Sunday, October 5, 2008

With Other People’s Money

With the apparent downfall of big banks in the USA, England and other countries of Western Economy, the States and mass media everywhere have rushed to assuage the people and in essence beg them not to withdraw/ close their accounts of deposits and investments. The States rush to ‘guarantee’ the people’s account deposits up to an ever rising amount (at least in Greece) with a lot of assurances, always oral and of course without an actual commitment in any way.

Primarily, no commitment exists because history teaches us that politicians consider it part of their job description to make commitments and promises which they then shamelessly recall as they like, when they like to without any repercussion, nor political nor criminal/ civil, nor social. Theodore Pangalos’ statement in a televised talk show during the time he was a minister in Andreas Papandreou’s government: when it was pointed out to him that his political party had not honoured the pre-election promises/ commitments he shamelessly replied “we are not priests to be keeping our promises. We are politicians and we change our action as the circumstances demand”. This logic is shared by the Karamanlis government as they have many times proven with the recalling of pre-election promises and government decisions such as the “3 no’s” of K. Karamanlis, the commitment for the heating oil and many more.

It is exactly this government that is guaranteeing the safety of the bank deposits of the People and actually during a time that the government is claiming that there is no capacity of finding funding/ cash from the State. Of course, for any thinking and aware Citizen, that guarantee alone by such an unreliable government should be an alarm sounding off for the future of that which it is guaranteeing: the personal / individual deposits and investments of the People.

But why are they so concerned about where the People will keep their money?

Banks claim they have capital and are strong (at least here in Greece) enough to weather, as enterprises in their sector, the turbulence of the world crisis. Based on this claim they call to the People to make business transactions with them and profit.

But this is claim of the banks is false and it is easily obvious to any aware Citizen from a single simple fact everyone keeps repeated through the mass media: the banks borrow money from each other (at least theoretically).

Borrowing, taking loans, means for any enterprise a need for a non-natural money inflow with credit, for the covering of needs that the existing capital of the enterprise cannot cover. Therefore, by simple logic it is discernible that banks need other banks to give them extra capital for all their business enterprises, which they cannot cover by themselves. That is, if there was no additional available capital beyond what a bank possesses to be had, that bank would go bankrupt.

We have already said that money in general behaves as a given quantity which is in communicating vessels (it is by this logic that they explain how a crisis spreads from one country to the next like a chain reaction). This axiom means that we can draw the conclusion that since money worldwide is a given constant divided across countries, banks handle part of this money circulating but the money itself does not remain nor multiply in any of them. Also we can conclude that money used by other banks comes from some other source and not the banks themselves (since money is a constant everyone is fighting to have a bigger percentage of: the concepts of inflation and other such percentages are based on this axiom).

This money can’t but come from the following sources: from the State through various agreements/ allowances/ fundings/ tax exemtions/ promotion that the government does to support and promote banks with taxpayer money as well as from individual Citizens who deposit their money in various ways, as investments or not. In essence, the source of funds of every bank is the People’s money in the above direct and indirect ways.

The banks have always depended on Citizens and their deposits. This is exactly the logic of the interest that a bank gives to an account holder: the account holder gives the bank his/her capital which, while the bank keeps it the bank also manages/ exploits to gain profit. From this profit the bank gives the account holder a percentage, which is the interest. That is, the bank is the one borrowing the Citizen’s money in order to make profit for itself and in return it pays the Citizen a percentage (which normally should have been on the profit made by the exploitation of the account’s amount but in reality is a minimal percentage on the original amount the Citizen deposits). [1]

What is it truly that a bank borrows (gets a loan of) from other banks?

But of course Citizen deposits from other countries and made in other banks. In essence all the banks are funded and maintained by the deposits of the Citizens, and that is why when there is an economic crisis or crisis of any sort they do not return the deposits to their rightful owners (something that happened a few years ago in Latin American countries where people with deposits of thousands of dollars/ euro found themselves to be nearly paupers, receiving with a bank coupon a minute amount of what was their own deposit the bank withheld due to ‘crisis’).

The dependence of banks from their getting loans from other banks shows that none of them has the reserve to themselves but instead they just lend it to each other so that they will be able to make moves or show that they have capital of their own and economic power of their own. A characteristic case in point and proof of this truth is the inability of the Piraeus Bank to pay/ make guarantee for less than €102,000,000 which was the amount of its participation in the coalition it was part of (under Paul Vardinogiannis) and which had to file bank guarantees of this level for the selling of the Olympic Airline in the beginning of the 2000-2010 decade. This means that this bank could not vouch for an amount much less than the one the law requires vouching in order for the bank to be legal.

The condition in Piraeus Bank at least (since the most representatives who appeared last week on television to assuage the People and ask them not to withdraw their bak accounts were representatives of the Piraeus Bank, TV channels belonging to owners/ stock holders in Piraeus Bank) but also in the other banks seems to be the same and worse, judging from their anguished appeal to the account holders and Citizens in general not only to leave their deposits in the bank but to also add more capital to them (as we can see from news stories showing that one making deposits in the bank in large amounts during this period will win much more interest than ever before).

It is a fact that banks count on the so-called ‘small deposit makers’ (i.e. the Citizens who are not big capital holder businessmen) for their capital since 150 out of the 200 billion euro they say they have in Greece comes from the small deposit makers they are begging not to withdraw their money (as it was reported last Friday, October 3, 2008).

The mass media do not report, along with the political ‘assurances’ of G. Alogoskoufis and G. Provopoulos (the Bank of Greece manager since June 20 2008 and vice president of the board and consultant of Piraeus Bank up until May 2008), that internationally there is great skepticism by the assorted economic agencies and evaluators regarding the viability and stability of the banking/ economic system health in Greece, as officially stated for Reuters. Also the mass media do not mention that the commitment of the minister of economy and his colleagues is solely political (i.e. without any guarantees or collateral) and there no plan, legislation, extreme measure scenario or other provision which will be able to back up the commitment of the minister of economy if the need arises (also officially reported in Reuters last Friday).

The only commitment, which would be able to be taken seriously by aware Citizens and which would be able to be called that by G. Alogoskoufis and all those who ‘commit’ in the same manner as he, would be if he had deposited his entire personal and family fortune in the State Loan Fund as collateral for the Citizens’ deposits as well as a Parliamentary order for revoking of parliamentary immunity for all who vouch for the deposits of the Citizens and commit to it, their statement thereby considered equal to legal statements with the criminal consequences in case their statement is proven false.

If this guarantee does not exist, then based on the evidence we have at hand no deposit is safe and each Citizen is obliged to protect his/her deposits while he/she still can.
[1] i.e. the bank should, if the Citizen deposited e.g. €1000, give the Citizen a percentage on the profit made from this €1000 (€1000+€X amount of profit per day) and not what the bank now does: it gives a minimal percentage calculated from the initial €1000 deposit the Citizen has made and nothing more.

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