I have begun working on my next major article. This article will focus on what has gone wrong with Wall Street and the US, pull together everything I have been writing about over the last year.
In order to explain how we got to this point today, this next article will deal with conspiracy theories.
I am not, by nature, a fan of conspiracy theories
I like credible information and explanations that make sense. In most circumstances, this precludes giving the time of day to any conspiracy theories, most of which are totally unrealistic. I don't spend all day reading financial news and pouring through government data only to accept interpretations of world events based on hearsay and unsubstantiated rumors.
Most conspiracy theories are nonsense
While world events demand the adoption of some sort of conspiracy theory to make sense of what is going on, this doesn't change the fact that most conspiracy theories are nonsense.
This leads to another reason behind my dislike of conspiracy theories: I am connected to one of the more popular ones right now. My great-grandfather was Franc Vanderlip, one of the men that helped conceptually design the Federal Reserve. Because of this, he has become a central villain in a conspiracy theory blaming bankers for the current crisis.
The Bankers' Beast
The change came from a single factor: creation of the Federal Reserve in 1913. Though most Americans have heard of it, few know much about it.
The Fed was established when Congress passed the Federal Reserve Act in 1913. But the original legislation, containing the essential points of that act, was introduced by Senator Nelson Aldrich, front man for the banking community. Few today have heard of Aldrich, but many are familiar with billionaire Nelson Rockefeller, who was Gerald Ford's vice president, long New York's governor, and one of America's richest men. His full name: Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller — named for his grandfather, Nelson Aldrich. Aldrich's daughter married John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and his son Winthrop served as chairman of the Rockefellers' Chase National Bank. Long associated with America's richest family, when Nelson Aldrich spoke on Capitol Hill, insiders knew he was acting for the Rockefellers and their allies in high finance
The legislation he introduced in the Senate, which became the basis of the Federal Reserve System, was not written by him. It was crafted by several of the world's richest bankers, at a secret nine-day meeting in 1910, at a private club on Jekyll Island off the Georgia coast. This is well documented. The first reporter to break the Jekyll Island story was B.C. Forbes, founder of Forbes magazine
Many years ago, Citibank was called National City Bank, and was largely controlled by the Rockefellers. Its president, Frank Vanderlip, attended the Jekyll Island meeting and discussed it in The Saturday Evening Post 25 years later:
There was an occasion near the close of 1910 when I was as secretive, indeed as furtive, as any conspirator.... I do not feel it is any exaggeration to speak of our secret expedition to Jekyll Island as the occasion of the actual conception of the Federal Reserve System.... We were told to leave our last names behind us. We were told further that we should avoid dining together on the night of our departure. We were instructed to come one at a time and as unobtrusively as possible to the terminal of the New Jersey littoral of the Hudson, where Senator Aldrich's private car would be in readiness, attached to the rear end of the train for the South. Once aboard the private car, we began to observe the taboo that had been fixed on last names.... Discovery, we knew, simply must not happen. If it were to be discovered that our particular group had got together and written a banking bill, that bill would have no chance whatever of passage by Congress.
Of course, this particular conspiracy theory, like the other 90% out there, is pure nonsense. A quick read of my great-grandfather's autobiography or his testimony during the hearings debating the Gold Reserve Act of 1934 should eliminate any idea that he was some type of nefarious mastermind.
While I have posted many articles involving conspiracy theories on my blog, there are also a great many that I have not. For example, I did not make any mention of an article published last May 2009 by Jim Willie on Hitmen Contracts to Bust COMEX. (Jim is the editor of the "Hat Trick Letter" and one of the most well-known commentator in the gold market).
Below is an extract from the article.
THE HITMEN COMETH
It has come to my attention that several private parties have accepted contract assignments to neuter the COMEX and London Metals Exchange, to render ruin to its gold market.
That bears repeating from the rooftops.
[NOTE: I make no claim on the validity of Jim's claims below (although I do notice that the world did not end on September 15). The point here is that anonymous, unverifiable third hand information is perhaps not what people should be basing their investment decisions on]
MULTIPLE HIRED HITMEN HAVE ASSIGNMENTS TO KILL THE COMEX GOLD MARKET.
The HITMEN have been hired, with highly lucrative contracts and wide berth in methods to be put to use. Their assigned task is to castrate the levered family jewels from some of the major players who illegally keep the gold price and silver price artificially low. The targeted victims know their awaited fate, and are presently defecating in their skivvies. A short list of banks facing the firing squad is already known, details for Hat Trick Letter members. Some detailed speculation will be devoted to the June HTL reports, since too controversial. This will be an evolving story, with new chapters soon written. The executions will be sudden. The missing US-UK levers will be immediate. Since last autumn, the global powers have aligned against Wall Street, even if the central bankers have supported it.
Some might wonder what was the turning point that resulted in hired hitmen to be under contract against certain US financial markets. Some might say the failures of Lehman Brothers, American Intl Group, and Fannie Mae. Not so! In my opinion, it was the invasion in the South Osettia region of Georgia in August 2008. The events around Georgia, with the United States Military deeply involved, along with a certain tiny mischievous ally nation, lit a fuse that set off a chain of events. In time, events led to orders given by high level powers, for the US fraud kings on Wall Street to swallow the medicine no later than first thing Monday morning on September 15th. When the Jackass inquired as to the nature of the urgency leading into that understood stated deadline date, no answer was given.
To answer why I never mentioned this particular article, below is my response to a reader email about the article.
I saw this, and it was interesting. However there is a problem:
1) Jim Willie doesn't explain who or what these "hitmen" are (hedge funds? Banks? Individual investors?)
2) Jim Willie doesn't explain who hired these "hitmen"
3) Jim Willie doesn't explain how he found out amount these "hitmen"
Without the answers to those questions, this "hitmen" story doesn't have much credibility/authority.
For the record, I don't believe the US economy and global financial system are going to be brought to their knees thanks to something like the secret attack of anonymous Comex hitmen. The "conspiracy" to suppress gold is not going to be broken by "conspiracy" to raise gold prices. When the modern financial world does crumble to dust, it will be thanks to simple, basic economic forces, the best bet being food shortages. While stories about mysterious "hitmen" may be thrilling, normal, boring economic forces (supply and demand) are what shape the world.
Besides, there is solid, real evidence of things going critically wrong in the gold market (See Gold Market Reaching The Breaking Point). Reporting unverifiable second/third/fourth hand information only weakens and distracts from the case for gold.
Unfortunately, conspiracy theories are sometimes necessary
Infinitely worst than conspiracy theories is accepting that the world doesn't make sense, which unfortunately is the situation when trying to understand today's financial world today. Faced with the prospects of accepting the financial equivalent that "pigs can fly", I have instead been researching conspiracy theories (the ones with verifiable facts and logical arguments).
By the way, the unreconcilable differences what the USDA crop estimates and the reality being reported across the Midwest (See *****2010 Food Crisis for Dummies*****) are only one of the many inexplicable developments which pushed a rational person to explore conspiracy theories. Another example that drives home why it is necessary to wade through outlandish theories/speculation about conspiracies is what happened last year with Bear Stearns out-of-the-money puts.
Webofdebt.com reports that the highly suspicious Bear Stearns out-of-the-money puts.
On March 10, 2008, Bear Stearns stock dropped to $70 a share -- a recent low, but not the first time the stock had reached that level in 2008, having also traded there eight weeks earlier. On or before March 10, 2008, requests were made to the Options Exchanges to open a new April series of puts with exercise prices of 20 and 22.5 and a new March series with an exercise price of 25. The March series had only eight days left to expiration, meaning the stock would have to drop by an unlikely $45 a share in eight days for the put-buyers to score. It was a very risky bet, unless the traders knew something the market didn't; and they evidently thought they did, because after the series opened on March 11, 2008, purchases were made of massive volumes of puts controlling millions of shares.
On or before March 13, 2008, another request was made of the Options Exchanges to open additional March and April put series with very low exercise prices, although the March put options would have just five days of trading to expiration. Again the exchanges accommodated the requests and massive amounts of puts were bought. Olagues contends that there is only one plausible explanation for "anyone in his right mind to buy puts with five days of life remaining with strike prices far below the market price": the deal must have already been arranged by March 10 or before.
"To prove the case of illegal insider trading, all the Feds have to do is ask a few questions of the persons who bought puts on Bear Stearns or shorted stock during the week before March 17, 2008 and before. All the records are easily available. If they bought puts or shorted stock, just ask them why."
Istockanalyst explains the insanity of these put options.
"Even if I were the most bearish man on Earth, I can't imagine buying puts 50 percent below the price with just over a week to expiration," said Thomas Haugh, general partner of Chicago-based options trading firm PTI Securities & Futures LP. "It's not even on the page of rational behavior, unless you know something."
The 57,000 puts that traded March 11 at the $30 strike price and the 1,649 that traded at $25 were collectively worth about $1.7 million, Bloomberg data show. Each put is equal to 100 shares of stock.
"That trade amounted to buying a lottery ticket," said Michael McCarty, chief options and equity strategist at New York-based brokerage Meridian Equity Partners Inc. "Would you buy $1.7 million worth of lottery tickets just because you could? No. Neither would a hedge fund manager."
Imagine seeing a bank being robbed in broad daylight. The police are there, but they ignore it completely. That is the equivalent of what these Bear Stearns puts are like in the financial world.
The buyers of puts on Bear Stear committed a crime, highly profitable insider trading. They should be in jail, yet they are not. US regulators have never made any attempt to put them there. There is no rational explanation for regulators lack of actions in the face of this crystal clear evidence of criminal activity.
How can anyone in the financial world, who watches such crimes happen on a regular basis, have any faith in the viability or honesty of the US financial system? Answer: they can't.
While conspiracies get a bad name and writing about them instantly costs credibility, the reality is they happen quite often, especially in the financial world. Enron, Parmalat, Madoff, etc are all examples of real conspiracies.
Although I absolutely don't believe in "mastermind"-type conspiracies (ie: bankers conspiring rule the world through the Federal Reserve), I do believe in Yes, Prime Minister-type conspiracies. Yes, Prime Minister is a satirical British sitcom which aired between 1980 and 1984. Below are the youtube videos which show a good representation of the attitudes and behaviors responsible for today's financial crisis.
Yes Prime Minister - S02E04 - A Conflict of Interest - Part 1
Yes Prime Minister - S02E04 - A Conflict of Interest - Part 2
Yes Prime Minister - S02E04 - A Conflict of Interest - Part 3
Yes, Prime Minister Inspired by reality
The strength of Yes, Prime Minister comes from the truth behind the jokes. The writers got their inspiration directly from the source, which is what gives the show its power.
The writers were inspired by a variety of sources, including sources inside government, published material and contemporary news stories. The writers also met several leading senior civil servants under the auspices of the Royal Institute of Public Administration, a think-tank for the public service sector, which led to the development of some plot lines. Some situations were conceived as fiction, but were later revealed to have real-life counterparts. The episode "The Compassionate Society" depicts a hospital with five hundred administrative staff but no doctors, nurses or patients. Lynn recalls that "after inventing this absurdity, we discovered there were six such hospitals (or very large empty wings of hospitals) exactly as we had described them in our episode."
In a programme screened by the BBC in early 2004, paying tribute to the series, it was revealed that Jay and Lynn had drawn on information provided by two insiders from the governments of Harold Wilson and James Callaghan, namely Marcia Williams and Bernard Donoughue. The published diaries of Richard Crossman also provided inspiration.
The episode entitled "The Moral Dimension", in which Hacker and his staff engage in the scheme of secretly consuming alcohol on a trade mission to the fictional Islamic state of Qumran, was based on a real incident that took place in Pakistan, involving Callaghan and Donoughue, the latter of whom informed Jay and Lynn about the incident. Jay says that "I can't tell you where, I can't tell you when and I can't tell you who was involved; all I can tell you is that we knew that it had actually happened. That's why it was so funny. [The show is based in big part on real (if secret) events] We couldn't think up things as funny as the real things that had happened." Media historian Andrew Crisell suggests that the show was "enriched by the viewers' suspicion that what they were watching was unhealthily close to real life."
Fusing inspiration and invention, Lynn and Jay worked on the story "for anything from three days to two weeks," and only took "four mornings to write all the dialogue. After we wrote the episode, we would show it to some secret sources, always including somebody who was an expert on the subject in question. They would usually give us extra information which, because it was true, was usually funnier than anything we might have thought up." [Again, Yes, Prime minister draws its inspirations from reality] Designers Valerie Warrender and Gloria Clayton were given access to the Cabinet Rooms and the State Drawing Rooms. For security purposes, the arrangements of the rooms were altered, and the views from the windows were never shown, in order to conceal the layout of the buildings.
The series have been cited by political scientists for their accurate and sophisticated portrayal of the relationships between civil servants and politicians, and are quoted in some textbooks on British politics. The series was highly rated by critics and politicians. The shows were very popular in government circles. The Guinness Television Encyclopedia suggests that "real politicians ... enjoyed the show's cynical dismissal of Whitehall intrigue and its insights into the machinations of government." They were the favourite programme of then Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. She told The Daily Telegraph that "its clearly-observed portrayal of what goes on in the corridors of power has given me hours of pure joy." span>
The point is that Yes, Prime Minister is "unhealthily close to real life".
It is sad that a 1980's British sitcom offers one of the clearest explanation for the financial crisis. Simply imagine two decades of governance displayed in videos above. Imagine one problem after another "swept under the rug" by politicians and civil servants who don't want to deal with the consequence. Each bailout (secret or otherwise) delaying the reckoning, making underlying problems bigger. Think about it a moment and you realize that the expected results of two decades of Yes, Prime Minister governance is exactly the economic collapse we are experiencing today.
(Note: this is only a quick preview which needs a lot of work and to which I plan on adding a lot of material)