What is fraud except creating “value” from nothing and passing it off as something?
Frauds interlink and grow upon each other. Our debt-based money system serves as the fraud foundation. In our debt-based money system, debt must grow in order to create money.
Therefore, there is no way to pay off aggregate debt with available money. More money must be lent into the system to make the payments for old debts. This causes overall debt to expand as new money for actual people (vs. banks) always arrives at interest and compounds exponentially. This process is called financialization.
Financialization: The process of making money from nothing in which debt (i.e. poverty, lack) is paradoxically considered an asset (i.e. wealth, gain). In current financialized economies “wealth expansion” comes from the parasitic taxation of productivity in the form of interest on fiat lending. This interest over time consumes a greater and greater share of resources, assets, labor, and livelihood until nothing is left.
Only in a debt-based money system could debt be curiously cast as an asset. We’ve made “extend and pretend” a quaint phrase for a burgeoning market for financial lying and profiteering aimed toward preventing the collapse of a debt- (or lack-) based system that was already doomed by its initial design to collapse. This primer will detail the major components and basic evolution of fake wealth creation, accelerating debt expansion, hollowing out of the economy, and inevitable financial implosion.
Stage one—Fiat money origination, multiplication, and distribution
The U.S. Federal Reserve System (“The Fed”): A private, non-transparent entity, formed in 1913, representing and serving private, profit-driven banks that creates money from nothing (fiat) and to which the U.S. government has delegated and effectively ceded its constitutional power to coin money.
The Fed essentially lends our “sovereign” public money to us at interest, paying for things like government debt with more debt, thus expanding debt. By contrast, the Fed currently gives away money to its constituent private banks at zero percent interest, allowing those banks to buy U.S. Treasury bonds, which yield a 2-3 percent interest mark-up to be paid by taxpayers, adding to citizen debt.
Fractional reserve: Private fiat fabrication of exchangeable public “money” as a bookkeeping entry through “multiplication” of public fiat held in private bank reserves. Holding 100,000 dollars of depositors’ money may allow me, as a bank, to lend out 1,000,000 dollars. By what authority? None, really, just my say-so and my action.
In the court case referenced in the heading quote, Justice Mahoney ruled against a bank acting in conjunction with the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis in its efforts to foreclose upon and “buy” a U.S. citizen’s house by simply creating “the entire $14,000.00 foreclosure purchase in money or credit upon its own books by bookkeeping entry.” Further, “Mr. Morgan (the plaintiff/bank representative) admitted that no United States Law or Statute existed which gave him the right to do this.” (First National Bank of Montgomery vs. Jerome Daly
Stage two—Delusional, unregulated value assignment, manipulation, and expansion
After money is created out of thin air, other market mechanisms have been propagated to magnify, funnel, and package value-from-nothing further still, creating financial vehicles that add more numbers without adding more value.
Leverage: The practice of arbitrarily multiplying one’s alleged value in order to acquire controlling interest in another property. This mechanism is a favorite of now-discredited corporate raiders and leveraged buy-out firms that currently go under the euphemism “private equity firms”. This claimed private equity can be a fictitious multiplication of self-assessed asset value used to buy a controlling interest in a productive company.
Over the counter (OTC) derivatives:
Purely unregulated, non-transparent, and malignant uncollateralized bets and hedges on market movements requiring no assets or stake in assets. Of the over 700 trillion dollars of “notional value” in disclosed OTC derivatives by International Bank of Settlements for 2011, the majority were supposedly “benign” interest rate and currency swaps, not the more toxic credit default swaps. However, it was a Goldman Sachs currency swap with “a fictitious exchange rate” that sunk Greece, nearly doubling its liability on just one deal from about 2.8 billion euros to over 5 billion euros.
(How Goldman Sachs Helped Corrupt Politicians to Screw the Greek People
) Also remember the undisclosed OTC derivatives market may easily be bigger than the disclosed market.
Note: For a concise explanation of the related mechanisms of collateralized debt obligations (CDO’s), synthetic CDO’s, credit default swaps (CDS’s), naked short selling, and high frequency trading (HFT), see When The Market Has Cancer.
Stage three—Usurping democracies and cannibalizing functioning capitalism
A cartel of international wealth counterfeiters have boldly made claims on Greece’s national wealth through super-national entities like the European Central Bank. These claims are not backed by clear legal authority or logic, but they are being enforced anyway, administered by unelected technocrats and “agreed to” by complicit politicians acting against the interests of actual citizens.
Greece (with more countries to come) is being treated like a company town where “costs” (i.e. social services) are to be cut, productivity milked through greater taxation, and debt servitude reinforced. Corrupted capitalism continues thus to metastasize. Now that phantom paper profits are collapsing for the counterfeiters, real assets must be taken over to fill in the gaps.
Greece’s national assets have been put up for sale endangering its national sovereignty and right to control its own property. Greek well-being is being diminished through austerity programs. This has only caused the economy to contract at an accelerating rate. Seizing control of productive assets, and cannibalizing real wealth to feed counterfeit demands seem to be the primary unstated goals of these strategiesbecause the empirical results of these strategies clearly run counter to stated objectives.
(The Shock Doctrine
) The intentional infliction of insecurity, suffering, and scarcity on a population to cause panic, compliance, and amenability to exploitation and extraction of wealth. It is a thoroughly vicious business model that operates in plain sight. When abuse no longer has to be organized and covered by conspiracy, one can confirm that capitalism’s illness is in advanced stages. It is amazing how easily assets can be acquired and individual rights denied (as with fraudclosure) when people are overwhelmed by corruption on all sides.
Stage four—Implosion of the body politic or necessary transformation and redirection?
This stage has yet to be fully entered, but the fraying of Greece’s current social and political order sends a strong signal for the future of the wider world: Passivity equates with more abuse and exploitation, more austerity, and greater hijacking of national and personal assets. Active, civil resistance is necessary to stop the loss of public sovereignty to private interests. Creative, viable alternatives to the currently corrupt and fraud-ridden global economic system are vital. These alternatives and the implications of our current counterfeit wealth trajectory will be explored tomorrow in Part 2 of this article.
Money from Nothing:
A Primer on Fake Wealth Creation and its Implications
This article was originally published in Of Two Minds, 14 March 2012
Reprinted with Permission
This is Part 2 of "Money From Nothing" by Zeus Zeus Yiamouyiannis
Only in a debt-based money system could debt be curiously cast as an asset.We’ve made “extend and pretend” a quaint phrase for a burgeoning market for financial lying and profiteering aimed toward preventing the collapse of a debt- (or lack-) based system that was already doomed by its initial design to collapse. This primer will detail the major components and basic evolution of fake wealth creation, accelerating debt expansion, hollowing out of the economy, and inevitable financial implosion.
Apparently you only need a few things to make a mockery of the entire global economic system, and big banks garnered these few important things through “regulatory capture”:
1) Unregulated, unenforced rules (particularly for derivatives)
2) license to “mark to model” (assign your own values to your assets)
3) ability to peg present value to irrational expected future returns (based on unlimited, exponential growth)
4) infinite leverage (no effective requirements for reserve capital in unregulated “shadow” markets)
5) massive size, so that the bank or company is "too big to fail"
6) non-transparency and non-accountability.
So here we have a system where you can 1) make up your own rules, 2) establish any value for any asset you choose, 3) inflate that value a hundred fold based on ostensible future value and returns, 4) leverage that inflated value another thousand or a million fold simply on your say-so, enough to buy up multi-billion dollar firms if you choose, 5) lean on taxpayer bailouts when you get into trouble, and 6) do this without any disclosure or accountability, all based upon a self-interested formula you concoct to enrich yourself.
To this we can now add:
7) effective take-over of national governance by private financial interests, meaning zero prosecution for large-scale control fraud, continuing complicity with and backdoor subsidies to big banks, and the stripping of national assets to pay for illegitimate debts.
8) making uncertain the very notion of private property by promoting illegal and nonsensical assignment and title processes in the mortgage market.
9) shameless annihilation of pensions and investor funds by simply leveraging those funds out of existence and charging enormous fees to do so.
How do we know this is going on? By looking at what is allowed to go on already,evaluating its profit potential, and multiplying those “market possibilities” by all the major players. If it can be done, and it maximizes profits (no matter how crazy from a systemic view), it will be done. The market for fraud is the most booming and has the highest profit potential. It pays far greater returns than any other market including precious metals.
Major players (Goldman Sachs, et. al) have the means, the motive, and the opportunity to expand the fraud market. In terms of brute gain they have been rewarded greatly (with no apparent downside) in cheating, hiding, conning, and now simply stealing.
What do you expect they will do going forward? There is no moral hazard as far as they are concerned. It’s all good for them. Therefore, they will exercise no restraint. They will accept no self-imposed limit to their asymmetric destruction of broader functioning capitalism because greater destruction maximizes private profit. If anything they will accelerate their demolition to get the greatest competitive share of what’s left.
Look at MERS (Mortgage Electronic Registration System) and MF Global. They provide the clearest evidence of how the peddlers of phantom wealth will continue to push their anarchy toward social and economic breaking points. No action is too outrageous any more.
MERS: “Sure we helped ‘get around’ fees and recording requirements and seem to have ‘lost track’ of who owns what in terms of real estate properties, but don’t blame us we are just a facilitator, a clearinghouse, an agent of transactions aimed at creating greater ‘flexibility’ in the mortgage market. Fraudclosure and those millions of forged documents that tried to retroactively record and assign titles, deeds, and transfers? Well, that is not our concern or our fault, though it is regrettable that nobody seems to know who owns what.”
MERS provided an avenue for investment banks to slice and dice mortgages into “mortgage backed securities” (MBS). When you combine this capability with the advent of essentially unlimited leverage and rehypothecation, it is highly likely that the same real estate collateral has been pledged to a multitude of different investment portfolios.
In not so many words, the same house has been sold to many different buyers. Since there is no way to trace true ownership through the shroud of “complexity” enabled by MERS, railroaded foreclosure proceedings, and exotic securities, sweetheart deals get cut between banks and the government that, yet again, amount to a slap on the wrist, enablement of violence against property rights, and kicking of the can down the road.
MF Global: “We don’t know where 1.6 billion dollars of segregated accounts went.” Poof, gone. And yet no prosecution, no investigation? What if your personal bank said that? What if your pension said that?
Yet, don’t be surprised if you do hear this same “bewilderment” from Bank of America and CALPERS (California Public Employees’ Retirement System). In order to meet increasing obligations pensions have moved to invest in the unbacked promises of toxic derivatives, so-called “high return” junk vehicles that were rated “AAA” by Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s.
As we speak California’s public pension is insolvent, bankrupt. I guarantee it. In a classic Ponzi scheme it’s current obligations are being met with contributions, and the so-called investments that have been made to fund future obligations will be exposed as empty shells when push comes to shove. The money will be “unavailable.”
But don’t worry, I’m sure the federal government will try to rescue California with “debt restructuring” or printed fiat currency. If the government can bail out banks to the tune of 700 billion dollars up front (and many trillions through the back door) why not throw a 250 billion dollar federal bailout to the world’s tenth largest economy and one with the nation’s most electoral votes?
Since unregulated shadow investment banking has been collapsed with regulated investment there are no guarantees that market values will be realized or that promised monies will materialize when needed. Almost every unregulated investment scheme seems to be following the same Bernie Madoff model: A greater number of current contributors attracted by great (falsified) “returns on investments” are paying into an investment fund. Part of that contributor money is funneled to those currently liquidating their positions or requiring dividends.
The other parts go to fund financialized “churn”: profit-taking by the managing company and fees (transaction, maintenance, representation, and processing fees, etc). The managing company then simply substitutes promissory notes for the incoming cash as money-equivalent “value” in their reports and in your accounts. These promissory notes if inspected are likely based in nothing, backed by nothing, and answerable to nothing. But since unregulated markets are non-transparent we won’t be able to absolutely confirm their illusory value until those markets blow up in our faces.
We can look at patterns, though, and get a pretty good approximation of the scale of the theft. We can ask, “Where is the money coming from?” After the 2008 financial crash, Wall Street and its zombie banks were rewarding themselves with a near-record 144 billion dollars of compensation. If the money is not coming from them (since they just crashed), where is it coming from? It’s almost certainly coming from us, and not just from taxpayer bailouts, but pensions, deposits, real estate, and any other hard asset or currency that can be scavenged and replaced with mere numbers.
What are more general implications of fraud building upon fraud?
Ever-expanding debt: Lending money into circulation at interest in order to pay debt, creates more and more debt. The economy is forced to expand just to meet debt payments. Since there are limits to growth to real and productive economies, then unreal, parasitic, or shadow economies will grow to fill the void between skyrocketing debt obligations and normal production.
Unfunded social insurance, pension, and entitlement obligations: Population increases, coupled with a baby boomer population bubble, ballooning administrative bureaucracies, and governmental raiding of trusts (like social security) have catapulted costs and have stressed the medium- to long-term capacity of social insurances, pensions, and entitlements past the breaking point even as delivery of services and funds are maintained for the short term.
Austerity measures will be coming sooner than we think to cover future obligations: limited benefits, increased contributions, and delayed retirement, but they will still be a better deal than junk “AAA” derivatives that disappear once money has to be paid out.
Destabilized economies: The Fed’s current policy of interest-free money to banks appears to encourage excessive private risk-taking, which is converted into public liability in the form of bailouts, thus further destabilizing the economy and increasing national debt.
How can this widening gap between multiplied debt and productivity-backed money be reconciled? The short answer is, “It cannot.” It is an inherently unsustainable system, where debt will eventually eclipse the entire value of all world resources, assets, and productive effort unless debt is simply forgiven at some point. (See my arguments for doing just that in Endgame: When Debt is Fraud, Debt Forgiveness is the Last and Only Remedy
, with over 24,000 reads on Zero Hedge when reposted from Of Two Minds original post of Endgame
We can also see we must come to terms with the unjust and completely unsustainable nature of debt-based money.
If fraud is something from nothing, then solutions to fraud involve re-establishing exchange systems based upon something from something.
These systems are already being developed with local currency experiments, bartering, and a host of other emerging alternate economic models and practices (see Part 5 of Unleashing the Future: Advancing Prosperity Through Debt Forgiveness
with links to the five-part series). These options need to be expanded and further developed.
Our task is to identify fraud in all its forms, stop our participation in them, pursue a counteroffensive and commit to moving our money, time, and value to genuine, prosperous, health-affirming, financial commitments and practices. We can see increasingly that we have nothing to lose and much to gain not only in terms of financial stability but personal and community fulfillment.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Zeus Yiamouyiannis, Ph.D., is an economics educator, futurist, and analyst at Citizen Zeus, a guest contributor to the Of Two Minds financial blog, and a consultant to 21st Century Learning.
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