Originally Posted by jazzguru
I'm not against the idea of the USA as set forth in our founding documents. I'm opposed to what it has become and is becoming, which is very different from - and in many cases in direct opposition to - the principles set forth in those documents.
It has, and Europe's doing the same kinds of things-
"While the large private banks were betting on the casinos of the financial markets, lending to businesses and the "real" economy was left to the public Sparkassen, which were more efficient in serving average citizens and local business because they were not stock companies that had to satisfy shareholders' hunger for ever-larger dividends. Today, the market share of private banks in Germany is only 28.4 percent, and Deutsche Bank AG dominates the segment. But with its 7 percent market share, it is still well behind the public banks owned by municipalities and communities.
The Landesbanks function as "universal banks" operating in all sectors of the financial services market. All are controlled by state governments and operate as central administrators for the municipally owned savings banks, or Sparkassen, in their area.
The Sparkassen were instituted in Germany in the late 18th century as nonprofit organizations to aid the poor. The intent was to help people with low incomes save small sums of money, and to support business start-ups. The first savings bank was set up by academics and philanthropically minded merchants in Hamburg in 1778, and the first savings bank with a local government guarantor was founded in Goettingen in 1801. The municipal savings banks were so effective and popular that they spread rapidly, increasing from 630 in 1850 to 2,834 in 1903. Today the savings banks operate a network of over 15,600 branches and offices and employ over 250,000 people, and they have a strong record of investing wisely in local businesses.
The EU doesn't like the landesbanken. They denounce the explicit and implicit public subsidies that state ownership entails, saying they violate the rules of competition policy. For over a decade they have fought to have the system privatized. In the end, the dispute is simply ideological: if you think that public ownership should only be an exception, narrowly crafted to address specific market failures, you want to see the landesbanken put on the auction block. If you think an economy should be organized to meet socially defined needs, you would want a large part of capital allocation to be responsive to public input, and you'd fight to keep the landesbanken the way they are. (There is a movement afoot in the US to promote public banking.)
The International Monetary Fund, too, had long demanded that any competing public monopolies in the German banking market be broken up, citing their "inefficiencies." When the German public Sparkassen and Landesbanken were reluctant to turn to investment banking with its skyrocketing profits, they were branded as bureaucratic and "unsexy." When they were pressured to increase their returns for their government owners, the German Landesbanken did get sucked to some extent into derivatives and collateralized debt obligations (fraudulently rated triple A). But while they "lost billions in the Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank and Lehman Brothers Ponzi scheme," Niemeyer says the extent to which they became involved in highly speculative transactions was "laughable in comparison with the damage done by private banks, for whom taxpayers are now providing guarantees."
Private German banks accumulated an estimated €600 billion in toxic assets through their investment banking branches, for which German taxpayers wound up providing guarantees. Deutsche Bank AG was feeding its record profits almost exclusively through its investment banking division, which made a fortune trading credit default swaps on Greek state obligations. When this investment turned sour, the German government had to bail out the financial institution into which Deutsche Bank AG dumped these toxic assets.
In 1947, German industrial output was only one-third its 1938 level, and a large percentage of its working-age men were dead. Less than ten years after the war, people were already talking about the German economic miracle; and 20 years later, its economy was the envy of most of the world. By 2003, a country half the size of Texas had become the world's leading exporter, producing high quality automobiles, machinery, electrical equipment and chemicals. Only in 2009 was Germany surpassed in exports by China, which has a population of over 1.3 billion to Germany's 82 million. In 2010, while much of the world was still reeling from the 2008 financial collapse, Germany reported 3.6 percent economic growth."