5 Star – Microcosmic Look Hit Job on Trump
The book loses a 6th star for not providing the larger context (the Wall Street banks alone have stolen $100 trillion and laundered $100 trillion in the past decade) and for a weak hit job on Donald Trump, but on balance I am in awe of this book and admiring of the author’s gifted research and equally gifted ability to tell the story.
This is one of the top ten books on money laundering and how dirty money funds dirty power.
I note with respect that the author also produced The Looting Machine: Warlords, Oligarchs, Corporations, Smugglers, and the Theft of Africa’s Wealth, a Financial Times Top Books of the Year in 2015.
Here are a few quotes from a very fine 446 page book with an index.
QUOTE (52): This might have been the end for Billy Rautenback. Might have been, had he not understood that dirty money’s true value is not measured in numbers. It is measured in names – knowing the names of those it has corrupted.
QUOTE (179): Moving money was an art, but from time to time violence was still required. It was to dirty money what the law was to clean – a guarantee that agreements would be honoured.
QUOTE (200): In theory, America was closed to undercover money. In practice, it was as open as every, provided you obeyed the dress code.
QUOTE (212): Liberation was at hand for Sasha. He was a celebrated philanthropist now, an Israeli citizen, and a leading member of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress
QUOTE (221): The only thing more corrupt than a kleptocratic dictatorship was a kleptocratic democracy; there were so many more people who could demand to be bought off, and it was much harder to simply imprison or otherwise eliminate them.
QUOTE (258): . . . ‘conditioning the information environment,’ he called it. FTTI’s consultants discussed using ‘search engine optimisation’ so Google results for Ablyazov would be more likely to say ‘fraudster’ than ‘dissident’.
QUOTE (295): The truth itself? That was secondary. To hold total power you didn’t need your truth to beat your enemy’s, but to destabilize the very idea of truth, neutering its power to challenge any narrative you might select.
QUOTE (299): When the past threatens to ambush you in the present, change the past.
QUOTE (338): If there is an antidote to kleptocracy, it is honesty, the sort of indomitable resistance to lies, obfuscation and bullshit that Nigel Wailkins embodied. It is a struggle without end; the struggle for who gets to tell the stories by which we live.
On balance, although the book is centered on three Central Asian billionaires who stole their way into great power not only in Central Asia but in London and Washington as well, it is a foundational work on the intricacies of dirty money buying dirty power with the end result being the hollowing out and destruction of both the society being robbed and the society enabling the conversion of illicit wealth into illicit power — both the City of London and Wall Street are the real criminals in this book.
The author’s cheap hit on Donald Trump is sad — were he more balanced he would understand that Lyndon Baines Johnson, and then George H. W. Bush and Dick Cheney, and the Bill Clinton and Barack Obama and Joe Biden have taken US criminality to the highest levels. Trump is actually the anti-thesis.
The author is also unwitting of the scale of dirty money, contenting himself to be in the low trillions as Senator Carl Levin once said. It is actually $100 trillion in stolen money from naked short selling by Wall Street against Main Street, and another $100 trillion in money laundering by Wall Street, or a total of $20 trillion a year, year after year. If one were to extend to City of London, Frankfurt, Singapore, and other stock exchanges, we are probably looking at $100 trillion a year overall. It is now documented that roughly 80% of all “wealth” that is on the books is phantom wealth not backed up by tangible assets. A day of reckoning looms, and Donald Trump must might be the one who ends dirty money with the Quantum Financial System (QFS).