Wednesday, 2 July 2014

comptoir national d'escompte

Already facing bullying by US authorities for violating (US) economic sanctions imposed against certain unfriendly nations during the past decade, France's diplomatic judgment and will is being freshly questioned by America.  It’s a tragic irony that a nation’s banks and military-industrial complex, instead of the crown and sceptre, have become the synecdoche for a government, people and posture.  Told it would be unwise to allow the sale of a new warship to Russia, the French government appears to be the victim of blackmail—by some estimations.  Given that the fines for sanctions, in the billions and far exceeding the bank’s annual profits, were already reduced in exchange for pleading guilty to charges of falsifying records and conspiracy (bad behavior certainly, but unrelated to the indictment of doing business with Iran, Cuba et. al) and the punitive scolding of denying the bank the ability to conduct dollar transactions was dropped, it seems like it can’t be anything else than extortion and backing out of a deal with Russia might bring the judgment down further.

The dollar embargo seems like a secondary punishment but the potential effects are much greater, as the French bank manages a huge basket of American pension funds, which could go into receivership if the bank is suspended, and stopping dollar transactions for any significant period of time could further destablise the Euro-Zone economy, especially in the current environment, when there is pressure on all banks to lend and encourage growth (coerced not just by the rhetoric of politicians but also with negative interest rates) and at the same time to strengthen their assets and reserves in preparation for an upcoming audit of the system’s ability to weather a crisis (stress-test).  There is also the matter of the Trans-Atlantic Trade Agreement between the EU and the States that is entering its final phase of negotiation just now.  What do you think—is it blackmail or enforcement?  Swiss banks were served also a couple months ago, admitting to allegations it tutored US citizens on tax-avoidance and obfuscation.  There seems to be a double-standard (or a higher-standard) to which some are held, in any case, as there have been no judgments for US banking institutions despite their admission of complicity and profit in connection to the price-fixing and manipulation scheme of borrowing and lending among banks—the so-called LIBOR scandal where the interest-rates on those generally short-term loans were falsified.