The newspaper headlines and media focusing around the world from New York to Beijing are spelling out the disastrous economic downturn which has been classified as the worst since the "Great Depression". The word "Depression" has two meanings, in my mind, and it is my own personal interpretation. One is the state of affairs, economically, financially and the deficit of a country, and the other, an "Individuals" state of affairs brought on by "Depression". How ironic. See the similarity? Let us take a look at some and I mean "Some" of the current facts facing the worlds economic structure.
- The country island of Iceland has gone bankrupt.
- China has had to lend the United States of America hundreds of millions.
- Banks around the world are either failing or are bankrupt. (After 49 I lost count.)
- The Russian stock market has lost 72% of its value.
- Brazil is suddenly frozen in its tracks.
- India is suffering an export slump of undefined value.
- China’s economy has ground to a halt.
- Japan’s stock market has literally plunged to a new 18 year record low.
I am naming but a few of the current crisis affecting every nation and person world wide. And yet, we have C.E.O.s and their cronies, taking home millions of dollars in bonuses from individuals like you and me who faithfully paid our mortgages, invested in their companies and by the way, lost most if not all their life savings to these executives, and while the companies are declaring hardship and failure, taking home bonuses worth millions. Oh, and I didn’t mention those "Golden Parachutes" More millions. How about this. A recent C.E.O. of Citigroup was on the job for a little over 3 weeks while the company restructured. When he signed on, his package was to be in the million dollar range plus that almighty parachute, regardless of his tenure. I’m too ill to even mention this persons name. The Feds gave this company billions from the Economic Stimulus Package and most of it went to off-shore accounts and executive salaries with little or no regard for the people who were the actual losers by seeing their retirements and investments vaporized, not to mention the lose of their homes.
Let’s take a look at some of these culprits, shall we? But first a brief history on how to defraud and scam a country, company or individual. All sorts of ways and means are used. I will not confine my remarks just to the U.S. or a particular country, but I’m sure you will recognize them and for what they are.
1. The "King of Scams" was Charles Ponzi in the 1920s. Ah, you say, "I recognize that name". Mr. Ponzi became a multi-millionaire in the short period of about 6 months bilking investors of their savings by promising them a 50% return on their dollar within 45 days by investing in postal coupons. He earned over $15 million which in today’s standards is an astronomical sum of money. Yes, he was caught , but only 5 million was returned to the investors.
2. Recognize the name "Bernard Madoff"? Of coarse you do. His was a "Ponzi" scheme to dwarf all Ponzi schemes combined. How does, for those who don’t know, $50 Billion" sound. Doesn’t sound like much when you say it fast. Here’s an example. $50 billion dollars if piled in stacks of 100 dollar bills equaling ten thousand dollars in each packet stacked one on top of each other would reach a height of over 108 miles. Before this scoundrel was caught, his wife withdrew $15 million from their account. Food for thought. I’m wondering how many other partners in crime were involved? His son perhaps? While Mr. Madoffs scheme is still unfolding, facts, so far, indicate this man single handed has destroyed organizations yet to be named, charities, nonprofit organizations, senior’s entire retirements, pension funds, banks world wide, life savings and countless others that eventually will be named. What sort of punishment should this man receive?
3. Reed Slatkin was a Earthlink co-founder and Scientology minister. Posing as a powerful investment professional, he scammed the Hollywood rich and famous by convincing them to invest their millions with him. Working out of his plush office (his garage no less) his fake certificates and fake brokerage firms netted him over $593 million. The Securities and Exchange Commission in 2000, got wind of his scheme and busted him.
4. In the mid 1990s a omnipotent Albanian government of questionable ethics, concocted a financial system paramount to a pyramid scheme. The majority of the population were robbed to the tune of a billion dollars which, upon the scam being revealed, put the government out of office. There is no word if any of the populace were able to retrieve any of their lost savings or investment.
5. Let us now travel to that beautiful flora enticing country of Costa Rica and the infamous Villalobos Brothers. These guys defrauded mostly Canadian and American retirees out of $400 million in a 20 year unregulated loan scheme. An interest rate of 3% per month was promised on a minimum payment of $10,000 by the investor. Those who invested lost everything.
6. Now we come to Mr. Lou Pearlman a millionaire in his own right but wanted more. Much more. This man is Art Garfunkel’s cousin and a former manager of "N Sync and the Backstreet Boys. Like Madoff he had a virtual list of "Who’s Who" in his back pocket. He was offering lucrative returns to his investors for their investment in an F.D.I.C. insured Trans Continental Savings Program. (How in the name of Jehovah do these guys come up with such names for a banking institution?) This "illegal" program bilked his investors out of $500 million and planned to use the money on funding 3 MTV shows and an entertainment complex. Does the Canadian "Livent" debacle sound familiar?
7. Then we have the European Commission’s inquiry into corruption, fraud, bribery, criminal organization, breaches of public tender laws and violating professional secrecy. Mr. Ashley Mote, a Member of the European Parliament’s Budgetary Control Committee referred to the revelation as " The exclusive purpose of masking the institutionalized fraud that bedevils this corrupt and unaccountable nomenclature octopus." I couldn’t have said it better myself. The amount involved? No one knows. They are still investigating.
I’m going to give you a few of the synonyms I want to use for these schemes and those that have perpetrated the kind of theft that is incomprehensible and undeniably the "lowest of the low." What comes to mind is: disgusting, deplorable, horrendous, inexcusable and many more. Leave a comment.