‘Insane blackmail’ or ‘historical responsibility’? Greece demands WW2 reparations from Germany

From RT

August 18, 2016

Does Germany still owe Greece billions of euros in compensation for Nazi crimes in World War Two, or should bygones be bygones since Berlin has anyway given Athens billions as part of benefits and bailout measures?

“Greece and its people will not forget the slaughter and war crimes of the Nazi army and demand tangible recognition by the German government. Greece will do whatever is necessary, mainly at a diplomatic level, and if necessary, at a legal [level],” Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said earlier this week, during a visit to Kommeno to commemorate the victims of the 1943 massacre in the northwestern village, where Nazi troops killed 317 civilians.

RT sat down with political theorist Marina Prentoulis, member of Syriza, and Eike Hamer, a political commentator from Germany, to discuss whether Greece can really claim the money 70 years after the war.

Marina Prentoulis agrees it’s been a long time, but insists that one has to remember that “crimes against humanity never expire.”

Reparation – Germany’s historical responsibility for Nazi occupation 

“The people of Greece will always have to live with the memories of the Nazi occupation. I would like to say that [on August 17] in 1944 we had a very dark anniversary for Greece – the anniversary of Kokkinia, a place in the western Athens, where the same day many years ago 20,000 people were gathered at the local square – 350 of them were executed, and 800 of them were taken hostages, and they were tortured by the Nazi army and the Gestapo,” she said.

Eike Hamer argues, though, that the issue of fairness here is not the point, as “there is hardly any other country that has got as much money from Germany as Greece.”  He recalled that back in 1960, West Germany paid 115 million deutsche marks to Greece as compensation for Nazi war crimes. Now the main point is to “live together again in peace and with respect to each other,” he says.

That won’t be possible if one side “comes with old stories [over and over] again to blackmail the other one and to demand any money or whatever from them,” Hamer says. “We’re comrades in the EU, and this is insane to make a break through the population, by demanding such insane things.”

Prentoulis agrees that living in peace is crucial, but, she insists, “this is why we have a historical responsibility to the people of Europe to recognize how Greece was devastated by the Nazi occupation.”

As for the 1960 payment, she said, “it was only a fraction of the money that they were supposed to give to Greece.”

“And now it is time to recognize that as comrades and for the good of the whole of Europe in order to be able to put this story in history and remember the horrific things that happened to Greece with not wanting to do anything like that again in the future; for peace and prosperity of Europe,” said Prentoulis.

No other country in the world pays Greece as much as Germany 

Since the 1960 compensation, Hamer argues, Greece has enjoyed advantages worth “a couple of hundred billion” euros. He referred to low interest rates, European – “mainly German” – aid and other indirect payments, including advantages Greece received because of having “many contracts” with Germany.

“There is no other country in the world paying Greece that much as Germany through the EU, through other things,” he said.

“It is funny that you can pay Greece as much money as you want and the elites divide this money amongst each other, take the money away, move to London, or whatever. Now, when the people are left behind from their own elites, they are demanding more money from Germany,” Hamer said, adding that “this is not fair.”

Prentoulis insists that it’s Greece that is being treated unfairly.

“Greece is getting one of the worst treatments across the Eurozone,” she said adding that economic issues and war reparation payment should be differentiated.

“But if you want to talk about the situation in Greece now, I have to remind you again about the 1953 London Debt Agreement, when a lot of countries, including Greece, decided to cut the debt of the German state by half and connect their repayment with a prosperity of the German state. This was an act of good will from the people of Europe,” she said.

Greece, however, is being treated differently now, says Prentoulis.

“The Greek people have been totally brought to the knees, once again because of austerity, because of the decisions of the conservative government of the EU, including the German one, and they are going on suffering since the crisis of 2008. You remember what happened with the Greek negotiations, and the whole Europe has been witnessing that,” she said.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

https://www.rt.com/op-edge/356398-greece-reparations-eu-germany-ww2/

Bankers hate peace: all wars are bankers’ wars

“I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.”
— U.S. Major General Smedley Butler

Global Research, March 26, 2015

As Lee Fang writesThe possibility of an Iran nuclear deal depressing weapons sales was raised by Myles Walton, an analyst from Germany’s Deutsche Bank, during a Lockheed earnings call this past January 27. Walton asked Marillyn Hewson, the chief executive of Lockheed Martin, if an Iran agreement could “impede what you see as progress in foreign military sales.” Financial industry analysts such as Walton use earnings calls as an opportunity to ask publicly-traded corporations like Lockheed about issues that might harm profitability.

Hewson replied that “that really isn’t coming up,” but stressed that “volatility all around the region” should continue to bring in new business. According to Hewson, “A lot of volatility, a lot of instability, a lot of things that are happening” in both the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific region means both are “growth areas” for Lockheed Martin.

The Deutsche Bank-Lockheed exchange “underscores a longstanding truism of the weapons trade: war — or the threat of war — is good for the arms business,” says William Hartung, director of the Arms & Security Project at the Center for International Policy. Hartung observed that Hewson described the normalization of relations with Iran not as a positive development for the future, but as an “impediment.” “And Hewson’s response,” Hartung adds, “which in essence is ‘don’t worry, there’s plenty of instability to go around,’ shows the perverse incentive structure that is at the heart of the international arms market.”

Former managing director of Goldman Sachs – and head of the international analytics group at Bear Stearns in London (Nomi Prins) – notes:

Throughout the century that I examined, which began with the Panic of 1907 … what I found by accessing the archives of each president is that through many events and periods, particular bankers were in constant communication [with the White House] — not just about financial and economic policy, and by extension trade policy, but also about aspects of World War I, or World War II, or the Cold War, in terms of the expansion that America was undergoing as a superpower in the world, politically, buoyed by the financial expansion of the banking community.

***

In the beginning of World War I, Woodrow Wilson had adopted initially a policy of neutrality. But the Morgan Bank, which was the most powerful bank at the time, and which wound up funding over 75 percent of the financing for the allied forces during World War I … pushed Wilson out of neutrality sooner than he might have done, because of their desire to be involved on one side of the war.

Now, on the other side of that war, for example, was the National City Bank, which, though they worked with Morgan in financing the French and the British, they also didn’t have a problem working with financing some things on the German side, as did Chase …

When Eisenhower became president … the U.S. was undergoing this expansion by providing, under his doctrine, military aid and support to countries [under] the so-called threat of being taken over by communism … What bankers did was they opened up hubs, in areas such as Cuba, in areas such as Beirut and Lebanon, where the U.S. also wanted to gain a stronghold in their Cold War fight against the Soviet Union. And so the juxtaposition of finance and foreign policy were very much aligned.

So in the ‘70s, it became less aligned, because though America was pursuing foreign policy initiatives in terms of expansion, the bankers found oil, and they made an extreme effort to activate relationships in the Middle East, that then the U.S. government followed. For example, in Saudi Arabia and so forth, they get access to oil money, and then recycle it into Latin American debt and other forms of lending throughout the globe. So that situation led the U.S. government.

Indeed, JP Morgan also purchased control over America’s leading 25 newspapers in order to propagandize US public opinion in favor of US entry into World War 1.

And many big banks, in fact, funded the Nazis.

BBC reported in 1998:

Barclays Bank has agreed to pay $3.6m to Jews whose assets were seized from French branches of the British-based bank during World War II.

***

Chase Manhattan Bank, which has acknowledged seizing about 100 accounts held by Jews in its Paris branch during World War II ….”Recently unclassified reports from the US Treasury about the activities of Chase in Paris in the 1940s indicate that the local branch worked “in close collaboration with the German authorities” in freezing Jewish assets.

The New York Daily News noted the same year:

The relationship between Chase and the Nazis apparently was so cozy that Carlos Niedermann, the Chase branch chief in Paris, wrote his supervisor in Manhattan that the bank enjoyed “very special esteem” with top German officials and “a rapid expansion of deposits,” according to Newsweek.

Niedermann’s letter was written in May 1942 five months after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and the U.S. also went to war with Germany.

The BBC reported in 1999:

A French government commission, investigating the seizure of Jewish bank accounts during the Second World War, says five American banks Chase Manhattan, J.P Morgan, Guaranty Trust Co. of New York, Bank of the City of New York and American Express had taken part.

It says their Paris branches handed over to the Nazi occupiers about one-hundred such accounts.

One of Britain’s main newspapers – the Guardian – reported in 2004:

George Bush’s grandfather [and George H.W. Bush’s father], the late US senator Prescott Bush, was a director and shareholder of companies that profited from their involvement with the financial backers of Nazi Germany.

The Guardian has obtained confirmation from newly discovered files in the US National Archives that a firm of which Prescott Bush was a director was involved with the financial architects of Nazism.

His business dealings … continued until his company’s assets were seized in 1942 under the Trading with the Enemy Act

***

The documents reveal that the firm he worked for, Brown Brothers Harriman (BBH), acted as a US base for the German industrialist, Fritz Thyssen, who helped finance Hitler in the 1930s before falling out with him at the end of the decade. The Guardian has seen evidence that shows Bush was the director of the New York-based Union Banking Corporation (UBC) that represented Thyssen’s US interests and he continued to work for the bank after America entered the war.

***

Bush was a founding member of the bank [UBC] … The bank was set up by Harriman and Bush’s father-in-law to provide a US bank for the Thyssens, Germany’s most powerful industrial family.

***

By the late 1930s, Brown Brothers Harriman, which claimed to be the world’s largest private investment bank, and UBC had bought and shipped millions of dollars of gold, fuel, steel, coal and US treasury bonds to Germany, both feeding and financing Hitler’s build-up to war.

Between 1931 and 1933 UBC bought more than $8m worth of gold, of which $3m was shipped abroad. According to documents seen by the Guardian, after UBC was set up it transferred $2m to BBH accounts and between 1924 and 1940 the assets of UBC hovered around $3m, dropping to $1m only on a few occasions.

***

UBC was caught red-handed operating a American shell company for the Thyssen family eight months after America had entered the war and that this was the bank that had partly financed Hitler’s rise to power.

Indeed, banks often finance both sides of wars:

And they are one of the main sources of financing for nuclear weapons.

(The San Francisco Chronicle also documents that leading financiers Rockefeller, Carnegie and Harriman also funded Nazi eugenics programs … but that’s a story for another day.)

The Federal Reserve and other central banks also help to start wars by financing them. Thomas Jefferson and the father of free market capitalism, Adam Smith, both noted that the financing wars by banks led to more – and longer – wars.

And America apparently considers economic rivalry to be a basis for war, and is using the military to contain China’s growing economic influence.

Multi-billionaire investor Hugo Salinas Price says:

What happened to [Libya’s] Mr. Gaddafi, many speculate the real reason he was ousted was that he was planning an all-African currency for conducting tradeThe same thing happened to him that happened to Saddam because the US doesn’t want any solid competing currency out there vs the dollar. You know Gaddafi was talking about a gold dinar.

Continue reading

The complete degeneration of Ukraine’s system

September 29th, 2015

Lug-info – translated for Fort Russ by Paul Siebert

Political analyst Aleksei Blyuminov: “Complete degeneration of the Ukrainian management structure”

* Fort Russ translates for you an eye opening and compelling interview with Blyuminov on the actual and critical situation in Ukraine – highly recommended *

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Lug-Info – Aleksei, what is happening in the Ukrainian politics today?

– The country is steadily sinking into a systemic governmental and parliamentary crisis. Formally, the coalition in the parliament has not disintegrated yet, but everyone understands that there are forces that lead the parliament to early re-elections. Poroshenko is resisting in every way he can, eager to formally preserve the coalition. But the party of Lyashko has already abandoned it.  Now the faction of Timoshenko is next in line.

Lug-Info – In your opinion, who benefits from this?

– Oligarch Igor Kolomoisky is behind all this, if we consider domestic beneficiaries who want to grab their piece. Regarding foreign beneficiaries – this is more complicated, because Ukraine is under external control. If the parliament is dissolved, it means that this decision was agreed to in Washington. If Washington does not want early perturbations and it is satisfied with Poroshenko, then the dissolution of the parliament will not take place. It will be maintained half alive for some time: a month, two, three, four – for as long as it is needed.

Lug-Info – Can we assert that the leader of the far-right “Freedom” party Tyagnibok has been “sent packing”?

– It is difficult to say at the moment. We remember that after Mukachevo Poroshenko was shouting angrily threatening to punish those involved, but no one was arrested, everyone escaped in the woods. In the conflict near the Parliament in Kiev on August 31 it is the same story: the Pechersk court in Kiev will decide whether to arrest Shwaika (former Minister of Agrarian Policy of Ukraine, member of the “Freedom” party). In the coming days we will see how serious are the Prosecutor General, the police, etc. in relation to the “Freedom” party.

Lug-Info – In general, how do you assess the political situation in Ukraine?

– The political situation is absolutely unstable. There are no “fodder reserves” that could maintain stability. Roughly speaking, earlier, for example, under Yanukovych, this stability could be maintained by two things: the first – the legitimate state apparatus, and the second – the availability of some money. Now, both are missing. There are a lot of people who can toss grenades at the prosecutor’s office, and there is no money to cajole them.

Going back to the main problem – the regime is under external control, so all flames of instability are to be artificially extinguished. For example, there was a source of instability in the form Kolomoisky – he was removed after the mediation of the US Ambassador. There was a similar source of instability in the form of Nalyvaychenko: he was also removed. Therefore, external overseers are helping Poroshenko to keep the situation under control and consolidate his regime. Obviously, it cannot last forever, but as long as the Americans are interested in some kind of stability, they will not allow the spread of destabilizing tendencies.

Lug-Info – How important is the factor “of people returning from the front?”

– According to the association of owners of firearms (they are lobbying for legalization of the process), Ukraine is the largest supplier of illegal weapons to the EU. There have been some known attempts to smuggle multiple-launch rocket systems “Grad” across the country to Chernovtsi in order to sell them in Romania. We see that in all conflicts in Ukraine, including Mukachevo, heavy weapons are used. In Kiev, grenade explosions are heard and soon, in all probability, howitzers will be available. In spite of this, a more or less “glossy cover” of Ukraine is maintained yet.

Lug-Info – What about the situation in the Ukrainian economy?

– The economy is dead. According to the official data, the GDP has contracted by 12.5%. This demonstrates that the main branches of industry, which produced income: metallurgy, machine-building, chemistry, etc. – are in deep crisis. What more or less is still functioning to some degree is tied to the agricultural sector and exports through the port of Odessa. That is why, by the way, it is such a contested asset. Even lenders admit it.

Standard& Poor’s rating agency predicts that a default is inevitable. Not such a long time ago a technical default was admitted. But at the same time, due to political considerations, the same lenders say that they will continue to lend to Ukraine despite the fact that its economy is dead. Clearly, this is a purely political decision – to keep the bankrupt regime afloat. It cannot go on for a long time, but for some period they will be able to drag on.

Lug-Info – How will it look like?

– Without external credit borrowings Kiev is unable to form the budget for 2016. For this reason, Natalia Yaresko (Finance Minister) urges the Parliament to vote for all the conditions attached by the lenders as a package, blackmailing the deputies that otherwise default is inevitable. These conditions demand more severe cuts in all social programs, forcing the population to tighten their belts even more. Without this even the agreement about forgiving Ukraine 20% of its debt will not come into effect. But this debt write-off is not a victory. This means credit bondage, only delayed in time. Only the payment of the principal will be stretched for four years while the interest will be charged anyway. But this money will have to be returned by other people. Neither Yatsenyuk nor Yaresko will remain in their positions by then. However, it will be impossible to avoid a technical default. The government will have to impose a moratorium on debt payments in September and October. It is also necessary to return three billion dollars to Russia while Moscow made it clear that it is not going to forgive Ukraine’s debt.

Lug-Info – What is happening in the “social sphere”?

– In the social sphere there is a systematic reduction, squeezing, tightening of all social programs starting from the Chernobyl victims, pensioners, benefit recipients, and children of war. For example, in Kiev the categories of people who use public transportation for free have been significantly reduced. Only those people who have the so called “Kievite’s cards” have such a privilege. But this is a very small group. All other persons, including a huge number of migrants living in the capital of Ukraine illegally, do not have these preferential rights.

– And what about the prices?

– The prices are rising. On the one hand, the authorities caused the collapse of imports, on the other hand, exports crumbled as well. As a result, on paper the budget has reached equilibrium that is called deflation. In addition, without any sanctions and blockades, the assortment of goods in shops has been significantly reduced. For example, in the past there used to be 15 types of yogurt or mayonnaise, but now there are only three. What remains is the cheapest goods. There is no sense to sell expensive ones in mass retail stores.

Lug-Info – You mentioned the migrants. What is life like for refugees?

– Refugees from Donbas have no rights. There is a regime of internal segregation. Formally – you’re a citizen of Ukraine, you have a passport. But you need to be registered as a temporary migrant and receive a huge number of certificates. There are many problems when children go to a kindergarten or school. People also face domestic segregation when housing is not rented to people from Donetsk or Lugansk. I talk to many people, and I have a lot of examples. Plus, there are problems with employment records. In fact, people find themselves outside the legal environment. They periodically organize meetings in order to be legalized, to be given accommodation. If you have some financial reserves – you can rent an apartment, but if not …

– How do you assess the situation with the frozen conflict?

– With frozen conflicts there are no prospects to speak of, because the freezing does not provide a solution but postpones it indefinitely. In the hope that something will change under the influence of some external factors. We realize that the war may end only with a victory of one of the sides, it cannot end with a compromise. It is not possible. Compromise is a truce; it is not the end of the war. The simplest example: Some elements in Ukraine are enraged over the buying of coal from the enemy territory, from Donbas. In fact, these supplies should be legalized. Without this coal power plants will be stopped. The supplies of coal at the Ukrainian thermal power stations are left for only two weeks. That is, energetic collapse can occur at any moment. And the situation is becoming more precarious.

– Can you make any forecasts?

– Actually, it is difficult to make predictions. I personally see only one option – the end of the war. There are two examples of ending wars: the Vietnamese one, when a society is tired of the war and urges authorities to make peace and end the hostilities. And the second one is a military defeat of the enemy. Regardless of the scenario of solving the conflict, it will have different beneficiaries. It should be understood that the current regime in Kiev will never allow federalization of Ukraine. And there is no leverage to force it into it – Minsk agreements are brazenly flaunted by the Kiev regime.

– It seems that everything depends on the resources, including those resources received from the outside?

– From the perspective of an ordinary person who cannot rely on anything, yes. In Ukraine, the situation is worse than in Donbas. Donbas receives convoys with humanitarian aid, volunteers are collecting money. No one will deliver humanitarian aid to an ordinary poor Ukrainian. He has been left alone; there is nothing he can count upon.  He is lucky if he has relatives who can feed him or make money transfers. We also understand that in Donbas, for obvious reasons, in many cases utilities are not paid for, but no one has been evicted.

Lug-Info – Let’s go back to the refugees. Will they come back?

Those ones who are not able to settle somewhere, will look for possibilities to return. People, who are able to integrate in the Ukraine with some success, are unlikely to return. In general, the situation in the country is depressing. We are witnessing a complete degradation of the Ukrainian management structure.

In Ukraine, the Emergency Situations Ministry has been broken up. We have seen three waves of lustration. Thousands of people have been fired. They have been replaced by people from the street. And the results are obvious for anyone: peat bogs are burning, they cannot extinguish them. The system has been destroyed: lack of people, lack of professional skills, and lack of equipment. In normal times any environmental disaster would be overcome within two – three days. Now fires are raging in the Chernobyl forest. It is impossible to breathe with smoke billowing in the streets.

Another example. The police is being disbanded. Seasoned veterans are gone. They are replaced with 22-24 year old boys, with no experience at all, but with huge ambitions. At the same time we see an explosion of street crime: robberies, stabbings, hooliganism. Nobody is dealing with street crime. In front of a camera traffic violation fines are ostentatiously written to a high-ranking bishop or some politician. But this is a facade, and behind the facade …. Some foreigner comes to Ukraine, makes some photographs and goes back to write a book about the success of Ukraine’s reforms. He will not delve into crime statistics. He will make a selfie with a policeman dressed in the second hand American uniform – second hand from Texas Rangers, with American chevrons replaced by Ukrainian – that is all. The usual Saakashvili-style. Total window-dressing in everything …

http://fortruss.blogspot.com/2015/09/ukraine-complete-degeneration-of-system.html

Sahra Wagenknecht to Angela Merkel: “Madam Chancellor, change your policy. Before it is too late.”

Open letter by Sahra Wagenknecht to Angela Merkel, published in BILD on 10 July 2015

Deutsch http://www.bild.de/politik/inland/sahra-wagenknecht/fordert-merkel-auf-ihre-griechenland-politik-zu-aendern-41716000.bild.html

Madam Chancellor,

Europe is in a bad condition. All over Europe it is the hard-working people with ordinary wages who pay most taxes while the rich people duck away. Many wage-earners are not able to live off their job income. Also in Germany. After a life of hard work, often enough, a miserable pension looms. The wealth of millionaires, however, has reached new peaks. In all of Europe the states are highly indebted because they have taken over the losses of irresponsible bankers and speculators. Greece´s debt is particularly high. Here, a corrupt political class together with Greek oligarchs and the international banks has shamelessly accumulated wealth for years and years. Since the introduction of the Euro especially, the party was on. Many small and medium-sized enterprises on the other hand were swept from the market by the new currency which was way too hard for Greece.

In the year 2010 Greece was bankrupt. It was clear already then that it would not be able to repay its debt. Yet despite that, Madam Chancellor, in 2010 you set the course for Germany and the other Euro countries to accept the liability for the Greek debt. By so doing you protected banks and hedge funds from losses in the billions. For the European tax payer who was never asked, however, this decision was a fatal error. It was clear from the beginning that a high amount of our money would be lost. Together with other parliamentarians of the Left I pointed this out to you in the Bundestag. You would not listen to it.

In the meantime Germany has more than 60 billion Euros at stake in Greece. Ever more credits were handed out in order to enable Greece to pay old debts – only because you, Madam Chancellor, did not want to acknowledge your mistake. That way the illusion of Greek solvency was upheld. In an enterprise this would be called delaying bankruptcy. The credits were given on conditions that led Greece even deeper into the crisis. The small people suffered, the Greek oligarchs became even richer. Today production in Greece is 25 per cent less as compared to 2010. There are no investments, the young generation has no perspective. Even though the Greek state has cut its expenses by almost a quarter which is more than any other European country has done, the debt has not shrunk. It is higher than it ever was. Still, Madam Chancellor, before the Greek referendum you wanted to spend another 15 billion Euro of European taxpayers´ money to have Athens pay for old debt. By taking on a new debt. The only condition you had was to oblige the Greek government to continue with the policy of the last years. The taxpayers in Germany, too, can be grateful to the Greek people that this proposal was swept from the table by their sovereign “No”.

It is time to come clean with the people. Stop burning more and more taxpayers´ money in order to disguise that a major part of the money we have already spent is gone. One day the truth will come out. The later it is the more expensive it is going to be for all of us.

Greece does not need a new “aid package” only in order to pay off old debt with new debt. Greece needs a haircut. It must be relieved, at least for three to five years, from the pressure to pay interest and repayment which it cannot shoulder by its own means anyway. Greece also does not need more social cuts but investments and a hefty levy on wealth at the expense of its oligarchs. What is necessary is an unbundling of the Greek economy in which today roundabout 800 immensely rich family clans hold solid monopolies and dictate the prices. Those are the reforms that would set the country on track, and not more pension cuts, VAT increase and privatizations.

You ought to remember: also the German reconstruction became possible by means of a generous debt haircut. After the Second World War Germany was granted a reduction of two thirds of its old debt. Only that way the economic miracle could have a full start. At that time we were indebted also to the Greeks, a debt that was never repaid. Madam Chancellor, change your policy. Before it is too late.

Sahra Wagenknecht

http://www.sahra-wagenknecht.de/en/article/2163.madam-chancellor-change-your-policy-before-it-is-too-late.html

Ex-MP: Ukraine’s default is a culmination of a plan

Horrifying asset seizure which is legally sanctioned. Which countries are next? Privatization or bankruptcy — either way, the forces of the “free market” and “democracy” get the assets of the people. Truly, the end of freedom.

From Fort Russ

May 21, 2015
Ruposters.ru
Translated by Kristina Rus
 
A deal on the blood: ex-Rada deputy forecasts a tragic finale of the conflict

The decision of the Verkhovna Rada not to pay debts means the default is close, thinks the ex-MP, the former head of the the State Commission of Financial Services [of Ukraine], Vasily Volga, reports “PolitNavigator”.

Vasily Volga

“First of all, it is necessary to distinguish two types of defaults. Technical default and total default. In case of a technical default the country declares that it cannot pay its obligations, and asks the creditors to change the terms of contracts of those liabilities. Perfect technical default is a partial write off of debt, a deferral of payments on principal for something like ten years and a receipt of a new credit to pay interest on loans. A couple of years ago just such a default was experienced by Greece”, – he said.

Volga called the situation in Ukraine up to now – a “gift from heaven”, when “they forgive everything and even give more money”.

He explained what would a total default mean for the country. “This is a situation when lenders refuse to write off and restructure debts. In this case, the creditors have the right to demand the arrest of all foreign property and accounts of a bankrupt state. Also, the creditors, to satisfy their requirements, have the right to foreclose on the assets of the debtor state within the state. And, of course, you can forget about any loans from any international financial institutions. The national currency is instantly devalued. The value of state assets will plunge towards zero. Social programs are destroyed“, – said Volga.

In this case the one who owns the debt of a bankrupt state, becomes the owner of everything for nothing. “I think we should not forget about the information spread in the press a couple of months ago about the Rothschilds buying the sovereign debt of Ukraine”, – said the politician.

He noted that if the default of the country will be total, then “we will witness a grand buyout, which was prepared by war and the murder of tens of thousands of my fellow citizens“. “The culmination is near. We will see everything. All the cards will be revealed,” –  assured Volga.

IMF: Ukraine must now steal $1.5 Billion+ from Russia to buy weapons

Originally from Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten
March 24, 2015
Posted on Global Research

IMF: Ukraine will not pay back [part of] its debts to Russia

German Economic News  |  Published: 03/24/15 00:25 clock [Translation, and interspersed notes, by Eric Zuesse.]

In December, a multi-billion-dollar loan [variously stated as $3-$3.5 billion] to Ukraine comes due, which Ukraine had received from Russia. The IMF has provided a new debt plan, however, dictating that existing loans to Ukraine that have an expiration-date are to be subjected to a haircut. Thus, the resource gap of the country totaling $40 billion is to be reduced.

Since the crisis, Ukraine has received several loans from the IMF and the EU [and the U.S.]. These loans must be repaid in a few years from now. However, the financial situation of the country remains vulnerable. Over the next four years overdue loans totaling $15 billion need to be paid [they’re mostly loans from Russia]. Only three billion of them are an old loan Russia that has to be paid in December of this year. The IMF might prevent it [from being repaid in full, even though it has seniority over the new loans that are coming from the West].

The IMF has developed a program for Ukraine, under which the current financial hole is to be filled in the amount $40 billion. The due debts [the senior debt] are part of the plan, and will be restructured, according to the IMF. Exactly how it is to happen, the IMF does not explain. Experts say that the IMF believes that Russia should participate in a haircut. The Financial Times reports [“Bailout projections indicate Ukraine will not repay Russia debt” 5:21 PM, 22 March 2015] that the IMF requires that Russia’s $3.5 billion bond issue be included in the restructuring. Charles Blitzer, a former IMF employee, has informed the FT of this.

However, Blitzer is uncertain how large the haircut will be. ”It is up to the Ukrainian authorities to determine the extent and nature of the debt restructuring,” he said. [In other words: the IMF will grant Ukraine the right to determine how much of that $3-3.5B will be repaid to Russia. The Kyiv Post puts it this way: “Kyiv does not intend to fully repay a $3 billion bond owed to Russia this year according to official projections underpinning Ukraine’s new international bailout, say credit experts.”] Government sources close to the matter estimate that there will be a planned debt reduction of 50 percent. ”But creditors would rather try to agree on a term extension,” said Blitzer.

Whether all international creditors will accept a haircut, and if so, to what extent, is not yet clear. Last week, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanow said that Russia still expects that the $3.5B debt will be repaid this December in full. And Franklin Templeton [Funds], the largest bondholder of Ukraine, has brought in Blackstone legal help for debt negotiations.

Last week, the Ukrainian Finance Minister [the American] Natalija Jaresko told the WSJ that so far pledged loans to Ukraine [$40B] will not be enough to bring Ukraine back onto its feet. ”The package will stabilize the banking system, but it is not enough to seriously re-stimulate growth,” said Jaresko. ”I need more support.” She said that no nation currently pays more to protect the entire world from a nuclear power [Russia] than does Ukraine, and that, “if our partners, for whatever reason, are not able to assist us with defensive military means, then they should provide us more financial assistance [so that we can buy the weapons against Russia ourselves].”

This past Friday, the Ukrainian central bank had to explain why three of Ukraine’s banks were being declared insolvent. The VAB Bank, Astra Bank and the City Commerce Bank are now deprived of their licenses. At the same time, Ukraine is already planning an expansion of military resources. In sum, for the year of 2015, a total of $3.8 billion will be spent on armaments. [This by a country that cannot even pay its bondholders, when all of the new Ukrainian bonds are actually paying only for Ukraine’s war against the residents of its own former Donbass region.]

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity, and of Feudalism, Fascism, Libertarianism and Economics.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/imf-ukraine-must-now-steal-1-5-billion-from-russia-to-buy-weapons/5438508

Anti-population budget devours the safety net as Ukraine nears the economic abyss

January 1, 2015
Anatoly Shariy
Translated from Russian by J. Hawk
Posted on Fort Russ

When discussing last week’s actions by Ukraine’s Cabinet of Ministers, one naturally has to mention the budget. However, the budget has been adopted, so it is too late to really discuss it. It’s like talking about a death sentence once it has been carried out. You can argue it was an unacceptable mistake a hundred times, but cannot reverse it.

On the night of December 23, the government of Ukraine proposed to the Verkhovna Rada the so-called “budget packet”, which included about 50 legislative projects which would make radical changes to many legal codes of Ukraine, including concerning the budget, taxation, customs, and others.
The harsh, and in some places an openly anti-population budget caused not only discussion and disagreement, but also open resistance by the majority of people’s deputies. And we are not even talking about members of the opposition, but the governing parties.
What the government has proposed is an increase (and this during a raging crisis) of the tax burden, the introduction of new taxes on “little Ukrainians”, while at the same time radically cutting budget expenses, including the elimination of practically the entire “welfare state.”
The increase in excise taxes, the refusal to compensate grain traders for the VAT tax, the legalization of gambling, the introduction of estate tax, of housing tax, of retirement income tax, the complete elimination of all tax benefits and discounts to teachers, instructors, the disabled, children with birth defects, Chernobyl victims, and veterans of the Maidan.
Consequently on December 26 the Budget Committee of the Verkhovna Rada received over 300 amendments. In the view of the people’s deputies, such a budget could not be adopted.
But two days later they adopted it anyway. By a hand vote, after a reading of Yatsenyuk’s promises to lighten the impact of the budget in the course of its implementation, the budget for the entire year was adopted.
Incidentally, many of these radical changes were introduced by Yatsenyuk after his “consultations with international financial organizations.”
And there is a lot to consult about.
Ukraine’s foreign debt as of December 1, 2014, reached 1 trillion 33 billion 898 million 479 thousand hryvnia. The rapid devaluation of the hryvnia means the debt has become unmanageable.
Yatsenyuk’s government has been asking the West for money since March, and it has not been especially choosy when it comes to creditors. We’ll take any money, from anyone, on any conditions.
As a result Ukraine’s foreign debt has increased by 3.833 billion USD and its growth is not about to stop. The declarations that Ukraine cannot survive 2015 without another 15 billion USD merely confirms it.
The Cabinet of Ministers is also entering the New year with huge salary arrears. It is increasingly difficult to dismiss the discontent as the product of “Kremlin-paid provocateurs”, because the level of arrears is so huge.
As of December 1, the arrears had reached its 2003 level. The arrears in education were 192.2 million hryvnia, health care—184.4 million, science—123 million, and in art—18 million. To be sure, one can assume that 60% of the arrears concern territory no longer controlled by Kiev, where the Ukrainian government, in its infinite wisdom, had stopped paying salaries altogether.
But what about wage arrears on the wholly controlled regions, such as the Kiev region (124.3 million), the Kharkov region (123.7 million), the Dnepropetrovsk region (101.5 million), or the Lvov region (73 million)?
And the wage arrears are showing an interesting dynamic. In Kiev the arrears increased over the course of 2014 by a factor of three, on the Donbass by 9 times, but in the Dnepropetrovsk region by a factor of 14.5? What is the reason for that? Is the war an excuse on which everything is blamed?
Will the situation improve? No doubt it will, but not in Ukraine. And the Cabinet of Ministers itself is confirming it.
On December 22 the government adopted resolution no. 709, which amends the resolution no. 404 adopted on August 27, 2014.
On that date the wise Arseniy Yatsenyuk adopted forecast of Ukraine’s socioeconomic development for 2015. They adopted two scenarios: a pessimistic one and an optimistic one.
We wrote about them earlier, while noting at the time such forecasts are not worth the paper they are written on. And, by way of confirmation, the Cabinet of Ministers has “corrected” its own predictions.
Thus the best-case scenario GDP growth was supposed to be +0.3%, while the worst case scenario was +0.2%. Now the worst case scenario is -4.3%, while the BEST is -2.0%.
The optimistic inflation estimate in August was 10.9%, and the pessimistic one—13%. Now the optimistic estimate predicts inflation of 17.2%, while the pessimistic estimate predicts 17.9%.
This really speaks volumes, doesn’t it?
These numbers are clearly rigged and are entirely meaningless. They mean nothing at all, they are taken out of thin air.
And, even though the December forecast is actually the more realistic one, it won’t make things better for Ukrainians. If anything, it will only get worse.
Happy New Year!
Translator’s Note: 

What Shariy hints at but does not fully explain is that such forecasts are important when determining Ukraine’s eligibility for foreign loans, by both public (IMF, EU, US) and private lenders. But to secure loans and credits, and to secure them on non-usurious terms, one has to create the impression Ukraine is not doing all that badly, so as to persuade the creditors Ukraine is capable of actually repaying! Which creates a tremendous incentive for the Ukrainian government to “gild the lily”, so to speak. Consequently, even the pessimistic scenarios from December are actually wildly optimistic, because it’s hard to see exactly what the sources of growth for Ukraine’s economy are going to be. Ukraine has lost the bulk of its Russian markets (both due to the Russian government sanctions and the ruble devaluation, both of which are components of Russia’s import substitution strategy), while at the same time failing to secure European or US markets for its products. Yatsenyuk even went as far as boasting about the drop in Russian trade by half as his accomplishment. As to the Western creditors, they are facing the unenviable choice of letting Ukraine default now or continue propping it up, though even the $15 billion that Yatsenyuk is asking for is no guarantee Ukraine will not default later. And this while Greece is once again teetering on the brink of default and exiting the Eurozone.

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