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America is a Banana Republic
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Kuros



Joined: 27 Apr 2004

PostPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2009 6:47 am    Post subject: America is a Banana Republic Reply with quote

Its a good theme, and happily, someone besides Hitchens has taken it up.

The Quiet Coup

A former chief of the IMF explains how the finance lobby controls Washington, and because of that, the US resembles a Banana Republic.

Quote:
Ukraine faced hyperinflation in 1994; Russia desperately needed help when its short-term-debt rollover scheme exploded in the summer of 1998; the Indonesian rupiah plunged in 1997, nearly leveling the corporate economy; that same year, South Korea’s 30-year economic miracle ground to a halt when foreign banks suddenly refused to extend new credit.

But I must tell you, to IMF officials, all of these crises looked depressingly similar. Each country, of course, needed a loan, but more than that, each needed to make big changes so that the loan could really work. Almost always, countries in crisis need to learn to live within their means after a period of excess—exports must be increased, and imports cut—and the goal is to do this without the most horrible of recessions. Naturally, the fund’s economists spend time figuring out the policies—budget, money supply, and the like—that make sense in this context. Yet the economic solution is seldom very hard to work out.

No, the real concern of the fund’s senior staff, and the biggest obstacle to recovery, is almost invariably the politics of countries in crisis.

Typically, these countries are in a desperate economic situation for one simple reason—the powerful elites within them overreached in good times and took too many risks. Emerging-market governments and their private-sector allies commonly form a tight-knit—and, most of the time, genteel—oligarchy, running the country rather like a profit-seeking company in which they are the controlling shareholders. When a country like Indonesia or South Korea or Russia grows, so do the ambitions of its captains of industry. As masters of their mini-universe, these people make some investments that clearly benefit the broader economy, but they also start making bigger and riskier bets. They reckon—correctly, in most cases—that their political connections will allow them to push onto the government any substantial problems that arise.


It goes on to show how the US's finance oligarchy resembles, say, the RoK's chaebol.
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Ya-ta Boy



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Location: Established in 1994

PostPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2009 6:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Uh oh. There's a certain regular poster who's going to blow a gasket over your title.
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bacasper



Joined: 26 Mar 2007

PostPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2009 7:06 am    Post subject: Re: America is a Banana Republic Reply with quote

Oh, no, not the "powerful elites" who run things!

Idea Congratulations, Kuros, you've become a conspiracy theorist!
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mises



Joined: 05 Nov 2007
Location: retired

PostPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2009 9:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here is an interview of the author of the Atlantic article by Moyers:

http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/02132009/watch.html
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Gopher



Joined: 04 Jun 2005

PostPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2009 10:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kuros: does the United States merely resemble a foreign-capital-dominated, monocrop-producing, export-oriented, Central-American, oligarchic republic, or is it actually one? Get your allegation straight. Your author shows no indication that he understands "banana republic" any further than grasping that it serves as a useful pejorative and makes for sensationalist, propagandistic charges, while adopting pseudosophisticated airs...

In any case, ignorant, unoriginal, hyperbolic nonsense. As old as Smedley Butler. No more no less.

Next item?
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RJjr



Joined: 17 Aug 2006
Location: Turning on a Lamp

PostPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2009 11:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What angers me more than anything else about these financial oligarchs, even moreso than how they steal my tax dollars, is how they're tarnishing the reputations of both capitalism and democracy.

Even though the economic problems are the direct result of big government and NOT the free market, it has become common lately to read about "the failure of capitalism" which is total bullshit since it's been a failure of big government and runaway spending and bullshit laws.

It's only a matter of time, when things get really bad in the USA and Europe, particularly Britain, that the phrase "failure of democracy" will frequently be in the newspapers. Just like how there hasn't been true capitalism and the problems these days have nothing to do with capitalism, there hasn't been true democracy either. Our leaders are all bought off by lobbyists who, in effect, are the true rulers in America with the politicians being mere figureheads and pawns. We the people have been priced out of the market and have been rendered irrelevant since we're no longer a true democracy. These days, our government more closely resembles fascism than democracy. Yet, during the Great Depression II, people will be talking about "the failure of democracy" just as people already talk about "the failure of capitalism." Dictators around the world will be using our problems as propaganda to prop up their own styles of government.
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Gopher



Joined: 04 Jun 2005

PostPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2009 2:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here (esp. first two mins. backgrounders) is your real "Banana Republic," ya morans.

Are you people truly so bankrupt of vocabulary and metaphors that you honestly cannot describe, critique, or simply discuss American affairs these days without resorting to easy clichés, tried-and-true propagandistic devices? "Fascist regime," "socialism," "banana republic." Bah.
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Hater Depot



Joined: 29 Mar 2005

PostPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2009 3:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

RJjr wrote:
Even though the economic problems are the direct result of big government and NOT the free market, it has become common lately to read about "the failure of capitalism" which is total bullshit since it's been a failure of big government and runaway spending and bullshit laws.



I'm curious to know what laws compelled investment banks to over-leverage and issue credit-default swaps based on worthless mortgages (which they were presumably also compelled to issue).
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Ya-ta Boy



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Location: Established in 1994

PostPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2009 4:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
To ensure systematic bank breakup, and to prevent the eventual reemergence of dangerous behemoths, we also need to overhaul our antitrust legislation. Laws put in place more than 100years ago to combat industrial monopolies were not designed to address the problem we now face. The problem in the financial sector today is not that a given firm might have enough market share to influence prices; it is that one firm or a small set of interconnected firms, by failing, can bring down the economy. The Obama administration’s fiscal stimulus evokes FDR, but what we need to imitate here is Teddy Roosevelt’s trust-busting.



I hope that a part of the major reform era we're heading into includes a healthy dose of TR's trustbusting. Competition has always been at the heart of capitalism, but capitalism has a tendency to develop monopolies or at least entities that are 'too big to fail'. Money is power and the best check on power is dividing it among many.
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caniff



Joined: 03 Feb 2004
Location: All over the map

PostPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2009 5:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hater Depot wrote:
RJjr wrote:
Even though the economic problems are the direct result of big government and NOT the free market, it has become common lately to read about "the failure of capitalism" which is total bullshit since it's been a failure of big government and runaway spending and bullshit laws.



I'm curious to know what laws compelled investment banks to over-leverage and issue credit-default swaps based on worthless mortgages (which they were presumably also compelled to issue).


I'd say it sounds like the repeal of laws like Glass-Steagall that led to this situation.
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Fox



Joined: 04 Mar 2009

PostPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2009 6:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

RJjr wrote:
It's only a matter of time, when things get really bad in the USA and Europe, particularly Britain, that the phrase "failure of democracy" will frequently be in the newspapers. Just like how there hasn't been true capitalism and the problems these days have nothing to do with capitalism, there hasn't been true democracy either. Our leaders are all bought off by lobbyists who, in effect, are the true rulers in America with the politicians being mere figureheads and pawns.


Lobbyists buying off the people you voted into office doesn't make the system any less democratic than it would be without said lobbyists. You just vote in people incredibly succeptible to corruption.

Stop voting for people based on how many times you see their name on the way to work during election season -- or how many times you see them pop up on tv for that matter -- and maybe you'll get some less corruptible leaders.

Either way, the system is just as democratic as it would be without the lobbyists. The lobbyists are just taking advantage of the American people's systematically poor choices in their democratically chosen leaders.
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Gopher



Joined: 04 Jun 2005

PostPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2009 8:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If lobbyists maintain such a grip on the American govt why is T. Geitner sitting alone at the Department of Treasury -- without any deputies, undersecretaries, or assistant secretaries, or others at that political-appointee level to serve him?
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rollo



Joined: 10 May 2006
Location: China

PostPosted: Sat Mar 28, 2009 6:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mises should address this. the Hedge funds were allowed in spite of laws banning naked short selling that have been on the books for fifty years to pillage American equities by massive naked short selling by Bush administration bureacrats.

Gopher is right about the term banana republic!!
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Kuros



Joined: 27 Apr 2004

PostPosted: Sun Mar 29, 2009 3:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gopher wrote:
If lobbyists maintain such a grip on the American govt why is T. Geitner sitting alone at the Department of Treasury -- without any deputies, undersecretaries, or assistant secretaries, or others at that political-appointee level to serve him?


GOP naysaying. Rather than provide a stalwart opposition, the Republicans, under the feckless guidance of KY's Mitch McConnell, have been reduced to sniping at the superbanks' "best and brightest" for not paying several hundreds of dollars in taxes.

The whole situation is absurd.
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Captain Corea



Joined: 28 Feb 2005
Location: Seoul

PostPosted: Sun Mar 29, 2009 5:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gopher wrote:
Kuros: does the United States merely resemble a foreign-capital-dominated, monocrop-producing, export-oriented, Central-American, oligarchic republic, or is it actually one?


Is someone actually proposing that the US is a Central American state?
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