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Obama Tries to Ram His TTIP Down Europeans’ Throats

In trade and economic as in political matters, Europe’s leaders do Washington’s bidding regardless of the interests or opinions of their people.

Eric Zuesse

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Like the foie gras producer ramming food down ducks’ throats in order to create diseased super-fatty livers that some humans find acceptable to eat, Barack Obama (via his friend and trade-negotiator Michael Froman) is trying to ram dictatorship down Europeans’ throats, for the benefit of billionaires. And, like the sweet words of the foie-grass lobbyists who say it’s all just the ‘free market’ at work, Obama’s commercial-treaties salesman is saying it’s all being done in order to support ‘free trade’.

Thus, on May 31st, a big promoter of ‘free trade’, Britain’s Economist, headlined “Europe and US in race to keep TTIP on track”, and ‘reported’ (i.e., stenographically transmitted) the U.S. President’s propaganda; they provided to Mr. Froman their (unjustifiably respected) platform, as an unpaid ad (‘news’ story) for the Obama Administration’s work-product, this treaty: “Speaking in Stockholm on a European tour to push TTIP, Michael Froman, US President Barack Obama’s trade tsar, warned that there was no ‘Plan B’ if talks were not concluded this year.

‘We either work together to help set the rules of the world or we leave that role to others.’” In other words: Obama, via Froman, via this freebie publicity provided by the Economist, is telling the Economist’s readers, that the way to advance free trade is by imposing the rules that govern it, so as to supply advantage to the people who impose the rules and sign Obama’s document, and so as thereby to disadvantage everybody else — all people who are outside the blessed self-selected closed circle of power-holders.

Naturally, being good propagandists, the Economist provides no real counter-argument to that (such as by pointing out that Obama is actually trying to replace “the rules of the world” that have already become established during decades by the far less partial World Trade Organization or WTO — replace those global rules by the discriminatory treaty-based trading-blocs rules that he wants in order for international corporations to be placed directly into the driver’s seat), but instead the Economist continues immediately with this caricature of such:

“TTIP’s supporters have also been blindsided by increasing opposition to trade deals in the US, where Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump has built his campaign around an antitrade message and Democrat Hillary Clinton, facing a challenge from the left, has abandoned her support for a similar Pacific trade pact.”

In other words, according to the Economist: the domestic opposition to Obama’s trade-deals is comprised of two categories: of ‘antitrade’ populists, and of leftist yahoos who don’t know that Marxism is dead and ended ever since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990 — both categories of yahoos are simply behind-the-times, according to the Economist. Pity those non-subscribers to mega-corporate propaganda such as this.

Then, this Economist ‘news’ ‘report’ (a.k.a.: propaganda) continues:

With the clock running out on Mr Obama’s presidency, officials on both sides now believe that the window is closing for a deal to be reached and approved in legislatures in Europe and the US before the end of the year. EU officials stress that they want to agree a working text by July.

A failure to complete the agreement before a change in US administration could condemn the pact to years of drift.
Get it done now, is the propaganda message. But, the intelligent reader will still be asking: should it be done at all? Viewed in narrowly economic terms alone, the three independently done (as opposed to mega-corporate funded) studies indicate that the major stockholders in international corporations (especially ones that are based in the U.S.) would benefit from these deals, at the expense of everyone else and especially at the expense of consumers, and of employees. However, that’s only the economics of it. More broadly, what Obama’s treaties will do if they become passed into law is to achieve internationally the dream of fascists ever since the time of Mussolini: to transfer sovereignty away from the public in a democracy, to, instead, as Mussolini himself sometimes called his fascist ideology, “corporationism,” which he defined as:

“The corporation plays on the economic terrain just as the Grand Council and the militia play on the political terrain. Corporationism is disciplined economy, and from that comes control, because one cannot imagine a discipline without a director. Corporationism is above socialism and above liberalism. A new synthesis is created.” 

Earlier, he had said (and even legislated), tellingly:

“Labor in all forms, intellectual, technical and manual, is a social duty. In this sense, and in this sense only, is it protected by the State. From the national point of view all production is a unit; its objects are unitary and can be defined as the wellbeing of the producers and the development of national strength.”

He didn’t mention there “the wellbeing of the workers,” nor “the wellbeing of consumers,” because his ideology wasn’t concerned about those matters. He even asserted that labor “is a social duty. In this sense, and in this sense only, is it protected by the State,” so that workers’ rights have no protection in fascism. Only workers’ duties do. “National strength” was his goal, just as it is Barack Obama’s, and they don’t believe that workers’ rights are part of this. That’s why it’s ignored in Obama’s proposed treaties.

“National strength” is, of course, largely a military phenomenon. Here is Obama speaking on 28 May 2014 to graduating cadets at America’s academy for its future military leaders, West Point:

“Russia’s aggression toward former Soviet states unnerves capitals in Europe, while China’s economic rise and military reach worries its neighbors. From Brazil to India, rising middle classes compete with us, and governments seek a greater say in global forums. And even as developing nations embrace democracy and market economies, 24-hour news and social media makes it impossible to ignore the continuation of sectarian conflicts and failing states and popular uprisings that might have received only passing notice a generation ago. It will be your generation’s task to respond to this new world. …
America must always lead on the world stage. If we don’t, no one else will. The military that you have joined is and always will be the backbone of that leadership.”

This was a statement that America’s economic competitors are to be addressed not only by economic means (such as his economic sanctions against Russia) but also by military means, and that these cadets are therefore to think of their nation’s economic competitors as additionally being also America’s enemies. He even said there that all nations except the U.S. are dispensable; and his precise words to assert this type of American exceptionalism were that “the United States is and remains the one indispensable nation.” Consequently, for example, Russia and China (like any other enemy) are ‘dispensable’ (because only one is not: America).

Of course, some fascist leaders, such as Francisco Franco, haven’t similarly held their nation to be the only ‘indispensable’ nation. Not all fascist leaders do, but Adolf Hitler certainly did believe that his was, and he too was a fascist, though not a member of Mussolini’s party, the Fascist Party, because Hitler had his own fascist party, the Nazis. Obama is a member of the Democratic Party, which has existed ever since the beginning of the American republic. Fascism didn’t even exist back then. Furthermore, U.S. President FDR was passionately anti-fascist, and he led the Democratic Party during the time of Mussolini and Hitler, and went to war against them. However, there is evidence that Obama is a fascist in the sense that Mussolini initiated as not merely the Fascist Party, but more germane here, in the more basic sense, as the fascist ideology.

For example, Michael Froman has insisted that a country which systematically and regularly ignores whenever a labor union organizer gets murdered, isn’t therefore disqualified from being included in trade agreements such as the U.S. is now proposing. Obama, quite evidently (from his proposed trade treaties) feels that it’s quite okay for American workers to be competing against workers in foreign countries where labor union organizers are like free-fire-zone targets for corporations that want them to be (mysteriously) eliminated.

Of course, Obama’s rhetoric doesn’t say any such thing; he’s far more genteel than was Mussolini. But Obama’s actions, and the people whom he appoints to run the federal offices for him and who carry out his policies (such as Froman), show the real person, not merely the verbal front, and his agents make quite clear that, where the ideological rubber actually hits the policy highway, Barack Obama is, in fact, a classic fascist, in the sense that the first fascist leader, Mussolini, was. Obama’s concept of ‘free trade’ is the fascist version, not the democratic one.

previously noted that,

“Mussolini … had learned his fascism from the economist Vilfredo Pareto, whose teachings had inspired the young Mussolini
As Pareto himself said, 1 September 1897, in his essay “The New Theories of Economics”: “Were I of the opinion that a certain book would contribute more than any other to establish free trade in the world at large I would not hesitate an instant to give myself up heart and soul to the study of this particular work, putting aside for the time all study of pure science.” But what the international corporations call “free trade” isn’t quite the same thing that supporters of democracy would mean by that phrase.”

The same article also documented extensively that Pareto specifically condemned “the empty words of meaning of the famous Declaration of the Rights of Man,” and that he rejected equality of rights. He set forth the ideology upon the basis of which (for example) Michael Froman might ‘justify’ American workers competing against ones in countries where labor union organizers can be murdered with impunity: only the corporation’s owners should have the right to collective bargaining (via their management, lobbyists, etc.). Pareto was very big on the rights of owners, but that’s all.

Barack Obama’s ‘free trade’ is entirely in keeping with fascism. It’s simply extending that, globally, and excluding from the mega-trading-blocs that he is creating, the BRICS nations (now just the RICS nations, because of the successful coup in Brazil). This is in accord with his having told West Point cadets that they might be called upon by their nation to treat those nations where “rising middle classes compete with us, and governments seek a greater say in global forums,” as being America’s enemies, to be killed or captured — conquered. Perhaps this is to be the new gunboat diplomacy.

Irrespective of Obama’s rhetoric, which is often in accord with the tradition of America’s Founders, his proposed trade treaties are in blatant violation even of the U.S. Constitution itself, as well as of the very clearly expressed intentions of the chief individuals who drafted it and who led this nation during its earliest years.

All knowledgeable people are aware that Obama is pushing not only for a locked-in American domination of the world, but for U.S. corporate dictatorship. As I previously headlined, “UN Lawyer Calls TTP & TTIP ‘a dystopian future in which corporations and not democratically elected governments call the shots’.” But, what the UN’s legal expert on these matters has to say about them, doesn’t receive nearly as much freebie promotion as is provided to even just one of the U.S. White House’s fascist puff-pieces; so, the UN’s expert gets drowned out by the fascist cacophony.

Consequently, though the publics both in the U.S. and EU are opposed to these ‘free trade’ treaties (notwithstanding all the PR for them), the governments can just go ahead and sign them. This is Western ‘democracy’. The publics are the ducks, and the people who control things need to fatten up our livers a bit more, regardless of what we think. Obama and his allies are preparing this meal, and the people who paid them to do it are hungry, and are demanding to be served this feast, ASAP. The ducks (despite all the pretty sounds about how nutritious this food will be) might squawk about it, but, after all, the ducks don’t own the farm, and the people who do are the actual decision-makers — in accord with what Mussolini and his teacher Pareto said should be the case.

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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Macron pisses off Merkel as he tries to sabotage Nord Stream 2 pipeline (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 177.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss an EU compromise for Nord Stream 2 where EU member states, the EU Parliament, and its Commission will give the bloc more oversight on gas pipelines, with one caveat…the Nord Stream 2 project with Russia will not be threatened by the new regulations in the agreement.

Macron pushed hard to have the new regulations include (and derail) Nord Stream 2, an action which annoyed Angela Merkel, who eventually got her way and delivered another blow to Macron’s failing French presidency.

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Via The Express UK

Angela Merkel hit back at Emmanuel Macron over Russia and Germany’s pipeline project, declaring it would “not be a one-sided dependency”. The German Chancellor explained that Germany will expand its gas terminals with “liquified gas”. Speaking at a press conference, Ms Merkel declared: “Do we become dependent on Russia because of this second gas pipeline? I say no, if we diversify. Germany will expand its gas terminals with liquefied gas.

“This means that we do not want to depend only on Russia, but Russia was a source of gas in the Cold War and will remain one.

“But it would not be one-sided dependency.”

Via DW

The EU parliament and its Council are set to adopt new regulations on gas pipelines connecting the bloc members with non-EU countries, the EU Commission announced early on Wednesday.

The upcoming directive is based on a compromise between EU member states and EU officials in Brussels. The bloc leaders agreed to tighten Brussels’ oversight of gas delivery and expand its rules to all pipelines plugging into the EU’s gas distribution network.

“The new rules ensure that… everyone interested in selling gas to Europe must respect European energy law,” EU Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete said in a statement.

For example, owners of pipelines linking EU and non-EU countries would also be required to allow access for their competitors. Brussels would also have more power regarding transparency and tariff regulations.

Russian ambassador slams US

Brussels has repeatedly expressed concern over the controversial Nord Stream 2 project which would deliver Russian gas directly to Germany through a pipeline under the Baltic Sea. Many EU states oppose the mammoth project, and the US claims it would allow Moscow to tighten its grip on the EU’s energy policy.

Berlin has insisted that the pipeline is a “purely economic” issue.

Speaking to Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung daily, Russian ambassador to Berlin, Sergey Nechayev, slammed the US’ opposition as an attempt to “push its competition aside” and clear the way for American suppliers of liquefied gas.

“It’s hard to believe that a country that is destroying the rules of free and fair trade, that is imposing import tariffs on its competition, that is flying slogans like ‘America First’ on its flags and often threatens biggest European concerns with illegal sanctions, is now really concerned about European interests,” the Russian envoy said in remarks published in German on Wednesday.

Last week, France unexpectedly rebelled against the project, but Berlin and Paris soon reached a compromise. Thanks to their agreement, the latest deal is not expected to impede the ongoing construction of Nord Stream 2.

Citing sources from negotiators’ circles, German public broadcaster ARD reported that the deal left room for Germany to approve exceptions from the EU-wide rules.

According to the EU Commission, however, exceptions are “only possible under strict procedures in which the Commission plays a decisive role.”

The Gazprom-backed pipeline is set to be completed by the end of the year.

 

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UK Defence Secretary looking for a fight with both China and Russia (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 87.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson’s idea to deploy hard power against China and Russia, starting with plans to send Britain’s new aircraft carrier to the tense sea routes in the South China Sea.

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“Britain’s Gavin Williamson places Russia & China on notice, I’m not joking,” authored by John Wight, via RT

UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson is itching for conflict with Russia and China. He’s not mad. Not even slightly. But he is stupid. Very.

Unlike former fireplace salesman Gavin Williamson, I am no military expert. But then you do not need to be one to understand that while Britain going to war with Russia and China might work as a video game, the real thing would be an exceedingly bad idea.

So why then in a speech delivered to the Royal United Services Institute in London, did Mr Williamson’s argument on the feasibility of the real thing elicit applause rather than the shrieks of horror and demands he be sacked forthwith it should have? This is a serious question, by the way. It is one that cuts through British establishment verbiage to reveal a country ruled not by the sober and doughty political heavyweights of years gone by, but by foaming fanatics in expensive suits

Placing to one side for a moment the insanity of the very concept of Britain deploying hard power against Russia and/or China, the prospect of fighting a war against two designated enemies at the same time is a recipe for disaster. Not satisfied with that, though, Mr Williamson is actually contemplating a conflict with three different enemies at the same time – i.e. against Russia, China, and the millions of people in Britain his government is currently waging war against under the rubric of austerity.

“Today, Russia is resurgent,” Mr Williamson said, “rebuilding its military arsenal and seeking to bring the independent countries of the former Soviet Union, like Georgia and Ukraine, back into its orbit.”

For Mr Williamson and his ilk a resurgent Russia is a bad thing. Much better in their eyes if Russia, after the Soviet era in the 1990s, had remained on its knees as a free market desert; its state institutions in a state of near collapse and tens of millions of its citizens in the grip of immiseration. Yes, because in that scenario Western ideologues like him would have had free rein to rampage around the world as they saw fit, setting fire to country after country on the perverse grounds of ‘saving them’ for democracy.

As it is, he and his still managed to squeeze in a considerable amount of carnage and chaos in the years it did take Russia to recover. The indictment reads as follows: Yugoslavia destroyed; Afghanistan turned upside down; Iraq pushed into the abyss; Libya sent to hell.

By the time they turned their attention to Syria, intent on exploiting an Arab Spring that NATO in Libya transformed into an Arab Winter, Russia had recovered and was able to intervene. It did so in concert with the Syrian Arab Army, Iran and Hezbollah to save the day – much to the evident chagrin of those who, like Gavin Williamson, prefer to see countries in ashes rather than independent of Western hegemony.

As to the facile nonsense about Russia trying to bring Georgia and Ukraine back into its orbit, both countries happen to share a border with Russia and both countries, in recent years, have been used by the UK and its allies as cat’s paws with the eastward expansion of NATO in mind.

It gets worse though: “The Alliance must develop its ability to handle the kind of provocations that Russia is throwing at us. Such action from Russia must come at a cost.”

“Provocations,” the man said. Since British troops have been taking part in exercises on Russia’s doorstep, not the other way round, one wonders if Gavin Williamson wrote this speech while inebriated.

It is Russia that has been on the receiving end of repeated provocations from NATO member states such as the UK in recent times, and it is Russia that has been forced to respond to protect its own security and that of its people where necessary. Furthermore, not only in Russia but everywhere, including the UK, people understand that when you have political leaders intoxicated by their own national myths and propaganda to such an extent as Britain’s Defence Secretary, danger ensues.

The most enduring of those national myths where London is concerned is that the British Empire was a force for good rather than a vast criminal enterprise, that Britain and America won the Second World War together alone, that Iraq had WMDs, and that international law and international brigandage really are one and the same thing.

Perhaps the most preposterous section of the speech came when Mr Williamson tried to fashion a connection between Brexit and Britain’s military strength: “Brexit has brought us to a moment. A great moment in our history. A moment when we must strengthen our global presence, enhance our lethality, and increase our mass.”

Reading this, you can almost hear Churchill turning in his grave. Britain’s wartime prime minister had such as Gavin Williamson in mind when he famously said, “He has all the virtues I dislike, and none of the vices I admire.”

Mr Williamson obviously misread the memo talking up not the opportunity for increased conflict with China after Brexit but trade.

This was not a speech it was a linguistic car crash, one that will forever command an honoured place in compendiums of the worst political speeches ever made. As for Gavin Williamson, just as no responsible parent would ever dream of putting an 10-year old behind the wheel of car to drive unsupervised, no responsible British government would ever appoint a man like him as its Defence Secretary.

In years past, he would have struggled to find employment polishing the brass plate outside the building.

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The Birth Of A Monster

The banking establishment welcomed the Fed with open arms. What gives?

The Duran

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Authored by David Howden via The Mises Institute:


The Federal Reserve’s doors have been open for “business” for one hundred years. In explaining the creation of this money-making machine (pun intended – the Fed remits nearly $100 bn. in profits each year to Congress) most people fall into one of two camps.

Those inclined to view the Fed as a helpful institution, fostering financial stability in a world of error-prone capitalists, explain the creation of the Fed as a natural and healthy outgrowth of the troubled National Banking System. How helpful the Fed has been is questionable at best, and in a recent book edited by Joe Salerno and me — The Fed at One Hundred — various contributors outline many (though by no means all) of the Fed’s shortcomings over the past century.

Others, mostly those with a skeptical view of the Fed, treat its creation as an exercise in secretive government meddling (as in G. Edward Griffin’s The Creature from Jekyll Island) or crony capitalism run amok (as in Murray Rothbard’s The Case Against the Fed).

In my own chapter in The Fed at One Hundred I find sympathies with both groups (you can download the chapter pdf here). The actual creation of the Fed is a tragically beautiful case study in closed-door Congressional deals and big banking’s ultimate victory over the American public. Neither of these facts emerged from nowhere, however. The fateful events that transpired in 1910 on Jekyll Island were the evolutionary outcome of over fifty years of government meddling in money. As such, the Fed is a natural (though terribly unfortunate) outgrowth of an ever more flawed and repressive monetary system.

Before the Fed

Allow me to give a brief reverse biographical sketch of the events leading up to the creation of a monster in 1914.

Unlike many controversial laws and policies of the American government — such as the Affordable Care Act, the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or the War on Terror — the Federal Reserve Act passed with very little public outcry. Also strange for an industry effectively cartelized, the banking establishment welcomed the Fed with open arms. What gives?

By the early twentieth century, America’s banking system was in a shambles. Fractional-reserve banks faced with “runs” (which didn’t have to be runs with the pandemonium that usually accompanies them, but rather just banks having insufficient cash to meet daily withdrawal requests) frequently suspended cash redemptions or issued claims to “clearinghouse certificates.” These certificates were a money substitute making use of the whole banking system’s reserves held by large clearinghouses.

Both of these “solutions” to the common bank run were illegal as they allowed a bank to redefine the terms of the original deposit contract. This fact notwithstanding, the US government turned a blind eye as the alternative (widespread bank failures) was perceived to be far worse.

The creation of the Fed, the ensuing centralization of reserves, and the creation of a more elastic money supply was welcomed by the government as a way to eliminate those pesky and illegal (yet permitted) banking activities of redemption suspensions and the issuance of clearinghouse certificates. The Fed returned legitimacy to the laws of the land. That is, it addressed the government’s fear that non-enforcement of a law would raise broader questions about the general rule of law.

The Fed provided a quick fix to depositors by reducing cases of suspensions of their accounts. And the banking industry saw the Fed as a way to serve clients better without incurring a cost (fewer bank runs) and at the same time coordinate their activities to expand credit in unison and maximize their own profits.

In short, the Federal Reserve Act had a solution for everyone.

Taking a central role in this story are the private clearinghouses which provided for many of the Fed’s roles before 1914. Indeed, America’s private clearinghouses were viewed as having as many powers as European central banks of the day, and the creation of the Fed was really just an effort to make the illegal practices of the clearinghouses legal by government institutionalization.

Why Did Clearinghouses Have So Much Power?

Throughout the late nineteenth century, clearinghouses used each new banking crisis to introduce a new type of policy, bringing them ever closer in appearance to a central bank. I wouldn’t go so far as to say these are examples of power grabs by the clearinghouses, but rather rational responses to fundamental problems in a troubled American banking system.

When bank runs occurred, the clearinghouse certificate came into use, first in 1857, but confined to the interbank market to economize on reserves. Transactions could be cleared in specie, but lacking sufficient reserves, a troubled bank could make use of the certificates. These certificates were jointly guaranteed by all banks in the clearinghouse system through their pooled reserves. This joint guarantee was welcomed by unstable banks with poor reserve positions, and imposed a cost on more prudently managed banks (as is the case today with deposit insurance). A prudent bank could complain, but if it wanted to use a clearinghouse’s services and reap the cost advantages it had to comply with the reserve-pooling policy.

As the magnitude of the banking crisis intensified, clearinghouses started permitting banks to issue the certificates directly to the public (starting with the Panic of 1873) to further stymie reserve drains. (These issues to the general public amounted to illegal money substitutes, though they were tolerated, as noted above.)

Fractional-Reserve Free Banking and Bust

The year 1857 is a somewhat strange one for these clearinghouse certificates to make their first appearance. It was, after all, a full twenty years into America’s experiment with fractional-reserve free banking. This banking system was able to function stably, especially compared to more regulated periods or central banking regimes. However, the dislocation between deposit and lending activities set in motion a credit-fueled boom that culminated in the Panic of 1857.

This boom and panic has all the makings of an Austrian business cycle. Banks overextended themselves to finance the booming industries during America’s westward advance, primarily the railways. Land speculation was rampant. As realized profits came in under expectations, investors got skittish and withdrew money from banks. Troubled banks turned to the recently established New York Clearing House to promote stability. Certain rights were voluntarily abrogated in return for a guarantee on their solvency.

The original sin of the free-banking period was its fractional-reserve foundation. Without the ability to fund lending activity with their deposit base, banks never would have financed the boom to the extent that it became a destabilizing factor. Westward expansion and investment would still have occurred, though it would have occurred in a sustainable way funded through equity investments and loans. (These types of financing were used, though as is the case today, this occurred less than would be the case given the fractional-reserve banking system’s essentially cost-free funding source: the deposit base.)

In conclusion, the Fed was not birthed from nothing in 1913. The monster was the natural outgrowth of an increasingly troubled banking system. In searching for the original problem that set in motion the events culminating in the creation of the Fed, one must draw attention to the Panic of 1857 as the spark that set in motion ever more destabilizing policies. The Panic itself is a textbook example of an Austrian business cycle, caused by the lending activities of fractional-reserve banks. This original sin of the banking system concluded with the birth of a monster in 1914: The Federal Reserve.

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