Merrill Lynch: David Kamanski (212)449-6868
Bank of America: David Coulter (415)622-2255
Citibank: John Reed (212)559-2732
Chase Manhattan: Walter Shipley (212)270-1380
Lamy was right: They don't smoke cigars. Go ahead and dial them. I did, and sure enough, got a cheery personal hello from Reed -- cheery until I revealed I wasn't Larry Summers. (Note: The other numbers were swiftly disconnected. And Corzine can't be reached while he faces criminal charges.)
It's not the little cabal of confabs held by Summers and the banksters that's so troubling. The horror is in the purpose of the "end game" itself.
Let me explain:
The year was 1997. US Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin was pushing hard to de-regulate banks. That required, first, repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act to dismantle the barrier between commercial banks and investment banks. It was like replacing bank vaults with roulette wheels.
Second, the banks wanted the right to play a new high-risk game: "derivatives trading". JP Morgan alone would soon carry $88 trillion of these pseudo-securities on its books as "assets".
Deputy Treasury Secretary Summers (soon to replace Rubin as Secretary) body-blocked any attempt to control derivatives.
But what was the use of turning US banks into derivatives casinos if money would flee to nations with safer banking laws?
The answer conceived by the Big Bank Five: eliminate controls on banks in every nation on the planet -- in one single move. It was as brilliant as it was insanely dangerous.
How could they pull off this mad caper? The bankers' and Summers' game was to use the Financial Services Agreement (or FSA), an abstruse and benign addendum to the international trade agreements policed by the World Trade Organisation.
Until the bankers began their play, the WTO agreements dealt simply with trade in goods -- that is, my cars for your bananas. The new rules devised by Summers and the banks would force all nations to accept trade in "bads" -- toxic assets like financial derivatives.
Until the bankers' re-draft of the FSA, each nation controlled and chartered the banks within their own borders. The new rules of the game would force every nation to open their markets to Citibank, JP Morgan and their derivatives "products".
And all 156 nations in the WTO would have to smash down their own Glass-Steagall divisions between commercial savings banks and the investment banks that gamble with derivatives.