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Controlling the Global Economy: Bilderberg, the Trilateral Commission and the Federal Reserve Part2

Politics / Market Manipulation Aug 11, 2009 - 11:54 AM GMT

By: Global_Research

Politics

Controlling the Global Economy: Bilderberg, the Trilateral Commission and the Federal Reserve Part2

Continues from Part 1 Here

Globalization: A Liberal-Mercantilist Economic Order?

Neo-Liberals Take the Forefront


In 1971, Jimmy Carter, a somewhat obscure governor from Georgia had started to have meetings with David Rockefeller. They became connected due to Carter’s support from the Atlanta corporate elite, who had extensive ties to the Rockefellers. So in 1973, when David Rockefeller and Zbigniew Brzezinski were picking people to join the Trilateral Commission, Carter was selected for membership. Carter thus attended every meeting, and even paid for his trip to the 1976 meeting in Japan with his campaign funds, as he was running for president at the time. Brzezinski was Carter’s closest adviser, writing Carter’s major campaign speeches.[73]

When Jimmy Carter became President, he appointed over two-dozen members of the Trilateral Commission to key positions in his cabinet, among them, Zbigniew Brzezinski, who became National Security Adviser; Samuel P. Huntington, Coordinator of National Security and Deputy to Brzezinski; Harold Brown, Secretary of Defense; Warren Christopher, Deputy Secretary of State; Walter Mondale, Vice President; Cyrus Vance, Secretary of State; and in 1979, he appointed David Rockefeller’s friend, Paul Volcker, as Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board.[74]

In 1979, the Iranian Revolution spurred another massive increase in the price of oil. The Western nations, particularly the United States, had put a freeze on Iranian assets, “effectively restricting the access of Iran to the global oil market, the Iranian assets freeze became a major factor in the huge oil price increases of 1979 and 1981.”[75] Added to this, in 1979, British Petroleum cancelled major oil contracts for oil supply, which along with cancellations taken by Royal Dutch Shell, drove the price of oil up higher.[76]

However, in 1979, the Federal Reserve, now the lynch-pin of the international monetary system, which was awash in petro-dollars (US dollars) as a result of the 1973 oil crisis, decided to take a different action from the one it had taken earlier. In August of 1979, “on the advice of David Rockefeller and other influential voices of the Wall Street banking establishment, President Carter appointed Paul A. Volcker, the man who, back in August 1971, had been a key architect of the policy of taking the dollar off the gold standard, to head the Federal Reserve.”[77]

Volcker got his start as a staff economist at the New York Federal Reserve Bank in the early 50s. After five years there, “David Rockefeller’s Chase Bank lured him away.”[78] So in 1957, Volcker went to work at Chase, where Rockefeller “recruited him as his special assistant on a congressional commission on money and credit in America and for help, later, on an advisory commission to the Treasury Department.”[79] In the early 60s, Volcker went to work in the Treasury Department, and returned to Chase in 1965 “as an aide to Rockefeller, this time as vice president dealing with international business.” With Nixon entering the White House, Volcker got the third highest job in the Treasury Department. This put him at the center of the decision making process behind the dissolution of the Bretton Woods agreement.[80] In 1973, Volcker became a member of Rockefeller’s Trilateral Commission. In 1975, he got the job as President of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, the most powerful of the 12 branches of the Fed.

In 1979, Carter gave the job of Treasury Secretary to Arthur Miller, who had been Chairman of the Fed. This left an opening at the Fed, which was initially offered by Carter to David Rockefeller, who declined, and then to A.W. Clausen, Chairman of Bank of America, who also declined. Carter repeatedly tried to get Rockefeller to accept, and ultimately Rockefeller recommended Volcker for the job.[81] Volcker became Chairman of the Federal Reserve System, and immediately took drastic action to fight inflation by radically increasing interest rates.

The world was taken by shock. This was not a policy that would only be felt in the US with a recession, but was to send shock waves around the world, devastating the Third World debtor nations. This was likely the ultimate aim of the 1970s oil shocks and the 1979 Federal Reserve shock therapy. With the raising of interest rates, the cost of international money also rose. Thus, the interest rates on international loans made throughout the 1970s rose from 2% in the 1970s to 18% in the 1980s, dramatically increasing the interest charges on loans to developing countries.[82]

In the developing world, states that had to import oil faced enormous bills to cover their debts, and even oil producing countries, such as Mexico, faced huge problems as they had borrowed heavily in order to industrialize, and then suffered when oil prices fell again as the recession occurring in the developed states reduced demand. Thus, in 1982, Mexico declared that it could no longer pay its debt, meaning that, “they could no longer cover the cost of interest payments, much less hope to repay the debt.” The result was the bursting of the debt bubble. Banks then halted their loans to Mexico, and “Before long it was evident that states such as Brazil, Venezuela, Argentina, and many sub-Saharan African countries were in equally difficult financial positions.”[83]

The IMF and World Bank entered the scene newly refurnished with a whole new outlook and policy program designed just in time for the arrival of the debt crisis. The IMF “negotiated standby loans with debtors offering temporary assistance to states in need. In return for the loans states agreed to undertake structural adjustment programs (SAPs). These programs entailed the liberalization of economies to trade and foreign investment as well as the reduction of state subsidies and bureaucracies to balance national budgets.”[84] Thus, the neoliberal project of 1973 in Chile was expanded into the very functioning of the International Financial Institutions (IFIs).

Neoliberalism is “a particular organization of capitalism, which has evolved to protect capital(ism) and to reduce the power of labour. This is achieved by means of social, economic and political transformations imposed by internal forces as well as external pressure,” and it entails the “shameless use of foreign aid, debt relief and balance of payments support to promote the neoliberal programme, and diplomatic pressure, political unrest and military intervention when necessary.”[85] Further, “neoliberalism is part of a hegemonic project concentrating power and wealth in elite groups around the world, benefiting especially the financial interests within each country, and US capital internationally. Therefore, globalization and imperialism cannot be analysed separately from neoliberalism.”[86]

Joseph Stiglitz, former Chief Economist of the World Bank, wrote in his book, Globalization and its Discontents, “In the 1980s, the Bank went beyond just lending for projects (like roads and dams) to providing broad-based support, in the form of structural adjustment loans; but it did this only when the IMF gave its approval – and with that approval came IMF-imposed conditions on the country.”[87] As economist Michel Chossudovsky wrote, “Because countries were indebted, the Bretton Woods institutions were able to oblige them through the so-called ‘conditionalities’ attached to the loan agreements to appropriately redirect their macro-economic policy in accordance with the interests of the official and commercial creditors.”[88]

The nature of SAPs is such that the conditions imposed upon countries that sign onto these agreements include: lowering budget deficits, devaluing the currency, limiting government borrowing from the central bank, liberalizing foreign trade, reducing public sector wages, price liberalization, deregulation and altering interest rates.[89] For reducing budget deficits, “precise ‘ceilings’ are placed on all categories of expenditure; the state is no longer permitted to mobilize its own resources for the building of public infrastructure, roads, or hospitals, etc.”[90]

Joseph Stiglitz wrote that, “the IMF staff monitored progress, not just on the relevant indicators for sound macromanagement – inflation, growth, and unemployment – but on intermediate variables, such as the money supply,” and that “In some cases the agreements stipulated what laws the country’s Parliament would have to pass to meet IMF requirements or ‘targets’ – and by when.”[91] Further, “The conditions went beyond economics into areas that properly belong in the realm of politics,” and that “the way conditionality was imposed made the conditions politically unsustainable; when a new government came into power, they would be abandoned. Such conditions were seen as the intrusion by the new colonial power on the country’s own sovereignty.”[92]

“The phrase ‘Washington Consensus’ was coined to capture the agreement upon economic policy that was shared between the two major international financial institutions in Washington (IMF and World Bank) and the US government itself. This consensus stipulated that the best path to economic development was through financial and trade liberalization and that international institutions should persuade countries to adopt such measures as quickly as possible.”[93] The debt crisis provided the perfect opportunity to quickly impose these conditions upon countries that were not in a position to negotiate and with no time to spare, desperately in need of loans. Without the debt crisis, such policies may have been subject to greater scrutiny, and with a case-by-case analysis of countries adopting SAPs, the world would become quickly aware of their dangerous implications. The debt crisis was absolutely necessary in implementing the SAPs on an international scale in a short amount of time.

The effect became quite clear, as the result “of these policies on the population of developing countries was devastating. The 1980s is known as the ‘lost decade’ of development. Many developing countries’ economies were smaller and poorer in 1990 than in 1980. Over the 1980s and 1990s, debt in many developing countries was so great that governments had few resources to spend on social services and development.”[94] With the debt crisis, countries in the developing world were “[s]tarved of international finance, [and] states had little choice but to open their economies to foreign investors and trade.”[95] The “Third World” was recaptured in the cold grasp of economic colonialism under the auspices of neo-liberal economic theory.

A Return to Statist Theory

Since the 1970s, mercantilist thought had re-emerged in mainstream political-economic theory. Under various names such as neo-mercantilism, economic nationalism or statism, they hold as vital the centrality of the state in the global political economy. Much “Globalization” literature puts an emphasis on the “decline of the state” in the face of an integrated international economic order, where borders are made illusory. However, statist theory at least helps us understand that the state is still a vital factor within the global political economy, even in the midst of a neo-liberal economic order.

Within the neo-liberal economic order, it was the powerful western (primarily US and Western European) states that imposed neo-mercantilist or statist policies in order to protect and promote their interests within the global political economy. Some of these methods were revolved around policy tools such as export subsidies, imposed to lower the price of goods, which would make them more attractive to importers, giving that particular nation an advantage over the competition.

For example, the US has enormous agriculture export subsidies, which make US agriculture and grain an easily affordable, attractive and accessible commodity for importing nations. Countries of the global south (the Lesser-Developed Countries, LDCs), subject to neo-liberal policies imposed upon them by the World Bank and IMF were forced to open their economies up to foreign capital. The World Bank would bring in heavily subsidized US grain to these poor nations under the guise of “food aid,” which would have the affect of destabilizing the nation’s agriculture market, as the heavily subsidized US grains would be cheaper than local produce, putting farmers out of business. Most LDCs are predominantly rural based, so when the farming sector is devastated, so too is the entire nation. They plunge into economic crisis and even famine.

With the statist approach, theorists examine how the state is still relevant in shaping economic outcomes and still remains a powerful entity in the international arena. One theorist who is prominent within the statist school is Robert Gilpin. Gilpin, a professor at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton, is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. In his book, Global Political Economy, Gilpin postulated that multinational corporations were an invention of the United States, and indeed an “American phenomenon” upon which European and Asian states responded by internationalizing their own firms. In this sense, his theory postulated to a return to the competitive nature of mercantilist economic theory, in which one state gains at the expense of another. He also addresses the nature of the international economy, in that both historically and presently, there was a single state acting as the main enforcer and manager of the global economy. Historically, it was Britain, and presently, it was the United States.

One cannot deny the significance of the state in the global political economy, as it has been, and still remains very relevant. The events of 1973 are exemplary of this, however, more must be examined in order to better understand the situation. Though states are still prominent actors, it is vital to address in whose interest they act. Mercantilist and statist theorists tend to focus on the concept that states act in their own selfish interest, for the benefit of the state, both politically and economically. However, this is somewhat linear and diversionary, as it does not address the precise structure of the state economy, specifically in terms of its monetary and central banking system.

States, most especially the large hegemonic ones, such as the United States and Great Britain, are controlled by the international central banking system, working through secret agreements at the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), and operating through national central banks (such as the Bank of England and the Federal Reserve). The state is thus owned by an international banking cartel, and though the state acts in such a way that proves its continual relevance in the global economy, it acts so not in terms of self-interest for the state itself, but for the powerful interests that control that state. The same international banking cartel that controls the United States today previously controlled Great Britain and held it up as the international hegemon. When the British order faded, and was replaced by the United States, the US ran the global economy. However, the same interests are served. States will be used and discarded at will by the international banking cartel; they are simply tools.

In this sense, interdependence theory, which presumes the decline of the state in international affairs, fails to acknowledge the role of the state in promoting and undertaking the process of interdependence. The decline of the nation-state is a state-driven process, and is a process that leads to a rise of the continental state and the global state. States, are still very relevant, but both liberal and mercantilist theorists, while helpful in understanding the concepts behind the global economy, lay the theoretical groundwork for a political economic agenda being undertaken by powerful interests. Like Robert Cox said, “Theory is always for someone and for some purpose.”

Hegemonic-Stability Theory

In his book, Global Political Economy, Gilpin explained that, “In time, if unchecked, the integration of an economy into the world economy, the intensifying pressures of foreign competition, and the necessity to be efficient in order to survive economically could undermine the independence of a society and force it to adopt new values and forms of social organization. Fear that economic globalization and the integration of national markets are destroying or could destroy the political, economic, and cultural autonomy of national societies has become widespread.”[96]

However, Gilpin explains that the “Creation of effective international regimes and solutions to the compliance problem require both strong international leadership and an effective international governance structure.” Yet, he explains, “Regimes in themselves cannot provide governance structure because they lack the most critical component of governance – the power to enforce compliance. Regimes must rest instead on a political base established through leadership and cooperation.”[97] This is where we see the emergence of Hegemonic Stability Theory.

Gilpin explains that, “The theory of hegemonic stability posits that the leader or hegemon facilitates international cooperation and prevents defection from the rules of the regime through use of side payments (bribes), sanctions, and/or other means, but can seldom, if ever, coerce reluctant states to obey the rules of a liberal international economic order.” As he explained, “The American hegemon did indeed play a crucial role in establishing and managing the world economy following World War II.”[98]

The roots of Hegemonic Stability Theory (HST) lie within both liberal and statist theory, as it is representative of a crossover theory that cannot be so easily placed in either category. The main concept champions the liberal notion of the open international economic system, guided by liberal principles of open-markets and free trade, while bringing in the statist concept of a single hegemonic state representing the concentration of political and economic power, as it is the enforcer of the liberal international economy.

The more liberal-leaning theorists of HST argue that a liberal economic order requires a strong, hegemonic state to maintain the smooth functioning of the international economy. One thing this state must do is maintain the international monetary system, as Britain did under the gold standard and the United States did under the Dollar-Wall Street Regime, following the end of the Bretton-Woods dollar-gold link.

Regime Theory
Regime Theory is another crossover theory between liberal and mercantilist theorists. Its rise was primarily in reaction to the emergence of Hegemonic Stability Theory, in order to address the concern of a perceived decline in the power of the US. This was due to the rise of new economic powers in the 1970s, and another major purveyor of this theory was Robert Keohane. They needed to address how the international order could be maintained as the hegemonic power declined. The answer was in the building of international organizations to manage the international regime.

In this sense, Regime Theory has identified an important aspect of the global political economy, in that though states have upheld the international order in the past, never before has there been such an undertaking to institutionalize the authority over the international order through international organizations. These organizations, such as the World Bank, IMF, UN, and WTO, though still controlled and influenced by states, predominantly the international hegemon, the United States, represent a changing direction of internationalization and transnationalism. Regime Theorists tend to justify the formation of a more transnational apparatus of power, beyond just a single hegemonic state, into a more internationalized structure of authority.

Notes

[1]  CBC, Informal forum or global conspiracy? CBC News Online: June 13, 2006: http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/bilderberg-group/

[2]  Holly Sklar, ed., Trilateralism: The Trilateral Commission and Elite Planning for World Management. (South End Press: 1980), 161-171

[3]  Holly Sklar, ed., Trilateralism: The Trilateral Commission and Elite Planning for World Management. (South End Press: 1980), 161-162

[4]  CFR, The First Transformation. CFR History: http://www.cfr.org/about/history/cfr/first_transformation.html

[5]  Glen McGregor, Secretive power brokers meeting coming to Ottawa? Ottawa Citizen: May 24, 2006: http://www.canada.com/topics/news/world/story.html?id=ff614eb8-02cc-41a3-a42d-30642def1421&k=62840

[6]  William F. Jasper, Rogues' gallery of EU founders. The New American: July 12, 2004: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0JZS/is_14_20/ai_n25093084/pg_1?tag=artBody;col1

[7]  Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Euro-federalists financed by US spy chiefs. The Telegraph: June 19, 2001: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/1356047/Euro-federalists-financed-by-US-spy-chiefs.html

[8]  Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Euro-federalists financed by US spy chiefs. The Telegraph: June 19, 2001: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/1356047/Euro-federalists-financed-by-US-spy-chiefs.html

[9]  Bilderberg Group, GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN CONFERENCE. The Bilderberg Group: September 23-25, 1955, page 7:

http://wikileaks.org/leak/bilderberg-meetings-report-1955.pdf

[10]  Who are these Bilderbergers and what do they do? The Sunday Herald: May 30, 1999: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4156/is_19990530/ai_n13939252

[11]  Andrew Rettman, 'Jury's out' on future of Europe, EU doyen says. EUobserver: March 16, 2009: http://euobserver.com/9/27778

[12]  George T. Crane, Abla Amawi, The Theoretical evolution of international political economy. Oxford University Press US, 1997: page 110

[13]  George T. Crane, Abla Amawi, The Theoretical evolution of international political economy. Oxford University Press US, 1997: page 107

[14]  George T. Crane, Abla Amawi, The Theoretical evolution of international political economy. Oxford University Press US, 1997: pages 107-108

[15]  George T. Crane, Abla Amawi, The Theoretical evolution of international political economy. Oxford University Press US, 1997: page 108

[16]  George T. Crane, Abla Amawi, The Theoretical evolution of international political economy. Oxford University Press US, 1997: page 108

[17]  George T. Crane, Abla Amawi, The Theoretical evolution of international political economy. Oxford University Press US, 1997: pages 50-51

[18]  Holly Sklar, ed., Trilateralism: The Trilateral Commission and Elite Planning for World Management. South End Press: 1980: page 65

[19]  Robert O’Brien and Marc Williams, Global Political Economy: Evolution and Dynamics, 2nd ed. Palgrave Macmillan: 2007: page 215

[20]  Holly Sklar, ed., Trilateralism: The Trilateral Commission and Elite Planning for World Management. South End Press: 1980: pages 66-67

[21]  Holly Sklar, ed., Trilateralism: The Trilateral Commission and Elite Planning for World Management. South End Press: 1980: page 67

[22]  C. Fred Bergsten, The New Economics and US Foreign Policy. Foreign Affairs: January, 1972: page 199

[23]  Richard H. Ullman, Trilateralism: “Partnership” For What? Foreign Affairs: October, 1976: pages 3-4

[24]  Holly Sklar, ed., Trilateralism: The Trilateral Commission and Elite Planning for World Management. South End Press: 1980: pages 76-78

[25]  Richard H. Ullman, Trilateralism: “Partnership” For What? Foreign Affairs: October, 1976: page 3

[26]  Richard H. Ullman, Trilateralism: “Partnership” For What? Foreign Affairs: October, 1976: page 5

[27]  Congressional Research Service, TRILATERAL COMMISSION. The Library of Congress: pages 13-14: http://www.scribd.com/doc/5014337/Trilateral-Commission

[28]  CFR, Joseph S. Nye, Jr.. Board of Directors: http://www.cfr.org/bios/1330/joseph_s_nye_jr.html

[29]  Annual Report, The Council on Foreign Relations. Historical Roster of Directors and Officers, 2008: page 78

[30]  Peter Gowan, The Globalization Gamble: The Dollar-Wall Street Regime and its Consequences. Page 19-20

[31]  William Engdahl, A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order. (London: Pluto Press, 2004), 130-132

[32]  William Engdahl, A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order. (London: Pluto Press, 2004), 286-287, 134

[33]  CFR, “X” Leads the Way. CFR History: http://www.cfr.org/about/history/cfr/x_leads.html

[34]  Robert Dallek, The Kissinger Presidency. Vanity Fair: May 2007: http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2007/05/kissinger200705

[35]  Ibid.

[36] David Stout, William P. Rogers, Who Served as Nixon's Secretary of State, Is Dead at 87. The New York Times: January 4, 2001: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B02E5D6113BF937A35752C0A9679C8B63

[37]  TC, Tributes to David Rockefeller, Founder and Honorary Chairman. The Trilateral Commission: December 1, 1998: http://www.trilateral.org/nagp/regmtgs/98/1201tribs.htm

[38]  John Loftus and Mark Aarons, The Secret War Against the Jews: How Western Espionage Betrayed the Jewish People. St. Martin’s Griffin: 1994: pages 304-307

[39]  John Loftus and Mark Aarons, The Secret War Against the Jews: How Western Espionage Betrayed the Jewish People. St. Martin’s Griffin: 1994: pages 308-310

[40]  John Loftus and Mark Aarons, The Secret War Against the Jews: How Western Espionage Betrayed the Jewish People. St. Martin’s Griffin: 1994: pages 310-311

[41]  Robert Dallek, The Kissinger Presidency. Vanity Fair: May 2007: http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2007/05/kissinger200705

[42]  John Loftus and Mark Aarons, The Secret War Against the Jews: How Western Espionage Betrayed the Jewish People. St. Martin’s Griffin: 1994: pages 312-313

[43] F. William Engdahl, A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New  World Order. London: Pluto Press, 2004: pages 130-132

[44]  F. William Engdahl, A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New  World Order. London: Pluto Press, 2004: pages 136-137

[45]  The Observer, Saudi dove in the oil slick. The Guardian: January 14, 2001: http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2001/jan/14/globalrecession.oilandpetrol

[46]  V.H. Oppenheim, Why Oil Prices Go Up (1) The Past: We Pushed Them. Foreign Policy: No. 25, Winter, 1976-1977: page 24

[47]  V.H. Oppenheim, Why Oil Prices Go Up (1) The Past: We Pushed Them. Foreign Policy: No. 25, Winter, 1976-1977: pages 31-33

[48]  IPC, James Akins. Iran Policy Committee: Scholars and Fellows: http://www.iranpolicy.org/scholarsandfellows.php#1

[49]  V.H. Oppenheim, Why Oil Prices Go Up (1) The Past: We Pushed Them. Foreign Policy: No. 25, Winter, 1976-1977: pages 35-36

[50]  V.H. Oppenheim, Why Oil Prices Go Up (1) The Past: We Pushed Them. Foreign Policy: No. 25, Winter, 1976-1977: pages 37-38

[51]  V.H. Oppenheim, Why Oil Prices Go Up (1) The Past: We Pushed Them. Foreign Policy: No. 25, Winter, 1976-1977: page 44

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Andrew Gavin Marshall is a Research Associate with the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG). He is currently studying Political Economy and History at Simon Fraser University.

Andrew G. Marshall is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Andrew G. Marshall

© Copyright Andrew G. Marshall, Global Research, 2009


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