Monday, June 1, 2015


In the modern world Switzerland has consistently ranked among the world’s richest nations per capita. But the Swiss didn't get there simply because of its resorts, sales in clocks, or its chocolates. It's a global leader in finance because early on the government made a conscious decision to focus on personal banking. 

In the process the Swiss have demonstrated that markets can operate with little or no moral compass. 

In one of the uglier examples of state policy and wealth creation we can look at the "market activities" of the Swiss during World War II. Specifically, the Swiss helped the Nazis launder the looted treasures they stole from occupied territories and, especially, from captured Jews before and during WWII (these activities were famously captured in the George Clooney-Matt Damon movie The Monuments Men).  

Proving that white collar crime pays, the wealth and secretive contacts Swiss bankers gleaned from their activities at the time would yield significant dividends in the post-war period. Specifically, after helping finance the Nazi war machine, Swiss bankers switched gears and catered to post-war despots and tyrants. 

The hubris that gripped Swiss bankers in 1939 has never let go of them. The bank vaults of Zurich, Basel, Bern, and Lugano have become a kind of sewage system into which flow streams of filthy lucre from all over the world … No longer called Hitler or Himmler, Göring or Ribentrop, their clients have names like Mobutu, Ceauşescu, Hassan II, Saddam Hussein, Abu Nidal, Duvalier, Noriega, Traore, Suharto, Eyadéma, Campaore, Marcos and Karadžić. 
Today, in spite of having virtually no natural resources Switzerland ranks as one of the richest nations in the world. Their activities during WWII helped them reach this point.

I bring all of this up because via Zero Hedge we learn that the Department of Justice allowed Nazi war criminals - who made their way to the United States after WWII - to escape with over $20 million in social security payments. 

According to the Associated Press, ex-Nazis were allowed by the Department of Justice to keep their social security benefits if they voluntarily left the country after they were located. The number of Nazis who "worked to conceal their true identities" and then received social security payments was listed at 133.

Zero Hedge focused on the Nazi-social security issue to illustrate a disturbing pattern within the Department of Justice, which includes going soft or looking the other way when it comes to politically sensitive white collar crime. According to Zero Hedge, this pattern includes allowing post-2008 Wall Street to get away with robbing the economy and the U.S. taxpayer blind. 

I think it goes further than the Department of Justice turning a blind eye to white collar criminality ... hence the reference to the looting carried out by the Nazis during WWII that was captured in The Swiss, The Gold, and the Dead: How Swiss Bankers Helped Finance the Nazi War Machine

I'll leave you to make your own connections. 

- Mark 

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