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The post-Lehman world – TN Ninan

The British were palpably relieved when India joined the Commonwealth

The British were palpably relieved when India joined the Commonwealth

Martin Wolf, of the Financial Times, refers to India and China as “premature superpowers”, countries that have low living standards but huge economies. Premature or not, he suggests that Britain should give up its permanent seat in the Security Council to India. That is not about to happen, but Wen Jiabao’s defence of the indefensible, namely China’s currency policy, underlines the ineffectiveness of American pressure on the rising power, even as an article in the current issue of Foreign Affairs debates how to deal with a post-nuclear Iran thus looking forward to the US failure to prevent such a denouement. Even more abject is America’s apparent willingness to let Pakistan and the Taliban take over Afghanistan, after having fought a war for over eight years to prevent just such an outcome. (via T N Ninan: The post-Lehman world).

Western stamp of approval

Martin Wolf’s recent post on India would endear him to the FEW (Fragile Egos of Westernized) Urban Indians. He has suggested that India should replace Britain in the UN Security Council.

To the ears of the FEW Urban Indians, whose self-esteem depends on Western approval, Martin Wolf’s words are music. My feeling is that we will hear about this in India for the next 5-15 years. The Urban FEW will see Martin Wolf’s endorsement as vindication of India’s ‘greatness’. It will soon be picked up on the Internet, endlessly tweeted and much chest-thumping will happen.

The context

Should the EU 'win' or 'lose' members?

Should the EU 'win' or 'lose' members?

Without seeing if the UN itself will last or survive. After this Great Recession, will Western and related economies do a double-dip? With the West in debt and with the sword of inflation hanging over their heads, who will exactly fund the UN? (No, I can’t see the logic of India funding the UN – assuming it has the means).

Will the UN last for as long, as it will take India to get this Security Council seat. Will a permanent seat at the Security Council be of any use in a world where the UN will become increasing irrelevant? These dubious clubs depend on victims to approve and finance their own slaughter – and these memberships don’t appeal to India.

Many decades ago, India helped sustain the illusion of British super-power by joining the Commonwealth. Will India rush in to join the OECD? Will India expend energy, goodwill and influence to get a seat at this ‘high table’ – which Manmohan Singh has set his heart on?

I wonder how many Indian newspapers and media houses will flock to Martin Wolf after this post – with lucrative syndication deals?

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Naked short sales hint fraud in bringing down Lehman

The biggest bankruptcy in history might have been avoided if Wall Street had been prevented from practicing one of its darkest arts.

As Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc struggled to survive last year, as many as 32.8 million shares in the company were sold and not delivered to buyers on time as of September 11, according to data compiled by the Securities and Exchange Commission and Bloomberg. That was a more than 57-fold increase over the prior year’s peak of 567,518 failed trades on July 30.

The SEC has linked such so-called fails-to-deliver to naked short selling, a strategy that can be used to manipulate markets. A fail-to-deliver is a trade that doesn’t settle within three days.

“We had another word for this in Brooklyn,” said Harvey Pitt, a former SEC chairman. “The word was ‘fraud.’” (via Naked short sales hint fraud in bringing down Lehman).

This is very similar to Joseph Kennedy’s shorting the market before The Great Depression. It has always been a wonder to me how could Joseph Kennedy, a bootlegger and a friend of the mafiosi could become SEC Chairman? And after that did happen, would a Great Depression not follow?

It was always 2ndlook’s suspicion that Hank Paulson’s behaviour in the Lehman collapse is similar to Bootlegger Kennedy’s behaviour. And this now coming out all in the open!!

JPMorgan blamed for Lehman collapse

US bank JPMorgan Chase stands accused of precipitating the collapse of American investment bank Lehman Brothers by freezing Lehman assets days before it filed for bankruptcy protection, the Sunday Times reported. (via JPMorgan blamed for Lehman collapse).

After 60 Days

Paulson needs a new job!

Was the collapse of Lehman a deal for a job with Goldman – or was it JP Chase?

Categories: Uncategorized

MF Husain was Hindu

July 3, 2011 3 comments
M. F. Hussain gets Qatar nationality announces the editor of Hindu - N. Ram (Image courtesy - hindu.com). Click for larger image

M. F. Hussain gets Qatar nationality announces the editor of Hindu - N. Ram (Image courtesy - hindu.com). Click for larger image

Says Pritish Nandy

Maqbool Fida Hussain never said ‘I am a ‘Hindu”. Yet, Pritish Nandy insists on claiming Hussain for ‘Hinduism’. But then, Pritish Nandy for one is not a ‘Hindu’ – in mind, spirit or thought.

Not, if he cannot understand, that what Pritish Nandy calls ‘Hinduism’ does not require everyone to go by One book, belong to One Faith, worship One god or believe in any One thing. ‘Hinduism’ would have been absolutely comfortable with MF Hussain being a Muslim. And everyone includes Maqbool Fida Hussain also.

‘Hinduism’ does not believe or accept that it  is ‘superior’ or ‘inferior’ to any other body of belief. The only one thing that ‘Hinduism’ does not accept is अधर्म adharma. Injustice to any man.

Everything else goes.

‘Hinduism’ is public property

At this point here, Farrukh Dhondy joins the debate. Dhondy implies ‘Hinduism’ is public property. MF Hussain has a perfect right to do whatever he wants with ‘Hinduism’ – believes our Mr.Dhondy.

When Mother Teresa became an object of media-adulation, Hussain turned to Moter Teresa. (Image courtesy - indiatimes.com.) Click for larger image.

When Mother Teresa became an object of media-adulation, Hussain turned to Moter Teresa. (Image courtesy - indiatimes.com.) Click for larger image.

The Hindus don’t have a single book and certainly not one that sanctions attacks for depicting one or the other goddess and using an imaginary or live model’s form and features to do it. Those who hounded MF were barking up the wrong walking stick.

It has happened before. Raja Ravi Verma was castigated, mobbed and prosecuted for using his mistress as a model for paintings of Hindu goddesses and heroines from the epics. Ketan Mehta’s film may shed some light on how and why a notion of heresy invaded the beliefs of Hinduism.  Hinduism, should be free from such an idea.

The demolition of the temple of Somnath may be seen as insults and affronts to the communities that built them and worshipped there but not in any sense is it heresy. Breaking icons is certainly insulting. But surely MF Husain was making them? (via Indian idol maker – Hindustan Times; parts excised for brevity).

Logically, Dhondy must understand that all idol-breaking or form-distortion can happen only at ‘Hindu’ sufferance – or tolerance, if you wish. ‘Hindu’ intellectual capital is available – at no cost.

To subscribers only.

23-May After Mamata Banerjee’s victory in West Bengal assembly elections, MF Hussain sent a sketch to Hindustan Times. (Image courtesy - hindustantimes.com). Click for larger image.

23-May After Mamata Banerjee’s victory in West Bengal assembly elections, MF Hussain sent a sketch to Hindustan Times. (Image courtesy - hindustantimes.com). Click for larger image.

No ‘free’ lunch at ‘Hindu’ expense

I don’t subscribe to FT.com. I don’t talk-up, talk-down, talk-about FT.com. FT.com does not want me. Separate ways. Good for both of us.

Same thing with ‘Hinduism’, I thought.

Without being a subscriber to ‘Hinduism’, others can use, accept ‘Hindu’ ideas, concepts, standards, clearly at ‘Hindu’ sufferance. Especially if an ‘artist’ wishes to make commercial profit by using ‘Hindu’ capital. Maqbool Fida Hussain wants to combine ‘Hindu’ sufferance, (or tolerance, maybe broad-mindedness), with Islāmic sensitivity (blasphemy, no idols and portraits), for his personal gain.

Hussain painted freely and frankly – nude goddesses, dark monks, rib-lined horses, elephants playing veenas, nations in distress – in canvases executed with style and showmanship, spreading artistic excitement across society.

But never an Islāmic theme – unless you want to count Meenaxi as an Islāmic theme! Why?

Now, Maqbool Fida Hussain used and adopted Islāmic standards, when it came to Islām. He should have stayed with Islāmic standards. Don’t portray any gods and goddesses.

MF Hussain sketches Madhuri Dixit from the film - Dil to Pagal Hai.

MF Hussain sketches Madhuri Dixit from the film - Dil to Pagal Hai.

Even Maqbool Fida Hussain cannot be chalk and cheese.

Everything to everyone

Maqbool Fida Hussain rode on the coat tails of  every media-star to gain publicity for himself. Vijay Tendulkar to Madhuri Dixit, Anushka Sharma to Mother Teresa. From Prabhu Deva to MS Subbalakshmi. He quickly made out a silly painting of Mamta Banerji’s election victory in Bengal – to keep himself in media-focus.

Maqbool Fida Hussain has always blown in whichever direction, the wind blows. He tried to be an admirer of playwright Tendulkar (and Sakharam Binder) when Vijay Tendulkar was bigger than Sachin Tendulkar – and supported Indira Gandhi’s Emergency when she was in power. Nandyभाई, Maqbool Fida Hussain cannot be ‘Hindu’ in spirit – and admire Mother Teresa’s blatant superior ‘Christian conversion’ therapy for  inferior ‘Hindus’.

Year - 2006; Bharatmata (Mother India) as a nude woman displayed at an exhibition by Nafisa Ali - an actress-turned-social-worker. (Image courtesy - indiatimes.com). Click for larger image.

Year - 2006; Bharatmata (Mother India) as a nude woman displayed at an exhibition by Nafisa Ali - an actress-turned-social-worker. (Image courtesy - indiatimes.com). Click for larger image.

Did I miss MF Hussain standing up for artistic freedom of the Prophet Mohammed cartoonist – or oppose Sarkozy’s hijab ban? Not a word in support of Salman Rushdie? Or why his ‘voluntary’ restraint from subjects that Islam forbids – which was Maqbool Fida Hussain’s own religion?

Did I see a single painting by Maqbool Fida Hussain on Muslim themes – maybe a Battle of Karbala, or Prophet Mohammed’s return to Mecca? Why is it that he wanted all his ‘freedom’ to caricature भारत माता Bharat-mata (Mother India) and ‘teen-deviyaan’?

In India, against ‘Hindus’?

In Qatar he found freedom

Maqbool Fida Hussain, in the same breath, cannot admire भारत माता Bharat-mata, take Qatari citizenship, and in death prefer to be buried in London (actually just outside London). By these actions, Maqbool Fida Hussain proved that all his claims of ‘artistic’ integrity and ‘artistic’ freedom were that much hot air. India lost nothing. It was for Maqbool Fida Hussian to decide if he was losing anything, by going away from भारत माता Bharat-mata.

Maqbool Fida Hussain choice of Qatar as his new country of residence, would not have given him more freedom. Qatar (pop. 3,00,000 lakhs approx.) is slightly larger than Maqbool Fida Hussain’s hometown of Pandharpur (pop. 1,00,000 approx.) but has a GDP which is 10% of India’s GDP – anchored to oil earnings. Did he raise his voice against Qatar’s support to Saudi Arabian troops sent to crush dissent in Bahrain? Or against the forced deportation by Qatar, of Libyan dissident, Eman al-Obeidi – back to Benghazi, Libya?

Picasso’s Art & Practices

Picasso’s (1881-1973) greatest skill was in his self publicity and the way the prices for his paintings were managed. This publicity and price manipulation operation was initially managed by promoters like André Level of the La Peau de l’Ours Art Club (Skin of the Bear group) – for a 20% cut to the artist. Picasso dealt with a number of agents initially – but mainly, Clovis Sagot, Ambroise Vollard, Wilhelm Uhde and Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler.

Later this promotions were managed by Picasso himself and Paul Rosenberg, his chief agent and a close cabal of people who used media effectively. First among 20th century artists, ‘Picasso was a gifted self-publicist who knew the rules of media manipulation. He openly encouraged a few hand-picked photographers to inhabit the house and studio.’

Family of Saltimbanques |  Pablo Picasso  |  1905 |  Chester Dale Collection 1963.10.190   | Image courtesy - Copyright © 2011 National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC  | Click for larger image.

Family of Saltimbanques | Pablo Picasso | 1905 | Chester Dale Collection 1963.10.190 | Image courtesy - Copyright © 2011 National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC | Click for larger image.

He fairly flattened journalists by the display of his wealth and connections. Nearly forty years later, Christian Zervos, an art historian and writer, recalls Picasso’s wealth, kept in the vaults of Banque de France. After the Great Depression, when many great fortunes in Europe and USA, had been wiped out, Picassos wealth was in ‘packages, piled one atop another to the height, say, of Picasso . . . And do you know what there was inside? Banknotes! Yes, sir, banknotes, the largest denomination that existed in France then, which was enormous.’

Picasso was an ‘extremely rich and famous man who came pretty near to doing whatever he wanted. The Picasso of the 1920s could charm the king of Spain, mesmerise Proust, shrug off Hemingway. He was news wherever he appeared.’ He could switch between various styles – and painted in ‘Neoclassical styles’ to attract “the patronage of aristocratic circles he encountered through his friendships with two impresarios, the poet Jean Cocteau and Eugenia Errazuriz, a woman of great taste and social prestige.’

Not above making compromises between cubism and surrealism, as his buyers and patrons wanted, he rarely gave press conferences. Instead he plied impresarios, journalists with his socializing, and with his ‘uncanny party trick of drawing a portrait upside-down while sitting opposite its subject so that, as the drawing unfolded, it would appear right-side-up to his inevitably amused subject.’ Hundreds of these Picasso drawings and sketches are scattered across Europe and USA, which he gave way for free.

Femme aux cheveux jaunes, December 1931 | From the Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society, New York/Gagosian Gallery | Image courtesy - online.wsj.com | Click for larger image.

Femme aux cheveux jaunes, December 1931 | From the Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society, New York/Gagosian Gallery | Image courtesy - online.wsj.com | Click for larger image.

In this he was ably assisted by the presence of his ballerina wife, Olga Khokhlova, a pretty ballerina from St Petersburg, with Diaghlieff’s ballet company, and his agent Paul Rosenberg.

Paul Rosenburg (also an agent of Georges Braque and Henri Matisse) left behind a huge fortune in paintings. Even after losing a vast number of these paintings to the Nazis. Through his son, Alexandre, Paul Rosenberg is the grandfather-in-law of one-time IMF chief, Dominique Strauss Kahn. Picasso’s other significant agents were Ambroise Vollard, Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, Leonce Rosenberg, and Georges Wildenstein.

Picasso’s mistress of eight years, Marie-Thérèse Walter (who he met at a Paris Metro station) and his wife were also the subject of his many paintings. In recent times, Picasso has even been compared to Princess Diana for his self-publicity. The many women in Picasso’s life added a patina of glamour that many of his competitors lacked.

The French artist Fernande Olivier, as model and muse, bridged Picasso’s Rose Period to Cubism. Miss Khokhlova, in the 1920s, stirred his return to Neo-classicism. The photographer Dora Maar documented and inspired Picasso’s involvement with the Spanish Civil War, including “Guernica” (1937). And the painter and author Françoise Gilot was his chief consort during his postwar period. From 1953 until Picasso’s death, at age 92 in 1973, Jacqueline Roque attended the artist during his ferocious, erotic and peace-loving late phase, in which “Hippie” Picasso, anticipating 1980s Neo-Expressionism, reimagined the Old Masters.

Now, as for paying off the critics, do it. Yes, as much as some critics pretend to not be on the take, they are — in some way or another. The best art critics accepted gifts: Clement Greenberg, Harold Rosenberg. Artists frequently offer me a gift after I’ve written them up. I just take it. I feel I’d insult them or be condescending and inhuman if I said something like, “It’s my policy not to accept gifts.” Lighten up. We’re all in the family.

So be generous in giving gifts, but beware of the greedy opportunists who expect a gift without having the intention of reciprocating, like people attending your openings who ask for a “quick sketch” instead of just an autograph. If you do one, they’ll all line up expecting a freebie. With other artists, it’s best to do straightforward trades instead of gifts. And with friends outside the art world, wait for their birthday or Christmas. (via artnet.com Magazine Features – Ask Mark Kostabi).

Leave alone Prophet Mohammed’s portrait, could he have done a Battle of Karbala painting in Qatar?

Money made him contemptuous of India – and Indians

Maqbool Fida Hussain’s disregard of Indian judicial norms antagonized the courts. His refusal to acknowledge his ‘unwarranted’ liberties with ‘Hinduism’, precipitated matters. A simple statement that he will ‘explore’ ‘Hindu’ themes within norms would have been enough. His arrogant and rough shod dismissal of ‘Hindu’ sentiment, gave an opening to right-wing ‘Hindu’ sentiment.

No double-standards. The simple point that the ‘Hindu’ Brigade wanted. Usually this hunting with hounds and running with hares is called hypocrisy.

Though no one ever accused MF Hussain of being a hypocrite.

Gobbling publicity like Pac-man

Maqbool Fida Hussain never evolved from being a hoardings painter. Except when it came to publicity. His dual standards, his blatant contradictions would have easily made him an object of ridicule. Instead he managed respect and consideration. To manage this amount of media attention, Government attention – even international attention, surely, is some evolution. For one single man.

Maqbool Fida Hussain was finally a gargantuan machine that consumed huge amounts of media attention. His ‘artistic’ talents were surely hugely surpassed by his media management. This publicity and MF Hussain strutting his commercial exploitation of ‘Hindu’ constructs provoked the ‘Hindu’ Brigade’s backlash. His cars, or the striptease that he organized on his birthday (some 25 years ago), reeked of ostentation. Private displays of wealth in India will not arouse reaction. But such ceaseless publicity-seeking …

No wonder people called him India’s Picasso.

Reaction on Ground Zero

Indian Muslims have ignored this issue of ‘artistic freedom’ for ‘Muslims’ at ‘Hindu’ expense. But Indian liberal-progressives, steeped in Western polity, see confrontation and conflict as the answer to such ‘artistic’ restrictions.

Negotiated ‘freedom’ as in भारत-तंत्र Bharat-tantra, is seen as a cop-out.

Related articles

Even God can’t help you (Corruption-II)

February 24, 2011 3 comments
Cartoon by Ninan; courtesy - virup.wordpress.com

Cartoon by Ninan; courtesy – virup.wordpress.com

Not like that in ‘foreign countries

Jagdish Bhagwati, a wannabe-Nobel Prize-ee, declares, that unlike India,”In America, if you are caught, even God can’t help you’.

The world’s largest prison population will testify to Bhagwati’s assertion.

The biggest scams on earth, in the USA, will also confirm that sending minions to jail does not get rid of crime or corruption. Corruption is an ‘India only’ phenomenon, rests on a basic assumption that  ‘foreign countries’ are better. Bhagwati leads the charge on this front.

Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel Prize winning economist (2001) implies that all governments can be bought – but then he goes further. Stiglitz claims the ‘US has the best democratic government money can buy!’ In the august company of Jagdish Bhagwati are The New Chatteratti. Like Chetan Bhagat, who believe during the British Raj, nothing like corruption could have existed. They dive deeper.

the United States values wealth, competition, individualism and religion. These are pretty much core to the essence of American society and culture.

However, ask someone to articulate Indian community values, and there won’t be a clear answer. Do we value wealth or education? Do we value democracy where people have a greater say in how they are governed, or do we believe in power in the hands of a select few to whom the laws don’t apply? Do we value honesty, or do we value getting a job done anyhow? Do we believe in frugality, or do we want to show off our wealth? Do we value our local communities, or do we value being part of India?

There are conflicting responses to any of these questions in the India … I call it confusion. Values cannot be unpredictable, they are consistent. The past decade was spent by Indian society in a muddled set of values. A clear set of values … a lack of good values is why scams happen, nepotism exists and the government doesn’t care about its people.

The reason there is no concrete set of Indian values yet is that the concept of India itself is new. Just over six decades ago, there was no India. We had a collection of princely states, with kings and queens, which the British ruled at gunpoint. When the latter left, we loosely stitched these together, cut off a large chunk with partition and labelled the result India. (Read more: Adding values to life – The Times of India; parts excised for brevity).

It all boils down to a belief in ‘character-less Indians’. It’s not just Chetan Bhagat or Jagdish Bhgwati. Sharmila Tagore thinks that Indians are sexual deviants, lechers. Dipankar Gupta has a different take – Indians are ill-mannered. Of course, all these cognoscenti of Indian character are better than Indians – and also think that ‘foreigners’ are better!

Dirty, rotten, brown Indians!

In a manner of speaking, some Indians continue to live with a poor self image – the vacuum of self-esteem that that these worthies reflect so well. Our political leadership, fortunately, does not quite believe that they are the only corrupt ones. They should know better.

It was in response to Nobel economist Gunnar Myrdal’s famous observations on corruption in India in his three-volume tome, Asian Drama, that Indira Gandhi famously observed that “corruption is a global phenomenon”.(Sanjaya Baru: Corruption and development)

Some 10 years later,

In 1985, Rajiv Gandhi on his first foreign tour as prime minister (at) one of his press conferences was asked if civil servants in India were paid so low that corruption in government had become a big problem. “We have no evidence from the western countries that higher pay for civil servants has completely removed corruption there,” Mr Gandhi said. (parts excized; text in parenthesis supplied; A K Bhattacharya: Look afresh at cooling-off rules).

A multi-author study on international commerce and was more balanced

Despite popular belief, corrupt practices are not a developing country’s problem. It is global and affects both the developed and the developing … In a recent news item from the WBI published in April 2004 the cost of corruption in both rich and developing countries is estimated at $1000 billion ($1 trillion) a year. (from Issues in international commercial law By Iwan Davies).

A former Home Secretary, during the demolition of Babri Masjid, was Madhav Godbole. He writes in his book,

In line with Indira Gandhi’s famous remark, “corruption is a global phenomenon,” one could say that motivated campaigning through the media is also a global phenomenon (from Unfinished innings: recollections and reflections of a civil servant By Madhav Godbole).

Looking far … and further

Was the Lockheed Scandal more egregious than the Harshad Mehta Scam? Was Watergate more dangerous than The Lewinsky Affair? Of course, there were many other scandals – bigger or less famous. Emperor Bokassa’s diamonds to Valery Giscard d’Estaing. Hardly anyone remembers Valery Giscard d’Estaing and Bokassa’s diamonds. Or how Margaret Thatcher used her official position to obtain a Saudi arms deal for her son, Sir Mark Thatcher, which reputedly netted £12m (around US$17m). Mark Thatcher ‘coup’ shenanigans in oil-rich Equatorial Guinea.

Between WWI and WWII, many questions were raised in the British Parliament- and outside about Neville Chamberlain’s holdings in ICI, shares estimated at 11000. His son, Francis Chamberlain, had joined the Kynoch Works an old firm with which the Chamberlain family was associated. As also with BSA Company (Birmingham Small Arms) in which he was a director.

Joe Kennedy Cartoon| LIFE | 25 Jan 1963

Joe Kennedy Cartoon| LIFE | 25 Jan 1963

Joseph Kennedy, whose ‘career’ in Hollywood (after taking over a company by deceit), Wall Street, (he short-sold all his  shares just before the October Crash that set of the Great Depression), bootlegging (in partnership with the mafia), was second to none. His son – the President, John F.Kennedy. But don’t ask Americans about the son of bootlegger who flouted the US Constitution many times – John F.Kennedy. After JFK’s killing, 60 years on, there are many suspects who had motives. Mafia tops this list.

It has always been a source of wonder to me how could Joseph Kennedy, a bootlegger and a friend of the mafiosi become SEC Chairman? And after that, could the Great Depression not drag on? It was always 2ndlook’s suspicion that Hank Paulson’s behaviour in the Lehman collapse is similar to Bootlegger Kennedy’s behaviour. And this now coming out all in the open!! This is very similar to Joseph Kennedy’s shorting the market before The Great Depression.

Joseph Kennedy got his leg up by funding the presidential campaign of Roosevelt – whose own family made their money from opium trade in China. For Kennedy’s support, Roosevelt rewarded Kennedy with appointment as Head of SEC (1934) and as US ambassador to Britain (1938). An interesting book traces the Great Depression to a clique of 40 bankers and politicians – including Kennedy, Churchill, Bernard M. Baruch etc. Jack Churchill, Winston Churchill’s brother, ‘airbrushed out of history’, had some role.

In a democracy, people have choice!

In a democracy, people have choice!

Jack Churchill emerges from this fascinating book as an engaging and honourable man who dealt well with the mixed blessing of having a very great man as an elder brother. He was a constant support to Winston, and was able to shield the family from some of the worst effects of the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and the ensuing Great Depression, although Winston never referred publicly to this.

More recently, we had the internet media agog with Dick Cheney and his misdeeds. His attempts to bribe Nigerian officials resulted in settlement offer of US$250m. (Finally, Dick Cheney seems to have got away. Was that with or without God’s help, Professor Bhagwati.).

Corruption and conspiracy

But all this is not corruption. These are conspiracy theories. In India, conspiracy theories become corruption. In the Great Land of USA, and much of the West, corruption is a Conspiracy Theory. Initially difficult to understand, but corruption-as-conspiracy has a simple explanation.

To understand this, we will have to go to Singapore. Where anything you say, write, print, about the rich and the powerful (called slander, libel and defamation). These are laws made for the ‘safety’ and ‘protection’ of the rich and powerful. A conviction will set you back by a few millions of dollars, euros, francs, pounds, et al. Unless you have rock-solid evidence.

Something that does not happen in India at all. Indian courts and jurisprudence, put very little value on  slander, libel and defamation. Indian media gets the rub-of-the green. But more on that in my next post.

So, Shri Bhagat, Bhagwati & Co., before you leap, fly, dive, jump, run to conclusions about us ‘backward’ Indians, let me tell you something. While you stay with us, we would appreciate some civility. You do know that India’s doors are wide open. You can leave. Leave us backward Indians behind.

I promise, we wont miss you.

PS

Corrupt border guards are not unique to India’s borders.

Europe’s Probable Fall

November 22, 2010 27 comments

 

Europe's Titanic ego problem - May 10, 2010, at 06.27 PM (Cartoonist-Cam Cardow, copyright 2010 Cagle Cartoons; courtesy - theweek.com.). Click for larger image.

Europe's Titanic ego problem - May 10, 2010, at 06.27 PM (Cartoonist-Cam Cardow, copyright 2010 Cagle Cartoons; courtesy - caglecartoons.com.). Click for larger image.

The success of Europe is considerable, but must not be exaggerated. There are still problems, including poverty to cite only one example, several million children in the UK suffer from malnutrition. While Europe has succeeded in attracting new members, it has not been successful in integrating its new immigrant populations. The European project is being tested by the lack of success of the Lisbon treaty.

The problem, however, is that while the peace will probably last another major European war is a very unlikely scenario the prosperity may not.

The choice is basically as follows. By accepting reform and the need for some sacrifices, the European fall will occur, but it will be reasonably gentle and gradual. By refusing to reform and rejecting sacrifice, Europe’s fall will be precipitate. At the moment, unfortunately, the more likely scenario is the second one. (read more via Europe’s Probable Fall – The Times of India).

A culture of entitlement has robbed European society of its vitality. The writer feels that Europe can choose how it will decline. Gradually and gently. Otherwise, precipitate – sudden, visible, maybe violent. I am being gentle by call it decline. Lehman says it is fall. No less.

Cartoon from timeesofindia.com). Publication date - 16th November 2010.

Cartoon from timeesofindia.com). Publication date - 16th November 2010.

Probably, many in India and the Indians abroad, the RNIs and the NRIs, brought up on the milk of Western superiority will mourn the passing away of their ‘dream’. I am sure they will quickly find some other ‘superior’ culture for loyalties.

The dream is dead. Long live the dream.

Charge of the lite brigade

The nature of the political beast is the same. Welcome to globalization of ideology. A standardized world. No difference at all!

It has been Post WW2 belief that Economic planning and State intervention will work. (Artist - David Low; (1891-1963) Published - Evening Standard, 26 Jun 1944).

It has been Post WW2 belief that economic planning and State intervention will work. (Artist - David Low; (1891-1963) Published - Evening Standard, 26 Jun 1944).

Low-cal, idea-lite brigade

With a collapsing economic base, changing power equations, their social superiority in tatters, the West has created a corps of propagandists, whose  job it is to create red herrings and  dead-end arguments. These content-lite ideologues, manage to put many ‘victims’ on the defensive.

For the past few quarters, we have seen a rising tide of co-ordinated attacks on China, using right-wing Christian rhetoric, from pit-bulls like Hugh Hendry, Jim Chanos, with the Charlie Rose show chiming in, aided by ‘think-tanks’ like CFR.

A recent column, deals with one such nuisance. A banker-economist-columnist, Abheek Barman writes about Ian Bremmer and his latest ‘theses’ about ‘state capitalism.’

Ian Bremmer, a pundit who analyses global political risks at the Eurasia Group, has recently argued that giant companies, backed by governments, are out to capture free markets. Among others, he identifies China, Russia, Brazil – and India – as candidates that practice ‘state capitalism.’

Western auto industry

Is the French and German auto industry anything but State controlled. With governing boards packed with representatives of the various Landesbanks, union representatives, where does private sector classification come from.

'Confidence of the voter' is always useful and preferred. In case it is absent ... does it matter? (Artist RJ Matson - from Roll Call, Date - 7/21/2010 4.02.01 PM).

'Confidence of the voter' is always useful and preferred. In case it is absent ... does it matter? (Artist RJ Matson - from Roll Call, Date - 7/21/2010 4.02.01 PM).

Are we forgetting how Europe’s largest auto-manufacturer Volkswagen, was set up by State initiative? Or how Renault was saved from the ignominy of ‘Nazi’ collaboration by State initiative? How long would the Agnelli Empire last without State support? Are we not forgetting how Chrysler has been saved several times by US State guarantees – and now GM, too!

Banks on a dole queue

A Swiss survey estimates that the Western banks may need US$1.5 trillion in capital-support. Would Mr.Bremmer like to name the likely source for these funds? French banking is public-sector controlled – which in turn controls French industry. Are we saying that Alsthom, ENI and ANSALDO are private creatures!

In the USA, the heavy-hand of the State was plain and for all to see in the handling of LTCM, WaMU, Bear Sterns, Lehman Brothers. Can anyone forget how Robert Rubin, Hank Paulson, Alan Greenspan all had a distinguished private-sector career (mostly at Goldman Sachs) – before and after their positions in the US Government.

Ian Bremmer frequently faults the ‘sovereign funds’ as a ‘marker’ of the State Capitalism’. Are BofA, Citibank, JP Morgan-Chase, RBS, Barclay’s, Credit Lyonnais, Credit Agricole anything but sovereign funds by another name? Was the Western housing bubble anything but an ‘efficient’ cash-tranfer mechanism? US-Fed printed money and the banks distributed – and the State bailed out the banks. A welfare scheme by another name.

And no! I solemnly declare that there was and is no conflict of interest in all this.

Voter apathy is the real objective behind the mock-fights and pseudo-competition - a facade for collusive power-sharing. (Artist - Jeff Parker, from Florida Today, 7/30/2010, 2.02.01 PM)

Voter apathy is the real objective behind the mock-fights and pseudo-competition - a facade for collusive power-sharing. (Artist - Jeff Parker, from Florida Today, 7/30/2010, 2.02.01 PM)

The incestuous bureaucracy

This kind of co-ordination, without an explicit policy, is possible in a close-knit, group, which has a shared value system, and is accepted by the general population. National bureaucracies have followed similar paths across nations.

What is good for General Motors is good for America. In the USA, Fortune 500 corporations, Wall Street firms, top banks serve as recruiting and training grounds for top bureaucrats. In China and the ex-USSR, the overtly political Communist Party was the training and recruiting ground for bureaucrats.

In most other countries, certain ‘secular’ institutions covertly work as training and recruiting rounds for creating an aligned bureaucracy. Top Japanese and French bureaucrats strangely come from one university. For instance, in Japan from The University of Tokyo, Law Faculty and the French ‘enarques’ cut their teeth at Ecole National d’Administration (ENA). The role of Oxbridge in the British Government cannot be understated.

Making the 'right' noises is 'modern' politics! (Artist - Peter Brookes, Published - The Times, 21 Sep 2002).

Making the 'right' noises is 'modern' politics! (Artist - Peter Brookes, Published - The Times, 21 Sep 2002).

Between 1900 and 1986, 45 per cent of permanent secretaries –or administrative heads of government departments –came from Oxford, 23 per cent from Cambridge.

Like Secretary Hillary Clinton correctly pointed out to business leaders in Pakistan, “we tax everything that moves and doesn’t move, and that’s not what we see happening in Pakistan.” Compared to G7, the share of the State in the BRIC nations would be less than 25% of the national GDP.

The nature of the beast is the same, Mr.Bremer. And this goes for you too, Mr.Barman. The world, these days has become ideologically standardized. Welcome to globalization. No difference at all!

And to think! Ian Bremmer accuses the BRIC countries of practicing ‘state capitalism’. Mr.Bremmer, these arguments are futile. Much like the futile British charge of the Light Brigade in the Crimean War, against the Russians. Like the French general said, it is C’est magnifique, mais ce n’est pas la guerre, c’est de la folie. (It is magnificent, but it is not war, it is folly).

Extract from Ian Bremmer in Foreign Affairs

From The End of the Free Market | The Call.

A generation ago, the collapse of communism made clear that government can’t simply mandate lasting economic growth. To fuel the rising prosperity on which their long-term survival will depend, political leaders in China, Russia, the Arab monarchies of the Persian Gulf and other authoritarian states have accepted that they have to embrace market-based capitalism. But if they leave it entirely to market forces to determine winners and losers, they run the risk of enriching those who will use their new wealth to challenge the state’s power.

Instead, they have embraced state capitalism. Within these countries, political elites use state-owned and politically loyal, privately owned companies to dominate entire economic sectors — like oil, natural gas, aviation, shipping, power generation, arms production, telecommunications, metals, minerals, petrochem­icals, and other industries. They finance all these institutions with the help of increasingly large pools of surplus foreign cash known as sovereign wealth funds.

State capitalism isn’t an ideology. It’s more a set of management principles. It can never match the hold that communism once had on the popular imagination, because it wasn’t born as a response to injustice. It was created to maximize political leverage and state profits, not to right historical wrongs. The system is not the same from one country to another, because the ruling elites in Beijing, Moscow, and Riyadh use it to meet distinctly different sets of needs. And no two state capitalist governments can ever fully align their interests. By its very nature, it’s exclusionary; like mercantilism, it promotes one state at the expense of others. That’s why there can’t really be any kind of “state capitalist consensus.”

Instead, you get client states — mainly smaller Asian countries in China’s shadow and energy exporting governments in Africa and Latin America badly in need of friends with deep pockets. Brazil, India and other big emerging markets that have elements of both free market and state capitalist systems have seats at the G20 table alongside some serious free market skeptics. The developed states don’t have much to offer them at the moment that looks attractive for their economic stability.


SEC to sue Goldman Sachs

April 20, 2010 1 comment

The gentle art of suing Big Guns

SEC’s decision to sue Goldman Sachs, brings to an end, a long drama.

In August and September of 2008, 2ndlook was calling for investigations into the collapse of Bear Sterns, Lehman, et al. When the Great Recession was not real – and only a fear. While Preet Bharara was busy building a flimsy case against Rajarathnam? When Bharara should have been investigating Hank Paulson, the Former Treasury Secretary, under whose watch many bankruptcies happened. Conveniently in favour of JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs. Even now, this investigation,

To say that it comes at an awfully convenient time for President Barack Obama’s Democrats is a colossal understatement.

With mid-term elections just a few months off and the U.S. Congress set to debate a massive financial regulatory reform package — one that Wall Street lobbyists and their pals in the Senate have been fighting every step of the way — the suit offers tailor-made reformist ammo for Obama & Co.

Birds of feather

Khuzami tells us that Goldman Sachs is cared. Tell that to the birds!

Khuzami tells us that Goldman Sachs is cared. Tell that to the birds!

By sending a notice to Goldman Sachs, in July 2009, SEC gave enough time to Goldman Sachs to enable them to prepare adequately for an extended court-room battle. Businessweek  writes about three issues,

Robert Khuzami, shortly after becoming the Securities and Exchange Commission’s enforcement chief last year, told Congress the agency must be willing to fight big cases to show it poses a “credible threat.”

Does Khuzami think that SEC scares Goldman Sachs? With the kind of money power that Goldman Sachs has, it can manage a battle with SEC for an entire generation. What SEC’s action will do is scare the likes of the co-accused in the Rajarathnam case. Extremely small fry. Even Rajarathnam was  not scared of SEC. Minions – that is who Khuzami is trying to scare.

European regulators are following the SEC’s case. Britain’s Financial Services Authority said today it will start a formal probe of Goldman Sachs’s London unit. BaFin, Germany’s financial-services regulator, is requesting information from the SEC about the case.

Big Business loves regulatory overload. It kills competition!

Big Business loves regulatory overload. It kills competition!

Win over voters. Avoid charges of collusion. Shake the money tree. Gordon Brown has a tough election to win. In the middle of the Great Recession, the German Government needs to show ‘resolve.’ In the meantime, AIG has also decided to try a shakedown.

The SEC’s Republican commissioners, Kathleen Casey and Troy Paredes, opposed the lawsuit against Goldman Sachs, which was approved in a 3-2 vote, two people with knowledge of the matter said yesterday.

Nobody’s ‘tellin’ but everybody knows. Big business and Big Government. That is the axis on which ‘progressive’ economies of the world are being built – and depend on. Or become a large public-sector enterprise – like Europe has become. This is the regulation gambit.

Government’s impose regulation to eliminate the small players – who cannot bear the regulatory overload and compliance costs. More regulation helps the big players – and big players have the financial and bureaucratic muscle to manage excess regulation.

The trouble with Hank

Was Hank Paulson making it easier for his ex-employer Goldman to buy up competitors? Was he helping out JP Morgan with WaMu and Bear Stearns? It was well-known that JPMorgan Chief, Jamie Dimon had long drooled over WaMu. While a lot of stressed organizations were getting support, Hank Paulson allowed Lehman to go under! JPMorgan was being blamed for Lehman collapse.

US bank JPMorgan Chase stands accused of precipitating the collapse of American investment bank Lehman Brothers by freezing Lehman assets days before it filed for bankruptcy protection, the Sunday Times reported.

After 60 Days

Was Paulson looking at his own future, while deciding on the future of Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, WaMu? How 60 days later, when he would need a new job! Was the collapse of Lehman, a deal for a job with Goldman – or was it JP Moran Chase? While a lot of people were getting support, Paulson allowed Lehman to go under!

I wonder why?

Transparency International does not call this corruption. But then, that is par for the course!

Been there and done that

In a democracy, people have choice!

In a democracy, people have choice!

This is very similar to Joseph Kennedy’s shorting the market before The Great Depression. It has always been a source of wonder to me how could Joseph Kennedy, a bootlegger and a friend of the mafiosi become SEC Chairman? And after that, could the Great Depression not follow?

It was always 2ndlook’s suspicion that Hank Paulson’s behaviour in the Lehman collapse is similar to Bootlegger Kennedy’s behaviour. And this now coming out all in the open!!

The biggest bankruptcy in history might have been avoided if Wall Street had been prevented from practicing one of its darkest arts.

As Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc struggled to survive last year, as many as 32.8 million shares in the company were sold and not delivered to buyers on time as of September 11, according to data compiled by the Securities and Exchange Commission and Bloomberg. That was a more than 57-fold increase over the prior year’s peak of 567,518 failed trades on July 30.

The SEC has linked such so-called fails-to-deliver to naked short selling, a strategy that can be used to manipulate markets. A fail-to-deliver is a trade that doesn’t settle within three days.

“We had another word for this in Brooklyn,” said Harvey Pitt, a former SEC chairman. “The word was ‘fraud.’” (via Naked short sales hint fraud in bringing down Lehman).

Back then in 2008, first, the world was hit by Big Oil at US$150 per barrel. As though that  was not enough, came the Big Banks! After Big Oil and Big Banks, we will have the pleasure of getting the The Big Lie!

Goebbels is alive, well and kicking. All of us.

China central banker says harder to buy U.S. Treasuries

December 18, 2009 Leave a comment

Exchange Bigger IOUs for old IOUs

… on the global role of the dollar, Zhu told an academic audience that it was inevitable that the dollar would continue to fall in value because Washington continued to issue more Treasuries to finance its deficit spending.

He then addressed where demand for that debt would come from.

“The United States cannot force foreign governments to increase their holdings of Treasuries,” Zhu said, according to an audio recording of his remarks. “Double the holdings? It is definitely impossible.”

“The U.S. current account deficit is falling as residents’ savings increase, so its trade turnover is falling, which means the U.S. is supplying fewer dollars to the rest of the world,” he added.

“The world does not have so much money to buy more U.S. Treasuries.” (via China central banker says harder to buy U.S. Treasuries | Reuters).

Reuters slips in a dud

Interestingly, Reuters tried talking up the dollar by making out as though China was scrambling for dollars which were not available. Post the Lehman-collapse, after initial panic over the dollar has subsided – and most economies have continued on the dollar bearing – with a slight change in course. Unlike Britain (or most of Europe), US debt and deficit are still well within ‘reasonable’ limits.

Where did all this money go

Also, must be remembered, that most of this deficit and debt has been rung up for consolidating alliances and de-fanging potential adversaries (like China). For instance, in case of the USA,

The deficit for the fiscal year 2009 came in at more than $1.4 trillion-about 11.2 percent of GDP, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). That’s a bigger deficit than any seen in the past 60 years-only slightly larger in relative terms than the deficit in 1942 … having the fiscal policy of a world war, without the war … war in Afghanistan and Iraq … are trivial conflicts compared with the world wars.

According to the CBO’s … projections, (US) federal deficit will decline from 11.2 percent of GDP this year to 9.6 percent in 2010, 6.1 percent in 2011, and 3.7 percent in 2012 … (and) stay above 3 percent … Meanwhile, in dollar terms, the total debt held by the public (excluding government agencies, but including foreigners) rises from $5.8 trillion in 2008 to $14.3 trillion in 2019-from 41 percent of GDP to 68 percent.

While the above picture is not rosy, it’s not a cause for alarm. For any peace-loving nation, that is. For the Empire of the USA, seeking to maintain its hegemony. This is a bad financial situation to be in.

If war is what USA wants!

A nation under banks, with justice for none

The cover up is getting bigger ...

All this puts the SEC and the rest of the government in a horrible spot. It is a matter of public record that the law wasn’t followed, thanks to Cuomo’s disclosures last week. And yet the agencies and policy makers responsible for enforcing the law are probably powerless to do anything about it.

It would be nice to think that SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro might call for a sincere, thorough investigation. But there’s nothing in her professional background that suggests she has the spine or the nerve to take on a major financial institution, much less a former Treasury secretary or the sitting Fed chairman.

We probably won’t get any searching inquiries out of the banking industry’s elected overseers in Congress. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd took VIP loans from Countrywide Financial Corp, now a subsidiary of BofA. His counterpart in the House, Barney Frank, declared last July that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were “not in danger of going under,” about two months before they did.

That leaves you and me, the American public, with the uncomfortable realisation that we are slipping toward a state of lawlessness in this country, all in the name of saving our financial system by creating even bigger banks out of combinations of banks that were dangerously big already. This doesn’t inspire confidence. It destroys it. (via A nation under banks, with justice for none).

Fraud .. when people are in pain …?

This is very similar to Joseph Kennedy’s shorting the market before The Great Depression. It has always been a wonder to me how could Joseph Kennedy, a bootlegger and a friend of the mafiosi could become SEC Chairman? And after that did happen, would a Great Depression not follow?

First, the world was hit by Big Oil and as though that  was not enough, came the Big Banks!

Hank Paulson Should be investigated

It was always 2ndlook’s suspicion that Hank Paulson’s behaviour in the Lehman collapse is similar to Bootlegger Kennedy’s behaviour. And this now coming out all in the open!! JPMorgan was blamed for Lehman collapse. This was reported widely including in The Times of India.

US bank JPMorgan Chase stands accused of precipitating the collapse of American investment bank Lehman Brothers by freezing Lehman assets days before it filed for bankruptcy protection, the Sunday Times reported.

First was Big Oil, then Big Banks! Now what ...  |  Cartoonist - Michael Ramirez; source: caglecartoons.com  |  Click for image.

First was Big Oil, then Big Banks! Now what ... | Cartoonist - Michael Ramirez; source: caglecartoons.com | Click for image.

After 60 Days

While deciding on Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, WaMu, was Paulson looking at his future – 60 days later, when he would need a new job!

Was the collapse of Lehman a deal for a job with Goldman – or was it JP Chase? JPMorgan Chief Had Long drooled Over WaMu. While a lot of people were getting support, Paulson allowed Lehman to go under!

I wonder why?

Was he making it easier for his ex-employer Goldman? Is he helping out the JP Morgan – with WaMu and Bear Stearns?

Does Transparency International call this corruption – or is it par for the course?

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