When Bilderberg Man Mario Monti promoted himself to regent of Italy almost three weeks ago, the air was thick with Valkyries warning that should the great witch doctor fail to square the books pretty damn quick, then not only would Italy go down the chute but she would take with her the euro and the entire apparatus of the European Union.
It was nonsense then and remains so today. There is no Euro crisis, the end of the world as we know it is not imminent – unless Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy pull off their sinister scheme for full European fiscal union on the back of what is nothing more than an entirely contrived and artificial crisis.
If Monti expected to walk on to the world stage and win the Oscar for fiscal probity, then he has been rudely disappointed. The great austerity package to save Rome from the fate she inflicted on Carthage two thousand years ago received a very loud raspberry.
In the words of one respected commentator, the Italian cuts look like a token effort by the technocratic cabinet in the hope that the ECB will ride to the rescue to lower bond yields, at least.
Perhaps, but I have strong doubts if that is the real story.
Something really big is cooking which may lead to a total revolution in the use of money — first in Italy, then across Europe — buried away in the small print of the fabulous austerity project, which we examine in a moment.
Yes, there are token cuts all right, although they are straight from the typical Bilderberg austerity playbook.
Italians will certainly work longer for less. Real incomes will drop even further, squeezed by refrigerated wage packets and biting inflation.
Crimping the public budgets, especially in the provinces, will shaft many small business firms (the backbone of Italy) who count local and regional authorities among their most important customers.
The proposal that millionaires should pay more tax to dock their yachts in Italy will have no more effect on the cruising classes than the first gin and tonic as the sun sinks over the yardarm.
The reintroduction of the property tax – whipped away by Silvio Berlusconi as a blatant exercise in electioneering — is I grant you, reasonable and prudent.
But Sgr. Monti, was it really necessary to shove democracy out of the window to achieve something so modest? For any incoming elected government would have had no option but to bring back the tax.
Being Italy, there were theatrical dramas to accompany the plan to raise retirement ages, in the form of a weeping lady minister appearing on prime time television.
Welcome to the ongoing Roman Circus.
But all this is but smoke and mirrors to disguise the real thrust of the unelected government’s program, and in all likelihood the real explanation for the precipitate overthrow of the Berlusconi administration.
My impression is that the Monti cabinet is charged with nothing less than a massive laboratory experiment performed on real live people to see if it is actually possible to effectively demonetize an entire nation.
Let me explain what I mean.
A few days back I put up a post at End the Lie
warning that fiscal fascism might well take as its first priority the elimination of ready cash
for the vast majority of Italians.
Behold, it has come to pass: The Monti administration proposes to outlaw any transactions in excess of €1,000 that are performed in cash.
Well, it’s not so much of a proposal as a diktat which comes into immediate effect. The atrophied parliament could vote it down in sixty days. But rest assured, they won’t.
Sgr. Monti says he wants to collect the taxes which Italians are dodging. This is a statement of such Himalayan remoteness from the everyday lives of ordinary Italians, moreover uttered in the land of the Mafia, one is inclined to at first conclude that a lofty remote career in the ivory tower of a private university has divorced the good professor from any sense of reality.
Particularly as Milan, his own home city and host to his prestigious independent seat of learning, is in the throes of a massive gang war between rivals formed by immigrant Albanian and Serbian drug traffickers and their rivals from the Italian south. There are big pickings to be reaped from the estimated 140,000 heroin addicts in what is now one of the major narcotics capitals of Europe.
Accurate figures are of course impossible, but most educated guesses put the turnover attributable to organized crime at approximately €125 -€150 billion, of which narcotics account for the lion’s share. This is the equivalent of around 8%-10% of Italy’s GDP.
One is waiting with baited breath to learn how the professor-prime minister is going to get a slice of the action, that is if he intends to bother.
No previous Italian government has managed to tax the Mob, which so far preserves its evasive powers thanks to a massive network of corruption of public officials.
The prime minister is a former advisor to Goldman Sachs, which as we all know is to Bilderberg what the sun is to our solar system.
A constant goal of Goldman Sachs (aka Wall Street, the ECB and the City of London) is to control as much as possible of all money in free circulation. Since banks circulate electronic money, this leaves only one alternative possibility for reflation.
And that of course is the money in the form of notes and coins which passes between ordinary individuals and their daily activities.
Capture that and there is no need for the bankers to bother with reflating their balance sheets by using money borrowed from the markets, or each other, at inordinate interest rates.
The directive will mean that ordinary honest Italians will have no choice but to move many of their transactions through the banks, of which two — namely Unicredit and Intesa Sanpaolo — have recently undergone strains connected to cash-flow problems.
What a fantastic booster the automatic capture of all ticket items over a thousand euros will prove!
And remember, if the banks have all your money, they can then decide whether to let you have it, or not as the case may be.
The machinery to effectively ration money is already in place, namely the hundred thousand ATM’s scattered across the country. There is more interesting technology waiting in the wings, as we see below.
It is a very short step from there to Italians being cross-examined as to why they want to withdraw their own money.
In fact, it has already been taken.
I recently heard news from Italy of a man who was rung up by his bank manager to inquire why this customer was milking the ATM every morning. The rest of this story contains explicit language unsuitable for reproduction here.
Who has thought this through? How will Italy’s famous financial police, the Guardia di Finanza, cope with the massive new load of work?
Even the present 68,000 officers, with all the advantages of their own independent navy and air force, will be hard put to police sixty million Italians and virtually everything they spend, down to the small change.
The additional costs will run into, well, billions. This is before we get around to the work of the courts dealing with miscreants.
With all the skills and facilities at their disposal, the Guardia have failed to dent the financial armor plating erected around organized crime.
It is a fair guess anyway that the gain in revenues will far outweigh the additional policing and administration costs. Frankly I think the movers behind this ambitious project care very little about that.
You see if you reflect for a moment, it makes a pack of sense from certain perspectives to pick on a country like Italy, known for its traditional fiscal laxities, and then have a trial run at demonetization on a huge scale.
It is also an enormous asset that Italy, practically uniquely, has a large militarized fiscal police force, whose powers (including random stop and search) are already highly developed.
I have made the point already that the Monti administration looks very much like a trial run in itself for future outings in like style elsewhere in Europe, and possibly even the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
For the moment we have an experiment in demonetization which as far as I can see has no modern precedents in the capitalist world.
The tax gathering cloak is actually no more than that. The over-dramatized Euro crisis brought the Monti government into power with almost unseemly haste. Now the serious experimental work can begin.
Demonetization, assuming that it survives the initial hurdles, has significant social consequences.
It effectively licenses access to ready cash. It acts as a form of social manipulation because of the intimacy between banks, the international financial oligarchy and large powerful bodies such as the European Union. It is part of the unfolding destruction of civil liberties and private freedoms that flowed from 9/11.
It means that the banks can, effectively, own and even confiscate private earnings and deposits. This is a dramatic and significant departure from our usual understanding of banks, poor as that may now be in the light of events.
Of course seizing control of cash transactions will also avoid the drastic run on the banks which is now occurring in the Bilderberg/Goldman Sachs province called Greece.
In September and October, savings and deposits shrank by more than €13 billion as Greeks resorted to the security of the Home Sock and Mattress Bank. In November the run continued unchecked, causing a prominent central banker to inform a tame parliamentary committee, “Our banking system lacks the scope to finance growth.”
He meant of course the tsunami of money fleeing Greek banks. I do not think the foreigners who are now yet again in charge of Greece will allow this to continue for much longer.
The navel gazers of the global financial commentariat unity are so utterly mesmerized by the unfolding “Euro crisis” they are completely unable to think outside the box. What is happening in Italy, and will shortly be copied in Greece, is part and parcel of the Sarkozy-Merkel project of manufacturing an artificial crisis in order to enforce full fiscal unity on the European continent.
In the end, that is all about the digitalization of money, the second kick-in from the demonetization process.
Real money will cease to exist as a tangible presence in your pocket or purse. Instead you will have something like a pocket phone to make every transaction, no matter how small, like a beer or a coffee in a bar. You can recharge – as you are permitted – by the centralized computer.
Isaac Asimov must be looking down on all this with abject fascination.
Money that works in cyberspace is easily within the reach of current technologies. It is actually a bastardization of Friedrich Hayek’s arguments for private enterprise money that he made in his famous book on the subject back in 1977. The great master Hayek, perhaps the most brilliant economist of all time, rightly feared the over-arching power of the central issuers of currencies, which he suspected would end up with serfdom on a grand scale.
So should we. Not for the first time, what Italy does today, the rest of the world may be compelled to follow tomorrow.
Did I forget to mention that digitalization of money leading to a single global financial order is a pet project of Bilderberg and Wall Street, which undoubtedly topped the agenda at the St. Moritz Bilderberg summit this year, by the look of subsequent developments?
And of course, it would stuff the Mafia too. Perhaps Professor Monti has already thought of that.