From Volume 38, Issue 27 of EIR Online, Published July 15, 2011

Global Economic News

UN Advisor: Greek Bailout Is a Violation of Human Rights

July 4 (EIRNS)—The official advisor to the United Nations on foreign debt and human rights, Cephas Lumina, warned that the brutal austerity measures being forced on Greece by the evil empire of the Troika—the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund—is a violation of human rights. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) issued the following statement:

"The implementation of the second package of austerity measures and structural reforms, which includes a wholesale privatization of state-owned enterprises and assets, is likely to have a serious impact on basic social services and therefore the enjoyment of human rights by the Greek people, particularly the most vulnerable sectors of the population such as the poor, elderly, unemployed and persons with disabilities," said Lumina, who reports to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

"The rights to food, water, adequate housing and work under fair and equitable conditions should not be compromised by the implementation of austerity measures," he said, urging the government to "strike a careful balance between austerity and the realization of human rights, taking into account the primacy of States human rights obligations."

Lumina also called on the Troika to remain aware of the human rights impact of the policies they design in attempting to resolve the sovereign debt crises in Greece and other countries. "There will be no lasting solution to the sovereign debt problem if the human rights of the people are not taken into account," said Lumina, who serves in an unpaid capacity.

Congress of Trade Unions Discusses Default on Irish Debt

July 5 (EIRNS)—Eight hundred delegates to the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) today heard their president, Jack O'Connor, raise the question of whether the union federation should support a default on the Irish debt.

In his keynote address to the ICTU's biannual conference in Killarney, O'Connor said that the federation had not yet decided on a call for default, but added, "We may well come to do so, and we are conscious that resources are being run down as time passes." He noted the austerity packages being pushed by the governments of Germany's Angela Merkel and France's Nicolas Sarkozy, resulting in "a direct full-frontal assault on collective bargaining, pay, and pensions."

O'Connor said the ECB is "aggravating the problem rather than alleviating it.... They have reduced the once great institutions of the European project to mere debt collection agencies for the major banks, obstructing recovery and inflicting misery on the citizens of Europe."

The ICTU president said that the Eurozone is threatened by default of all of the stressed-out counties, which carry billions in liabilities, which could sink the global financial system beyond trace. "A Marshall aid-type strategy is required to rescue Europe both economically and politically," he said.

"However, those in charge have opted for the shock therapy of a reparations course instead, ignoring the lessons of history."

Hyperinflation, Thy Name Is Goldman Sachs

July 6 (EIRNS)—The so-called Fair Trading Office of the United Kingdom today refused a request from a British House of Commons committee, that it investigate an expanding global scandal about how metals prices are being driven skyward by Wall Street banks and London hedge funds. The FTO is supposed to oversee the London Metals Exchange (LME), on which the zooming metal commodity prices are being set by speculation.

The Science and Technology Committee of the House of Commons, reacting to metal user-companies' complaints, said, "The same [financial] firms that trade metals are able to hold large amounts of metal stored in warehouses monitored by the LME. There is evidence to suggest that trader-owned warehouses are favoring their own proprietary business over other users of the exchange."

These speculative "traders" are four banks and hedge funds, including Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase. All have been using the Federal Reserve's "quantitative easing" money-printing to generate speculative funds, and all recently become the owners of networks of warehouses where up to 25% of world metals supplies have "gone in, and not come back out."

In the past 18 months, Goldman, JP Morgan Chase & Co., and trading firms Glencore International PLC and Trafigura Beheer BV have snapped up warehouse operators, all of them accredited to house metal traded through the LME. The four firms have become landlords to about two-thirds of the LME's entire metal stocks, from aluminum to copper to zinc. The warehouses are a profitable way to bet on commodities markets, over and above actual speculative trading.

In 2010, JP Morgan Chase acquired Henry Bath & Son as part of the New York bank's purchase of RBS Sempra Commodities. Goldman bought Metro International Trade Services LLC, a Romulus, Mich., warehousing company, for an undisclosed sum. Trafigura, the world's second-largest metal trader after Glencore, purchased U.K.-based NEMS Ltd. Glencore paid $209 million for Pacorini Metals, the metal-storage business of Pacorini Group, an Italian, family-run firm.

Goldman's operations in Detroit are at the center of the controversy, because aluminum prices are driving up the trading price in London. Warehouses like the one along the Detroit River hold about 1 million tons of aluminum, or almost 25% of the LME-traded stocks. Metal users such as beverage giant Coca-Cola Co. and can maker Novelis Inc. have expressed concern to the LME that the Detroit warehouses send out too little of the commodities they need.

All rights reserved © 2011 EIRNS