Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Jim Flaherty, Goldman Sachs and AIG Comes Calling

This is the 4th in my series on the relationship between Jim Flaherty and Goldman Sachs, and why it matters to Canadians. We have been lied to and this lie is a whopper.

Many of us have been sounding the alarm over our sub-prime mortgages and the massive Canadian bank bailout, but since the mainstream media just keeps playing along to get along, it has gone largely unnoticed. And any economists who bring up the issue are immediately vilified.

It is now common knowledge that Wall Street created the economic crisis, and that the two main players were AIG and Goldman Sachs. But what is not as evident is the fact that these same two players came knocking on Canada's door, when the heat over what amounted to a huge insurance fraud, was threatening to bring it to an abrupt end.

In early 2005, there were warnings by many, including financial expert and Yale University professor Robert Shiller, that the housing bubble might lead to a worldwide recession, given the massive amounts of mortgage-backed securities and other risky investments, that Wall Street was now up to their necks in.

In September of 2005, The Mortgage Insurance Companies of America sent a letter to the Federal Reserve, warning about 'risky lending practices' in US real estate and by the fall the housing market boom halted abruptly, and prices began to fall nationwide.

In May of 2006, subprime lender Ameriquest announced that it would cut 3,800 jobs and closed its 229 retail branches. Merit Financial Inc, based in Kirkland, Washington, filed for bankruptcy and closed its doors, firing all but 80 of its 410 employees.

Mark Carney, Stephen Harper and Jim Flaherty all held onto the myth that no one saw this economic crisis coming, despite the fact that almost everyone did. They just didn't know what to do to stop it, because by the time the first rumblings of despair were heard, it was already too late.

With the American subprime industry drying up, Goldman Sachs needed fresh markets, and where better than Canada. They had a Republican and corporate friendly government in place, and no doubt knew of Flaherty's appetite for shady deals.

Goldman Sachs employee, Mark Carney, was the deputy finance minister who no doubt arranged all the necessary meetings, given his contact list, and he had already made a killing off Canadian taxpayers with his Income Trust fraud.

So on May 1, 2006, AIG registered as a lobbyist and the next day, Flaherty included in his first budget, a little gem. He announced that his government was opening up the market to more private insurers.
“These changes will result in greater choice and innovation in the market for mortgage insurance, benefiting consumers and promoting home ownership,” Mr. Flaherty said. The new rules encouraged the entry of such U.S. players as American International Group (AIG) ..."

The story of how the U.S. housing crisis spread to Canada is a tale of carefully orchestrated U.S. corporate lobbying, failed public-policy promises and government inaction to numerous private and public warnings about reckless mortgage practices.
Flaherty was willing to risk $200 billion of taxpayers money to get in the game.

And we have to remember that the crash in the United States was not the accident of reckless behaviour, it was reckless behaviour engineered so as to cause the accident. That was the only way that Goldman Sachs could clean up on the insurance, bankrupting AIG.

Jim Flaherty and Stephen Harper knew that what they were doing was risky, and intentionally ignored expert advice. That's the way this game works. The sub-prime mortgages created a boom in our house prices and a handful of people got filthy rich. Or filthier richer.

They knew this was a gamble but it was one they were willing to take, because after all, the only losers would be the Canadian taxpayers and the unsuspecting pawns who bought homes they couldn't afford.

And with Canada's household debt the highest of the G-20, bankruptcies on the rise and small business defaults at a record high, we have yet to bear the brunt of this government's foolishness.

I suspect they will try to get an election over with before they have to face the music. They may even pull a Mike Harris and shorten the length of time for the campaign, which will work in their favour. We have to make sure that doesn't happen.

With a Harper majority we will have no place to go but down.


1. It's Time to Have a Serious Conversation About Jim Flaherty and Goldman Sachs

2. Jim Flaherty, Goldman Sachs and the Foxes in the Henhouse

3. Jim Flaherty, Goldman Sachs and "The Swoop and Squat"

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