Fed Creates Hundreds of Billions Out of Thin Air: Have We Launched an Economic War on the Rest of the World?
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The Federal Reserve will pump $600 billion more into the US economy and keep interest rates at historical low levels. The short-term impact of the Fed’s move, known as quantitative easing, has been a jump in stock prices across the globe. Many nations, however, have accused the United States of waging a currency war by devaluing the dollar. We speak to former Wall Street economist and University of Missouri professor Michael Hudson. "The object of warfare is to take over a country’s land, raw materials and assets, and grab them," Hudson says. "In the past, that used to be done militarily by invading them. But today you can do it financially simply by creating credit, which is what the Federal Reserve has done." [includes rush transcript]
JUAN GONZALEZ: On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve said it will pump $600 billion more into the US economy and keep interest rates at historically low levels. The short-term impact of the Fed’s move, known as quantitative easing, has been a jump in stock prices across the globe, but many nations have accused the US of waging a currency war by devaluing the dollar. Brazil’s president-elect Dilma Rousseff said, quote, "The last time there was a series of competitive devaluations, it ended in World War II."
China has accused the US of uncontrolled money printing. By devaluing the dollar, the Fed is cheapening the price of US exports and making foreign imports more expensive. In addition, the low interest rates are encouraging US corporations to make massive investments overseas, cheaply buying up foreign real estate, natural resources and stock.
AMY GOODMAN: Our next guest, Michael Hudson, says finance has become a new form of warfare. Michael Hudson is Distinguished Research Professor at University of Missouri, Kansas City. A former Wall Street economist, he is the author of many books, including Super Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire.
Michael Hudson, welcome to Democracy Now!
MICHAEL HUDSON: Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: Why warfare?
MICHAEL HUDSON: Well, the object of warfare is to take over a country’s land, raw materials and assets, and grab them. And in the past, that used to be done militarily by invading them. But today you can do it financially simply by creating credit, which is what the Federal Reserve has done. It’s created $600 billion. It hasn’t gone into the economy. The head of the Fed is known as "Helicopter Ben" because he talks about dropping money into the economy. But if you see helicopters, they’re probably not your friends. Don’t go out and wait for them to drop the money, because the money is all going electronically into the banks. And the Fed has said, we want to give the banks so much money that they will lend it out so you can begin to bid up prices on real estate again and pull the banks out of the real estate negative equity that it’s in. So the purpose, according to the Fed, is to raise the price of real estate, to inflate asset prices. But that’s not happening. The actual banks have lent less today than they did in 2007. So the money is going abroad. And it’s going abroad not really to buy foreign companies so much, but to speculate in currency.
Now, the Fed and the Congress, two weeks ago, said, "We want China to raise its currency by 20 percent." This would create billions and billions of dollars of bonanza for Wall Street banks, and it would enable them to earn their way out of debt by essentially looting the China central bank, the Brazilian central bank, the Turkish central bank and the other central banks, because you can now borrow money in America at one percent. So you’d put down, let’s say, a billion dollars of your own—a million dollars of your own money, borrow $99 million of the bank’s money—that’s $100 million. You would buy Chinese currency, RMB, for $100 million. You then say, "Raise your currency by 20 percent," which is what the Fed has asked them to do. That means that your million dollars now has turned into a $20 million gain, because $100 million is now worth $120 million. You’ve made a 200 percent profit. And for Wall Street, they deal in billions, not millions. And so, this would enable the banks to make up their money by buying out, essentially, foreign currency. They’re doing the same in Australia. It’s currency gamble.