Category Archives: Economy/Monetary Reform

The Sinister Agenda Behind the Washington War On Cash

1.01.2017 Author: F. William Engdahl

4213123312It’s kinda sneaking up on us like an East Texas copperhead pit viper. It began to get some wide attention in 2016, with prominent economists and financial media suddenly talking about the wonderful benefits of a “cashless society.” Then the government of Narenda Modi completely surprised his citizens by suddenly announcing withdrawal of larger denomination currency notes from circulation, forcing Indians to put their cash into banks or lose it. Now, everywhere we turn, it seems, someone is arguing the Nirvana benefits of a cashless, “digital” money world. It reminds me in an eerie way of a statement attributed to then US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger in the 1970’s. He reportedly stated, “If you control oil, you control entire nations; if you control food, you control the people; if you control money, you control the entire world.” Consider the following in this regard.

Modi and a USAID ‘Catalyst’

On November 8, 2016 in a surprise televised address, Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi announced that, within a deadline of days, all Indian currency notes of 500 and 1,000 Rupees must be put in a bank account and exchanged for smaller denomination notes. At today’s exchange rate 1,000 Rs is roughly equal to $15. This would perhaps be equivalent to the US Treasury outlawing all cash notes larger than a $10 bill.

Overnight, Modi’s government de facto outlawed an estimated 86 percent of all cash in circulation by value. People had 50 days to hand in the notes or they become worthless. Yet the government, despite stating it would issue new, more secure 500Rs and 1000Rs bills, had nowhere near the equivalent value of new notes ready for replacement. They say it may take up to a year to print enough, which means confiscation, de facto. Faked opinion polls with slanted questions done only via smart phone apps of which only 17% of the population has access, claimed that “90% of Indians approve” the demonetization.

Yet it’s far worse. India is an underdeveloped country, the largest in the world in population terms with more than 1.3 billion people. By demanding Indians turn in all 500Rs and 1,000Rs bills to banks, Modi is forcing major change in how Indians control their money in a country high on the corruption scale where few trust government let alone private banks, and prefer to deal strictly in cash or hoard gold for value. Nearly half the population, some 600 million Indians, do not hold a bank account and half of those, some 300 million Indians, lack a government identification, necessary to open an account.

When he presented his shock announcement, Modi pitched it in terms of going after India’s black economy. Soon he shifted gears and was praising the benefits of a “cash-less society” to enable Indians to enter the digital age, appealing to younger Indians, savvy in smart phones and digital networks, to convince the older of the benefits of online banking and consuming. The drastic demonetization declaration was planned by Modi and five other inner-circle ministers in complete secrecy. Not even the banks were told before. The question is what is behind, or rather who is behind this drastic form of monetary shock therapy?

Beyond Cash

The answer is as sinister as it is suggestive of a larger global agenda by what I call in one of my books the Wall Street “Gods of Money.” The Modi cash-less India operation is a project of the US National Security Council, US State Department and Office of the President administered through its US Agency for International Development (USAID). Little surprise, then, that the US State Department spokesman, Mark Toner in a December 1, 2016 press briefing praised the Modi demonetization move stating, “…this was, we believe, an important and necessary step to crack down on illegal actions…a necessary one to address the corruption.”

Keep in mind that USAID today has little to do with aiding poorer countries. By law it must follow the foreign policy agenda of the President’s National Security Council and State Department. It’s widely known as a conduit for CIA money to execute their dirty agendas abroad in places such as Georgia. Notably, the present head of the USAID, Gayle Smith, came to head USAID from her post as Senior Director at the US National Security Council.

German economist and blogger, Norbert Haering, in an extensive, well-documented investigation into the background of the bizarre Modi move to a cash-less India, found not only USAID as the key financial source of the project. He also uncovered a snake-pit of organizational vipers being funded by USAID to design and implement the India shock therapy.

USAID negotiated a co-operation with the Modi Indian Ministry of Finance. In October, 2016 in a press release USAID announced it had created and funded something it named Project Catalyst. The title of their report was, “Catalyst: Inclusive Cashless Payment Partnership.” Its stated goal it said was to bring about a “quantum leap” in cashless payment in India.

They certainly did that. Maybe two quantum leaps and some.

If we dig a bit deeper we find that in January, 2016, USAID presented the Indian Finance Ministry a report titled, Beyond Cash: Why India loves cash and why that matters for financial inclusion. Financial “inclusion” for them means getting all Indians into the digital banking system where their every payment can be electronically tracked and given to the tax authorities or to whomever the government sees fit.

Astonishingly, the report, prepared for USAID by something called the Global Innovation Exchange, admitted that “97% of retail transactions in India are conducted in cash or check; Few consumers use digital payments. Only 11% used debit cards for payments last year. Only 6% of Indian merchants accept digital payments…Only 29 percent of bank accounts in India have been used in the last three months.” The US and Indian governments knew very well what shock they were detonating in India.

The Global Innovation Exchange includes such dubious member organizations as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a major donor to the Modi war on cash initiative of USAID. It also includes USAID itself, several UN agencies including UNICEF, UNDP, UNHCR. And it includes the US Department of Commerce and a spooky Maclean, Virginia military contractor called MITRE Corporation whose chairman is former CIA Director, James Rodney Schlesinger, a close associate of Henry Kissinger.

The USAID Project Catalyst in partnership with the Indian Finance Ministry was done, according to the USAID press statement, with a sinister-sounding organization called CashlessCatalyst.org. Among the 35 members of CashlessCatalyst.org are USAID, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, VISA, MasterCard, Omidyar Network of eBay billionaire founder Pierre Omidyar, the World Economic Forum-center of the globalization annual Alpine meetings.

War on Cash

However, a most interesting member of the USAID Project Catalyst together with the Indian Ministry of Finance is something called Better Than Cash Alliance. In point of fact the US-government-finance Project Catalyst grew out of a longer cooperation between USAID, the Washington-based Better Than Cash Alliance and the Indian Ministry of Finance. It appers to be the core public driver pushing the agenda of the global “war on cash.”

India and the reckless (or corrupt) Modi government implementing the USAID-Better Than Cash Alliance agenda is clearly serving as a guinea pig in a mass social experiment about how to push the cash war in other countries. The Better Than Cash Alliance is described by the UNCDF, which is its Secretariat, as “a US $38 million global alliance of governments, private sector and development organizations committed to accelerating the shift from cash to electronic payments.”

The Better Than Cash Alliance website announces that the alliance, created in 2012, is a “partnership of governments, companies, and international organizations that accelerates the transition from cash to digital payments in order to reduce poverty and drive inclusive growth.” It’s housed at the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) in New York whose major donors, in turn, surprise, surprise, are the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and MasterCard Foundation. Among the Better Than Cash Alliance’s 50 members are, in addition to the Gates Foundation, Citi Foundation (Citigroup), Ford Foundation, MasterCard, Omidyar Network, United States Agency for International Development, and Visa Inc.

Recently the European Central Bank, which has held negative interest rates for more than a year, allegedly to stimulate growth in the Eurozone amid the long-duration banking and economic crisis of almost nine years, announced that it will stop printing the €500 note. They claim it’s connected with money laundering and terror financing, though it ominously echoes the Modi India war on cash. Former US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, whose shady role in the 1990’s rape of Russia through his Harvard cronies has been documented elsewhere, is calling for eliminating the US $100 bill. These are first steps to future bolder moves to the desired Cash-less society of Gates, Citigroup, Visa et al.

US Dual Standard: Follow the money…

The move to a purely digital money system would be Big Brother on steroids. It would allow the relevant governments to monitor our every money move with a digital trail, to confiscate deposits in what now are legal bank “bail-ins” as was done in Cyprus in 2013. If central banks move interest rates into negative, something the Bank of Japan and ECB in Frankfurt are already doing, citizens have no choice than to spend the bank money or lose. It is hailed as a way to end tax avoidance but it is far, far more sinister.

As Norbert Haering notes, “the status of the dollar as the world’s currency of reference and the dominance of US companies in international finance provide the US government with tremendous power over all participants in the formal non-cash financial system. It can make everybody conform to American law rather than to their local or international rules.” He adds, referring to the recent US Government demand that Germany’s largest bank, Deutsche Bank pay an astonishing and unprecedented $14 billion fine, “Every internationally active bank can be blackmailed by the US government into following their orders, since revoking their license to do business in the US or in dollar basically amounts to shutting them down.”

We should add to this “benevolent concern” of the US Government to stimulate a War on Cash in India and elsewhere the fact that while Washington has been the most aggressive demanding that banks in other countries enact measures for full disclosure of details of Swiss or Panama or other “offshore” secret account holders or US nationals holding money in foreign banks, the USA itself has scrupulously avoided demanding the same of its domestic banks. The result, as Bloomberg noted following the suspiciously-timed Panama Papers offshore “leaks” of May, 2016, is that the United States is rapidly becoming the world’s leading tax and secrecy haven for rich foreigners.

Perversely enough, in 2010 the US passed a law, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, or FACTA, that requires financial firms to disclose foreign accounts held by US citizens and report them to the US IRS tax office or the foreign banks face steep penalties. The EU signed on to the intrusive FACTA despite strong resistance. Then, using FACTA as the model, the Paris-based OECD drafted an even tougher version of FACTA in 2014 to allegedly go after tax avoiders. To date 97 countries have agreed to the tough OECD bank disclosure rules. Very few have refused. The refusers include Bahrain, Nauru, Vanuatu—and…the United States.

World’s Biggest Tax Haven

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist, a financial wizard or a Meyer Lansky to see a pattern. Washington forces disclosure of secret bank accounts of its citizens or companies abroad, while at the same time lifting control or disclosure inside the United States of private banking accounts. No surprise that such experienced private bankers as London’s Rothschild & Co. have opened offices in Reno Nevada a stone’s throw from Harrah’s and other casinos, and according to Bloomberg, is doing a booming business moving the fortunes of wealthy foreign clients out of offshore havens such as Bermuda, or Switzerland which are subject to the new OECD international disclosure requirements, into Rothschild-run trusts in Nevada, which are exempt from those disclosure rules.

Rothschild & Co. Director, Andrew Penney noted that as a result, the United States today, “is effectively the biggest tax haven in the world.” Today Nevada, Meyer Lansky’s money laundering project of the 1930’s with established legalized gambling, is becoming the “new Switzerland.” Wyoming and South Dakota are close on the heels.

One area where America’s institutions are still world class is in devising complex instruments of financial control, asset theft and cyber warfare. The US War on Cash, combined with the US Treasury and IRS war on offshore banking is their latest model. As Washington’s War on Terror had a sinister, hidden agenda, so too does Washington’s War on Cash. It’s something to be avoided at all costs if we human beings are to retain any vestige of sovereignty or autonomy. It will be interesting to see how vigorously Casino mogul Trump moves to close the US tax haven status. What do you bet he doesn’t?

F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”
http://journal-neo.org/2017/01/21/the-sinister-agenda-behind-the-washington-war-on-cash/

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The Very Good Effect of More CO2

Author: F. William Engdahl

4534544Ever since the late Margaret Mead organized a conference in 1975 to deliberately propagate an unscientific fear campaign, fraudulently claiming that manmade emissions of CO2 gases were endangering the global climate, the UN, countless NGOs and many governments have spent billions of dollars trying to find ways to reduce CO2 “man-made” emissions. In those days it was known as Global Warming until measured temperatures began falling, whereupon when the sponsors of the colossal scientific fraud changed the name to Climate Change. The campaign has largely failed, fortunately for the future of life on the planet. One indication of a return to scientific honesty is a study just published by Washington’s NASA on the effects of CO2 across the planet since the 1980s.

A new scientific study published in April in the journal Nature Climate Change reveals that between 25% up to possibly 50% of Earth’s vegetated lands have shown significant greening over the last 35 years. Moreover, the study says that the greening is largely due to rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide.

The study was carried out by an international scientific team consisting of 32 scientific authors from 24 institutions in eight countries. They used satellite data from NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer instruments to help determine the leaf area index, or amount of leaf cover, over the planet’s vegetated regions. They found that the measured greening represents an increase in leaves on plants and trees equivalent in area to two times the continental United States. The research determined that increased “fertilization” by CO2 accounted for fully 70% of the planet’s increased greening area, with increased nitrogen deposition another 9%. That’s an impressive statistic.

A recent National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA) review of the CO2 findings noted that, “Green leaves use energy from sunlight through photosynthesis to chemically combine carbon dioxide drawn in from the air with water and nutrients tapped from the ground to produce sugars, which are the main source of food, fiber and fuel for life on Earth. Studies have shown that increased concentrations of carbon dioxide increase photosynthesis, spurring plant growth.”

The report’s lead author, Zaichun Zhu, a researcher from Beijing University, pointed out that the extent of the greening over the past 35 years “has the ability to fundamentally change the cycling of water and carbon in the climate system.”

What does it mean in terms of life on our planet?

USDA’s Kimball Study

It has quite a lot to do with life on our planet, and very positively so. Over the years, ever since 1804 when Swiss plant physiologist Nicolas-Théodore de Saussure first demonstrated that peas exposed to high C02 concentrations grew better than control plants in ambient air, numerous experiments have been performed to determine the effects of enriched C02 atmospheres on plants.

In 1982 Dr. Bruce A. Kimball, a plant physiologist at the Agricultural Research Service of the US Department of Agriculture undertook a comprehensive review of all such studies on effects of higher CO2 concentrations on plant growth and agriculture yields. Kimball found that C02 enrichment had an overwhelmingly positive effect on yield. Of 437 separate observations only 39 yielded less than their respective controls.

In brief, the billions of taxpayer dollars that have gone to study ways of burying or otherwise eliminating CO2 from our atmosphere are little more than attempts to diminish one of the essential drivers of “the main source of food, fiber and fuel for life on Earth.” Perhaps the future of our planet is not as bleak as doomsday prophets like Bill Gates or Al Gore claim.

F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”
http://journal-neo.org/2016/05/13/the-very-good-effect-of-more-co2/

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London’s Fraudulent Property Market

Victorian_terraced_housing,_Mutley_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1418563

Yet another headline predicts continued froth and effervescence to Britain’s property market for the year ahead, spurred on by reports of high employment, rising disposable incomes and persistently low interest rates.

Standard & Poor’s, the rating agency so deeply embedded in the financial industry and culpable in the catastrophic financial crisis that engulfed the global economy, predicts more of the same and the headline makers and click baiters agree.

“Number of British property millionaires rises by 200 a day as house prices soar.”

“One in 65 UK adults now a millionaire.”

“Booming house prices and stock market gains contribute to wealth as number of millionaires in UK rises by 200,000 in five years.”

These contradictive and rather spurious newspaper headlines are not only misleading and bathed in exaggeration, but they also completely miss the point of reality.

The national love of property is exploited to the full as extensive publicity camouflages and obscures an international scandal of vast criminal activity sanctioned by a government that part finances this deception by co-opting an ever-burdened, unsuspecting and strained taxpayer.

The Independent newspaper reported last July that The City of London is the money-laundering centre of the world’s drug trade, according to an internationally acclaimed crime expert. In addition, every notable financial expert now agrees that due to incredibly lax financial laws by the British government, the London property market is built largely on the laundered money of crime from all over the world involving hidden tax havens, most of which are British.1

Her Majesty’s British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies make up around 25% of the world’s tax havens, which are now blacklisted by the European Commission and now ranked as the most important player in the financial secrecy world.2

When it comes to these tax havens, the “financial secrecy index” shows Britain to be languishing at a mere number fifteen. But when the British Overseas Territory and Crown Dependency Network was assessed together, it is the number one tax haven network in the world by a very long margin.

A number of studies have estimated that up to $32 trillion has gravitated in secret into offshore jurisdictions, much of it linked to tax evasion and avoidance activities.

The consequence is that money laundering in Britain is so widespread the authorities have been completely overwhelmed and lost control. Keith Bristow, Director-General of the UK’s National Crime Agency said in January that the scale of crime and its subsequent money laundering operations was “a strategic threat” to the country’s economy and reputation.

An investigation by Transparency International reported on the scale of the problem in the UK and it makes truly depressing reading for any law-abiding citizen. It found tens of thousands of London properties held by companies located in offshore locations. One has to wonder what government ministers think about a crime wave sweeping across its capital city involving terrorists, drug smugglers, thieves, gangsters and charlatans from all over the globe.

In another investigation conducted by Private Eye in 2008, over £70 billion worth of property was found to be located in just four British overseas tax havens according to the Land Registry data obtained through freedom of information requests.

A report by the EU-funded Organised Crime Portfolio published last year, documented how organised crime groups invest widely in real estate across Europe, particularly in the UK.3

So why is London so attractive to the world’s criminals. As Tax Justice points out

“Firstly the London property market is liquid. If you want to quietly hold wealth and at some point convert your property into cash, London is an excellent place. There are vast amounts of transactions every year and it is easy to sell a home.”

“London is also seen as a safe bet, with strong legal protections for private property. Buy a London home and you can be relatively sure that in 20 years time it will still be there. The government won’t have appropriated your land. The last major land reform in England was well over 150 years ago, and that benefited the rich in any event.”4

The reasons for property ownership in London are amplified when considering taxes in other jurisdictions as there are no other onerous or significant additional wealth, property or land taxes to consider. Therefore, Britain actually acts as a property owning tax haven. For instance, the cost of owning a £7 million property over a five-year period in New York would cost $1.1million (approx. £775,000) in state property taxes. In the City of London, where the highest wages in the country are paid, council tax or property taxes are the third lowest in the country. The same £7 million house comes with a tax bill over five years at just £4,705. New York State also applies a sales tax. In the UK, offshore shell companies owning property effectively evade taxes and contribute nothing.

It is hardly surprising then that a rather conservative estimate puts empty homes in London at 22,000 units. Kensington and Chelsea have a continually shrinking residential population to the point that restaurants and bars are closing as they now have some of the highest empty homes ratios in the UK.

To reinforce the numbers, 116 local authorities saw an increase in empty homes, which makes up 36% of the 326 local authority areas in England last year. Britain is supposed to be in the midst of a ‘housing crisis’ and yet boasts the highest number of privately owned vacant properties on record. Something is clearly not right.

It is not as if the enormous scale of criminal activity in the London property market goes unpublicised.

The FT headlined a few months ago that “Alarm bells ring as ‘dirty cash’ floods UK property market”

Its article quoted the Prime Minister:

“Mr. Cameron focused on the layers of secrecy that anonymous shell companies – predominantly incorporated in tax havens – provide to the owners of some 90,000 properties in England and Wales. ‘We need to stop corrupt officials or organised criminals using anonymous shell companies to invest their ill-gotten gains in London property without being tracked down.’”

This observation by the FT and the Prime Minster is so off the mark that it sits in the realm of pure fantasy.

Back to the National Crime Agency (NCA) which replaced the Serious and Organised Crime Agency just two years ago. It estimated that “hundreds of billions of pounds are laundered through property each year” in the UK.5

Donald Toon of the NCA clearly stated he was alarmed by the number of homes registered to complex offshore corporations, which have been bought with laundered money. He also added that the inflows of illegal cash are big enough to be responsible for driving London property prices artificially high as a result of overseas criminals wishing to insulate and protect their assets in the UK, and what they are effectively doing is distorting the market.

To highlight the point, when Saadi Gaddafi, the playboy son of the late Libyan leader, had his £10 million Hampstead Garden Suburb mansion seized nearly four years ago in 2012, it emerged that the magnificent eight-bedroom home was bought in the name of a British Virgin Islands offshore company. Somehow, even a high profile target for the now defunct Serious and Organised Crime Agency strolled into the country with huge quantities of cash and bought a lavish London residence undetected.

In the meantime, the price range of the most increased category of property across the whole of the UK is in the £1 million to £2 million range – how is that possible given that the average price of a home is less than one tenth of that figure and that 95% of the population couldn’t afford it.

One should not forget that at average prices, £10 billion buys 50,000 homes. Imagine how many homes can be bought with hundreds of billions of pounds. The market distortion it brings with it, as previously mentioned, is termed a ‘housing crisis’. All that means is that normal people, pushed out by state sanctioned crime can’t afford a home of their own.

If these statements by the authorities such as the NCA are even partly true, they are asserting that probably half a million properties including commercial land assets are being acquired each year by the perpetrators of money laundering or the villains trading in offshore tax evasion schemes.

According to HMRC there were approximately 1.1 million residential property transactions in 2015 across the UK. The hideous scale of criminality in the British property market starts to take shape.

But is the party over for now? In the end all asset priced bubbles in history have deflated. The British housing market has form.

From Market Oracle:

“So it is not just the world’s dubious billionaires and oligarchs who have been flooding London with their wealth for safety from corrupt regimes. Average UK house prices have now risen by 30% from the 2009 bear market low with London soaring 70% as it looks like we are witnessing the peak of the London property bubble mania. London over the next 3 years will probably turn out to be Britain’s worst performing region”.6

The UBS Global Real Estate Bubble Index (yes, there is even a ‘bubble index’) highlights that London and Hong Kong are the two worst investment opportunities in the world, opining that “London property is by far the most overvalued market in Europe, at risk of a bubble as a result of explosive price behaviour” and “It risks a substantial price correction.”7

Given the sheer quantity of cash invested in London property you would not think prices could ever fall. Lancaster University’s UK Housing Market Observatory is calculated scientifically and disagrees; it’s report says – “If London house prices keep growing at the current pace of 2.75% every quarter year, there will be a full-blown bubble in early 2017 – This will be followed by a sudden crash in prices.”

When the price correction comes, who will be the losers? Not billionaires with empty homes. Almost a quarter of new mortgage customers have debt that is four times more than income.

Peter Tutton, head of policy at StepChange Debt Charity, said: “One in five of our clients have mortgages and even a 1% rise in interest rates could push them into deficit on their household budgets, leaving them unable to pay their unsecured debts.”

And the cause of the great recession in 2008? Property related debt!

Notes:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/london-property-boom-built-on-dirtymoney-10083527.html

https://www.rt.com/uk/268072-tax-avoidance-city-london/

http://www.ocportfolio.eu

http://www.taxjustice.net/

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/48cdbfb6-45c9-11e5-af2f-4d6e0e5eda22.html

http://www.marketoracle.co.uk/Article53301.html

https://www.ubs.com/global/en/about_ubs/media/switzerland/releases/news-display-media-switzerland.html/en/2015/10/29/global-bubble-index.html

This article was written by TruePublica editor Graham Vanbergen and first published in The European Financial Review 28th April 2016.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/londons-fraudulent-property-market/5522415

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