J P Morgan: Emperor of Wall Street

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J P Morgan: Emperor of Wall Street

A&E (2005)

Film Review

This insipidly uncritical biography of the 19th century bankster, J P Morgan, relies mainly on reminiscences of his family and business associates.

Born in Connecticut in 1837, Morgan moved to Britain at 18, where his father worked in the merchant banking firm Peabody, Morgan & Co. A year later he returned to New York to join the US branch of Peabody, Morgan & Co.

The film conveniently neglects to mention he made his fortune during the Civil War, purchasing 5,000 rifles from an army arsenal at $3.50 apiece and reselling them to a field general for $22 each. Morgan evaded the Civil War draft by paying a substitute $300 to take his place (also not mentioned in the film).

In addition to his banking interests, between 1869 and 1883, Morgan systematically gained control of one-third of all US railroads. After his father’s death in 1890, he used his father’s fortune to acquire more corporations.

Following the 1893 depression, the US experienced a massive drain on its gold reserves and Morgan used an old Civil War statute to allow his and the Rothschilds’ banks to sell gold to the US government (at a tidy profit).

In 1901, he purchased Carnegie Steel to form US Steel Corporation (the world’s first billion dollar corporation). Following the purchase, he controlled roughly 70% of the country’s steel production.

After notorious “trust-buster” Teddy Roosevelt assumed the presidency in the same year, his attorney general prosecuted Morgan’s Northern Security Corporation (which ran his railroads) for violating the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. Morgan appealed, but the Supreme Court upheld the government order to break up the company.

During the 1907 panic, many US banks were again on the verge of collapse, when Roosevelt appropriated $35 million from the US Treasury to invest in New York banks to keep them afloat.

It would be the last time the federal government allowed a single banker (the filmmakers refer to Morgan as a “one-man central bank”) to singlehandedly control the US monetary system. In 1913 banking and political leaders secretly conspired with President Woodrow Wilson to create the Federal Reserve.*


*Contrary to popular belief, the Federal Reserve is not owned and controlled by the government but by a consortium of private banks.

The film can be viewed free on Kanopy

https://pukeariki.kanopy.com/video/j-pierpont-morgan-emperor-wall-street

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://pukeariki.kanopy.com/video/j-pierpont-morgan-emperor-wall-street

Should We Pay Corporations to Destroy the Planet?

Pricing the Planet Episode 1

Al Jazeera (2018)

Film Review

This documentary is about an endangered species trading scheme in which banks like J P Morgan and Goldman Sacks invest in projects that protect endangered species (eg bees, coral reefs, orangutans) or ecosystem services (eg (rain forests, clean water, wetlands clean air, topsoil). They then sell credits in these projects to corporations who wish to engage in mining and development that kill these species or destroy rain forests and wetlands.

In 1988, Bush Senior was the first to promote this model of environmental protection with his No Net Wetlands Loss policy. It enabled corporations that were destroying wetlands to purchase credits in wetlands that being set aside for preservation. This model was later employed in carbon trading schemes in which industries are allowed to emit CO2 pollution if they purchase credits in reforestation projects that capture CO2. After nearly 20 years of operations, this scheme has made speculators in carbon credits fantastically rich while allowing CO2 emissions increase exponentially.

Bankers and corporate executives argue that endangered species trading is the only way to save the planet because government regulation hasn’t worked (largely because banks and corporations have blocked effective environmental regulation). Most grassroots environmentalists oppose species trading. They argue that bees, reefs, orangutans and rain forests can only be saved with a total ban on activities that endanger them.

Globally Malua BioBank runs the largest “mitigation” project. They recently purchased the Malua Forest in Borneo for $64 million. They sell credits in the Malua Forest to palm oil companies to enable them to destroy other Indonesian rain forests, as well as companies that use palm oil products.

The Nature Conservancy (whose current CEO is a former Goldman Sachs banker) and other large environmental NGOs support “species banking” because they rely on large corporate donations to cover their staff salaries.

The video can be viewed free at the Al Jazeera website: Pricing the Planet