Cap & Trade - Goldman Sachs creates another ponzi scheme

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DrKrbyLuv's picture
DrKrbyLuv
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Cap & Trade - Goldman Sachs creates another ponzi scheme

Global Warming Bubble   (Bubble #6 from a fantastic exposé by Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone)

It's early June in Washington, D.C. Barack Ohama, a popular young politician whose leading private campaign donor was an investment bank called Goldman Sachs - its employees paid some $981,000 to his campaign - sits in the White House. Having seamlessly navigated the political minefield of the bailout era, Goldman is once again back to its old business, scouting out loopholes in a new government-created market with the aid of a new set of alumni occupying key government jobs.

Gone are Hank Paulson and Neel Kashkari; in their place arc Treasury chief of staff Mark Patterson and CFTC chief Gary Gensler, both former Goldmanites. (Gensler was the firm's co-head of finance.) And instead of credit derivatives or oil futures or mortgage-backed  CDOs, the new game in town, the next bubble, is in carbon credits - a booming trillion dollar market that barely even exists yet, but will if the Democratic Party that it gave $4,452,585 to in the last election manages to push into existence a ground breaking new commodities bubble, disguised as an "environmental plan," called cap-and-trade.

The new carbon-credit market is a virtual repeat of the commodities-market casino that's been kind to Goldman, except it has one delicious new wrinkle: If the plan goes forward as expected, the rise in prices will be government-mandated. Goldman won't even have to rig the game. It will be rigged in advance.

Here's how it works: If the bill passes, there will be limits for coal plants, utilities, natural-gas distributors and numerous other industries on the amount of carbon emissions (a.k.a. greenhouse gases) they can produce per year. If the companies go over their allotment, they will be able to buy "allocations" or credits from other companies that have managed to produce fewer emissions. President Obama conservatively estimated that about $646 billion worth of carbon credits will be auctioned in the first seven years; one of his top economic aides speculates that the real number might be twice or even three times that amount.

The feature of this plan that has special appeal to speculators is that the "cap" on carbon will be continually lowered by the government, which means that carbon credits will become more and more scarce with each passing year. Which means that this is a brand-new commodities market where the main commodity to be traded is guaranteed to rise in price over time. The volume of this new market will be upwards of a trillion dollars annually for comparison's sake, the annual combined revenues of all electricity suppliers in the U.S. total $320 billion.

Goldman wants this bill. The plan is (1) to get in on the ground floor of paradigm shifting legislation, (2) make sure that they're the profit-making slice of that paradigm and (3) make sure the slice is a big slice. Goldman started pushing hard for cap-and-trade long ago, but things really ramped up last year when the firm spent $3.5 million to lobby climate issues. (One of their lobbyists at the time was none other than Patterson, now Treasury chief of staff.) Back in 2005, when Hank Paulson was chief of Goldman, he personally helped author the bank's environmental policy, a document that contains some surprising elements for a firm that in all other areas has been consistently opposed to any sort of government regulation.

Paulson's report argued that "voluntary action alone cannot solve the climate-change problem." Few years later, the bank's carbon chief, Ken Newcombe, insisted that cap-and-trade alone won't be enough to fix the climate problem and called for further public investments in research and development. Which is convenient, considering that Goldman made early investments in wind power (it bought a subsidiary called Horizon Wind Energy), renewable diesel (it is an investor in a firm called Changing World Technologies) and solar power (it partnered with BP Solar), exactly the kind of deals that will prosper if the government forces energy producers to use cleaner energy. As Paulson said at the time, "We're not making those investments to lose money."

The bank owns a 10 percent stake in carbon credits will be traded.  Moreover, Goldman owns a minority stake in Blue Source LLC, a Utah-based firm that sells carbon credits of the type that will be in great demand if the bill passes. Nobel Prize winner AI Gore, who is intimately involved with the planning of cap-and-trade, started up a company called Generation Investment Management with three former bigwigs from Goldman Sachs Asset Management, David Blood, Mark Ferguson and Peter Hanis. Their business? Investing in carbon offsets, There's also a $500 million Green Growth Fund set up by a Goldmanite to invest in green-tech...the list goes on and on. Goldman is ahead of the headlines again, just waiting for someone to make it rain in the right spot. Will this market be bigger than the energy-futures market?

"Oh, it'll dwarf it," says a former staffer on the House energy committee.

Well, you might say, who cares? If cap-and-trade succeeds, won't we all be saved from the catastrophe of global warming? Maybe but cap-and-trade, as envisioned by Goldman, is really just a carbon tax structured so that private interests collect the revenues. Instead of simply imposing a fixed government levy on carbon pollution and forcing unclean energy producers to pay for the mess they make, cap and trade will allow a small tribe of greedy-as-hell Wall Street swine to turn yet another commodities market into a private tax-collection scheme. This is worse than the bailout: It allows the bank to seize taxpayer money before it's even collected.

"If it's going to be a tax, I would prefer that Washington set the tax and collect it," says Michael Masters, the hedge fund director who spoke out against oil-futures speculation. "But we're saying that Wall Street can set the tax, and Wall Street can collect the tax. That's the last thing in the world I want, It's just asinine."

Cap-and-trade is going to happen. Or, if it doesn't, something like it will. The moral is the same as for all the other bubbles that Goldman helped create, from 1929 to 2009. In almost every case, the very same bank that behaved recklessly for years, weighing down the system with toxic loans and predatory debt, and accomplishing nothing but massive bonuses for a few bosses, has been rewarded with mountains of virtually free money and government guarantees - while the actual victims in this mess, ordinary taxpayers, are the ones paying tor it.

It's not always easy to accept the reality of what we now routinely allow these people to get away with; there's a kind of collective denial that kicks in when a country goes through what America has gone though lately, when a people lose as much prestige and status as we have in the past few years. You can't really register the fact that you're no longer a citizen of a thriving first-world democracy, that you're no longer above getting robbed in broad daylight, because like an amputee, you can still sort of feel things Bat are no longer there.

But this is it. This is the world we live in now. And in this world, some of us have to play by the rules, while others get a note from the principal excusing them from homework till the end of time, plus 10 billion free dollars in a paper bag to buy lunch. It's a gangster state, running on gangster economics, and even prices can't be trusted anymore; there are hidden taxes in every buck you pay. And maybe we can't stop it, but we should at least know where it's all going.

Larry

castlewp's picture
castlewp
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Re: Cap & Trade - Goldman Sachs creates another ponzi ...

Larry, I think I'm gonna puke.....

Bill

foote2777's picture
foote2777
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Posts: 65
Re: Cap & Trade - Goldman Sachs creates another ponzi ...

Thanks Larry

This is important stuff for more people to know about before they run of and congratulate our governments for "doing the right thing" and putting in legislation to fill the corporate pockets.

I too feel sick. Sick enough to want that piece of land off the grid NOW!!

Cheers

Jon

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10todd
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Re: Cap & Trade - Goldman Sachs creates another ponzi ...

Thanks for the post, Larry.  I strongly recommend folks read the entire article in Rolling Stone.  It's fantastic, as Matt Taibbi's articles always seem to be.  It makes me sick as well, but I'm sure glad that at least one publication is willing to expose it.  Too bad it's not Time or Newsweek, but that shouldn't suprise anyone who reads this blog.

cannotaffordit's picture
cannotaffordit
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
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Posts: 273
Re: Cap & Trade - Goldman Sachs creates another ponzi ...

 same-o-same-o    Nothing ever really changes in D.C. does it?  Different political party, same "at-taxpayers-expense" party.

ckessel's picture
ckessel
Status: Martenson Brigade Member (Offline)
Joined: Nov 12 2008
Posts: 465
Re: Cap & Trade - Goldman Sachs creates another ponzi ...

Larry,

This helps to expose the truth behind the push to make Global Warming a political and controversial subject. I'ts really all about the money. This Cap and Trade, Republican vs Democrat devisive political issue does a great job of keeping public awareness off of the key issues we face ..... namely the three E's.

The part that really makes my blood boil is that the average Joe Plummer actually thinks we are now doing something about the problem and that all will now be well. Unbelievable!

But is it a conspiracy?!!!!  oops

Coop

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