TYReads “the capitalist network that runs the world”

The 1318 transnational corporations that form the core of the economy. Superconnected companies are red, very connected companies are yellow. The size of the dot represents revenue <i>(Image: </i>PLoS One<i>)</i>

Revealed – the capitalist network that runs the world @ New Scientist

An analysis of the relationships between 43,000 transnational corporations has identified a relatively small group of companies, mainly banks, with disproportionate power over the global economy.”

“The idea that a few bankers control a large chunk of the global economy might not seem like news to New York’s Occupy Wall Street movement and protesters elsewhere. But the study, by a trio of complex systems theorists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, is the first to go beyond ideology to empirically identify such a network of power. It combines the mathematics long used to model natural systems with comprehensive corporate data to map ownership among the world’s transnational corporations (TNCs).”

“From Orbis 2007, a database listing 37 million companies and investors worldwide, they pulled out all 43,060 TNCs and the share ownerships linking them. Then they constructed a model of which companies controlled others through shareholding networks, coupled with each company’s operating revenues, to map the structure of economic power.”

“The work, to be published in PLoS One, revealed a core of 1318 companies with interlocking ownerships (see image). Each of the 1318 had ties to two or more other companies, and on average they were connected to 20. What’s more, although they represented 20 per cent of global operating revenues, the 1318 appeared to collectively own through their shares the majority of the world’s large blue chip and manufacturing firms – the “real” economy – representing a further 60 per cent of global revenues.”

“When the team further untangled the web of ownership, it found much of it tracked back to a “super-entity” of 147 even more tightly knit companies – all of their ownership was held by other members of the super-entity – that controlled 40 per cent of the total wealth in the network. “In effect, less than 1 per cent of the companies were able to control 40 per cent of the entire network,” says Glattfelder. Most were financial institutions. The top 20 included Barclays Bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co, and The Goldman Sachs Group.”

The top 50 of the 147 superconnected companies

1. Barclays plc
2. Capital Group Companies Inc
3. FMR Corporation
4. AXA
5. State Street Corporation
6. JP Morgan Chase & Co
7. Legal & General Group plc
8. Vanguard Group Inc
9. UBS AG
10. Merrill Lynch & Co Inc
11. Wellington Management Co LLP
12. Deutsche Bank AG
13. Franklin Resources Inc
14. Credit Suisse Group
15. Walton Enterprises LLC
16. Bank of New York Mellon Corp
17. Natixis
18. Goldman Sachs Group Inc
19. T Rowe Price Group Inc
20. Legg Mason Inc
21. Morgan Stanley
22. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc
23. Northern Trust Corporation
24. Société Générale
25. Bank of America Corporation
26. Lloyds TSB Group plc
27. Invesco plc
28. Allianz SE 29. TIAA
30. Old Mutual Public Limited Company
31. Aviva plc
32. Schroders plc
33. Dodge & Cox
34. Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc*
35. Sun Life Financial Inc
36. Standard Life plc
37. CNCE
38. Nomura Holdings Inc
39. The Depository Trust Company
40. Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance
41. ING Groep NV
42. Brandes Investment Partners LP
43. Unicredito Italiano SPA
44. Deposit Insurance Corporation of Japan
45. Vereniging Aegon
46. BNP Paribas
47. Affiliated Managers Group Inc
48. Resona Holdings Inc
49. Capital Group International Inc
50. China Petrochemical Group Company

* Lehman still existed in the 2007 dataset used

Bitcoin a virtual currency that defies the NWO

Bitcoin the emerging monetary phenomenon created by a pseudonymous Satoshi Nakamoto in 2009 is no longer a joke, but a potential real threat to the neofeudal NWO whose visible components are the western Central Banks, from the Federal Reserve (FED) , to the European Central Bank (ECB), to the Bank of Japan (BoJ), to the Bank of England (BoE), to others.

Bitcoin poses a direct challenge to fiat based Central Bank created currencies that are continually being debased in order to maintain a “dual” economic system in which the banking industry is continually being subsidized (thru access to cheap money via the Central Bank, thru continuous bailouts paid by taxing the rest of the economy, thru covert inflation achieved by distorting the inflation measures).

It is likely that if the threat posed by Bitcoin materializes, Central Banks will fight it (they have already started), but whatever the outcome, Bitcoin is the most brilliant and lethal tool devised so far to fight a social order described decades ago, in “1984”. Forget, “Occupy Wall Street”, forget “indignados”, Bitcoin might be “it”.

It should thus not be a surprise that, as Zerohedge reported today, “US Begins Regulating BitCoin, Will Apply “Money Laundering” Rules To Virtual Transactions”.

So…What is Bitcoin?

According to Wikipedia, “Bitcoin (sign: BTC) is a decentralized digital currency based on an open-source, peer-to-peer internet protocol. It was introduced by a pseudonymous developer named Satoshi Nakamoto in 2009.”

“Internationally, bitcoins can be exchanged by personal computer directly through a wallet file or a website without an intermediate financial institution. In trade, one bitcoin is subdivided into 100-million smaller units called satoshis, defined by eight decimal places.”

According to Erik Voorhess, that provides an excellent introduction to Bitcoin in his blog, “Bitcoin is two things: it is a digital currency unit and it is the global payment network with which one sends and receives those currency units. Both the currency unit and the payment network share the same name: Bitcoin.”

“As a currency unit, consider Bitcoin like other currencies. The world has euros, dollars, yen, gold and silver ounces, and now it has Bitcoin as well. The properties of the Bitcoin currency unit are as follows:”

  • There will never be more than 21 million in existence, and they are released over time at a declining rate (at the time of writing, about 8.5 million Bitcoins exist).
  • As new coins are released on the set schedule, they are given at random to those who contribute computing power to securing the network. This is called “Bitcoin Mining” but it should more accurately be called “Bitcoin Auditing.” Those who contribute more computing power to this work have better odds of receiving the new coins, but the rate of new coin creation never increases (in fact it diminishes over time until all 21 million coins exist). Inflation is thus pre-determined and ever-decreasing toward zero. The below graph shows the release schedule and inflation rate:

  • Each Bitcoin is divisible by one hundred million. You can thus possess 0.00000001 Bitcoins.
  • Bitcoins are perfectly fungible, they are divided and combined seamlessly in your account.
  • It is theoretically impossible to make a fake Bitcoin (to fully understand why this is true, one needs to study cryptography and fairly advanced mathematics).
  • As a currency existing in a perfectly free market, Bitcoins always have a market price. At the time of this writing, this price is about $4.80 each. Because Bitcoin is global, there are also market prices for Bitcoin in every major national currency from yen to Brazilian reals.
  • Bitcoins are traded like other currencies on exchange websites, and this is how the market price is established. The most prominent exchange is MtGox.com

“So those are the details of Bitcoin as a currency unit, but Bitcoin is also a payment network. As a payment network, Bitcoin replaces the function of banks (especially the Federal Reserve as money creation is not at the whim of any person nor group), inter-bank funding networks (like SWIFT and SEPA), payment processors (like PayPal) and remitters (such as Western Union). The entirety of these massive industries as they relate to the creation, storage, accounting, and transfer of money has been usurped by Bitcoin. If Bitcoin succeeds, it is likely that PayPal and Western Union would be removed from the marketplace. The Federal Reserve (and every central bank) would be made redundant. “Disruptive technology” is thus an understatement.”

Is Bitcoin “money”? Does it have the characteristics that define that elusive concept called “money”. According to the traditional definion, “money” should be a store of value, a medium of exchange and a unit of account. Let’s see:

  • Is it a store of value?. Yes. Why?. Because it cannot be counterfeited and because it is scarce. Only 21 million Bitcoins will ever be issued by 2140. Being a store of value is based on being scarce, and Bitcoin is scarce.
  • Is it medium of exchange?. Yes. Why?. It is used to purchase and sell products and services.
  • Is it a unit of account? Yes. Why?. It is fungible, divisible and can be used to accumulate wealth.

Bitcoin is an experiment, and it could fail. Its success depends on its creators fulfilling the pledge never to issue more than 21 million units, on keeping it scarce. But so far it is succeeding. Check the price of the Bitcoin in USD in this chart provided by Blockchain: It went from 10 USD in July 2012 to 70 USD this last week. Check also the market capitalization of the Bitcoin market in this chart also provided by Blockchain: It went from 100 million USD in July 2012 to about 800 million USD this last week.

Its success also depend on it being widely accepted. This condition has the characteristics of a self-reinforcing loop: The more it is accepted, the higher the chances of it succeeding as a medium of exchange. So far the prospects are good. Transactions mediated by Bitcoin are growing fast.

As Bitcoin is decentralized, it can be hard to find all the resources one might want. Below is a list of some of the most useful websites and tools for learning about and engaging the Bitcoin economy (compiled by Erik Voorhees)

Paytunia.com – Very nice online ewallet service with Android app. Store your coins here.

BitSpend.net – Enables you to buy ANYTHING online by paying with Bitcoin. Very cool.

Bitcoin.org – Official site of the Bitcoin project, download the wallet software here.

MtGox.com – The leading Bitcoin exchange. Buy and sell Bitcoins here.

BitcoinTalk.org – The official discussion forum, and large enthusiast community.

Wiki.Bitcoin.it – Encyclopedia of most aggregated Bitcoin knowledge, very extensive.

Bitcoin.it/wiki/trade – Partial list of companies that accept Bitcoin as payment.

Blockchain.info – Tool for viewing accounts, payments, and numerous economic statistics.

BitcoinCharts.com – Shows current market prices and economic statistics.

Preev.com – Super easy Bitcoin<->fiat calculator, multiple currencies supported.

BitcoinMonitor.com – Live view of transactions as they happen on the Bitcoin network.

Paysius.com – Enables businesses to automatically accept Bitcoin payments on their website.

Bit-Pay.com – Another excellent merchant solution for businesses that wish to accept Bitcoin payments.

Coinabul.com – Leading gold and silver bullion seller for Bitcoin

Coinapult.com – Send Bitcoin via Email or SMS

WorkForBitcoin.com – Bitcoin job board – freelance projects which pay in Bitcoin.

Back to Mesopotamia by the way of Cyprus

In Back to Mesopotamia? a now prescient report by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) published in September 2011 it was argued that, while inflation is the unstated and preferred “solution” to the present debt crisis in the western societies, for a variety of reasons, among them the deleveraging pressure, low demand for credit and potential social upheaval, the inflation “solution” might not work or not be enough to solve the debt overhang in most western countries. Other “solutions” would have to be found. The report of the BCC explores what other options would western governments likely undertake to address the crisis, arguing and concluding that “it is likely that wiping out the debt overhang will be at the heart of any solution”.

This weekend we have found out that Cyprus is on the route to Mesopotamia.

Some excerpts from the BCG report:

“In ancient Mesopotamia, debt was commonplace; individual debts were recorded on clay tablets. Periodically, upon the ascendancy of a new monarch, debts would be forgiven: in other words, the slate would be wiped clean. The challenge facing today’s politicians is how clean to wipe the slates. In considering some of the potential measures likely to be required, the reader may be struck by the essential problem facing politicians: there may be only painful ways out of the crisis.”

“If the overall debt load continues to grow faster than the economy of the euro zone, at some point the politicians might conclude that debt restructuring is inevitable. For this to be effective, they would need to restructure all debt, probably at around a maximum combined level of 180 percent per country. This number is based on the assumption that governments, non Financial corporations, and private house-holds can each sustain a debt load of 60 percent of GDP, at an interest rate of 5 percent and a nominal economic growth rate of 3 percent per year. Given this assumption, the total debt overhang within the euro zone amounts to €6.1trillion.”

“The probability of economies growing out of their debt problem is therefore limited, and the authors conclude that “the debt problems facing advanced economies are even worse than we thought””

“These write-offs would have to lead to a real reduction of the debt burden of the
debtor, and not just to an adjustment on the creditor’s balance sheet. If governments chose this course of action, only true debt relief (and thus an end to the painful deleveraging process) could lay the foundation for a return to economic growth. To follow this path, they would need to convince themselves that the overall benefit of an economic restart outweighed the risk of moral hazard in some areas.”

“Writing off more than €6 trillion would have significant implications for lenders. Just look at the numbers. Assuming a proportional distribution between banks and insurers, banks in the euro zone would have to write off 10 percent of total assets (€3 trillion out of €36.9 trillion in total assets).”

“If politicians pursued this course, the losses would almost certainly exceed the equity of the banking sector— making it insolvent at an aggregate level.”

“Restructuring the debt overhang in the euro zone would require financing and would be a daunting task. In order to finance controlled restructuring, politicians could well conclude that it was necessary to tax the existing wealth of the private sector. Many politicians would see taxing financial assets as the fairest way of resolving the problem.”

“For most countries, a haircut of 11 to 30 percent would be sufficient to cover the costs of an orderly debt restructuring. Only in Greece, Spain, and Portugal would the burden for the private sector be significantly higher; In Ireland it would be too high because the financial assets of the Irish people are smaller than the required adjustment of debt levels. This underscores the dimension of the Irish real estate and debt bubble.”

“…too big to fail has become too big for trial”

USA Senator Elizabeth Warren  at her first Senate banking committee hearing: “…tell me a little bit about the last time you’ve taken the biggest financial institutions on Wall Street all the way to trial. Anybody?”

Check the answers in the video.

“You know, I just want to note on this. There are district attorneys and U.S. attorneys who are out there every day squeezing ordinary citizens on sometimes very thin grounds. And taking them to trial in order to make an example, as they put it. I’m really concerned that too big to fail has become too big for trial. That just seems wrong to me.”

TYR 14 January 2013 reads: The Neoliberal Financial Skim

The Neoliberal Financial Skim @ Of Two Minds describes in 5 simple graphs how “the perfection of the Neoliberal order is a parasitic financial sector protected by the Central Bank and State”.

And how “the Central Bank and State protect the financial sector’s vast skim of the national income with a combination of toothless regulations and regulations that are only enforced for purposes of percetpion management”.

And how “when the aforementioned benign neglect is insufficient to divert the national income to the parasitic finance-rentier sector, then the Central Bank and State actively transfer taxpayer monies to the financial sector via tax breaks, loopholes, and massive direct and indirect subsidies.”

Dont’ miss the graphs, courtesy of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

“They were too big to fail in 2008, they were too big to jail in 2009”

Bill Moyers interviews Neal Barofsky former Special Inspector General in charge of policing TARP (SIGTARP). Mr. Barofsky speaks with clarity about the roots of the present financial crisis, on why nobody has been prosecuted in Wall Street, on why another crash is inevitable, on why “playing ball with Wall Street” is the way to go if you want to succeed in the USA, on why big banks are back to their old tricks, on why they should be broken up and how difficult achieving this goal is going to be.

He does not mention America is now a feudal society, but that does not mean it is not.

Some excerpts either from Bill Moyers or from Neal Barofsky:

6:00 on why nobody in Wall Street has been prosecuted…“they were too big to fail in 2008, they were too big to jail in 2009”

7:30 “I thought, at the time, this was an incestuous orgy going on there, between inside players at Washington and inside players at Wall Street. Is that too strong?”…”It’s probably not too strong. It’s the fact that their ideology matches up. And look, one of the reasons why their ideology matches up is they all come from the same small handful of institutions. And the people I was dealing with on a daily basis came from the same financial institutions that helped cause the financial crisis and were the most generous recipients of bailouts, Goldman Sachs, Bear Sterns, which, of course, had been adopted by J.P. Morgan Chase. Goldman Sachs, Goldman Sachs, it seemed like every time I turned around, I bumped into someone from Goldman Sachs.”

9:20 “It was puzzling to outsiders like me that you had TARP money being used to concentrate further the size of these banks.”

10:30 “Are you suggesting that we could have another crash?”…”I think it’s inevitable. I mean, I don’t think how you can look at all the incentives that were in place going up to 2008 and see that in many ways they’ve only gotten worse and come to any other conclusion.”

12:40 “playing ball with Wall Street has become a novel way of life”

13:20 “And he said to me, he said, “Neil, you’re a smart guy. You’re a young guy. You’re a talented guy. You got your whole future in front of you. You’ve got a young family that’s starting out. But you’re doing yourself real harm.” And the reason why you’re doing yourself real harm is the harsh tone that I had towards the government as well as to Wall Street, based on what I was seeing down in Washington. And he told me that if I wanted to get a job out on the Street afterwards, it was going to really be hard for me.”

17:00 “And in some ways, it creates this false illusion that there are people out there looking out for the interest of taxpayers, the checks and balances that are built into the system are operational, when in fact they’re not. And what you’re going to see and what we are seeing is it’ll be a breakdown of those governmental institutions. And you’ll see governments that continue to have policies that feed the interests of — and I don’t want to get clichéd, but the one percent or the .1 percent — to the detriment of everyone else.”

18:30 “Based on the presumption of bailout, the banks get higher ratings from the credit rating agencies which means they can borrow money for less, because their debt is viewed by the credit rating agencies as being less risky. And they get these higher ratings on explicit presumption that the government will bail them out and make good on their debt.”

20:05 “If we really want to get to the point where we don’t have to bailout a bank, we have to make it so that no bank is so systemically significant and large that its failure could bring down the system.”

20:40 “And pressuring members of Congress to put pressure on the regulators, to water down the rules, to basically get as much back to the good old days where they would have free reign to print money, take advantage of their too big to fail status, bully and push out the little guys, take advantage of consumers. And that’s what all of these efforts area about are to preserve these very, very core profit streams that they had before.”