You are saving the gamblers who have accounts with the banks, not saving the banks.
 

 
But there is something even worse. The slogan “saving the banks” means a program for the governments to be financially responsible, which means financially self-destructive. The bailout is forcing Greece to sell its public domain, its water and sewer systems, its land, its real estate, its buildings, to sell to private buyers who are going to borrow money at interest from the bank to buy these public assets, and to treat them like a toll road.
 

 
So in the broadest sense of the term, saving the banks means to achieve by financial terms what it took an army militarily to counter a thousand years ago. Saving the banks thus is destroying society. Is that worth the payment?
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Very good and very understandable, but a question again. We can’t be too economic but … You say, you don’t save the banks. But what is, let’s say, my life insurance. What they say to me is that my bank has Staatsanleihen from …, at a normal average term too, so I would lose as an average person … I mean, by saving the banks, don’t they save me as well?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: No, that’s the trick that they are playing. For instance, in the United States the largest bank is Citibank. That was insolvent as a result of being one of the most abusive fraudulent banks with junk mortgages and similar gambles. The head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Sheila Bair, said that she argued with the Obama administration saying that she could close down Citibank and save all of the insured depositors. She could have saved all of the basic banking functions.
 

 
The only people who would not have been saved would have been the gamblers at the top, on whom Citibank had written derivative gambles. It is as if in a horse race somebody goes to the casino and gambles, and then can’t pay their debt. The casinos say: We can’t operate at all, if the losers can’t pay what they owe. So, you – the government – have to levy a tax, to enable the losers to pay the winners.
 

 
It’s true that not everybody’s savings would have been saved under this plan. But normal operations would have been. And it’s the same with AIG, the Insurance conglomerate that was bailed out with $184 billion dollars. All this loss went through the London office making financial gambles, losing bets as to which way interest rates and junk mortgages would move. The government could simply have closed down AIG, taking it over and said: We are saving all of your normal insurance policies, we are saving all of your normal business, but the gamblers we are just not paying.
 

 
But in that case, Goldman Sachs would not have been paid $18 billion dollars. And Goldman Sachs had its representative Hank Paulson as Secretary of the Treasury. The Treasury was paying its private colleagues on Wall Street, instead of saving the normal depositors. The intention of this bank bailout is to wipe out the normal depositors and only save the rich of the top. Pretending to save the poor, the working class,and the middle class, they want to save everything for the top 1%. That is what they did with Citibank, and that is what they did with AIG. Citibank makes money by lending to people like Sam Zell, who would buy a company, look at the pension funds or Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), and empty them out to pay his creditors. So, what the government is saving are the parasitic functions of the banks.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: To make it clear, and ask Frau Wagenknecht too: It could be possible not to save the banks, und würde trotzdem nicht diese Lebensversicherungen und Alters … das kann man trennen?
 

 
…
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Nein, that is very important for you to understand that people like me, I take me as a durchschnittliche …, believe in a kind of empirical or scientific rationality and all this stuff. And if I am told by Hans Werner Sinn or other people, der frühere Regierungssprecher, Ulrich Wilhelm, you have to save the banks because then you save your life assurance, for example, then I believe it, and everybody believes it, because you say: Well, they are mathematicians or whatsoever.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: What if I say: You have to make me rich in order to give me an incentive not to wreck society. What the banks are really saying is that: We will wreck the payment system, and we will stop paying, and we will cause a crisis if you don’t give us what we want. We are holding you hostage.
 

 
But all you really have to do is take them over and replace them with other people. You save the basic banking and insurance functions. There are plenty of good assets in there. Even junk mortgages are worth something. They are worth enough to save all of the normal activities for 90 % of the population. The losers in this case would only be the 10 % at the top … And all these gains for the last 20 years have been to the top 10 %. They would lose their gains – but there is enough to pay everybody else.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Normal understanding is, politicians need majorities, and not the 10 % of the top.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: You talk about empirical studies. If the statistics were publicized to show what I am talking about, everybody would see in chart form that there is enough money there. The Federal Reserve has them. There are many statistics available, but the newspapers don’t publish them. They find it politically incorrect to do so.
 

 
What they call “class war” is simply society trying to protect itself from the 1 %.
 

 
Dr. Minkmar: One key argument in your system of thinking is the role of central banks. And now today we think that central banks are there to supervise things and see that everything runs smoothly. But what would you advice central banks to do?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Central banks began to be created in 1694 with the Bank of England, and down to the Federal Reserve in the United States in 1913 their function was to finance government budget deficits by printing money. All governments over time run deficits – at least, most of the time – because that is how they supply the economy with the purchasing power and the money it needs to grow. The role of a central bank is to create money to finance the deficit.
 

 
If it does not do this, then the commercial banks end up performing this function. However, the commercial banks creating credit on their own computer keyboards have a different role from that of the central bank. When the central bank finances government spending, this is supposed to promote growth, full employment and industrialization. But that is not the object of a commercial bank. Banks, in the first instance, make loans against property already in place – mainly real estate and also the buyout of entire corporations. So they provide credit that bids up the price of housing, making it more expensive for workers. They also loan to buyers of commercial buildings, making it more expensive to do business, Takeover loans enable corporate raiders to bid up the price of stocks and bonds, making them yield less, so it costs more to buy a retirement income. And now, commercial banks are moving from finance capitalism to casino capitalism to make big gambles. They are essentially financing gambling. That’s what derivatives and “hedge fund” trading are.
 

 
None of this funds industrial investment. From the United States to Germany, almost all industrial capital formation is now funded by the retained earnings of corporations, not by bank borrowing. Even the stock market does not fund new direct investments. It has become a vehicle for corporate raiders to go to the banks to borrow the money, to buy a corporation on credit with junk bonds, retire the stock, and use the corporate profits to repay the banks – and then try to steal for themselves the pension funds, or sell off the assets, or just work the labor force more intensively; longer hours, outsource labor and move to the un-unionized labor. So the banks are no longer part of the industrialization process; they are part of the de-industrialization process. This is applauded as the post-industrial economy.
 

 
…
 

 
Dr. Minkmar: You were talking about Europe as being the new third world as a model for politics …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: In the 1970s and 80s, the International Monetary Fund imposed austerity on indebted countries. The conditions were that if the countries did not pay their foreign debts, they would be treated like Cuba or Iran, and made into pariahs in the international community. So, they were forced to sell off and privatize.
 

 
When I worked for Chase Manhattan Bank in 1964, my first job was to analyze the economies of Argentina, Brazil and Chile. My job was to calculate/estimate how much potential they could export and raise, one way or another.
 

 
In Latin America it could only be imposed at gunpoint, as you saw in Chile. So the first privatization, the first free-market model, was imposed at gunpoint in Chile under general Pinochet, under the direction of Henry Kissinger and the Nixon administration, and the University of Chicago Economics Department under Harberger and other operatives down there.
 

 
Once they did that, the next big test was the former Soviet Union. Unlike the West, the Soviet Union had no background in Marxism. They had no group that was familiar with Marx and Engels or classical economics. So in 1991 they immediately adopted the neo-liberal approach that said: We can promote millionaires by privatizing the property. Many friends of mine tried to go over and promote a more reasonable tax system. The post-Soviet economies after 1991 would have financed themselves by taxing natural resource wealth and real estate. But as soon as these good advisors would go over there, right-wing institutes like the Lincoln Institute or the World Bank would come and tell the mayors of a town: We’ll give you a million dollars in computers if you follow our system and give the assets to your insiders to create a new nomenklatura of vested property interests – specifically, rentier interests, who would issue stocks in their companies and sell them to U.S. and other foreign investors. The idea was to let the West buy out the key rent-yielding assets in the former Soviet Union, above all mineral rights and public utilities, as well as centrally located real estate.
 

 
The government would put a deposit in one of the banks of the nomenklatura. In the Loans-for-shares program in 1994, the banks right say: 100 million dollars to buy Yukos oil company. The government would redeposit the check in the bank, so that they got the company for nothing, that is, no cash of their own. And then, when the government did not repay the debt, the bank would get many billion dollars worth of an oil or mining company.
 

 
The Americans did this because they realized that if a kleptocrat could buy Russian resources for one cent on the dollar, they would be happy to sell it for two cents on the dollar. That made the Russian stock market the best performing market in the world from 1994 to 1997. Russia let itself be financialized.
 

 
Other parts in the Soviet Union did not have raw materials. So a more accurate dress rehearsal would be what happened in Latvia, where they imposed a neo-liberal paradise. As in Russia, the neo-liberals had a free hand as to how to design what they said would be an ideal economy. Their way of creating such an economy and its financial and fiscal system was to say: “Don’t set up your own banks. Let foreign banks create the credit on their own keyboards.” Labor in Latvia has to confront a 59% set of flat taxes on employment – taxes that together are 59%. The real estate tax is only 1%, based on the most recent appraisal of Latvian property, which was in 1917 just before the revolution. So, the result was the largest real estate bubble of all.
 

 
That is basically the neo-liberal plan for how to get rich in a post-industrial economy. A property is worth whatever a bank will lend, because without taxes the value of this economic rent became available to be paid to the banks as interest rather than as taxes. The value of the site’s location should have been the basis of public financing, as in America. It’s the basis for most localities to pay for their school systems. If you are not going to tax property, if you are not going to tax monopolies, if you are not going to tax finance, then you have to tax labor. That’s why you have a 59% tax on employment in Latvia.
 

 
The result was an economic collapse in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. The result is that one third of the Latvian labor force of working age between 20 and 35 emigrated or announced its intention to emigrate. They would go to countries like Ireland which also was being financialized. So the Baltics still, even last year, were celebrated by the Institute for International Economics, the Peterson Institute, which is a bank lobbyist in the United States, and by the applauder of Russian privatization, Anders Aslund, the Swedish neoliberal lobbyist. Latvia is applauded as a model for which Europe should emulate. So you can expect your wages to be cut by 30%, you can expect people will have to go into a lifetime of debt in order to buy housing. They will have to have to inherit money if they want to get an education.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: That is what you say about Europe?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: I said, if you follow the Latvian model. This is the ideal. The basic principle when I talk to bankers is: You don’t know how far wages can be pushed down until somebody pushes back. And so far, nobody has pushed back.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: But what is with the unions? Normally …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: The communist countries did not have unions because they were supposed to be one big union. So the working conditions in the Baltic States have the worst accident rates, the worst workplace conditions, and their workers report the most abusive treatment by their employers. The workplace conditions in the post-communist economies are much worse than those in the capitalist economies, where there has been a symbiosis between labor and capital, a symbiosis between the private sector and the government.
 
….
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Just, I mean, off the record, but one of the advisers of chancellor Merkel is sometimes amazing, and he keeps telling this. He says: No, don’t write that. He says: It’s illegal, it’s against the treaty. I mean, that’s his last argument. So, I would like to … from scientific point of view. Frau
 

 
Wagenknecht: You are insane … What do you say as a scientist to this question?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Let’s simply look at the empirical facts. Since 2008 you have had the largest monetary creation in the 20th century’s history. The central banks have fueled this money creation. In America alone they have added $13 trillion dollars to the federal debt by bank bailouts. Yet prices have remained quite stable. Wages actually have fallen for the last 30 years, despite the wave of asset-price inflation fueled by commercial bank credit.
 

 
Central bank economists talk about consumer price or commodity price inflation. But commercial banks fuel asset price inflation, by lending money against real estate, stocks and bonds already in existence. As they make credit terms easier, people need more access to bank credit in order to buy a house. They have to bid against other. So bank credit inflates real estate prices. The upshot is that now you have to take more years of your income to buy a home. In the United States, the average American worker now pays 40% of family income for housing, 15% of income more for other debt service on credit cards and student loans. Another 15% is for wage withholding, and about another 15 % in other taxes, including sales taxes. This means that only about a quarter of American workers’ income is available to be spent on goods and services. Bank lending has absorbed so much of the income of workers that money that is spent to pay the banks is not available to be spent on goods and services.
 

 
So the flip side of asset price inflation is debt deflation. More and more money has to be spent to carry the debt overhead. The problem is not central banks financing domestic government budget deficits. Every hyperinflation in history has come as a result of the collapse of the balance of payments. The Germans are most familiar with 1921, but they tend to forget that the Weimar inflation was a result of Germany trying to pay reparations abroad. They were ordered by the Allied powers to print Deutsche Marks not for domestic spending, not to run a domestic deficit, not to rebuild Germany, not to employ labor, but to throw reichsmarks onto the foreign exchange market to obtain the foreign currency to pay the Allies, so that the Allies could turn around and pay the arms debts for what they bought from the United States before entry into World War One. It was the collapse of the foreign exchange that caused the hyperinflation, not domestic spending. And Germany’s hyperinflation was not cured by the central bank creating less money. It was cured by setting up a triangular flow of international payments. American bondholders would lend money to German municipalities that would issue bonds. The municipalities would receive dollars, and turn them over to the Reichsbank. It then would issue German currency against this for local spending – using the dollars to pay the Allies. The Allies would pay America, and that would keep the circular flow going. But to do this, interest rates had to be held down in the United States, to make German and other European borrowing more profitable for international lenders.
 

 
The same thing happened in Chile, which is another textbook hyperinflation. Rogers wrote a book on the process of hyperinflation in France that also occurred in the 1920s. The classic study of German inflation is by Salomon Flink, The Reichsbank and Economic Germany. The book actually was printed in Germany at that time. The same thing happened in Russia in the 1990s. The Russia hyperinflation occurred as a result of the depreciation of the ruble. This was already determined in advance at the meeting in Huston, Texas, between the World Bank and the IMF and the other Russian authorities. All this was published at the time, even before break-up of the Soviet Union. So to talk about hyperinflation as if it is a domestic phenomenon is to ignore the fact that never in history has it been domestic. It always is a balance-of-payments phenomenon, associated either with war or a class war, as in Chile’s case.
 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Now, to leave that economical …, to go to the interpretation of what will come. So, when I get it right, what you say, and Frau Wagenknecht says it too, there will be a … Wir werden ärmer. Also der durchschnittliche Deutsche wird verarmen oder ärmer.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Impoverishment.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Right. And not a revolution, not a moment where the society says no? That’s my question. But at the same time, what we are observing is that it is not only a change of the social standards of human beings in Europe but of the whole idea of democracy as well. This is something that strikes me most, which I would never believed. I must say, ten years ago, I would have said: conspiracy. And many like me would have said that the banks are so powerful and so on. Now, we start thinking whether “conspiracy” is the right word for it. And the same with the democracy, democratic question. I learned at school that the “Soziale Marktwirtschaft”, as we termed it, definitely requires Pluralismus, Demokratie, Partizipation, all that. But, and that is my question, are we, as Colin Crouch writes, postulating a post-democratic system? Is one of the prizes we have to pay for it, that democracy becomes weaker and weaker, and isn’t that a very dangerous development?
 

 
….
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Und da hätte ich eine Frage, die auch ganz aktuell ist, an Michael Hudson, vielleicht more in a theoretical way. Our new president said apparently, it is ridiculous to protest against, how did he say it, the capitalistic system, or something like that. Es ist lächerlich …
 

 
Wagenknecht: Nein, albern hat er …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Albern, ja, another word, it’s like ridiculous. And there we are, the point of question is, after the end of the communism, there was the idea, there is the triumph of capitalism. And now the people who are very social saying, I am repeating what they said in Germany: Now we can have a chance really, we don’t need the money for Rüstung anymore, and for armies, and against the Soviet Union, and so on. And now, we are in the third phase, and that’s why the (spot) that is so interesting, is the question: There is no alternative. Nobody really likes it, many people suffer. But the idea is, they managed to get the system like die beste aller möglichen Welten, there is no alternative to that all. What do you say to that, and what do you say to this quote?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: It is very interesting that the destruction of communism, or what passed for communism in 1990, made possible the destruction of industrial capitalism. What you have today is not capitalism as it was known when I grew up. It is not the capitalism that was talked about by Adam Smith, Ricardo, John Stuart Mill or even Marx. It is something that is evolved into finance capitalism, that is going through a number of stages. Pension-fund capitalism is exploiting labor, not by hiring it to produce goods and services, but to dock savings and channel them into the hands of financial managers – to bid up stock market prices.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Is it not the case, that this system did exist in the 20s?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: No, it only existed since 1950s. That is when General Motors started its pension fund. Pension funds soon became the single largest purchasers of stock, pushing up stock prices. The major sellers of stock have been management insiders, and increasingly those exercising their stock options, selling them in effect to the pension funds. So, the function of labor was to provide pension fund savings to spur stock market gains for the managers that have been financializing industrial companies – and in the process, de-industrializing them.
 

 
So, I’d like to plug this into the earlier discussion you just had. When you use the word “post-democratic society”, that is a byproduct of the post-industrial economy, which essentially means a financialized economy. It also was post-modern, if you think of “modern” as what existed in the early 20th century in the Progressive Era. That was the Modern Era. We are now in a post-modern era. The pro-financial strategy is essentially an anti-government strategy. That is because every economy is planned by someone or other. Most economies throughout history have been planned by the government, or whoever controls it, whether it’s been the landed aristocracy or bankers. If the government does not do the planning, this function is forfeited to the banks. And that is where we are today. Just like the case in which, if taxes are cut and the government does not get the revenue, it is available to be pledged to the banks and capitalized on the debt.
 

 
So the planning process passes to the banks, and they claim that they are the brains of society. They say, there is no alternative. But they are not the brain; they are something alien to industrial capitalism. This is what the Saint-Simon and his followers discussed in the 19th century. It was discussed in every country. The financial strategy now is to prevent people from studying what this body of classical economics was. It sought to free society from interest. Today’s banks are playing upon anxiety and fear, like a high-pressure salesman threatening to bring on a collapse if industrial economies try to protect themselves. They say: “You have to make up your decision in a hurry, if you don’t do this, you are going to lose your money, you are going to lose this opportunity.” They try to make it appear that this not only is the only alternative, but that it will make you rich.
 

 
Banks have been saying this for 30 years. This is the first time in history that people have believed they could get rich by borrowing money to buy assets that are increasing in price, or that they may get rich by the hyperinflation of property prices, and by the stock and bond prices that bank credit has inflated. Banks have managed to prevent the government from regulating and preventing this hyperinflation – and they even have called it “wealth creation.”
 

 
It is really debt creation. Debt is a claim on the means of production, and on labor. It is not a process of real growth. So what banks are saying is that there is no alternative but to let debts grow, at compound interest. This means reducing wages, as more and more must be spent on debt service. This eats into corporate cash flow and profits. So more and more are siphoned off to pay creditors. Debt also eats into the government revenue, so that the government does not have enough to pay for social programs and pensions. It only has enough to bail out the banks on exponentially growing debt that can never been paid, mathematically. That is the empirical fact. All you have to do is draw a statistical chart of the growth of debt, and compare it to the growth in wages. And you’ll see …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: How do you explain from a business point of view … I take the example of Dresden. I was in Dresden two weeks ago, and there they explained to me, the people I met from the city and from Volksbank and all these … They explained to me that Dresden, which I didn’t know, sold parts of their Stadtwerke and so on, and bought it back now because they realized that it was a mistake. I hear this from many, many other cities. Now, in my understanding of society, someone apparently made mistake here, the people who sold this, or at least, put the pressure. And normally, you would have to pay a price for making a mistake, and society would say: How could this happen? But the contrary is true, first of all, nobody discusses this, I can’t see it in den Städten.
 

 
That’s the first. And the second is, the made a mistake but became rich, from what I see. They are not sanctioned at all. So, I always ask you for the gesellschaftlichen Folgen. Isn’t this something what really is the most frightening result of this new era that things we once learned when we were kids, are not true anymore? The question of, it’s not that you are sanctioned when you make mistakes but that you can benefit in this regard?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: This is a question that I have discussed in Russia and China with their leaders. Fortunately, there is an alternative that they are well aware of. There is a way to recover the property that has been turned over to the privatizers. The answer is very simple: a windfall gain tax or a rent tax. If the land is been privatized, as it has been in China and Russia, all you have to do is tax the land’s value – the natural value, not the building value, but just the economic rent. You will recapture for the state the free lunch of economic rent.
 

 
The same principle applies to mines and fuel resources. You will simply have a mineral depletion tax that will recapture the value of what nature has provided freely. So the alternative is for the government not to tax profits, not to tax wages, not to tax income, but to tax economic rent. Because what the national income account pretends to be empirical, pretends to be “earnings” of the banks and other rentiers, is actually a transfer function – and often, outright theft.
 

 
It’s remarkable that French novelists realize this, such as Balzac who said that behind every great family fortune is a great theft. Economists don’t rise to the level of 19th century French novelists when it comes to understanding the economy.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: So to get back to your outlook again, talking about Europe, we have another debate that is quite interesting, which I think might be important to see. The one debate is, Greece is a lazy country and …, a new nationalism. The other one which I hear from bankers, by the way, sometimes, is, they say it ganz leise: It’s all America. So, it’s a huge American conspiracy. And they say: Wir wissen auch, dass das System nicht funktioniert, aber das ist ein amerikanischer Druck auf das, was jetzt mit Europa passiert usw. My question is, again, I think of Peter Hacks and Rahmentheorie. Ist das ein – das ist etwas, was ich für das Allerwichtigste halte – ein Prozess, der nicht mit einem big bang …
 
…
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Das wäre Occupy. Will "Occupy" be a revolutionary agent?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: We’re not trying to be a revolutionary agent. We are in a pre-revolutionary situation, so the aim is to raise consciousness – at this point, simply to explain how the world works. And many people want to … They sense that the economy does not work the way that textbooks say. But they can’t reinvent the rules by themselves. So most of the reason “Occupy Wall Street” is on Wall Street is because that is where the problem is. And most of the financial advisers, like myself, are lifetime workers on Wall Street, specialists in financial maneuvering and behavior. So our job is to explain to people, to popularize what used to be classical economics. Right wing interests have inverted the classical idea of free markets and captured its vocabulary, hijacking the repertory of classical, socialist and social democratic rhetoric.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Exactly that is what they did.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: I want to comment on your earlier point. It is true that the parasitic financial dynamic stems from America. But that is official policy; it is not a secret. It is not a conspiracy, it is very open. I am told that when Mr. Geithner came here to meet with the German bankers about the Greek debt, the Germans and Mrs. Merkel were in favor of a default, saying: Look, they can’t pay. But Mr. Geithner said that the German and the French banks and other banks have taken out credit default insurance with the American banks. These American banks would go under if Greece defaulted. Mrs. Merkel agreed to sacrifice the German banks and to impose losses on the German banks in order to help America. She seems to have put American interests before her own national interest, and cost the German people hundreds of billions of dollars by doing this. It is as if the leaders of Europe are hypnotized by a kind of Dr. Caligari who ends up to be running the asylum.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: (…) I think, it gives sehr große Einsichten, das ist faszinierend. The idea behind is, a little bit to … first of all to show that the position Frau Wagenknecht postulates, is not a position of two people in the world, but that there is a debate about it. And the other one is to provoke the others, the economists in Germany.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: You can’t provoke them.
 

 
Wagenknecht: Provoke you can, but …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: You can only replace them with a new generation.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: What I found out, what they really need to understand them is psychology. Of course, they need media power, and the consensus. The idea that you are insane if you are questioning certain aspects.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: That is what Dr. Caligari said.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Yes, that’s right. Or Dürrenmatt, “Die Physiker”, that’s exactly the same. Economists are like “Die Physiker”.
 

 
Dr. Minkmar: Once you can put a label on them, like “umstritten,” and you’ve already won.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Why do Hollywood movies understand this better than economists and politicians?
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: And why does Robert Harris? Did you read the book?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Yeah, wonderful.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: "Fear," Robert Harris
 

          Fireside on the Great Theft        
A recent interview in Frankfurt’s FAZ newspaper:
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: And then, just to find a starting point, maybe we can start with the personal, and then at least I would ask you both. Maybe that is a good starting point, very basic: What is the future of Europe? So, what do you conceive what will happen, and what is going to happen? Sie können sich auch gegenseitig … Now, Michael Hudson, you are in Germany and you are known to our readers, and Sahra Wagenknecht, of course, as well. Just very briefly your background. In your DNA, in your genetic code, you have traces of Indian roots.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Well, I am one-eighth (Chippewa) Indian, so I’m half Irish, a quarter Swiss, one eighth English. I grew up in Minneapolis, which was the center of America’s labor movement in the 1930s. The general strike in 1936 shaped the American labor scene.
 

 
Minnesota had a governor, Floyd B. Olson, who said that he hoped capitalism run right to hell. The Trotskyists were the main opponents of the Stalinists at that time. The irony is that you had the right wing ganging up with the Stalinists, all against the Trotskyist leadership because the Stalinists feared that a non-communist socialist leadership would build up the labor unions, as Minnesota was building up the Teamsters. So in 1941 my father became one of the Minneapolis 17, the first people committed under the Smith Act. This was ostensibly against advocating the overthrow of the government by force and violence, defined so loosely that in the presentation before the jury, it meant simply having the works of Marx and Lenin on your bookshelf.
 

 
I later was asked, when I went to work for Herman Kahn at the Hudson Institute, whether there was any reason why I could not get a top secret security clearance. I mentioned that my father was a Trotskyist leader, and he said: Oh, they know about that, that Stalin and Roosevelt made a deal around 1941 that if Roosevelt would prosecute the Trotskyists, the Communist Party promised not to pull out any of its Labor unions on strike during the balance of the war. The U.S. Attorney General later wrote in his autobiography that it was the only thing that was ashamed of doing, because by no stretch of the imagination could the Trotskyists have been any threat to the country.
 

 
In fact, it was the Trotskyists that called in the National Guard to protect the workers and the strikers against the police force that was working on behalf of the large companies. The lawyer for the Trotskyists in the trial was Al Goldman, who had been a colleague of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht. As I was growing up, most of the radicals who were still living throughout the world and from the United States would come to my house, and tell me their stories and their experiences.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: What could they say about Luxemburg and Liebknecht?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Al Goldman was still trying to find out who was responsible for killing them. But we decided that it really does not matter who the individuals are. They are usually killed by their bodyguards. The key is people behind them that order the killing.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: But you don’t have a memory of an anecdote or whatsoever, an anecdote about Luxemburg or Liebknecht, what they …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: No. Mainly, they talked about revolutionary theory. I wanted to grow up and go to jail like all of the people that my family admired, and their colleagues admired. So now I’m ashamed that I’ve never been able to go to the University of the Revolution.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: But you worked with Kahn, and I remember that Kahn was the person who proclaimed golden ages ahead of us. And he was the futurist who always said we will be so happy and so lucky. Am I right?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Yes, he was basically a military theorist who wrote a very good book on atomic warfare, saying that some people would survive. He was the model for “Dr. Strangelove”. And he felt so bad from being attacked for his military theory – and he was indeed a brilliant military theorist – that he decided to form the Corporate Environment study. But he was wrong in almost everything economic he said, so he brought me on to disagree with him on everything, as a foil. We liked each other. He was a very nice guy. In fact, we liked each other so much that we could not believe that the other person actually believed what they were saying publicly.
 

 
Herman Kahn weighed 400 pounds. I remember once in Paris, we were leaving the hotel to go to the airport, and I tried to hand him his pants. As far as my hands would stretch, they still weren’t long enough for the waist. He also had narcolepsy. When he was not speaking at a public lecture, he would fall asleep – usually in his food. He would rise from the table with the food flowing down his necktie, talking about the world economy an expanding pie, and in another generation, the whole world could live just like him. And everybody would go on diet, over a long time.
 

 
One of the big problems we had was when he wanted me to project the gross national product and hence living standards at 6 % or 4 % per year, which economists were doing at that time. He thought that all the technology and power somehow would make all countries rich. I refused to make that calculation, even though when I joined the Institute I insisted that the one perk that I wanted was an HP 75 calculator that could calculate exponential growth. I told Herman that the only growth that is exponential is financial – the magic of compound interest. And the more compound interest grows, the more it slows the economy, like driving a car with the brake on.
 

 
So that is where we differed. It turned out that most of his clients ended up hiring me instead of him, and I ended up getting a collection of Tibetan art as a result, and buying enough real estate, so, I’ve never had to work ever since and could spend all of my time writing.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: You talked about rescuing the banks, and that is really a phrase for trying to rescue a whole financial growth function to somehow save debts that can’t be paid. The question is: Who is going to take the loss? It really is trying to keep the debt overhead in place, by making the public sector absorb all the losses of the banks that have made the bad loan. And beyond this, it is really an ideology – an ideology that somehow the debts can all be paid. And beyond that, there is something else. Saving the banks is a slogan …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Sahra Wagenknecht, did I get you right that you say they can be paid?
 

 
Wagenknecht: They can’t. Also vorläufig können sie immer wieder, aber irgendwann …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Wegen der oberen 1 %.
 

 
Wagenknecht: … The upper class has to take the losses.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: The bailout is not saving the banks. The banks could function very well the next day after a debt cancellation. You are saving the bank stockholders and the bondholders and the rich counterparties to the banks. You are saving the gamblers who have accounts with the banks, not saving the banks.
 

 
But there is something even worse. The slogan “saving the banks” means a program for the governments to be financially responsible, which means financially self-destructive. The bailout is forcing Greece to sell its public domain, its water and sewer systems, its land, its real estate, its buildings, to sell to private buyers who are going to borrow money at interest from the bank to buy these public assets, and to treat them like a toll road.
 

 
So in the broadest sense of the term, saving the banks means to achieve by financial terms what it took an army militarily to counter a thousand years ago. Saving the banks thus is destroying society. Is that worth the payment?
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Very good and very understandable, but a question again. We can’t be too economic but … You say, you don’t save the banks. But what is, let’s say, my life insurance. What they say to me is that my bank has Staatsanleihen from …, at a normal average term too, so I would lose as an average person … I mean, by saving the banks, don’t they save me as well?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: No, that’s the trick that they are playing. For instance, in the United States the largest bank is Citibank. That was insolvent as a result of being one of the most abusive fraudulent banks with junk mortgages and similar gambles. The head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Sheila Bair, said that she argued with the Obama administration saying that she could close down Citibank and save all of the insured depositors. She could have saved all of the basic banking functions.
 

 
The only people who would not have been saved would have been the gamblers at the top, on whom Citibank had written derivative gambles. It is as if in a horse race somebody goes to the casino and gambles, and then can’t pay their debt. The casinos say: We can’t operate at all, if the losers can’t pay what they owe. So, you – the government – have to levy a tax, to enable the losers to pay the winners.
 

 
It’s true that not everybody’s savings would have been saved under this plan. But normal operations would have been. And it’s the same with AIG, the Insurance conglomerate that was bailed out with $184 billion dollars. All this loss went through the London office making financial gambles, losing bets as to which way interest rates and junk mortgages would move. The government could simply have closed down AIG, taking it over and said: We are saving all of your normal insurance policies, we are saving all of your normal business, but the gamblers we are just not paying.
 

 
But in that case, Goldman Sachs would not have been paid $18 billion dollars. And Goldman Sachs had its representative Hank Paulson as Secretary of the Treasury. The Treasury was paying its private colleagues on Wall Street, instead of saving the normal depositors. The intention of this bank bailout is to wipe out the normal depositors and only save the rich of the top. Pretending to save the poor, the working class,and the middle class, they want to save everything for the top 1%. That is what they did with Citibank, and that is what they did with AIG. Citibank makes money by lending to people like Sam Zell, who would buy a company, look at the pension funds or Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), and empty them out to pay his creditors. So, what the government is saving are the parasitic functions of the banks.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: To make it clear, and ask Frau Wagenknecht too: It could be possible not to save the banks, und würde trotzdem nicht diese Lebensversicherungen und Alters … das kann man trennen?
 

 
…
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Nein, that is very important for you to understand that people like me, I take me as a durchschnittliche …, believe in a kind of empirical or scientific rationality and all this stuff. And if I am told by Hans Werner Sinn or other people, der frühere Regierungssprecher, Ulrich Wilhelm, you have to save the banks because then you save your life assurance, for example, then I believe it, and everybody believes it, because you say: Well, they are mathematicians or whatsoever.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: What if I say: You have to make me rich in order to give me an incentive not to wreck society. What the banks are really saying is that: We will wreck the payment system, and we will stop paying, and we will cause a crisis if you don’t give us what we want. We are holding you hostage.
 

 
But all you really have to do is take them over and replace them with other people. You save the basic banking and insurance functions. There are plenty of good assets in there. Even junk mortgages are worth something. They are worth enough to save all of the normal activities for 90 % of the population. The losers in this case would only be the 10 % at the top … And all these gains for the last 20 years have been to the top 10 %. They would lose their gains – but there is enough to pay everybody else.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Normal understanding is, politicians need majorities, and not the 10 % of the top.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: You talk about empirical studies. If the statistics were publicized to show what I am talking about, everybody would see in chart form that there is enough money there. The Federal Reserve has them. There are many statistics available, but the newspapers don’t publish them. They find it politically incorrect to do so.
 

 
What they call “class war” is simply society trying to protect itself from the 1 %.
 

 
Dr. Minkmar: One key argument in your system of thinking is the role of central banks. And now today we think that central banks are there to supervise things and see that everything runs smoothly. But what would you advice central banks to do?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Central banks began to be created in 1694 with the Bank of England, and down to the Federal Reserve in the United States in 1913 their function was to finance government budget deficits by printing money. All governments over time run deficits – at least, most of the time – because that is how they supply the economy with the purchasing power and the money it needs to grow. The role of a central bank is to create money to finance the deficit.
 

 
If it does not do this, then the commercial banks end up performing this function. However, the commercial banks creating credit on their own computer keyboards have a different role from that of the central bank. When the central bank finances government spending, this is supposed to promote growth, full employment and industrialization. But that is not the object of a commercial bank. Banks, in the first instance, make loans against property already in place – mainly real estate and also the buyout of entire corporations. So they provide credit that bids up the price of housing, making it more expensive for workers. They also loan to buyers of commercial buildings, making it more expensive to do business, Takeover loans enable corporate raiders to bid up the price of stocks and bonds, making them yield less, so it costs more to buy a retirement income. And now, commercial banks are moving from finance capitalism to casino capitalism to make big gambles. They are essentially financing gambling. That’s what derivatives and “hedge fund” trading are.
 

 
None of this funds industrial investment. From the United States to Germany, almost all industrial capital formation is now funded by the retained earnings of corporations, not by bank borrowing. Even the stock market does not fund new direct investments. It has become a vehicle for corporate raiders to go to the banks to borrow the money, to buy a corporation on credit with junk bonds, retire the stock, and use the corporate profits to repay the banks – and then try to steal for themselves the pension funds, or sell off the assets, or just work the labor force more intensively; longer hours, outsource labor and move to the un-unionized labor. So the banks are no longer part of the industrialization process; they are part of the de-industrialization process. This is applauded as the post-industrial economy.
 

 
…
 

 
Dr. Minkmar: You were talking about Europe as being the new third world as a model for politics …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: In the 1970s and 80s, the International Monetary Fund imposed austerity on indebted countries. The conditions were that if the countries did not pay their foreign debts, they would be treated like Cuba or Iran, and made into pariahs in the international community. So, they were forced to sell off and privatize.
 

 
When I worked for Chase Manhattan Bank in 1964, my first job was to analyze the economies of Argentina, Brazil and Chile. My job was to calculate/estimate how much potential they could export and raise, one way or another.
 

 
In Latin America it could only be imposed at gunpoint, as you saw in Chile. So the first privatization, the first free-market model, was imposed at gunpoint in Chile under general Pinochet, under the direction of Henry Kissinger and the Nixon administration, and the University of Chicago Economics Department under Harberger and other operatives down there.
 

 
Once they did that, the next big test was the former Soviet Union. Unlike the West, the Soviet Union had no background in Marxism. They had no group that was familiar with Marx and Engels or classical economics. So in 1991 they immediately adopted the neo-liberal approach that said: We can promote millionaires by privatizing the property. Many friends of mine tried to go over and promote a more reasonable tax system. The post-Soviet economies after 1991 would have financed themselves by taxing natural resource wealth and real estate. But as soon as these good advisors would go over there, right-wing institutes like the Lincoln Institute or the World Bank would come and tell the mayors of a town: We’ll give you a million dollars in computers if you follow our system and give the assets to your insiders to create a new nomenklatura of vested property interests – specifically, rentier interests, who would issue stocks in their companies and sell them to U.S. and other foreign investors. The idea was to let the West buy out the key rent-yielding assets in the former Soviet Union, above all mineral rights and public utilities, as well as centrally located real estate.
 

 
The government would put a deposit in one of the banks of the nomenklatura. In the Loans-for-shares program in 1994, the banks right say: 100 million dollars to buy Yukos oil company. The government would redeposit the check in the bank, so that they got the company for nothing, that is, no cash of their own. And then, when the government did not repay the debt, the bank would get many billion dollars worth of an oil or mining company.
 

 
The Americans did this because they realized that if a kleptocrat could buy Russian resources for one cent on the dollar, they would be happy to sell it for two cents on the dollar. That made the Russian stock market the best performing market in the world from 1994 to 1997. Russia let itself be financialized.
 

 
Other parts in the Soviet Union did not have raw materials. So a more accurate dress rehearsal would be what happened in Latvia, where they imposed a neo-liberal paradise. As in Russia, the neo-liberals had a free hand as to how to design what they said would be an ideal economy. Their way of creating such an economy and its financial and fiscal system was to say: “Don’t set up your own banks. Let foreign banks create the credit on their own keyboards.” Labor in Latvia has to confront a 59% set of flat taxes on employment – taxes that together are 59%. The real estate tax is only 1%, based on the most recent appraisal of Latvian property, which was in 1917 just before the revolution. So, the result was the largest real estate bubble of all.
 

 
That is basically the neo-liberal plan for how to get rich in a post-industrial economy. A property is worth whatever a bank will lend, because without taxes the value of this economic rent became available to be paid to the banks as interest rather than as taxes. The value of the site’s location should have been the basis of public financing, as in America. It’s the basis for most localities to pay for their school systems. If you are not going to tax property, if you are not going to tax monopolies, if you are not going to tax finance, then you have to tax labor. That’s why you have a 59% tax on employment in Latvia.
 

 
The result was an economic collapse in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. The result is that one third of the Latvian labor force of working age between 20 and 35 emigrated or announced its intention to emigrate. They would go to countries like Ireland which also was being financialized. So the Baltics still, even last year, were celebrated by the Institute for International Economics, the Peterson Institute, which is a bank lobbyist in the United States, and by the applauder of Russian privatization, Anders Aslund, the Swedish neoliberal lobbyist. Latvia is applauded as a model for which Europe should emulate. So you can expect your wages to be cut by 30%, you can expect people will have to go into a lifetime of debt in order to buy housing. They will have to have to inherit money if they want to get an education.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: That is what you say about Europe?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: I said, if you follow the Latvian model. This is the ideal. The basic principle when I talk to bankers is: You don’t know how far wages can be pushed down until somebody pushes back. And so far, nobody has pushed back.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: But what is with the unions? Normally …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: The communist countries did not have unions because they were supposed to be one big union. So the working conditions in the Baltic States have the worst accident rates, the worst workplace conditions, and their workers report the most abusive treatment by their employers. The workplace conditions in the post-communist economies are much worse than those in the capitalist economies, where there has been a symbiosis between labor and capital, a symbiosis between the private sector and the government.
 
….
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Just, I mean, off the record, but one of the advisers of chancellor Merkel is sometimes amazing, and he keeps telling this. He says: No, don’t write that. He says: It’s illegal, it’s against the treaty. I mean, that’s his last argument. So, I would like to … from scientific point of view. Frau
 

 
Wagenknecht: You are insane … What do you say as a scientist to this question?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Let’s simply look at the empirical facts. Since 2008 you have had the largest monetary creation in the 20th century’s history. The central banks have fueled this money creation. In America alone they have added $13 trillion dollars to the federal debt by bank bailouts. Yet prices have remained quite stable. Wages actually have fallen for the last 30 years, despite the wave of asset-price inflation fueled by commercial bank credit.
 

 
Central bank economists talk about consumer price or commodity price inflation. But commercial banks fuel asset price inflation, by lending money against real estate, stocks and bonds already in existence. As they make credit terms easier, people need more access to bank credit in order to buy a house. They have to bid against other. So bank credit inflates real estate prices. The upshot is that now you have to take more years of your income to buy a home. In the United States, the average American worker now pays 40% of family income for housing, 15% of income more for other debt service on credit cards and student loans. Another 15% is for wage withholding, and about another 15 % in other taxes, including sales taxes. This means that only about a quarter of American workers’ income is available to be spent on goods and services. Bank lending has absorbed so much of the income of workers that money that is spent to pay the banks is not available to be spent on goods and services.
 

 
So the flip side of asset price inflation is debt deflation. More and more money has to be spent to carry the debt overhead. The problem is not central banks financing domestic government budget deficits. Every hyperinflation in history has come as a result of the collapse of the balance of payments. The Germans are most familiar with 1921, but they tend to forget that the Weimar inflation was a result of Germany trying to pay reparations abroad. They were ordered by the Allied powers to print Deutsche Marks not for domestic spending, not to run a domestic deficit, not to rebuild Germany, not to employ labor, but to throw reichsmarks onto the foreign exchange market to obtain the foreign currency to pay the Allies, so that the Allies could turn around and pay the arms debts for what they bought from the United States before entry into World War One. It was the collapse of the foreign exchange that caused the hyperinflation, not domestic spending. And Germany’s hyperinflation was not cured by the central bank creating less money. It was cured by setting up a triangular flow of international payments. American bondholders would lend money to German municipalities that would issue bonds. The municipalities would receive dollars, and turn them over to the Reichsbank. It then would issue German currency against this for local spending – using the dollars to pay the Allies. The Allies would pay America, and that would keep the circular flow going. But to do this, interest rates had to be held down in the United States, to make German and other European borrowing more profitable for international lenders.
 

 
The same thing happened in Chile, which is another textbook hyperinflation. Rogers wrote a book on the process of hyperinflation in France that also occurred in the 1920s. The classic study of German inflation is by Salomon Flink, The Reichsbank and Economic Germany. The book actually was printed in Germany at that time. The same thing happened in Russia in the 1990s. The Russia hyperinflation occurred as a result of the depreciation of the ruble. This was already determined in advance at the meeting in Huston, Texas, between the World Bank and the IMF and the other Russian authorities. All this was published at the time, even before break-up of the Soviet Union. So to talk about hyperinflation as if it is a domestic phenomenon is to ignore the fact that never in history has it been domestic. It always is a balance-of-payments phenomenon, associated either with war or a class war, as in Chile’s case.
 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Now, to leave that economical …, to go to the interpretation of what will come. So, when I get it right, what you say, and Frau Wagenknecht says it too, there will be a … Wir werden ärmer. Also der durchschnittliche Deutsche wird verarmen oder ärmer.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Impoverishment.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Right. And not a revolution, not a moment where the society says no? That’s my question. But at the same time, what we are observing is that it is not only a change of the social standards of human beings in Europe but of the whole idea of democracy as well. This is something that strikes me most, which I would never believed. I must say, ten years ago, I would have said: conspiracy. And many like me would have said that the banks are so powerful and so on. Now, we start thinking whether “conspiracy” is the right word for it. And the same with the democracy, democratic question. I learned at school that the “Soziale Marktwirtschaft”, as we termed it, definitely requires Pluralismus, Demokratie, Partizipation, all that. But, and that is my question, are we, as Colin Crouch writes, postulating a post-democratic system? Is one of the prizes we have to pay for it, that democracy becomes weaker and weaker, and isn’t that a very dangerous development?
 

 
….
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Und da hätte ich eine Frage, die auch ganz aktuell ist, an Michael Hudson, vielleicht more in a theoretical way. Our new president said apparently, it is ridiculous to protest against, how did he say it, the capitalistic system, or something like that. Es ist lächerlich …
 

 
Wagenknecht: Nein, albern hat er …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Albern, ja, another word, it’s like ridiculous. And there we are, the point of question is, after the end of the communism, there was the idea, there is the triumph of capitalism. And now the people who are very social saying, I am repeating what they said in Germany: Now we can have a chance really, we don’t need the money for Rüstung anymore, and for armies, and against the Soviet Union, and so on. And now, we are in the third phase, and that’s why the (spot) that is so interesting, is the question: There is no alternative. Nobody really likes it, many people suffer. But the idea is, they managed to get the system like die beste aller möglichen Welten, there is no alternative to that all. What do you say to that, and what do you say to this quote?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: It is very interesting that the destruction of communism, or what passed for communism in 1990, made possible the destruction of industrial capitalism. What you have today is not capitalism as it was known when I grew up. It is not the capitalism that was talked about by Adam Smith, Ricardo, John Stuart Mill or even Marx. It is something that is evolved into finance capitalism, that is going through a number of stages. Pension-fund capitalism is exploiting labor, not by hiring it to produce goods and services, but to dock savings and channel them into the hands of financial managers – to bid up stock market prices.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Is it not the case, that this system did exist in the 20s?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: No, it only existed since 1950s. That is when General Motors started its pension fund. Pension funds soon became the single largest purchasers of stock, pushing up stock prices. The major sellers of stock have been management insiders, and increasingly those exercising their stock options, selling them in effect to the pension funds. So, the function of labor was to provide pension fund savings to spur stock market gains for the managers that have been financializing industrial companies – and in the process, de-industrializing them.
 

 
So, I’d like to plug this into the earlier discussion you just had. When you use the word “post-democratic society”, that is a byproduct of the post-industrial economy, which essentially means a financialized economy. It also was post-modern, if you think of “modern” as what existed in the early 20th century in the Progressive Era. That was the Modern Era. We are now in a post-modern era. The pro-financial strategy is essentially an anti-government strategy. That is because every economy is planned by someone or other. Most economies throughout history have been planned by the government, or whoever controls it, whether it’s been the landed aristocracy or bankers. If the government does not do the planning, this function is forfeited to the banks. And that is where we are today. Just like the case in which, if taxes are cut and the government does not get the revenue, it is available to be pledged to the banks and capitalized on the debt.
 

 
So the planning process passes to the banks, and they claim that they are the brains of society. They say, there is no alternative. But they are not the brain; they are something alien to industrial capitalism. This is what the Saint-Simon and his followers discussed in the 19th century. It was discussed in every country. The financial strategy now is to prevent people from studying what this body of classical economics was. It sought to free society from interest. Today’s banks are playing upon anxiety and fear, like a high-pressure salesman threatening to bring on a collapse if industrial economies try to protect themselves. They say: “You have to make up your decision in a hurry, if you don’t do this, you are going to lose your money, you are going to lose this opportunity.” They try to make it appear that this not only is the only alternative, but that it will make you rich.
 

 
Banks have been saying this for 30 years. This is the first time in history that people have believed they could get rich by borrowing money to buy assets that are increasing in price, or that they may get rich by the hyperinflation of property prices, and by the stock and bond prices that bank credit has inflated. Banks have managed to prevent the government from regulating and preventing this hyperinflation – and they even have called it “wealth creation.”
 

 
It is really debt creation. Debt is a claim on the means of production, and on labor. It is not a process of real growth. So what banks are saying is that there is no alternative but to let debts grow, at compound interest. This means reducing wages, as more and more must be spent on debt service. This eats into corporate cash flow and profits. So more and more are siphoned off to pay creditors. Debt also eats into the government revenue, so that the government does not have enough to pay for social programs and pensions. It only has enough to bail out the banks on exponentially growing debt that can never been paid, mathematically. That is the empirical fact. All you have to do is draw a statistical chart of the growth of debt, and compare it to the growth in wages. And you’ll see …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: How do you explain from a business point of view … I take the example of Dresden. I was in Dresden two weeks ago, and there they explained to me, the people I met from the city and from Volksbank and all these … They explained to me that Dresden, which I didn’t know, sold parts of their Stadtwerke and so on, and bought it back now because they realized that it was a mistake. I hear this from many, many other cities. Now, in my understanding of society, someone apparently made mistake here, the people who sold this, or at least, put the pressure. And normally, you would have to pay a price for making a mistake, and society would say: How could this happen? But the contrary is true, first of all, nobody discusses this, I can’t see it in den Städten.
 

 
That’s the first. And the second is, the made a mistake but became rich, from what I see. They are not sanctioned at all. So, I always ask you for the gesellschaftlichen Folgen. Isn’t this something what really is the most frightening result of this new era that things we once learned when we were kids, are not true anymore? The question of, it’s not that you are sanctioned when you make mistakes but that you can benefit in this regard?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: This is a question that I have discussed in Russia and China with their leaders. Fortunately, there is an alternative that they are well aware of. There is a way to recover the property that has been turned over to the privatizers. The answer is very simple: a windfall gain tax or a rent tax. If the land is been privatized, as it has been in China and Russia, all you have to do is tax the land’s value – the natural value, not the building value, but just the economic rent. You will recapture for the state the free lunch of economic rent.
 

 
The same principle applies to mines and fuel resources. You will simply have a mineral depletion tax that will recapture the value of what nature has provided freely. So the alternative is for the government not to tax profits, not to tax wages, not to tax income, but to tax economic rent. Because what the national income account pretends to be empirical, pretends to be “earnings” of the banks and other rentiers, is actually a transfer function – and often, outright theft.
 

 
It’s remarkable that French novelists realize this, such as Balzac who said that behind every great family fortune is a great theft. Economists don’t rise to the level of 19th century French novelists when it comes to understanding the economy.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: So to get back to your outlook again, talking about Europe, we have another debate that is quite interesting, which I think might be important to see. The one debate is, Greece is a lazy country and …, a new nationalism. The other one which I hear from bankers, by the way, sometimes, is, they say it ganz leise: It’s all America. So, it’s a huge American conspiracy. And they say: Wir wissen auch, dass das System nicht funktioniert, aber das ist ein amerikanischer Druck auf das, was jetzt mit Europa passiert usw. My question is, again, I think of Peter Hacks and Rahmentheorie. Ist das ein – das ist etwas, was ich für das Allerwichtigste halte – ein Prozess, der nicht mit einem big bang …
 
…
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Das wäre Occupy. Will "Occupy" be a revolutionary agent?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: We’re not trying to be a revolutionary agent. We are in a pre-revolutionary situation, so the aim is to raise consciousness – at this point, simply to explain how the world works. And many people want to … They sense that the economy does not work the way that textbooks say. But they can’t reinvent the rules by themselves. So most of the reason “Occupy Wall Street” is on Wall Street is because that is where the problem is. And most of the financial advisers, like myself, are lifetime workers on Wall Street, specialists in financial maneuvering and behavior. So our job is to explain to people, to popularize what used to be classical economics. Right wing interests have inverted the classical idea of free markets and captured its vocabulary, hijacking the repertory of classical, socialist and social democratic rhetoric.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Exactly that is what they did.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: I want to comment on your earlier point. It is true that the parasitic financial dynamic stems from America. But that is official policy; it is not a secret. It is not a conspiracy, it is very open. I am told that when Mr. Geithner came here to meet with the German bankers about the Greek debt, the Germans and Mrs. Merkel were in favor of a default, saying: Look, they can’t pay. But Mr. Geithner said that the German and the French banks and other banks have taken out credit default insurance with the American banks. These American banks would go under if Greece defaulted. Mrs. Merkel agreed to sacrifice the German banks and to impose losses on the German banks in order to help America. She seems to have put American interests before her own national interest, and cost the German people hundreds of billions of dollars by doing this. It is as if the leaders of Europe are hypnotized by a kind of Dr. Caligari who ends up to be running the asylum.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: (…) I think, it gives sehr große Einsichten, das ist faszinierend. The idea behind is, a little bit to … first of all to show that the position Frau Wagenknecht postulates, is not a position of two people in the world, but that there is a debate about it. And the other one is to provoke the others, the economists in Germany.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: You can’t provoke them.
 

 
Wagenknecht: Provoke you can, but …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: You can only replace them with a new generation.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: What I found out, what they really need to understand them is psychology. Of course, they need media power, and the consensus. The idea that you are insane if you are questioning certain aspects.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: That is what Dr. Caligari said.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Yes, that’s right. Or Dürrenmatt, “Die Physiker”, that’s exactly the same. Economists are like “Die Physiker”.
 

 
Dr. Minkmar: Once you can put a label on them, like “umstritten,” and you’ve already won.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Why do Hollywood movies understand this better than economists and politicians?
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: And why does Robert Harris? Did you read the book?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Yeah, wonderful.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: "Fear," Robert Harris
 

          Fireside on the Great Theft        
A recent interview in Frankfurt’s FAZ newspaper:
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: And then, just to find a starting point, maybe we can start with the personal, and then at least I would ask you both. Maybe that is a good starting point, very basic: What is the future of Europe? So, what do you conceive what will happen, and what is going to happen? Sie können sich auch gegenseitig … Now, Michael Hudson, you are in Germany and you are known to our readers, and Sahra Wagenknecht, of course, as well. Just very briefly your background. In your DNA, in your genetic code, you have traces of Indian roots.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Well, I am one-eighth (Chippewa) Indian, so I’m half Irish, a quarter Swiss, one eighth English. I grew up in Minneapolis, which was the center of America’s labor movement in the 1930s. The general strike in 1936 shaped the American labor scene.
 

 
Minnesota had a governor, Floyd B. Olson, who said that he hoped capitalism run right to hell. The Trotskyists were the main opponents of the Stalinists at that time. The irony is that you had the right wing ganging up with the Stalinists, all against the Trotskyist leadership because the Stalinists feared that a non-communist socialist leadership would build up the labor unions, as Minnesota was building up the Teamsters. So in 1941 my father became one of the Minneapolis 17, the first people committed under the Smith Act. This was ostensibly against advocating the overthrow of the government by force and violence, defined so loosely that in the presentation before the jury, it meant simply having the works of Marx and Lenin on your bookshelf.
 

 
I later was asked, when I went to work for Herman Kahn at the Hudson Institute, whether there was any reason why I could not get a top secret security clearance. I mentioned that my father was a Trotskyist leader, and he said: Oh, they know about that, that Stalin and Roosevelt made a deal around 1941 that if Roosevelt would prosecute the Trotskyists, the Communist Party promised not to pull out any of its Labor unions on strike during the balance of the war. The U.S. Attorney General later wrote in his autobiography that it was the only thing that was ashamed of doing, because by no stretch of the imagination could the Trotskyists have been any threat to the country.
 

 
In fact, it was the Trotskyists that called in the National Guard to protect the workers and the strikers against the police force that was working on behalf of the large companies. The lawyer for the Trotskyists in the trial was Al Goldman, who had been a colleague of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht. As I was growing up, most of the radicals who were still living throughout the world and from the United States would come to my house, and tell me their stories and their experiences.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: What could they say about Luxemburg and Liebknecht?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Al Goldman was still trying to find out who was responsible for killing them. But we decided that it really does not matter who the individuals are. They are usually killed by their bodyguards. The key is people behind them that order the killing.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: But you don’t have a memory of an anecdote or whatsoever, an anecdote about Luxemburg or Liebknecht, what they …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: No. Mainly, they talked about revolutionary theory. I wanted to grow up and go to jail like all of the people that my family admired, and their colleagues admired. So now I’m ashamed that I’ve never been able to go to the University of the Revolution.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: But you worked with Kahn, and I remember that Kahn was the person who proclaimed golden ages ahead of us. And he was the futurist who always said we will be so happy and so lucky. Am I right?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Yes, he was basically a military theorist who wrote a very good book on atomic warfare, saying that some people would survive. He was the model for “Dr. Strangelove”. And he felt so bad from being attacked for his military theory – and he was indeed a brilliant military theorist – that he decided to form the Corporate Environment study. But he was wrong in almost everything economic he said, so he brought me on to disagree with him on everything, as a foil. We liked each other. He was a very nice guy. In fact, we liked each other so much that we could not believe that the other person actually believed what they were saying publicly.
 

 
Herman Kahn weighed 400 pounds. I remember once in Paris, we were leaving the hotel to go to the airport, and I tried to hand him his pants. As far as my hands would stretch, they still weren’t long enough for the waist. He also had narcolepsy. When he was not speaking at a public lecture, he would fall asleep – usually in his food. He would rise from the table with the food flowing down his necktie, talking about the world economy an expanding pie, and in another generation, the whole world could live just like him. And everybody would go on diet, over a long time.
 

 
One of the big problems we had was when he wanted me to project the gross national product and hence living standards at 6 % or 4 % per year, which economists were doing at that time. He thought that all the technology and power somehow would make all countries rich. I refused to make that calculation, even though when I joined the Institute I insisted that the one perk that I wanted was an HP 75 calculator that could calculate exponential growth. I told Herman that the only growth that is exponential is financial – the magic of compound interest. And the more compound interest grows, the more it slows the economy, like driving a car with the brake on.
 

 
So that is where we differed. It turned out that most of his clients ended up hiring me instead of him, and I ended up getting a collection of Tibetan art as a result, and buying enough real estate, so, I’ve never had to work ever since and could spend all of my time writing.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: You talked about rescuing the banks, and that is really a phrase for trying to rescue a whole financial growth function to somehow save debts that can’t be paid. The question is: Who is going to take the loss? It really is trying to keep the debt overhead in place, by making the public sector absorb all the losses of the banks that have made the bad loan. And beyond this, it is really an ideology – an ideology that somehow the debts can all be paid. And beyond that, there is something else. Saving the banks is a slogan …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Sahra Wagenknecht, did I get you right that you say they can be paid?
 

 
Wagenknecht: They can’t. Also vorläufig können sie immer wieder, aber irgendwann …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Wegen der oberen 1 %.
 

 
Wagenknecht: … The upper class has to take the losses.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: The bailout is not saving the banks. The banks could function very well the next day after a debt cancellation. You are saving the bank stockholders and the bondholders and the rich counterparties to the banks. You are saving the gamblers who have accounts with the banks, not saving the banks.
 

 
But there is something even worse. The slogan “saving the banks” means a program for the governments to be financially responsible, which means financially self-destructive. The bailout is forcing Greece to sell its public domain, its water and sewer systems, its land, its real estate, its buildings, to sell to private buyers who are going to borrow money at interest from the bank to buy these public assets, and to treat them like a toll road.
 

 
So in the broadest sense of the term, saving the banks means to achieve by financial terms what it took an army militarily to counter a thousand years ago. Saving the banks thus is destroying society. Is that worth the payment?
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Very good and very understandable, but a question again. We can’t be too economic but … You say, you don’t save the banks. But what is, let’s say, my life insurance. What they say to me is that my bank has Staatsanleihen from …, at a normal average term too, so I would lose as an average person … I mean, by saving the banks, don’t they save me as well?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: No, that’s the trick that they are playing. For instance, in the United States the largest bank is Citibank. That was insolvent as a result of being one of the most abusive fraudulent banks with junk mortgages and similar gambles. The head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Sheila Bair, said that she argued with the Obama administration saying that she could close down Citibank and save all of the insured depositors. She could have saved all of the basic banking functions.
 

 
The only people who would not have been saved would have been the gamblers at the top, on whom Citibank had written derivative gambles. It is as if in a horse race somebody goes to the casino and gambles, and then can’t pay their debt. The casinos say: We can’t operate at all, if the losers can’t pay what they owe. So, you – the government – have to levy a tax, to enable the losers to pay the winners.
 

 
It’s true that not everybody’s savings would have been saved under this plan. But normal operations would have been. And it’s the same with AIG, the Insurance conglomerate that was bailed out with $184 billion dollars. All this loss went through the London office making financial gambles, losing bets as to which way interest rates and junk mortgages would move. The government could simply have closed down AIG, taking it over and said: We are saving all of your normal insurance policies, we are saving all of your normal business, but the gamblers we are just not paying.
 

 
But in that case, Goldman Sachs would not have been paid $18 billion dollars. And Goldman Sachs had its representative Hank Paulson as Secretary of the Treasury. The Treasury was paying its private colleagues on Wall Street, instead of saving the normal depositors. The intention of this bank bailout is to wipe out the normal depositors and only save the rich of the top. Pretending to save the poor, the working class,and the middle class, they want to save everything for the top 1%. That is what they did with Citibank, and that is what they did with AIG. Citibank makes money by lending to people like Sam Zell, who would buy a company, look at the pension funds or Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), and empty them out to pay his creditors. So, what the government is saving are the parasitic functions of the banks.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: To make it clear, and ask Frau Wagenknecht too: It could be possible not to save the banks, und würde trotzdem nicht diese Lebensversicherungen und Alters … das kann man trennen?
 

 
…
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Nein, that is very important for you to understand that people like me, I take me as a durchschnittliche …, believe in a kind of empirical or scientific rationality and all this stuff. And if I am told by Hans Werner Sinn or other people, der frühere Regierungssprecher, Ulrich Wilhelm, you have to save the banks because then you save your life assurance, for example, then I believe it, and everybody believes it, because you say: Well, they are mathematicians or whatsoever.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: What if I say: You have to make me rich in order to give me an incentive not to wreck society. What the banks are really saying is that: We will wreck the payment system, and we will stop paying, and we will cause a crisis if you don’t give us what we want. We are holding you hostage.
 

 
But all you really have to do is take them over and replace them with other people. You save the basic banking and insurance functions. There are plenty of good assets in there. Even junk mortgages are worth something. They are worth enough to save all of the normal activities for 90 % of the population. The losers in this case would only be the 10 % at the top … And all these gains for the last 20 years have been to the top 10 %. They would lose their gains – but there is enough to pay everybody else.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Normal understanding is, politicians need majorities, and not the 10 % of the top.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: You talk about empirical studies. If the statistics were publicized to show what I am talking about, everybody would see in chart form that there is enough money there. The Federal Reserve has them. There are many statistics available, but the newspapers don’t publish them. They find it politically incorrect to do so.
 

 
What they call “class war” is simply society trying to protect itself from the 1 %.
 

 
Dr. Minkmar: One key argument in your system of thinking is the role of central banks. And now today we think that central banks are there to supervise things and see that everything runs smoothly. But what would you advice central banks to do?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Central banks began to be created in 1694 with the Bank of England, and down to the Federal Reserve in the United States in 1913 their function was to finance government budget deficits by printing money. All governments over time run deficits – at least, most of the time – because that is how they supply the economy with the purchasing power and the money it needs to grow. The role of a central bank is to create money to finance the deficit.
 

 
If it does not do this, then the commercial banks end up performing this function. However, the commercial banks creating credit on their own computer keyboards have a different role from that of the central bank. When the central bank finances government spending, this is supposed to promote growth, full employment and industrialization. But that is not the object of a commercial bank. Banks, in the first instance, make loans against property already in place – mainly real estate and also the buyout of entire corporations. So they provide credit that bids up the price of housing, making it more expensive for workers. They also loan to buyers of commercial buildings, making it more expensive to do business, Takeover loans enable corporate raiders to bid up the price of stocks and bonds, making them yield less, so it costs more to buy a retirement income. And now, commercial banks are moving from finance capitalism to casino capitalism to make big gambles. They are essentially financing gambling. That’s what derivatives and “hedge fund” trading are.
 

 
None of this funds industrial investment. From the United States to Germany, almost all industrial capital formation is now funded by the retained earnings of corporations, not by bank borrowing. Even the stock market does not fund new direct investments. It has become a vehicle for corporate raiders to go to the banks to borrow the money, to buy a corporation on credit with junk bonds, retire the stock, and use the corporate profits to repay the banks – and then try to steal for themselves the pension funds, or sell off the assets, or just work the labor force more intensively; longer hours, outsource labor and move to the un-unionized labor. So the banks are no longer part of the industrialization process; they are part of the de-industrialization process. This is applauded as the post-industrial economy.
 

 
…
 

 
Dr. Minkmar: You were talking about Europe as being the new third world as a model for politics …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: In the 1970s and 80s, the International Monetary Fund imposed austerity on indebted countries. The conditions were that if the countries did not pay their foreign debts, they would be treated like Cuba or Iran, and made into pariahs in the international community. So, they were forced to sell off and privatize.
 

 
When I worked for Chase Manhattan Bank in 1964, my first job was to analyze the economies of Argentina, Brazil and Chile. My job was to calculate/estimate how much potential they could export and raise, one way or another.
 

 
In Latin America it could only be imposed at gunpoint, as you saw in Chile. So the first privatization, the first free-market model, was imposed at gunpoint in Chile under general Pinochet, under the direction of Henry Kissinger and the Nixon administration, and the University of Chicago Economics Department under Harberger and other operatives down there.
 

 
Once they did that, the next big test was the former Soviet Union. Unlike the West, the Soviet Union had no background in Marxism. They had no group that was familiar with Marx and Engels or classical economics. So in 1991 they immediately adopted the neo-liberal approach that said: We can promote millionaires by privatizing the property. Many friends of mine tried to go over and promote a more reasonable tax system. The post-Soviet economies after 1991 would have financed themselves by taxing natural resource wealth and real estate. But as soon as these good advisors would go over there, right-wing institutes like the Lincoln Institute or the World Bank would come and tell the mayors of a town: We’ll give you a million dollars in computers if you follow our system and give the assets to your insiders to create a new nomenklatura of vested property interests – specifically, rentier interests, who would issue stocks in their companies and sell them to U.S. and other foreign investors. The idea was to let the West buy out the key rent-yielding assets in the former Soviet Union, above all mineral rights and public utilities, as well as centrally located real estate.
 

 
The government would put a deposit in one of the banks of the nomenklatura. In the Loans-for-shares program in 1994, the banks right say: 100 million dollars to buy Yukos oil company. The government would redeposit the check in the bank, so that they got the company for nothing, that is, no cash of their own. And then, when the government did not repay the debt, the bank would get many billion dollars worth of an oil or mining company.
 

 
The Americans did this because they realized that if a kleptocrat could buy Russian resources for one cent on the dollar, they would be happy to sell it for two cents on the dollar. That made the Russian stock market the best performing market in the world from 1994 to 1997. Russia let itself be financialized.
 

 
Other parts in the Soviet Union did not have raw materials. So a more accurate dress rehearsal would be what happened in Latvia, where they imposed a neo-liberal paradise. As in Russia, the neo-liberals had a free hand as to how to design what they said would be an ideal economy. Their way of creating such an economy and its financial and fiscal system was to say: “Don’t set up your own banks. Let foreign banks create the credit on their own keyboards.” Labor in Latvia has to confront a 59% set of flat taxes on employment – taxes that together are 59%. The real estate tax is only 1%, based on the most recent appraisal of Latvian property, which was in 1917 just before the revolution. So, the result was the largest real estate bubble of all.
 

 
That is basically the neo-liberal plan for how to get rich in a post-industrial economy. A property is worth whatever a bank will lend, because without taxes the value of this economic rent became available to be paid to the banks as interest rather than as taxes. The value of the site’s location should have been the basis of public financing, as in America. It’s the basis for most localities to pay for their school systems. If you are not going to tax property, if you are not going to tax monopolies, if you are not going to tax finance, then you have to tax labor. That’s why you have a 59% tax on employment in Latvia.
 

 
The result was an economic collapse in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. The result is that one third of the Latvian labor force of working age between 20 and 35 emigrated or announced its intention to emigrate. They would go to countries like Ireland which also was being financialized. So the Baltics still, even last year, were celebrated by the Institute for International Economics, the Peterson Institute, which is a bank lobbyist in the United States, and by the applauder of Russian privatization, Anders Aslund, the Swedish neoliberal lobbyist. Latvia is applauded as a model for which Europe should emulate. So you can expect your wages to be cut by 30%, you can expect people will have to go into a lifetime of debt in order to buy housing. They will have to have to inherit money if they want to get an education.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: That is what you say about Europe?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: I said, if you follow the Latvian model. This is the ideal. The basic principle when I talk to bankers is: You don’t know how far wages can be pushed down until somebody pushes back. And so far, nobody has pushed back.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: But what is with the unions? Normally …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: The communist countries did not have unions because they were supposed to be one big union. So the working conditions in the Baltic States have the worst accident rates, the worst workplace conditions, and their workers report the most abusive treatment by their employers. The workplace conditions in the post-communist economies are much worse than those in the capitalist economies, where there has been a symbiosis between labor and capital, a symbiosis between the private sector and the government.
 
….
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Just, I mean, off the record, but one of the advisers of chancellor Merkel is sometimes amazing, and he keeps telling this. He says: No, don’t write that. He says: It’s illegal, it’s against the treaty. I mean, that’s his last argument. So, I would like to … from scientific point of view. Frau
 

 
Wagenknecht: You are insane … What do you say as a scientist to this question?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Let’s simply look at the empirical facts. Since 2008 you have had the largest monetary creation in the 20th century’s history. The central banks have fueled this money creation. In America alone they have added $13 trillion dollars to the federal debt by bank bailouts. Yet prices have remained quite stable. Wages actually have fallen for the last 30 years, despite the wave of asset-price inflation fueled by commercial bank credit.
 

 
Central bank economists talk about consumer price or commodity price inflation. But commercial banks fuel asset price inflation, by lending money against real estate, stocks and bonds already in existence. As they make credit terms easier, people need more access to bank credit in order to buy a house. They have to bid against other. So bank credit inflates real estate prices. The upshot is that now you have to take more years of your income to buy a home. In the United States, the average American worker now pays 40% of family income for housing, 15% of income more for other debt service on credit cards and student loans. Another 15% is for wage withholding, and about another 15 % in other taxes, including sales taxes. This means that only about a quarter of American workers’ income is available to be spent on goods and services. Bank lending has absorbed so much of the income of workers that money that is spent to pay the banks is not available to be spent on goods and services.
 

 
So the flip side of asset price inflation is debt deflation. More and more money has to be spent to carry the debt overhead. The problem is not central banks financing domestic government budget deficits. Every hyperinflation in history has come as a result of the collapse of the balance of payments. The Germans are most familiar with 1921, but they tend to forget that the Weimar inflation was a result of Germany trying to pay reparations abroad. They were ordered by the Allied powers to print Deutsche Marks not for domestic spending, not to run a domestic deficit, not to rebuild Germany, not to employ labor, but to throw reichsmarks onto the foreign exchange market to obtain the foreign currency to pay the Allies, so that the Allies could turn around and pay the arms debts for what they bought from the United States before entry into World War One. It was the collapse of the foreign exchange that caused the hyperinflation, not domestic spending. And Germany’s hyperinflation was not cured by the central bank creating less money. It was cured by setting up a triangular flow of international payments. American bondholders would lend money to German municipalities that would issue bonds. The municipalities would receive dollars, and turn them over to the Reichsbank. It then would issue German currency against this for local spending – using the dollars to pay the Allies. The Allies would pay America, and that would keep the circular flow going. But to do this, interest rates had to be held down in the United States, to make German and other European borrowing more profitable for international lenders.
 

 
The same thing happened in Chile, which is another textbook hyperinflation. Rogers wrote a book on the process of hyperinflation in France that also occurred in the 1920s. The classic study of German inflation is by Salomon Flink, The Reichsbank and Economic Germany. The book actually was printed in Germany at that time. The same thing happened in Russia in the 1990s. The Russia hyperinflation occurred as a result of the depreciation of the ruble. This was already determined in advance at the meeting in Huston, Texas, between the World Bank and the IMF and the other Russian authorities. All this was published at the time, even before break-up of the Soviet Union. So to talk about hyperinflation as if it is a domestic phenomenon is to ignore the fact that never in history has it been domestic. It always is a balance-of-payments phenomenon, associated either with war or a class war, as in Chile’s case.
 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Now, to leave that economical …, to go to the interpretation of what will come. So, when I get it right, what you say, and Frau Wagenknecht says it too, there will be a … Wir werden ärmer. Also der durchschnittliche Deutsche wird verarmen oder ärmer.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Impoverishment.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Right. And not a revolution, not a moment where the society says no? That’s my question. But at the same time, what we are observing is that it is not only a change of the social standards of human beings in Europe but of the whole idea of democracy as well. This is something that strikes me most, which I would never believed. I must say, ten years ago, I would have said: conspiracy. And many like me would have said that the banks are so powerful and so on. Now, we start thinking whether “conspiracy” is the right word for it. And the same with the democracy, democratic question. I learned at school that the “Soziale Marktwirtschaft”, as we termed it, definitely requires Pluralismus, Demokratie, Partizipation, all that. But, and that is my question, are we, as Colin Crouch writes, postulating a post-democratic system? Is one of the prizes we have to pay for it, that democracy becomes weaker and weaker, and isn’t that a very dangerous development?
 

 
….
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Und da hätte ich eine Frage, die auch ganz aktuell ist, an Michael Hudson, vielleicht more in a theoretical way. Our new president said apparently, it is ridiculous to protest against, how did he say it, the capitalistic system, or something like that. Es ist lächerlich …
 

 
Wagenknecht: Nein, albern hat er …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Albern, ja, another word, it’s like ridiculous. And there we are, the point of question is, after the end of the communism, there was the idea, there is the triumph of capitalism. And now the people who are very social saying, I am repeating what they said in Germany: Now we can have a chance really, we don’t need the money for Rüstung anymore, and for armies, and against the Soviet Union, and so on. And now, we are in the third phase, and that’s why the (spot) that is so interesting, is the question: There is no alternative. Nobody really likes it, many people suffer. But the idea is, they managed to get the system like die beste aller möglichen Welten, there is no alternative to that all. What do you say to that, and what do you say to this quote?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: It is very interesting that the destruction of communism, or what passed for communism in 1990, made possible the destruction of industrial capitalism. What you have today is not capitalism as it was known when I grew up. It is not the capitalism that was talked about by Adam Smith, Ricardo, John Stuart Mill or even Marx. It is something that is evolved into finance capitalism, that is going through a number of stages. Pension-fund capitalism is exploiting labor, not by hiring it to produce goods and services, but to dock savings and channel them into the hands of financial managers – to bid up stock market prices.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Is it not the case, that this system did exist in the 20s?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: No, it only existed since 1950s. That is when General Motors started its pension fund. Pension funds soon became the single largest purchasers of stock, pushing up stock prices. The major sellers of stock have been management insiders, and increasingly those exercising their stock options, selling them in effect to the pension funds. So, the function of labor was to provide pension fund savings to spur stock market gains for the managers that have been financializing industrial companies – and in the process, de-industrializing them.
 

 
So, I’d like to plug this into the earlier discussion you just had. When you use the word “post-democratic society”, that is a byproduct of the post-industrial economy, which essentially means a financialized economy. It also was post-modern, if you think of “modern” as what existed in the early 20th century in the Progressive Era. That was the Modern Era. We are now in a post-modern era. The pro-financial strategy is essentially an anti-government strategy. That is because every economy is planned by someone or other. Most economies throughout history have been planned by the government, or whoever controls it, whether it’s been the landed aristocracy or bankers. If the government does not do the planning, this function is forfeited to the banks. And that is where we are today. Just like the case in which, if taxes are cut and the government does not get the revenue, it is available to be pledged to the banks and capitalized on the debt.
 

 
So the planning process passes to the banks, and they claim that they are the brains of society. They say, there is no alternative. But they are not the brain; they are something alien to industrial capitalism. This is what the Saint-Simon and his followers discussed in the 19th century. It was discussed in every country. The financial strategy now is to prevent people from studying what this body of classical economics was. It sought to free society from interest. Today’s banks are playing upon anxiety and fear, like a high-pressure salesman threatening to bring on a collapse if industrial economies try to protect themselves. They say: “You have to make up your decision in a hurry, if you don’t do this, you are going to lose your money, you are going to lose this opportunity.” They try to make it appear that this not only is the only alternative, but that it will make you rich.
 

 
Banks have been saying this for 30 years. This is the first time in history that people have believed they could get rich by borrowing money to buy assets that are increasing in price, or that they may get rich by the hyperinflation of property prices, and by the stock and bond prices that bank credit has inflated. Banks have managed to prevent the government from regulating and preventing this hyperinflation – and they even have called it “wealth creation.”
 

 
It is really debt creation. Debt is a claim on the means of production, and on labor. It is not a process of real growth. So what banks are saying is that there is no alternative but to let debts grow, at compound interest. This means reducing wages, as more and more must be spent on debt service. This eats into corporate cash flow and profits. So more and more are siphoned off to pay creditors. Debt also eats into the government revenue, so that the government does not have enough to pay for social programs and pensions. It only has enough to bail out the banks on exponentially growing debt that can never been paid, mathematically. That is the empirical fact. All you have to do is draw a statistical chart of the growth of debt, and compare it to the growth in wages. And you’ll see …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: How do you explain from a business point of view … I take the example of Dresden. I was in Dresden two weeks ago, and there they explained to me, the people I met from the city and from Volksbank and all these … They explained to me that Dresden, which I didn’t know, sold parts of their Stadtwerke and so on, and bought it back now because they realized that it was a mistake. I hear this from many, many other cities. Now, in my understanding of society, someone apparently made mistake here, the people who sold this, or at least, put the pressure. And normally, you would have to pay a price for making a mistake, and society would say: How could this happen? But the contrary is true, first of all, nobody discusses this, I can’t see it in den Städten.
 

 
That’s the first. And the second is, the made a mistake but became rich, from what I see. They are not sanctioned at all. So, I always ask you for the gesellschaftlichen Folgen. Isn’t this something what really is the most frightening result of this new era that things we once learned when we were kids, are not true anymore? The question of, it’s not that you are sanctioned when you make mistakes but that you can benefit in this regard?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: This is a question that I have discussed in Russia and China with their leaders. Fortunately, there is an alternative that they are well aware of. There is a way to recover the property that has been turned over to the privatizers. The answer is very simple: a windfall gain tax or a rent tax. If the land is been privatized, as it has been in China and Russia, all you have to do is tax the land’s value – the natural value, not the building value, but just the economic rent. You will recapture for the state the free lunch of economic rent.
 

 
The same principle applies to mines and fuel resources. You will simply have a mineral depletion tax that will recapture the value of what nature has provided freely. So the alternative is for the government not to tax profits, not to tax wages, not to tax income, but to tax economic rent. Because what the national income account pretends to be empirical, pretends to be “earnings” of the banks and other rentiers, is actually a transfer function – and often, outright theft.
 

 
It’s remarkable that French novelists realize this, such as Balzac who said that behind every great family fortune is a great theft. Economists don’t rise to the level of 19th century French novelists when it comes to understanding the economy.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: So to get back to your outlook again, talking about Europe, we have another debate that is quite interesting, which I think might be important to see. The one debate is, Greece is a lazy country and …, a new nationalism. The other one which I hear from bankers, by the way, sometimes, is, they say it ganz leise: It’s all America. So, it’s a huge American conspiracy. And they say: Wir wissen auch, dass das System nicht funktioniert, aber das ist ein amerikanischer Druck auf das, was jetzt mit Europa passiert usw. My question is, again, I think of Peter Hacks and Rahmentheorie. Ist das ein – das ist etwas, was ich für das Allerwichtigste halte – ein Prozess, der nicht mit einem big bang …
 
…
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Das wäre Occupy. Will "Occupy" be a revolutionary agent?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: We’re not trying to be a revolutionary agent. We are in a pre-revolutionary situation, so the aim is to raise consciousness – at this point, simply to explain how the world works. And many people want to … They sense that the economy does not work the way that textbooks say. But they can’t reinvent the rules by themselves. So most of the reason “Occupy Wall Street” is on Wall Street is because that is where the problem is. And most of the financial advisers, like myself, are lifetime workers on Wall Street, specialists in financial maneuvering and behavior. So our job is to explain to people, to popularize what used to be classical economics. Right wing interests have inverted the classical idea of free markets and captured its vocabulary, hijacking the repertory of classical, socialist and social democratic rhetoric.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Exactly that is what they did.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: I want to comment on your earlier point. It is true that the parasitic financial dynamic stems from America. But that is official policy; it is not a secret. It is not a conspiracy, it is very open. I am told that when Mr. Geithner came here to meet with the German bankers about the Greek debt, the Germans and Mrs. Merkel were in favor of a default, saying: Look, they can’t pay. But Mr. Geithner said that the German and the French banks and other banks have taken out credit default insurance with the American banks. These American banks would go under if Greece defaulted. Mrs. Merkel agreed to sacrifice the German banks and to impose losses on the German banks in order to help America. She seems to have put American interests before her own national interest, and cost the German people hundreds of billions of dollars by doing this. It is as if the leaders of Europe are hypnotized by a kind of Dr. Caligari who ends up to be running the asylum.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: (…) I think, it gives sehr große Einsichten, das ist faszinierend. The idea behind is, a little bit to … first of all to show that the position Frau Wagenknecht postulates, is not a position of two people in the world, but that there is a debate about it. And the other one is to provoke the others, the economists in Germany.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: You can’t provoke them.
 

 
Wagenknecht: Provoke you can, but …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: You can only replace them with a new generation.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: What I found out, what they really need to understand them is psychology. Of course, they need media power, and the consensus. The idea that you are insane if you are questioning certain aspects.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: That is what Dr. Caligari said.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Yes, that’s right. Or Dürrenmatt, “Die Physiker”, that’s exactly the same. Economists are like “Die Physiker”.
 

 
Dr. Minkmar: Once you can put a label on them, like “umstritten,” and you’ve already won.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Why do Hollywood movies understand this better than economists and politicians?
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: And why does Robert Harris? Did you read the book?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Yeah, wonderful.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: "Fear," Robert Harris
 

          Fireside on the Great Theft        
A recent interview in Frankfurt’s FAZ newspaper:
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: And then, just to find a starting point, maybe we can start with the personal, and then at least I would ask you both. Maybe that is a good starting point, very basic: What is the future of Europe? So, what do you conceive what will happen, and what is going to happen? Sie können sich auch gegenseitig … Now, Michael Hudson, you are in Germany and you are known to our readers, and Sahra Wagenknecht, of course, as well. Just very briefly your background. In your DNA, in your genetic code, you have traces of Indian roots.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Well, I am one-eighth (Chippewa) Indian, so I’m half Irish, a quarter Swiss, one eighth English. I grew up in Minneapolis, which was the center of America’s labor movement in the 1930s. The general strike in 1936 shaped the American labor scene.
 

 
Minnesota had a governor, Floyd B. Olson, who said that he hoped capitalism run right to hell. The Trotskyists were the main opponents of the Stalinists at that time. The irony is that you had the right wing ganging up with the Stalinists, all against the Trotskyist leadership because the Stalinists feared that a non-communist socialist leadership would build up the labor unions, as Minnesota was building up the Teamsters. So in 1941 my father became one of the Minneapolis 17, the first people committed under the Smith Act. This was ostensibly against advocating the overthrow of the government by force and violence, defined so loosely that in the presentation before the jury, it meant simply having the works of Marx and Lenin on your bookshelf.
 

 
I later was asked, when I went to work for Herman Kahn at the Hudson Institute, whether there was any reason why I could not get a top secret security clearance. I mentioned that my father was a Trotskyist leader, and he said: Oh, they know about that, that Stalin and Roosevelt made a deal around 1941 that if Roosevelt would prosecute the Trotskyists, the Communist Party promised not to pull out any of its Labor unions on strike during the balance of the war. The U.S. Attorney General later wrote in his autobiography that it was the only thing that was ashamed of doing, because by no stretch of the imagination could the Trotskyists have been any threat to the country.
 

 
In fact, it was the Trotskyists that called in the National Guard to protect the workers and the strikers against the police force that was working on behalf of the large companies. The lawyer for the Trotskyists in the trial was Al Goldman, who had been a colleague of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht. As I was growing up, most of the radicals who were still living throughout the world and from the United States would come to my house, and tell me their stories and their experiences.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: What could they say about Luxemburg and Liebknecht?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Al Goldman was still trying to find out who was responsible for killing them. But we decided that it really does not matter who the individuals are. They are usually killed by their bodyguards. The key is people behind them that order the killing.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: But you don’t have a memory of an anecdote or whatsoever, an anecdote about Luxemburg or Liebknecht, what they …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: No. Mainly, they talked about revolutionary theory. I wanted to grow up and go to jail like all of the people that my family admired, and their colleagues admired. So now I’m ashamed that I’ve never been able to go to the University of the Revolution.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: But you worked with Kahn, and I remember that Kahn was the person who proclaimed golden ages ahead of us. And he was the futurist who always said we will be so happy and so lucky. Am I right?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Yes, he was basically a military theorist who wrote a very good book on atomic warfare, saying that some people would survive. He was the model for “Dr. Strangelove”. And he felt so bad from being attacked for his military theory – and he was indeed a brilliant military theorist – that he decided to form the Corporate Environment study. But he was wrong in almost everything economic he said, so he brought me on to disagree with him on everything, as a foil. We liked each other. He was a very nice guy. In fact, we liked each other so much that we could not believe that the other person actually believed what they were saying publicly.
 

 
Herman Kahn weighed 400 pounds. I remember once in Paris, we were leaving the hotel to go to the airport, and I tried to hand him his pants. As far as my hands would stretch, they still weren’t long enough for the waist. He also had narcolepsy. When he was not speaking at a public lecture, he would fall asleep – usually in his food. He would rise from the table with the food flowing down his necktie, talking about the world economy an expanding pie, and in another generation, the whole world could live just like him. And everybody would go on diet, over a long time.
 

 
One of the big problems we had was when he wanted me to project the gross national product and hence living standards at 6 % or 4 % per year, which economists were doing at that time. He thought that all the technology and power somehow would make all countries rich. I refused to make that calculation, even though when I joined the Institute I insisted that the one perk that I wanted was an HP 75 calculator that could calculate exponential growth. I told Herman that the only growth that is exponential is financial – the magic of compound interest. And the more compound interest grows, the more it slows the economy, like driving a car with the brake on.
 

 
So that is where we differed. It turned out that most of his clients ended up hiring me instead of him, and I ended up getting a collection of Tibetan art as a result, and buying enough real estate, so, I’ve never had to work ever since and could spend all of my time writing.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: You talked about rescuing the banks, and that is really a phrase for trying to rescue a whole financial growth function to somehow save debts that can’t be paid. The question is: Who is going to take the loss? It really is trying to keep the debt overhead in place, by making the public sector absorb all the losses of the banks that have made the bad loan. And beyond this, it is really an ideology – an ideology that somehow the debts can all be paid. And beyond that, there is something else. Saving the banks is a slogan …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Sahra Wagenknecht, did I get you right that you say they can be paid?
 

 
Wagenknecht: They can’t. Also vorläufig können sie immer wieder, aber irgendwann …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Wegen der oberen 1 %.
 

 
Wagenknecht: … The upper class has to take the losses.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: The bailout is not saving the banks. The banks could function very well the next day after a debt cancellation. You are saving the bank stockholders and the bondholders and the rich counterparties to the banks. You are saving the gamblers who have accounts with the banks, not saving the banks.
 

 
But there is something even worse. The slogan “saving the banks” means a program for the governments to be financially responsible, which means financially self-destructive. The bailout is forcing Greece to sell its public domain, its water and sewer systems, its land, its real estate, its buildings, to sell to private buyers who are going to borrow money at interest from the bank to buy these public assets, and to treat them like a toll road.
 

 
So in the broadest sense of the term, saving the banks means to achieve by financial terms what it took an army militarily to counter a thousand years ago. Saving the banks thus is destroying society. Is that worth the payment?
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Very good and very understandable, but a question again. We can’t be too economic but … You say, you don’t save the banks. But what is, let’s say, my life insurance. What they say to me is that my bank has Staatsanleihen from …, at a normal average term too, so I would lose as an average person … I mean, by saving the banks, don’t they save me as well?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: No, that’s the trick that they are playing. For instance, in the United States the largest bank is Citibank. That was insolvent as a result of being one of the most abusive fraudulent banks with junk mortgages and similar gambles. The head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Sheila Bair, said that she argued with the Obama administration saying that she could close down Citibank and save all of the insured depositors. She could have saved all of the basic banking functions.
 

 
The only people who would not have been saved would have been the gamblers at the top, on whom Citibank had written derivative gambles. It is as if in a horse race somebody goes to the casino and gambles, and then can’t pay their debt. The casinos say: We can’t operate at all, if the losers can’t pay what they owe. So, you – the government – have to levy a tax, to enable the losers to pay the winners.
 

 
It’s true that not everybody’s savings would have been saved under this plan. But normal operations would have been. And it’s the same with AIG, the Insurance conglomerate that was bailed out with $184 billion dollars. All this loss went through the London office making financial gambles, losing bets as to which way interest rates and junk mortgages would move. The government could simply have closed down AIG, taking it over and said: We are saving all of your normal insurance policies, we are saving all of your normal business, but the gamblers we are just not paying.
 

 
But in that case, Goldman Sachs would not have been paid $18 billion dollars. And Goldman Sachs had its representative Hank Paulson as Secretary of the Treasury. The Treasury was paying its private colleagues on Wall Street, instead of saving the normal depositors. The intention of this bank bailout is to wipe out the normal depositors and only save the rich of the top. Pretending to save the poor, the working class,and the middle class, they want to save everything for the top 1%. That is what they did with Citibank, and that is what they did with AIG. Citibank makes money by lending to people like Sam Zell, who would buy a company, look at the pension funds or Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), and empty them out to pay his creditors. So, what the government is saving are the parasitic functions of the banks.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: To make it clear, and ask Frau Wagenknecht too: It could be possible not to save the banks, und würde trotzdem nicht diese Lebensversicherungen und Alters … das kann man trennen?
 

 
…
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Nein, that is very important for you to understand that people like me, I take me as a durchschnittliche …, believe in a kind of empirical or scientific rationality and all this stuff. And if I am told by Hans Werner Sinn or other people, der frühere Regierungssprecher, Ulrich Wilhelm, you have to save the banks because then you save your life assurance, for example, then I believe it, and everybody believes it, because you say: Well, they are mathematicians or whatsoever.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: What if I say: You have to make me rich in order to give me an incentive not to wreck society. What the banks are really saying is that: We will wreck the payment system, and we will stop paying, and we will cause a crisis if you don’t give us what we want. We are holding you hostage.
 

 
But all you really have to do is take them over and replace them with other people. You save the basic banking and insurance functions. There are plenty of good assets in there. Even junk mortgages are worth something. They are worth enough to save all of the normal activities for 90 % of the population. The losers in this case would only be the 10 % at the top … And all these gains for the last 20 years have been to the top 10 %. They would lose their gains – but there is enough to pay everybody else.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Normal understanding is, politicians need majorities, and not the 10 % of the top.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: You talk about empirical studies. If the statistics were publicized to show what I am talking about, everybody would see in chart form that there is enough money there. The Federal Reserve has them. There are many statistics available, but the newspapers don’t publish them. They find it politically incorrect to do so.
 

 
What they call “class war” is simply society trying to protect itself from the 1 %.
 

 
Dr. Minkmar: One key argument in your system of thinking is the role of central banks. And now today we think that central banks are there to supervise things and see that everything runs smoothly. But what would you advice central banks to do?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Central banks began to be created in 1694 with the Bank of England, and down to the Federal Reserve in the United States in 1913 their function was to finance government budget deficits by printing money. All governments over time run deficits – at least, most of the time – because that is how they supply the economy with the purchasing power and the money it needs to grow. The role of a central bank is to create money to finance the deficit.
 

 
If it does not do this, then the commercial banks end up performing this function. However, the commercial banks creating credit on their own computer keyboards have a different role from that of the central bank. When the central bank finances government spending, this is supposed to promote growth, full employment and industrialization. But that is not the object of a commercial bank. Banks, in the first instance, make loans against property already in place – mainly real estate and also the buyout of entire corporations. So they provide credit that bids up the price of housing, making it more expensive for workers. They also loan to buyers of commercial buildings, making it more expensive to do business, Takeover loans enable corporate raiders to bid up the price of stocks and bonds, making them yield less, so it costs more to buy a retirement income. And now, commercial banks are moving from finance capitalism to casino capitalism to make big gambles. They are essentially financing gambling. That’s what derivatives and “hedge fund” trading are.
 

 
None of this funds industrial investment. From the United States to Germany, almost all industrial capital formation is now funded by the retained earnings of corporations, not by bank borrowing. Even the stock market does not fund new direct investments. It has become a vehicle for corporate raiders to go to the banks to borrow the money, to buy a corporation on credit with junk bonds, retire the stock, and use the corporate profits to repay the banks – and then try to steal for themselves the pension funds, or sell off the assets, or just work the labor force more intensively; longer hours, outsource labor and move to the un-unionized labor. So the banks are no longer part of the industrialization process; they are part of the de-industrialization process. This is applauded as the post-industrial economy.
 

 
…
 

 
Dr. Minkmar: You were talking about Europe as being the new third world as a model for politics …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: In the 1970s and 80s, the International Monetary Fund imposed austerity on indebted countries. The conditions were that if the countries did not pay their foreign debts, they would be treated like Cuba or Iran, and made into pariahs in the international community. So, they were forced to sell off and privatize.
 

 
When I worked for Chase Manhattan Bank in 1964, my first job was to analyze the economies of Argentina, Brazil and Chile. My job was to calculate/estimate how much potential they could export and raise, one way or another.
 

 
In Latin America it could only be imposed at gunpoint, as you saw in Chile. So the first privatization, the first free-market model, was imposed at gunpoint in Chile under general Pinochet, under the direction of Henry Kissinger and the Nixon administration, and the University of Chicago Economics Department under Harberger and other operatives down there.
 

 
Once they did that, the next big test was the former Soviet Union. Unlike the West, the Soviet Union had no background in Marxism. They had no group that was familiar with Marx and Engels or classical economics. So in 1991 they immediately adopted the neo-liberal approach that said: We can promote millionaires by privatizing the property. Many friends of mine tried to go over and promote a more reasonable tax system. The post-Soviet economies after 1991 would have financed themselves by taxing natural resource wealth and real estate. But as soon as these good advisors would go over there, right-wing institutes like the Lincoln Institute or the World Bank would come and tell the mayors of a town: We’ll give you a million dollars in computers if you follow our system and give the assets to your insiders to create a new nomenklatura of vested property interests – specifically, rentier interests, who would issue stocks in their companies and sell them to U.S. and other foreign investors. The idea was to let the West buy out the key rent-yielding assets in the former Soviet Union, above all mineral rights and public utilities, as well as centrally located real estate.
 

 
The government would put a deposit in one of the banks of the nomenklatura. In the Loans-for-shares program in 1994, the banks right say: 100 million dollars to buy Yukos oil company. The government would redeposit the check in the bank, so that they got the company for nothing, that is, no cash of their own. And then, when the government did not repay the debt, the bank would get many billion dollars worth of an oil or mining company.
 

 
The Americans did this because they realized that if a kleptocrat could buy Russian resources for one cent on the dollar, they would be happy to sell it for two cents on the dollar. That made the Russian stock market the best performing market in the world from 1994 to 1997. Russia let itself be financialized.
 

 
Other parts in the Soviet Union did not have raw materials. So a more accurate dress rehearsal would be what happened in Latvia, where they imposed a neo-liberal paradise. As in Russia, the neo-liberals had a free hand as to how to design what they said would be an ideal economy. Their way of creating such an economy and its financial and fiscal system was to say: “Don’t set up your own banks. Let foreign banks create the credit on their own keyboards.” Labor in Latvia has to confront a 59% set of flat taxes on employment – taxes that together are 59%. The real estate tax is only 1%, based on the most recent appraisal of Latvian property, which was in 1917 just before the revolution. So, the result was the largest real estate bubble of all.
 

 
That is basically the neo-liberal plan for how to get rich in a post-industrial economy. A property is worth whatever a bank will lend, because without taxes the value of this economic rent became available to be paid to the banks as interest rather than as taxes. The value of the site’s location should have been the basis of public financing, as in America. It’s the basis for most localities to pay for their school systems. If you are not going to tax property, if you are not going to tax monopolies, if you are not going to tax finance, then you have to tax labor. That’s why you have a 59% tax on employment in Latvia.
 

 
The result was an economic collapse in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. The result is that one third of the Latvian labor force of working age between 20 and 35 emigrated or announced its intention to emigrate. They would go to countries like Ireland which also was being financialized. So the Baltics still, even last year, were celebrated by the Institute for International Economics, the Peterson Institute, which is a bank lobbyist in the United States, and by the applauder of Russian privatization, Anders Aslund, the Swedish neoliberal lobbyist. Latvia is applauded as a model for which Europe should emulate. So you can expect your wages to be cut by 30%, you can expect people will have to go into a lifetime of debt in order to buy housing. They will have to have to inherit money if they want to get an education.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: That is what you say about Europe?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: I said, if you follow the Latvian model. This is the ideal. The basic principle when I talk to bankers is: You don’t know how far wages can be pushed down until somebody pushes back. And so far, nobody has pushed back.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: But what is with the unions? Normally …
 

 
Prof. Hudson: The communist countries did not have unions because they were supposed to be one big union. So the working conditions in the Baltic States have the worst accident rates, the worst workplace conditions, and their workers report the most abusive treatment by their employers. The workplace conditions in the post-communist economies are much worse than those in the capitalist economies, where there has been a symbiosis between labor and capital, a symbiosis between the private sector and the government.
 
….
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Just, I mean, off the record, but one of the advisers of chancellor Merkel is sometimes amazing, and he keeps telling this. He says: No, don’t write that. He says: It’s illegal, it’s against the treaty. I mean, that’s his last argument. So, I would like to … from scientific point of view. Frau
 

 
Wagenknecht: You are insane … What do you say as a scientist to this question?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Let’s simply look at the empirical facts. Since 2008 you have had the largest monetary creation in the 20th century’s history. The central banks have fueled this money creation. In America alone they have added $13 trillion dollars to the federal debt by bank bailouts. Yet prices have remained quite stable. Wages actually have fallen for the last 30 years, despite the wave of asset-price inflation fueled by commercial bank credit.
 

 
Central bank economists talk about consumer price or commodity price inflation. But commercial banks fuel asset price inflation, by lending money against real estate, stocks and bonds already in existence. As they make credit terms easier, people need more access to bank credit in order to buy a house. They have to bid against other. So bank credit inflates real estate prices. The upshot is that now you have to take more years of your income to buy a home. In the United States, the average American worker now pays 40% of family income for housing, 15% of income more for other debt service on credit cards and student loans. Another 15% is for wage withholding, and about another 15 % in other taxes, including sales taxes. This means that only about a quarter of American workers’ income is available to be spent on goods and services. Bank lending has absorbed so much of the income of workers that money that is spent to pay the banks is not available to be spent on goods and services.
 

 
So the flip side of asset price inflation is debt deflation. More and more money has to be spent to carry the debt overhead. The problem is not central banks financing domestic government budget deficits. Every hyperinflation in history has come as a result of the collapse of the balance of payments. The Germans are most familiar with 1921, but they tend to forget that the Weimar inflation was a result of Germany trying to pay reparations abroad. They were ordered by the Allied powers to print Deutsche Marks not for domestic spending, not to run a domestic deficit, not to rebuild Germany, not to employ labor, but to throw reichsmarks onto the foreign exchange market to obtain the foreign currency to pay the Allies, so that the Allies could turn around and pay the arms debts for what they bought from the United States before entry into World War One. It was the collapse of the foreign exchange that caused the hyperinflation, not domestic spending. And Germany’s hyperinflation was not cured by the central bank creating less money. It was cured by setting up a triangular flow of international payments. American bondholders would lend money to German municipalities that would issue bonds. The municipalities would receive dollars, and turn them over to the Reichsbank. It then would issue German currency against this for local spending – using the dollars to pay the Allies. The Allies would pay America, and that would keep the circular flow going. But to do this, interest rates had to be held down in the United States, to make German and other European borrowing more profitable for international lenders.
 

 
The same thing happened in Chile, which is another textbook hyperinflation. Rogers wrote a book on the process of hyperinflation in France that also occurred in the 1920s. The classic study of German inflation is by Salomon Flink, The Reichsbank and Economic Germany. The book actually was printed in Germany at that time. The same thing happened in Russia in the 1990s. The Russia hyperinflation occurred as a result of the depreciation of the ruble. This was already determined in advance at the meeting in Huston, Texas, between the World Bank and the IMF and the other Russian authorities. All this was published at the time, even before break-up of the Soviet Union. So to talk about hyperinflation as if it is a domestic phenomenon is to ignore the fact that never in history has it been domestic. It always is a balance-of-payments phenomenon, associated either with war or a class war, as in Chile’s case.
 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Now, to leave that economical …, to go to the interpretation of what will come. So, when I get it right, what you say, and Frau Wagenknecht says it too, there will be a … Wir werden ärmer. Also der durchschnittliche Deutsche wird verarmen oder ärmer.
 

 
Prof. Hudson: Impoverishment.
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Right. And not a revolution, not a moment where the society says no? That’s my question. But at the same time, what we are observing is that it is not only a change of the social standards of human beings in Europe but of the whole idea of democracy as well. This is something that strikes me most, which I would never believed. I must say, ten years ago, I would have said: conspiracy. And many like me would have said that the banks are so powerful and so on. Now, we start thinking whether “conspiracy” is the right word for it. And the same with the democracy, democratic question. I learned at school that the “Soziale Marktwirtschaft”, as we termed it, definitely requires Pluralismus, Demokratie, Partizipation, all that. But, and that is my question, are we, as Colin Crouch writes, postulating a post-democratic system? Is one of the prizes we have to pay for it, that democracy becomes weaker and weaker, and isn’t that a very dangerous development?
 

 
….
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Und da hätte ich eine Frage, die auch ganz aktuell ist, an Michael Hudson, vielleicht more in a theoretical way. Our new president said apparently, it is ridiculous to protest against, how did he say it, the capitalistic system, or something like that. Es ist lächerlich …
 

 
Wagenknecht: Nein, albern hat er …
 

 
Dr. Schirrmacher: Albern, ja, another word, it’s like ridiculous. And there we are, the point of question is, after the end of the communism, there was the idea, there is the triumph of capitalism. And now the people who are very social saying, I am repeating what they said in Germany: Now we can have a chance really, we don’t need the money for Rüstung anymore, and for armies, and against the Soviet Union, and so on. And now, we are in the third phase, and that’s why the (spot) that is so interesting, is the question: There is no alternative. Nobody really likes it, many people suffer. But the idea is, they managed to get the system like die beste aller möglichen Welten, there is no alternative to that all. What do you say to that, and what do you say to this quote?
 

 
Prof. Hudson: It is very interesting that the destruction of communism, or what passed for communism in 1990, made possible the destruction of industrial capitalism. What you have today is not capitalism as it was known when I grew up. It is not the capitalism that was talked about by Adam Smith, Ricardo, John Stuart Mill or even Marx. It is something that is evolved into finance capitalism, that is going through a number of stages. Pension-fund capitalism is exploiti