British, Dutch banks, slave trade profiteers

This December 2014 video says about itself:

The Atlantic slave trade: What too few textbooks told you – Anthony Hazard

Slavery has occurred in many forms throughout the world, but the Atlantic slave trade — which forcibly brought more than 10 million Africans to the Americas — stands out for both its global scale and its lasting legacy. Anthony Hazard discusses the historical, economic and personal impact of this massive historical injustice.

Lesson by Anthony Hazard, animation by NEIGHBOR.

Translated from Maaike Schoon in Dutch Vrij Nederland magazine, 10 July 2020:

How Dutch bankers financed slavery

The UK financial sector is under attack for its involvement in slavery. Research by Vrij Nederland shows that predecessors of Dutch banks, and even former members of the management of De Nederlandsche Bank [central bank], were also involved in the slavery economy.

A series of films on the bank’s origins can be found on the international ING Group website. It begins in 1762, reports a cheerful female voice, with the founding of Baring Brothers, a British trading house owned by English bankers Frances and John Baring. The trading house grew into one of the largest investment banks in the world.

The international reputation of the bank does not die until the 1990s when the fraudulent merchant Nick Leeson gives the bank an unbelievably large loss of millions. Thanks to that loss of millions, ING is able to buy the chicest bank in the United Kingdom for the symbolic amount of £ 1, thus opening itself up to London City. And, as the video shows, also to the glorious past of the third oldest investment bank in the world. Even Napoleon was a customer, the woman says cheerfully.

This 2018 ING bank video says about itself:

Barings bank’s first big client was Napoleon. What did this British bank do for the French statesman in 1803 and how is ING related to what was once the UK’s most powerful investment bank?

The Vrij Nederland article continues:

What the video does not tell: Baring Brothers made big profits in the early years, thanks to large-scale investments in slavery. When slavery was abolished, Sir Alexander Baring, the founder’s son, had enslaved more than 2,000 humans as property in British Guiana (modern-day Guyana), and more than 1,000 on the island of Saint Kitts, totalling 3,400 people.

With the abolition of slavery, owners were compensated for the loss of their “possessions”. Sir Baring received compensation that would come to 1.2 million euros today.

Since June this year, a heated debate has raged in Britain about the slavery past of national business. Insurance corporation Lloyds Bank and brewer Greene King published press releases and apologies for the fact that the founders had enslaved people and had benefited financially. The numbers are a shadow of that of Barings: 162 and 231 persons respectively.

Directly related to slavery

ING is not the only Dutch bank that can be directly associated with slavery, or its financial derivatives, such as investments in plantations, through a legal predecessor. In the seventeenth but certainly also eighteenth and partly nineteenth centuries, the fine fleur of the Amsterdam financial world became involved in investing in ship insurance and plantation loans in Suriname and Guyana. It was mainly wealthy families who engaged in trade in the West Indies in search of returns.

According to research by historians Pepijn Brandon and Ulbe Bosma associated with Harvard, the trade in slave-produced goods accounted for forty per cent of economic growth in Holland in the second half of the eighteenth century. This growth again sparked a wave of speculation in plantation loans. Ultimately, this led to a major financial crisis in 1773, after which the investments declined again. But the trade did not stop.

Plantation loans are loans granted to plantation owners, both Dutch and foreign owners. The loans themselves were subsequently resold in pieces as bonds, says Brandon, who researched the subject. “You can compare the funds from then with private equity parties now; lenders provided capital to plantation owners, but then resold that debt to smaller traders. ”

In this way, the involvement in slavery was interwoven throughout the entire financial system: trading houses that did not immediately issue plantation loans often had to deal with it. Hedging was also not unusual for the eighteenth and nineteenth-century traders: hedging a financial risk should the slavery economy collapse. Thanks to the publication of these innovative financial products, Amsterdam – and to a lesser extent London – remained the financial nerve centres of Europe.


London City is currently in the spotlight because of that past. After all, legal predecessors of HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland and Barclays, as revealed in June after a University College London database was published, also had ties to the slavery economy. It lists the individuals and firms that received compensation in 1836, as well as those who made a claim in vain.

The database provides insight into which political parties, country houses, museums and other institutions benefited from slavery. As an important financial centre, London was a prominent player in the slave trade: the database lists numerous bankers, trading houses and politicians who took advantage of the enslaved persons trade.

And after the death of George Floyd and subsequent Black Lives Matters protests, this new June information hit the ground.

Even the Bank of England, founded in 1694, was forced to apologize. No fewer than 27 former bosses of the Bank were found to have invested in slavery or to have been compensated for its abolition. “As an institution, although the Bank of England itself was not directly involved in slavery, it is aware of and apologizes for some unforgivable ties to former governors and directors,” said the regulator’s official press release. Eleven portraits of former presidents associated with slavery have since been removed from their buildings by the Bank of England.

Ties to the slavery past

The Bank of England’s apologies are relevant to the Netherlands. Research by Vrij Nederland shows that De Nederlandsche Bank – founded in 1814 – also has ties to the history of slavery.

One of the sources for this is a thesis by historian J.P. van der Voort from 1973, in which all plantation loans are recorded between 1720 and 1795. It is the most direct proof of financial involvement of investors in slave plantations in the Netherlands, in addition to the archives of the Emancipation Act of 1863 (which abolished slavery).

Van der Voort’s list states that the family company of the second president of De Nederlandsche Bank (he was that from 1816 to 1827), Jan Hodshon, provided plantation loans – he would eventually work for the company Hodshon & Co. As late as 1789, the trading house Hodshon & Co issued a loan to a plantation in St. Eustatius.

The family firm of Paul Hogguer, the first president of De Nederlandsche Bank (the daily management has consisted of the president plus five directors since its foundation), is also on this list. Although it is not immediately possible to determine whether he actually traded in these loans: his archive has largely disappeared. He briefly served as President: from 1814 to 1817.

Hogguer is from an important noble Swiss family, who owned several plantations, Pippin Brandon and Sven Beckert, another Harvard historian, recently wrote in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung. For example, his grandmother and father had the La Liberté plantation in Suriname, according to data from the Amsterdam City Archives.

Hogguer was no longer very active as a banker after 1790, suspects Professor of Economic and Social History Joost Jonker, who obtained his doctorate on the subject. “After the financial crisis in 1773, the market for plantation loans collapsed. Hogguer had already largely withdrawn from the markets at the end of the eighteenth century.”

Compensation schemes

Furthermore, data from the National Archives shows that during the official abolition of slavery in 1863, three directors of DNB were involved in the compensation scheme of the Dutch government for the freeing of slaves in Suriname. Owners received 300 guilders for each enslaved person – in 2020 this means around 7,000 euros, or parts thereof, if owners had shares in the plantations.

DNB director Ferdinand Rendorp represented the interests of shareholders in such a fund and, according to archivist and historian Okke ten Hove, also held shares himself. Secretary Herman Molkenboer is mentioned because his wife was compensated for shares in a plantation. Women only became legally competent in 1956, so the money fell to him.

At the time of the Emancipation in 1863, Jacobus Insinger owned several plantations and shares in plantations. For example, researcher Dienke Hondius previously reported that Insinger personally owned 214 people on the Surinamese Barbados plantation. During Emancipation, Insinger was a director at De Nederlandsche Bank.

In response to this, De Nederlandsche Bank states that it will approach an independent party to conduct historical research into the Bank’s initial period and into then presidents and board members.

Widow Borski

The woman who – according to the president of De Nederlandsche Bank Klaas Knot – is responsible for the existence of the Bank, widow Borski, also appears to have been involved in trade in the slave economy.

The Borski Fund, a fund for female investors, was established in October 2019. Named after perhaps the richest woman of the nineteenth century, and one of the few female investors of the time. Knot is a speaker at the presentation of the fund in Museum van Loon. They are “still grateful” to the widow, says the President of the Bank, because without the widow Borski it would have been questionable whether De Nederlandsche Bank could have existed at all.

De Nederlandsche Bank was founded in 1814 by King Willem I, on the advice of the aforementioned Paul Hogguer.

But that did not happen by itself: the existence of the Bank hung on a thread in 1814. Of the five thousand shares issued, only three thousand were sold; Amsterdam’s high finance had little confidence in the bank’s future. But one trading house dared to: Borski and sons, headed by the widow Borski. Thanks to a convenient deal with Willem I, she bought the remaining two thousand shares, thereby providing DNB with much-needed starting capital.

Thanks in part to her, the Bank got off the ground, says Frank Elderson in a broadcast of the VPRO series De IJzeren Eeuw. A replica of the portrait of the widow is still hanging in the DNB meeting room. Knot, in his speech: “(…) We still exist. Thanks to the shares that the widow Borski – probably largely in gold and silver coins – settled with King Willem I.”

This July 2016 VPRO TV video is about the widow Borski.

Purely out of self-interest

An extensive inventory from 1818 between the British and Dutch State, from the National Archives in London, shows that widow Borski had been investing in Demerary (present-day Guyana) since 1802: plantation loans with a current value of more than eight million euros.

It is remarkable that she still had it in 1818, says professor Jonker, because the trade in plantation loans had already largely dried up. “That the widow still has a mortgage of one hundred thousand guilders on plantations in Demerary at that time in history. She was of course very wealthy, but that is still a large amount. Incidentally, the widow acted with her deal with De Nederlandsche Bank purely for self-interest: she knew how to immediately sell those not yet issued shares to numerous traders in Amsterdam.”

In response to questions from Vrij Nederland, DNB states that it is aware of Borski’s investments. “The widow Borski, who co-financed DNB in ​​its founding years, is known to have used its capital to fund plantations in Suriname and elsewhere in the Caribbean.”

From a historical perspective, loans to plantations are so important because it was precisely this financial infrastructure that allowed the plantations in Suriname and other colonies to grow, says Karin Lurvink. On behalf of VU University Amsterdam, she conducted research into the involvement of bankers and insurers in the slave trade.

Lurvink: “Mortgages were placed on the lives of African slaves by plantation owners, with the intention of obtaining credit, so that they could, among other things, buy even more slaves.” The African slaves represented a third of the total value of the plantation. And based on that value, the loan was granted. This led to the cynical reality that the more enslaved people were owned by a plantation, the larger the loan that could be taken out. With which even more enslaved people could be bought.

Slavery downplay

In the past, the involvement of the Dutch in slavery was often dismissed; an activity that historian Matthias van Rossum describes as “slavery downplaying“. The Netherlands supposedly did not profit that much from slavery, was the idea. Moreover, the British transported many more enslaved people.

However, the Dutch bankers’ records have shown that the involvement of the Dutch is much greater than is often assumed. The inventory from the London archives that was drawn up in 1818 shows this. Not only do the Dutch control eleven percent of all British plantations, they also issue loans to foreign plantation owners. And the Dutch mortgages and slave owners together accounted for no less than a third of the total slave trade in the region west of Suriname, according to the accompanying document. Thanks to the financial elite in the Netherlands.

Not very keen

Dutch bankers also directly owned slaves, especially when the abolition of slavery was in sight. Some of the plantations went bankrupt before their abolition and fell into the hands of the creditors: the bankers.

The best-known example of this is the company Insinger & Co, the legal predecessor of the current InsingerGilisen. Research by Karin Lurvink, who previously wrote about it in OneWorld, shows that in 1863 the trading house Insinger & co-owned over 1,500 enslaved, more than any other Dutch company.

Moreover, the Dutch elite was not very keen on the abolition of slavery, says historian Pepijn Brandon. “People knew in the Netherlands that it would end, but have tried to stretch it until the very end. And then it became part of an economic rationale: in the final stages, it even became profitable to keep plantations, because the owners knew they would be compensated by the government anyway.”

Frits Insinger was particularly active in this: as a Member of the Dutch Parliament he postponed the abolition of slavery for years. “The government has no right to free slaves without compensation,” he said in 1854 (can be read in the historical documents of the Senate). In 1863 his company receives this compensation: 300 guilders per person, 350 thousand guilders in total. Converted to now, that is more than eight million euros.

Incidentally, the historical irony, according to professor of colonial and postcolonial history Gert Oostindie, in a radio conversation with VPRO, wants the abolition of slavery in the West to be funded by proceeds from unfree labour in the East. Thanks to the profits from the Dutch East Indies, the Dutch State had enough money to compensate plantation owners.

Double compensation

Dutch plantation owners were not only compensated by the Dutch state for their lost property, but also by the British. The British took out the largest loan in their history for this: £ 20 million – converted 2.5 billion euros. The British taxpayer has had to pay until 2015 to repay this loan.

If they abolish slavery in 1836, dozens of Dutch people still have plantations in British areas at the time. The University College of London dataset contains 31 Dutch people who received money from the British government in 1836. In total, the Dutch receive hundreds of thousands of pounds for many thousands of men, women and children that they counted as their personal property: converted to now that is tens of millions of euros.

One family, in particular, makes a fortune: the Secretary of the Demerary colony, Philip Tinne, a successful sugar merchant who also invested in coffee plantations. In 1813 he forms a partnership, Sandbach, Tinne & Company, which trades in, according to the archives: “prime Gold coast Negros”.

The company gets a windfall profit during the British abolition: converted to now it would receive more than 22 million euros for the enslaved people in various coffee and sugar plantations. Philip Tinne himself receives almost thirteen million from the British State. His fortune allows his wife and daughter Alexine to do whatever they want after his death. Years later, The Hague’s Alexine Tinne made waves as “the first female explorer.”

Past past

If Dutch ABN Amro bank wants to take over the US American bank LaSalle in 2006, one of the conditions for that takeover is that the bank investigates its own slavery past. The city council in Chicago, where LaSalle is based, already considers it fundamental in the context of corporate social responsibility that companies know whether they have ever made a profit by slave trade.

The investigation shows, among other things, that predecessor Mees & Zonen was actively involved in the transatlantic slave trade. Karin Lurvink previously concluded that the involvement of Hope & Co is not included in this, while ABN also refers to the past of this predecessor on its website.

Hope & Co is a renowned Dutch bank, and one of the private companies that maintained the transatlantic slave trade, says the Amsterdam City Archives.

In several cases, they work closely together with the Barings company. In Van der Voort’s thesis, Hope & Co is mentioned with seven credits: loans worth now just under thirty million euros. The Amsterdam archive also contains extensive lists and descriptions for the equipment of slave ships – which were necessary for the financing and insurance of the ships.

Called to account

In the meantime, the pressure on banks for their problematic past is growing in the United Kingdom. For example, Member of Parliament Layla Moran stated three weeks ago that she will write to all institutions that appear in the database, so that they can make apologies and donations, just like Lloyds and Greene King.

But “sorry” is not enough, says Hilary Beckles, president of the Caricom countries (the Caribbean islands plus Suriname and Guyana). Previously, these countries threatened to sue the British, Dutch and French states for their role in the slave trade and slavery, under the 1965 International Convention on the Elimination of All Racial Discrimination. Martyn Day of the Leigh Day law firm at that time. The case has not yet been brought to court.

The question is whether ING Group, as the parent company of Barings, can thus face a claim for damages. Day: “There are banks and institutions – and Baring Brothers is one of them – that have profited enormously from slavery and its abolition. To be honest, I would be surprised if there are no legal consequences for this in the coming years. Exactly how things will take legal form differs per case, according to Day. But: “All these organizations are nervous now. The time has come for them to be held accountable.”

United States banks’ anti-African American discrimination

This 24 January 2020 video about the USA says about itself:

INFURIATING Story About A Racist Bank

Sauntore Thomas is the victim of multiple forms of racism. Ana Kasparian and John Iadarola, hosts of The Young Turks, break it down.

On March 2, 1995, Nick Leeson was arrested at the Frankfurt airport for his role in the Barings Bank collapse. A 28-year-old school dropout who failed mathematics, he rocketed to the front of the line of Barings traders after he was sent to Singapore to assist in technical operations in the local derivatives market. He then became the principal floor trader for Barings at the Singapore International Monetary Exchange (SIMEX): here.

Banks’ $10 billion to Boeing, nothing to mourning families

This 15 May 2019 ABC TV video from the USA says about itself:

Pilots heard on audio recording pleading with Boeing

American Airline pilot union officials met with Boeing engineers in Dallas after the first 737 Max crash and pushed them to take more action in a heated conversation.

By Bryan Dyne in the USA:

Banks to give $10 billion bailout to Boeing, nothing to the families of the dead

23 January 2020

Airplane manufacturer Boeing has secured at least $6 billion in loans from major banks, including Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo, and is seeking a further $4 billion, according a report citing internal sources by the financial news channel CNBC.

The company is looking to offset losses estimated at $1 billion a month from two crashes and the resulting grounding of its flagship 737 Max 8 aircraft. The combined death toll from the October 2018 crash of Lion Air Flight 610 and the March 2019 crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 was 346.

Boeing, which posted revenues of $100 billion in 2018, has suffered a sharp fall in income and share value since the grounding of the Max 8 last March. Its stock price has fallen from $440.62 per share on March 1, 2019 to a closing price of $307.15 on Tuesday, wiping out more than $64 billion of the company’s value. The aerospace giant’s sales plummeted from 893 airplanes in 2018 to just 54 in 2019. Its final earnings report for 2019 is expected to be posted on January 29.

It is unclear when or even if the Max 8 will ever fly again. In the 10 months since its grounding, a steady stream of internal leaks, news reports, interviews with former employees and congressional hearings have provided a mountain of evidence pointing to criminal negligence, deadly safety short cuts and concealment of known dangers on the part of Boeing management, facilitated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and top government officials. Yet not a single company executive or regulatory head has been criminally charged, let alone prosecuted and convicted.

These figures have instead been richly rewarded. Ex-CEO Dennis Muilenburg, who was forced from his position in December, walked away from the company with $80.7 million in compensation for overseeing the final development, production and certification of one of the deadliest commercial aircraft ever to fly. Michael Luttig, who until recently was Boeing’s chief legal counsel, last year sold shares worth $6.5 million and was gifted shares currently worth $3.6 million.

Even the loan that is being extended to Boeing is constructed to maximize the company’s profits. It will likely be what is known as a delayed-draw loan, designed to have no immediate impact on the company’s credit rating, unlike loans provided to workers. This will provide Boeing extra capital to pay its investors, including firms such as Vanguard and T. Rowe Price, which have continued to receive dividends on their shares throughout the Max 8 grounding.

Investors are also expecting Boeing to use the funds to help complete its $4 billion acquisition of Embraer, which has plans to develop new propeller planes for shorter, regional flights.

In contrast, a pittance has been provided to the 346 families that lost loved ones in the two crashes. The total allocated for them is $50 million, amounting to $144,500 per crash victim. This is less than what Muilenburg averaged in a month. At the same time, Boeing has agreed to pay airline corporations $5.6 billion in compensation for lost profits, more than 10 times its compensation to grieving families.

Nor has any relief been provided to the thousands of workers whose livelihoods are being destroyed as a result of the grounding and production halt of the Max 8. Earlier this month, Boeing subcontractor Spirit AeroSystems, based in Witchita, Kansas, indefinitely laid off 2,800 employees. The parts manufacturer generates nearly 50 percent of its income from producing the fuselage for the 737 Max.

General Electric has announced it is laying off 70 temporary employees at its jet engine factory in Quebec as a result of the grounding. While the company was planning these layoffs, it paid its chairman and CEO Larry Culp more than $15 million to oversee job cuts.

Boeing has been further hit by an expose published Monday in the New York Times concerning a crash of a Boeing 737-NG that occurred in February of 2009. A fresh review of the evidence in that crash, which occurred outside of Amsterdam and killed nine people, shows that a faulty sensor triggered a computer command that could not be overridden by the pilots, causing the Turkish Airlines flight to plummet to the ground. This is essentially the same malfunction that caused both Max 8 crashes.

While the findings from that time by the Dutch Safety Board primarily blamed the pilots, it has come to light that a contemporaneous study by Dr. Sidney Dekker, an aviation safety expert, was suppressed at the behest of Boeing because it made clear that the crash was primarily Boeing’s fault. The airplane manufacturer used only a single sensor to trigger the computer command, rather than following normal safety protocol and requiring a second sensor to set off the command.

In the aftermath, it was revealed that Boeing had upgraded its software to take inputs from two sensors in order to avoid this very problem, but had made the second sensor an optional feature on its NG aircraft, installed at an additional cost to the airline. This upgrade, moreover, was incompatible with many older models of the plane, including the one that crashed.

In the case of both the Max 8 and the earlier 737 model, Boeing knew that its software had potentially deadly consequences but kept hidden from airlines, pilots and the flying public knowledge of the problem and the fact that it was working on a fix.

JPMorgan Chase, biggest banking profits ever

This 17 December 2019 Yahoo Finance video from the USA says about itself:

JPMorgan Chase bank engulfed in racism scandal after ex-NFL player speaks out

Former NFL player Jimmy Kennedy discusses his allegation of facing racism at JPMorgan Chase.

By Gabriel Black in the USA:

Amid poverty wages and tax cuts for the rich

JPMorgan Chase records the biggest profit of any bank in US history

18 January 2020

JPMorgan Chase, the most valuable private bank in the world, made $36.4 billion in 2019, the biggest annual profit of any bank in American history. The news, reported Tuesday, sent the company’s stock up by 2 percent. In the fourth quarter of 2019, the company took in $8.5 billion, also a record, making it the tenth-largest publicly traded company in the world, with a market cap of $437 billion.

JPMorgan Chase’s record profits were joined by Morgan Stanley, which also reported both record profits and record revenues for 2019, sending its stock price surging 6.6 percent on Thursday.

News of these record gains came as the six largest US banks revealed that they saved a combined $32 billion last year from President Donald Trump’s 2017 corporate tax cut. The tax windfall was up from 2018 for all but one of the banks. JPMorgan’s tax cut went from $3.7 billion in 2018 to $5 billion last year.

At Wednesday’s signing ceremony for the phase one trade deal with China, attended by an array of corporate executives, Trump turned to Mary Erdoes, a top executive at JPMorgan Chase. Calling the bank’s earnings report “incredible”, he joked, “Will you say, ‘Thank you, Mr. President’, at least?”

The tax cuts for the corporations and the rich, enacted with only token opposition from the Democrats, are only one factor in the surge in profits over the past year. When stocks plunged at the end of 2018, Trump stepped up his demand that the Federal Reserve reverse its policy of gradually raising interest rates to more normal levels, following years of near-zero rates in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. Acting as the mouthpiece of Wall Street, he demanded that the Fed begin cutting rates once again in order to pump more cash into the financial markets.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell dutifully complied, cutting interest rates three times in 2018 and assuring the markets that he had no intention of raising them again any time soon. Then, beginning in the late fall, the Fed began pumping tens of billions of dollars a week into the so-called “repo” overnight loan market, resuming the money-printing operation known as “quantitative easing”.

This de facto guarantee of unlimited public funds to backstop stock prices has produced record highs on all of the major US indexes, sending billions more into the private coffers of the rich and the super-rich.

These measures are a continuation and intensification of policies carried out on a bipartisan basis for four decades to redistribute wealth from the working class to the corporations and the financial elite. They have effected a fundamental restructuring of class relations in America, drastically lowering the social position of the working class. Decent-paying, secure jobs have been wiped out and largely replaced by poverty-wage, part-time, temporary and contingent employment—the so-called “gig” economy exemplified by corporations such as Amazon and Uber.

This decades-long ruling class offensive was accelerated in response to the 2008 financial crisis. President Barack Obama oversaw the channeling of trillions of dollars to the banks and financial markets in order to pay off the debts of the bankers and speculators, whose reckless and criminal activities had led to the crisis, and make them richer than ever. At the same time, he imposed a restructuring of the auto industry based on a 50 percent across-the-board pay cut for new-hires and an expansion of temporary and part-time labor.

Meanwhile, state, local and federal government programs have been dramatically slashed. Education, housing, Medicaid and food stamps have been particularly hard hit. This process has been accelerated under Trump, along with the removal of occupational safety and environmental regulations, with no opposition from the Democrats, who represent sections of the financial elite and wealthy upper-middle class.

The devastating human cost of the plundering of society by the corporate-financial oligarchy is registered in declining life expectancy, rising mortality and record suicide and drug addiction rates. A recent study by the Brookings Institution found that 53 million people in the US—44 percent of all workers—“earn barely enough to live on”. The study found that the median pay of this group was $10.22 per hour, around $18,000 a year. Thirty seven percent of those making $10 an hour have children. More than half are the primary earners or “contribute substantially” to family income.

Similarly, a Reuters report from 2018 found that the average income of the bottom 40 percent of workers in the United States was $11,600.

A recent study by Trust for America’s Health found that in 2017 “more than 152,000 Americans died from alcohol- and drug-induced fatalities and suicide.” This was the highest number ever recorded and more than double the figure for 1999. Among those in their 20s and early 30s, the prime working life age, drug deaths have increased more than 400 percent in the last 20 years.

At the other pole of society, the Dow Jones Industrial index is now double what it was at its peak in 2007, prior to the implosion of the financial system. Between March 2009 and today, the Dow has risen from 6,500 to over 29,000.

This 18 January 2020 video from the USA is called Dow Soaring Means ABSOLUTELY Nothing.

The stock market, buttressed by central bank and government policy, has become the central instrument for funneling wealth from the bottom of society to the top. As a result, the top 10 percent of society now owns about 70 percent of all wealth, whereas the bottom 50 percent has, effectively, nothing.

In the midst of this orgy of wealth accumulation at the very top of society, every demand of workers for jobs, decent pay, education, housing, health care and pensions is met with the universal response: “There is no money.” Hundreds of thousands of teachers have struck over the past two years to demand the restoration of funds cut from the public schools and substantial increases in pay and benefits. None of their demands have been met. The same applies to auto workers who struck for 40 days last fall to demand an end to two-tier pay systems and the defense of jobs.

JPMorgan’s $36.4 billion profit in 2019 is more than half the education budget of the US federal government.

Meanwhile, Americans are deeper in debt to JPMorgan and the other banks than at any time in history. Collective consumer debt in the United States approached $14 trillion last year. Credit card debt has surpassed $1 trillion for the first time. Auto debt is at $1.3 trillion and mortgage debt is now $9.4 trillion. Student loan debt has increased the fastest, surging from $500 billion in 2006 to $1.6 trillion today.

These are the conditions, rooted in the historical bankruptcy and crisis of the capitalist system, that have sparked a global upsurge in the class struggle and the growth of anti-capitalist and pro-socialist sentiment. The past year has seen a dramatic expansion of working-class struggle that is only a glimpse of what is to come. India, Hong Kong, Mexico, the United States, Puerto Rico, Lebanon, Iraq, France, Chile and Brazil are only some of the places where mass struggles have erupted.

What is becoming increasingly clear to hundreds of millions of people around the world is that the social problems confronting humanity in the 21st century—poverty, debt, disease, global warming, war, fascism, the assault on democratic rights—cannot be solved so long as this parasitic and oligarchical financial elite continues to rule. The turn is to the American and international working class—to unite, take power and seize control of the wealth which it produces to ensure peace, prosperity and equality for all people.

Protest against bank’s role in global warming

Extinction Rebellion protesters at the ABN AMRO office in Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

The Extinction Rebellion action group is again taking action in Amsterdam today. The climate activists are now demonstrating in front of the ABN Amro office on the Zuidas. Seven of them have glued themselves together. The riot police is also present.

The campaigners build a camp with a stage in the Vondelpark. “We expect the mayor to approve that,” said a spokesperson for the campaigners.

In addition, there will be more “decentralized actions” at government buildings and corporations that have contributed to the Dutch government’s climate agreement, says the spokesperson. ABN Amro‘s turn was first.

This Extinction Rebellion tweet says that of the ABN Amro investments in energy, 84% is fossil fuel, only 16% renewable. ‘Declare a climate emergency!’

Different groups of activists decide for themselves which buildings these will become. Extinction Rebellion is a loose association of activists, without central management.

Yesterday, climate activists demonstrated at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. They blocked the Stadhouderskade, an important traffic artery in the city. Mayor Halsema had banned the blockade. Today, there are again riot police vans at the Rijksmuseum.

The police arrested around ninety people, who were lifted one by one and taken away in police vans. Most of them have been fined, the police say. Everyone who has been arrested is now free again.

Held for longer

The activists say they are “indignant” about police behaviour yesterday. “The officers deliberately kicked over jerry cans with drinking water. And detainees were detained for longer than permitted.” A police spokesperson admits to the NOS that a number of activists have indeed been detained for too long.

According to the activists’ lawyer, Willem Jebbink, it is “very worrying” that police detain activists for “many hours longer” than legally permitted. According to the Public Events Act, this is allowed for six hours.

CLIMATE ACTIVISTS MARCH IN GLOBAL PROTEST Activists with the Extinction Rebellion movement blocked roads and staged demonstrations in big cities around the globe, part of a wide-ranging series of protests demanding much more urgent action against climate change. [AP]

The number of arrests of Extinction Rebellion (XR) climate protestors in London topped 500 yesterday, in a naked display of state repression designed to intimidate and silence political and social opposition among much broader layers: here.

USA: In the wake of recent wildfires that have ravaged northern and central California, a new study finds that the severity of fire activity in the Sierra Nevada region has been sensitive to changes in climate over the past 1,400 years. The findings, published in Environmental Research Letters, suggest that future climate change is likely to drive increased fire activity in the Sierras: here.

‘Deutsche Bank made Trump president’

This 2015 Associated Press video says about itself:


An American centre for Holocaust studies says an admission by Germany’s Deutsche Bank that it helped finance the construction of Auschwitz is just the “tip of the iceberg.”

The Simon Wiesenthal Centre says US government studies dating back decades prove that the bank collaborated closely with the Nazi government. Lawyers for the centre are to meet in Washington D-C next week with lawyers for the German bank, now in the process of taking over the American Banker’s Trust Corporation.

More problems for Deutsche Bank as it continues its takeover bid in the United States. The bank has confessed to funding construction of the notorious concentration camp at Auschwitz, Poland. But in a news conference on Friday, the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Centre said the bank’s involvement in the Holocaust went much further.

Rabbi Marvin Hier, the dean and founder of the centre, showed key pages from a 1946 US government report that he says document Deutsche Bank‘s extensive collaboration with the Nazis.

SOUNDBITE: (English) “Once you have this report, then you know that what the bank cited yesterday is just the tip of the iceberg.”

SUPERCAPTION: Rabbi Marvin Hier, Dean and Founder, Simon Wiesenthal Centre

Most specifically, Hier claims that Deutsche Bank lent the German company I-G Farben 250 (m) million US dollars to build a rubber factory in Auschwitz that used Jews as slave labourers. A top official of Deutsche Bank named Hermann Abs supposedly lent Farben this money on behalf of the bank.

Hier claims that 300-thousand workers were used in this plant and many of them died on the job.

SOUNDBITE: (English) “Hermann J Abs reported to the Deutsche Bank and the rest of the bank officials, ‘This is how our bank loan of 250 (m) million dollars is going. We are going to build a synthetic rubber plant. They are using concentration camp slave labour. The loan seems to be going just fine.’

That’s the first thing you need to know about the bank’s involvement, knowing the use of slave labour, 300-thousand people, 25-thousand died on the job.”

SUPERCAPTION: Rabbi Marvin Hier, Dean and Founder, Simon Wiesenthal Centre

Hier cast doubt on claims by bank officials that they only realised the role their forbearers played from files found just recently in Eastern Europe. He insists the report documenting the bank’s collusion with the Nazis has been in the hands of western governments, including Germany and the U-S, for decades.

Despite the fact that thousands of Jews perished here at Auschwitz, Hier argues that the U-S government suppressed the report as part of a post-war effort to prevent West Germany from going Communist.

SOUNDBITE: (English) “We recommend that if the Deutsche Bank wants to the honourable thing, they should tell their complete record and say we want to now face the music which is we want to make a fair global settlement so that those who were employed in slave labour as a result of our involvement are duly compensated.”

SUPERCAPTION: Rabbi Marvin Hier, Dean and Founder, Simon Wiesenthal Centre

Hier says lawyers from the Wiesenthal Centre are hoping to make a global settlement with Deutsche Bank on behalf of the slave labourers and victims from the rubber factory in Auschwitz. Lawyers from the Simon Wiesenthal Centre will be meeting in Washington next week with lawyers for Deutsche Bank.

Translated from Belgian daily De Standaard, 8 June 2019:


David Enrich, financial editor at “The New York Times”

Donald Trump was such a risky customer in the late 1990s that no bank wanted to lend him any more money. Except for Deutsche Bank.

“Afterwards, Trump even claimed there had been a “natural disaster” in order not to have to pay back.”

“Without Deutsche Bank, Trump would probably not have been president

The journalist who revealed the secrets of Trump’s relationship with Deutsche Bank. The New York Times’s David Enrich has uncovered many details about the president’s long history with one of the most scandal-prone banks on Wall Street. He tells us what he knows: here.

New David Enrich book on Deutsche Bank, and Trump: here.

On July 7 the Supervisory Board of Deutsche Bank gave its blessing to the “most far-reaching restructuring in decades,” according to Chief Executive Christian Sewing. Around one in five jobs worldwide, that is, 18,000 posts, will fall victim to the jobs massacre. Employees are paying the price for the bank’s criminal activities over the last thirty years. Deutsche Bank entered investment banking in 1989 with the purchase of the British bank Morgan Grenfell. This became its main activity 10 years later with the takeover of US investment house Bankers Trust. By 2000, Deutsche Bank was the largest financial institution in the world, with CEO Josef Ackermann promising a return on equity of 25 percent: here.

French bank threatens tax dodging whistleblower’s life

In this 15 April 2019 French language video from France, Ms Stéphanie Gibaud, whistleblower on the UBS bank tax dodging scandal, speaks about the imprisonment of another whistleblower, Julian Assange.

Translated from Belgian weekly Humo, 16 April 2019:

How private Bank UBS helps the super rich bypass the tax authorities: whistleblower Stéphanie Gibaud reveals

For ten years, Stéphanie Gibaud had the job of her life at private bank UBS France.

A branch of the Swiss UBS bank.

Until she discovered that her employer organized tax dodging for the super rich on a large scale. “After the first police search we were ordered:” Erase your hard drive and dump your files. “But I took everything home and mapped the secret accounts, tax havens and secret codes.” Stéphanie Gibaud became a whistleblower, and her life turned into hell.

“I received threatening letters. My lawyer said: “Do not stand too close to the tracks when you take the metro, and be careful when you cross the street”

“You recognize me by my long red coat”, Stéphanie Gibaud texted five minutes before our appointment in a Parisian brasserie. The e-mail traffic that preceded this interview went through a secure address. She asks to sit at the back, in the darkest corner of the cafe.

Stéphanie Gibaud: “No, I am not paranoid. But I no longer trust the technology. Since I collided frontally with UBS France, I know they have the means to hack my smartphone and read my e-mails. When I had made a deal with the Ministry of Finance, UBS was immediately informed. I’m sure nobody had leaked. They could only know that by spying on me.»

In February 2019, a French court convicted private bank UBS to a record fine of 4.5 billion euro. That conviction was a direct consequence of the overwhelming evidence which whistleblower Stéphanie Gibaud had collected.

Bankers ‘too big to jail’, whistleblowers, journalists small enough?

This 18 October 2018 video says about itself:

A group of bankers and lawyers have robbed Europe’s taxpayers of €55 billion.

The #CumExFiles is a joint investigation by 19 European media from twelve countries, coordinated by the German non-profit newsroom CORRECTIV. Learn more here.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

German public prosecutor conducts investigation into a journalist who revealed big fraud

The Public Prosecution Service in Hamburg conducts criminal investigations into a journalist of the research collective Correctiv. This journalist – Oliver Schröm – is supposedly guilty of “inciting to reveal trade secrets” through his disclosures about dividend tax fraud. One can get up to three years in prison or a hefty fine for that in Germany.

CumEx Files

Schröm was part of an international team of journalists that brought large-scale fraud to light. The so-called CumEx Files revealed that groups of bankers, traders and hedge funds circumvented dividend tax or made double claims through complicated constructions.

The total damage between 2001 and 2016 would certainly be EUR 55.2 billion. The Netherlands was also affected by the scandal. The publication by Correctiv is partly based on internal documents from the Swiss private bank Sarasin. Meanwhile, it has been proven that the bank was an important pivot in CumEx fraud practices.

Two employees of the bank were arrested and interrogated at the time. Schröm knew that he too had been investigated by the Swiss judicial authorities on suspicion of industrial espionage since 2014. Nothing has happened so far.

The Swiss public prosecutor has asked the German judiciary to continue the investigation. The Public Prosecution Service in Hamburg started working on this a number of months ago.

The research caused great indignation at Schröm’s editorial staff. “This accusation is bizarre. Oliver Schröm has done his job as a journalist and unveiled a major injustice in society. It is shocking that the German judiciary can be used as an instrument by its perpetrators. The attempt to silence a journalist and an editorial staff is an abuse of criminal law”, Correctiv writes in an open letter to the government.

The Hamburg Public Prosecution Service already has a substantial file about Schröm. Several possible sources of the journalist have been questioned. Personal relationships and his residence have also been investigated.

Against the research collective Follow the Money, with whom he jointly investigated the CumEx fraud, Schröm says that he is particularly concerned about the consequences for journalism and press freedom.

Schröm: “If I would be convicted, then that would mean that we, journalists, might as well stop our work, as we could no longer receive information from a source or whistleblower, and no longer publish confidential business documents.”

Deutsche Bank suspected of crimes

This 29 November 2018 video about Germany says about itself:

Deutsche Bank Headquarters Searched as Part of Panama Papers Probe

Deutsche Bank AG‘s headquarters in Frankfurt were searched Thursday by prosecutors in relation to a money laundering probe. Bloomberg’s Jan-Patrick Barnert reports on “Bloomberg Surveillance.”

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Police and judiciary have raided the Deutsche Bank head office in Frankfurt. At least two employees are suspected of having helped customers to launder money from criminal activities. The men aged 50 and 46 were arrested and another arrest was said to being made, but it is not known who that is.

Many police cars can be seen in front of the main office in Frankfurt. Also at five other offices of the bank in Frankfurt there are raids. About 170 police officers, employees of the Public Prosecution Service and the tax authorities are involved.

The money laundering investigation has to do with the Panama Papers, says correspondent Kees van Dam. These are secret documents from the Panamanian company Mossack Fonseca which ended up on the streets a few years ago. According to the German judiciary, it shows that Deutsche Bank helped customers to open questionable accounts in tax havens.

Eg, in 2016, a division of the bank with headquarters in the British Virgin Islands is said to have illegally earmarked money from Germany for 900 customers. It would amount to a total of 311 million euros. Dodging and circumventing taxes is illegal and the bank should have intervened, but that did not happen.

Not the first time

According to witnesses, the German justice department has seized a large amount of documents and also laptops and computers. Deutsche Bank says in a statement that it cooperates fully, but the case is extremely painful.

Because it is not the first time that the bank is discredited, says Kees van Dam. “Very strict rules have been put in place: money laundering or cash flows that point to terrorist plans must be reported, and apparently internal controls will not work properly.”

It is not clear whether only the two or three employees knew about the money laundering activities or that bosses were also aware. In the German press there are speculations that the case is much bigger. It may be a multibillion case involving banks from Denmark and the USA.

COPS RAID DEUTSCHE BANK Some 170 police officers, investigators and prosecutors raided the German offices of Deutsche Bank on the suspicion bank employees helped clients set up offshore companies in tax havens to launder hundreds of millions of euros. The investigation emerged from an analysis of documents leaked from tax havens in recent years, including the 2016 “Panama Papers.” [AP]

On Friday, the Frankfurt public prosecutor’s office conducted a second raid on Germany’s biggest bank, Deutsche Bank. The spokesperson for the investigating authority, Nadja Niesen, said that due to the extent of material, an additional search of the bank’s offices was necessary: here.

The German government is pushing for the combination of Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank to establish a financial behemoth capable of competing with the US and China: here.