If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Fed to Name Banks That Borrowed From Discount Window in Crisis

For most of its 98-year history, the Federal Reserve has operated with all the transparency and enthusiasm for change of the Vatican. Now the ultra-secretive Fed is starting to change its ways, if somewhat grudgingly. Some of the new openness, such as Chairman Ben S. Bernanke’s plan for quarterly press briefings, is the central bank’s idea. Much of it comes under duress.

Today, the Fed is set to disclose which banks borrowed from its discount window during the darkest moments of the 2008-09 financial crisis. This unprecedented view of the emergency loans the Fed extended to hundreds of banks is the result of a March 21 Supreme Court decision that left intact lower court rulings ordering disclosure in lawsuits filed by Bloomberg LP, the owner of this magazine, and News Corp.’s Fox News Network. Still, the Fed won’t disclose the collateral it accepted, which would reveal the risks it took. Future discount window borrowings will be made public, though only after a two-year delay, thanks to the new Dodd-Frank financial reform law.

Given the prominent role the world’s biggest banks played in causing financial losses worldwide, largely because of what investors didn’t know or didn’t understand, some say the loans should be made public at once, Bloomberg Businessweek reports in its April 4 issue. Only then, the reasoning goes, would investors and counterparties of a Fed borrower be able to manage their own risks. “The free-market system only works if it’s fully informed,” says Lynn E. Turner, who battled the Fed over disclosure issues while serving as the Securities and Exchange Commission’s chief accountant from 1998 to 2001. “There’s a lot of similarity between the Fed and an SUV with blacked-out windows.

Core Function

The Fed says such calls threaten its core function: preserving market confidence by acting as a lender of last resort. Publicizing the names of discount-window borrowers could spark bank runs or discourage sick banks from seeking help until they are fatally compromised. “The full monty may not be a good thing,” says Frederic Mishkin, a former Fed governor.

For the Fed, keeping information from investors is nothing new. Congress last year had to pry loose the details of $3.3 trillion worth of crisis-fighting programs that relied on the central bank’s vault. In the late 1990s, the Fed successfully resisted the SEC’s attempt to require banks to stop using hidden funds, or “cookie jar reserves,” to smooth quarterly earnings, says Turner.

Press Briefings

Today’s Fed is undeniably more open. Until 1994 the central bank didn’t even publicly disclose when it changed the benchmark lending rate, leaving the market to figure that out for itself. Former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan cultivated an image as an oracle who delighted in obscuring rather than explaining. Today, interest rate changes are announced in public statements after the policy making Federal Open Market Committee meets. Presidents of regional Fed banks give dueling public speeches on monetary policy. Bernanke has even taken “60 Minutes” on a tour of his Dillon, South Carolina, hometown. The chairman’s plans for quarterly press briefings beginning April 27 mark a further evolution in the Fed’s public outreach.

With its profile higher than ever, demands for greater accountability will only continue. William Greider, author of the 1989 Fed history “Secrets of the Temple,” says the bank is losing the battle to maintain its mystique. “What has happened in the last three years is the mask has been torn away from the central bank,” he says. “And they can’t put it back on.”

Continue reading - Bloomberg - Fed to Name Banks That Borrowed From Discount Window in Crisis

Excel Breakdown Of All Discount Window Users Between March 2008 - 2009: (.ods) (.xls)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Ron Paul seeks return to 'Golden Age'

Rep. Ron Paul, a Republican who wants the federal government "out of Americans' lives and wallets," spoke to more than 1,000 people in the McKimmon Center Monday night.

The Texas congressman orated to applause and cheers throughout his speech, which covered topics ranging from U.S. offensive action on Libya to the causes of and cures for the current U.S. financial crisis. Paul, who ran for president in 2008, said he is considering running for president in 2012, a decision that will be based on the value of the dollar.

Paul supports the abolition of the Federal Reserve, an institution that stands alone from the U.S. government, which has no say over its actions and decisions. Event attendees chanted "End the Fed" at the beginning of Paul's speech.

Evidenced by rising food prices at the grocery store, the purchasing power of the dollar is currently in decline. Economists call the decline in purchasing power inflation. Paul said the Federal Reserve, which is responsible for the stable purchasing power of the dollar, wants inflation to hover somewhere around 2 percent.

Paul disagreed with Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, and the Fed's goal of 2 percent inflation.

"The monetary crisis is still yet to come, and it will get worse," Paul said. "The only thing that can restore stability is sound money."

The U.S. tied the value of its money to the value of gold until Richard Nixon fully abolished the "gold standard" during his presidency. The U.S. currently employs the system of fiat money, in which the credibility and value of the U.S. dollar lies only the holders' confidence in the currency. Paul wants the U.S. to return to the gold standard.

Higher prices worldwide are due to the international belief in fiat currencies, according to Paul.

"Your dollar is going to go down in purchasing power," Paul said. "All empires [such as the U.S.] end for financial reasons."

Continue reading - Ron Paul seeks return to 'Golden Age'

Dr. Ron Paul at North Carolina State McKimmon Center

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

US REVOLT - Massive union protest in Los Angeles

Nearly 10,000 union members and their supporters flooded the streets of Los Angeles to speak out for worker rights. Protesters expressed their opposition to proposed budget cuts, which threaten the middle class way of life.

Main Street America is Rising Up

Massive union protest in Los Angeles

Americans rise up against Wall Street

Brandon Boyd of Incubus at Zeitgeist Day Los Angeles

Brandon Boyd of Incubus at Zeitgeist Day Los Angeles

Monday, March 28, 2011

Glenn Beck Special Show - The Fed

Glenn Beck discussing the Fed with G. Edward Griffin, author of "The Creature from Jekyll Island: A Second Look at the Federal Reserve".

Glenn Beck Special Show - The Fed

Sunday, March 27, 2011

UK REVOLT - Anti-cuts march: Tens of thousands at London protest

More than 250,000 people have attended a march and rally in central London against public spending cuts.

Labour leader Ed Miliband addressed crowds in Hyde Park and the main march organised by the Trades Union Congress passed off peacefully.

But small groups attacked shops and banks with a stand-off in Piccadilly. There have been 202 arrests and 35 people injured, including five police.

Ministers say the cuts are necessary to get the public finances in order.

In the largest public protest since the Iraq war rally in 2003, marchers from across the UK set off from Victoria Embankment to Hyde Park, where TUC general secretary Brendan Barber was first in a line of speakers.

"We are here to send a message to the government that we are strong and united," he said.

"We will fight the savage cuts and we will not let them destroy peoples' services, jobs and lives."

Education Secretary Michael Gove said he could understand the disquiet and anger.

"But the difficulty that we have as the government inheriting a terrible economic mess is that we have to take steps to bring the public finances back into balance," he said.

Mr Miliband is attending the march but is yet to sketch out an alternative, he added.

Matthew Sinclair, director of the Taxpayers' Alliance which lobbies for lower taxes and greater government efficiency, said: "It's understandable that people feel upset...

"But in the end it's not valid and what politicians should be doing is not encouraging this rally but saying look, you've got to be more realistic about the options facing this country."

Continue reading - BBC - Anti-cuts march: Tens of thousands at London protest

Tens of thousands join London protest

Protest in UK over spending cuts

Protesters break into bank, clash with cops as London march turns violent

Police battle to restore order in central London

Video of thousands in London protest march as paint bombs, flares fly

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Zeitgeist: Moving beyond money - RT

In his latest film, Zeitgeist: Moving Forward, director Peter Joseph presents a case for a transition out of the current socioeconomic monetary paradigm which runs modern global society to a new sustainable resource based economy.

“A resource based economy explicitly wants to remove the actual mechanics of exchange and the market system itself,” Joseph explained.

He argued, “You have to understand, first of all, that the problems we are seeing in the world is not the result some bad policy or some legislation or inflationary cycle.”

Everyone suffers under the system that exists and suffering is inevitable, not because of politics or policy, but because of monetary existence. The system is flawed. Money is the problem. The focus should be resources, such as food, health and other aspects.

“We live in a technical reality, not a monetary one,” he added. “When you take a technical perspective as opposed to a monetary perspective we see we can resolve just about all the major human woes on this planet by restructuring the entire economic phenomenon to be truly economic – meaning preservation and sustainability.”

Joseph argued the world could get rid of major problems by restructuring and removing the class system that exists today, a system where 1 percent of the people have all the money and power and an invested interest in keeping the system in place.

“An entirely new approach can be taken,” he said.

If the world shifted to a view of shared good as opposed to individual good, everyone would benefit and poverty, hunger, crime, war and health crisis would be eliminated, he contended.

Under a system of nature and viewing the world as one lance, not a place with many places, we can create a single human society and meet all human needs collectively.

via Zeitgeist: Moving beyond money - RT

Peter Joseph on Russia Today

US REVOLT - Day Of Rage Against The Cuts In New York

Wisconsin and Egypt have shown the way... Now it's New York's turn!

Student / Labor / Community Rally Against The Cuts
Rally at City Hall at 5 PM, march to Wall Street at 6 PM

• Jobs Not Layoffs!
• Affordable Housing Now!
• No Cuts to Social Services!
• No Union-Busting or Privatization!
• Stop the School Closings!
• Fire Cathleen Black and End Mayoral Control!
• Free Tuition and Open Admissions for CUNY!
• Extend the Millionaire's Tax!
• Close Corporate Tax Loopholes!
• Bring Back the Stock Transfer Tax!

More Gallery Here

New York Day of Rage

6,000 Protesters Marching NYC on March 25, 2011

New Yorkers Against Budget Cuts Rally | City Hall and Wall Street, New York, NY | March 24, 2011

SYRIA REVOLT - Deaths as Syrian forces fire on protesters

Syrian security forces have opened fire on anti-government protesters near the city of Daraa, killing at least 20 people, residents have told Al Jazeera.

"There are more than 20 martyrs .... they (security forces) opened fire haphazardly," the witness said.

Reuters also reported that heavy gunfire could be heard in the southern city, the focal point for demonstrations against Bashar al-Assad''s regime in recent days.

The incident comes as protesters demanding greater freedom called for a "day of dignity" on Friday following a week-long crackdown by pro-regime forces that has left dozens dead.

At least 200 people marched in the centre of Damascus after Friday prayers in support of the people of Daraa, scene of protests against Baath Party rule, a Reuters news agency witness said.

Continue reading - Deaths as Syrian forces fire on protesters

Live update from Syria's Daraa city

BELGIUM REVOLT - Protesters clash with police ahead of EU summit

Masked protesters hurled cobblestones at police who hit back with water cannons in Brussels Thursday as thousands marched to voice their anger at austerity measures imposed by European leaders.

Police clashed with protesters near the Belgian prime minister's office in Brussels, where a tight security cordon was erected to prevent demonstrators from reaching the site of a summit of European Union leaders.

The demonstrators responded to union calls to challenge leaders' moves to commit governments to a new 'Euro Pact' which seeks to moderate wages in a bid to make Europe's economy more competitive against global rivals.

The summit, starting 1600 GMT, gathers the EU's 27 heads of state and government at the heart of the bloc's vast Brussels headquarters district, and marchers targeted the main artery leading to the summit venue.

Organisers said 20,000 people were taking part in the demonstration.

"The European Commission's annual examination of growth as well as the competitiveness pact launched by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy will drag wages and social rights down to dangerous levels," Belgium's CES union said in a statement.

Even though the original Franco-German proposals set for adoption by leaders during the summit have been watered down, Belgian unions fear their system of index-linked wage rises is under threat.

The talks were overshadowed by Portugal's political crisis after the prime minister quit there Wednesday following a showdown with parliament over his new austerity plan, a move that boosts the chances Lisbon will need an international financial bailout.

The main artery leading to the summit headquarters was already packed with protesters by mid-morning.

Continue reading - Protesters clash with police ahead of EU summit

Man drops pants in protest as police water-cannon Belgium crowds

Friday, March 25, 2011

MUST READ! The Revolution in Central Banking

On a warm, Lisbon day last May, Jean-Claude Trichet, the ice-cool president of the European Central Bank, was asked whether the bank would consider buying euro zone governments' bonds in the open market.

"I would say we did not discuss this option," Trichet told a news conference after a meeting of the ECB's Governing Council. Four days later, the ECB announced that it would start buying bonds.

Trichet's U-turn was part of an emergency package with euro zone leaders to stave off a crisis of confidence in the single currency. By reaching for its "nuclear option", the ECB had also helped rewrite the manual of modern central banking.

That's happened a lot over the past three years. Since the early days of the financial crisis in 2008, the European Central Bank, the U.S. Federal Reserve and the Bank of England have all been forced to adopt policies that just a few years ago they would have dismissed as preposterous. And the Bank of Japan responded to the Sendai earthquake and tsunami by doubling its own asset-purchase programme, to keep the banking system of the world's third-largest economy on an even keel.

For a generation, the accepted orthodoxy has been to focus on taming inflation. Financial stability has taken something of a back seat. Now, whether mandated to do so or not, western central banks have bought up sovereign debt to sustain the financial system, printed money by the truckload to stimulate their economies, sacrificed some of their independence to coordinate monetary policy more closely with fiscal decisions, and contemplated new ways of preventing asset bubbles. Some -- such as Bank of England Governor Mervyn King -- have joined wider political protests at commercial banks that are still behaving as if they are "too big to fail", and as if being bailed out is just a hazard of business.

In the measured world of central banking, it amounts to nothing short of a revolution. Otmar Issing, one of the euro's founding fathers and a career-long monetarist hawk, told Reuters that in buying government bonds the ECB had "crossed the Rubicon". The question now for the ECB -- and for its counterparts in Britain, the United States and elsewhere -- is what they'll find on the other side.


Don Kohn, a former vice-chairman of the Federal Reserve, realized central banking was changing forever at a routine meeting of his peers in Basel, Switzerland, in March 2008. The shockwaves from the U.S. subprime mortgage meltdown had begun rocking banks around the world and Kohn, a 38-year veteran of the U.S. central bank, listened as one speaker after another described the fast-deteriorating economic conditions.

"It was terrible," Kohn said. "One of the people at the meeting used the phrase, 'It's time to think about the unthinkable'."

Kohn left the meeting early to return to Washington, but the line stuck in his head. He would use it a few days later to justify his support for a Federal Reserve decision to spend $29 billion to help J.P. Morgan buy investment bank Bear Stearns, which was teetering on the edge of bankruptcy.

That financial meltdown caused a credit crunch that triggered a severe recession and, in countries such as Greece, a sovereign debt crisis. After slashing interest rates practically to zero, central banks desperate to prevent a new global depression had no choice but to expand the volume of credit, rather than its price, by reaching for the money-printing solution known as "Quantitative Easing" (QE). In the eyes of critics, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke was living up to his nickname of "Helicopter Ben" -- a reference to a speech that he gave in 2002 in which he took a leaf out of the book of the renowned monetarist economist Milton Friedman and argued that the government ultimately had the capacity to quash deflation simply by printing money and dropping it from helicopters.

Until that point, the Fed was a lender of last resort for deposit-taking banks. By invoking obscure legislation from the Great Depression, it also became a backstop for practically any institution whose collapse could threaten the financial system. Kohn and others at the Bear Stearns meeting had just done the unthinkable.

Continue reading - Reuters - Special report: The revolution in central banking

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

TEDx Peter Joseph - An Introduction to a Resource-Based Economy

This is the 18 min video backup for the live March 21st, TEDx [Portugal] Talk by Peter Joseph called: "An Introduction to a Resource-Based Economy ".

An Intro. to a Resource-Based Economy [ TEDx - Peter Joseph ]

Friday, March 18, 2011

Every Breath You Take

Columbia Business School's Dean Glenn Hubbard sings about wanting Alan Greenspan's job that went instead to New Fed Chair Ben Bernanke.

Parody created by Columbia Business School students.

Take a seat back and have a good laugh ;)

Every Breath You Take

Federal Reserve BANK CON exposed on MSNBC

Dylan Ratigan Explains 'Con Job': Greenspan, Banks, Congress To Blame

2010-4-7 1/2 Federal Reserve BANK CON exposed on MSNBC There is No Money

Rep. Paul renews uphill push to abolish Fed

* Fed critic Paul renews push to eliminate central bank

* Paul says inflation hits lower-income groups hardest

* Experts before Paul panel urge return to gold standard

WASHINGTON, March 17 (Reuters) - Representative Ron Paul, a persistent critic of the Federal Reserve, on Thursday renewed his uphill fight to abolish the U.S. central bank, warning it is on track to create an inflation that will hit lower-income Americans especially hard.

The Texas lawmaker has long championed dismantling the Fed, but at a hearing on Thursday slammed its $600 billion bond buying program, which he said was creating inflation and undercutting the dollar. This week he introduced legislation abolishing the Fed.

"Frugality is virtuous only when it results from free choice, not when it is forced upon the citizenry by the Fed's ruinous monetary policy," Paul said at a hearing of a House of Representatives subcommittee that he chairs.

Rising energy and commodity prices have stirred inflation worries around the world and criticism that the Fed's vast expansion of bank reserves to buy Treasuries has stoked price rises.

Paul argued at the hearing that inflation hits low- and middle-income wage earners harder than affluent people.

"If you destroy a currency you will destroy the middle class," said Paul, whose long-standing antipathy to the Fed had found little support until the recent crisis.

Continue reading - Reuters - Rep. Paul renews uphill push to abolish Fed

Read James Grant’s Testimony - Highly recommended

Ron Paul Hearing 3/17/11: Relationship of Monetary Policy and Rising Prices

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Ron Paul's Statement on the End the Fed Act

Mr. Speaker, I rise to introduce legislation to restore financial stability to America's economy by abolishing the Federal Reserve. Since the creation of the Federal Reserve, middle- and working-class Americans have been victimized by a boom-and-bust monetary policy. In addition, most Americans have suffered a steadily eroding purchasing power because of the Federal Reserve's inflationary policies. This represents a real, if hidden, tax imposed on the American people.

From the Great Depression, to the stagflation of the seventies, to the current economic crisis caused by the housing bubble, every economic downturn suffered by this country over the past century can be traced to Federal Reserve policy. The Fed has followed a consistent policy of flooding the economy with easy money, leading to a misallocation of resources and an artificial "boom'' followed by a recession or depression when the Fed-created bubble bursts.

With a stable currency, American exporters will no longer be held hostage to an erratic monetary policy. Stabilizing the currency will also give Americans new incentives to save, as they will no longer have to fear inflation eroding their savings. Those members concerned about increasing America's exports or the low rate of savings should be enthusiastic supporters of this legislation.

Though the Federal Reserve policy harms the average American, it benefits those in a position to take advantage of the cycles in monetary policy. The main beneficiaries are those who receive access to artificially inflated money and/or credit before the inflationary effects of the policy impact the entire economy. Federal Reserve policies also benefit big spending politicians who use the inflated currency created by the Fed to hide the true costs of the welfare-warfare state. It is time for Congress to put the interests of the American people ahead of special interests and their own appetite for big government.

Abolishing the Federal Reserve will allow Congress to reassert its constitutional authority over monetary policy. The United States Constitution grants to Congress the authority to coin money and regulate the value of the currency. The Constitution does not give Congress the authority to delegate control over monetary policy to a central bank. Furthermore, the Constitution certainly does not empower the federal government to erode the American standard of living via an inflationary monetary policy.

In fact, Congress' constitutional mandate regarding monetary policy should only permit currency backed by stable commodities such as silver and gold to be used as legal tender. Therefore, abolishing the Federal Reserve and returning to a constitutional system will enable America to return to the type of monetary system envisioned by our nation's founders: one where the value of money is consistent because it is tied to a commodity such as gold. Such a monetary system is the basis of a true free-market economy.

In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to stand up for working Americans by putting an end to the manipulation of the money supply which erodes Americans' standard of living, enlarges big government, and enriches well-connected elites, by cosponsoring my legislation to abolish the Federal Reserve.

Ron Paul's Statement on The Free Competition in Currency Act

In order to introduce a system of competing currencies, there are three steps that must be taken to produce a legal climate favorable to competition.

The first step consists of eliminating legal tender laws. Article I Section 10 of the Constitution forbids the States from making anything but gold and silver a legal tender in payment of debts. States are not required to enact legal tender laws, but should they choose to, the only acceptable legal tender is gold and silver, the two precious metals that individuals throughout history and across cultures have used as currency. However, there is nothing in the Constitution that grants the Congress the power to enact legal tender laws. We, the Congress, have the power to coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, but not to declare a legal tender. Yet, there is a section of U.S. Code, 31 U.S.C. 5103, that purports to establish U.S. coins and currency, including Federal Reserve notes, as legal tender.

Historically, legal tender laws have been used by governments to force their citizens to accept debased and devalued currency. Gresham's Law describes this phenomenon, which can be summed up in one phrase: bad money drives out good money. An emperor, a king, or a dictator might mint coins with half an ounce of gold and force merchants, under pain of death, to accept them as though they contained one ounce of gold. Each ounce of the king's gold could now be minted into two coins instead of one, so the king now had twice as much "money'' to spend on building castles and raising armies. As these legally overvalued coins circulated, the coins containing the full ounce of gold would be pulled out of circulation and hoarded. We saw this same phenomenon happen in the mid-1960s when the U.S. government began to mint subsidiary coinage out of copper and nickel rather than silver. The copper and nickel coins were legally overvalued, the silver coins undervalued in relation, and silver coins vanished from circulation.

These actions also give rise to the most pernicious effects of inflation. Most of the merchants and peasants who received this devalued currency felt the full effects of inflation, the rise in prices and the lowered standard of living, before they received any of the new currency. By the time they received the new currency, prices had long since doubled, and the new currency they received would give them no benefit.

In the absence of legal tender laws, Gresham's Law no longer holds. If people are free to reject debased currency, and instead demand sound money, sound money will gradually return to use in society. Merchants would have been free to reject the king's coin and accept only coins containing full metal weight.

The second step to reestablishing competing currencies is to eliminate laws that prohibit the operation of private mints. One private enterprise which attempted to popularize the use of precious metal coins was Liberty Services, the creators of the Liberty Dollar. Evidently the government felt threatened, as Liberty Dollars had all their precious metal coins seized by the FBI and Secret Service in November of 2007. Of course, not all of these coins were owned by Liberty Services, as many were held in trust as backing for silver and gold certificates which Liberty Services issued. None of this matters, of course, to the government, who hates to see any competition.

The sections of U.S. Code which Liberty Services is accused of violating are erroneously considered to be anti-counterfeiting statutes, when in fact their purpose was to shut down private mints that had been operating in California. California was awash in gold in the aftermath of the 1849 gold rush, yet had no U.S. Mint to mint coinage. There was not enough foreign coinage circulating in California either, so private mints stepped into the breech to provide their own coins. As was to become the case in other industries during the Progressive era, the private mints were eventually accused of circulating debased (substandard) coinage, and with the supposed aim of providing government-sanctioned regulation and a government guarantee of purity, the 1864 Coinage Act was passed, which banned private mints from producing their own coins for circulation as currency.

The final step to ensuring competing currencies is to eliminate capital gains and sales taxes on gold and silver coins. Under current federal law, coins are considered collectibles, and are liable for capital gains taxes. Short-term capital gains rates are at income tax levels, up to 35 percent, while long-term capital gains taxes are assessed at the collectibles rate of 28 percent. Furthermore, these taxes actually tax monetary debasement. As the dollar weakens, the nominal dollar value of gold increases. The purchasing power of gold may remain relatively constant, but as the nominal dollar value increases, the federal government considers this an increase in wealth, and taxes accordingly. Thus, the more the dollar is debased, the more capital gains taxes must be paid on holdings of gold and other precious metals.

Just as pernicious are the sales and use taxes which are assessed on gold and silver at the state level in many states. Imagine having to pay sales tax at the bank every time you change a $10 bill for a roll of quarters to do laundry. Inflation is a pernicious tax on the value of money, but even the official numbers, which are massaged downwards, are only on the order of 4 percent per year. Sales taxes in many states can take away 8 percent or more on every single transaction in which consumers wish to convert their Federal Reserve Notes into gold or silver.

In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, allowing for competing currencies will allow market participants to choose a currency that suits their needs, rather than the needs of the government. The prospect of American citizens turning away from the dollar towards alternate currencies will provide the necessary impetus to the U.S. government to regain control of the dollar and halt its downward spiral. Restoring soundness to the dollar will remove the government's ability and incentive to inflate the currency, and keep us from launching unconstitutional wars that burden our economy to excess. With a sound currency, everyone is better off, not just those who control the monetary system. I urge my colleagues to consider the redevelopment of a system of competing currencies and cosponsor the Free Competition in Currency Act.

Read the full statement

Ron Paul proposes 'currency competition' in bid to end federal monopoly on money

Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) on Tuesday said he would soon introduce the Free Competition in Currency Act, which would dismantle what he described as the federal government's self-proclaimed monopoly on legal tender in the U.S. and allow states and private enterprises to issue their own currency.

Paul made it clear that his intention is to end the ability of the federal government to control the supply of money and spend it as it sees fit, including on wars that Paul has consistently opposed.

"The prospect of American citizens turning away from the dollar toward alternate currencies will provide the necessary impetus to the U.S. government to regain control of the dollar and halt its downward spiral," he said. "Restoring soundness to the dollar will remove the government's ability and incentive to inflate the currency, and keep us from launching unconstitutional wars that burden our economy to excess."

Paul said there are three steps needed to promote currency competition within the U.S. (which are presumably required in his bill, although it had not been released as of Wednesday morning).

First, Paul said, legal tender laws need to be repealed. He said under current law, the federal government "purports to establish U.S. coins and currency, including Federal Reserve notes, as legal tender," even though the Constitution does not allow the government to declare a legal tender.

Second, he said, Congress must repeal laws that prohibit private mints, and third, federal laws imposing capital gains and sales taxes on gold and silver coins must be terminated.

Continue reading - Ron Paul proposes 'currency competition' in bid to end federal monopoly on money

Monday, March 14, 2011

Ron Paul: WSJ Big Interview

In an interview with Simon Constable, Congressman Ron Paul says that neither party is serious about reducing spending to curb the deficit and that he is still mulling a presidential run.

Ron Paul Still Considering A Presidential Run, Says Congress Not Serious About Deficit

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

HK REVOLT - Pressure builds on Hong Kong after anti-budget protests

INFLATION, particularly in the price of food and housing; lack of democracy; public austerity followed by handouts, followed by howling protests, followed—some hope—by a change in government. Far from the now-bloody strife in the Arab world, a jasmine-scented spring breeze is rippling a civil and prosperous little Special Administrative Region of China.

On March 6th as many as 10,000 people thronged Des Voeux Road, the territory’s main commercial stretch, hoisting yellow flags and raising their voices against—well, against what it is not entirely clear. The rally ended with an uncharacteristic (for Hong Kong) smattering of violence. Metal barricades were knocked over, taking down a police officer or two with them. The police spritzed the crowd with pepper spray, hitting an eight-year-old along with the grown-ups, and dragged away more than 100 people to a local precinct office.

A recently unveiled public budget was the immediate inspiration for the protests. This one document, presented by a singularly wealthy government suffused with surpluses, managed to annoy every group imaginable. Those irritated included everyone from the true believers of Hong Kong’s traditional laissez-faire approach, who regard the new budget’s profusion of handouts as being corrupting and inefficient, to the labour unions and social activists, who think its subsidies insufficient and misdirected.

The budget was announced February 23rd as an effort to pre-empt inflation; as such it was left devoid of explicit cash rebates. But within hours, a sharp reaction prompted an abrupt change in course: suddenly the budget was to include a hand-out of HK$6,000 ($771) to every permanent resident, along with other one-off benefits. That, in turn, caused outrage among the territory’s many immigrant workers, who perform many of the toughest and lowest-paid jobs. It fed anger in other quarters too, where people would have preferred to see the money used to boost pensions, public housing, environmental protection, and other social services. Free-market advocates saw the move as a stroke of inept populism.

The protests may or may not have been encouraged by events elsewhere in the world, as some of their organisers have suggested. At their core they were an expression of the unpopularity of the financial secretary, John Tsang, who prepares the budget, and Donald Tsang (no relation), the territory’s chief executive and head of government. Both Messrs Tsang lack charisma and find themselves unable to communicate a vision for Hong Kong. Under the current Hong Kong system, neither was brought to office by a free election.

Discontent has been fed by a sharp rise in home prices—which are seen as a consequence of cosy relations between the government and a tiny handful of property tycoons—and by rising food prices. To the extent that the government is moving forward, notably in its quick decision to begin work on an extraordinarily costly high-speed rail-line to Guangzhou, the widespread perception is that the shots are being called by Beijing. Other big projects are similarly controversial. A potentially huge investment in facilities to play host to the Asian Games in 2023 is highly unpopular. On March 4th a long-suffering effort to build a cultural centre reached a sort of milestone, with Sir Norman Foster approved as its architect. But the project has become a revolving door for directors and the government has been unable to provide a compelling plan for the site.

At the protest, placards demanded the resignation of the two Tsangs, Donald and John. On March 1st, as he spoke at a ceremony to mark the centennial anniversary of China’s republican revolution, Donald Tsang was apparently struck in the chest by a protester. Hong Kongers may not get to vote for their chief executive, but they do have ways of making their feelings known, as Tung Chee-hwa, Hong Kong’s first post-colonial chief executive, can attest. The current government has a year left to run. It is starting to look however as if its time has already passed.

Continue reading - Economist - Protests in Hong Kong

Protesters Arrested in Hong Kong over Budget Protests

MEDICAL ADVANCES - Anthony Atala: Printing a human kidney

Surgeon Anthony Atala demonstrates an early-stage experiment that could someday solve the organ-donor problem: a 3D printer that uses living cells to output a transplantable kidney. Using similar technology, Dr. Atala's young patient Luke Massella received an engineered bladder 10 years ago; we meet him onstage.

Anthony Atala: Printing a human kidney

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Britain at risk of another financial crisis, Bank of England chief warns

Britain risks suffering another financial crisis without reform of the country’s banks, the Governor of the Bank of England warns today.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Mervyn King says that “imbalances” in the banking system remain and are “beginning to grow again”.

Mr King urges high street banks to take a better, longer term view towards their customers and to stop focusing on the need to “simply maximise profits next week”.

He accuses them of routinely exploiting their millions of customers. “If it’s possible [for financial services firms] to make money out of gullible or unsuspecting customers, particularly institutional customers, [they think] that is perfectly acceptable,” he says.

The Governor criticises the “weight put on the importance and value of takeovers” and raises concerns that companies with good reputations have been “destroyed” in the search for short-term profits.

Mr King expresses regret for not sounding a louder warning over his concerns before the last banking crisis.

The Governor’s remarks are a warning to George Osborne, the Chancellor, as a government commission considers whether to force high street banks to sell off their investment banking arms.

Mr Osborne is thought to be against such a plan, but Mr King is due to ultimately become responsible for banking regulation and his views are, therefore, critical.

In the interview, the Bank Governor says: “We allowed a [banking] system to build up which contained the seeds of its own destruction."

We’ve not yet solved the 'too big to fail’ or, as I prefer to call it, the 'too important to fail’ problem."

The concept of being too important to fail should have no place in a market economy.

When asked whether there could be a repeat of the financial crisis, Mr King says: “Yes. The problem is still there. The search for yield goes on. Imbalances are beginning to grow again.

Continue reading - Britain at risk of another financial crisis, Bank of England chief warns

MUST READ! Mervyn King interview: We prevented a Great Depression... but people have the right to be angry

Mervyn King, the Governor of the Bank of England, tells Charles Moore why he shares the public’s disquiet over the need to bail out failing banks.

Before the war,” says Mervyn King, “my father worked on the railways. In the war, he was in the Royal Engineers and helped with the planning of D-Day. After it, he trained on a demobbed soldiers’ programme to become a teacher. He was also a Methodist local preacher. He died only a few weeks ago. At his funeral, I said that he was always a preacher and a teacher – some might say it runs in the family – I am proud of that.” A hint of deep emotion is visible behind the famous thick spectacles.

The Governor of the Bank of England is sitting in his large and elegant office, leaning forward in an austere upright chair that he says is better for his back. All around him are the trappings of his venerable institution. A butler in the Bank’s famous pink coat comes in with a silver coffee pot. But the small, round, soft-spoken man in the chair is not a City grandee, but a teacher, a preacher, an intellectual.

It is 20 years this week since Mr King walked into the Bank, hired as its chief economist. His previous experience had been wholly academic. But “I wanted to see policy-making from the inside”. The year after he arrived, Britain fell out of the Exchange Rate Mechanism, and Mr King’s ideas about inflation-targeting came to the fore. In 1997, on a Bank Holiday, Eddie George the then governor, called him into the office in which we are now sitting to tell him that Gordon Brown would announce Bank independence the following day. “So you can’t leave now, can you?” said Mr George. He couldn’t.

The next year, Mr King became deputy governor. In 2003, he succeeded George. He has seen more “policy-making from the inside” than he could ever have dreamed – “a period of immense historical significance”.

The young Mervyn “really wanted to read cosmology” but could not find the right undergraduate course, so he went up to King’s College, Cambridge, in 1966, as a mathematician, but switched immediately to economics.

He loved Cambridge, but economics was too much “harking back” to Keynes. It was in postgraduate work at Harvard that he “learnt that economics could be a serious discipline”. Being a bright young man, he gave “excessive weight” to economic models. “You feel, 'My models will make a big difference.’ As I get older, I give more weight to history. Alfred Marshall [the founder of Cambridge economics] was absolutely right that you should do the mathematics but then burn the paper and write it down in words.” Maths and models should be “aids to thinking, not substitutes for it”. He thinks people should have remembered that during the financial crisis. Tell me, I say, what a layman should read to understand that great disaster in which we are still embroiled. There are two books, he says. One is Walter Bagehot’s 19th-century classic, Lombard Street, with its “wonderful description of the people who made the money markets work – they’re exactly the same now – and his popularisation of the idea of the lender of last resort”. The other, about the credit crunch itself, is The Big Short by Michael Lewis. It explains, says Mr King, why a few people did not believe that the lending in the US subprime market was going to work but “how difficult it was for them to make the bet they wanted to make and how the great banking machine was all geared to do the opposite”.

Now, the Governor is off on why all this has a moral dimension: “The more I’ve thought about how labour markets work, the more I’ve realised that there are hardly any jobs whose tasks you can describe exactly. Nowadays, most jobs have the property that employees can choose to do them well or badly, so employers need to think about the long-term welfare of the staff not just pay today.” It follows that moral attitude is vital. Industry often understands this well. Nissan in Sunderland asks all its workers for ideas to raise productivity, and, says Mr King, it benefits.

The Governor makes a point of visiting manufacturing and service industries all over the country. Such firms pay far lower rewards than financial services but have “an incredibly successful record. They care deeply about their workforce, about their customers and, above all, are proud of their products”. With the banks, it’s different: “There isn’t that sense of longer-term relationships [hence the demise of the local bank manager]. There’s a different attitude towards customers. Small and medium firms really notice this: they miss the people they know.”

He also thinks that there is “too much weight put on the importance and value of takeovers”. They make short-run profits but “it doesn’t make sense to destroy a company with a reputation”. Since the Big Bang in the late 1980s, Mr King goes on, too many in financial services have thought “if it’s possible to make money out of gullible or unsuspecting customers, particularly institutional customers, that is perfectly acceptable”. Good businesses “keep a clear vision of who their customers are, and are run by people who don’t think they should simply maximise profits next week”. But in the past 25 years, banks have increasingly “taken bets with other people’s money”.

That is bad enough, but it gets much worse “if the rules of the game are that they get bailed out if it all goes wrong”. In this weird atmosphere, banks eventually stopped trusting one another. “Financial services don’t like the word 'casino’, but instruments were created and traded only within the financial community. It was a zero sum game. No one knew which ones were winners when the crisis hit. Everyone became a suspect. Hence, no one would provide liquidity to any of those institutions.”

Continue reading - Mervyn King interview: We prevented a Great Depression... but people have the right to be angry

AT A GLANCE: Central Bankers Warn On Inflation, Global Imbalances


Senior central bankers attending a symposium on monetary policy hosted by the Bank of France in Paris Friday warned on commodities prices, debt levels, currency distortions and trade imbalances. The event came a day after European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet surprised markets with news that the ECB could raise interest rates as early as next month to cap inflation.


The Group of 20 leading world economies are trying for broad agreements on better coordinating regulation to reduce economic and financial risk. China and some other emerging markets are under pressure to revalue their currencies. Central banks, meanwhile, are beginning to shift to a tightening bias in their interest-rate policies, but are wary of stifling economic recovery.


- JEAN-CLAUDE TRICHET, president of the ECB, said current global imbalances are unsustainable and will create future problems for the world economy. He added that more flexible currencies in emerging markets are in everyone's interest. "The present major issue is that the two systems are coexisting," Trichet said.

- HU XIAOLIAN, vice-governor of the People's Bank of China, focused on the need to diversify the global currency system, long dominated by the dollar. An altered form of special drawing rights at the International Monetary Fund--which are based on a basket of currencies--could be used as an international reserve currency. "It has a potential role to play as an international reserve asset," Hu said.

- CHOONGSOO KIM, governor of the Bank of Korea, said the likelihood of a new financial crisis has increased as regulators struggle to keep up with innovations in financial markets, which seem to be one step ahead of new rules. "We must admit the very strong possibility that we may still not pick up on newly emerging risks in a timely fashion," he said.

- LORENZO BINI SMAGHI of the ECB waved off suggestions that policy makers should focus only on "core" inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy prices. "Keeping the policy interest rate unchanged while headline inflation rises--even if core inflation remains unchanged--implies de facto allowing for the monetary stance to become more accommodative," Bini Smaghi said

- AXEL WEBER of the ECB criticized use of undervalued currencies to gain unfair advantage in global markets. "These countries need to put a lot of effort into areas outside of exporting," in particular stimulating domestic demand. "Global imbalances are here to stay. They will grow again and they will remain uncomfortably large," Weber said.

- MARIO DRAGHI of the ECB saw need for a complete reform of the international financial system and tools to spot and deal with major, systemic risks to the financial system. Over-the-counter derivatives and accounting rules for financial institutions are among areas of regulation that need more attention, he said.

- ATHANASIOS ORPHANIDES of the ECB said central banks should remain focused on safeguarding price stability and not try to manage economic growth. "With the spike in energy prices, we are determined to act decisively to ensure inflation expectations remained anchored," Orphanides said.

- CHRISTIAN NOYER of the ECB said policy makers must design a monetary system better able to manage global liquidity flows. "The issue of the appropriate level for the supply of safe and liquid international assets, and the international monetary and financial system best able to provide this, has yet to be resolved," he said.

Continue reading - WSJ - AT A GLANCE: Central Bankers Warn On Inflation, Global Imbalances

SAUDI ARABIA REVOLT - Saudi Arabian Uprisings

This is the beginning of Saudi Arabian Revolution. Big storm ahead on March 11 & 20!

مظاهرات الاحساء احتجاجا على احتجاز الشيخ توفيق العامر

جمعة الحشد 1 مظاهرات مسجد الراجحي 4 مارس Saudi Arabia Revolution

UPDATE - Saudi Arabia drafts in up to 10,000 troops ahead of protests

Saudi Arabia is drafting in up to 10,000 security forces to the north eastern Muslim Shia provinces ahead of mass protests planned next week.

Desperate to avoid mass uprisings against the House of Saud, security forces have deployed in huge numbers across the region.

King Abdullah is also reported to have told neighbouring Bahrain that if they do not put down their own ongoing Shia revolt, his own forces will.

In response to the massive mobilisation, protesters are planning to place women on the front ranks to discourage Saudi forces from firing on them.

In Yemen, President Ali Abdullah Saleh set off a deadly battle for survival last night as he rejected an opposition peace proposal and ordered troops to fire on demonstrators, killing four. Efforts to suppress demonstrations by the key ally in the “war on terror” could jeopardise rising volumes of Western aid flooding into the country, diplomats warned.

President Saleh rejected an opposition proposal that would have brought demonstrations to a standstill in return for a promise to step down by the end of the year. Yemeni troops used rockets and machineguns to attack demonstrators in the north of the country, killing four and injuring nine.

Continue reading - Saudi Arabia drafts in up to 10,000 troops ahead of protests

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Ron Paul Asks Ben Bernanke: How Do You Define a Dollar?

What is money? This question might sound a little deep for Congress, but the topic was discussed today in a hearing on monetary policy. Its only witness was Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. He endured a second day of questioning after testifying before the Senate on the same topic on Tuesday. But House members often pose more interesting questions, and due to his distaste for the Fed, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) tends to ask some of the best with Bernanke is in the hot seat. He wanted to know how Bernanke would define a dollar.

Those who follow politics probably know that Ron Paul staunchly opposes the Fed's control of money supply and argues that a gold standard would result in a more stable economy. It's quite easy to define a dollar in gold standard -- it's simply equivalent to some quantity of gold. In a system of paper money, where a central bank regulates monetary supply, however, the definition isn't as straightforward.

So after Paul used most of his time to voice his concerns about the general philosophy of inflationary monetary policy and his preference for a gold standard, he asked Bernanke for his definition of a dollar. Bernanke responded:

"My definition of the dollar is what it can buy. Consumers don't want to buy gold; they want to buy food, and gasoline, and clothes and all the other things that are in the consumer basket. It is the buying power of the dollar in terms of those goods and services that is what is important, and that's what I call price stability."

To draw the analogy, under a gold standard a dollar is defined by how much gold it can buy. In the absence of a gold standard in the U.S., a dollar is defined by some quantity of goods within the basket used to determine consumer inflation.

This really isn't exactly right, however. Paul's question really deserves a more thoughtful response. The dollar isn't simply pegged to a basket of goods like it would be to gold under a gold standard. Instead, some low rate of inflation is targeted by the central bank, which is managed by considering the prices of goods in that basket.

The difference here is subtle but important. Under inflationary monetary policy, the dollar becomes worth less and less. So its value relative to that basket of goods is constantly changing. Its definition is a moving target.

To imagine a simplistic example, let's say our basket of goods consisted of apples, oranges, pears, and bananas. And let's say that they're all weighted equally. Let's also assume inflation is targeted to be 2% per year. Over the course of the year, let's say $200 can buy you 50 of each of the four fruits in the basket of goods. At year's end, that same $200 can only buy about 49 of each of those goods. So the amount of stuff in the basket has changed. The definition of $200 moved from 50 apples, oranges, pears, and bananas to 49 apples, oranges, pears, and bananas.

Compare that to a gold standard. Let's say at the beginning of the year, the price of gold is $1,000 per ounce. That's the same as saying that a dollar is worth one one-thousandth (1/1000) of an ounce of gold. At year's end, you can still buy the same amount of gold with your dollar, unless the definition has been changed by policymakers. It is possible, however, that you may be able to buy additional or fewer goods and services with that dollar, depending on how other factors in the economy have changed.

So Bernanke's definition of a dollar is constantly moving, while Paul's would be static. Which framework is better is a far more complicated and controversial question. We'll leave that for another time, but both methodologies have pros and cons.

*The REAL definition of dollar, however, according to the Modern Money Mechanics (Page 2) published by Federal Reserve, is this -

"In the United States neither paper currency nor deposits have value as commodities. Intrinsically, a dollar bill is just a piece of paper, deposits merely book entries. Coins do have some intrinsic value as metal, but generally far less than their face value. What, then, makes these instruments - checks, paper money, and coins - acceptable at face value in payment of all debts and for other monetary uses? Mainly, it is the "confidence" people have that they will be able to exchange such money for other financial assets and for real goods and services whenever they choose to do so."

Continue reading - Ron Paul Asks Ben Bernanke: How Do You Define a Dollar?

Ron Paul To Ben Bernanke "I Want A Definition Of Money!"

Fed Treasury Purchases `Monetizing Debt,' May Spur Inflation, Hoenig Says

Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City President Thomas Hoenig said the central bank is “monetizing debt” with its purchases of U.S. Treasuries, a program that he says may spur inflation.

Yes, we are monetizing debt,” Hoenig said today in a speech in New York. “You buy bonds and you monetize debt. Right now, a lot of that is going into excess reserves so it is not having an immediate effect on inflation. It will initiate inflationary impulses. It takes time.

Hoenig, the lone dissenter from every Fed meeting last year, warned that the central bank’s near-zero interest rates and record monetary stimulus could lead to asset price bubbles and increase inflation in a few years. He voted against the Fed’s plan to purchase $600 billion in U.S. Treasury securities through June during the final two meetings of 2010.

Hoenig told the Council on Foreign Relations the Fed needs to explain how it plans to reduce its record $2.54 trillion balance sheet. While he would avoid “shock therapy” of selling assets all at once, “we want to begin to show how we will withdraw that.”

Policy makers were divided over whether further evidence of a strengthening recovery would warrant slowing or reducing the $600 billion of purchases, according to minutes of their January meeting.

Continue reading - Bloomberg - Fed Treasury Purchases `Monetizing Debt,' May Spur Inflation, Hoenig Says

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Madoff Tapes

Bernard L. Madoff is in therapy. Each week, he waits for the signal that prisoners are allowed to leave their housing units, then he walks the five minutes from his “room,” as he calls it, to the psychiatric unit at the Federal Correctional Institution in Butner, North Carolina, where he can unburden himself. The sessions are often teary.

“How could I have done this?” he asks. “I was making a lot of money. I didn’t need the money. [Am I] a flawed character?”

In some ways, Madoff has not tried to evade blame. He has made a full confession, telling me again and again that nothing justifies what he did. And yet, for Madoff, that doesn’t settle the matter. He feels misunderstood. He can’t bear the thought that people think he’s evil. “I’m not the kind of person I’m being portrayed as,” he told me.

And so, sitting alone with his therapist, in the prison khakis he irons himself, he seeks reassurance. “Everybody on the outside kept claiming I was a sociopath,” Madoff told her one day. “I asked her, ‘Am I a sociopath?’ ” He waited expectantly, his eyelids squeezing open and shut, that famous tic. “She said, ‘You’re absolutely not a sociopath. You have morals. You have remorse.’ ” Madoff paused as he related this. His voice settled. He said to me, “I am a good person.”

There aren’t many who would agree. For most of the world, Bernie Madoff is a monster; he betrayed thousands of investors, bankrupted charities and hedge funds. On paper, his Ponzi scheme lost nearly $65 billion; the effects spread across five continents. And he brought down his own family with him, a more intimate kind of betrayal.

Madoff, 72, is in prison with a sentence of 150 years, which seems more than just, given the enormity of his crime. Though the financial damage continues, prison seemed to conclude Madoff’s part of the story. Then, on the second anniversary of Madoff’s arrest, his son Mark, age 46, slipped a vacuum-cleaner cord over a pipe on the living-room ceiling of his Soho loft and tried to hang himself. When it broke, he tried again with a dog’s leash, and succeeded. This was the kind of cosmic retribution that might have been exacted in the House of Atreus, the suicide an accusation of a vast betrayal. It seemed a death designed to hurt the living—even a monster’s conscience must be moved by such a demonstration. After all, before he was exposed as a fraud, Madoff had been a family man.

After Mark’s suicide, I became interested in this most tragic of families and the elemental forces that had torn them apart. And so I began calling everyone connected to the business and the family. Soon a picture began to emerge. Madoff’s youngest son, Andrew, harder-edged and less prone to self-doubt than his brother, had been protected by his anger at his father’s betrayal. Mark’s rage consumed and overran him. Neither would speak to their father, even if their lawyers had permitted it. Their mother, Ruth, had to choose between her husband and her sons. She had chosen her husband of five decades—though after Mark’s suicide, she too no longer speaks to Madoff. After the death, Ruth rushed from her apartment in Florida—but wasn’t at the memorial service at his widow’s house. Most of the family didn’t want her there. Mark’s widow still won’t let her visit Mark’s two young children. Andrew, who hasn’t spoken to his father since December 10, 2008, the day Madoff confessed, is still largely estranged from his mother and distant from his brother’s widow, Stephanie. As he tells friends, his rage at his father, far from dissipating, has metastasized. To friends, he’d described his father as a bully and a gifted manipulator. Madoff was a family man, yes, but to Andrew, that was yet another manifestation of his narcissism. The family served the needs of Bernard L. Madoff.

And so I was left where I’d started: with the black hole at the center of this exploding galaxy, its destructive waves still radiating outward. I tried to reach Madoff multiple times. But the Bureau of Prisons intercepted and returned my letters. Requests through his lawyer were met with polite refusal.

Eventually I came across an unusual inmate named Robert Rosso, who is serving a life sentence for a drug offense and is one of Madoff’s new friends. In recent years, he’d turned writer—he’d even interviewed Madoff himself. (For more on Rosso, see here.) As a favor, he agreed to pass Madoff a letter from me.

Then one evening a few weeks ago, my home phone rang. “You have a collect call from Bernard Madoff, an inmate at a federal prison,” a recorded message announced. Out of nowhere, there was that accent, familiar to anyone who’s visited Queens. Madoff apologized for calling collect. “I don’t have that much money in my commissary account,” he told me, before starting on a remarkable conversation that would stretch to several hours in more than a dozen phone calls. This being Bernie Madoff, in dollar terms the greatest criminal in history, I didn’t know what to believe. But I listened.

Continue reading - An Interview With Bernie Madoff