The WIKILEAKS Public Library of US Diplomacy (PlusD) holds the world’s largest searchable collection of United States confidential, or formerly confidential, diplomatic communications. As of April 8, 2013 it holds 2 million records comprising approximately 1 billion words. The collection covers US involvements in, and diplomatic or intelligence reporting on, every country on earth. It is the single most significant body of geopolitical material ever published. The PlusD collection, built and curated by WikiLeaks, is updated from a variety of sources, including leaks, documents released under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and documents released by the US State Department systematic declassification review.
A cable from September 17, 2009 – ten days before the German federal election and a few months before the eruption of the European debt crisis – shows that the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, had no real plan to deal seriously with the bankers and their enormous responsibilities for the financial chaos.
What’s even more interesting, is that the US officials were monitoring her intentions and rhetoric. Although they were not very pleased with her alleged willing to regulate the banks, they believed that much of her rhetoric against the bankers was part of some “campaign theatrics” prior to the German elections.
A paragraph in the cable is quite characteristic:
Chancellor Merkel apparently has it in for bankers: at a September 15, 2009 campaign rally in Koblenz, Merkel said, “We must make sure that the bankers of this world can never again get up to such things at our cost.” Some of this is probably campaign theatrics. Later the same day in the financial capital, Frankfurt, Merkel conveniently left that line out of her speech. Electioneering aside, Merkel seems genuinely to believe that risky behavior by banks was at the root of the financial crisis. She wants the G-20 to prevent banks from becoming so large and systemically important that they can “blackmail” governments. Merkel also wants to ensure that taxpayers do not have to pick up the tab for banks’ risky activities.
The next paragraph reveals the ‘seriousness’ of Merkel’s declarations about her intentions against the greedy bankers. Her plan: just limit their bonuses! It’s almost hilarious:
Limiting bankers bonuses is a political win-win for Merkel: it gives the appearance of addressing some of the incentives that led to the financial crisis, but it deflects blame for the crisis away from politicians ) indeed, away from Germany, since the crisis was the fault of Wall Street, so the thinking goes. Merkel’s idea is for the G-20 to establish binding principles that link financial sector compensation, including variable pay or bonuses, to long-term performance. Unlike media reports about other European countries’ priorities, however, Germany opposes a bonus specific cap, according to Lucinda Trigo. In Pittsburgh, Merkel will point to steps Germany has already taken: Germany’s bank regulator Bafin unveiled new rules in August that force bankers to repay bonuses if they take unjustifiable risks. Bonuses are tied to the success of the organization as a whole, and banks have until the end of 2009 to comply.
And right after that, we read that the lobbyists had already start to fight back, even against the prospect of such ridiculous ‘measures’:
Outside the government, however, there is skepticism. Holger Martin, an advisor on economic affairs, EU policy and international relations at the Association of German Banks told us his organization’s constituents were strongly opposed to further limits, fearing difficulty in attracting talent. Economist Stormy-Annika Mildner of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) told us European rhetoric over limiting bonuses should be taken with a grain of salt, since there was no chance of getting a binding EU agreement, much less an international one. Even among those European countries favoring reform, there are different approaches.
In the end, Angela Merkel did absolutely nothing to prevent the banking parasites contaminate eurozone. And not only that. As Yanis Varoufakis revealed, she actually sacrificed an entire nation in order to save the FrancoGerman banks.
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