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News ::
Welcoming festivities for President of World Bank
31 May 2002
Modified: 03 Jun 2002
Wake and greet the President of the World Bank on June 7th at 7:30 am.... Protests, performances, guerilla art, and screenings..... Meet the park/traffic island in the middle of Commonwealth Avenue or head straight to MIT!!!!
James Wolfensohn, President of the World Bank, has been chosen as the commencement speaker at MIT graduation on Friday, June 7. A major protest is planned in Cambridge on that day, building on the momentum of the passage of the World Bank Bond Boycott in Cambridge last month.

Here are the details:

WHERE: Gather on the park/traffic island in the middle of Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, in between Gloucester and Hereford St., by the statue.
(Close to intersection of Mass. Ave. and Commonwealth Ave.; Hynes
Convention Center stop on Green B, C, and D lines, or #1 bus.)

WHEN: Friday June 7, 7:30 am. March towards MIT at 8 am SHARP.

FOR MORE INFO: please call the numbers or check out the websites or
e-mail the addresses below. Please, please DO NOT reply to this
e-mail for more info.
By phone: BankBusters 617-755-0795
By e-mail: BankBusters noimfwb (at)
On the web: BankBusters
MIT alternate commencement site

If you are coming from out of town and need a place to stay, please
Catherine Benedict 617-983-0089 catherinebenedict (at)
If you are a local and would like to offer housing, also contact

There also are several events leading up to the June 7 protest:

Saturday June 1 and Sunday June 2, 12-5 pm.
Artmaking for the June 7 protests.
WHERE: MIT 4-153

June 4 Tuesday, 7-9 pm.
MIT community forum. Twenty students have been selected by lottery
to meet with James Wolfensohn. Let them know the questions you would
like Wolfensohn to be asked.

June 5 Wednesday, 3:30 pm, 5:30 pm, 7:30 pm, 9:30 pm
"Life and Debt" showing again at the Brattle Theater in Harvard
Square, Cambridge. If you haven't already seen it (or even if you
have), check out this fabulous film on Jamaica and the World Bank
and IMF.

June 6 Thursday, 7 pm
* Show of Life and Debt, followed by Q&A with director Stephanie
* Concert by Yami Bolo, acclaimed reggae musician, featured on the
Life and Debt soundtrack.
WHERE: MIT 54-100
This event is free.
For more information: 617-285-4167
See also:
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Invite Joe Stieglitz. Arrest John Deutch.
31 May 2002
If I were an unfortunate student at the Massive
Institute of Inappropriate Technology, I'd invite the
Citizens Executive Administration's Secretary of
Commerce Joseph Stieglitz for the REAL commencement.

Furthermore, transnational CIA-Citibank-NAZI terrorist
and traitor John Deutch (phone: 617-253-1479) has an
outstanding warrent for his arrest. When apprehended,
the CEA will send him to Dr Castro for some special
Marathon Man dental work....

A debate between Wolfensohn and Stieglitz would be
interesting. Perhaps they could illuminate "educated
activists" how private central banks create "money"
out of nothing and charge everyone (except themselves)
taxes for their fraud.


by Greg Palast

The World Bank’s former Chief Economist’s accusations
are eye-popping - including how the IMF and US
Treasury [Federal Reserve Corporation] fixed the
Russian elections.

"It has condemned people to death," the former
apparatchik told me. This was like a scene out of Le
Carre. The brilliant old agent comes in from the cold,
crosses to our side, and in hours of debriefing,
empties his memory of horrors committed in the name of
a political ideology he now realizes has gone rotten.

And here before me was a far bigger catch than some
used Cold War spy. Joseph Stiglitz was Chief Economist
of the World Bank. To a great extent, the new world
economic order was his theory come to life.

I "debriefed" Stigltiz over several days, at Cambridge
University, in a London hotel and finally in
Washington in April 2001 during the big confab of the
World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. But
instead of chairing the meetings of ministers and
central bankers, Stiglitz was kept exiled safely
behind the blue police cordons, the same as the nuns
carrying a large wooden cross, the Bolivian union
leaders, the parents of AIDS victims and the other
‘anti-globalization’ protesters. The ultimate insider
was now on the outside.

In 1999 the World Bank fired Stiglitz. He was not
allowed quiet retirement; US Treasury Secretary Larry
Summers, I’m told, demanded a public excommunication
for Stiglitz’ having expressed his first mild dissent
from globalization World Bank style.

Here in Washington we completed the last of several
hours of exclusive interviews for The Observer and BBC
TV’s Newsnight about the real, often hidden, workings
of the IMF, World Bank, and the bank’s 51% owner, the
US Treasury.

And here, from sources unnamable (not Stiglitz), we
obtained a cache of documents marked, "confidential,"
"restricted," and "not otherwise (to be) disclosed
without World Bank authorization."

Stiglitz helped translate one from bureaucratise, a
"Country Assistance Strategy." There’s an Assistance
Strategy for every poorer nation, designed, says the
World Bank, after careful in-country investigation.
But according to insider Stiglitz, the Bank’s staff
‘investigation’ consists of close inspection of a
nation’s 5-star hotels. It concludes with the Bank
staff meeting some begging, busted finance minister
who is handed a ‘restructuring agreement’ pre-drafted
for his ‘voluntary’ signature (I have a selection of

Each nation’s economy is individually analyzed, then,
says Stiglitz, the Bank hands every minister the same
exact four-step program.

Step One is Privatization - which Stiglitz said could
more accurately be called, ‘Briberization.’ Rather
than object to the sell-offs of state industries, he
said national leaders - using the World Bank’s demands
to silence local critics - happily flogged their
electricity and water companies. "You could see their
eyes widen" at the prospect of 10% commissions paid to
Swiss bank accounts for simply shaving a few billion
off the sale price of national assets.

And the US government knew it, charges Stiglitz, at
least in the case of the biggest ‘briberization’ of
all, the 1995 Russian sell-off. "The US Treasury view
was this was great as we wanted Yeltsin re-elected. We
don’t care if it’s a corrupt election. We want the
money to go to Yeltzin" via kick-backs for his

Stiglitz is no conspiracy nutter ranting about Black
Helicopters. The man was inside the game, a member of
Bill Clinton’s cabinet as Chairman of the President’s
council of economic advisors.

Most ill-making for Stiglitz is that the US-backed
oligarchs stripped Russia’s industrial assets, with
the effect that the corruption scheme cut national
output nearly in half causing depression and

After briberization, Step Two of the IMF/World Bank
one-size-fits-all rescue-your-economy plan is ‘Capital
Market Liberalization.’ In theory, capital market
deregulation allows investment capital to flow in and
out. Unfortunately, as in Indonesia and Brazil, the
money simply flowed out and out. Stiglitz calls this
the "Hot Money" cycle. Cash comes in for speculation
in real estate and currency, then flees at the first
whiff of trouble. A nation’s reserves can drain in
days, hours. And when that happens, to seduce
speculators into returning a nation’s own capital
funds, the IMF demands these nations raise interest
rates to 30%, 50% and 80%.

"The result was predictable," said Stiglitz of the Hot
Money tidal waves in Asia and Latin America. Higher
interest rates demolished property values, savaged
industrial production and drained national treasuries.

At this point, the IMF drags the gasping nation to
Step Three: Market-Based Pricing, a fancy term for
raising prices on food, water and cooking gas. This
leads, predictably, to Step-Three-and-a-Half: what
Stiglitz calls, ‘The IMF riot.’

The IMF riot is painfully predictable. When a nation
is, "down and out, [the IMF] takes advantage and
squeezes the last pound of blood out of them. They
turn up the heat until, finally, the whole cauldron
blows up," as when the IMF eliminated food and fuel
subsidies for the poor in Indonesia in 1998. Indonesia
exploded into riots, but there are other examples -
the Bolivian riots over water prices last year and
this February, the riots in Ecuador over the rise in
cooking gas prices imposed by the World Bank. You’d
almost get the impression that the riot is written
into the plan.

And it is. What Stiglitz did not know is that, while
in the States, BBC and The Observer obtained several
documents from inside the World Bank, stamped over
with those pesky warnings, "confidential,"
"restricted," "not to be disclosed." Let’s get back to
one: the "Interim Country Assistance Strategy" for
Ecuador, in it the Bank several times states - with
cold accuracy - that they expected their plans to
spark, "social unrest," to use their bureaucratic term
for a nation in flames.

That’s not surprising. The secret report notes that
the plan to make the US dollar Ecuador’s currency has
pushed 51% of the population below the poverty line.
The World Bank "Assistance" plan simply calls for
facing down civil strife and suffering with,
"political resolve" - and still higher prices.

The IMF riots (and by riots I mean peaceful
demonstrations dispersed by bullets, tanks and
teargas) cause new panicked flights of capital and
government bankruptcies. This economic arson has it’s
bright side - for foreign corporations, who can then
pick off remaining assets, such as the odd mining
concession or port, at fire sale prices.

Stiglitz notes that the IMF and World Bank are not
heartless adherents to market economics. At the same
time the IMF stopped Indonesia ‘subsidizing’ food
purchases, "when the banks need a bail-out,
intervention (in the market) is welcome." The IMF
scrounged up tens of billions of dollars to save
Indonesia’s financiers and, by extension, the US and
European banks from which they had borrowed.

A pattern emerges. There are lots of losers in this
system but one clear winner: the Western banks and US
Treasury, making the big bucks off this crazy new
international capital churn. Stiglitz told me about
his unhappy meeting, early in his World Bank tenure,
with Ethopia’s new president in the nation’s first
democratic election. The World Bank and IMF had
ordered Ethiopia to divert aid money to its reserve
account at the US Treasury, which pays a pitiful 4%
return, while the nation borrowed US dollars at 12% to
feed its population. The new president begged Stiglitz
to let him use the aid money to rebuild the nation.
But no, the loot went straight off to the US
Treasury’s vault in Washington.

Now we arrive at Step Four of what the IMF and World
Bank call their "poverty reduction strategy": Free
Trade. This is free trade by the rules of the World
Trade Organization and World Bank, Stiglitz the
insider likens free trade WTO-style to the Opium Wars.
"That too was about opening markets," he said. As in
the 19th century, Europeans and Americans today are
kicking down the barriers to sales in Asia, Latin
American and Africa, while barricading our own markets
against Third World agriculture.

In the Opium Wars, the West used military blockades to
force open markets for their unbalanced trade. Today,
the World Bank can order a financial blockade just as
effective - and sometimes just as deadly.

Stiglitz is particularly emotional over the WTO’s
intellectual property rights treaty (it goes by the
acronym TRIPS, more on that in the next chapters). It
is here, says the economist, that the new global order
has "condemned people to death" by imposing impossible
tariffs and tributes to pay to pharmaceutical
companies for branded medicines. "They don’t care,"
said the professor of the corporations and bank loans
he worked with, "if people live or die."

By the way, don’t be confused by the mix in this
discussion of the IMF, World Bank and WTO. They are
interchangeable masks of a single governance system.
They have locked themselves together by what are
unpleasantly called, "triggers." Taking a World Bank
loan for a school ‘triggers’ a requirement to accept
every ‘conditionality’ - they average 111 per nation -
laid down by both the World Bank and IMF. In fact,
said Stiglitz the IMF requires nations to accept trade
policies more punitive than the official WTO rules.

Stiglitz greatest concern is that World Bank plans,
devised in secrecy and driven by an absolutist
ideology, are never open for discourse or dissent.
Despite the West’s push for elections throughout the
developing world, the so-called Poverty Reduction
Programs "undermine democracy."

And they don’t work. Black Africa’s productivity under
the guiding hand of IMF structural "assistance" has
gone to hell in a handbag. Did any nation avoid this
fate? Yes, said Stiglitz, identifying Botswana. Their
trick? "They told the IMF to go packing."

So then I turned on Stiglitz. OK, Mr Smart-Guy
Professor, how would you help developing nations?
Stiglitz proposed radical land reform, an attack at
the heart of "landlordism," on the usurious rents
charged by the propertied oligarchies worldwide,
typically 50% of a tenant’s crops. So I had to ask the
professor: as you were top economist at the World
Bank, why didn’t the Bank follow your advice?

"If you challenge [land ownership], that would be a
change in the power of the elites. That’s not high on
their agenda." Apparently not.

Ultimately, what drove him to put his job on the line
was the failure of the banks and US Treasury to change
course when confronted with the crises - failures and
suffering perpetrated by their four-step monetarist
mambo. Every time their free market solutions failed,
the IMF simply demanded more free market policies.

"It’s a little like the Middle Ages," the insider told
me, "When the patient died they would say, ‘well, he
stopped the bloodletting too soon, he still had a
little blood in him.’"

I took away from my talks with the professor that the
solution to world poverty and crisis is simple: remove
the bloodsuckers.


A version of this was first published as "The IMF’s
Four Steps to Damnation" in The Observer (London) in
April and another version in The Big Issue - that’s
the magazine that the homeless flog on platforms in
the London Underground. Big Issue offered equal space
to the IMF, whose "deputy chief media officer" wrote:

"... I find it impossible to respond given the depth
and breadth of hearsay and misinformation in
[Palast’s] report."

Of course it was difficult for the Deputy Chief to
respond. The information (and documents) came from the
unhappy lot inside his agency and the World Bank.

You can still view the BBC TV's, "Theft of the
Presidency," at BBC News |NEWSNIGHT |16/2/01 Read A
blacklist burning for Bush The (London) Observer;
Florida's ethnic cleansing of voter rolls/
Story of the Year; in The Nation, Florida's
Disappeared Voters; US media failures at SILENCE OF
THE LAMBS; and on Bush family finances:Best Democracy
Money Can Buy.

Award-winning reporter Palast writes Inside Corporate
America for the London Observer. To read other Palast
reports, to contact the author or to subscribe to his
column, go to http://GregPalast.Com

See also:
03 Jun 2002
Look, I'm not an MIT student, but as I understand it, they have done a lot of work to get alternate speakers at commencement, or one to speak alongside Wolfensohn. It hasn't happened. But a great set of events is planned. And Jon, have you lifted a finger do help? Or do you continue to sit and muddle Indymedia with long, irrelevant posts that discourage dialogue and annoy people?