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Following up the previous calls of 1997, 2000, and 2006, in which thousands of prominent personalities from all over the world, among them former heads of state, members of parliaments, unionists, entrepreneurs, city officials, church members, members of the military, and so forth, demanded a reorganization of the world financial system, the Chairwoman of the Schiller Institute, Helga Zepp-LaRouche, has written the following new call, which will be circulated worldwide by the Schiller Institute. It should be published on the Internet and in various newspapers with the names of the signers, and will be presented to the American Congress and the parliaments of the world.

The systemic crash of the world financial system is in full swing. Shaken loose but not caused by the collapse of the subprime mortgage market in the U.S. and the end of the inflationary yen-carry-trade in Japan, the house of cards of "creative financial instruments," as Alan Greenspan has dubbed various credit derivatives, has thereby caved in. Because the takeover craze on the part of the hedge funds and private equity funds has been rising higher and higher over the recent years and months with ever wilder predatory raids, the investment banks which have financed the majority of these takeovers, are now left sitting on these worthless credits. More U.S. mortgage financiers will declare insolvency, more banks will go under in the vortex of the credit crisis. In the U.S. there are currently almost 10 trillion dollars in mortgage loans, over a third of which are bad credit risks. In Germany the examples of the IKB-Bank and the Westdeutsche LandesBank have shown that boards of directors are finding it hard to admit the quantity of their losses.

The myth that the central banks have an endless number of possibilities to always bring a crash under control, is exploding: they now find themselves between the Scylla of the fight against inflation with higher interest rates--which is urgent in the face of the obvious inflation of food, raw materials and oil, but would lead to bubbles like that of the U.S. mortgage market, and the like, bursting even more,--and the Charybdis of the credit crisis, which has been unleashed by the reversed leverage collapse. If the central banks try to stop a chain reaction by infusing liquidity in the range of hundreds of billions, as just occurred within 24 hours during the second week of August, this only means that there will be a hyperinflation like that in Weimar Germany 1923--only this time not in one country, but worldwide.

It is a dilemma from which there is no way out: the system is finished.

Catastrophic consequences are threatened for the world population. If countries can no longer finance their functions, societies threaten to sink into chaos. The model of so-called globalization is today totally bankrupt, just as the communist model was in 1989-91. All the principles which are associated with it, such as "outsourcing" (that is, the shifting of highly qualified jobs into cheap-production countries), "shareholder value" society, "money-makes-money," "just-in-time" production, "benchmarking," etc. have been rejected. The condition of collapsing infrastructure in the G-7 countries is the best indicator of the wreckage of the unregulated free market economy.

In order to stop the intolerable suffering which an uncontrolled collapse of the world financial system threatens to unleash on the population, we, the undersigned, demand, the immediate convoking of an emergency conference which must decide on a new global financial architecture in the tradition of the Bretton Woods System initiated by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1944.

We, the undersigned, also point out, that the Italian Parliament has taken up LaRouche's proposal, and in a resolution on April 6, 2005, called on the Italian government to convene "an international conference at the level of Heads of State and Government, to globally define a new and more just monetary and financial system."

The necessity for such a fundamental reorganization is all the more urgent today, but the potential for its realization has also grown. For an irony of history is responsible: Because when the Soviet Union began to unravel in 1991, the neo-conservatives in the government of President George Bush, Sr., decided to transform the American republic, according to the "Project for a New American Century," into an empire. This "force doctrine" rested on the proposition, that neither one nation, nor a group of nations, could be allowed to threaten the dominant position of the United States, in a political, economic, or military respect.

But now the neo-conservatives in the Bush/Cheney regime, with their policy of preventive war and regime change, have ensured that the process of cooperation among the nations of Eurasia and Latin America, which normally would have taken decades, has accelerated, under the influence of the American unilateralist policy. An array of heads of state of important countries have made it clear, that they have decided to defend the general welfare of their populations against the encroachment of the financial institutions associated with globalization. Therefore, the chances of putting the question of a just new world economic order on the agenda, have enormously increased.

But it would be a dangerous illusion to believe that a successful reorganization of the bankrupt world financial system could succeed without, or against, the United States. Therefore, we, the undersigned, declare ourselves in favor of cooperation with the "real" America, in the tradition of the American Revolution and the Declaration of Independence, that America which is connected with names such as Alexander Hamilton, John Quincy Adams, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Martin Luther King, and which is inspired by Lyndon LaRouche today. America must be a part of the new community of principle of sovereign republics, which is bound together through the common interests of mankind.

In recent months Lyndon LaRouche has pointed out again and again that only the combination of a transformed America, together with Russia, China, and India, would be strong enough to put the question of a new monetary system on the agenda. But that does not mean that other nations could and should not participate as partners with these four large nations.

In order to correct the failures of development, which have occurred due to the paradigm shift of the past 40 years, and above all, since the abandonment of the system of fixed exchange rates by U.S. President Richard Nixon, in 1971, and which led, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, with unrestrained globalization, to today's brutal vulture capitalism, we must implement the following measures:

The emergency conference for a New Bretton Woods must immediately thus resolve:

The current world financial system must be declared hopelessly bankrupt and be replaced by a new one.

A system of fixed exchange rates must be agreed upon immediately.
Derivatives speculation must be prohibited through an agreement among governments.

There must be put into effect a comprehensive reorganization, or, as the case may be, a stretching-out of debts.

There must be put in place new credit lines, through state credit creation, in the tradition of Alexander Hamilton and the American System, which will make possible productive full employment, through investments in basic infrastructure and technological revival.

The completion of the Eurasian Land-Bridge, as the kernel of the reconstruction of the world economy, is thus the vision which will not only bring about an economic miracle, but also can become a system of peace for the 21st Century.

A new "Treaty of Westphalia" must guarantee the opening up and development of raw materials for all nations on this Earth, for at least the next 50 years.

We, the undersigned, are of the belief that the system of "globalization," with its brutal vulture capitalism, has economically, financially, and morally failed. In its place, man must again be put in the center, and the economy must serve the general welfare first and foremost. The new economic order must guarantee the inalienable rights of all mankind on this planet.


This morning the ECB pumped extra money into the market, in the range of 7.7 billion euros – their fourth intervention since last Thursday (which brings the total intervention volume to almost 212 billion euros). "After the greed, fear reigns" headlined an article in the Wiesbadener Kurier today, which was echoed in numerous other German news dailies.

Among bankers, fear couples with a deep embarrassment over the failure of the leading institutions to act competently: "Where are the governments?," and "where is the BAFIN?," an article in the German Die Welt daily today reports. Die Welt's cry for help is in reference to financial market watchdog head Jochen Sanio, who 10 days ago spoke of a banking crisis resembling that of 1931, before taking off for several weeks of vacationing in the forests of Canada.

One banking analyst in Frankfurt said to EIR News Service today that there is utmost urgency now to discuss how to get out of the trap of these allegedly "creative instruments" that have proven to be not only risky, but also destructive, and we can't just rely on the ECB for emergency interventions like those in the past three trading days.

He said that figures like Alan Greenspan belong to the past, and indeed, Deutsche Bank's hiring him as a chief consultant, has provoked a lot of mockery among banking people in Frankfurt. The fact that Deutsche Bank hired Greenspan reveals the disorientation among the top echelons of the banks, the analyst said. After all, the bankers have either been totally uninformed or too incompetent to see what the risks of Greenspan's "instruments" have been, so no solution should be expected to come from these same bankers.


Hours after Coventree Capital's announcement this morning, a second fund--in what will be a worldwide flood of such "runs" against Asset-Backed Commercial Paper (ACBP) funds by tomorrow's rollover deadline--has halted withdrawals in the midst of an investor run on its assets. Sentinel Management Group Inc., a 30-year-old, $1.6 billion "high-yield money management fund" based in Northbrook, Illinois, asked the Commodities Futures Trading Commission for permission to halt investor withdrawals, even while claiming that all of its paper was of the highest grade.

Most of Sentinel's investments are in the short-term commercial paper called ACBP, which as LPAC has reported since Aug. 8, is at the heart of a $1 trillion liquidity crisis as the Aug. 15 date for redemption or rollover of large volumes of this paper arrives.

"Investor fear has overtaken reason and has induced a period in which most securities have simply ceased to trade," said Sentinel Management in a letter to its clients--or former clients--which got right to the heart of the problem. ACBP "conduits," often set up by and for banks, invest not in the faith and credit of corporations as with corporate bonds, but in the computer-modeled "value" of various collateral assets, many of them based in the collapsing U.S. mortgage bubble and now plunging toward zero value, as Bear Stearns was the first to announce one month ago. Sentinel's client letter continues, "We are concerned that we cannot meet any significant redemption requests without selling securities at deep discounts to their fair value."

The wave of similar announcements by hedge funds and other in coming days will trigger a second wave of the international bank credit crisis which hit last week.

The world's central banks are pumping liquidity and raising interest rates at the same time, and Fed chief Ben Bernanke is urgently trying to "clean up the incredible mess left by Alan Greenspan," continuing to resist demands to lower rates, a City of London analyst told EIR news service today. Last week, the Norwegian central bank did just that, raising rates and pumping liquidity, and the Bank of Korea also raised rates. The banks are running a two-fold operation, pumping funds to try to keep the monetary markets going, but keeping interest rates up, which is putting a much broader control on credit.

Maintenance by Bernanke of a tight credit policy will have big consequences, the analyst said, but he is aware that if he gives in and lowers interest rates, this will crash the U.S. dollar.

People are very nervous in the City of London, the source said. They know this is a much bigger problem than the so-called crises of February and last May. Everyone who knew that the whole investment-bank, cheap-credit-dominated financial system of the last year's was terribly risky, knows that now this has to come down, since there are no "checks and balances" any more. Things will go a lot deeper than the much-smaller "" bubble, which took two and a half years to bottom out. The analyst stressed that the credit-rating agencies such as Standard and Poor's "have a lot to answer for" after giving so much worthless paper such high ratings. Basically, these agencies gave anything mortgage-tied a high rating, and pulled a lot of banks, and countries, into this mess.

Private equity-controlled companies are also going to see trouble, although at a slightly slower pace than the hedge funds and investment banks are seeing now, the source said. Private equity has taken over companies which provide 18% of the private sector jobs in the U.K., he said, and control a comparable number of jobs in the United States and western Europe. As the terms of credits used to take over these firms run out over the coming months and years, there will be no more cheap bond financing, and the private equity operations will "shut up shop." A lot of these companies are going to be closed down, and this is going to hit the entire population hard, the analyst said.


The European finance source who warned, last week, of the asset-backed commercial paper (ABCP) which is now front and center of the banking crisis, has told EIR news service that he is convinced that Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke thinks he can manage a "selective financial crash."

In previous crises, former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan did not only lower rates, but expanded the number of institutions that had access to Fed credit. Bernanke, by contrast, is not lowering interest rates, and is putting money into the system selectively, the source said. By the end of a day in which it is injected into the U.S. banking system, this money is available at a rate over 6%. No hedge fund can afford that, and very few banks can afford anything more than 2-4%. So this will not work. Things are far worse, this banker said, than in the 1987 stock market crash or at any other time. Interbank lending continues to freeze up.


The U.S. Treasury Department's figures for net capital flows into the United States in June, released today, show serious implications for the future of the current international banking crisis, and what it will mean for the United States economy. Foreign purchases of U.S. corporate paper of all kinds dropped very sharply in June, even before the U.S. mortgage bubble really melted down, with all the securities backed by mortgages becoming unsaleable and choking up banks and hedge funds. It pulled down the overall flow of capital into the United States to about $58 billion for that month, "barely enough to cover the U.S. trade deficit."

Clearly, during the last few years of $1 trillion-plus annual investment subsidy for the United States economy from the rest of the world, a huge portion of that flow has gone into the "toxic waste" of the mortgage bubble--subprime mortgage-backed securities, their derivatives like CDOs, and the speculative debt paper of hedge funds and private equity funds.

In June, these huge flows of purchases of U.S. corporate bonds and securities collapsed by two-thirds, from $68.6 billion net in May to $22.2 billion net in June (purchases of stocks also fell sharply). Thus, despite the very large foreign purchases of long-term U.S. Treasury and agency (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac) bonds in that month, the total net inflow of capital to the American economy dropped from $107.3 billion in May to $58.8 billion in June.

This drop will have continued further in July. The sheer size of this "debt speculation subsidy," before the bubble burst, indicates why the U.S. mortgage meltdown has now become a European and Asian banking crisis. These banks, were buying and financing the toxic waste of the asset-backed loan and securities markets built up on Alan Greenspan's mortgage bubble.

Now, the United States will have to "fund itself" after 15 years of big global subsidies--and do so with Federal credits for investment, infrastructure, and productivity.


The Federal Reserve lowered the discount rate Friday morning by 0.5%, from 6.25 to 5.75. Lyndon LaRouche forecast on Thursday that there would be drastic measures taken to prevent a market crash on Friday, so that the weekend would not become a cauldron for panic around the world.

LaRouche also noted that such drastic measures at this time, with the financial system effectively out of control, can only come at the behest of very powerful people who are bankrupt, and are demanding that their personal demands be met.

Following the Fed rate cut, Edward Marrinan, head of high-grade credit strategy at JPMorgan in New York, admitted to Reuters: "Markets got what they were hoping for.... The main beneficiaries in credit markets of this announcement are financial institutions, which have been under such intense pressure over the last three weeks."

The more closely watched Fed Fund rate, which sets a benchmark for interbank lending, was not officially lowered from its current 5.25%, but the pumping of tens of billions of dollars into the system over the past week by the Fed has effectively lowered the rate anyway. David Wessel of the Wall Street Journal wrote today: "In recent days, the rate has traded well below the Fed's target at some points of the day - even coming close to zero at times."

The Wall Street Journal's lead editorial Friday praised Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson for orchestrating the $11.5 billion bailout of Countrywide yesterday (see LPAC coverage), but screamed that the LBO giant Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) deserves the same federal largesse. KKR is not only holding $80 billion in scheduled buyouts, with little hope of finding the needed credit to finance them, but they also were stuck this past week with $5 billion of asset-backed commercial paper which creditors would not role over, leaving KKR begging for a six month delay.

The Journal, now owned by Bank of England agent Rupert Murdoch, is demanding that the Fed, the European Central Bank, and the Commonwealth banks in Canada and Australia bail out the system, with disdain for the real economies, and real people, which are being decimated in the process.


According to Lyndon LaRouche, the decision by the U.S. Federal Reserve on Friday to lower the discount rate changes nothing. It only means that powerful people were being bankrupted and members of the club wanted to be bailed out.

LaRouche said that he himself is hearing, even from governments: Tell me it's not happening. But the fact is the system is coming down. It is finished.

This is not something that will happen at the end of the year. That is Cartesian thinking at best. Everything is right now. The end of the year is now.

There are no trends except the collapse of the system. There are no countervailing micro-trends which will change that. At the present rate the collapse will occur in September-October. The only trend which exists other than the collapse trend is LaRouche's own program to reorganize the world financial system and launch reconstruction. LaRouche's policy against the collapse is thus the only counter-trend.

We are at the point of singularity. The singularity is now. As of now October is the deadline. It could change, but the indications of such a change would become conspicuous. Catastrophe is the trend. People's nerves are being tested. We are in a breakdown crisis. People are frightened. Don't lose your nerve.

There is nothing important in which LaRouche PAC and our supporters are not the prime factor. All the important issues are our baby.


During the late 1980's an opportunity came my way to become an option dealer in the London capital market. At that time I was not a practising Muslim and, given that the pay in this line of work could be enormous, I accepted without a second thought. As the years went by, it occurred to me that the size of my pay packet bore little relation to the benefit enjoyed by society as a result of my work. Others had misgivings of their own. Accountants complained of the hidden risks that banks were taking 'off balance sheet' and, from time to time, government ministers would make a scapegoat of the derivatives market when other excuses were not forthcoming. Regulators scrambled to recruit staff who could understand what the traders were doing but offerred low rates of pay and, therefore, sufferred from a persistent lack of qualified staff.

As the derivatives booty trickled down in ever greater quantities, the financial establishment began to seek a wider economic justification for the existence of this market. The business schools, progenitors of modern option valuation techniques, were only too happy to help. The increasing diversity of hedging products provided a more complete spectrum of risk management tools and was therefore of benefit to society, they told us. But we in the market saw a different story unfolding. XYZ bank would lure the poorly paid treasury manager at the Kingdom of Somewhere-Or-Other into a complex swap deal that only a PhD in Nuclear Physics could properly value. So the bank would book a multi-million dollar profit the very day the deal was closed and the Kingdom's officers would never know any better. Derivatives departments began to swarm around corporate clients like bees around a honey pot.

Of course the scam couldn't last forever. By the early 1990's, Bankers Trust traders were caught discussing the size of the "rip-off factor" on a Procter and Gamble derivatives deal. We know this because the episode was taped and made public on behalf of the company. It was one of many large derivatives losses accrued by clients that had acted on the eager encouragement of their bankers. Soon Orange County and Metallgesellschaft would fall into the same trap at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars more.

"We can protect you against market volatility" the investment bankers tell their clients. But the market volatility is caused by the activities of those very same investment bankers, and so the clients are sold nothing for something. Protection against a danger that never needed to exist in the first place. Sadly, the world learned little from the derivatives explosion. By the time the internet boom collapsed, a new generation of clients was learning about the motivations that really drive bankers and advisors. The clients tend to be offerred the products that provide financial institutions with the highest profit margin.

What if every country had pure gold coins as its currency? Then what would be the point of the foreign exchange market? What would be the point of exchanging one ounce of American gold for one ounce of Japanese gold? Who would need currency derivatives? Who would need to pay commission on foreign currency transactions? We see very quickly where this idea leads. An end to a trillion-dollar-a-day market that produces huge profits for the financial establishment. But of course profit is not necessarily indicative of productive effort. Theft is a good example of this principle. If we want to achieve a more efficient economy, we must promote systems in which people work in productive pursuits rather than unproductive ones. The foreign exchange market is an unproductive pursuit in that it exists because of an unnecessary monetary convention. Change the convention, in other words adopt a different monetary standard, and all those clever dealers can become doctors and teachers instead!

But back to options. Modern option contracts have a variety of features in common that can be summarised as follows. An option is a right not an obligation to enter into an underlying contract of exchange at or before a specified future date (the expiry date). The buyer of that option pays a price (the premium) to the seller (the writer) of the option. The option may give its holder the right to buy a specified asset (the underlying) from the option writer, gold for example, such being a call option on gold. Or the option may give its holder the right to sell the underlying asset to the option writer. This would be a put option. Every option has a strike price, this being the price at which the holder may buy or sell the underlying upon exercise of the option. And every option has a nominal size, this being the amount of underlying that the option holder may buy or sell at the strike price. A 15 December 2001 European call on gold at $400 per ounce in 100 ounces gives its holder the right to buy 100 ounces of gold from the option writer at $400 per ounce on the 15 December 2001, if the holder so wishes.

If we exclude those financial contracts which are of themselves haram (bonds and forward foreign exchange for example), then we are left with a set of underlyings such as equities and commodities upon which a derivative contract may be based.

Curiously, even where acceptable forms of underlying such as these are concerned, a key valuation element in arriving at the fair value of an option contract remains the rate of interest. The Black Scholes formula proposes that since an option can be perfectly hedged through constant trading in the underlying, the option position should be riskless and hence earn the buyer the riskless rate of interest on the premium that was paid for it. (In reality, constant trading of the underlying asset to achieve the perfect hedge is unattainable, and so option prices behave in ways that are not entirely predicted by Black-Scholes.) For the unhedged option, the contract becomes one of pure uncertainty. Neither party knows whether the option will be exercised, as it is dependent upon the condition of the market at a future date.

The first problem with the standard option contract from a Shariah perspective is that a contract of exchange in which both payment and underlying are deferred is widely held to be prohibited. The second problem is the uncertainty that exists with regard to whether or not the option will be exercised. Thirdly, if the option contract is judged to be halal, the question then arises as to whether that option can itself be sold to a third party, as is the case in the market for warrants for example. Fourthly, by buying a put option and selling a call option, a trader can replicate a short position in an underlying asset. Where these options are cash settled, the trader can be seen to achieve the same cash-flows as a short seller of that underlying. Shariah scholars have agreed that selling what one does not own is a prohibited commerical activity, and the possibility that such an activitiy can be synthesised through the use of options must therefore call into question their validity under Shariah. There is a fifth problem that pertains to more complex option contracts where the strike price itself varies according to an agreed formula. Such is the case with a serial option. For example, a one month 'at-the-money' serial call with daily resets gives the holder a series of one day call options whose strike price is the price of the underlying asset at the previous day's close of trading. As this price is unknown in advance, the strike price itself cannot be known. This represents further gharar.

Under Bay al-Urban, a deposit is paid on an item that a prospective buyer may purchase at a later time. Should the buyer not complete the purchase, the deposit is lost. This contract has been used as a justification for Islamic options by some writers who argue that the deposit can be seen as the premium paid by the buyer of a call option. The problem is that the scholars do not widely allow bay al-Urban. According to Ibn Rushd in Bidayat al-Mujtahid:
Within this topic is the sale of the urban (sale with earnest money). The majority of jurists of different regions hold that it is not permitted, but it is related from a group of the Tabi'un that they permitted it, among them are Mujahid, Ibn Sirin, Nafi ibn al-Harth and Zayd ibn Aslam. The form it takes is that a person puchases a thing and delivers to the seller part of the price on the condition that if the sale is executed between them this earnest money will form part of the price of the goods, if it is not executed the buyer will forgo it. The majority inclined toward its prohibition, as it is from the category of gharar, mukhatara and the devouring of wealth of others without compensation. Zayd used to say, "The messenger of Allah (God's peace and blessings be upon him) permitted it". The Ahl al-Hadith said that this is not known from the messenger of Allah (God's peace and blessings be upon him).

Under Khiyar, which is allowed by the jurists, the buyer of an item has the right to undo his purchase if the seller specifically allows as part of the terms of the sale. This is in other words an option to cancel a previously agreed sale. All buyers have a right to cancel a sale following purchase but before leaving the presence of the seller (khiyar al-majlis). This right is different to that expressly given by the seller to the buyer under sale with an option (bay al-khiyar), where the buyer may leave the presence of the seller for a specified period of time before returning to cancel the sale and take back the money that was paid.

Ibn Rushd in Bidayat al-Mujtahid comments:
Permissibility of option is upheld by the majority, except for al-Thawri and Ibn Shubrama, as well as a group of the Zahirities. The reliance of the majority is on the tradition of Hibban ibn Munqidh, which contains the words "and you have an option for three days", and also what has been related of the tradition of Ibn Umar: "The parties to sale have an option as long as they have not parted, except in sale with an option". The reliance of those who prohibit it is (on the argument) that it constitutes gharar and that the basis of sale is that it is binding, unless definitive evidence is produced for the permissibility of sale with an option from the Qur'an or authentic sunna or ijma. They also said that the tradition of Hibban is either not authentic or it is specific to the case of a person who complained to the Prophet (God's peace and blessings be upon him) that he was deceived in sales. They said that the tradition of Ibn Umar and the words in it, "except sale with an option", have been interpreted through another version of this tradition in which the words "that he says to his counterpart: 'Choose'," have been recorded.

In khiyar it is difficult to see any analogy that would lead us to the acceptance of the modern option contract as described above. Khiyar relates to a halal contract of exchange that has already taken place, whilst a modern option relates to an exchange that is yet to take place. In the case of khiyar, the exchange of one or both countervalues is effected immediately. In the case of the modern option contract, future delivery applies to both the payment and the underlying asset. In addition, uncertainty as to the materialisation of the exchange exists with the modern option contract but not in khiyar.

Disagreements among traditional scholars in the matter of khiyar arise in minor details, such as the length of time for which the buyer has the option to return the goods, or who is liable for any damage to the goods whilst the buyer is in posession of them during the option period. These scholars do not seem to have disagreed upon those fundamental principles which distinguish khiyar from the modern option contract.

It is my view, having been involved in derivatives dealing, that the potential exists in this market to cause a serious breakdown in the financial system. The degrees of leverage that are afforded by option contracts can be so high that large unpredictable market moves in underlying prices may one day lead to the insolvency of a major financial institution. Liabilities cannot be perfectly hedged even where that is the intention, and some traders deliberately do not hedge their option portfolios because such action would limit the potential for high returns. The case of Long Term Capital Management in the United States, rescued by a Federal Reserve bail out in 1998, demonstrates the degree of risk that can be incurred. The question is whether the central bank or other authorities will be able to move quickly enough, or in large enough measure, to prevent future failings.

When looked at from the Islamic perspective, as with so many other Islamic financial products, it seems that theory needs to be stretched in order to justify an Islamic option contract. The macro-economic arguments for their existence are of dubious merit, based as they are on minimising risks which do not need to exist in the first place. Better to structure the economic system such that it does not suffer from continuing volatility. If there was no such thing as interest, there would be no such thing as interest rate options. The same with foreign currency. What we are seeing in the Western world is the emergence of financial products that are a symptom of a system that has gone wrong. Islamic financiers who look at the products of this system as a paradigm are making a big mistake.


Sheila Samples

Sometimes I'm amazed at how much I know about the financial markets and the economy. I don't understand any of it, but I know a lot of stuff, thanks to my friend and mentor, Richard Walrath, who's been to the market more than once. He says when George Bush brags that the economy is booming, he's probably right. The economy is exploding with a big boom, and Walrath says now we are engaged in a great battle to see how long this country can endure.

The Fed just poured a bunch of money into the market, which was news to me, but Walrath said the Fed has been manipulating the market for years, especially during the Bush years. "There was great fear the United States was going to follow Japan into a period of deflation and recession -- maybe even a depression," Walrath said. "Interest rates were cut close to zero while hundreds of billions of dollars were added to the National Debt through tax-cuts for the rich and 'Big Bidness.' And it gets worse just at the time the National Debt limit has to be raised again."

With things as bad as they are, Walrath says it's going to be interesting to see how this crisis is handled. Congress may have to return early to pass legislation to raise the National Debt. But it makes more sense to me -- since the bulk of our lawmakers were so eager to get out of school for recess, that Bush could decide to handle the whole thing like he does everything else to avoid partisan jawboning or oversight -- just dash off an Executive Order.

But the National Debt is just one of many problems battering our economy. Walrath points out a major problem is "all those margin accounts out there with people getting calls to come up with some real money because their stock is down. As you might expect, this led to speculation in housing -- let's flip it -- and millions of people who couldn't afford to pay their rent bought houses."

Wait a minute...Let's flip it? What does that mean? Nothing comes to mind -- okay one thing does -- but Walrath never takes such a cavalier attitude about economics. Let's flip it, Walrath says is when "--you buy the house with no intention of ever living in it. You add a kitchen, spruce up a bathroom, and "flip" it, or put it back on the market, hoping to make a profit.

This goes on all the time, Walrath says, but there were more flippers than buyers this time around because it cost almost nothing to own a house while you were waiting to sell it. That's sub-prime credit. You could buy a house with no money down, no income, no job, no assets.

Of course! Now I understand. If you buy a house with no money down, you have little or nothing invested. Just walk away. Let the banks worry about selling them. But to whom will banks sell them? What are the banks going to do? "That's why houses for sale are now piling up all over the country," Walrath said. "It's a terrible situation."

Donald Trump begs to differ. When you're in a hole, keep digging as hard and as fast as you can. Trump's advice, according to Walrath is to "just go back and make another deal with whoever holds the mortgage. Trump says you'll get a better deal this time than the one you had before. Don't walk away from it -- go make another deal. The last thing the bank wants is your house. What are they going to do with it? They can't find anybody to buy it."

So, who's flipping whom in this credit seizure?

According to an unsigned editorial in Saturday's Wall Street Journal, the root cause of this credit correction was the Federal Reserve's willingness to keep money too easy for too long. The Journal warns an "emergency rate cut, as some in the market seem to be anticipating or hoping for -- carries the risk of introducing even greater moral hazard into the financial system."

We can't have immorality in our financial system, now can we? Oh, the horror!

While chiding Democrats such as Senator Hillary Clinton for proposing a $1 billion federal bailout fund for homeowners at risk of default and foreclosure, the Journal goes on to channel Barbara Bush's flash of morality when speaking of homeless Katrina victims -- "No one wants to see someone lose his home to foreclosure. But many of those most at risk bought their homes with little or no money down, and so have very little at stake economically. Bringing in the feds to bail them out would send precisely the wrong message -- that risky or overly aggressive borrowing will be rewarded by the government rather than punished in the marketplace. To the extent that bad loans were made, the market needs to clear, not be propped up by federal-aid programs."

Unfortunately, despite what the Journal and the endlessly bleating "Money Heads" on TV would have you believe, millions of Americans are in deep trouble. CNBC's Jim Cramer "flipped out" last week in a torrent of truth about the current economic situation.

Walrath agrees, and says if we continue in the direction we're headed, Bush's "boom" will make the Savings and Loan bail-out look like a Girl Scout Cookie Sale.

According to Walrath, there are four sets of losers in this housing meltdown...

~~Those caught with the homes they bought for flipping purposes are not going to be able to find buyers. They are going to lose whatever they have invested, plus whatever mortgage payments they make. It may be cheaper for them just to walk away.

~~Those who own homes will see the value of their houses go down because of the current oversupply due to overbuilding when interest rates were lower and people were buying homes with little or nothing down with the idea of flipping the houses as soon as possible.

~~Those who bought homes with variable-rate mortgages are having trouble making payments because those payments keep going up, and there's nothing they can do about it. Many did not even realize they had such a mortgage. Millions are going to lose their homes.

~~And then, there's the murky many -- the banks and the hedge funds which ended up with mortgages used as collateral for junk bonds, which ended up as holdings by French and German and English banks, not to mention those in this country.

"This is the dog that worried the cat that killed the rat that ate the malt that lay in the house that Jack built, and we ain't seen nothing yet," Walrath says.

"When it comes to saving the rich from losing money, no expense will be spared. Actually," Walrath mused, "the economy is good -- if you're rich. For the rest of us, there's not much to write home about."



Helga Zepp-LaRouche

The core meltdown of the world financial system, which has been in preparation for a long time, has now occurred, with the collapse of the subprime mortgage market in the United States. Beginning with two hedge funds belonging to Bear Stearns, a series of such funds have gone to ground due to speculative failures, and the turbulence has finally spilled over into the international markets and implicated financial institutions in Germany, France, Great Britain, and Australia. And that is only the beginning.

While most of the press internationally is in full cover-up mode, the near collapse of the German "industrial credit bank" IKB has shocked some in Germany into recognizing the situation (see accompanying article). Jochen Sanio, head of the German banking regulatory agency BAFIN, admitted that this amounted to the "worst banking crisis in Germany since 1931." According to the Süddeutsche Zeitung, the "whole German banking system" was in danger, which was obviously the reason for a temporary rescue of the IKB by the German government and the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (Reconstruction Finance Agency), at the tune of 8.1 billion euro (over $11 billion).

But this is only the tip of the iceberg; more U.S. mortgage banks, such as American Home Mortgage, are in serious distress. One reason for that lies in the practice of so-called "adjustable mortgages," whereby the buyers can acquire real estate they cannot afford, and in which, for a certain period of time, rather low interest rates on the mortgages fall due, but then, after a prescribed period, at most two years, are automatically raised. When the higher rate goes into effect, the payments rise in the range of hundreds of dollars per month. The adjustable mortgage market went into full swing in the Spring of 2005, thus, an avalanche of increases in the rates has occurred precisely at the present time.

All in all, increases in the interest rates on adjustable rate mortgages affect 12% of all mortgages in the United States, raising mortgage payments by a trillion dollars. In October alone, mortgages will be jacked up by over $50 billion, and eventually all categories of mortgages will be threatened. According to Moody's, between 1995 and 2005, about 3.2 million homeowners bought houses on the basis of subprime mortgages or similar credit-terms, and thus, it is expected that about 2 million of these homes will be lost in the next months. The flood of housing foreclosures has led to a dramatic collapse in real estate prices; because of the exposed position of the financial institutions, it will become considerably harder to get new mortgages, and the effect on the real economy, including jobs in the construction sector, will be catastrophic.

End of the Yen Carry Trade
Much more dramatic than this situation, is the fact that the collapse has been accelerated by another process with very much more far-reaching consequences, namely the drying-up of the Japanese yen carry trade. With it, dried up the paradise of cheap liquidity, which for years permitted investors to borrow advantageously in yen at a zero interest rate, in order to invest in higher-interest-rate sectors around the world. The flood of liquidity from this source amounted to $500 billion, which has been as good as cut off. In the face of rising interest rates, now speculators who have contracted cheap yen credit, and were met with losses in the American mortgage market and in the hedge funds, have sought desperately to turn their investments into cash in order to pay back their yen loans, which has led to an up-valuation of the yen. Again, this increases the losses of the speculators. The reverse leverage, leading to the collapse of the speculative pyramid, is in full swing.

Banks and financial institutions are suffering from a kind of withdrawal shock. Because, while the takeover mania by the hedge funds and private equity funds has recently reached dimensions never known before—worldwide, the hedge funds in the first half of 2007 have taken over companies worth $2.3 trillion—they are sitting on a debt mountain of $1.5 trillion, of which a portion, in light of the always growing reach of the capital markets, threatens to become bad debt. The credit institutions, in a panic, are trying to get these debts off their books by year's end, because they could otherwise not undertake any new financial operations. For the market of mergers and takeovers, the honeymoon is definitely over.

Analysts from Crédit Suisse are warning that the banks are having great difficulties in selling new bonds—if they can't do this, the credit lines to the hedge funds and other market participants must be cut off, which must lead again to a cascade of liquidations.

We are now experiencing how the greatest liquidity bubble in the history of the financial markets is beginning to burst. Lyndon LaRouche incisively recognized the beginning of this development when he identified Nixon's intervention on Aug. 15, 1971, namely the loosening of the fixed-exchange-rate system, the separation of the dollar from the gold reserve standard, and the creation of the Eurdollar market, and with it, of private credit creation, as the beginning of a process which would lead to a new depression.

Alan Greenspan, who can take dubious credit for his part in this development, going down in history as "Mr. Bubble," is responsible for the recent explosion of the casino economy. After the Crash of 1987, which showed parallels with "Black Friday" of 1929, he had the glorious idea of inventing "creative financial instruments." To that category belonged, among other things, credit derivatives. By 1998, the volume of credit derivatives amounted to $180 billion. When, in September of 1998, the LTCM hedge fund, in the context of the Russian state bankrtupcy and the GKO crisis, threatened to go bankrupt, the G-8 nations decided to set a huge liquidity-pumping machine into motion. In 2006, the volume of the "wonder-weapons" of financial transactions, the so-called collateralized debt obligations (CDOs), reached a fabulous $3 trillion.

Through these "structural products," the bankers package credit risks of totally different kinds of debtors into bundles, divide them into different classes of risk, and sell them to investors. The defenders of this practice argue that the hedge funds thereby play a positive role, because they spread the risk onto many shoulders. This theory has only one devastating flaw: As long as all asset prices are rising, everything functions wonderfully—because there is also no risk; but at the moment a reverse-leverage collapse sets in, the linkage between the different market segments through the hedge funds drags the whole system into collapse.

A Drying Up of Liquidity
A further problem arises from the fact that, through the instrument of the credit derivatives, a house of cards has been built up. The difference between creditors and debtors is wiped out, the debtor appears at the next moment as a creditor to another debtor, who again gives out credits from his side, and so on. This is, at the same time, the mechanism for the wondrous multiplication of money. Because when the market participant receives such a loan, this loan becomes the reserve capital for loaning a new credit to someone else. And thus, a further spiral goes into effect. Greater credit issuance provides more room for greater securitization; the creation of more liquidity again allows for greater credit issuance.

As they say, as long as the speculative bubble can inflate further, as long as the credit issuance increases, everything is fine (at least in the monetary realm, but not in the real economy, which has been sacrificed in this process). But if, as now, in the event of poor quality mortgage markets, there comes a break, and, as a result of the drying up of the liqudity pump which follows from the end of the yen carry trade, there occurs a reverse-leverage process in this pyramid, then the illusion bursts, and the system crashes. What we experience today, is the psychologically highly interesting process of how limitless greed, in the nature of physical lust, turns, almost overnight, into limitless angst. If no one believes any more that the emperor has new clothes, everyone sees that he is naked.

At the moment that the subprime mortgages, which were bundled into interest-bearing securities such as CDOs, fell in value, the banks and other financial institutions could no longer loan or borrow on the basis of these CDOs, as reserve capital or collateral. As a result, the global wave of liquidity dried up. A further aspect of the sell-off began when the banks had difficulties in financing the takeover of Chrysler through the private equity firm Cerberus (the locust fund which significantly bears the name of the hound of Hell).

Then where do we stand? Are those right, who say that there need only be a "straightening out" of the markets, and a little bloodletting, and then let the central bankers and established powers again take control?

It is interesting that an unorthodox newsletter in France, La Chronique Agora, asked July 31, under the headline, "Stockmarket Crash: Can You Still Escape?" The writer answered: "I don't think so. This time the crisis is too deep and the worry well installed.... This time the alert on the credit markets is of unprecedented magnitude. Long minimized, its gravity is becoming more obvious each day.... The ongoing phenomenon marks the end of an epoch: that of the illusion of unending world liquidity."

The next weeks will leave no doubt that Lyndon LaRouche is right, and all his critics will be discredited. There is nothing to expect from the Bush Administration, as long as Vice President Dick Cheney remains in office. Therefore, everything depends upon whether the world heeds what former Mexican President José López Portillo recommended in 1998: "Listen to the wise words of Lyndon LaRouche."

Richard C. Cook

The immediate triggers are being described quite well: the collapse of the U.S. subprime mortgage market; the vulnerability of the rest of the economy to the subprime undertow, due to the “efficiency” of the markets in spreading risk; the worldwide overextension of cheap credit; the failure of large institutional investors and Wall Street brokerages to behave responsibly; and the long-term effects of the U.S. trade and fiscal deficits which are now coming home to roost.

Amazingly, some commentators have been asking “if the monetary crisis will affect the producing economy,” and whether a recession lies ahead. In reality, the U.S. producing economy has been in a recession for the last year. This is shown most clearly by the decline in M1, the portion of the money supply immediately available to people for making purchases.

The causes of the M1 decline are two-fold. One is the weak purchasing power of American consumers, at least half of whose decently-paying manufacturing jobs have been eliminated by the outsourcing, mergers, and productivity improvements during the past two decades. The other is that while many of the U.S. corporations not connected to housing have been doing all right, their success has been tied to overseas investments and sales, such as GE and GM who are heavily invested in China.

This type of business activity props up the stock prices of these global corporations but does little for the working American. The presumption that overflow earnings from stockholders will benefit the rest of our domestic economy is the essence of “trickle-down,” supply-side economics and is part of the justification for the system that makes the rich richer and the poor poorer.

But as Barron’s reported earlier this year, much of the profits from the global corporations are being held as retained earnings for future growth, rather than being passed on to stockholders as dividends. Because of the heavy debt load corporations carry today, they are all in a grow-or-die mode. Again, the result is deficient purchasing power which works to negate the already dubious trickle-down effect.

The recession has been masked by four factors: 1) the government’s phony GDP numbers, where the “churning” of financial transactions masquerade as production; 2) the froth on the stock market that took the Dow Jones Average (DJA) from a little over 11,000 to a record-breaking 14,000 during a one-year period that ended with the decline that began in mid-July; 2) the propensity of the American consumer, which is now ending, to continue to buy goods and services on credit, including necessities of life like health care; and 3) modest growth in low-paying service economy jobs, which also may be coming to an end.

These lesser bubbles have mirrored the big ones that are bursting as lenders lose confidence in the ability of borrowers to repay. These are the housing bubble, affecting consumers; the acquisition bubble, affecting equity funds; and the speculation bubble, affecting hedge funds.

As the house of cards comes tumbling down, the leading question on financial websites and blogs is how deep will the decline go. Will it stop at the level of the recessions of previous decades, including 2000-2002, with a decline that is reflected in the DJA of somewhere around thirty-five percent from its peak? Or will it be the “Armageddon” scenario which would take us to depression-level conditions? Of course there are multiple possibilities based on a decline somewhere between a recession and a depression that would share some of the characteristics of each.

Muddying the waters is the fact that the DJA is much less reliable as a measure of economic health today than in the past. This is because today the vast majority of financial transactions now take place within the furtive secrecy of the equity, hedge, and derivative markets. No one really knows what is going on, except that on any given day an announcement is made that another fund or company has been wiped out.

Neither the Federal Reserve nor the U.S. government believes they have an obligation to gather or publish data that will help the public gauge the effects of these crises on their homes or jobs. Some might call this negligence a crime against democracy. In fact the Federal Reserve made tracking even more difficult by ceasing to report the M3 macro-currency numbers, but researchers have shown that growth in M3 is soaring while M1 goes down.

What appears to be happening right now is that the Federal Reserve, which oversees the U.S. economy on behalf of the financial, corporate, and government elites, is deliberately trying to squeeze as much debt out of the economy as it can. It is doing this with interest rates that are high relative to actual conditions, while trying to avoid the Armageddon scenario.

The Fed is carrying out its “soft-landing” policy by holding credit tight while introducing “liquidity” into the markets on a day-by-day basis through use of overnight “repos” and by cutting the discount rate for bank borrowing. Conservative columnists like George Will and Bob Novak watch and shake their pom-poms from the sidelines.

But “liquidity” is just a fancy name for more loans. The one thing we can be certain of is that every loan bears interest charges which someday, somehow, will have to be paid by a person who works for a living.

And if you wondered where the Fed got the $34 billion in liquidity it pumped into the markets on Friday, August 10, you weren’t the only one. The answer is that the Fed has a secret room upstairs where it keeps a large “printing press.” It’s legalized counterfeiting, but as with any counterfeit money, if people accept it in trade it acts just like the real stuff—for a while.

The danger, which many commentators are pointing to, is that the Fed will ignite a hyperinflation, which may be what is happening and may actually be intentional because it devalues debt. It’s what happens when debt is used to pay off debt and is in fact an invisible tax. Such inflation is difficult to discern, again because of the government’s rigged statistics. The most important indicator to watch is the price of oil, which doesn’t show up in “core inflation.”

But there are signs that the “soft landing” is working, such as a modest increase in U.S. exports. Reflecting the weak dollar, China is now charging more for its own exports, which will stimulate our industry here at home. And the Fed’s discount rate cut last Friday sparked a modest stock market rally.

Meanwhile, there is a debate over whether quasi-public agencies like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac should be used to spread the housing market losses across the entire taxpaying population. While society as a whole is made poorer, many individuals who might have lost their homes or jobs are spared some pain. So it’s hard to argue against it. But this type of bail-out would benefit individual homeowners more than the big banks, so the conservative politicians and commentators oppose it.

But there’s a bigger picture. The strategy of the Fed is likely to allow the recession to proceed but it does want to get the economy moving again before the downturn goes too far. In fact they probably plan to do it in time for the 2008 presidential election.

The Fed wants to see a recovery in place by then so the American public will go back to sleep and elect another politician who will steadfastly protect the privileges and powers of the magnates who, through the Fed, rule the world. Even if a new president has some progressive ideas, he or she won’t be able to alter much if a recovery has started.

The “soft landing” is a political power play.

It’s what they did in 1984, when Ronald Reagan was reelected on a campaign theme of “It’s morning in America,” after the Fed let up following the twenty percent-plus rates it used to trash the producing economy from 1979-83. The Fed did the same with the housing bubble to get George W. Bush reelected in 2004.

The financiers’ worst fear is that if things get too bad the American people might elect a reformer in 2008. So far the corporate press has kept two such reformers—Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich—in the shadows. Now that Hillary Clinton is starting to sound more progressive, they’ll attack her overtly since she is too big a player to be ignored. The Washington Post has already begun.

So we’ll see if the Fed’s plan succeeds as well over the next couple of years as it has in the past. In the meantime, what remains firmly in place is the monetarist regime through which the financiers and the Fed have ruled America for the past thirty-six years, since President Richard Nixon closed the gold window for international exchange in 1971.

During this period, we have seen several interlocking phenomena: 1) interest rates that on the whole have been much higher than the previous period of the New Deal and its aftermath, lasting into the 1960s; 2) inflation that has eroded eighty percent of the value of the dollar; 3) replacement of our producing industrial economy with a service economy dominated by high finance; 4) almost continuous warfare with a clear objective of world domination whose purpose is to shore up the dollar as the world’s reserve currency; 5) ever-deepening public, private, and household debt; 6) the ever-widening gap between rich and poor, with increasing numbers of the poor, homeless, and hungry who are left out of the nation’s economic life; 7) a crisis in the nation’s crumbling infrastructure; and 8) the constant whipsawing of over 200 million ordinary people.

It’s our citizens who are batted around like ping pong balls between alternating conditions of boom and bust as every few years many of them watch the overnight disappearance of their homes, pensions, savings, health insurance, and jobs. Added to this is the stress that has eroded the health and even life expectancy of the U.S. population.

It’s a horrible picture created by a filthy system. It’s why religious leaders for thousands of years have characterized usury, and a culture ruled by usury, as a crime against God and humanity. The monetarist rule of the Federal Reserve is legal, institutionalized usury. Over the years they have mastered all the tools of the trade, the objective of which is to continually allow the financial superstructure to skim the cream off the producing economy. Come to think of it, isn’t that how the Mafia used to work with its protection and loan-sharking rackets?

And can anything be done about it? Of course.

In previous articles on the Global Research website and elsewhere, this writer has offered a list of reforms—mostly monetary—that can and should be made. They all involve the recognition of credit as a public utility, part of the societal commons, not the private playground of the financiers, with the Fed as their facilitator.

Low-cost credit overseen by the federal government was the basic building block of the New Deal. It was done by strong people with an ideal of public service, though in many respects they didn’t go far enough and relied too much on World War II and armaments to attain a full-employment economy. We now need a New Deal for the 21st century that would correct the flaws of the last one, resolve the present crisis, and carry us into a future that will benefit everyone, not just the privileged few.


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