Thursday, January 24, 2008

A $7bn Rogue Trader? The Central Banks present their patsy

Like any major depression or economic collapse in history, the Central Banks have skillfully managed to divert attention away from their own bankrupt monetary shell-game and put forward a patsy for the history books and Hollywood. Enter: Jerome Kerviel.

The aggressive maneuvering and consolidation is already underway but as always, it needs a good story to get the ball rolling. When a major institutional crisis finally comes to light, you can expect the Bank's highly paid and highly skilled PR machine to spring into action with a spectacular cover story. Enter patsy and latter-day "Rogue Trader", Jerome Kerviel.

Thus the junior trader at the heart of an alleged $7 billion "fraud" at French bank Societe Generale was named today. Sources presented the fall-guy in the form of Kerviel, a low-ranking junior trader with no less than five ranking supervisors. A convenient back-story was already spun by the bank's public relations heads, one which claims that Kerviel had "detailed knowledge of the bank's security systems because of the back office job he previously held". Although not very convincing to industry insiders, it is enough to cover headlines and spark endless hours of prime-time made-for-TV media coverage.

In fact this very "fall-guy" scenario was predicted on air by a number of respected media voices months ago, including former Wall Street Journal editor Dr Paul Craig Roberts and syndicated radio talk-show host Alex Jones. And as expected, many of the mainstream media's outlets are attempting to blame this lone gunman for the stock market collapse of "Black Tuesday" on Jan 22nd 2008.

In their usual break-neck attempt to both write and close the books of history in a day, Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation was quick to highlight in its global dispatched today, that the bank's 'rogue' trader lost "four times more than British dealer Nick Leeson who sank Barings bank in 1995", drawing the convenient familiar comparison for easy public consumption. Like any major depression or economic collapse in history, the Central Banks have put forward a patsy for the history books and Hollywood.

The bank's senior executives have quickly positioned junior trader Kerviel for a media feeding frenzy. "I'm convinced he acted alone," said Jean-Pierre Mustier, chief executive of corporate and investment banking at Societe Generale. As in the Leeson affair in 1995, the bank spokesperson claims that "he made a number fictitious trades to cover his losses" and managed to "fool the bank's management and security for months". This very tidy and well-crafted back story provides, once again, a wonderful smoke screen for this establishment bank's generally shady financial practices, as well as a wonderful diversion for the Central Banks, who have been engineering the current financial meltdown for the last few years. Not all industry analysts are convinced of the bank's claims though. The explanation for the losses met with skepticism from Ion-Marc Valahu, head of trading at Amas in Switzerland commenting, "I have a hard time buying the fact that a trader was able to set-up a secret trade for £3.6 billion($7 billion)."

As it turns out, Societe Generale also has a $3 Billion exposure to the sub-prime mortgage market and thus a potential target for consolidation. Due to the recent wild mortgage and derivatives free-for-all (and like most major banks today), Societe Generale is already heavily leveraged out via modern-day "margin buying". Current value of the world's floating derivatives and futures market in estimated conservatively at $300 Trillion, and sooner or later, the finger of institutional fraud will be pointed at every major player right up the global financial pyramid. Today's story serves only to plug a temporary hole in the banking industry's already hemoraging public profile.

Lack of oversight in the world of international finance and the looming markets crisis means that Societe Generale's claims today may never be investigated properly, but insiders believe that today's announcement will simply pave the way for the bank's part in an acquisition move, further consolidating overall industry share holdings.

Societe Generale's was founded in 1864 and until today, was one of France's most prestigious blue-chip companies.



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