The EU; a Most Unaccountable Institution (Part Two)

By Patrick Brogan

This article will look at the financial institutions that control the EU. The bureaucratic institutions can be viewed here.

European Financial Bodies

The European Central Bank

The European Central Bank is part of what has become known as the troika, along with the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund. This coalition has been responsible for drawing up and implementing the austerity measures that were brought in to stop the spread of “contagion” within the Eurozone. Some view these measures as extreme and part of the problem, whilst others saw them as necessary to stop an economic collapse on the continent.  Part of what this article hopes to achieve is explaining some of the thought behind these decisions.

This is usually the part where I ask what is the ECB and then answer it. The problem this time is there were many times when researching the material that I either got conflicting reports or no solid information at all. Starting with what I could get; “Since 1 January 1999 the European Central Bank (ECB) has been responsible for conducting monetary policy for the euro area – the world’s largest economy after the United States.” Also, the President of the ECB, Mario Draghi, is not democratically elected. More on Mario Draghi later. If you read the previous article you will see undemocratic appointments are a common theme within the EU. The financial arms of the EU are even worse for this.

I’m a big Stanley Kubrick fan. On a quest to find out more about the man, a friend of mine pointed me towards Rob Ager. Rob Ager is a former UKIP member. That has nothing to do with this article. Mr. Ager is also a film analyst. He offers a different take on the usual cinema commentary by delving into the sub and hidden narratives in films, which he says Kubrick’s work is riddled with. I can’t say I agree with everything Ager says, but it is certainly thought provoking. One of the theories Rob puts forward is that “The Shining” is very different from Stephen King’s novel because aul Stan was entwining a hidden narrative which told the audience, if they could decipher it, that the Federal Reserve has altered human history and is privately owned. Does this mean that all central banks are privately owned?

This is where the investigation falls down because I can’t find out with any degree of certainty whether they are or not. Some reports and pieces claimed the ECB is owned by the NCB or National Central Banks of the countries within the Euro. If that is the case, who owns the central banks of these countries? Starting with my own country, Ireland, I can’t get a definitive answer. The closest I could get to answering it brought up as many questions as it did answers. A man named Barry Fitzgerald wrote a letter into The Irish Examiner in 2014 which stated; “On July 17, 1942, in Dáil Éireann with only five deputies in the chamber, the final of five debates on the introduction of the Central Bank played out. Seán T O’Kelly as Minister for Finance, who guided the motion through the chamber, revealed that the owner of the credit issued by the Central Bank of Ireland should be the private property of the joint stock banker and not the property of the people of Ireland.” What it means Mr. Fitzgerald wasn’t sure and was left with the same questions I’m asking. A 12-year-old Canadian might actually have the clearest answer. Well, 12 at the time. Victoria Grant gave a very interesting speech back in 2012 which stated that the governments and private banking cabal collude to enslave the people. She’s 12. 

The Eurogroup

Sounds like a pop-band, doesn’t it? And it’s just as intriguing as one. The Eurogroup, giggle, describes itself as “an informal body in which the ministers from the euro area member states discuss matters relating to their countries’ common responsibilities related to the euro” and  “its main task is to ensure close coordination of economic policies among the euro area member states and promote conditions for stronger economic growth. Policy coordination among the euro area countries is crucial for ensuring stability in the euro area as a whole.”  Their undemocratically elected president is  Jeroen Dijsselbloem. Their meetings are attended by “the euro area ministers with responsibility for finance, the president of the Eurogroup, the vice president of the Commission responsible for economic and monetary affairs and the euro, the president of the European Central Bank (ECB)“. Basically, it’s a talking shop, but a number of commentators have speculated that the Eurogroup conceals the real power in Europe. 

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The Eurogroup Working Group

No, that isn’t a typo. You just know with a name as banal and needlessly repetitive as that it is the group wielding all the power. The Eurogroup Working Group is technically a branch of the Eurogroup, but it is the ninja in the shadows dictating the course of the European experiment. The man pictured above is Thomas Wieser. He is an American-born, Austrian national. His current role within the EU is president of Eurogroup Working Group and president of the Economic and Financial Committee. 

He isn’t the most prominent of European bureaucrats, but there is enough available information out there to suggest he has his head in the game. In a speech he gave in Dublin, he said that globalisation and international indebtedness are corralled, throwing money at the problem just covered it up and didn’t solve it and bad regulation and even worse supervision played a big part in the meltdown. Where was he before 2008?

He also recognised that the Europeans were slow to react and continued to look at it as solely an American problem until it was too late to react in a way that would have prevented anxiety all over Europe. Mr. Wieser’s comments on their eventual response are quite interesting. He claimed, and he of all people is in a high enough position to know whether this is fact or not, that European banks did not want to be fully recapitalised because they felt that Joaquin Almunia, the then EU economic and monetary affairs commissioner, would push for banking concessions. Banks being banks, they didn’t want concessions and nor did they want any possibility of regulation. They picked an option that was detrimental, according to Thomas Wieser. They opted for a minimal recap which didn’t cure the market jitters.

You can get a sense of Thomas Wieser’s world view from this speech. He seems to think of Europe exclusively in banking terms and doesn’t mention that it would be the taxpayer footing the bill for what were essentially bankers’ mistakes.  His solution is further European integration. There is some truth to the point he made about every country taking different paths and not being coherent making the situation worse. A more centralised and bureaucratic Europe would make this situation worse I feel as the economists running the show don’t really seem to know what they are doing. In this speech, he said each country should have a national supervisor answerable to a single European supervisor calling the shots.

Many feel that it is he, Thomas Wieser, calling these shots. Politico described him thus; “the European Council’s behind-the-scenes economic ringleader.” What Yanis Varoufakis said about him is more interesting. The former Greek finance minister is more interesting because he said across a table from him and the other EU financial emissaries while trying to negotiate a deal for the hapless Greek people. He describes Wieser as “the real ruler of the European Union”. Varoufakis said that Wieser and the Eurogroup Working Group make the decisions and Ecofin, the meeting of European finance ministers, rubber stamps these decisions without way of debate or discussion. The link for the discussion between Yanis Varouvakis and Noam Chomsky where he discusses all this can be found here. Again, Thomas Wieser wasn’t democratically elected.

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International Financial Bodies

The Group of 30 

Just to add a bit more confusion to all this, the international financial agencies are deeply intertwined with the European ones. Take the Group of 30 for example. This organisation is based in Washington D.C. and is made up of current and ex-bankers, along with financial gurus. The meetings are described as informal but it is reasonable to conclude these discussions then become part of banking policy. As we know, banks are hugely influential over governments and thus, these discussions become political policy. They are big into banking self-regulation (what could ever go wrong?) and governments heavily subsidising private investments or unbridled greed as it’s also known. 

The worst thing about these nut jobs is that they are actually in positions where they can implement these destructive ideas. I mentioned the ECB chief earlier, Mario Draghi. Well he’s a member of the Group of 30 along with Ben Bernanke, the man in charge of the Federal Reserve when the world’s biggest economy tumbled like a house of cards, Mervyn King, who did a similarly good job with the British economy, and Jean-Claude Trichet, the man that butchered Europe’s economy and caused untold devastation and hardship for millions of Europeans. A lovely bunch. Is this the company we want the president of the ECB to be in? We are talking about you starving to death, make no mistake.

Mario Draghi being a member of this  group and being head of Europe’s biggest bank must surely be a conflict of interest. This is taken from the Occupy website; “A European non-profit organization that documents – and opposes – the influence of corporations on E.U. policy, the Corporate Europe Observatory had filed a complaint with the E.U. that Mario Draghi’s membership in the Group of Thirty represented a conflict of interest as it brought him into an institutional relationship with several representatives of large banks, many of which received financial support from the ECB. In early 2013, the E.U. stated that Draghi’s membership in the G30 did not undermine his “independence” as head of the European Central Bank, since the G30 “should be characterized as a discussion forum, rather than an interest group or lobby seeking to promote private interests.”” 

The Others

There are many, many others that haven’t been mentioned. A quick role call of the main players are the IMF, the Eurogroup are mandated to work closely with them, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission and the Bilderberg Group all get dishonorable mentions. The reality is there are hundreds of groups like these. What they are doing behind closed doors is anybody’s guess.  These people have no stake in democracy, so they can not be held accountable.

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If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next 

All of this would give you a headache. A load of people you never heard of in organisations that are just letters and you can’t tell one from the other. They are all intermingled, contain the same people and do the same job. So, why care? Because it’s actually all important.

All organisations, if they impinge on your life, regardless if they have  private status, should be held accountable. I would extent this past just financial and political organisations. The CIA, FBI and MI5 should all have to answer directly to the people. All organisations that exert influence over the public domain. Without knowing what these organisations are doing we end up serving them.

Banks making profits is not the most important thing in society. When the banks are trying to convince the rest of us that their policies are the correct course of action they remind us of the Wall St Collapse and the Great Depression without a hint of irony. The banks push to consolidate wealth between just a few people caused these crashes. It’s funny how we can look back and realise this is what happened, yet when it happens before our very eyes we seem blind to the fact.  Think of the anger, frustration and despair caused by the banks. Don’t let them do it again. Many people go to bed cold and hungry. Others don’t even have a bed.

I’m not one of these people to bang on about how money is the root of all evil. I think the opposite in fact. Money has been the means of people crawling out of the gutter and making something for themselves since time immemorial. The problem is how money is created and distributed. It’s hoarded at the top while the rest of us wait for the crumbs. It is totally unsustainable for us and them. Nobody wins in this scenario.

Nick Hanauer is a Seattle-based billionaire. Even he is aware that what is going on is bad for an economy. With all the cash pooled at the top, it means nobody is buying products and goods. Look at this section of an article he originally wrote for Politico and see if you agree with it;

“Dear 1%ers, many of our fellow citizens are starting to believe that capitalism itself is the problem. I disagree, and I’m sure you do too. Capitalism, when well managed, is the greatest social technology ever invented to create prosperity in human societies. But capitalism left unchecked tends toward concentration and collapse. It can be managed either to benefit the few in the near term or the many in the long term. The work of democracies is to bend it to the latter. That is why investments in the middle class work. And tax breaks for rich people like us don’t. Balancing the power of workers and billionaires by raising the minimum wage isn’t bad for capitalism. It’s an indispensable tool smart capitalists use to make capitalism stable and sustainable. And no one has a bigger stake in that than zillionaires like us.”

The solution is simple. Recognise your own self-worth and demand more. If you don’t, who else will?

 

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