My good friend, Paul Baicich, sent me this  link to a great episode on This American Life on National Public Radio. The piece  explains what’s happening to Citibank and other giants our government is bailing out with billions. It will make the hair on your arms stand on end, because you’ll UNDERSTAND it. Yikes. Thanks to TAL and writers Alex Blumberg and Adam Davidson for this – and other articles at this link.

Listening to this for 59 minutes is very much worthwhile.  Just click “full episode.”

I will share this link with my seminar on Money in Literature – the same day I show the film of Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice. Maybe I’ll throw in a little Jimmy Stewart, as George Bailey doing battle with Mr. Potter in It’s a Wonderful Life-a lovable piece of propaganda.

Ain't it wonderful?

Ain't it wonderful?

But NPR’s brave reporters didn’t touch the most blatant lie – that our network of insolvent banks borrow money from the Federal Reserve routinely – and that the Federal Reserve is itself a private network that poses as a government entity, while creating money out of thin air. Banks’ “assets,” which most assume are our deposits used to loan out, represent “liabilities” to the bank, while mortgages that create “credit” on the books (debt to YOU) are kept in motion by more air moola from the Fed. This bogus money creates debt systemically impossible to pay off. It represents 95% of the money in our economy-with only 5% issued by our government at the U.S. Mint.

The Fed also brokers our national deficit by selling t-bills that supposedly can’t go wrong, since we taxpayers will be left holding the interest-bag. The bag grew exponentially under Republicans Reagan and Bush. But even Clinton’s “balanced budget” never paid down a nickel of the principal owed-it only managed to pay the interest. So who benefits from keeping nations in debt? What are their names? That’s the sort of thing I’d like to see at Blumberg and Davidson’s blog, Planet Money.

I won’t hold my breath, not with Charles Schwab advertising on the front page. Still Planet Money is another valuable link for understanding what’s going on. Just remember what side their bread is buttered on.

Bankers like calling debt the “credit” industry and, like going through Alice’s Looking glass, it gets curiouser and curiouser in their balance sheets. But even investment banks with big players who finance nations aren’t where the real action is anymore: it’s in currency trading, where nations get regularly busted and citizens lose the value even of their currency savings-which to the banks, remember, are liabilities anyway. With a currency devalued, a whole nation can be had for a bargain.