Review: The Swiss, The Gold And The Dead–How Swiss Bankers Helped Finance the Nazi War Machine

5 Star, Atrocities & Genocide, Banks, Fed, Money, & Concentrated Wealth, Corruption

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5.0 out of 5 stars Bitter Truths that Destroy Swiss Integrity-Neutrality Myths,

December 13, 2002
Jean Ziegler
The bitter response of the Swiss to this book, as represented by a couple of the reviewers, reminds me of the delusional angry responses of Jews everywhere when it has been proven that the USS Liberty, flying the American flag, was deliberately attacked by Israeli air and sea forces with the intent of sinking it and killing every American on board and then blaming it on the Arabs. [It did occur to me that this book might be financed by the World Jewish Congress, for it does an incredibly good job of softening up the Swiss banks for larger faster settlements and the reduction of the obstacles they have been placing in the way of the holocaust heirs.]This is a good book, with good notes and a good index, and there is no denying the power of its retrospective examination of Swiss misbehavior.

Three aspects of this book stood out for me:

1) The glorification of secrecy as an end in itself, justifying almost any position–in substituting secrecy for morality the Swiss have aided and abetted war crimes, not just by the Nazis, but by many other evil people and organizations.

2) The lesser known aspect of Swiss misbehavior in rejecting hundreds of thousands of refugees, condemning them to certain death, while also bank-rolling and arming Hitler, essentially rescuing Germany from certain defeat in the early days, while prolonging the war toward the end.

3) The fact that today Switzerland continues to be the financial haven of choice for dictators and genocidal war-mongers of all sorts.

I happen to like Switzerland and admire the Swiss, but this book is a good spanking and it will be a test of their character as well as their “situational awareness” to see if in the aftermath of 9-11 they recognize the possibility that some forms of money should not be laundered, some forms of client should not be served–as one famous plastic surgeon once said, “you make your money on the ones you do, you make your reputation on the ones you do not.”

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Review: The Best Democracy Money Can Buy

5 Star, America (Founders, Current Situation), Banks, Fed, Money, & Concentrated Wealth, Capitalism (Good & Bad), Civil Society, Congress (Failure, Reform), Consciousness & Social IQ, Corruption, Crime (Corporate), Crime (Government), Culture, Research, Democracy, Electoral Reform USA, Impeachment & Treason, Intelligence (Public), Justice (Failure, Reform), Misinformation & Propaganda, Politics, Power (Pathologies & Utilization), Secrecy & Politics of Secrecy, Threats (Emerging & Perennial), Voices Lost (Indigenous, Gender, Poor, Marginalized)
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Greg Palast

5.0 out of 5 stars Let Freedom Ring–Truths the Corporate Thieves Can't Hide

May 29, 2002

The most distressing aspect of this book, written by an American expatriate publishing largely through newspapers in the United Kingdom, is that all of this information should have been published in U.S. newspapers in time to make a difference–to inform the voting public–but was not. One can only speculate how corrupt our media have become–how beholden to their owners and advertisers–if we cannot get front page coverage of the Florida government's disenfranchisement of over 50,000 predominantly black and democratic voters, prior to the presidential election; or of the raw attacks on our best interests by the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization, and others linked in a “trigger” network where taking money from one demands all sorts of poverty-inducing and wealth theft conditions.

Even more timely are his stories about the current Administration continuing a practice of the former Administration, spiking, curtailing, forbidding intelligence investigations into Saudi Arabian government funding of bin Laden's terrorism as well as Pakistani production of the “Islamic” atomic bomb.

His exposes of corporate misdeeds, some criminal, some simply unethical, all costing the U.S. taxpayer dearly, are shocking, in part because of their sleaziness, in part because our own newspapers do not dare to fulfill their role as envisioned by the Founding Fathers, of informing and educating the people of this Nation upon which the government depends for both its revenue and its legitimacy.

Although I take this book with a grain of salt (wondering, for example, why he did not ensure that Gore's campaign had all that he could offer in time to challenge the vote disenfranchisement as part of the Supreme Court case), there is enough here, in very forthright and sensible terms, to give one hope that investigative journalism might yet play a role in protecting democracy and the future of the Republic.

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Review: Governing the $5 Trillion Economy–A Twentieth Century Fund Essay

5 Star, Banks, Fed, Money, & Concentrated Wealth, Capitalism (Good & Bad), Economics

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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Analysis of Federal Budget As Influence Device,

February 27, 2002
Herbert Stein
This absolute gem from 1989 should be updated and republished. I have resurrected it in relation to my reading on federal budgeting and the dangers of the deficit spending now in vogue in Washington (2002).This is the best book I have read on the strategic aspects of the federal budget–needed reforms, key issues in allocation policy, using the budget to stabilize the economy.

Where the book excels is in its analysis of how the federal budget should be used to steer private sector outlays–as Osborne and Gaebler suggested, we must steer rather than row–guide the private sector rather than use taxpayer dollars for direct products and services.

In his discussion of priorities, the author focuses heavily on the lack of investment in education and the resurrection of education both public and private. As we enter the 21st Century largely ignorant as a Nation (of external realities, not at individuals), I cannot help but think that the time has come for the public to take charge of “political economy,” and begin actively setting forth its priorities. Just this week, in The Washington Post of 27 February 2002, David Ignatius suggests that Washington has turned its back on the Nation. Seems to me that's pretty dangerous, but if the Nation allows itself to be ignored by Washington, then we have the government–and the federal spending priorities–we deserve.

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Review: Maestro–Greenspan’s Fed And The American Boom

5 Star, Banks, Fed, Money, & Concentrated Wealth, Biography & Memoirs

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5.0 out of 5 stars Unconventional Wisdom Triumphs in Unconventional Times,

November 16, 2000
Bob Woodward
I am quite taken with this book, which at 234 pages is “just right” and well crafted and edited to tell an important story. This is a story about applied intelligence in the finest sense of the word. It is a story about a man well-versed in traditional economic research, traditional models, traditional assumptions about the marketplace, who was put into the most important position in the global financial system at just the right time. His intuition allowed him to detect unexplained changes in productivity and to direct new lines of research that helped persuade more conventional authorities to follow his strategy. This is also a story about a uniquely successful partnership between a Republican central banker and a Democratic President-the very heart of the story centers around Greenspan's ability to persuade a very smart President that deficit reduction was the critical ingredient for a long-term restoration of American prosperity. Aided by an equally smart Secretary of the Treasury, Rubin, it was the President's initiative to reduce the deficit by over $140 billion dollars that allowed all else to follow. There is a clear message here for those who would reduce taxes before finishing the job of eliminating the deficit. As a professional intelligence officer, I am very very impressed by the author's recounting of how Greenspan actually “does” the job of intelligence collection and analysis at his level-the Central Intelligence Agency could learn a great deal from this man. The integration of constant (every fifteen minutes) monitoring of key indicators, the preparation of detailed research and statistics reports, and-by far the most important element-the continuous cycle of direct telephone calls and personal meetings across all sectors of the economy and around the globe, define what must be the most efficient and effective and valuable directed intelligence operation in the world-and one that does not steal the information it needs! There are a number of observations throughout the book that are helpful at a strategic level: 1) deficit reduction is the single best thing any President can do-that enables the Fed to be effective; 2) we forget so quickly how desperate the American economy was in the late 1980's-in a volatile world it would be all too easy to enter a recession or have a major financial panic; 3) structured decision-making is extremely dependent on the models and the data-Greenspan's place in history is assured because he had the intellect and the patience and the gut instincts to realize that the data was incomplete or too aggregated and the modeling assumptions were dated and no longer sufficient to plot the course of the new economy; 4) the psychology of the marketplace is at least as important as the reality, and is likely to be hurt by loose-cannon White House elements with good intentions but out of bounds; 5) even the so-called best and brightest in any Presidential administration will categorize new ideas they do not understand as “incoherent if not idiotic”, as Greenspan's emerging new ideas were labeled by the top Treasury economists; 6) the concept of wealth redistribution fails to understand that even if $1 trillion from the 225 richest people in the world were redistributed to the poorest of the earth, this would only give them $1 a day for a year-Greenspan's focus is on underlying structural changes and the advancement of capitalism such that wealth can be created for the poor on a sustained basis; and 7) there will always be wild cards, such as the Savings & Loan crisis, the LTCM (Long Term Capital Management) crisis, and the Mexico crisis, that require a financial management or central banking network able to capitalize on personal relationships and deep knowledge to find impromptu solutions. On the latter note, it makes one realize that in an increasingly volatile marketplace, there should probably be much stricter limits on “leveraged” actions, where the majority of the money for gambling on the stock market or in the bond market-as much as 95% of the money-is borrowed and therefore likely to be defaulted if the wrong bet is placed. There is nothing in the book regarding any steps that Greenspan has taken or is considering in order to bring added stability to the marketplace. If I have one criticism of this otherwise superb book, a book that sheds light on many aspects of the Fed and its Chairman, it is that there is no hint here of what Greenspan has learned that might lead him to suggest legislative or regulatory changes intended to improve public transparency of key economic transactions, limitations on risk intended to prevent one rogue elephant (e.g. LTCM) from bringing down the market, and so on. I would have liked to see a summation, even a two-page appendix, on the “before” and “after” economic models that Greenspan helped to change, and also some sense in the conclusion of what needs to be changed to keep future market crises within the bounds that can be managed by the Fed-Greenspan clearly has broad shoulders and a broad mind, but he can't carry the load forever and this book fails to focus on what changes are needed to institutionalize the Greenspan wisdom.
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Review: Confessions of a Venture Capitalist–Inside the High-Stakes World of Start-up Financing

5 Star, Banks, Fed, Money, & Concentrated Wealth, Capitalism (Good & Bad)

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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Overview with Plenty of Useful Information,

November 11, 2000
Ruthann Quindlen
I've been down this road, including competive selection to present my company and vision to three venture capital fairs. This book, which was bought as a quick-read airplane book, has become a fundamental reference. It is heavily marked up, has three paper clips (very unusual) as I look at it, and has had a very constructive impact on both my thinking and my attitude. This book has not only helped me refine our business plan, but when I feel like we are straying, I can pull it down and do a quick revisitation of “the fundamentals”. This is a serious helpful book–do not be put off by shallow reviews.
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