Friday, February 13, 2015
My Review of Nomi Prins's Book "All The Presidents' Bankers" (Shamefully Late Due To Extreme Blog Host Laziness)
I was given a FREE COPY by the author, in which she asked UNCONDITIONALLY for 2 things: Reading ALL of the book before giving my review, and giving my HONEST opinion (good or bad) on the book. I had voluntarily promised the author I would have a blog post/review up by the end of August 2014, and I shamefully failed to deliver on that promise. Mainly because I am a lazy S.O.B. Which I should apologize to Nomi Prins for being late in my review, but that has no bearing on my review, good or bad.
In case you haven't noticed (heavy ladle of sarcasm) this isn't the New York Times or even Andrew Sullivan's The Dish in terms of traffic or internet page visits, so it was extremely kind and benevolent of Nomi Prins to give me a copy.
First it should be said that about the time you get halfway thru the first chapter of "All The Presidents' Bankers", it becomes obvious that Miss Prins did an exhaustive amount of research in the writing of this book. She did a lot of legwork on this (and what fine legs she has, can I get a rimshot??), digging in libraries and Presidential museums and scanning through all the minutia, so that we the readers could see the connections without getting the migraines she must have got hunting this stuff down and connecting the parts of the matrix. I will confess the reason I first became drawn to Miss Prins is she is quite attractive on TV.
But the book shows her vast intellect in not only being able to scour for important details in the historic record, but also being able to see the relationships (not always apparent on the surface) between the players. It's hard to write books on topics like this and find that "magic line" between making things easy to understand for the audience and not talking down to the reader. Miss Prins found that magic line.
Ok, if those pics don't give you a crush on Nomi Prins like I have (Miss Prins is getting "creepers" right about now if she's reading this) then you might get a crush if you see how clever this woman is in this lecture:
The beginning point of the book covers Theodore Roosevelt's relationship with the large bankers. This (unlike the vast majority of President-to-BigBanker relationships in the 20th century) relationship was a contentious one. Even going back to the early 1900s we can find correlating figures to our modern corrupt senators such as Bob Corker and Dick Shelby. We can pretty definitively say that Chauncey Depew was the Dick Shelby of his day. Senator Depew took about $50,000 in bribes to do as he was told by the railroad and insurance companies. And it's worthy to note $50,000 in 1905 was A LOT more than $50,000 in 2015 terms. You might ask "What does that have to do with Dick Shelby?" Well, I'm so glad you asked. There is a website called opensecrets.org at which you can look directly at Dick Shelby's Top 5 campaign contributors. See here:
So what are we to learn from this?? These type bastards like Dick Shelby and Chauncey Depew have been with us a long time. Even under "ideal conditions" it's hard to keep all the Dick Shelby types out of the system. But if we don't pay attention to who the politicians' "sponsors" are (who often have direct control over the writing of the laws/legislation) we will be continually and perennially burying our heads in the sand. VOTING IS IMPORTANT. And there are candidates out there Elizabeth Warren, Zephyr Teachout (who lost), Tim Wu (who lost his bid to become lieutenant governor of New York). There are candidates out there who are very worthy of being elected and are still losing elections. Why?? Is it their failure for not making people aware, or voters failure for not reading newspapers and keeping self-educated on the candidates?? It's an open question.
Early on in "All The Presidents' Bankers" Miss Prins also discusses an infamous meeting (rarely discussed in recent media publications) at Jekyll Island which happened in 1910. Jekyll Island was an island resort for the super-elite located just off the coast of Georgia. At this Jekyll Island meeting, which was kept very secret, a small group of some of the nation's most powerful men created what would become the Federal Reserve System. Which one could argue from its very inception has only served the interests of large bankers (and not the small depositors they claim to serve). There has been strong evidence (revealed within the last 6 months) to show The Federal Reserve System largely views its main and possibly sole duty (including its "regulatory" arm) as that of being a protector and facilitator of TBTF ("too big to fail") banks' power:
SIDE NOTE: One thing that fascinates me about human beings is we often buy into outlandish conspiracy theories (martians, vaccines for authoritarian control, fluoride used as a brainwashing tool, a dark-skinned President as the "anti-Christ" etc.) But many credible conspiracy theories (such as this Jekyll Island meeting) somehow get lost in the haze of mass media to where they are seemingly new revelations when someone like Nomi Prins digs through the public record. It reminds me of the "Seven Executives of Big Tobacco" testimony to Congress. Which people seem to act now like it never occurred:
Also the fact that huge media conglomerates make intentional efforts to hide information from the public, or even participate in boldfaced LIES. As anyone can see from the rare "company man" honesty of CBS guy Lowell Bergman:
BACK TO THE REVIEW Some of the figures mentioned in "All The Presidents' Bankers" I dare say have never been "household names". Yet they have had a deep and broad impact on American public policy (both domestic and foreign policy) and are worthy of knowing to understand large bankers' influence on the history of the American government.. Thomas Lamont was a large and influential banker. Albert Wiggin. Sidney Weinberg had a lot of political influence (for appointees and filling Presidential administration jobs). And Walter Wriston's name pops up a fair share. Others might be more commonly known, such as Paul Warburg (of Warburg family fame), J.P. Morgan, and David Rockefeller who was immensely powerful in the decades of the '60s and '70s (and arguably beyond that). Robert Rubin (formerly of Goldman Sachs and now mostly affiliated with CitiGroup) was HUGELY influential during the Bill Clinton Presidency, and arguably still holds sway and pulls many strings with the Obama Presidency to this very day.
In recent years more Americans have come to see that what often our federal government proclaims as "altruistic" its motives and actions overseas, the reality is those actions are for pragmatic reasons, to consolidate or keep grasp on power. Think of the "necessity" of the Iraq war. When most Al Qaeda operatives were natives of Saudi Arabia and/or currently hiding in Afghanistan or Pakistan (Pakistan remember is what John Kerry calls our "partner on terror" all the while they provided refuge for Osama Bin Laden very near to a Pakistan military base) "W" Bush decided to go on a glamorized goose chase in Iraq . Think of the African nations, or Bosnia where genocide occurs and America sits idly watching. NO oil reserves to be snatched there, eh??" What does that have to do with Nomi Prins's book 'All The Presidents' Bankers' ??" you might ask.... I am so glad you asked. Ever heard of something called "The Marshall Plan"?? Winthrop Aldrich (Chairman of Chase Bank from 1934-1953) was a big proponent and champion of "The Marshall Plan". Why?? A flow of capital into Europe meant creating a future fertile ground for loans and interest revenues for large American banks. Was the Marshall Plan all bad?? In the book reviewer's opinion, no. But neither was it a "benevolent" act, as the Marshall Plan has often and nearly always been portrayed by American media. This is only one of many of the added perspectives and added context Nomi Prins's efforts in the Truman Library have given us, for which this reader is grateful.
NAFTA was used in a similar way as the Marshall Plan. To extend loan agreements and increase debt burdens of Mexico, mostly to the enrichment of American banks. John McCloy (Chairman of Chase Bank from 1953-1960) was a man who spent a great deal of time and effort licking his chops and salivating over loans to Latin America. (Interestingly McCloy was also a member of the Warren Commission investigating John F. Kennedy's assassination.) The cynical (or less naive) among us might ask: "What credentials did John McCloy have in crime scene investigation or forensics??". Never you mind kids, go back to watching "American Idol" and "The Bachelor"---ignorance is bliss.
There are many interesting and delightfully fascinating gems to be found in the book (family connections, nepotism, "you scratch my back I'll scratch your back" behind the curtains operations) that Nomi Prins reveals in this treasure of a book. But if I went through them all it would take the fun out of reading the book.
On a 1 to 10 scale, 10 =perfect 5=average 1=trash
"GrahamBrokeTheMold" blog gives "All The Presidents' Bankers" a 10!!!
GO BUY IT!!!!
Until then you can watch Nomi Prins's thoughts on recent market activity (around January 2015) in European currencies and other topics in this video: